HISTORY lessons are often impersonal, retelling a grand narrative that forgets the people caught up in major events.
The Corinium Museum’s new exhibition, Cirencester Commemorates, celebrates these individuals and displays the everyday stories that took place during the First World War.
With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund volunteers from the Cirencester Archaeological and Historical Society researched the experiences recorded by soldiers from across the Cotswolds.
This exhibition combines personal tales with objects from that time to show what life was like during the war for these soldiers.
Letters home from the front contain details about the progress of the war, the surroundings the soldiers found themselves in and, all too often, complaints about the mud of the trenches.
Wilfred S Larner was one such soldier, who lived in Cirencester and was killed after his dugout was hit by shellfire.
His diary was kept safe and now shows snippets of how soldiers lived in that time.
His reactions range from the stoic “I got one in the leg from shrapnel”; to the emotional “I confess my thoughts were at Ciren today.”
Chairman of the Cirencester Archaeological and Historical Society Aileen Anderson helped organise the exhibition as part of Cirencester’s commemoration of the centenary of the First World War.
She said: “It came as a result of wanting to know the stories behind the war memorial in the town centre.”
“The Wilts and Glos Standard was publishing letters from the front and as you will see some of them are really touching.”
“There are a lot of people who have worked exceptionally hard behind the scenes, as always.”
Aileen particularly thanked Dale Hjort and Linda Viner for their work in researching local stories and other society volunteers for their help.
As well as the work by society volunteers the exhibition has a number of items donated by relatives of those who fought and one particularly impressive map.
Just before the exit here are a collection of postcards visitors can use to ask questions, give answers and share their experience with the organisers of the exhibition.
Following the end of the exhibition on September 14 the Cirencester Archaeological and Historical Society will hold a talk about Cirencester and the First World War, explaining the research which was conducted for the exhibition.
This talk will be led by Dale Hjort, a military historian and one of the researchers behind the exhibition, on January 28th 2015.