HIS Country Called. He answered with his life’ are the words engraved on a silver locket containing a photograph of Lance Corporal Ernest Nettleton.

It is among several items treasured by Ernest’s family which, in 2013 - nearly a century after his death in a field in northern France - were handed, in an old box, to Bradford World War One Group.

“A joiner was doing some work for us and noticed WW1 books on our shelves,” says group president Tricia Restorick. “He told me about items passed down in the family - his wife is the granddaughter of Ernest’s sister, Bertha. It’s an exceptional collection.”

Ernest Nettleton was an 18-year-old office clerk when war was declared in 1914. He enlisted in 1st Bradford Pals’ Battalion and survived the Somme. In the bitter winter of 1917, after a period of rest, he returned with his Pals battalion to trench life near Hébuterne. On the morning of February 27 they crossed fields in darkness to attack, and were shot down by a German counter attack. Ernest and the 42 other men who died that day lie buried in a German trench, now Owl Trench Cemetery, their names inscribed three to a headstone.

Items kept by Ernest’s family include a photograph of the original grave marker, which has pinned to it nearly 50 metal plates bearing names of the Pals. Also among his papers and medals are the Death Penny, a bronze memorial plaque issued to families of men killed in the war, and silk postcards sent to his mother and sister. “I am in the pink. I hope you are the same and are still collecting for the war fund for the Tommies in France,” Ernest wrote to Bertha.

Ernest’s family also kept a copy of the Wesleyan Methodist Roll of Honour, a booklet, published in July, 1917, recording Wesleyan Methodist soldiers and sailors who died in the previous 12 months - Ernest’s name is among the 3,800.

Many families, like Ernest Nettleton’s, treasured keepsakes in memory of loved ones who died in the First World War. Now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is inviting people to bring these items to a roadshow in Bradford. The event, at City Hall next month, is one of four CWGC roadshows in the UK - one was held in Edinburgh and the others are in Plymouth and Portsmouth.

The events are part of an ambitious project called Lest We Forget: Keep Their Stories Alive, in collaboration with the CWGC and Oxford University, aimed at creating a digital archive of WW1 artefacts stores in homes across the UK.

“People have all sorts of things tucked away, and every object tells a story,” says Elizabeth Smith, CWGC Public Engagement Co-ordinator (North). “We’re not just interested in medals and service records - it’s anything kept from that time that tells a story about life both at the Front and at home during the war. Someone brought along their granny’s old housekeeping book to the Edinburgh roadshow. We want to capture the stories of women at the time, and people from across the Commonwealth. People from Asian communities in Bradford may have photographs, objects or stories passed down about relatives who served in the Indian Army.

“On the day we will also have experts and archivists who can shed a light on objects."

Items brought to the Edinburgh roadshow included a chocolate box filled with medals, postcards, notes, and embroidered pin cushions sent by soldiers to loved ones.

"Someone brought in a photo album that showed life behind the trenches - there were pictures of a diving competition on the Somme, and a horse racing competition," says Elizabeth. "These artefacts give us a glimpse of life behind the usual images of war.

"We want people to bring items in - photographs, medals, papers, keepsakes, diaries, anything that has been kept in their family from the First World War. We will photograph the objects to upload onto a digital archive, preserving them for future generations. If people don't have anything to bring, we can take down their memories and stories."

The CWGC is working with local groups, including Bradford WW1 Group, on promoting the roadshow. The event will include information stands from history research organisations such as West Yorkshire Archive Service.

On Friday, February 1, the evening before the roadshow, there will be a public lecture about CWGC founder Fabian Ware at Bradford Grammar School, where he taught in the late 1800s. The lecture, by Commonwealth Graves historian Max Dutton, is part of commemorations of former pupils who served in WW1.

Fabian Ware, a teacher for four years when the grammar school was on Manor Row, went on to establish what is now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission - a lasting memorial to the men who died during the Great War.

* The CWGC roadshow is at City Hall’s Banqueting Suite on Saturday February 2, from 11am 3pm. Visit cwgc.org

* The CWGC roadshow is at City Hall’s Banqueting Suite on Saturday February 2, from 11am 3pm. Visit cwgc.org