McGann launches LJMU WWI project

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Paul McGann with family war picture

Paul McGann with family war picture. Pic by Ida Husøy

Actor Paul McGann has urged Merseyside residents to come forward with their World War I family memories and memorabilia.

Liverpool John Moores University has launched its ‘Merseyside at War 1914-1918’ project to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the war.

The scheme got underway at Liverpool Central Library as screen star and former Doctor Who actor McGann brought along some of his own family memorabilia to add to the project.

McGann told JMU Journalism: “Now that the eyewitnesses are gone and the last service people have died, it’s gone from living memory. It’s vitally important to understand the social history. Everybody was touched by it, it’s important because these are our stories. I’m here today because these men survived, sometimes by the skin of their teeth. These are your people and these are your stories. You can become part of building up a living history.”

All contributions will be uploaded on to where people can read stories, look at photographs, letters and other documents already posted and find out how to include their own memories.

Lord David Alton, Director of the LJMU Foundation for Citizenship, said: “This year marks 100 years since the outbreak of the Great War, so we developed this interactive, online, living archive allowing people to tell the stories of bravery of sacrifice in the local community.”

David Woods with his grandfather's letter

David Woods with his grandfather’s letter. Pic by Ida Husøy

The British death toll during the First World War was almost one million, with a further 1.6 million wounded – the most of any war Britain has ever fought in.

David Woods’ grandfather served in the war and he came along to bring some photographs and letters. He told JMU Journalism: “Looking into my grandfather’s history has been amazing, through doing it we discovered a long-lost cousin in America. I look at his letters and I get choked up. He was married with five children so it must have been so hard for him to go, my grandfather was a hero – my mad hero!”

JMU Journalism Radio: Ida Husøy reports

Paul McGann

Additional reporting by Aimee Morris, JMU Journalism TV

About Claire Reid, JMU Journalism