In June 2013, we were musing about the forthcoming centenary of the First World War and a colleague said “I wonder what it would have been like if Facebook had existed in 1914.” From this somewhat bizarre remark grew a not‐for‐profit project which has virtually taken over our lives and continues to do”
Launched in June 2014 (1914), it tells the story of a young man – Walter Carter – from Battersea, who joins the Territorial Force in 1912 and goes to war in March 1915 as a member of 1/23rd Battalion The London Regiment. The story covers the entire War and provides not only his experiences but importantly, those of his family and girlfriend back in England. We also wanted to reference topics still hugely important today – the role of the Reserves, the effect of the War on communities, the changing role of women, and the badly injured and the mentally affected – but in a balanced way which includes the lighter moments of wartime life. Thus, uniquely, it gives a simultaneous account of the War and life at home. Whilst it is fictitious, it is meticulously researched, entirely based on fact and is continuously checked by military historians both for accuracy and authenticity.
We tell the story in real time via Facebook, Twitter and a website posting three or four times a week. Over the years the regular audience on Facebook has grown to over 23,000 – mainly younger people, which was one of our objectives, and also people from other countries.
To provide the maximum interest we wanted our characters to illustrate different aspects of the War both at home and in the trenches – for instance, Walter’s sister becomes a nurse in France.
Because Walter was a member of an infantry regiment, we particularly wanted to involve a different branch of the Army – the artillery – and so his brother Ed, initially a reluctant conscript, fulfilled that role. In order to better understand the artillery at that time, we contacted AAHT who were incredibly helpful and organised for us to visit the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, a trip we found utterly absorbing and which vastly increased our knowledge and allowed us to be accurate about weaponry. Members of AAHT have also been very helpful with bibliographies and web links.
The project has been not-for-profit from the outset and we have been totally reliant on grants primarily to pay for the researcher/writer – Nikky Pye – who has done a truly outstanding job since we started. We are enormously grateful to AAHT who gave us a most generous donation in 2015 which has helped us continue with WW1 Soldier’s Tale. It has also allowed us to take the project into schools, museums, WW1 events and notably, the 3-day commemoration of the Battle of the Somme held in Manchester last summer.
David Noble Managing Director of DNA Limited
Follow the project at
www.facebook.com/WW1SoldiersTale www.twitter.com/ww1SoldiersTale www.ww1soldierstale.co.uk