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Hampshire Commemorates showcase marking First World War centenary a success

Thursday, 07 August 2014

August 4 2014 marked one hundred years since Britain declared war on Germany. This was the beginning of what was to become know as the First World War, the 'war to end all wars'.

Hampshire played a critical role in the First World War, as the major embarkation point for millions of soldiers heading off to mainland Europe and further afield to join the conflict.

The Chairman of Hampshire County Council hosted Hampshire Commemorates, an exhibition in the Great Hall in Winchester, showcasing historic materials from Hampshire County Council and other partners to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war. The free event provided a taster of some of the exhibitions and information available throughout the county.

An 18 pounder First World War field gun, on loan from the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, was situated outside the Great Hall, accompanied by costumed members of Ubique - Right of the Line, a living history re-enactment group. They were joined by a fully restored J Type Thornycroft lorry from the County Council's Arts and Museums collection.

There were displays from three County Council museum exhibitions: The Artists Rifles, Soldiers Journey and Trenchcoat, which form part of '1914' Hampshire's Big Theme programme of partnership exhibitions and events in 2014. Also on display were a range of objects from the Museum of the Hampshire Regiment and panels showing photographs and documents from other County Council services, including Hampshire Archives and Local Studies and Royal Victoria Country Park.

Chairman of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Colin Davidovitz, said: "It was a privilege to open this exhibition to mark the start of the Great War and to put on display from our museum collections, some of the huge range of letters and diaries written by soldiers, together with examples of wartime material that was used by the armed services in Hampshire during the First World War that are now being carefully preserved for posterity by the County Council's museum service.

This showcase event was mounted to provide a flavour of some of the exhibitions and information that are shortly being opened to the public across the county, including The '1914' Hampshire Big Theme programme - a Hampshire Solent arts, museums and heritage partnership initiative, supported by Arts Council England, to remind them of what was happening in their neighbourhood at that time."

The County Council's projects to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war and commemorate the heroic actions of those involved in this conflict include poppies being planted at some of Hampshire's country parks and other locations, including Manor Farm and Country Park in Bursledon, Royal Victoria Country Park in Netley, and Milestones Museum in Basingstoke.

A wider commemorative programme across cultural venues will continue during the 2014-18 period, and the County Council is working in partnership with the National Museum of the Royal Navy to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign in 2015 and bring back to life the historic HMS Monitor M33 which served there.

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