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Lest We Forget

Visiting the Memorial Park, Coventry

Lest We Forget explores the World War One heritage of the people of Coventry and brings their stories to life through the eyes and voices of a group of ten local people.  The exhibition focusses on the battles of Passchendaele and Ypres on the Western front in 1917, and the home front effort which supported these offences. The group were asked to produce a personal creative response from their research. 

Working with the support of Herbert Media, Culture Coventry’s professional media team, the group were able to produce a short film and documentary showcasing what they have learnt about their local heritage.  Together, we visited the Coventry Archives and Research Centre, National Memorial Arboretum, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (Royal Warwickshire) Museum, Coventry Transport Museum and the local War Memorial Park.  Our in-house curatorial team supported the development of this exhibition, and brought history to life through a series of talks about the home front and Coventry’s war effort.


The group produced a range of poems in response to what they learnt about Coventry's
war effort and the battles of Cambrai and Ypres.

View the Poem as Text Listen to a Reading 
Dearest Sister Alice by Dave Crossan  Listen to Dearest Sister by Dave Crossan
Letter to Mama by David Crossan Listen to Letter to Mama by David Crossan
The Glorious Dead by David Crossan Listen to The Glorious Dead by David Crossan
A Mother's Lament by Lorraine Ferguson Listen to A Mother's Lament by Lorraine Ferguson
Future Memories by Eric Hopkins Listen to Future Memories by Eric Hopkiss
A Long Way from Home by Nick Knibb Listen to A Long Way from Home by Nick Knibb
Mark IV Tank by Nick Knibb Listen to Mark IV Tank by Nick Knibb
The Silent Streets by Tom Lawlor Listen to Tip the Scales by Tom Lawlor
Save the Babies by Sue Masters Listen to Save the Babies by Sue Masters


Poppies in wreaths laid at the Memorial ParkMembers of the group also chose to research particular themes relating to World War 1.

Lest We Forget Behind the Scenes
The Battle of Cambrai
The War Memorial Park
Arthur Troughton by Alan Aldrich
Shot at Dawn by Alan Aldrich
War Artists by Alan Aldrich
How We Remember by Sue Masters
Women in 1917 by Sue Masters

Sue Masters, participant in Lest We Forget

Sue Masters
I now live in Coventry and moved here about five years ago. I like reading, History and am a Lay Preacher.

I have learned about the changes for women in working and the paradox of the ideology of motherhood and nation. Also that Coventry’s war industry was central to the war effort.

I have also learned how changing working practices and the impact on social and cultural life in the city. The importance of what and how we remember and commemorate out First World War.

I have helped Emma interview people on the street about their knowledge of the War Memorial Park. I wrote a poem “Save the Babies” about national baby week in 1917 and losing sons in the trenches, some creative writing about women in 1917 and a piece about “Lest We Forget – How Do We Remember them”

Lorraine Ferguson, participant in Lest We Forget

Lorraine Ferguson 
Author of Mother’s Lament, Naughty Cousins, Jamaican Gleaner

Working with the group was great and I enjoyed making the film. I learned that over 10,000 Jamaican soldiers went to WW1 and 1,000 of these never came back.
I was inspired to write a poem, Mother’s Lament, in response to my research around the letters received and sent during the First World War


Dave Crossan, participant in Lest We ForgetDavid Crossan-Bratt
Author of Letters To Mamma and Alice, The Glorious Dead

The 1st World War has been at the back of my mind like a folk legend ha I thought I should explore more thoroughly. This course gave me that opportunity and gave more substance to my feeling of the Absurdity of the whole thing and how little we learn from history.



Alan Aldrich
Author of War Artists, Shot at Dawn and Albert Troughton

I was born and raised in Coventry. I like history, furniture and furniture restoration.

What I learned about the First World War is its apparent futility and the horrendous conditions. The sadness of the executed soldiers and the tremendous contribution of the Coventry factories and workers with the manufacturing of military vehicles and munitions.

For the film I started out researching War Artists, which led me to the Shot at dawn and this became my main subject.  
I was drawn to this because I found it very absorbing and interesting from today’s view of war and soldiers. The brutality of the officers towards the “deserters” which is now considered as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Eric Hodgkins, participant in Lest We ForgetEric Hodgkins
Lives in Coventry (City of Peace) and retired from the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.  Eric is part of a theatre group and re-enactment groups from medieval times to Second World War.

“I have learned that Coventry in the First World War was very important centre in the production of military vehicles and munitions for the war. Also how the population grew with migrant workers due to demand for more and more war materials”.

From our research I found out more about the first tanks, because of my fear of enclosed spaces I was drawn to look at the inside of the first tanks during battle conditions. How they managed to work inside of these things, amazing.

I also wrote a couple of pieces, one about the Battle of Cambrai which I knew very little about before I started this project and one about rationing called “Future Memories” which is about not being able to have sweets when I was a boy in the Second World War and my Grandfather explaining they also had rationing in the Great War.

Emma Lawrence, participant in Lest We ForgetEmma Lawrence
I have lived all my life in Coventry in Earlsdon. I like sports, swimming, computer and my dogs.

As I live beside the War Memorial Park I wanted to find out more about it. So I did a piece for our film about the history of the park and how relevant it is today.

During the course I also found out from Alan about Shot at Dawn, all those soldiers who were executed during war for just leaving their posts because they could not take the horror anymore.

Lucy Wilson, participant in lest We ForgetLucy Wilson
Voice artist in Letter to Alice which features in the Lest We Forget film

I was born and live in Coventry. I like swimming and art classes as well as photography.

I have learned media skills like how long it takes to make a film and the planning that goes into it. I have learned video editing software to make a number of slide shows about tanks, people working in the factories and the battles which we covered on the project. I also took lots of photos during the sessions to help document the project.  I have learned a lot about the First World War and the wasted lives of those young men. The number of mem killed in the different battles you just can’t imagine such numbers.

There is one family in Coventry who lost five sons during the war.

I also recorded Dave’s “Letter to Alice” which he wrote to go in the film. I found this really hard as I struggle to process reading and talking at the same time.

Emma Alwill, participant in Lest We ForgetEmma Awill

Where to start, I learned so much about the war, especially how many countries where involved. I loved when Eric brought in the Gramophone and played it, I have never heard of one and to think that some officers had these in the trenches.

I enjoyed being behind the camera and filming the group doing their scenes, it was great. 

Chloe Gardner, participant in Lest We ForgetChloe Garner
Voice artist in “Letter to Mamma” which features in the Lest We Forget film

Moved to Coventry from London and I love photography and History. I have found out on this course that my Grandpa’s dad was a tank driver in the first war. That’s all we know really but know I can come to Herbert and find out more when I have the time.

I also learned how to use video editing and special effects software while on the course. I used this software to make slide shows static pictures of tanks to move across the screen and do pan and zoom to match the poem “The Mark IV Tank”.



The group produced slideshows of their visits and their journey through the project.


Coventry Archives
The Royal Warwick Museum
The Memorial Park and Chamber of Silence
Coventry Transport Museum and the Maudsley
Planning Our Film
Visiting the Naional Memorial Arboretum



The project was made possible by Heritage Lottery Funding