Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.
It was a conflict that was not only to change society forever but was to cost the lives of more than nine million people.
The majority of those who paid the ultimate price were young men who rushed to sign up and soon found themselves amidst the carnage of a war that robbed families of husbands, sons and brothers.
Many of those young men came from Newmarket, Mildenhall and Soham, and from the villages close by whose neat memorials now bear permanent witness to their sacrifice, commemorating not war, but the ordinary men whose lives were cut short by it.
And there were those left behind to keep things going on the home front. The women who had to step into men’s shoes, working to keep the country moving while day by day living with the agony of not knowing whether a loved one would return.
With classic understatement, the Journal in August 1914 recorded the start of “an event of unprecedented importance”.
Four years later, and with the benefit of hindsight, the editor might well have chosen stronger words to describe the most cataclysmic war the world had ever seen, but perhaps George Simpson did not want to be accused of scaremongering about what many in 1914 had seen as little more than a continental skirmish, which would all be over by Christmas.
Over the following months the Journal reported the mobilisation of the Territorials, the rush of recruits eager to do their bit for King and Country, the opening of relief funds, the launch of the Newmarket Journal Tobacco Fund for the boys at the Front ... and the arrival at the town’s Rous Memorial Hospital of the wounded.
As time passed and the casualty lists grew, there were few streets in the Journal’s circulation area where houses did not have drawn curtains, following delivery of the dreaded War Office telegram, reporting a husband, son or brother killed or missing, somewhere on that foreign field.
As Mr Simpson reported: “Everybody and everything in local, as well as national life, has been affected by this titanic conflict.”
If you have any memories, memorabilia, letters or photographs of any of your family members from Newmarket, Mildenhall or Soham or any of the villages in this area who served during the Great War, we would like to hear from you. You can contact the Journal newsdesk on 01638 564104 or email Alison.email@example.com or by post to First World War Memories, Newmarket Journal, Rookery House, The Guineas, Newmarket CB8 8SY.