Volunteers with a fascination for the New Forest’s history are being sought to help uncover details of war-time activity a hundred years ago.
During World War I, the Forest was home to several hospitals for wounded New Zealand and Indian troops, training schools and camps which left a lasting impression on the landscape.
Now thanks to support from Exxon Mobil at Fawley, the New Forest National Park Authority is piecing together what life was like in the Forest during 1914-18.
So far seven volunteers are scouring thousands of pages of censored letters from Indian troops on the British Library website to find material relating specifically to the New Forest, but many more people are needed to help with the research.
The personal accounts and photographs will become part of an online archive of the Forest’s war-time history (www.newforestheritage.org) and will form an exhibition next year in the New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst.
WWI project officer Gareth Owen said: ‘There’s a huge number of aspects of the war years which the New Forest is best placed to tell – we know the old race course at Lyndhurst was a camp for thousands of soldiers before they set off for the front; there were military hospitals for the wounded; a naval air station at Calshot; a bomb school at Lyndhurst and even a training school for dogs helping on the frontline.
‘These very personal accounts helps us understand more about the role the New Forest played in the First World War and will create a legacy for future generations.’
To get involved in the the New Forest Remembers World War I Project contact Gareth Owen firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01590 646652.
Wounded Indian soldiers heading to their tented accommodation in the grounds of Forest Park Hotel taken around 1914.