2014 marks the centenary of the First World War. Around the world people have marked the event in their own ways - through memorials and exhibitions. Brunel is no different. I have been working since 2013 under the supervision of the archivist towards creating a suitable and accessible way of memorialising the war and commemorating those that served.
I have used the collections to create a Roll of Service, and from that a Roll of Honour, as well as examining the role of women in the war. Borough Road College sent over 780 men, students and staff to the conflict, with a death toll of more than 120. Borough Road College also had 48 men recognised for their efforts. A wide variety of accolades were awarded, from a ‘mention in corps orders’ for H. T. Kendall for “saving a man’s life whilst doing bombing practice”, to five Distinguished Service Orders. Some men were awarded medals from other countries, such as R. B. Brace who received both the Croix de Guerre and the Chevallier de la Couronne, both French military medals for gallantry and bravery. Other colleges that became Brunel University London played their part. The women of Maria Grey College became nurses, land girls, “munitionettes”, and fought for women’s suffrage during the conflict. We thought it was important that their efforts were not forgotten.
The archives are hoping to remember the sacrifices made by Brunel’s predecessors through a website for external enquiries, and an exhibition in the Eastern Gateway Building. The website will feature profiles of the men that died during the war, as well as articles about the colleges’ experiences. This will then be translated into an exhibition featuring items from the collection to give an immersive display into Brunel’s predecessors’ history during the war.
The website will be launched soon.