On July 28th 1914 the First World War began; a conflict that would not officially end until November 1918 and would lead to the death of more than 9 million soldiers. Although fighting did not reach mainland Britain, the effect of the War on the country was dramatic. Few families were left untouched, and the effects of the conflict would be in evidence for many years to come.
In Cambridge, the once noisy and crowded Colleges were rapidly depopulated as students rushed to enlist. By October 1914 fewer than half the usual number of men were in residence. Their places were soon taken by soldiers, some billeted in Colleges; others encamped in the fields around the town. Nevile’s Court at Trinity was transformed into a field hospital, later to be transferred to the King’s and Clare cricket ground, where the University Library now stands.
In total 13,878 members of the University served and 2,470 were killed. Of those 2,470, 55 were members of St. Catharine’s.
Over the course of the centenary of the conflict, the Archivist has written a series of articles for the St. Catharine's College Society Magazine discussing the impact of the War on the College. These articles have now been brought together and can be accessed via these pages of the College website.
You can read about the role that St. Chad's played as a Hospital during the War, as well as seeing the effect of the War on College Governance. Research has also been carried out into the activities of College Clubs and Societies during the War. A final article talks about what some of the College's members did during, and after the War.
Those who were killed in the conflict are remembered on the College's War Memorial in the College Chapel. The Chapel is generally open to visitors when the College is open, and you are welcome to visit. If you are travelling from a long way away, it is wise to check that the Chapel will be open as sometimes rehersals and concerts do take place, limiting access. Please contact the Chaplain for advice, firstname.lastname@example.org.