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December 9, 2019

Parting Words – Celebrating unsung heroes of the two World Wars

Parting Words

History books are full of heroes. From legendary leaders commanding enormous armies, to soldiers bravely charging into chaotic battlefields motivated only by duty to their kin and country.

But what of those whose noble efforts have not been so visibly recognised? What of the unknown people from countries around the world, of every race and religion, whose quiet acts of sacrifice affected the war effort in extraordinary, life-changing ways? They too are heroes.

Parting Words commemorates the bravery shown by the unsung heroes of the two World Wars, showcasing the depth of human spirit, the hope that unites humanity, and the similarities that bridge our cultural differences.

Ruby Bradley after her release from Manila Prisoner of War Camp

A modern solution with an historic message

The website was designed to mirror the type of content that would be available to us. The images we had were from 70+ years ago which understandably were in black and white or sepia. Creating a website that complimented both the time period and media was essential. While we had a limited palette of black and white, we paid tribute to the Remembrance poppy by including red which is synonymous with the poppy throughout the website.

By adding smoke effects, music and transitions to the website, it gave it a very solemn, eerie and atmospheric feel to the site. We also opted to use a serif typeface for the headings, quotes and captions which would have been more common at the time with the use of typewriters etc. We chose the appropriately named ‘Tribute’ serif typeface which lent itself beautifully to the design.

Our aim was to create a digital solution that would do justice to these 14 incredible individuals and their stories. 

The atmospheric design mirrors what was a dark time for humanity. By combining poetry, music, illustration and other media, the website delivers a powerful and cinematic story of sacrifice and compassion. 

Welsh actor, Robert Pugh lent his voice to the poem which when paired with music for the introduction of the website, added to the atmosphere and created a beautiful introduction to our 14 stories.

The illustrations within each story help to bring the words to life. Picking out notable elements from each story such as medals, weapons and even the pigeon herself, Cher Ami. It’s another nod to the past, drawing the elements instead of using a computer, helping to add further to these amazing stories.

We are proud of how the whole team came together to work on this passion project and to achieve this solution. The team consisted of a copywriter, designer, illustrator/animator, UX/UI designer, back-end developer, narrator and a marketing/strategy manager. Each working together throughout the process from start to end to deliver this website. Each story needed to be media-rich, informative and translatable to both the website and social media.

14 incredible stories

The start of the project involved us researching and identifying the 14 unsung heroes that we would showcase within the website. We ended up with over 50. It was difficult to decide which to take forward for the website launch. Realistically, given the timeframe, it wasn’t possible to do all 50, even though we wanted to.

We decided that the best course of action was to choose 14 stories which covered the widest variety of people, inclusive of race, religion, geography and even species. These stories are from around the globe, including America, England, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Germany and Poland. With stories ranging from a Nazi sympathiser turned Jewish lifesaver to a Native American Corporal who, alongside 17 other Native American ‘codetalkers’, was responsible for bewildering intercepting German forces with an unbreakable code drawn from their native Comanche tongue. It’s the breadth of these stories that really bring the website to life.

These unknown stories and unsung heroes can finally step into the light.

We will not forget them

The website told the stories and recognised the contributions and sacrifices made by men and women around the world, which would, of course, be marked on Remembrance Day. This made Sunday 10th November our absolute deadline for launch. This also coincided with Veterans Day which is marked in the US on the 11th November.

This was a tight turnaround to get the website ready as well as ensuring we gave each story the attention it needed to be able to tell the stories of these incredible people. It’s more important than ever to remember the sacrifices of the men, women and animals who fought or were involved with WW1 and WW2. Their stories are being lost as time passes, generations are growing up barely knowing a thing about either of the World Wars and we hope that with this website, we can at least keep their stories alive for a little longer.

Hopefully, as time goes on, we can discover and add more of these incredible stories to the website so that these little-known acts of heroism can be recognised and passed on to future generations so that they can know of the people who made their futures possible.

View the Parting Words website.

Dan Sargent

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