Personal stories bring WW1 100 days of victory back to life

The stories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to deliver victory in the closing days of World War 1 are being brought back to life for the centenary.

Commonwealth forces lost 120,000 men and women during the ‘100 days to victory’ on land, in the skies and at sea.

Historians at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have picked 120 accounts, stories and biographies – one for every 1,000 dead during the period – to represent the breadth and depth of the sacrifice and suffering during the run up to the Armistice

The Royal Navy lost men daily – on the Western Front with the Royal Naval Division of sailor-soldiers and Royal Marines – and its more natural environment at sea; some 32 Naval Service personnel died on the very last day of the war alone, November 11 1918.

Most of the dead are remembered in Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries and memorials and for the centenary of the war’s end, the commission wants them to be more than mere names carved in stone – hence its historians have plundered the archives for what it calls the ‘Road to Peace’ initiative.

“We hope it will help humanise this period of history and inspire people to visit both well-known and off-the-beaten-track commission cemeteries and memorials where these men and women are remembered,” explained CWGC historian Max Dutton.

“Road to Peace also reaffirms our commitment to go on remembering our war dead for now, for the next 100 years – and forever.”

We hope it will help humanise this period of history and inspire people to visit both well-known and off-the-beaten-track commission cemeteries and memorials where these men and women are remembered

Max Dutton, Commonwealth War Graves Commission historian

Among the lesser-known naval stories to be published by the commission is the fate of Josephine Carr – the first Wren to die as a result of enemy action.

She drowned when the liner RMS Leinster was torpedoed off Dublin on October 10. With Germany negotiating for peace at the time, the sinking drew international condemnation on a par with the loss of the Lusitania.

And the team at Maidenhead are also researching the role of the Royal Navy in the global flu pandemic which wiped out one in every twenty of the earth’s inhabitants – upwards of 100 million people died; there’s increasing evidence to suggest British and other sailors were responsible for the killer’s disease spread.

The Road to Peace stories will be shared across the CWGC’s digital channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with one story appearing daily and a more in-depth feature weekly.

The initiative ends on November 11 with accounts featuring 11 people killed on the war’s last day will feature.

To read the accounts, follow CWGC at:

Twitter;

Facebook;

YouTube.