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Staffordshire to commemorate Cannock Chase history and role of WWI training camps

Plans to highlight the history of Cannock Chase including the role of the Great War training camps are being planned for the summer.

The Chase’s two military camps trained over half a million troops for the trenches from across the UK and abroad and today survive as the most complete Great War archaeological sites in the country. Soldiers would have spent several months at the camps to learn the skills required on the Western Front.

Now, 100 years on, a commemoration event being held on 24th and 25th June will pay tribute to the area’s history and role in the Great War.

Visitors will get the chance to experience a WWI field hospital, take a tour of the Great War hut and watch films of the time in an authentic period cinema. The event will also host a full sized replica SE5A Fighter Plane with an opportunity to sit in the cockpit and experience something of the cramped conditions early pilots experienced.

The Birmingham Pals will demonstrate mining techniques and infantry training methods from the period with a chance to enter a mine and experience what it was like to dig for victory on the Western Front.

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities at Staffordshire County Council said:

“Cannock Chase is steeped in history and we’re incredibly proud to have such a valuable heritage site right on our doorstep.

“We’re looking forward to the event which will give people the chance to learn more about this important landscape and its history.  As well as a chance to experience what life was like on the training camps, the event will also show visitors what life would have been like for people living on the Chase thousands of years ago.”

Cannock Chase Council’s  Managing Director, Tony McGovern said

“The Chase has a truly special importance in the heritage, history and culture of our District. This event will help people to understand and appreciate how significant a role Cannock Chase has played, not only in the First World War but throughout history.”

The event will also showcase results from the Heritage Lottery funded ‘Chase through Time’ project which is exploring the wider archaeology and history of the Chase.  Visitors can experience key periods of the area’s history from the Iron Age, right through to the Norman period and beyond.  People will have the chance to talk with local historians, including a Norman resident of the Chase who will explain about hunting during the medieval period.

The event will take place at the Cannock Chase Visitor Centre, on Marquis Drive and is being organised by Staffordshire County Council alongside partners including Cannock Chase District Council, Cannock Chase AONB Unit, Friends of Cannock Chase and Historic England.

People can find out more about the event on the Chase Through Time Facebook page (facebook.com/CTTProject) and can learn more about the county’s Great War commemorations at www.staffordshiregreatwar.com.