Remembering WW1: “History should be lived”

Teaching assistant Anne Veitch dressed as a VAD nurse. Pic: Shima Begum

Teaching assistant Anne Veitch dressed as a VAD nurse. Pic: Shima Begum

Members of The Royal Artillery Living History Group dressed as sergeants and nurses on Saturday in Tower Hamlets to educate people about World War I.

Hidden Histories in Soanes Centre, Bow was awarded funding by the Heritage Lottery fund and welcomes “people of all ages who are interested in local history of World War I or have family members buried in Tower Hamlets Cemetery and are interested in investigating the Great War connections”.

Diane Kendall, heritage lead for Friends for Tower Hamlets Cemetery, said: “This project was set up to reveal the stories behind the names on the Tower Hamlets War memorial and to also make that information publically available.”

Members of the group and attendees told East London Lines the significance of coming to this launch was a way of learning about world war history.

Anne Veitch, 49, a Teaching Assistant from Woolwich said: “The reason why we do this is to keep the memories of the people alive, history is not something to be read from a book, history should be lived. We have people dressed up as artillery and myself dressed up as a Voluntary Aid Detachment, who were women who would look after soldiers.”

Tim Warrener, 60, a teacher from Kent dressed as a 1900s sergeant said: “I got involved with this launch because we are here to remember the soldiers and we just don’t want those memories to be forgotten. I believe the more things you remember about the war the more you can pass down to the next generation. I do wish they would teach more of that in school instead of modern history as we mustn’t forget our heritage.”

Raymond Port, 69, representing the history of Bow Church said: “A lot of interesting things have happened just by researching the names of soldiers and sailors on the world war memorial, we find out about their lives and prior to that we did a book on the first world war and found there was a lot of bombings in and around the church.”

Janice Clint, 60, retired from Stepney said: “I came today because I have memories of my nana speaking to me about my grandfather’s brother who fought in the war and never coming back, so there is that family connection and also that curiosity. My grandparents always talked about the first and second world war and I just wanted to come along and see what this had to offer.”

Kendall was thrilled to have so many visitors at the launch and is optimistic about the growth of the project.

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