The Corsham Commemorates project came about from a meeting of local people and community groups, brought together by the Town Council, in July 2013; each with an interest in marking the centenary of the First World War and in commemorating the actions of the town and its men and women during the Great War years of 1914-1918. With county and national events being planned in the form of exhibitions, displays and special services to commemorate the sacrifice made by servicemen and their families during those four years it was considered appropriate to do the same at a local level, but very much focusing on Corsham’s War and its impact on the town.
Records showed that the Corsham area, like all other villages in Wiltshire, was fully supportive of the War effort. This is reflected in the names on local war memorials and in the inherited records, written and photographic, that portray some of the part played by Corsham and its surrounding villages. These records became the inspiration and starting point for deeper research and for local commemorations co-ordinated by the Town Council and involving the community through the local schools, Army and Air Cadets, Corsham Civic Society, St Bartholomew’s Church, the Royal British Legion, Pound Arts, RAFA, MoD Corsham and others. Interest and generous financial support was provided by the Town Council, Wiltshire Council and in the form of a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund all of which allowed and encouraged research and events including, among other things, a concert party, a Recruitment Day, trench digging at the Batters, a recreation of, and exhibition (entitled Above and Beyond) about, Corsham’s Red Cross Hospital, school project and art work, family history days and remembrance services.
By sharing resources and research, by encouraging initiatives and projects, and by bringing people together to support local events and projects, we hoped to better publicise, remember and commemorate Corsham’s involvement and experience before, during, and after the First World War.
Legacy was an important part of Corsham Commemorates, finding out about the past but also leaving a legacy for the future and remembrances for the grandchildren and great grandchildren of that First World War generation. More historical information and records than ever are available today and the aim was to use online resources and knowledge of local history to learn more about the lives and War-experience of the area and our ancestors through research and shared family stories.
We hope that we have created a legacy, particularly in the work of the schools; in the form of an updated Corsham War Records Book, and in the planting of trees in locations through the town, including a woodland area at Hartham Park. In addition, the area known as The Batters - used by the Scots Guards for trench warfare training in 1915 - has been recognised and protected as a Centenary Field and the original wooden memorial at St Bartholomew’s Church, lost for many years, has been restored and returned to the church.
This Town Council website provides further legacy as the single repository for the research and stories brought together by Corsham Commemorates about the First World War history of Corsham itself, of its soldiers and of the families who lived through that most difficult of times.
If you would like to read more then please explore our Corsham Stories including details of the soldiers as well as stories relating to the Corsham Red Cross Hospital when the town went ‘Above and Beyond’ and which sums up the contribution of Corsham to the War effort.
If you have further information about any of the stories or, more poignantly, about family members from that time then please let us know by contacting the Town Hall (01249 702130 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or via the Contact section on the website.
The Corsham Memorial Walk has been put together by Peter Collier, of the Royal British Legion, Corsham branch.
It takes in all of Corsham's war-related sites, including memorials and cemeteries.
The walk is over good ground and is approximately 3 miles long.