Tech-savvy visitors to some of the battlefields and cemeteries of the First World War will be able to learn more about its history with a new range of information boards.
A series of “remembrance trails” have been created to help people understand particular battles or phases of the war, and will allow them to download extra information on to their smartphones.
The project will see information panels installed at 500 sites across more than 30 countries in a bid to give more information to people as they visit the sites and follow the history of the First World War.
The panels will include a QR (quick response) code which allows smartphone users to download more information about the cemetery or memorial, including stories of some of the casualties commemorated there.
The first to be put in place is the Forgotten Front Remembrance Trail, which focuses on an often-overlooked section of the former Western Front north of the Somme battlefields and south of the Ypres salient – the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the first year of the war.
Carl Liversage, communications and project manager at the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission), said: “It’s a part of France that not many people tend to visit, they just tend to drive past, so we’ve created this trail and it will link all the sites together and they tell some powerful stories.”
He added: “What we are doing is keeping the names of those who lost their lives alive and also reaching out to younger generations.”
The trails include the story of Albert Whippy, who was among more than 540 officers and men killed, wounded, missing or taken prisoner.
Whippy, whose name appears on a memorial at Le Touret in France, was born in the East End of London and signed up as a regular soldier in 1914, when he was posted to the Northamptonshire Regiment, or “The Steelbacks” as the 1st Battalion were nicknamed.
In January 1915 he joined a draft of reinforcements sent to France where the battalion was holding the line around Neuve Chapelle and Richebourg.
While there, Whippy posed for a French photographer in a studio behind the lines and sent the photograph home with one of several letters to his parents. The picture stood on the mantelpiece of the family home, and even survived the house being bombed in 1940, though Whippy’s letters were lost.
But his legacy lived on after his younger brother Thomas, who survived the war, named his own son Albert after him, and the family still visits the memorial to this day.