The Great War was the defining event of the 20th Century following which, cities, towns and rural areas of Britain confronted inconceivable loss and social change. There will always be a sense that the First World War was a uniquely awful tragedy in the nation’s history. Indeed, with the commemoration each year on Armistice Day around war memorials across Britain and the Commonwealth, the names of the fallen from the Great War vastly outnumber those of the Second. Additionally, the wearing of red poppies evoking the fields of churned-up Flanders mud, reminds many Britons that the Great War speaks for all wars.

I was inspired to create this site following research into my own family history and in particular the death of my Great-Grandfather, William Beckett. I had been told William died at the Somme in 1916 however, my research revealed he was killed at Festubert in May 1915. This discovery came in conjunction with the publication of a book called "Ballymoney Heroes" by a local historian in Northern Ireland, Robert Thompson, in which he detailed much more information relating William. I was taken by the fact that so much information was available of which my family knew very little and that no-one living remembered. The book also revealed that another of my Great-Grandfathers and three Great-Uncles were also killed in the Great War. It is ften the case that we rely on misremembered family stories about our ancestors or worse still, have no memory of them and the sacrifice that so many made in times of conflict.

As the centenary of the start of the First World War approached, I determined to research and document the lives of the men on the Hemel Hempstead War Memorial. I discovered that more than 25,000 books and scholarly articles have been written on the First World War since 1918, so my intention was to record stories of the everyday lives of the men commemorated rather than just their military service and battle experiences. During my reasearch I have tried, as much as possible, to focus on the social and local history of the time to create a biography of each man. I have described their family, school and work life, as well as their religous and sporting interests.

I hope that I have revealed some insights for the men commemorated although frustratingly, thirty-two of the 388 names on the memorial, eluded my best efforts to discover or verify their stories. I will however continue my research and hope that visitors to the site can supply the information needed to tell those stories as well.

Finally, any errors or omissions are entirley my own and I welcome any feedback to correct any that are discovered.