Almost 100 years ago, the people of this city and country were about to find themselves embroiled in conflict.
The First World War, which began on August 4, 1914, would last more than four years and change the course of history.
It would cost millions of lives and rage across the world’s oceans and continents
Everybody was affected, from the soldiers called upon to serve in muddy trenches in foreign fields to the sailors on board warships and the families back home having to get on with their daily existence when the country was at war.
With the passage of time, the danger is that such history becomes more distant. Without first-hand accounts and the stories of veterans, it can seem less personal.
So exhibitions such as Lest We Forget at Portsmouth’s City Museum are important to help give people an impression of what the First World War was like.
Items such as a bible pierced with a bullet hole, a soldier’s diary, a wooden cross that marked a Hampshire soldier’s grave in France and a doll given to his daughter by a sailor before leaving on his last fateful voyage are packed with poignancy.
They bring alive the story of the war, lifting it off the pages of text books and making it feel very real.
As city museums project co-ordinator Sue Wright says, it’s very much a living exhibition.
People can add their own stories to the patchwork, filling in gaps of knowledge or introducing new elements.
The result really helps today’s generation to better understand what life was like during the war.
It’s not just a room full of exhibits.
To engage younger visitors, there are interactive games and recordings to listen to.
We congratulate the team behind the free exhibition (it’s a joint venture between the museum and University of Portsmouth) and urge people of all ages to go along and share in the story of the First World War.
Because, as the title of the exhibition suggests, it is so important that we don’t forget.