Cambridge is one of the most famous universities in the world and its library is one of only five copyright libraries in the UK. At the start of the twentieth century it was a privileged life for some, but many in Cambridge knew that war was becoming truly inevitable. What the proverbial ‘gown’ feared communicated itself to the surrounding ‘town’. Terrible rumours were rife, that the Germans would burn the university library and raise King’s College chapel to the ground, before firing shells along the tranquil ‘Backs’ of the River Cam until the weeping willows were just blackened stumps. Frightened but determined, age-old ‘town and gown’ rivalries were put aside as the city united against the common enemy. This book tells Cambridge’s fascinating story in the grim years of the Great War. Thousands of university students, graduates and lecturers alike enlisted, along with the patriotic townsfolk. The First Eastern General Military Hospital was subsequently established in Trinity College and treated more than 80,000 casualties from the Western Front.Though the university had been the longtime hub of life and employment in the town, many people suffered great losses and were parted from loved ones, decimating traditional breadwinners and livelihoods, from the rationing of food, drink and fuel, to hundreds of restrictions imposed by DORA. As a result, feelings ran high and eventually led to riots beneath the raiding zeppelins and ever-present threat of death. The poet, Rupert Brooke, a graduate of King’s College, died on his way to the Dardanelles in 1915, but his most famous poem The Soldier became a preemptive memorial and the epitaph of millions. If I should die Think only this of me That there’s some corner of a foreign field That is forever England.
Cambridge in the Great War
Introducing Your Towns and Cities in the Great War, describing the impact of the First World War on local communities in the UK.
The series records, through words and photographs, how each year of the war brought a change in the spirit of the populace as the huge battles taking place in Belgium, France, Gallipoli and elsewhere, took their toll on the menfolk.
Knowledgeable authors document the stories of how these cities and towns were affected by the conflict by researching the local newspapers of the day; along with letters, diaries, photograph albums, parish magazines, trade journals and contemporary printed pamphlets etc, located in the local library archives.
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