August 4, 2014 will mark the 100th year of World War I’s beginning. As part of the Great War’s centenary event, trenches which were used as training grounds for countless WWI soldiers will again come to life.
One such place is the Clipstone Camp more known as Sherwood Pines, one of United Kingdom’s biggest WWI training facilities used between 1915 to 1920 and had housed 30,000 men at one time.
The Forestry Commission will be opening various rifle, pistol and machine gun ranges as part of an educational exhibit in memory of the individuals who gave up their lives in duty for their country which had begun in 1914. Work on the said project had started last September 25.
On the other hand, Tim Priestley, a primary schoolteacher, aided in the setting up of the WWI Clipstone Centenary group which sorted out images and memories from the said camp. The group is also starting a campaign asking that a permanent memorial be built in the village.
“There are so many stories connected to the camp, marriages of soldiers to local women, deaths from the outbreak of Spanish flu, there are even records of suicides. The camp was of great national significance and I have been contacted by people from all over the country who have stories connected with it,” Mr. Priestley stated.
Trenches are one of World War I’s major symbols and over 750,000 British soldiers involved in the Great War died in these said places which was why trench training had been very vital at that time. “We think that it is important to mark the centenary of the First World War with a memorial to these soldiers,” Mr Priestley added. “The majority of the British Army would have trained here.”
Philip and Courtney Wilkinson, father and son involved in the landscaping business, will be doing hands-on work in the site next year.”We will now be on site at Sherwood Pines digging trenches and sourcing reclaimed materials to make them. There is a lot of labor involved and we will be working on this for some time. We carry out research from books and old photographs and then make sketches and build from those,” Courtney said.
But there is no better fit than the pair for the task at hand. After all, their family team have had the privilege of working in various TV and movie sets including in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, the 2011 war drama which had six Oscar nominations. “Spielberg was a friendly chap. It was all hands on deck and very busy. We needed to make sure the ground looked authentic,” Courtney added.
The Forestry Commission’s Laura Freer also stated:
“The centenary of the start of the First World War is an opportunity to share history and show the importance of remembrance. The outbreak of the war was a life-changing event. We want to illustrate the history of the Sherwood Pines site and the role that it played.”