Research carried out by British Future into the National understanding of the First World War in the lead up to the Commemorations in 2014 have indicated that there are clear gaps in our knowledge of World War one and the events surrounding it. Many people found it difficult to distinguish between World War One and Two with only 13% correctly identifying Belgium as the territory invaded leading to Britain declaring war. On top of this only 7% knew that women were first entitled to vote in 1918. A surprising statistic revealed that only 44% knew that Indian soldiers, who made up 10% of the British war effort, fought beside British troops in the trenches.
These facts, coupled with the result that 80% of people asked believed that it was important to acknowledge Britain’s diversity grew from history reflected in Commonwealth and multi-ethnic contribution to both world wars, clearly indicates the requirement to broaden the understanding of the significant Commonwealth contribution.
To this end Baroness Warsi, together with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), has championed the Curzon Institute’s project to develop the understanding of the Commonwealth contribution across the country.
The role that soldiers, sailors and airmen from the Commonwealth played in The First World War is all too often misunderstood and remains only partially appreciated. Our project seeks to inform all audiences that Britain has a glorious history of international cooperation and partnership with the peoples of the Commonwealth, and that this partnership secured Allied victory in the 'Great War'.
Starting from November 2013, the Curzon Institute will deliver a series of lectures across the country to schools and communities showing how the Commonwealth contributed so significantly during the First World War. The Curzon Institute has been working closely with DCLG, British Future, Ministry of Defence (MOD), Institute of Education, the Imperial War Museum, the Commonwealth War graves Commission and National Army Museum amongst others. Research has demonstrated that the plurality of the war effort is little known today and therefore, before we move towards the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, it is important to develop this understanding.Please click here to view our WW1 Commonwealth Contribution Presentation