The St Albans First World War Home Front Project

Photo:Soldiers on the march in St Peters Street c.1915

Soldiers on the march in St Peters Street c.1915

St Albans Library (Y234.18 #2); with thanks to Scott Chalmers & Chris Green

Researching the history of those who stayed behind

By Anne Wares, Sue Mann and Jonathan Mein

There are many individuals and groups throughout the country researching the histories of the men whose names appear on local war memorials. While recognising the importance of this work, the Society has taken a different route. This is a ‘home front’ project. Starting in February 2013, the twenty-one members in our project group have been considering the effect of the First World War on the social and economic development of St Albans. A further eight members prepared for analysis a transcription of the 1911 census for the local area, a significant piece of work in its own right.

Few if any people in the city were unaffected by the war. The longer it went on, the worse their conditions became. By answering questions such as the following we aim to tell what is largely an untold story.

  • How did the locals cope with having over 7000 soldiers billeted in and around the city from the autumn of 1914?
  • Who had a ‘good’ war?
  • How were unenlisted men and conscientious objectors treated?
  • In what ways did the city commemorate the war, both during and after it?
  • What was the impact of the 1918 influenza epidemic?

We published a book about our findings in September 2016. During the research phase of the project we provided updates not only to Society members but to others throughout the area using local newspapers and radio as well as this website and other Internet-based methods. Our sell-out 1914/15 conference, held in September 2014, was the highlight of our project at that point.

We are still keen to hear from anyone who has items such as letters, photos or journals relating to ancestors who had links to St Albans during the war.

Members of our group have varying levels of research experience. Three are professional historians and they provided excellent support to those of us whose skills lie in other areas.

Email homefront@stalbanshistory.org

To find out more about life in St Albans during the war click here.

This page was added by Jonathan Mein on 30/08/2013.

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