Commemorating the centenary of the Great War

Posted by er134 at Jun 11, 2014 03:18 PM |
University of Leicester events and projects to remember the First World War and the stories of those who lived through it

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 11 June 2014

A podcast interview with Colin Hyde is available to download and embed at:

A video interview with Colin Hyde is available to download and embed at:

2014 marks the centenary of the Great War, a conflict in which over 16 million people lost their lives.

The University of Leicester is the only UK university that serves as a living memorial to the Great War – a connection made more poignant as the nation remembers the events of 1914 - 1918 as part of its centenary this year.

To commemorate the Great War, the University of Leicester is involved in a series of events and projects highlighting the sacrifices made during the conflict and paying tribute to those who gave their lives for the war.

Dr Sally Horrocks and Colin Hyde from the School of History have been involved in a project with local BBC radio stations that has created hundreds of radio programmes telling stories of the Home Front in Britain during the Great War. In a separate project, Colin will be working with volunteers to use over 200 oral histories of local people to tell the story of Leicester and Leicestershire during the Great War.

A dictionary of slang words from the trenches entitled The Lingo of No Man’s Land has been republished by the British Library with a new introduction by Professor Julie Coleman from the School of English. She will be talking about the dictionary at the ‘Languages and the First World War’ conference in Antwerp on Wednesday 18 June and at the British Library on Friday 20 June, where studies into changes within languages and how languages influenced each other during the war will be discussed.

At the Summer Reunion Open Day 2014 on Saturday 28 June, Dr Horrocks will talk about the history of how the University’s buildings were used as a field hospital during the Great War. The annual day for graduates and their families will include displays and re-enactments, mini-lectures on the Great War and a drop-in toy hospital for injured dolls, teddies and soldiers. In addition, PhD researcher Liz Blood will be discussing Leicester's unique war memorial in Victoria Park and how the Great War represented a shift in attitudes towards commemoration.

Colin Hyde said: “One hundred years on from the Great War, communities are coming together to remember the lives of those who lived, fought and died in the First World War – just as the people of Leicester and Leicestershire came together after November 1918 to raise funds for a local University College which would simultaneously commemorate those who gave their lives and provide new hope and opportunities for the next generation.

“We are honoured that the University is uniquely placed as a living memorial to the war. The fact that we are all here, and that we’re teaching and learning, and that young people are studying with us and then heading out into the world is a true example of a living memorial. The University shows respect for the dead while performing a duty to the living.”

It is no coincidence that the public fund for the endowment of a University College for Leicestershire – later to become the University of Leicester – was opened on Armistice Day in 1918.

The University motto 'Ut vitam habeant' ('so that they may have life') stands as a permanent reminder on every publication and degree certificate issued since.

Throughout 2014 - 2018 the University of Leicester will deliver a calendar of centenary-related events and activities, together with online resources that will cover the lives, stories and impact of the First World War not only on Leicester but across the nation and across the globe.

This week is Universities Week, which runs nationally between 9 – 15 June and celebrates the achievements and significance of university research and highlights the place of universities in society.

A microsite detailing all of the University’s events and activities commemorating the Great War can be found here:


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Colin Hyde at or contact Charlotte Barratt at

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