What We Already Know
Historic England has documented the ‘footprint’ that the First World War (WW1, or World War One) has left on England’s buildings, countryside, and in her coastal waters. This programme of investigation and photography will continue beyond the 2014-2018 centenary.
Why are we doing this?
This research is crucial in documenting and preserving little-known or forgotten historic sites for future generations. It will lead to a new understanding of the First World War, and to the most important sites being protected.
The unsung First Home Front
A century after the end of the war, reminders are all around us. Some, such as war memorials, will be familiar. But by far the majority of places associated with the First World War are unrecognised, neglected, or derelict, and many are still to be re-discovered.
Together they bear historical witness to the unsung First Home Front. This was the extraordinary, often dangerous, civilian and military effort taking place within Britain that provided vital support to the armed forces during the 51 months of warfare that engulfed the world.
As the war progressed Britain’s civilian population was increasingly drawn into the conflict. Evidence of this survives in virtually every part of the country, but until now it has been little researched and even less understood.
The following pages give a sense of the large number and variety of places that we have investigated.
War on land
One of the features of industrialised, mechanised, 20th-century warfare was its hunger for land.
War at sea
At the outbreak of the First World War Great Britain was the world’s greatest naval power. It was a supremacy supported by a huge heavy engineering industry, but one challenged by the ambitions of imperial Germany and her rapidly expanding navy.
War in the air
The new threat of aerial warfare, initially from Zeppelin airships, prompted a sophisticated anti-aircraft defence system, including purpose-built gun batteries, notably the listed surviving example at Lodge Hill, north of Chatham, Kent.