The extraordinary death tolls suffered on the fighting fronts of the First World War gave rise to devastating and unprecedented levels of loss for individuals and communities across Europe and the wider world.

Indeed, bereavement became so widespread during the conflict that it can rightly be regarded as one of the defining experiences of the war. However, historians have had relatively little to say about wartime loss and the bereaved have not been widely acknowledged or remembered during the centenary commemorations of the conflict.

This two-day (5–6 September) collaborative conference at the Institute of Historical Research and Senate House will shed light on this much-overlooked theme. It will bring historians and community groups together to explore maternal bereavement as a result of the war, an experience that was understood to be particularly painful and difficult to come to terms with.

Organised by Big Ideas, the London Centre for Public History, and the Institute of Historical Research, it is staged as part of an ongoing community commemoration project on motherhood, loss and the First World War. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the National Lottery grant from the Big Lottery Fund, funds the project.

The conference includes entry to a range of evening events including an exclusive live music performance by Clare Connors, the award-winning British composer and an evening lecture.

Big Ideas is offering travel bursaries for community groups across the UK to join this conference. If you are interested in getting involved in the Motherhood, loss and the First World War project and would like more information, free resources and funding opportunities, please email mothers@big-ideas.orgor visit

When: 5–6 September 2018, 12.45–5pm
Who: Institute of Historical Research
Where: Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Tickets: standard 2 days (£50); standard 1 day (£30); concession 2 days (£25); concession 1 day (£15)

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Image: ‘Mourning relatives lay flowers at the grave of a fallen serviceman, former Western Front, c. 1921’ (CWGC archive)