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Help us to tell the stories of the ordinary people caught up in the war they thought would end all wars

Suffolk Regiment museum curator Gwyn Thomas with a selection of World War One uniforms including the 6th Cyclist Batalion mobilised the day war started

Suffolk Regiment museum curator Gwyn Thomas with a selection of World War One uniforms including the 6th Cyclist Batalion mobilised the day war started

This year sees the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War One and we want your help in marking it.

We plan to run a series of articles over the coming weeks and months on the Great War, looking at home life in the lead-up to the conflict and what happened when war was finally declared in August 1914.

But we do not want this to be an impersonal look back at the cuttings, which is where our readers come in.

If you have a relative who served anywhere in the world during the war, even if it is only a picture of them, we would like to hear about them.

Though we shall remember those who died, we do not want to create a year-long Remembrance Day.

Suffolk based military historian and spokesman for the Suffolk Regiment Museum Taff Gillingham pointed out: “Whilst it is important to commemorate those who gave their lives in the conflict, it is important to remember that 89 per cent of those British Servicemen, and women, who served returned at the end of the war.

“Their incredible achievements rarely get remembered and, hopefully, the next six years may go some way to redress the balance.”

There should be no shortage of local stories because the Suffolk Regiment’s actions between 1914 and 1918 read like a list of the great battles of the Western Front and beyond.

The Museum at Gibraltar Barracks, next to West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds, will be marking those actions with a centenary display showing a Suffolk Regiment soldier accurately dressed in the kit of each period of the war.

Its displays start in March with the Curragh Incident. It will show a 2nd Battalion soldier as he would have looked in the so called ‘Curragh Mutiny’ when 57 of 70 officers ordered to prepare for action against Ulster Unionists objecting to Home Rule, elected to take dismissal.

August will see the battle of Le Cateau, where the 2nd battalion fought for nine hours on August 26, 1914, to delay the German advance during the retreat from Mons. All but 111 of 998 men were killed or captured.

Over the next four years other Western Front battles marked are Neuve Chapelle, Loos, the Somme, Arras, Passchendaele, Cambrai and Wancourt.

In addition , displays are planned to mark the regiment’s part in the 1915 Gallipoli landings, the 1916 Salonika Campaign, Palestine in 1918 and the occupation in 1919, The museum opens on the first and third Wednesdays of each month and the first Sunday.

But , like the museum, we are not just interested in the Western Front. It is too often forgotten that British service people also saw action at sea and in Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East .

The home front can be interesting. Do you have pictures of Zeppelin raids or just home life? We also want to hear tales of the army of women who worked as everything from bus drivers to nurses.

Send your stories and photographs to john.henderson@buryfreepress.co.uk (include a phone number) or call 01284 757821

 

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