Most people in the United Kingdom will have someone in their family past who served during the Great War of 1914 - 1918. Everyone has heard something about trench warfare, the mud and the large-scale loss of life, but what was everyday life like for the British "Tommy"? What did he do during the vast majority of his time, which was not spent in the Front Line, let alone that tiny part of his service when engaged in fighting?
That's what a small group of dedicated enthusiasts set out to answer on the 70th anniversary of Britain's entry into the Great War, when they founded The Great War Society on 4th August, 1984.
Our core portrayal is that of the British infantryman, covering the entire period between 1914 and 1918.
The Society has developed over the years and now also boasts a German infantry unit, a British General Hospital and several specialist "secondary impressions", including personnel of the Royal Flying Corps and the Tank Corps (originally known as the "Heavy Section / Branch of the Machine Gun Corps", when the newly-invented tanks were first introduced into the British Army in 1916).
SEE THE "GALLERY" SECTION OF THE WEBSITE FOR FURTHER DETAILS, & IMAGES OF ALL OUR UNITS & "SECONDARY IMPRESSIONS" ...
The cornerstone of our activities is a deeply-held respect for the service personnel of the Great War. Thus, all of our uniform, equipment and weaponry is 100% accurate for the 1914 - 1918 period. Nothing less is acceptable, as our aim is to provide a living link with our Great War heritage - not merely current-day people "in costume", but a living, breathing, authentic portrayal of the soldiers of the time which is as close as one can get to actually seeing and meeting them a Century ago.
During the course of our activities, we aim to capture not just the appearance of the troops, but also their character, their habits, their sense of humour and their outlook.
Over the years, we have forged firm friendships with many Great War veterans, including Harry Patch, who became known as "the last fighting Tommy", and who accepted Honorary Veteran Membership of the Great War Society in 2004. These veterans, all of them now sadly passed away, were always fully supportive of our activities in keeping alive the memory of their service "for King and Country" during the 1914 - 1918 conflict.
In recent years, it has been our sad duty - and honour - to parade at the funeral of one of the last Great War veterans, Albert "Smiler" Marshall, as well as having been in official uniformed attendance at the funeral of Harry Patch (GWS was the only living-history group to receive this invitation).
Our work on the Western Front includes commemorative marches in full kit, and parades at various locations in France and Belgium. We have paraded officially at many high-profile venues including the Menin Gate, the Thiepval Memorial, the Lochnagar Crater, Tyne Cot CWGC Cemetery and Fromelles, to name but a few. GWS troops have also had the honour of parading at the re-burials of Great War soldiers whose identified remains have been found in recent years on the Western Front.
Many Satisfied Clients
The Greaty War Society attends numerous events both in the U.K. and on the Western Front during the course of the year, for a variety of sponsors - these include the National Trust, English Heritage, Historic Royal Palaces (at the Tower of London), the Tank Museum at Bovington, the Royal Armouries, the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon and the Shuttleworth Collection.
The GWS is also the resident living-history group at the restored Great War Home Defence aerodrome at Stow Maries in Essex.
In addition to public displays and arena demonstrations as part of our national programme, the GWS has much experience in tailor-made presentations and educational input for other private bodies, such as schools and museums (both military and non-military) - FOR FURTHER DETAILS, PLEASE E-MAIL THE GWS CHAIRMAN USING THE ONLINE ENQUIRY FORM IN THE "CONTACT" SECTION OF THE WEBSITE ...
We also continue to work for the British Army (Regular, Reserve, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and Cadet units), plus regimental museums and associations. This work has included such events as:
The Great War Society is also occasionally called upon to act as a source of specialist military extras for film and TV productions.
In this capacity, we are able to help ensure on-screen historical accuracy in the portrayal of Great War troops and other military personnel of the period. Our work in this area has included dramatic recreations for both documentary and drama productions, as well as footage for immersive films for presentation in museums. Our previous work is too extensive to list here, but has included sponsors such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, Canadian TV etc.
Projects in which we have been involved include:
We can also offer military advice for film, TV and theatre productions.
FOR FURTHER DETAILS AND ALL FILMING ENQUIRIES, PLEASE E-MAIL THE GWS CHAIRMAN USING THE ONLINE FORM IN THE "CONTACT" SECTION OF THE WEBSITE ...