Military

Arctic Convoy Veteran Stories Feature in New Slide Shows

on Monday, 27 April 2015. Posted in Military

Arctic convoy veterans living in Wiltshire and Swindon have allowed us to record and keep their accounts of life on board convoy ships in the Second World War.

Their accounts include dramatic moments, like receiving the order for PQ17 to scatter; reflective thoughts on the point of the convoys and memories of those who lost their lives; humorous anecdotes like the time when a man on watch realised the fin cutting through the water wasn’t a deadly torpedo ‘just a shark’.

Local 6th form students were given the opportunity to listen to some of these accounts and select from them those which they found of interest to create audio slide shows to publish on our website. One group were interested in the account of the battle to sink the German ship Scharnhorst, which became known as the battle of North Cape. A dramatic account of direct action against the enemy ship, to reduce the threat against the merchant ships on the convoy route. The second group chose a reflective piece about the 1944 convoy that repatriated 1,000s of Russian prisoners of war who were destined for the gulags.

The last group was fascinated by the accounts of life on board, the camaraderie, cockroach races, deck hockey games and other ways that the sailors passed the time when not on duty. The research helped one of the students understand more about the experiences of her relative who had served on the convoys.

All the slide shows produced by the students can now be seen on this website at http://www.wshc.org.uk/education/arctic-convoy-project.html

Wiltshire at War: Community Stories

on Tuesday, 21 October 2014. Posted in Events, Military

Our Heritage Lottery Funded project to uncover and share stories of the First World War Home Front in Wiltshire http://wiltshireatwar.org.uk/ is now moving into its second phase. Over the summer we have been out and about meeting people, making contacts and starting to identify some of the stories that we will be sharing and preserving. This month, we will be showing volunteers from across the county how to do this work so that they can find out and record more stories from their communities.

Places are filling up fast, but if you are interested in coming along to one of these workshops they are taking place at:

Malmesbury Town Hall, 15 Oct 2pm
The Rifles Museum, Salisbury 21 Oct 2pm
Trowbridge Town Hall, 27 Oct 2pm

Full details and how to book a place can be found in the attached Wiltshire at War Training Invite.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes museum education officers are planning the schools element of the project, which will be starting next year and we are looking at the best options for how we present all the stories. This will be done through exhibitions in libraries, museums, village halls, churches etc as well as on a dedicated website.

If you have a story to share, would like to know more about the project or would be interested in hosting an exhibition please contact Emma Golby-Kirk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 02380 262629. You can also visit the project website at www.wiltshireatwar.org.uk

Tim Burge, Museums Officer, October 2014

Researching the Home Front of the First World War in Wiltshire

on Tuesday, 02 September 2014. Posted in Archives, Events, Military

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the First World War the first thing which comes into my mind is barbed wire and mud – and all the associated horrors of trench warfare. This is probably the result of reading the War Poets at school, and watching the film ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ at an impressionable age! As I have got older I’ve read more widely about the War and learned how it impacted on civilian life, as well as on the front line troops. I have been amazed by the scope of that impact, and by the way in which aspects of life on the Home Front (which I had previously assumed were introduced in the Second World War) such as rationing and evacuation, actually had their roots in the First World War. One blog cannot do justice to this topic so I’m just going to touch on a few aspects of the War’s impact on Wiltshire. We hope to uncover more stories of life on the Home Front through the Wiltshire at War: Community Stories project in collaboration with Wiltshire’s museums http://www.wshc.org.uk/blog/item/wiltshire-at-war-community-stories.html

Wiltshire Commemorating WWI

on Tuesday, 19 August 2014. Posted in Military, Museums

In common with other parts of the country museums and heritage organisations across Wiltshire are busy commemorating and exploring the legacy of the First World War.
I thought I would use this post to update you on some of what is currently going on at museums.

Young Gallery, Salisbury - Cicatrix
http://www.younggallerysalisbury.co.uk/event/cicatrix/

A visual arts project of three parts: installation, drawing and film. The audience is presented with another perspective of the WWI Legacy with Salisbury Plain providing the cornerstone for the collaboration exploring the notion that memory provides the fourth dimension to any landscape, Cicatrix offers a challenging alternative viewpoint to mark the centenary of The Great War.

Bradford on Avon Museum
http://www.bradfordonavonmuseum.co.uk/archives/8671

Exhibition focused on the themes The Eve of War, The Front, The Home Front, and Twin Towns.

Calne Heritage Centre 1914-18 Memorial Project http://www.calneheritage.co.uk/exhibitions.php?extype=Current

A five year long project dedicated to the lives of the ancestors of Calne residents, past and present, who lived through WWI. People are being asked to produce posters that detail how their ancestors were affected by the war, which will be displayed and then become part of the Heritage Centre archive.

Wiltshire at War: Community Stories
http://wiltshireatwar.org.uk/

As mentioned previously (http://www.wshc.org.uk/blog/item/wiltshire-at-war-community-stories.html?category_id=19) this county wide project is now picking up pace. Emma our Project Officer is busy working with groups across the county to gather up stories of the home front in Wiltshire, Please visit http://wiltshireatwar.org.uk/ for more information or if you have a story to share. For those of you with links to Market Lavington please come along to Market Lavington Museum on Weds 3rd September from 2.30-4.30 when there will be an opportunity to share and record your family stories of the war.

The Rifles Museum, Salisbury - A View of The Great War
http://www.thewardrobe.org.uk/museum/news-and-events/article/opening-of-the-exhibition-a-view-of-the-great-war

Artwork created by children from two local schools, Avon Valley College, Durrington and Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury, as part of ‘National Memory, Local Stories’, working with the National Portrait Gallery.

Salisbury Museum - Fighting on the Home Front (Oct 4 2014-Jan 17 2015)

http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/salisbury-great-war-fighting-home-front

Salisbury Plain was at the heart of preparing British and Empire troops for war with its many camps, training trenches and airfields and has a unique place in this country’s military history. Using letters, photographs, medals and other personal mementos loaned by the public, as well as loans from Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre and objects from the Museum’s own collections, the exhibition will tell the story of Wiltshire’s war through Wiltshire people’s experiences.

Warminster Museum
http://www.warminstermuseum.org.uk/whats%20on.html

Sep 8th 2014, 7pm
The tank in World War I – illustrated talk by Alwyn Hardy, son of a tank commander


To stay up to date with a whole range of First World War activity across Wiltshire please follow the Heritage in Wiltshire blog at http://heritageinwiltshire.wordpress.com/

Tim Burge, Museums Officer, August 2013

Wiltshire Women of WWI: The Heroine Project Presents DOROTHY LAWRENCE

on Friday, 25 July 2014. Posted in Events, Military

In June 1915, armed only with a bicycle, her wits and a burning journalistic ambition, a young woman named Dorothy Lawrence set out from England determined to reach the frontline of fighting in northern France.

“I’ll see what an ordinary English girl, without credentials or money can accomplish. I’ll see what I can manage as a war correspondent!”

Sleeping in ditches, haystacks and flea-bitten dugouts, Dorothy wheedled, charmed and hoodwinked her way past suspicious gendarmes and the unwanted attentions of frustrated soldiers, to spend ten days under heavy shelling in the French town of Albert shortly before the Battle of Loos.

Revisiting WWII at Longhedge

on Friday, 04 July 2014. Posted in Archaeology, Military

Archaeologists are often thought only to be interested in very old remains – and those are very important to us – but we are also interested in more modern finds and features too. Too often we think we already know everything about events that have happened within living memory, but it’s surprising how often things turn up that have been forgotten, at least within the public record.


Longehedge is an area of land to the north of the Old Sarum Airfield. Old Sarum airfield has a long and illustrious military history. Our original interest in Longhedge was sparked by an Iron Age settlement that appears on aerial photographs. Initial geophysical survey showed the enclosed Iron Age settlement, but also lots of other interesting and unusual features that appeared to be military in origin.


So, in order to get some more information about all of these interesting features, a trenched evaluation was undertaken. The results from the geophysical surveys and trial trenches were mapped (below) and show the iron age and modern features.

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