Commemorating the Surrey Men and Women Involved in the First World War

Surrey Heritage has won Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) 1st round support to develop a major countywide First World War commemoration project. The second round bid has now been delivered to the HLF and a decision is expected early in 2015.

The HLF believes the project has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money and has awarded funds to employ a consultant to further develop the project, publicise it to schools, community groups and other potential partners and participants and, most importantly, prepare a bid for HLF funding for the main project which will run from 2015 to the end of the commemoration in 2018. The application was in competition with many other projects, so the first-round pass is a recognition that the outline proposals presented in the 1st round bid are worth developing.

If successful at the 2nd round the main project will lead, collect and publish online community-based research exploring all aspects of the impact of the war on the county and the stories of those who served in the armed forces and those who contributed on the home front.

Volunteering Opportunities. When the Surrey in the Great War: A County Remembers project starts there will be many opportunities for anyone to get involved as a volunteer. The following is an indicative list of the range of activities involved. We are open to any and all ideas so if you have a particular area of interest or experience please let us know:

  • Primary source research relating to people, places, businesses, communities, etc in Surrey during the Great War, using a variety of archival material and contemporary newspapers.
  • Researching Great War archaeology in Surrey.
  • Digitising archival material.
  • Indexing contemporary Surrey newspapers.
  • Photographing locations and war memorials.
  • Uploading information to the website, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Data inputting and checking.
  • Mentoring new researchers.
  • Helping at events, roadshows etc.

If you would like to be involved as a volunteer please register your interest now and we will keep you informed of project developments and let you know when the project is ready to start.

Click here for contact details, more information about volunteering with Surrey Heritage and a link to the Expression of Interest Form.

Click here to view the Woking Remembers pages on this website. This pilot project has been used as the basis for the larger project.

Click here to see a gallery of images taken from the Woking News and Mail covering the years 1914-1918 showing service personnel recorded on Woking war memorials.

Click here to see another gallery of images showing service personnel taken from the Woking News and Mail covering the years 1914-1918 .

Click here to read the project blog.

Surrey’s World War I: a selected and annotated list of books in the library at Surrey History Centre
PDF.gif download the list as a pdf document.

Click here to see the First World War records indexes now available to search on the Surrey History Centre website.

The following describes Surrey’s Heritage’s vision for this larger project.


The vision for the project is to create a publicly accessible website exploring the impact of the First World War on Surrey’s towns, villages, communities and residents. The project will look at, amongst other issues, social and economic change and impact, the changing role of women in society and individual and communal responses to bereavement and loss.

At the core of the project there will be a database of information relating to the men and women who died in the First World War and are recorded on memorials across the modern county. This includes people of many different nationalities and faiths. The lives and experiences of these individuals will be actively researched by participants from schools, communities and organisations in Surrey and will be enhanced with public contributions of family documents and stories.

The project will drive new community-based research, especially focussing on engaging young people and those not currently actively involved in heritage. It will also build on the research work already undertaken by individuals and groups across the county over many years and in a variety of formats and consolidate all the information, old and new, into a single, globally accessible, on-line resource.

The aims are to record the names and research and link information on the lives and stories of the people commemorated on memorials; locate information about and images of “lost” memorials; explore the impact on communities through thematic pages; create learning resources which will enable everyone to engage with their local heritage; and encourage volunteers from Surrey’s diverse communities to get involved. The project will be developed with an open format which will enable the inclusion of information about people affected by the war but who survived or are not recorded on memorials.

The project will commence in 2015 and the focus will be on developing local displays in each parish to coincide with Remembrance Sunday, November 11th 2018. At the end of the funded project, the website will continue to be developed and enhanced as more information is gathered and public contributions are added.

This project aims to encourage descendents and relatives of the Surrey men and women who died in First World War to visit the memorials to offer their own individual remembrance.


Images of First World War memorials in Surrey will be displayed on the project website and in a booklet along with selected stories about individuals and the impact of the war on Surrey.

Information on the men and women who died in the First World War and are recorded on memorials will be presented as a searchable database on the project website. This will allow local, national and global accessibility.

As it becomes available information on other people affected by the war will be added to the resource.

Information from a range of sources will be brought together; from national collections including The National Archives, Imperial War Museum and Commonwealth War Graves Commission; from local collections including the Surrey Regimental Museum at Clandon; from researchers across the world and most importantly through members of the public sharing their own personal and family history stories.

A Legacy

At a national and local level there is a desire to create an enduring legacy to ensure the sacrifices of the men and women who died in First World War and the impact on society are not forgotten, especially amongst young people.

National projects need to be supported by local initiatives, exploring and capturing local and individual stories, to make the commemoration relevant to communities. This will promote a sense of identity, place and community and enable individuals to engage with, explore and better understand their local and national heritage.

The project will connect local and personal stories and histories with archival material. Existing First World War memorials will also be recorded in the county’s Historic Environment Record to help protect them for future generations.


Both local and global communities will drive the project. Research undertaken by local groups and individuals will be fundamental to the project. Descendants and relatives of the men and women involved in the First World War have migrated around the world but retain a connection with Surrey. Re-engaging both local and global communities is a key part of the project.

Everyone will be encouraged to get involved. Members of Surrey’s wide diversity of cultural and faith groups can help enrich the stories of the people recorded on local memorials. People of all ages will be able to contribute to the project, learn valuable new skills and find out more about their local and national heritage. The project will actively encourage young people to become involved.


Surrey Heritage plans to work with a wide range or national and local partners including the Imperial War Museum; War Memorials Trust; The National Archives; Royal Holloway University of London; regimental museums and archives; local history centres and societies; schools; Surrey’s Duke of Edingburgh Award scheme coordinator; faith, spots and community groups and especially those groups and individuals not currently actively involved in heritage.


(subject to Heritage Lottery Fund and other funding)

The project will commence in 2014. As research progresses and stories are uncovered, there will be a series of small-scale activities and events relating to key First World War events leading up to a county-wide display in each parish to coincide with Remembrance Sunday 2018.

The project will continue to evolve as more information is gathered and public contributions are added. The project momentum will be sustained after November 2018 by incorporating it into the day-to-day work of Surrey Heritage and through the presentation on the Exploring Surrey’s Past website, which will enable members of the public to continue to add information and ensure it is accessible to future generations.


The project will focus on relating information to the local community whilst providing accessibility for the global community.

Physical displays and accessible information in local communities will be supported and enhanced by an on-line digital display and a searchable database presented on the project website.

Click here to download a copy of the official Heritage Lottery Fund Information sheet.

Click here to see the announcement on the Heritage Lottery Fund website.

Note: Funding:

A Heritage Lottery Fund Heritage Grant has been secured for the first stage. The bid for the full funding for stage 2 has been developed and delivered in August 2014 with the plan to start the full project as described in early 2015.

Useful Link

 Surrey’s First World War Projects and Useful Links

6 Responses to Surrey in the Great War: A County Remembers

  1. [...] Further information is available via Exploring Surrey’s Past:  [...]

  2. paul dyer says:

    is it going to cover the old parishes of surrey i.e parts of what is now south London (southwark)?

    • ESP Admin says:

      Dear Paul

      Many thanks for your comment.

      We decided that the project’s geographical coverage will be the modern county of Surrey. The reason for this is because other local archives in the Greater London (ex-Surrey) boroughs will be best placed to facilitate and support local projects. We plan to coordinate with neighbouring boroughs and counties as much as possible as we realise that this decision may lead to anomalies. We will therefore not be mobilising groups or individuals to conduct structured research into people who were living in what are now Greater London boroughs at the time of the Great War. However, many Surrey based people enlisted in non-Surrey regiments so research will of necessity extend beyond Surrey’s modern borders. Many families of people affected by the Great War have moved or migrated and we are hoping to engage with people around the world to contribute information and memories.

      There have been a number of changes to Surrey’s borders since 1889, these are illustrated on the Exploring Surrey’s Past website:

      Some areas have been “lost” and others “gained”. This obviously has an impact on any historical research. Restricting the project to the modern county boundaries and collaborating with neighbouring counties and boroughs is, we feel, a realistic approach to try to ensure a successful project.


      Phil Cooper
      Exploring Surrey’s Past Officer

  3. RON BURNETT says:

    Dear Sir, I am a member of the Alton & Villages Local History Forum. We are working on our WW1 Centenary Project; which is similar to yours. We are identifying names on our memorials and working on family backgrounds. My village of Bentworth includes: 4575 Gunner Edwin Reed who was born in Woking, Surrey (A1 Page 161) Enlisted in London into The Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Horse Artillery and he died of wounds on 9 March 1916. Despite all my efforts I have not been able to identify his date of birth and family background via Find My Past. Are you able to help from your Surrey contacts? Many thanks.

  4. [...] be enhanced with public contributions of family documents and stories. Full details via this link. Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleLike this:Like [...]

  5. Revd Sarah Brough says:

    As Rector of St. Mary’s (C of E) Chiddingfold I am working with others in my parish to look at ways of remembering and honouring our village fallen and those who served and returned. Each month as the years go by we will include in our parish magazine the names of those who died during that month 100 years ago and a brief write up on them where we have information. The bell ringers have committed to toll a bell 100 x at noon on the anniversary of one or more WW1 deaths from our parish. We are working with our local C of E school to involve and educate the children. We have borrowed back our parish magazines from this period from the Surrey History Centre and will include references to how the Great War was reported by my predecessors. I am sure other ideas and ways of commemorating the service given and sacrifice made will emerge.

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  • 21.12.1914 News: Government has acquired 4 acres of Horsell Common for a burial ground for Mahommedan soldiers who die in this country