i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series


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The Independent Online


Our attempt to tell individuals’ stories from the First World War – The Great War in 100 Moments – concludes today. We had expected readers to contribute, but not in the numbers you did. It was warming to hear from teachers and students, and of your attempts to trace relatives’ military records. One typical letter, from Brecon’s Harley Simpson, began: “Your latest Great War moment (No 68)  made me reflect on my grandfather…”

These were men whose letters home revealed nothing, and who – in many cases – added little to that account if they returned from the front.

John Lichfield’s writing on the Somme stays with me (“The Battle of the Somme begins with the end of 21,000 lives”), especially the line: “In many cases, their experience of war lasted 30 minutes or less.”

Kathy Hackman applauded the reports on conscientious objectors: “The commemoration of WW1, if we are not vigilant, has the potential to become a ‘jubilee’ type of celebration.  I have therefore appreciated your factual, unsensationalised coverage.”

i reader Nicky Ford asked: “I am enjoying the series. Are there any plans  to publish the collection?” In response to the hundreds of other readers who  have written similarly – among them Ellie Gadd, Ann Gorton, Vaughan Butler, James Gidman and Roland White – our series editor, Richard Askwith, has been busy securing the licences for us to publish these  historical extracts all together.

We will publish the series as a complete collection for you to buy, initially in e-book form, at the beginning of August. (The centenary is 4 August.) Details will follow nearer the time. If you would like advance notice on the e-book and, in due course, a printed edition, please email  WW1@independent.co.uk to be added to our mailing list.

You can find the 100th instalment, “Peace at Last”, here.


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