WWI Centenary Exhibition – running 2014 – 2018

Exhibition: Mon 04 Aug 2014 - Mon 22 May 2017
Venue: The Museum Admission: FREE

Throughout the four-year centenary of the First World War, we are keeping track of local people and local life one hundred years ago.

Displays in our hallway are reflecting what was happening as the war went by. From 2014 through to 2018, new stories are being told and different people are being featured, reflecting the situation a hundred years earlier.

Currently we are telling the story of the Battle of the Somme, which lasted from July until November 1916, with particular emphasis on the local men whose deaths were associated with its horrors. They are commemorated on a number of memorials, including the great one at Thiepval.  Some are buried in France, some have no known grave and a few are buried in Thornbury cemetery.

One such young man was William Noel Hodgson, who was killed on July 1st 1916, the very first day of the battle of the Somme during the attack on German trenches near Mametz. He was the youngest child of the former Vicar of St Mary’s, and was studying at Oxford University when the War broke out.  He volunteered straight away and served in the 9th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment.  His actions at the Battle of Loos in 1915 had already won him the Military Cross.  William Hodgson was also a poet and his moving poem “Take my Youth that Died Today ” brought Vera Brittain (Shirley Williams’ mother) “near to weeping” when it was sung in 1919 at the Albert Hall, according to her own account in “Testament of Youth”.

In contrast, Thornbury man Frank Driscoll went through all the horrors of the Somme, only to die on the very last day of the battle. Born in Thornbury in the same year as William Hodgson, he was killed at Ancre on 18 November 1916.  He left behind three children and a wife expecting a fourth baby.

All these stories and more are told in the exhibition and the Museum would be very interested to hear from anyone who knows of other men who served in the Great War and who are commemorated elsewhere.

Do you have photographs, documents, letters, diaries, physical objects or just stories about the experiences of older generations of your family? You can contact the Museum by email or by visiting or telephoning.

Please do get in touch if you have a story you would like to tell us.

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