Demand for Project Bugle’s exhibitions and newsletters has soared since it began this July.
But there are four tireless enthusiasts who have toiled since before then to bring home the sacrifices made in WWI.
Researchers Kenneth Fedzin and Peter Claydon, producer and distributor Carol Pearon and ancestry expert Susan White have been instrumental, and each has been affected in their own ways.
For Peter and Kenneth, one of the biggest challenges was observing how the perceptions of glory surrounding the war in its early stages transformed into shock about its untold horrors.
Kenneth said: “The war was an adventure at the start, a change from the mundane life. Some had never been out of Yorkshire, never mind England. Then they were all wishing they were home.”
While Kenneth and Peter alternate months taking information from archives and old newspapers, Susan delves into and writes soldiers’ family stories using Census records so that readers can better appreciate the realities of life at the time.
Susan said: “I do get quite involved with the stories. People think they have things bad now – they have no idea. I couldn’t believe how every story was so different.”
Kenneth addded: “When I’ve read the stories Susan puts together, I’ve found myself once or twice welling up.”
For Carol, it was a good chance to use skills developed as a librarian at Batley Grammar School with experience of the working alongside the history department.
She found that her interest in the First World War grew as the project came along, and was overjoyed at the level of enthusiasm for the exhibitions. The volunteers were all working for months before the Heritage Lottery Fund of £17,500 was even confirmed – money the Bugle could not operate without.
Kenneth said: “At the end of this project there will be a legacy. Somebody in 100 years will be able to look at it. Rather than just a name inscribed on a war memorial, it’s bringing these lads back to life.”
The group now stress that involving new volunteers, of any age or interest, is important. To take part, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.