‘I have taken part in the making of history – though my part has been negligible yet I have had an experience unique in the history of the world.’
This quote is taken from a letter dated 16 November 1918 from Lieutenant Stuart Bellhouse to his father in which he states that, as part of the Armistice Commission, he was the first British person to cross German lines and enter Namur and district in Belgium since 1914.
His diary held at WYAS, Leeds (WYL793) is just one of the fascinating items used in a WYAS exhibition on Remembrance and the First and Second World Wars which will be on display in all 5 offices of the West Yorkshire Archive Service from 8-19 November. The display contains information on local war hospitals and war memorials, conscientious objectors and the Imperial War Graves Commission and also focuses on selected local people and their varied war-time experiences.
Some records are heartbreaking, some are amusing and some are history making, but they all reflect the feelings of real local people, their lives and their losses.
Reginald Horsfall of Halifax for instance was taken prisoner in 1918 and was held at Gustrow, Mecklenburg. In a letter home, Reg comments that as a prisoner “I stand a far better chance of getting home safe and sound now than I did before” (WYAS, Calderdale WYC1388). He did return home after the War, but sadly died shortly afterwards.
Florence Lockwood, wife of Josiah Lockwood of Charles Lockwood and Sons Ltd, woollen manufacturers of Linthwaite, wrote First World War diaries and notes containing incredibly profound observations on life at home during the war, insights on the suffering of those waiting for news and her own views on death and the war (WYAS, Kirklees KC329).
WYAS collects a diverse range of records created by a variety of individuals, groups and businesses, if you would like to discuss the possibility of depositing records or would like to give feedback on the types of records that you would like to see, please contact the Collections Team