De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour
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In the early days of World War One, the enthusiastic patriotism with which young men queued up to join the army gave rise to the concept of a roll of honour war record, to be compiled by the Marquis de Ruvigny and published in honour of those soldiers who would give their lives for their country. It was originally thought that compiling a ww1 military record of names, biographies and photographs would be a relatively easy project to complete, given that most believed the war would be won swiftly and casualties would be small.
However, as the war dragged on and the number of dead increased throughout the remaining years on a scale never matched before or since, De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour became almost impossible to complete. Not only was the professional, regular British army (also known as the British Expeditionary Force) wiped out at Ypres during 1914, but also many of the willing volunteers of Kitchener's new armies were then destroyed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, one of the largest battles of the First World War.
In its final published form, the Roll of Honour records the biographies of more than 25,000 men from the British army, navy and air force, with nearly 7000 of the entries being accompanied by a photograph. This is only a tiny fraction of the soldiers who died in the Great War, but nonetheless is a tribute to those who compiled it, and those who feature in it. It is also an insight into a time when the nation naively and confidently entered into the patriotic spirit of conflict, without any comprehension of the eventual scale of the disaster. De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour is a unique wwi record.
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