AS the centenary of the start of the First World War draws nearer, remarkable stories are being unearthed across the country.

None more so than our report today of the notes made on the battlefield by a Pontypool soldier.

Private Charles Heare's account of his active service is a moving and poetic narrative of the horrors the war inflicted on soldiers and civilians alike.

There will be many such stories told during this year of remembrance.

For that is what the centenary of the First World War is. It is not a macabre celebration, but a time for reflection and gratitude.

This newspaper will be marking the centenary with a special publication in August and then with a series of reports, republished from our archives, telling the story of Gwent at War.

Archives like ours - and of local newspapers across Britain - are invaluable tools as the nation seeks to understand more about the reality of what was believed at the time to be the 'war to end all wars'.

Just as important are the stories that have been passed down through generations of families. Yours are the stories we want to tell as we mark the centenary.

The brave men who served their country in the First World War have all gone.

One hundred years on, we all have a responsibility to ensure their efforts and sacrifices are never forgotten.