New Forest Remembers
Not many people realise that the New Forest played an important role both during and in the build-up to the First and Second World Wars. For both conflicts thousands of troops and equipment arrived in the Forest with little notification to local communities. Training areas, camps, storage, testing and experimental sites were established and during the lead up to D-Day even local residents needed ID cards for permission to get around.
Building on the hugely successful New Forest Remembers: untold stories of World War Two project the New Forest National Park Authority has expanded its research to include the First World War, with an overall aim to record the archaeology, history and memories of the New Forest during both the First and Second World Wars. These findings will be available via this free to access online digital archive.
The New Forest Remembers project aims to leave a legacy for the New Forest through an accurate searchable interactive archive of what was here, what has been lost and what survives. We want the archive to continually grow and expand as new information comes to light, is released to the public or is stumbled across in the Forest. For this we need groups and individuals to get involved and share memories, material, knowledge and expertise. To see how you can get involved visit the Get Involved page.
We could not have achieved as much as we have, so far, without the involvement of volunteers and public contributors. During the Second World War project volunteers helped deliver the following:
- 95 Field Survey Days comprising 603 individual volunteer days
- 10 Site Improvement Days comprising 93 individual volunteer days
- 352 Volunteer Days spent on Oral History
- 147 recorded Oral History interviews
- 88 hours of recordings
- 30 Independent Volunteer Research Days
- 164 Volunteers took part in two community digs
Over 1300 individual sites of interest were identified and over 1000 pages of WWII historic documents and 400 photographs were donated for digitization and scanning by the general public.
With little evidence surviving ‘on the ground’ today of the camps, hospitals and training areas used during World War I, it is important that we make as much information available via other means.
Many local community groups have been researching the First World War and displaying their findings at their local events. With funding from Exxon Mobil we have expanded the functions of the Interactive Portal to enable it to include WWI material and aim to collect as much information about the role the Forest played, supporting local groups in telling their local story and making this information available via the online archive.
We invite all local groups, societies and or individuals researching the First and Second World War in the New Forest to share your findings, contribute on the portal and join together in telling this Forest’s story.
Want to find out more? Please have a look at the New Forest Remembers leaflet by clicking here. Visit the project pages on the Park Authorities website for additional information:
New Forest Remembers Reports and Documents
During the New Forest Remembers WWII Project a number of surveys, excavations and reports were commissioned. The Portal is the project’s method of collecting and disseminating this information on the WWII and WWI archaeology and history of the New Forest area.
One of the commissioned reports was an extensive WWII period desk based assessment (DBA), which can be read here (Warning - Large File). Working with volunteers the project team verified and assessed these sites on the ground.
In map options on the main map page you can turn on a WWII overlay, which generates the black lines on the map. These are WWII and WWI sites that have been digitised from old aerial photos as part of a National English Heritage National Mapping Programme. This programme works to map all archaeological periods, but we are showing the WWII and WWI archaeology on the Portal. You can access the full report, covering the WWII archaeology here (Warning - Large File).