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New book by Peter Martland is a 'moving commemoration' of lost lives

This year's Act of Remembrance in Chapel on Armistice Day will include a rededication of the memorial to those Corpus members who were lost in the Great War. Thanks to the work of historian and alumnus Peter Martland (m1982), whose new book Lost Generations will also be launched on the day, the names of seven men who had been missing from the Chapel's WWI Memorial have now been included.

After the Service, which commences at 10.50 on Armistice Day (Saturday 11 November), Peter will say a few words about his book in the Fellows' Garden. All are welcome to attend.

Lost generations

During his research for the book, Peter discovered the seven individuals whose names were not carved into the memorial when it was created in 1923. The memorial is made up of a beautifully carved alphabetical listing of names drawn up by senior Corpus figures and derived largely from a 1921 University publication The War List which was itself a college-by-college alphabetical listing of all those known to have served in the armed forces during that most recent conflict. Because it relied heavily on contemporary wartime sources The War List contains numerous errors and omissions – including those of the seven Corpus men. 

On learning of the omission, Professor Christopher Kelly, Master of the College agreed that these names should be added to the memorial. As a consequence, the noted Cambridge Cardozo Kindersley Workshop agreed to take on the task, which was completed in August 2023.

Letter cutters
Letter cutters from the workshop of Cardozo Kindersley spent several weeks carving the missing names onto the memorial.

A Legacy to those Lost

In the introduction to Lost Generations, Peter wrote “If this book is to serve a purpose, then it must be to shine a light onto the lives of those men of Corpus who more than one hundred years ago put down their pens and gave up, as one writer put it, ‘those careless, happy student days’ for the sake of country, family, professions, and way of life. However, they did more than that, for when they went off to fight as fate would have it, they also gave up their lives and futures to defend what they believed in, that is to say for us. For that reason alone, they are worth honouring and remembering.”

The book, whose full title is Lost Generations: the lives of those members of the College of Corpus Christi and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Cambridge who died undertaking military service during the First World War, 1914 to 1919,  features biographies of those Corpus members who perished in the Great War. It is generously filled with historical photos both from the men's (often too brief) time at Corpus as well as during their military service. It will be available for purchase for £25; details will be published soon.

Professor Sir Hew Strachan (m1968) wrote in the foreword to the book, “The First World War happened over one hundred years ago but its effects are still to be seen in many other, often unobtrusive, ways in both the College and the University. Peter Martland’s moving commemoration of those who died, and those who also served, gives that legacy immediacy and vividness, transporting us to a College and a society very different from our own.”

Many congratulations to Peter on the publication of this impressive volume, which adds much to the College's historical archives.

The book is available to order online here