Photographs of doomed Lewes generation are so moving, says mayor

The exhibition launch: Cllr Mike Chartier (left), Cllr Janet Baah and Cllr Graham Mayhew
The exhibition launch: Cllr Mike Chartier (left), Cllr Janet Baah and Cllr Graham Mayhew

The Mayor of Lewes, Cllr Janet Baah, on Monday opened the Faces of the Great War photograph exhibition, which runs until Saturday, November 17, in Lewes Town Hall.

She said: “This is an amazing exhibition. I found the pictures and the stories about the lives of these Lewes men and women and what happened to them very moving.

“I hope all the Lewes schools will encourage their children to visit and learn about what happened to so many young people from our town 100 years ago.”

Cllr Mike Chartier, chairman of Lewes Town Council’s Commemorations Working Party, said: “The images and stories really bring home the immediacy of what happened in the Great War.

“Collecting all these photos and telling their stories is an amazing achievement and the result of four years’ work by Cllr Dr Graham Mayhew. I want to thank him for all he has done.

“This exhibition, the culmination of a series of events put on by the town council, is a fitting tribute to the Lewes men and women who went through experiences we can scarcely imagine today. If we had been born when they were, it could so easily have been us.”

Dr Mayhew, who is working to produce a book about the lives of all of the 370 Lewes men and women who died in the Great War aimed to coincide with the centenary of the War Memorial in 2022, said: “Researching and writing about these Lewes men and women, most of whom came from ordinary working class backgrounds and many of whose lives were really hard, has really brought home to me the enormity of the loss suffered by every community throughout Britain.

“France lost twice as many, as did Germany. I hope the exhibition will help people understand the scale of the catastrophe which was the Great War, and the huge amount of suffering it caused.

“Unfortunately the mistakes of the peace which followed meant that barely 20 years after it finished, Europe was again plunged into a major war. Hopefully we have now learnt the lessons so that it will never be repeated.”

A talk by Dr Mayhew, ‘Voices of the Great War’, will be given at 2.30pm, repeated at 7pm, on Monday, November 12, in the Council Chamber at Lewes Town Hall, based on letters sent back by Lewes men and women from the Front. Admission is free and there is no need to book.