Booklet goes back to the trenches

Trench warfare at Ypres during World War One

Trench warfare at Ypres during World War One

An ambitious project which gave Wiganers with autism the chance to learn about World War One has been officially unveiled.

The Trenchers Times, a new booklet containing artwork, poetry and articles about living through the conflict 100 years ago, was released at an event at the Museum of Wigan Life.

Project manager Denise Colbert, front left, with members of True Colours celebrate producing Trencher Times, a new heritage project based around WW1 events, inspired by Wiper Times, a trench magazine published by British soldiers, the launch was held at the Museum of Wigan Life

Project manager Denise Colbert, front left, with members of True Colours celebrate producing Trencher Times, a new heritage project based around WW1 events, inspired by Wiper Times, a trench magazine published by British soldiers, the launch was held at the Museum of Wigan Life

The idea was created by local historian Denise Colbert who teamed up with service users at community interest company (CIC)True Colours to produce responses to objects from the time.

The learners produced responses to sketches and paintings produced by Wigan soldier Lt Com Sidney Fish, a talented artist who took his drawing materials to Gallipoli where he served.

The group also looked at a box of artefacts and replicas sent by the Imperial War Museum North, while a volunteer called John from Abram used the borough’s archive services to pen many of the articles on the effect the war had on Wigan and Leigh and a couple of war poems.

Denise, from Tyldesley, said: “This project started off as a small idea and it has just taken on a life of its own. I think the group got a lot out of the workshops and John worked really hard doing quite a lot of academic research.

“It has also made me realise the depth of what is in the borough’s archives as there was a lot of material I hadn’t seen before.

“I didn’t know about Lt Com Fish at all. He was in the naval reserves and gives us an insight into a sailor expressing being at war. Some of his paintings have a dark humour but there’s also landscapes.

“I hope people reading the booklet will be encouraged to engage more with the heritage of the borough.”

The project looks at topics including the zeppelin raid on Wigan, local conscientious objectors and the borough’s Victoria Cross recipients.

The booklet, which was inspired by The Wiper Times magazine produced on the front line, will now be distributed in libraries, council buildings and other public spaces.