Loughborough’s Great War

The First World War has been called the “seminal catastrophe” of the twentieth century.  How did the assassination of an Austrian Archduke in the distant Balkans lead to the outbreak of a European War and less than two years later bring destruction from the sky on the quiet market town of Loughborough?  Robert Knight gave one answer to the Friends of Charnwood Museum in June 2014 in his talk ‘From Sarajevo to the Swan in the Rushes’.

We received some fascinating examples from a locally held collection of First World War postcards.  One of them shows the fears of Arthur William Baldock, a private serving in Belgium, after he had received news of a bombing raid on his son’s school at Upper Church Street, Poplar in June 1917 which killed 172 civilians.

By then hundreds of young men had left Charnwood to fight in France and Belgium.  Loughborough Institute was now geared to the battle for munitions on the home front. In 1915 Herbert Schofield introduced a new system of ‘instruction on the job’ for Loughborough Instructional Factory’s production of munitions.

A booklet published in 1918 was intended to give employers an explanation of the advantages of Schofield’s system and the practical organisation of the Ministry of Munitions of War Instructional Factory in Ashby Road .

We have received stories of the brave deeds of local men on the battlefields of France. You can also read about the adoption of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance and the story of a lesser-known Christmas Truce involving soldiers of the Leicestershire regiment .

We hope to support and complement the many World War 1 activities in the community where we can.  These include the Charnwood Great War Centenary Project, the Loughborough Roll of Honour being compiled by the Carillon Museum, and Baxter Gate Church’s recent exhibition of the letters received from local men fighting at the Front to whom they had sent Christmas parcels.

We welcome contributions to our collection of First World War material.