A CAMPAIGN has started to uncover Basingstoke’s contribution to, and forgotten stories of, the First World War.

Councillor Keith Chapman, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for culture and recreation, is calling on borough residents to help piece together Basingstoke’s role during the war by coming forward with stories of people who fought in the trenches, and of what their families did back home.

He hopes that stories, pictures, memorabilia and heirlooms can be put on display across the borough as part of the county’s year-long commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War next year.

“We need local stories, what people were going through, and we want to display it locally,” he said. “It seems to me that Basingstoke’s part in the war doesn’t seem to be that well known.

“We are hoping that local people will come forward and tell us their experiences. It’s not all about the war itself but also about life in Britain at that time and what people were suffering.”

Hampshire County Council has provided a £100,000 budget to help commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

Plans include planting poppies in country parks and exhibitions at county-run museums such as Milestones, as well as workshops in schools.

However, Cllr Chapman is determined that the borough should focus on Basingstoke’s contribution during the 1914-1918 war.

He has written to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council asking it to plant poppies in borough parks, and said he is keen for museums to put on locally-themed displays.

“It is not a celebration, but a commemoration,” he said. “It is to remember the sacrifice that people made, not only in the war, but at home in Basingstoke as well. It is important that we don’t forget that.” Anyone able to contribute something, should contact Cllr Chapman by emailing keith.chapman@hants.gov.uk