The war to end all wars, which heralded the start of the modern age, is itself to be brought back to life by social media.
An ambitious project by Luton Culture could see the voices of the First World War brought back to life in time for the centenary of the start of the conflict next year.
Thanks to a £96,000 lottery grant, and working with the University of Bedfordshire, projects officer Dave Graves is overseeing the creation of a website which will incorporate the memorabilia and memories of life from 1914-16.
With his own army of volunteers he will be digitising diaries, stories, documents, pictures and much more, and putting them into the context of the age.
It could mean that someone with only a brief knowledge of what their great grandfather did during the conflict, could provide enough information for the volunteers to be able to piece his and his family’s life together to create a living history.
Volunteers are already working on collections at Wardown Park Museum, which includes copies of the Luton News of the time, to get them ready for the website’s launch early next year.
“This is one of the last times to talk to people who knew people who were involved,” said Dave. “Volunteers will be going through stories, putting flesh on them and bring out the human interest.”
Luton, he says, is in a unique position because the conflict was global, bringing in countries whose descendants have now settled in the area.
“It broke down a heck of a lot of boundaries, and Luton is well placed to reveal that,” said Dave.
Once the website is up and running, people will be able to upload their own pictures and stories which the volunteers will then be able to put into context.
“It will tell the story of the people of this town now and any connection they have to the First World War,” he said. “People need to start collecting, photographing old pictures, start talking to relatives for when the site is ready. We may turn up something hidden in an attic which is amazing.”
Dave already has 29 volunteers but is looking for around 20 more.
It’s just a few hours week but he is looking for people with an enquiring mind who can go through the archives and who would like to tell a good story.
Schools are also getting involved, Barnfield College students are making World War One fashion outfits, and pupils will be learning about life at home and in the trenches.
“We will be bringing things to life through story telling,” he said. “We are going to get swamped and that’s what we want.”
See David’s video online at www.lutontoday.co.uk