A hundred years and one day after the Armistice, the centenary of the First World War is finally behind us. Phew.

The four years since we marked the centenary of the outbreak of the war have passed quickly, but as a student of history and especially local history, the war has often been on my mind, and never more so than in the last few weeks.

In September I travelled to France with my brother to lay a wreath on the grave of our ancestor, Jabez Staples MM, exactly a hundred years after he was killed in action, aged 20.

We stood beside the St Quentin Canal, struggling to remember what it was like to be 20, let alone imagine how it must have felt to be that age and be part of a battalion desperately trying to cross a canal under machine gun fire and shelling.

Last month, some friends, steam heritage engineer Colin Hatch and his brother Ian, paid their own tribute to the efforts of Swindon railwaymen by borrowing a replica Howitzer and towing it through town, behind their traction engine.

Last week I joined other friends and acquaintances, including Gordon Shaw of the Rodbourne Community History Group, who put together the magnificent and genuinely moving Remembrance display at St Augustine’s Church (which continues until Saturday and is not to be missed).

Another friend, Mike Pringle, who wrote two books about the war from a local perspective, has also just unveiled a new sculpture: a rather impressive one that underlines the breadth of sacrifice, from the young men who perished, to the animals that died with them.

Yet another friend, Paul Gentleman, has designed a series of train liveries paying tribute to The Fallen, and I have also been privileged to be acquainted with people working hard to record the stories of heroes from Purton, Highworth, Shrivenham and Wootton Bassett.

As if all this wasn’t intense enough, over the weekend I found myself in London, at the chilling Shrouds of the Somme installation at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and yesterday made the trip to Radnor Street Cemetery for its annual Remembrance service. It was there, a few weeks ago, that I helped my friend Mark Sutton, the foremost authority on the war in Swindon, stage an exhibition, and spent the week before it, immersed in research. It started out as a plan to compile a simple list of basic details of the 103 war graves at Radnor Street, but their stories draw you in, irresistibly, and hours of research turned into days.

I discovered that only one of the 103 was killed in action - Battle of Britain pilot, Harold Starr - but one of the beauties of Commonwealth War Graves is all the victims are honoured as equals, whether they died of wounds, or were the victims of accidents or diseases that were a direct result of their military service and the hellish conditions they found themselves in.

They are all heroes, including the one who died at the County Asylum at Devizes, and the two who passed away, far from their homes, in the Red Cross hospital that was set up at the baths in Milton Road.

All in all, it is fair to say the last four years have been intense, fascinating and sometimes harrowing, but always worth it.

The victims of the First World War in Swindon and the surrounding area have been raised from mere names in books or rolls of honour and on memorials, and made into real people again.

So, a hundred years after a promise was made that “We will remember them”, today is the day to say: well done, Swindon. You kept your promise.