Foreword to the 2014 edition

It is a pleasure and an honour to introduce, on behalf of the Imperial War Museums, this edition of Who's Who for 2014 – the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. Who's Who has, for 165 years, faithfully reflected the changing face of British society. Nothing in those years did so much to accelerate and shape those changes as that war.

As everyone who watched successive series of Downton Abbey has been vividly reminded, it swept away the Edwardian order, and precipitated profound changes in the shocked and diminished Britain which emerged from the conflict. Already before the war, the social, political and religious certainties of the day were beginning to be questioned. The human and material cost of a war which touched every family, and destroyed many of them, gave those questioning voices an irresistible force. Women, drawn in their hundreds of thousands into uniform or industrial work, could no longer be denied the right to vote. The royal family learnt to move among and talk to ordinary people in a way never seen before; it is arguable that the war which destroyed the monarchies of Germany, Austria and Russia was the salvation of our own. And the colossal infrastructure which the state mobilised to fight the war has remained with us ever since.

Already while the war was still in progress, people were determined that the sacrifices that had been made must never be forgotten, and should be given meaning by ensuring that they were never made again. IWM was born in 1917 out of that determination, and it is right that we should be playing a central part throughout the centenary of the war. This summer we shall be opening our entirely new First World War galleries, using the latest technology to tell the story of the war and those who experienced it, whether in Flanders or Gallipoli or in fields, factories and mines. We shall also be leading the Centenary Partnership – the collective international programme of over 1,500 organisations in 32 countries, which will enable millions of people to discover and commemorate the War. In this country they will also be able to explore their own family connections with it through our interactive digital Lives of the First World War platform, and to participate in the four year nationwide programme of cultural activities which we shall be leading. We shall also be showing in our art programme, both from our own collections and by commissioning an important contemporary work, the way in which artists reflected the horrors of modern war – a far cry from the triumphalist military paintings of earlier generations.

This centenary is not a celebration. It is a moment for pride in and gratitude for the colossal sacrifices ordinary people made, and for sober reflection on the way in which states allowed themselves to drift inexorably into a conflict that destroyed many and benefited none of them – and a moment to remember that similar sacrifices and decisions are still being made all over the world today. IWM is proud to be at the heart of that act of commemoration.

Containing information on influential people in all fields, from all parts of the world and from all walks of life, the entries in this 166th edition of Who's Who represent the generations changed by the consequences of the First World War.

Sir Francis Richards, KCMG, CVO
Chairman of Trustees, IWM (Imperial War Museums)

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