World war One to be remembered forever

Senior Research Fellow Dr Jo Brooks with Nigel King, creator of  Family Memories of the First World War
Senior Research Fellow Dr Jo Brooks with Nigel King, creator of Family Memories of the First World War

St Helens residents are encouraged to enter personal experiences of The Great War from relatives on an historical website.

Visitors to the website, named Family Memories of the First World War, will be able to enter personal recollections or stories that have been handed down to them either about active service or on the Home Front.

Biographical details will be sought, but contributors will have the option of remaining anonymous.

It is hoped that there will be contributions from around the world.

The website will serve as an archive of WWI material that will be of widespread interest and value to historians and sociologists among others. But its underlying purpose is to broaden psychological understanding of the nature of family memory.

The project is headed by Nigel King, who is the University’s Professor in Applied Psychology. It has received financial backing from the British Psychological Society.

For Professor King, there is a personal catalyst for the family memories project and he will the first contributor to the new website.

His grandfather, William Tipper, a Londoner, joined the Honorary Artillery Company – a long-established infantry regiment – at the outset of the Great War and fought in some of the major battle of the Western Front before he was invalided out in 1916.

He said: “He lived into his 90s, so I knew him well. He didn’t talk a lot about the war – although he sung a lot of the songs – but the story I have used for the website is of him telling off my great aunt for giving an anti-German rant. He said that the ordinary soldiers on both sides were just doing what they were told. His take wasn’t that there were goodies and baddies – there was this event that people were drawn into. That made me think about tolerance and made me question blind nationalism.”

Professor King’s collaborators for the family memories project include Senior Research Fellow Dr Jo Brooks and PhD student Jade Cash.