Soldiers at Stonehenge

Soldiers at Stonehenge

9th October 2014

Stonehenge has long been associated with prehistoric history. However, a new exhibition at the Stonehenge exhibition and visitor centre – ‘Soldiers at Stonehenge – Salisbury Plain and the journey to the First World War’ – explores its more recent history. Stonehenge stood at the heart of the world’s largest military training camp during the First World War, with 180,000 men stationed there at any one time, coming from across the Commonwealth to prepare for battle. With personal stories, photographs and original objects drawn from a range of museums and private, local and national collections, the exhibition shares what life was like for the men who trained on Salisbury Plain and how reminders of their presence can still be seen across the Stonehenge landscape.  Included in the display are the medals awarded to the heir to Stonehenge, Lieutenant Edmund Antrobus, who was killed in action, and original artwork of The Better ‘Ole – one of the most famous war cartoons of all time. It was on Salisbury Plain that its creator, Bruce Bairnsfather, developed his humorous series of cartoons about life in the trenches. The Better ‘Ole is one of the best remembered and depicts two soldiers in a muddy shell hole with explosions bursting all around. The younger of the two is grumbling and the other advises him: ‘Well, if you knows of a better 'ole, go to it.’ Bairnsfather went on to invent Old Bill, an old soldier with a trademark walrus moustache and balaclava. His cartoons achieved immense popularity because they expressed the views of the ordinary soldier in the trenches. 
• ‘Soldiers at Stonehenge – Salisbury Plain and the journey to the First World War’ opens on      5 November at the Stonehenge exhibition and visitor centre in Amesbury, Wiltshire. Visit www.english-heritage.co.uk Return to News

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