Finding a Starting Point – The Rural Landscape
If you are thinking about where to start your First World War Home Front Legacy research, as a first step, have a read through our three starting point pages, The Urban Landscape, the Rural Landscape and Home Front Events.
These should give you some ideas about how you can use your skills and expertise to best effect.
The First World War generated great demand for land, for the purposes of agriculture and forestry, for building camps, for revitalising training grounds and building news ones, for the creation of new factories and airfields, for the stabling of horses in preparation for being sent off to War and for the housing of Prisoners of War.
Extensive defence lines were constructed as anti invasion measures or for the protection of London against air raids.
Country houses, village halls, large public buildings and school opened their doors as convalescent homes and hospitals.
After the war many communities were given or purchased redundant army huts for use as village halls. We would like to record not only those that survive, but also those that have been replaced.
“Mobilisation of society for modern industrialised war was a highly complex administrative task requiring armies of clerks. One of the consequences of this extraordinary undertaking is that historians have been left with lists of army camps, training areas, munitions factories, places of internment for enemy aliens and prisoners of war, and many other wartime establishments. However, a century later considerable detective work is often required to track down their precise locations and to report if they survive. Not all aspects of army life were recorded and many practice trenches, simulations of the Western Front, wait to be discovered. The locations of most of the 200 or so national factories owned and operated by the state are known. In additional around another 6,000 factories vital to the war effort were managed as controlled establishments, their locations and contribution to the war effort remains to be discovered.”
Wayne Cocroft, Senior Archaeological Investigator, Historic England.
Your research will most probably start with desk research, your might have spotted a feature in the landscape such a village hall or pillbox, but your instinct as to date will need verification with documentary evidence, maps and photographs.
Once you have established the information that exists you will need to start to prepare for your site visit.