Chosen by Martin Hayes, County Local Studies Librarian, West Sussex County Council
Collected as oral history, the memories of those who have lived through fascinating times offer personal and individual first-hand experiences of events that provide us with a unique window into the past.
This collection of interviews with veterans of WW1 is therefore of great significance, both locally and nationally. Exploring the stories of those who fought in the Great War, history teacher Peter Baker made the 32 recordings out of personal interest and to support his teaching. The veterans, mostly then living in Worthing, were regulars, volunteers and conscripts from regiments across Britain. Featured are artillery, infantry, engineers, medics and airmen, a Military Cross winner, and a female VAD nurse. 3 of those interviewed served in the Royal Sussex Regiment, for which West Sussex Record Office hold the regimental archive.
The Collection is now the inspiration for Military Voices Past and Present, an oral history project run by West Sussex County Library Service to compare these with new recordings of current military veterans 1939-2000. The project aims to create a new collection of interviews, and hopes to find veterans living in West Sussex who experienced any conflict from 1939-45 to the recent wars in the Gulf and Afghanistan. Their experiences and views will then be analysed and compared with those of their First World War predecessors.
More information about the project can be found on the Voices of War website.