Royal Engineers Museum reveals ambitious plans for First World War centenary

By Richard Moss | 06 August 2013

During the First World War the Royal Engineers were the British Army Corps responsible, more than any other, for the trenches of the British sectors of the Western Front.

a photo of a First World War propaganda poster showing a soldier standing on a map of France reaching out to a man standing on a map of England.
© Courtesy Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive
As well as designing and developing this vast network of saps and dugouts, the sappers of the Royal Engineers also handled many of the technological developments of the 1914-1918 war, including the camps, the postal service, transport systems and, of course, the tunnels.

Now the Museum of the Royal Engineers, based in the Corps' home of Chatham in Kent, has released details of its commemorative event programme marking the centenary of the First World War in 2014 and their role in it.

Reflecting a desire to also explore the impact of the war on the locality (Kent was the main embarkation point for thousands of soldiers heading to Flanders and Somme), the programme includes a brace of exhibitions examining the role of recruitment during the early stages of the war in 1914, together with a programme designed to engage local schools.

“The Centenary of the First World War is obviously of a massive importance to the Royal Engineers Museum as the Corps played such a vital role in the conflict,” says Deputy Curator Amy Adams. “But the commemorations will also be of a wider importance to Kent which was in many ways the front line.

“Our hope is that by the end of the Centenary commemorations visitors to the museum and the wider public will have a better understanding of the First World War and the role the Royal Engineers and Kent had to play in it.”

The museum will be reinstating its monthly lecture series - with the accent on the First World War, hosting a special screening of Oh What a Lovely War and holding a weekend event exploring General Kitchener’s Army of 1914. There will also be a collections road show.

The event programme is part of the wider network of local, regional, national and international cultural and educational organisations led by IWM (Imperial War Museums) under the banner of the First World War Centenary Partnership, which currently comprises 1,400 members from across 27 countries.

In late autumn this year, IWM will launch the collective programme for the partnership with an online centenary cultural events calendar, which will be developed with the help of Culture24 and published on 1914.org.

This will become the central hub for all the Partnership’s centenary activities and showcase how and where people can get involved and mark the centenary across the nation.

For more information about the First World War Centenary Partnership visit www.1914.org.

More pictures:

a photo of British soldiers lined up in a trench
© Courtesy Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive
A photo of a heart-shaped decorated cushion with a Royal Engineers badge at its centre
A sweetheart cushion featuring the Royal Engineers cap badge© Courtesy Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive
a photo of two First World War soldiers using telescopes and surveying equipment in a field
Royal Engineers using a Heliograph somewhere on the Western Front© Courtesy Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive
a black and white photo of First World War British soldiers filling water cans
© Courtesy Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:

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