Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dorchester Remembers the Great War – by Anita Harries from 'Durnovaria Diaries'

Dorchester Remembers the Great War is a book by Brian Bates, a positive fount of knowledge when it comes to the subject of World War One. 

He is definitely like a dog with a bone when it comes to delving into the many names depicted on war memorials and carved into stones held within churchyards and cemeteries. He must devote countless hours researching these names, contacting surviving relatives of those lost before their time, never to grow old and have families of their own. 

It is hard to believe that over eleven hundred men enlisted from Dorchester alone, spread across the far reaches of the globe from France to Russia, Mesopotamia and beyond. Those who survived returned home with terrible tales to tell. Those who never returned have only their name to bear witness to the pointless loss of life, a cross, a memorial, death their only salvation, a grave holding their stories for ever, memories lost …until now. 

Dorchester Remembers gives a voice to these stories, personal yet with a lasting effect on those left behind. Read through this book and you learn how war reflected on their lives, unravelling a fascinating but often tragic picture of the social history of the war years. Little would have impacted more on the town of Dorchester, and Brian brings this to life with his insight into these brave soldiers and their families, reliving the times and creating reminders of all that has now been lost to the town. 

There are few signs, if any, of the largest prisoner-of-war camp the town once housed and the important military presence we once had. 

We are fortunate to have such a wonderful jewel in our crown as the Keep Military Museum …. 

And of course people like Brian who highlight the importance of those lost and the way their lives are still embedded in the life we have today.

This book is well worth a read. I find the whole thing spell-binding, discovering names I recognise, including my maiden name of Bascombe – not as common as some. This is another treasure from the Roving Press. If you love local history this is a must. You never know what you may discover about your own family. 

           Author royalties from the book are being donated to the charities Sense and Sightsavers.

Dorchester Remembers the Great War is available from Roving Press (, tel 01300 321531) and on sale locally.

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