Back to the Front
Great War Commemoration Project
Abbots Langley, Kings Langley, Hunton Bridge and Leavesden
Project Update 2016
On 6th December 1916 Vicar Parnell invited a number of families from the village to a Family Remembrance Service to commemorate the recent deaths of their loved ones. From the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916, the number and pace of local casualties rapidly increased. A number of such services were organised throughout the remaining years of the War. The 100th anniversary of this event was marked on 6th December 2016.
In October the Project completed writing stories of all the persons from Abbots Langley who served in the Great War (approximately 700). In November work commenced to complete the stories of the men and women from Langleybury and Hunton Bridge
The story of Walter Owen was presented to the Herts and Bedfordshire Branch of the Western Front Association at their AGM in Harpenden on 16th September.
Walter Owen was the first man researched by the Back to the Front Project lived at the Wooden House in Langley Lane, Trowley Bottom and was “Killed in Action” on the Somme on 15th September 1916. A commemorative booklet describing his life and death was produced and distributed to the modern-day owners of the properties in the vicinity of the no longer existing Wooden House.
Between 22-24th July the Flat-Pack Theatre Group performed the chilling WW1 play, the “Hand-maidens of Death” at the Henderson Hall in Abbots Langley. Discovered and researched by Andrew Maunder at the University of Hertfordshire, the play was barred by the Censor during the Great War, and has only been performed a handful of times in the past 100 years. The story is of a group of Women Munitions Workers at a factory at Letchworth. Following the performances at Abbots Langley the group took the play to the Edinburgh Festival, where it was well received.
On 9th July the Project staged a small exhibition as part of the inaugural Leavesden Heritage Day which was staged at Leavesden Country Park.
A small exhibition was displayed at the Abbots Langley Winter Acoustic Concert’s performance on 4th July where John Kirkpatrick entertained a packed audience with some of the better and lesser known songs from the trenches of the Great War
At dawn on 1st July, the 100th anniversary of the Battle, members of the Project attended the Service of Commemoration at the Lochnagar Crater on the Somme, and later that day laid a wreath at the grave of Albert Abbott, from Abbots Langley who was “Killed in Action” one hundred years to the day on the first day of the Battle, and also at the site where Walter Owen was “Killed in Action” in September 1916.
The Project supported and provided detailed information about local involvement to the organisers of a Vigil held on the evening of 30th June at St Lawrence Church to commemorate 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, and the sea battle at Jutland which had taken place at the end of May 1916.
On 7th May the Project attended a Seminar organised by the Everyday Lives in War Project, supported by the University of Hertfordshire.