The county of Hertfordshire boasts a rich and diverse history as far back as the 10th Century when the towns and villages of Hertfordshire gained wealth from supplying the ever-expanding city of London which is situated on its southern border.
The county itself has also grown considerably in population over recent centuries, having a population of 203,000 in 1881 and some 1.18 million residents by 2017. At the time of the First World War Hertfordshire was home to approximately 330,000, most of whom resided in the larger towns in the county such as St Albans, Hertford and Watford. The impact of The Great War on every one of the 100 counties in the UK was tremendous; shaking the very foundations of everyday life to its core and Hertfordshire was certainly no exception. Not only did men and women from Herts make the ultimate sacrifice in every theatre of the global conflict, but the war also came to these shores, with many Zeppelin Raids causing casualties on the Home Front.
When it comes to the military aspect of the county's sacrifice, the fact, contrary to the myth of a lost generation, is that, although thousands of Hertfordshire's young men who did not return, 8 out of 9 men who served in the Great War came home. Of course, it is also true that many carried physical scars and disabilities and many psychological damage that even today we cannot comprehend.
There were 51 ‘Thankful villages’ in England and Wales (where all men returned), Puttenham was the only one in Hertfordshire. Every other town and village listed here lost men in the Great War. Some only a few, some losing hundreds of its residents. The Herts at War Project aims to tell the story of every single man and women who lost their life as a result of the war of 1914-1918. The scale and scope of this undertaking is enormous, something that has never been attempted in such depth on a county-wide basis. As a community we hope to achieve this goal, forming a legacy of remembrance for the thousands named on these town pages.
With dedicated volunteers and contributions from relatives and members of the public, we will bring back to life these forgotten stories of men and women who lived on our streets and went to our schools and for whom Hertfordshire was just as much home as it is for us today.
The Herts at War Team would like to invite members of the Hertfordshire communities to become involved in researching their own area's local heroes or to help with other areas of Hertfordshire. By retracing the lives of these men and women from their birth to their ultimate fate we are creating a community legacy that will act as a flagship for remembrance, not just in Hertfordshire but throughout the entire United Kingdom. If you would like to be involved in telling the wartime story of your local soldiers, then you can contact us via Contribute.
Over two million men were wounded, many of returned to service and ultimately survived the conflict, some were so badly wounded that they could not re-join the armed forces, and many more suffered injuries that were not physically obvious but were equally debilitating.
Over time the Herts at War Project will expand this section of the site to tell the stories of those who served, whether they died or returned from the conflict that is called The Great War. We acknowledge those who returned had the incredibly difficult task of returning to normal civilian life, some never managing it at all. These 'casualties', often overlooked by mainstream history, played a key part in shaping the county of Hertfordshire post-war and will be remembered here in these pages.