In the last few months I have had the priviledge of working with a dedicated team of people on a project looking at the role of Grantham during WW1.
One hundred years ago Grantham was a very different place. War had been declared in August. In a contemporary magazine the role the Lincolnshire regiment played was described. It was among the first to respond to Kitchener’s plea for help.
Local men turned up in their suits to sign up for a new volunteer battalion. By November 1914 some of the worst encounters of the war had occurred. The inspirational deeds of gallant soldiers in the past had meant nothing against a German enemy already entrenched and heavily equipped with the latest killing machines. Despite knowing the risks, as our men fell, others quickly stepped in to replace them, time and again. Women moved rapidly into the roles of men to ‘free’ a man to fight and also to stave off potential starvation at a time with little welfare help and scarce food.
Grantham was to host over 100,000 men at a time as they trained for the armed forces. They were to fight in France and Gallipoli, on land, in air and at sea. And, from industry in Grantham, the tank tread was to be invented that would be developed in Lincoln and which would offer vital cover on the battlefield and help turn the tide of the war.
Volunteers from across Grantham are holding commemorative events which include a special film at Grantham Museum, November 1; a ‘Grantham Remembers’ exhibition with re-enactors and guest speakers at The George Centre,November 8-15; a commemoration will take place at Wyndham Park on November 6 and there are concerts at St Wulfram’s Church on November 1 and St John’s Church on November 15.
Thanks to everyone who is involved in these events and who has supported them. It is heartening to see how we can all work together at such an important time and I know the people of our town will show their support too. This is after all an important opportunity to let all who serve, or have served in our name know we will never forget them.