I am now just over six months into my placement at West Yorkshire Archive Service and have worked on many diverse projects, from the re-brand of the Service to an outreach pop-up shop event (that was actually based within an empty shop within a local shopping centre). However, the project I am currently working on, identifying and researching the First World War collections that we hold, is the one that has most inspired me and captured my interest. From a collection of poems and illustrations made by soldiers whilst they were being treated in Bradford War Hospital, to official minutes from the meetings of Otleyâ€™s Belgian Refugee Committee, to personal letters and diaries giving an insight into what life was like during 1914-1918 both at home and at the front; the collections are vast and draw on personal experiences as well as official documentation issued at the time.
One of the collections concerned a soldier named Fred Smith of Kirkgate, who whilst serving for our country, was taken as a German Prisoner of War in May 1918 and kept at the Guscrow camp in Mecklenburg. The collection contains the correspondence between the War Office and his mother about Fredâ€™s capture, letters from Fred to home, which he wrote whilst in the camp, and a letter from King George V welcoming him home on his return from the camp to England.