Historian Richard Broadhead is helping to ensure that the sacrifice of hundreds of Wiltshire soldiers during the First World War is never forgotten with the release of his new book. Mr Broadhead, 45, of Hilmarton, has just published Calne and District Soldiers of the Great War, which aims to preserve the legacy of local men who gave their lives for their country. He said: “It is so important that we do not forget these soldiers. With each generation that passes more is forgotten and we need to do something to make sure they are remembered.
“When you think about soldiers in Afghanistan at the moment, how much will we remember about them in 100 years?”
Mr Broadhead, who has taken a sabattical from his normal work in recruitment, has dedicated four years to researching the book and admitted that some of the stories he came across took him by surprise.
“There was a lieutenant from Calne who was court marshalled during the war and it turns out he was fitted up,” said Mr Broadhead.
“His wife was having an affair with the famous sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein and when someone wrote to the soldier telling him about the affair she went to his commanding officer and said he had threatened to murder her.
“The Army broke into this soldier’s flat and he pulled a gun out, so he was court marshalled and dismissed for showing violence to a superior officer.”
“After a while he was told to go back to the Army as a private and he was killed.
“It is a web of stories but it turned out that he had been telling the truth and his whole life was ruined.”
The soldier in question was a works manager at Harris’ pork factory in Calne, but Mr Broadhead will only reveal his name in the book.
“The reason this story needs to be told is because his family must have gone to the grave ashamed.”
Mr Broadhead has now written to defence secretary Bob Ainsworth asking for the court marshal to be reviewed.
An exhibition bringing the Great War to life will be held at Calne Heritage Centre between November 4 and 26, from 10.30am to 4pm, and Mr Broadhead will be available between noon and 2pm each day to answer any questions. He has information about more than 10,000 casualties with links to Wiltshire.