Behind the Scenes – Armed Forces Exhibition 2016

Last week saw us and the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon at the North Devon Veterans’ Association’s Armed Forces Exhibition. Held over three days at Pilton Community College the exhibition included hundreds of stories from past members of the armed forces, as well as displays of equipment used by both former and current personnel. There were also displays from RMB Chivenor and other local organisations.

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Setting up the display

Together with the museum we put on a display containing items from our collections. From a piece of an aircraft which crashed during World War Two, to a helmet dug up from Saunton Sands where training for D-Day took place, and some exquisite needlework created by a wounded World War One soldier and sent home to his wife.

We also took along some stories of some of the World War One soldiers we have been following in the local newspapers. Men like Mervyn Ninnis who was in the 2nd Devonshire Regiment, Fred and Reg Priscott, the twins who served with the 1st / 6th Devons at the Battle of Dujailah, Lt.Col. Oerton, who wrote about the 1st/ 6th Devons experiences at Dujailah and the Cater brothers Frank and Wilfred one of whom served in Gallipoli.

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Our joint display – you can see the two helmets in the background along with a piece of aircraft from a crashed World War Two plane.

The first two days of the exhibition was open to the local schools and over 1,500 students came along. Many of them were fascinated with the objects on show and the stories behind them. Many of them thought the needlework had been done by the Queen, or an elderly mother or aunt and whilst several of the girls would have loved to receive such a gift from their boyfriends, the boys weren’t so convinced!

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Julian from the Museum of Barnstaple talking with a couple of students.

The third day was open to the public and coincided with Armed Forces Day. People were encouraged to talk to the many veterans who were there. We had some fascinating chats with members of the public, veterans and current personnel over the course of the three days.

As part of the exhibition, we have been posting some of the stories we used in our display. Both the stories of Mervyn Ninnis and the Priscott Twins have been posted already with more on Lt. Col. Oerton and the Cater brothers to come in the next few weeks.

…Barum Athena

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