Book chronicling West Sussex experiences during First World War wins award

Terry Bracher (left) of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals presenting the award to Martin Hayes, WSCC County Local Studies Librarian on 21 April 2016 SUS-160426-153907001
Terry Bracher (left) of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals presenting the award to Martin Hayes, WSCC County Local Studies Librarian on 21 April 2016 SUS-160426-153907001

A book chronicling the experiences of West Sussex residents during the First World Ward has won a local history award.

Largely put together by volunteers ‘Great War Britain: West Sussex, Remembering 1914-18’ was published in August 2014 by the History Press in association with West Sussex County Council.

It was a two-year Heritage Lottery funded project led by the county council’s library service in partnership with the West Sussex Record Office, and has received the Alan Ball Local History Award from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of the county council, said: “It was wonderful to see the project come to fruition with this book. It is a genuine community project, which has drawn on the wealth of information brought to light by a committed team of volunteers and the specialist expertise of a dozen authors. We are proud in West Sussex to play our part in acknowledging the debt we owe to the generation of 1914-18.”

Much of the initial research work was undertaken by 150 volunteers who listed over 10,000 events from local newspapers and created over 100 case studies of servicemen and Home Front topics.

A team of authors produced chapters on: agriculture and food, billeting and military installations, churches, home front, hospitals and convalescent homes, invasion counter measures, local economy and morale, mobilisation and recruitment, those left behind and those who returned, Royal Sussex Regiment, war memorials and peace, and women.

Remaining copies of the book are available to order via all public libraries in West Sussex and at the West Sussex Record Office in Chichester, for £10 - £5 less than the recommended retail price.

Terry Bracher, chairman of CILIP’s Local Studies Group, said: “The judges were unanimous in their praise for the book, especially the quality and breadth of research, the topics it covered and the fact that it was created with the input of so many volunteers. Congratulations to you all.”

Gary Sheffield, a leading Great War academic and author, added: “This book is a significant piece in the mosaic which, when combined with the various other local histories, will give us a more balanced understanding of the British experience of the First World War.

“Great War Britain - West Sussex is a fine achievement and could stand as a model for collaborative local histories of this type. I congratulate everyone involved in it, and commend it warmly to a wide readership.”

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