This year brings to an end the culmination of a series of projects events and exhibitions to commemorate the anniversary of the end of the Great War

Corporal with ventriloquists dummy

A Corporal from South Staffordshire Regiment with ventriloquists dummy

One such project involved getting the Jake Whitehouse collection online which is now available for all to see at www.jakewhitehouse.org.uk. It’s a unique collection featuring over 1,600 postcards, photographs and objects relating to the county’s role in the Great War.

Much of the collection relates to the training camps on Cannock Chase where over 500,000 men were trained before joining troops on the Western Front. It details the stories of the thousands of British and New Zealand servicemen who trained there. Over 300 of these original postcards show soldiers and civilian workers working, training, and at leisure, while stories of German prisoners of war are also there to be explored.

The collection belonged to local and military historian and author of ‘A Town for Four Winters’, Jake Whitehouse, who sadly passed away last year. Thanks to his wife Gill who gave us permission to digitalise the collection, it’s now available for all to see. You can also watch a quick video here:

Over the four years our archives service have made several interesting discoveries relating to the Great War, none more so than the letter written by General Congreves about The 1916 Christmas Day Truce and football match between German and British soldiers.  The letter was discovered just in time for the 100th anniversary of the story and is still available to view in the archives service.

Some of my own personal memorabilia have also helped shine a light on what life was like on the home front during the war. Amongst these are Minutes of a meeting in January 2016 of the Rocester branch of the War Agriculture Committee.

What is fascinating is that until conscription in 1916 there was no Government intervention in the balance of recruitment, so counties like Staffordshire, where thousands signed up, suddenly had to adapt to manpower shortages.

The document I have details the gathering of local farmers who met in the Red Lion Hotel, and their concerns about this shortage of labour for farm work as men were sent off to fight. How children could be taught to milk cows and a preoccupation with food shortages was also highlighted in the documents.

You can read more about our Great War commemorations at http://www.staffordshiregreatwar.com

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