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War Memorials for the Digital Age

by Catherine Roth

images/warmemorials.jpgA website, commemorating Derbyshire's war memorials, is offering visitors the opportunity to create their own lasting memorial to their relatives who fought for their country.

The Derby and Derbyshire War Memorials Project was founded in 2004 by Chris Preston and Richard Clarke to record and preserve the county's tributes to those who served. They have since launched their website which provides a searchable record of Derbyshire's war memorials and commemorates those who served.

However, whilst soldiers' names and ranks are remembered, their personal stories are very often lost. Chris, who is also a registered volunteer fieldworker for the Imperial War Museum, says: “At the end of the First World War, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission sent forms to the next of kin of those who were killed, requesting personal details which would be recorded in their archives. Unfortunately, many of these forms were never returned; the consequence of this being that many people recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have no personal details about their family, where they lived, or their age.”

The project is trying to recapture some of these lost stories before it is too late and has created  “Soldier of the Month” – an online memorial to those who served – and is appealing to members of the public for information.

Visitors to the Derby and Derbyshire War Memorials Project website are being invited to nominate their own soldier they would like to see featured. Recorded on the website and shared with the Imperial War Museum, this will create a lasting tribute to relatives who might otherwise remain just an etched name in stone, their stories lost to history.

Chris says: “We would normally choose a soldier to feature of whom we have a photograph and personal details, as this is a more personal tribute. This is why we are appealing to people to submit details of any relative they wish to be remembered, including a photograph if available. Our aim is to record as much about those remembered on Derbyshire's war memorials so that they are more than just a name. Also, we wish to record those who served and survived and are not remembered elsewhere. They are real people, whose individual stories are very important to our local history and remembrance.”

The team spend a lot of time photographing and researching Derbyshire's memorials – details of which are gradually being added to the website which has received hits from all over the world.

A gateway to the past, the Derby and Derbyshire War Memorials Project website is a tribute to those who served their country – a fitting memorial for this digital age and one which relatives are invited to become a part of.

To nominate a Soldier of the Month, or to find out more about Derbyshire's war memorials and those who served, visit:
http://derbyshirewarmemorials.wikispaces.com