The wide-ranging impact of the First World War on life in Saffron Walden is the theme of the Spring 2014 issue of the Saffron Walden Historical Journal, a bumper issue of 40 pages which was published on 28 April 2014.
More than dozen specially-commissioned articles are complemented by about 70 illustrations, including many never published before, and numerous photos of the men of Walden who fought in the war, 159 of whom did not return. Photos of some of these men, recently found in a cupboard, are published for the first time.
Starting with one man’s personal account of soldiering right through the war, the journal continues with an in-depth and very perceptive analysis by John Howard of the reasons behind the extraordinary anti-German riot which took place in the town soon after the outbreak of war. The immense efforts needed on the Home Front are the subject of other articles by Jacqueline Cooper. As the war developed, military tribunals were introduced with increasing numbers applying for exemption. The conduct of these tribunals and the experiences of conscientious objectors are examined by town historians, Malcolm White and Martyn Everett. Local residents have loaned some remarkable postcards which reflect what must have been the most noticeable effect of WW1 on the streets of the town – the billeting of thousands of troops in 1915 and other times. This affected the economy of the town and impacted on children’s education. Saffron Walden’s expert on WW1, Robert Pike, has contributed a number of articles, while the role played by women in the war is exemplified in Deborah Lowe’s detailed biography of one remarkable nurse.
This issue also has a new look. The journal team has sadly lost the services of former deputy editor, Gordon Ridgewell who has moved out of town: ‘We would like to pay tribute to Gordon’s work,’ commented editor Jacqueline Cooper. ‘He has given his expertise, energy and enthusiasm over the past ten years through more than 20 issues, and helped to make the journal an important part of the town’s history scene.’ Martyn Everett has now become deputy editor, with the graphic design now in the hands of Nick Crawley, who has redesigned the journal.
The journal is published by the Saffron Walden Historical Society, and costs £3 from the Tourist Information Office, Waitrose, Lankester Antiques, Harts Book Room and other outlets, or by post.