To Honour a Promise exhibition

Press Release: 07/06/2013

To Honour a Promise

The community exhibition ‘To Honour a Promise’ will be at City Space gallery in the Winchester Discovery Centre from Saturday 15 June until Sunday 7 July.

In the bitter winter of 1914-15 a large military camp was created at Morn Hill on the Downs east of Winchester. Two British Army Divisions destined for the Western Front were stationed there in tented camps. However because of the severe weather that winter, the camps had to be temporarily abandoned and the troops were found accommodation throughout the city. For many in Winchester this winter represented the beginning of the war’s impact on the Home Front, an impact that was to take an increasing toll on the lives and livelihoods of people across the region.

As the British Army, joined by hundreds of thousands from across the Empire, grew throughout 1915 to 1917, the camp expanded further eastward and Morn Hill itself became the largest concentration in Britain of troops in transit to the Western and other Fronts.

By late 1917, after America joined the War in April of that year, Morn Hill was transferred to the US Army still in the role of a rest and transit camp.

At the end of the war the camp became a place of assembly for troops of all Allied nations awaiting repatriation and, by 1919, it had closed.

Cllr Robert Humby, Winchester City Council’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, said:

Winchester City Council is delighted to be able to host this exhibition which highlights work done by members of the local community to create a lasting memorial to the soldiers who passed through Winchester, from all over the world, between 1914 and 1918.

The Mayor of Winchester in a speech in 1919 said that over two million troops from many countries had passed through the City during the War and he made a promise to honour them with a memorial.

Visitors to the exhibition can discover how, one hundred years later, the Morn Hill Memorial Project is attempting to honour this promise.

King’s School and All Saints Primary School, both in Winchester, together with Itchen Abbas Primary School have all contributed to the exhibition with artwork and background information about recruitment and local war memorials.

Hampshire County Council’s Cllr Jackie Porter, member of ‘To Honour a Promise’ working party, said:

It is good that the young people of today are helping remember those who gave their lives in the Great War to ensure our freedom. I would encourage everyone to visit the exhibition and learn about Winchester's role in the war, and the sacrifices made by the soldiers who stayed in our camp. We hope that this project will highlight the important role of Winchester and its citizens in the preparations for battle before and during the First World War and the huge contribution made to the war by soldiers from America and other countries right across the world.

This fascinating record should be better known and The Morn Hill Project Group is grateful for the support given by Hampshire County and Winchester City Councils to hold the City Space exhibition. We hope the work shown, including that of the participating schools, will raise awareness of the story.

Come along to the exhibition and find out about the Memorial Project and if you have a family connection with the Great War we would love to hear about it. There are several ways of getting information to us. You can call in at the exhibition and leave your details or go to:

www.tohonourapromise.co.uk/events/

Click on ‘share your stories’ but remember its not just Morn Hill stories we are interested in, if you have any local family connection with the Great War across Winchester and the District then we are interested. This will help us plan events and exhibitions in 2014 and beyond.

You can also email information to:

tohonourapromise@winchester.gov.uk

Or write to:

To Honour a Promise, Winchester City Council, City Offices, Colebrook Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9LJ