Untold Stories (2016)

Untold Stories: Birmingham’s Wounded Soldiers from WW1

This project took place in 2016 and focused on the untold stories of soldiers returning to Birmingham from the Great War with serious physical and psychological injuries. It mapped the sites of hospital treatment and convalescence that were set up in the city and explored what happened to the soldiers after their treatment ended.  It was funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund ‘First World War: Then and Now’ grant.

The project enlisted the help of pupils at Swanshurst school in exploring key sites of auxiliary hospitals around South Birmingham, including Highbury Hall.  Pupils were also trained in conducting filmed oral history interviews with Korean and Suez Veterans about their own experiences and their received memories of WW1 from parents and grandparents.

We also looked more generally at the development of medicine in this period with the help of Lt. Col. Steve Jeffery, a Consultant Burns and Plastic Surgeon with the British Military, the extensive archive collection at the Cadbury Research Library and a lecture by Professor Jonathan Reinarz, Director of the History of Medicine Unit at the University of Birmingham.

This research supported members in assisting members of the public who wished to explore the experiences of their own family members who may have been war casualties.  Several workshops at the Library of Birmingham took place where a range of tools and resources were used to investigate the stories of WW1 veterans.

The project resulted in the development of a Learning Resource to support people in their further research and understanding of the period.  This is available from the People’s Heritage Co-operative on request.

You can view some highlights of the project through this film.

For a more in depth exploration of some of the stories collected by Swanshurst pupils over the course of the project, you can browse through a selection of interviews recorded over the course of the project and at Swanshurst’s ‘Veteran’s Day’ event in 2016.