My name is Alan Jennings, and I live in Wiltshire. I first became interested in the Great War when, as a teenager at school, we covered the poetry of the First World War. Like many others, I was moved by the poems, particularly those of Wilfred Owen, tragically killed only one week before the end of the war. I read the poems, and then read some more about Wilfred Owen and this led me to other War poets, such as Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon. My interest is now much wider, but stemmed from this.
What really fascinated me, and still does, was not the military aspects, the strategy or the political reasons behind the war and why it was fought. Rather I wondered what it must have been like to live through it, as an officer, as Graves, Sassoon and Owen did, or as an ordinary soldier in the trenches. The question I asked myself was, how would I have responded? How would I have coped with the traumas, boredom, fear, cold, mud, being ordered to kill other men, or to face a situation where they were trying to kill me? There is no way, thankfully, to answer, but it was that question that led me to learn more about the First World War, and that has sustained my interest over many years.
In my late teens I was keen to travel to France to see the battlefields of the Somme, but for various reasons I never did. Then real life intervened, in terms of jobs, career, marriage and children - and although I remained interested in and a keen student of the War, I didn't get to make my first battlefield visit (which was to the Somme) until many years later.
I now travel to Flanders, the Somme and other battlefields several times every year, and it is amazing to see some of the sites that can still be viewed. Even more than reading books, this gives a fascinating insight into what it must have been like. You can judge the distance of No Mans Land, walk (as they did on the 1st of July 1916) uphill from where the British trenches were to where the German lines were, and imagine what it must have been like ninety years ago when bullets and shells scarred the air all around.
It was for this reason that I decided to set up this website, to share my interest. The website has been running since 2005, and has increased dramatically in size and scope since then. It reflects my genuine interest in the subject, and if others can gain some information and value from the site, then that's a great reward for me.
If you have any comments on the site, please e-mail me at Webmaster.