WANTAGE residents are being urged to dig out their great grandfathers’ diaries for a First World War roadshow.

The interactive exhibition will be held at The Beacon, Portway, on Sunday, October 26 as part of this year’s Not Just Betjeman Literary Festival.

It is one of a series being held across Europe to create a virtual archive of the First World War available to anyone with a computer.

Project manager Alun Edwards said: “Digitisation ensures First World War related materials are recorded online even if they perish.

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“It also allows information to be used in teaching and research and incorporated into apps for smartphones that will bring history alive.”

One of the event organisers, Jackie Storer, said she wanted ordinary families to tell them about their keepsakes, who they belonged to and why they were important.

On August 4, 1914, officers from King Alfred’s School Officers Training Unit returned to Wantage from camp to receive mobilisation orders.

Crowds filled the Market Place around King Alfred’s statue to sing the National Anthem and Rule Britannia.

By June 1915, The Berkshire Times reported 10 per cent of the Wantage population of 3,600 was serving in the war.

Culture minister and Wantage MP Ed Vaizey said: “This event will offer something to everyone with any interest in remembering our local involvement in the conflict. The digitisation of local records, in particular, will help to ensure that the information we have now is preserved for future generations.”

The Beacon show will run from 10am to 5pm.


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