The First World War, 100 years gone

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, a 100 years ago the guns fell silent on the battlefields across the world. The First World War had, after 4 long years of fighting, come to an end.
2018 marks 100 years since this day, and to commemorate this Hampshire Libraries will have events and displays happening throughout October and November.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
 
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields. 

In Flanders Fields, a poem by John McCrae

The red poppy has become a symbol for remembering the armed forces personnel who died. But few know about the other two poppies.
There’s the white poppy, an international symbol of remembrance for all casualties of war – civilians and armed forces personnel – and of peace. And the purple poppy, a symbol of remembering the animals that have died in a war.
We would like you to make a poppy and bring it into your local Hampshire Library, where it will be displayed to commemorate the centenary. A collection of these poppies will then be taken and placed at a local World War 1 memorial.
You can make your own design, or use one of the designs we have put together, you can find the instructions on our webpage.

Inspired by the Imperial War Museum’s Centenary project which has commissioned 100 writers to write 100 words about the First World War, we looking for poems, prose or short stories of exactly 100 words in length as part of a writing competition. The written piece has to be based on one of these four themes:

  • A Hampshire person (real or imaginary) who fought during WW1
  • Life at home in Hampshire during wartime
  • End of war celebrations in Hampshire
  • On the First World War battlefront

The competition is open to all ages and the winning entries along with runners up will be published in a booklet to mark the anniversary. They will also be featured on the Hampshire Libraries’ webpages. If you’re interested in taking part, or know someone who would be, have a look on our webpage to find out more and how to enter.

In conjunction with Hampshire Wardrobe, a nurse’s uniform the First World War will be touring a selection of our libraries. If you would like to see this piece of historic clothing, come along at one of the dates below.

 

If you would like to learn more about this dark period in time, have a look at these suggested books that are available to borrow from Hampshire Libraries.

1918: winning the war, losing the war edited by Matthias Strohn

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In many ways, 1918 was the most dramatic year of the conflict. After the defeat of Russia in 1917, the Germans were able to concentrate their forces on the Western Front for the first time in the war, and the German offensives launched from March 1918 onward brought the Western Allies close to defeat. Having stopped the German offensives, the Entente started its counter-attacks on all fronts with the assistance of fresh US troops, driving the Germans back and, by November 1918, the Central Powers had been defeated.

Advance to victory: July to September 1918 by Andrew Rawson

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This is the story the British Expeditionary Force’s part in the opening days of the Advance to Victory. It starts with the contribution to the Battle of Fere-En-Tardenois in July, the counter-offensive which pushed the Germans back to the River Marne. Fourth Army’s attack on 8th August was called the Black Day of the German Army but it was only the beginning of 100 days of campaigning. The narrative follows the advance as it expands across the Somme, the Artois, and the Flanders regions. Time and again the British and Empire troops used well developed combined arms tactics to break through successive lines of defence. By the end of September all five of the BEF’s armies had reached the Hindenburg Line and were poised for the final advance

Women in the Great War by Stephen Wynn and Tanya Wynn
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Before the war women in the workplace were employed in such jobs as domestic service, clerical work, shop assistants, teachers, or as barmaids. These jobs were nearly all undertaken by single women, as once they were married their job swiftly became that a of a wife, mother and home maker. The outbreak of the war changed all of that. Suddenly, women were catapulted into a whole new sphere of work that had previously been the sole domain of men.

You can find more books and audiobooks on World War 1 on our website or digital books and audiobooks on Libby.

A Scot’s Quair (Sunset Song) by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

About the book

Chris Guthrie, torn between her love of the land and her desire to escape the narrow horizons of a peasant culture, is the thread that links these three works. In them, Gibbon interweaves the personal joys and sorrows of Chris’ life with the greater historical and political events of the time.

Sunset Song, the first and most celebrated book of the trilogy, covers the early years of the twentieth century, including the First World War. Chris survives, with her son Ewan, but the tragedy has struck and her wild spirit subdued.

 

Reviewed by Ten For Books

“Most of us really struggled with the ‘language’ of Sunset Song but those who persevered really loved it! We thoroughly recommend it to other groups”

star rating ****

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Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

About the book

Vienna, 1913. Lysander Rief, a young English actor, sits in the waiting room of the city’s preeminent psychiatrist as he anxiously ponders the particularly intimate nature of his neurosis. When the enigmatic, intensely beautiful Hettie Bull walks in, Lysander is immediately drawn to her, unaware of how destructive the consequences of their subsequent affair will be. One year later, home in London, Lysander finds himself entangled in the dangerous web of wartime intelligence – a world of sex, scandal and spies that is slowly, steadily, permeating every corner of his life…

Reviewed by Victoria Reading Group

“We thought the book an easy read and enjoyed the descriptions, but did not think that it was as good as Boyd’s other books. A littled contrived in places””

star rating **

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Mr Dear, I wanted to tell you by Louisa Young

book cover

About the book

While Riley Purefoy and Peter Locke fight for their country, their survival and their sanity in the trenches of Flanders, Nadine Waveney, Julia Locke and Rose Locke do what they can at home.

Reviewed by Hawkley Reading Group

Everyone enjoyed this book, a strong “page turning” narrative and we found ourselves discussing aspects of war and medicine, stimulated by the story. A few of us found the characterisation a bit simplistic…

Star rating: ****

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All quiet on the Western front by Erich Maria Remarque

About the book

This story is told by a young soldier in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. Through his eyes we see the realities of war. Incidents are vividly described, but there is no sense of adventure, only the feeling of youth betrayed.

Reviewed by The Page Turners

Everyone should read this book – a beautiful translation of a moving and harrowing WW1 story; an opportunity to delve into history, memoirs and poetry and consider the possible effects of combat particularly on young men.

**** 4 stars

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Fall of giants by Ken Follett

In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, ‘Fall of Giants’ moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty.

Reviewed by Bookends Reading Group

The group felt that this was a very interesting but lengthy book so not everyone completed it. Characters and situations realistic, war scenes lengthy but eye opening for the situations at the time. A good read – would like to follow the trilogy.

Star rating: ****

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Stone's Fall by Iain Pears

Iain Pears tells the story of John Stone, financier and armaments manufacturer, a man so wealthy that in the years before World War I he was able to manipulate markets, industries and indeed whole countries and continents.

Reviewed by Women Who Read reading group

This book sparked a lot of debate. It was long, so you needed to be able to set aside a good period of time to read it in one sitting. It has hidden depths, and with a lot of surprises as the layers peeled away. A very strong plot.

Star rating: ***

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The Last Fighting Tommy by Harry Patch

About the book

Harry Patch, 110 years old, is the last British soldier alive to have fought in the trenches of the First World War. From his vivid memories of an Edwardian childhood, the horror of the Great War and fighting in the mud during the Battle of Passchendaele, working on the home front in the Second World War and fame in later life as a veteran, The Last Fighting Tommy is the story of an ordinary man’s extraordinary life.

Reviewed by  Cowdray Reading Group:

Some of the group found it difficult to get into, but most enjoyed it. The social comment, the futility of war, war as organised murder was interesting. Some surprised at what an ordinary chap Harry Patch was and his lack of interest and enthusiasm for being a soldier. All found it an honest story and enjoyed the two writers.

Star rating: ***

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Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson

About the book

In 1919 a generation of young women discovered that there were, quite simply, not enough men to go round, and the statistics confirmed it. After the 1921 Census, the press ran alarming stories of the ‘Problem of the Surplus Women – Two Million who can never become Wives…’. This book is about those women, and about how they were forced, by a tragedy of historic proportions, to stop depending on men for their income, their identity and their future happiness.

Reviewed by Selbourne Book Circle:

Unanimous opinion – the subject was interesting and she wrote well, but the book was repetitive, too long and the type too small. However, it led to a good discussion.

Star rating: **

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Permissible Limits by Graham Hurley

About the book

When Ellie’s husband is killed in an accident her world falls apart. Her husband’s company is in debt and, in order to keep it going, she must learn to fly the World War II fighter plane it was built around. She must also find answers to the questions of what really lies behind her husband’s death.

Reviewed by Ladies of an Age Reading Group:

For those of us who enjoy Hurley’s usual police procedurals set in Pompey, this was a total surprise. Most people found it lacking emotion and felt it may have been because Graham Hurley was writing from a woman’s perspective.

Star rating: **

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