Today we're catching up with one of the 40 volunteer researchers working alongside Cornwall's Regimental Museum to discover the stories of local men who left Bodmin to go to war.
Meet Bee - Student, and Research Volunteer for The Trench Bodmin.
Could you introduce yourself to us?
I'm Bee and I'm currently in my second year of studying history with the University of Exeter on their Penryn Campus.
What do you hope to do when you finish Uni?
At the moment I'm not entirely sure what direction I want to go career wise, but the great thing about a history degree is that it's very versatile. I've done quite a lot of work experience in things like archive conservation but I don't think I have the patience to do that as a job! I am currently trying to find internships more in business management though as I've found that it involves a lot of the skills I've developed from my degree like critical thinking and interpretation, as well as a sound understanding of why the world works the way it does.
What made you want to take part in the research for The Trench Bodmin?
My involvement was arranged through my Public History module which aims to teach us about how history interacts and works in the public domain. Even though I was given a few different options of projects I could have worked on, The Trench stood out for me as it seemed like something I could really get my teeth in to. I also really liked the prospect of learning how to research as I've only ever done work in the archives to help other people research their family histories.
Before I volunteered on this project, I had no idea how to do research on individuals, however, thanks to Debs and all the other researches who helped me on the Trench Researcher’s Facebook page, I now feel really confident in my own abilities to carry out research. In fact, I've started to carry out research for my Gran about her family who moved to Russia in the late 1800's which is something she's never been able to find out about.
Are you enjoying working on The Trench?
I've really enjoyed the project! What I've loved the most has been the un-ravelling of information. Sometimes I found myself just going around in circles but then I'd come across a tiny piece of information and it would lead me down a completely different route with lots of interesting things like pictures. I also love seeing how everyone else's projects have turned out and what information they've managed to find, because every story is so different.
Have you discovered anything really interesting?
The soldier I'm currently studying had a very, very colourful family history with his siblings being born all over the world in places like India. I haven't done a lot of research on him yet but so far it's been so interesting just tracing his family all over the world and seeing what jobs they all went on to do.
Any final thoughts about The Trench?
What I think has shocked me the most about this project is that sometimes you forget that the men who went and fought were just normal men who were sons, brothers, husbands but that the impact they had was huge. One of the soldiers I researched didn't make it back, along with his uncle and two cousins, and it's hard to imagine what sort of impact that had on the family back home.
The Trench Bodmin is a great way to commemorate the soldiers of the DCLI, especially for the local communities who may have ties to some of the soldiers. It's such a unique idea and I feel very lucky to have made an impact on the project.