• Surrey in the Great War: a county remembers

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

The Surrey in the Great War: A County Remembers website is now live, click this link to explore the site.

Click here to read the latest news about the project.

Surrey Heritage, part of Surrey County Council, has been awarded £458,800 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its ambitious project Surrey in the Great War: A County Remembers.

The HLF believes the project has the potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money and awarded, in 2014, 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, to prepare a bid for HLF funding for the main project, which will run from 2015 to the end of the commemoration in 2018.

The new award from the HLF will enable Surrey Heritage to undertake the main project which 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

Surrey in the Great War: A County Remembers offers 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 be in touch. 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 was 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.

Click here to find out about Arts Partnership Surrey’s project to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Great War.

The following describes Surreys Heritage’s vision for the Surrey in the Great War: A County Remembers 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.

The project will lead, collect and publish online community-based research exploring all aspects of the impact of the war on the county and the experiences of those who served on the home front and overseas. People of all ages and backgrounds across the county will be inspired to come together with the common aim of creating a global, interactive, accessible and enduring digital resource telling Surrey’s story during the war years. The project will drive new community-based research, especially focusing 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.

This constantly expanding and developing resource will enable people to explore and understand the impact of the war on the county. Contributors of all ages, backgrounds and levels of experience will discover the thrill of investigating and understanding the past as they use original records, letters and newspapers to add content to the website. The project will encourage local people to get involved as volunteers, to share their knowledge and skills with others in order to develop self-sustaining communities with a broader and more robust engagement with heritage. As a result of their work, memories and memorabilia of the war, in danger of disappearing with the passage of time, will be captured for posterity. A range of workshops and events will introduce the project to all parts of Surrey and Surrey Heritage with work with the county’s Arts Partnership to create an imaginative interpretation of some of the project’s discoveries.

The project commenced in 2015 and the focus will be on creating an extensive resource for communities across the county to use for events and displays connected 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.


As they become available, images of the men and women involved in the First World War and the 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 served on the home front and overseas will be presented as a searchable database on the project website. This will allow local, national and global accessibility.

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 contribution and sacrifices of the men and women who served on the home front and overseas during the 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 people and communities. 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 of 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 Edinburgh Award scheme co-ordinator; faith, sports and community groups and especially those groups and individuals not currently actively involved in heritage.


The project commenced in 2015. 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 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 presentation on a dedicated 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.

Helyn Clack, Cabinet Member for Community Services at Surrey County Council said:

“We’re delighted HLF has provided this financial support to commemorate Surrey’s contribution to protecting our country 100 years ago.

“Thousands of men from Surrey alone died in the First World War and many people’s lives back home were changed by it forever and this project will enable communities to explore the local wartime stories behind artefacts and memories to build a lasting digital and physical legacy for generations to come.

“With the support, enthusiasm and energy of current and former Surrey residents of all ages, the project will create a fitting tribute to the sacrifices and suffering of the people who endured the first global war in human history.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF, South East, said:

“The impact of the First World War touched every corner of the UK and the centenary commemorations are giving people new insights into the impact of the conflict, both in the battle zones and on the Home Front.

“HLF has already invested more than £64million in projects – large and small – marking this Centenary. Surrey in the Great War: A County Remembers will enable communities throughout the county to explore the continuing legacy of the war and help young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”

Useful Link

 Surrey’s First World War Projects and Useful Links

13 thoughts on “Commemorating the Surrey Men and Women Involved in the First World War”

  1. paul dyer says:

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

    1. 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: https://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/themes/places/historic_surrey/

      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

  2. 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.

    1. Sue Harvey says:

      I looked up ‘Edwin Reed’, with a dob between 1878 and 1898 and found one by that name born in the July-September quarter of 1879 at Guildford. (If you wish to obtain his birth certificate the General Register Office reference is JAS 1879 Guildford, Vol 2a, page 61.)

      I then searched on the Commonwealth War Graves website and found an Edwin Reed, with a date of death of 9 March 1916 who is commemorated on the BASRA Memorial. He was Gunner 4675 in the Royal Field Artillery.

      I then looked at the 1891 Census and found an 11 year old Edwin Reed living in Woking with his Uncle and Aunt (Thomas and Elizabeth Reed). There is also a Mary Reed (sister of head of household) living there – could this be Edwin’s mother? If so, it is quite possible that his birth could have been registered in Guildford, which is the next town, but that his uncle put ‘Woking’ as place of birth in common with everyone else in the household.

      In the 1881 census a 1 yr old Edwin Reid is living with his grandparents George and Eliza Reid and his mother Mary Reid in Woking.

      In the time I have had available I haven’t been able to find a suitable entry for him in the 1901 or 1911 censuses. As he received the 1914/15 Star, he could have been a regular soldier. RFA records could possibly confirm that from his service number.

      The online records of ‘Army Register of Soldiers Effects’ shows his widow as Kate Elizabeth Emily Walker, but there is no address.

      [I think Walker may have been her maiden name as there is a marriage record in October, November, December 1898, which shows an Edwin Read marrying a Elizabeth Emma Walker in Burton on Trent in 1898 (OND 1898 – Burton – Vol 6b – page 702) – so this MAY be the marriage.

      Hope this information may be helpful.

      Sue Harvey

      1. Pete Smee says:

        Edwin Reed married Kate Elizabeth Emily Walker at the Baptist Chapel in Commercial Road, Guildford on 7th August 1911. Edwin gave his Grandfather’s name as his Father, his Mother was indeed Mary Reed.

  3. 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.

  4. John Birch says:

    I have just completed a small publication that provides a profile of 47 of the 49 men of Wrecclesham whose names are on the memorial in St peter’s Church to victims of World War 1 When I am next in the Surrey History Centre I will leave a copy of this publication. Further copies for any one who may enquire are available price £5.00 from St Peter’s church, Belaes Lane, Farnham.

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