John Taylor: War on the home front

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So 2014 is here. And with this being the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, all manner of national commemorative events are being planned.

But persons wanting to know something of the local story might be interested in the information contained on the Milton Keynes Heritage Association website, accessed by clicking ‘Projects’ on the top bar of the home page.

This includes the story of Newport Pagnell during the First World War, as well as that of Bletchley. Also told are episodes of home life from the many villages within this district.

Additionally, perhaps of interest to anyone researching their family history, or the names on local war memorials, there is a section containing the letters sent home by serving soldiers.

In conclusion the story of Stony Stratford has also been prepared, to be shortly available in print form, while that of Wolverton is in preparation. It’s often said that the British people were at their finest during the Second World War.

But they were also at their finest during the First World War, as per this comment by the Reverend Harnett, vicar of Wolverton, at a thanksgiving service held following the Armistice: “They had been united in a most singular manner during the last four years.

“They had been united for a great purpose – to accomplish a great task.

“There had never been a time when the people of England had worked together, high and low, rich and poor, one with another, as they had during the Great War, and now had come the end, and the victory by the mercy of God rested with them.”

As for it being ‘the war to end all wars,’ the jury seemed to be out. For, ‘it is possible that the German nation may accept defeat in the present war as final and reconcile itself to the abandonment of cherished dreams of world domination’.

‘It is also possible that the German nation may make that renunciation in semblance only; may harbour the spirit of revenge, and may work out secret and scientific schemes for a suddenly deadly blow at Britain, the theme of the “Hymn of Hate”’.

How very prophetic for, as always, history would soon once again repeat itself.