Writing wartime lives

2014 is the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the so-called ‘war to end all wars’ which claimed the lives of over sixteen million people worldwide. One hundred years on, we are all connected to the First World War, either through our family history or that of our local community, or because of the war’s long-term impact on the world in which we live today.

1914-2014: a portrait gallery is a collaborative blog which focuses on the human history of the First World War, profiling the individual stories of the ancestors of current and former students and staff at the University of Liverpool. Throughout the centenary year, the project will take advantage of the international nature of the University community to look afresh at the First World War from different perspectives, in order to bring alive what may feel like a remote event, and to prompt reflection on processes of memory and commemoration. The gallery will remain online after 2014 as a permanent site of memory.

Our launch stories profile four different wartime experiences, as lived by Tom Garmory, a British soldier who fought across northern France and in Italy; Guillaume Mennens, a Belgian prison officer and his family who became refugees in France; Bartus Baggott, an American doctor in the Army Medical Corps who served in stationary and mobile medical units in northern France; and Jesse Marven, a Briton who served in both the Royal Navy and the Royal Naval Air Service. Three were in France at different moments in the war, and their stories tell us that they overlapped here in time and, for two of them, in place. All survived the war years, unlike so many others whose stories will follow. All are the relatives of staff in the University’s Department of Modern Languages and Cultures (MLC).

Stories are posted on the ‘Portraits’ page, with the most recent posting first. New readers may like to scroll to the bottom of the ‘Portraits’ page to review all the stories to date. You can access all of the stories through our Archive, below right, and sign up to follow the blog and be notified by e-mail whenever a new story is published. The ‘Join in’ page gives details of how you can participate in the project, and tell the story of the person you want to feature.

The project is based in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University. But all University students and staff, both current and former, are invited to participate. Join in, and reawaken your ancestors!


1914-2014: a portrait gallery is a member of the Imperial War Museum’s First World War Centenary Partnership, a network of over a thousand local, regional, national and international cultural and educational organisations from twenty-seven countries worldwide. Its aim is to enable millions of people across the globe to discover more about life in the First World War.

Important information:
Unless otherwise indicated, photographs and documents posted on this blog which relate to individual persons (living or dead) are the property of the author of the relevant blog entry, or of their families, and are reproduced here with their full knowledge and permission. No photographs or documents may be downloaded from this site for storage or reproduction without the express permission of the author of the entry concerned. Unless otherwise indicated, all other photographs, images and documents within this blog have been made available to the project by the Imperial War Museum.

MLC is not responsible for the content of any external sites. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information published on this blog, but we can accept no liability for the accuracy of the information at any given time. Please see the University of Liverpool legal notice here.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s