Fascinating insights into everyday lives in WW1: In ‘Hidden Stories of the First World War’ Jackie Storer has drawn on a host of letters, photos and artefacts to reveal a fascinating array of true stories, which express the range and human tragedy of this conflict. This book will be illuminating to the general reader and historian alike, enriching our understanding of 1914-1918. (Dr Stuart Lee, Director First World War Poetry Digital Archive, University of Oxford)
Jackie’s book brings alive stories from the First World War that have been told to her by the families of the men and women from across Europe who experienced the conflict. At the launch at the British Library I met at least two of the families, proud to be there, to represent their story, one family even travelled down from Orkney.
In this book there’s humour, crisp photographs, new stories, unpublished accounts of extraordinary events – all tied together with the insightful military and strategic history of Jackie’s collaborators, most notably Dr Stephen Bull (archaeologist and published historian). The stories are arranged in a roughly chronological order, drawn from the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, etc and headed by enigmatic titles – often quotes from the stories and from the families themselves, like ‘I’m seriously wounded. Not dead!’ from a telegram from a soldier to his family in Llandrindod Wells. The stories have been verified and checked and double-checked with the tenacity of the journalist that the author is, and here presented is a more engaging more dip-into-able equivalent of Peter Englund’s ‘The beauty and the sorrow’ – which maybe a little impolitic to say, as Englund provides an interesting and potent foreword for ‘Hidden Stories’.
As the research for this excellent book arises from two online crowdsourcing initiatives (The Great War Archive from the University of Oxford, and Europeana 1914-1918) I hope that in the future we can add links on our blogs to where to find out more about these stories in our websites. If we can do this well it will make for meaningful project work for school teachers. As Europeana 1914-1918 continues to collect from across Europe, including new countries such as Greece, Austria, Portugal, and Serbia, and Croatia, and even Turkey – I can’t wait for a second edition of ‘Hidden Stories of the First World War‘.