15 May 2013
Remembering the Great War - the Harold Ward Letters
As part of our activities with Europeana 1914 – 1918 to remember the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1, we have recently digitised a fascinating collection of letters sent by Captain Harold Ward to his wife Louise Ward and son Kenneth Martin Ward between 1917 and 1918. This collection, lent to the BL by Captain Ward’s granddaughter for digitisation, comprises some 260 items including 9 field service post cards, written on paper of various shapes, sizes, colours and conditions. In his correspondence, Captain Ward gives a very poignant account of life in the fronts where he was serving with the 2/4th and 2/5th Lincolnshire Battalions, offering a vivid image of the everyday life of his soldiers in the battlefields and the rough conditions created by war.
But perhaps one the most striking aspects of the correspondence is the way Captain Ward express his personal view of the battlefields: the description of his experiences is always accompanied by comments of hope to return home and love towards his family, as we can see in the letter presented here which was written to his son in July 1917. By reading Captain Ward letters, rather than trying to understand the past through a mere description of events, one has the feeling of approaching history from a highly personal and human perspective as if we were transported to the very moment when these events were taking place. The material offers indeed a great resource for researchers and the general public interested in learning more about the Great War, especially for those keen to understand WW1 from the point of view of those fighting in the trenches. The full correspondence is available at http://bit.ly/10F80nU