Join celebrities in sharing family stories of World War One
This year commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the most significant moments in British history – the end of World War One.
To mark the centenary, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity has launched a campaign which calls on the public to help keep the nation’s history alive by sharing their family stories and photos from The Great War.
Celebrities including Antony Cotton, Helen McCrory, Joanna Lumley, Dame Kelly Holmes, Fleur East and Dan Snow have come together to share their stories and photographs in support of the SSAFA campaign. They are now urging the Great British public to do the same by speaking with older relatives to uncover stories from their own family history and share via ssafa.org.uk/world-war-100.
The campaign is in response to recent research commissioned by SSAFA, the UK’s oldest, national Armed Forces charity which found that Millennials aged 18 to 36 have very little knowledge of World War One and the devastating events that surrounded it, compared to previous generations.
As Millennials are the first generation who may not have known a family member who lived or fought during the Great War, it is perhaps not surprising they have a limited knowledge of the war, compared to their older relatives.
SSAFA is appealing for stories to be shared via ssafa.org.uk/world-war-100 or by using the hashtag #WW100 in the hope to receive at least 1,000 family memories by the end of 2018. These stories will be accessible to younger generations in years to come to ensure nobody ever forgets the sacrifices made during The Great War.
SSAFA was the only national Armed Forces charity in operation during World War One. At the outbreak of the war, the Government called on SSAFA to take care of the families of soldiers going to the Front Line. SSAFA was there for our Armed Forces and their families then, and is still here for them now.
Justine Baynes, Director at SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, says:
“The further we move away from World War One, the more important it is for us to keep the stories of bravery and courage alive to commemorate the 700,000 British soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our country.
“SSAFA is calling on families across the country to share their stories with the younger generations – so that they will be forever celebrated and never forgotten.
“SSAFA is the UK’s oldest military charity and was the go-to charity to help Forces families during the Great War. We have been there for our Armed Forces community for over 130 years and will continue to be there for many years to come.”
Coronation Street Actor & SSAFA Ambassador, Antony Cotton, says:
“SSAFA not only honours and respects those who are serving today, it also celebrates those who fought in the past; whether that be in Afghanistan, The Falklands or in the trenches.
“This photograph has been in a photo album at my mum’s house for years and we have never known the identity of this man. We believe he is my maternal Great Grandfather but as my grandparents died young, no one can verify this.
“He has become known as ‘The Unknown Solider’ within my family and each year, I visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in London and think of him.
“It is incredibly important that families continue to pass down stories and photographs of family members who sacrificed their lives for our country. Our brave soldiers from the First World War through to more recent conflicts must not be forgotten. We will remember them.”
English Actress and SSAFA supporter, Helen McCrory, OBE, says:
“My maternal Great Grandfather, Albert Lionel Bradbeer, was buried alive in the trenches. He came home suffering from shell-shock or what would now be recognised as PTSD. He was unable to return to the work he loved and died five years later.
He was one of seven brothers Edwin, James, Charles, Robert, Ernest and Frederick Bradbeer all of whom were professional golfers and fought in The Great War.”
To find out more about how you can fundraise, volunteer or share your story to support SSAFA, visit ssafa.org.uk/world-war-100
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Notes to editors:
Additional celebrity quotes and stories:
English Actress & SSAFA Ambassador, Joanna Lumley, OBE, says:
“As a SSAFA Ambassador it makes me so proud to see the charity leading this campaign to honour all those who fought in WW1. I’m celebrating the service of my Great Uncles, George and Fredrick Lumley, who died as young men at Arras in 1917 and to all those troops who died alongside them.
“I’m so looking forward to seeing people getting behind this campaign and nominating their own family members – what an inspiring campaign.”
Double Olympic Champion, Kelly Holmes, who served in the British Army for ten years, said:
“As a SSAFA supporter and veteran of the Armed Forces myself, I think it’s so important to remember everyone who served and gave their life and freedoms to serve in WW1.
“I’m celebrating my Step Grandfather, Albert Norris, who fought in The Royal Fusiliers and I hope this will inspire other people to nominate their family members.”
Dan Snow, World War One Historian & SSAFA Ambassador, says:
“As a military historian who has spent so much time researching the intricacies of WW1, I’m delighted that SSAFA is celebrating its centenary with a commemoration of the human faces behind the battles.
“My Great Grandfather, Lieutenant General Sir Thomas D’oyly Snow, fought on The Western Front and during the Battle of the Somme – the bravery of him and his men is staggering and something we should never forget 100 years later. It will be of great interest to me to hear the stories that this campaign uncovers.”
Singer-songwriter, Fleur East, says:
“My Great Grandad, Fred East, served in WW1 and it’s something that we’re very proud of as a family. I really want people to get behind this campaign for SSAFA as a way of remembering those who served and to remind the younger generation of their sacrifice and service.”
*About SSAFA’s World War One Research:
A One Poll survey, commissioned by SSAFA in February 2018, quizzed the nation on their basic historical knowledge and understanding of the Great War. They survey found that:
- Almost half (42 per cent) of Millennials mistakenly thought Winston Churchill held office and one in ten (11 per cent) 18-24 year olds thought it was Margaret Thatcher.
- Three quarters of Millennials (75 per cent) were unaware that King George V was on the throne – with almost one in ten (9 per cent) mistakenly thinking it was George VII, our current 4-year old prince.
- When asked whose assassination sparked the outbreak of World War One, less than half of Millennials (45 per cent) knew the answer – with 6 per cent believing it was the American President John Kennedy.
- When respondents were asked to identify the countries that Britain fought against during World War One, a quarter (25 per cent) of Millennials said ‘Russia’ and almost two in ten (19 per cent) said ‘France’ – two of Britain’s greatest allies during the war.
- Over two-thirds (68 per cent) of Millennial respondents did not know where the ‘Home Front’ was.
- Over half of 18-24 year olds (58 per cent) surveyed did not realise that the Battle of the Somme, the war’s bloodiest and most notorious battle took place in our neighbouring country, France.
- When asked to identify which historic events took place during World War One, Millennial respondents listed Pearl Harbour (16 per cent), Independence Day (8 per cent), the Battle of Hastings (7% per cent) and the Fire of London (4 per cent) – none of which occurred at the same time as the First World War.
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. Every year our staff and team of volunteers help more than 65,000 people, from Second World War veterans to young men and women who have served in more recent conflicts.