Expert reveals a town at war

This Is Wiltshire: Mike Pringle during his talk Mike Pringle during his talk

HISTORIAN Mike Pringle told a fascinated audience how the First World War affected Swindon at Savernake Street Social Hall yesterday.

Mike, a member of Swindon in the Great War, spoke about the way it influenced different classes, those left at home while battles were being fought and how the global conflict changed the outlooks of the town’s businesses.

The talk also included details of how underage boys would want to sign up to fight for their country, how a woman’s role changed and how influential the Great Western Railway became.

Due to rail travel, soldiers would regularly come through Swindon while supplies and weaponry would come to and from the town with the Adver describing Swindon as ‘the busiest place in the country’ during the war.

“GWR became our biggest employer making around 200,000 vehicles per year, that is some feat even today,” Mike said.

“As much as it was hard for those who’d left Swindon to serve in the Great War it also took a great toll on those left behind. Life for women changed dramatically as they had to continue doing the things they already were while also taking on jobs, which were seen as dominated by men, while food supplies could also be sparse with the prices of them going up and up.”

The story is told in a Swindon specific edition of a Great War book publisheded in July. The Swindon in the Great War group will also be overseeing the town’s commemorations of the First World War centenary in July.

Mark Sutton, from the group, held a guided tour around Radnor Street Cemetery, on Thursday, telling stories of some of the 104 servicemen who are buried there with 80 losing their lives during the First World War.

  •  Anyone with a story about relatives or artefacts from the war can contact us on 01793 501806.

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