Hundreds of men wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele died in the UK during treatment. There is no central record of the location of their graves or memorials.
One hundred years later, Passchendaele at Home is a ground breaking research-and-remember project to locate the graves and memorials in the UK for the first time. Schools and community groups are at the heart of this crowd-sourced effort.
This groundbreaking nationwide initiative gives the challenge to identify and research war graves and memorials in the UK belonging to servicemen who were wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele but who died of their wounds in the UK and are buried or commemorated here. It gives the Battle of Passchendaele a local dimension and gives an opportunity for community groups and schools to discover their local WWI heritage.
The project was launched on Monday 17 July with Year 8 pupils from Parliament Hill School in London, who participated in a pilot workshop at Abney Park Cemetery, and was attended Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Watch a video from the day, giving tips from the students on how to do your own research and hold a remembrance event at your local cemetery:
The launch released a new UK-wide database with over 3000 names of servicemen who may have been wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele but are buried or commemorated in the UK, as well as a new, free ‘Action Map’ and online guide for researching.
The students from Parliament Hill used the Passchendaele at Home database and found three graves and memorials in Abney Park Cemetery that fit the Passchendaele at Home criteria – men who were wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele but died of their wounds in the UK.
This initial research acted as a launchpad for the students to do further investigating into these servicemen and find out about their lives before the war and what happened to them in the battle. They discovered many moving stories, such as that of A W Foote – a Serjeant in the Rifle Brigade who died aged 23 on the 4 October 1917 and left behind his young wife Daisy Foote. He is an example of the devastating impact the battle had on local communities.
After researching, the students presented their findings to the group and held their own informal remembrance activities for the Passchendaele men buried in the cemetery. This included making wreaths and laying them at the war memorial in the cemetery, doing headstone rubbings, and reading poetry they had written in response to the personal stories. A young student played the Last Post on the violin.
Lord Bourne from the Department for Communities and Local Government, who participated in the launch, says of the project:
I think it’s great that young people in particular and communities at large are recognising the First World War centenary, commemorating that, and remembering the sacrifices that have been made by other.
Artist Nick Hayes, designer of the ‘Action Map’, joined us at the event to live-draw the activities in his unique illustration style.
Michelle Feeney, a teacher from Parliament Hill School says of the project:
The girls who were doing their research really felt like detectives, felt like they were doing something useful for history, and it’s putting history into perspective. It’s great to see that they are looking at this social history but from a military perspective.
The men (and women) who died on the battlefield in Passchendaele are rightly remembered and honoured. But many men were brought to the UK and may even be buried in civilian cemeteries. Join the Passchendaele at Home project to help bring to light the stories of these men, and remember them 100 years later.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for access to the database and your free research poster.
Visit www.bigideascompany.org/project/passchendaele-at-home/ for more information.