One of the best (as in, most authentically moving) WW1-related things I've seen this year I came across by accident. I heard a short piece of music that I liked one morning on BBC Radio 3, and the presenter attributed it to one F.S. Kelly, who had studied at Balliol College, Oxford, won a gold medal at the 1908 Olympics, and quickly gained recognition as a composer of talent. Tragically, however, Kelly was killed in France, like so many other young men of promise in that generation. Naturally, I followed this up, and in the process discovered that the Balliol College War Memorial Book, published in two volumes in 1924, is available online at, of all places, Flickr.
To browse through these volumes is to get a real glimpse of the bloody swathe that the Great War cut through an entire generation. From just one Oxford college, around 300 men died. Some of them were barely-formed boys, with little more to be said about them than "He was clever; he won a place at Balliol; he joined the army; he died". But some were destined to be the shapers of the future, for example Raymond Asquith. It is particularly moving to read in one place so many contemporary accounts of ordinary and not-so-ordinary untimely deaths in war, using the language and emotional range of the time, and written while the grief was still raw.
Kelly's page is here. Remarkably, he was present at the death of Rupert Brooke at Skyros en route to Gallipoli (not from wounds, but from an infected mosquito bite). In that last heyday of the old, rigidly class-bound Britain, it seems such young men of talent and similar background found themselves thrown together wherever they went. As someone once said, "life is just one damn Balliol man after another".
A corner of a field in France...