Malvern in the Great War
One hundred years ago the European powers entered a conflict, known then as the Great War, that would succeed in touching the lives of millions of people across the globe. Malvern and the surrounding villages were not immune from the impact of the Great War. Local memorials record the deaths of 450 local men. Homes, businesses, schools and churches all had personal contact with the consequences of bereavement, hardship and harsh economies.
Events and Activities in Malvern Museum
Activity: National Registration Cards 1915
Visitors to the museum are offered a National Registration card on arrival, based on the cards that were issued in 1915 to all adults over the age of 15. Inside are the brief details of one of twenty Malvern individuals who lived – or died – during the Great War. Visitors can read their unique stories in more depth in the Twentieth Century Room.
People from all walks of life have been selected, such as a wounded soldier’s son who played truant from school. Our local aristocrat, Earl Beauchamp was a cabinet minister when the decision to declare war was made. Malvern Link produced the first woman to be accepted by GWR to take the job of a ticket collector. One character is a baby, just a few months old, who escaped from Belgium with her mother in August 1914. This story has also featured on BBC Hereford and Worcester (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01p345j).
The feedback from visitors has been extremely positive and the National Registration cards will be available until 2019.
Great War Displays
There has been a rolling programme of displays over five years. Before the Great War, Malvern had several organisations for men who wanted to develop military skills and discipline. The ‘C’ Company in the Worcestershire Regiment was made up of Malvern men, known as the ‘Gunners’. They had their own Drill Hall and were often seen marching through the town, or practising military manoeuvres on the Commons. Other men joined the Worcestershire Yeomanry. Boys and young men joined the Cowleigh Miniature Rifle Club, the Boys’ Brigade or the Church Lads’ Brigade. Many would later serve on the Front after 1914. Displays paid tribute to the role of the local hospitals run by the St John and Red Cross organisations. The arrival of the Belgian refugees in September 1914 attracted a lot of attention. Life on the Home Front and how families were affected were put under the spotlight. Lighting restrictions, food shortages, closure of shops as men left to serve with the colours, the fear of Zeppelin attacks also featured. These stories and many more can be found in the pages of three booklets published by the museum to commemorate Malvern’s experience of the Great War. They are available from the museum.
Malvern’s Roll of Honour
A new Roll of Honour was created and installed in the window of the Twentieth Century Room. It lists the names of 430 men who were killed or died as a result of the Great War. A folder near the window provides additional information for each man ~ year of death, regiment, age where known, connection with Malvern and some family details. Further information for these men can be found from an excellent website at www.malvernremembers.co.uk. It is hoped that local people will find an ancestor listed, or perhaps even begin a family history project as a result of seeing a family member recorded in this poignant way.