Tag Archives: National Holocaust Memorial Day

Mark of Respect

Today, 27th January 2016, marks National Holocaust Memorial Day and South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre has a display in Yeovil Town Library, King George Street side window.

This includes two main elements.

The first is three photographs donated to the Community Heritage Access Centre in Yeovil around ten years ago by the son of a local serviceman.

They were taken unofficially by the serviceman at Bergen Belsen and look fairly innocuous until you read the descriptions written on the back:




And a Polish Jew at a new grave.

Belsen Camp

April 1945

Intriguingly, the serviceman returned to Somerset after World War II and became a car salesman, but he wanted what he saw to be remembered.

The second element relates to the Kindertransport. 

The Kindertransport was a unique humanitarian programme from November 1938 to September 1939.  Around 10,000 children, the majority of whom were Jewish, were sent from their families in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to Great Britain.

After the Nazis came to power in 1933 the persecution of Jews began. This reached a pre-war peak with Kristallnacht (the Night of the Broken Glass) on 9/10 November 1938.  267 synagogues were destroyed, 100 people were killed, all remaining Jewish stores in the Reich were destroyed and almost 30,000 people were taken to concentration camps.

Sir Samuel Hoare, the Home Secretary, issued travel documents on the basis of group lists rather than individual applications.  Strict conditions were placed upon the entry of the children.

Jewish and non-Jewish agencies promised to fund the operation and to ensure that none of the refugees would become a financial burden on the public.  Every child would have a guarantee of £50 to finance his or her eventual re-emigration.

Alan Overton, of the Christadelphian Church in Birmingham made a further commitment. He made regular trips to London’s Liverpool Street Station to meet the boat train from Germany and to collect frightened and tearful children, some as young as three.

Several Church Members provided a room in their own homes and a special centre was also established named ‘Elpis Lodge.’ Around 250 children were saved in this way.

Heritage Staff interviewed Bruce Overton, (Alan Overton’s son) in 2001 as part of Masters of Arts Research. A copy of one of the letters sent to Alan Overton and images of children saved by his efforts are reproduced below.

Talbot Road




Dear Brother Overton,

I heard your appeal on behalf of the German refugees after the meeting last night. You were so overwhelmed with enquiries that I did not try to speak to you personally, but came home and wrote this letter.

My wife and I would be pleased to give a home to one child either boy or girl that you think would be suitable.

We have been married four years and are without children so naturally a child as young as possible would be appreciated, but owing to the urgency of the situation, we would gladly take one child irrespective of age.

We are in the position to give it a good home and to maintain it properly, but unfortunately, we are unable to pay a deposit. Hoping that you will be able to utilise this offer, We remain your sincere Brother and Sister In Christ.

Bro & Sis G. Futcher.

Get Them Out Poster188

Overton saved Children185

Grown Up Overton saved Children187



Guard and Guide

We have enjoyed another busy and thought-provoking week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

So far this week, our volunteers have helped us to document and accession new items and photographs into the main collection; photograph and re-pack the glove collection in new acid-free tissue and catch up on holidays!

One of our recent exciting experiences (among many!) came last Friday when we provided an illustrated talk to the Yeovil Trefoil Guild of former Girl Guides. In our preparation, a local student studying ‘Global Heritage’ helped us to find a wide variety of items, photographs and one specific item of costume. Firstly, this was extremely helpful and reassuring for staff, as every object we searched for on our database was found in the store, in the location listed! This was further evidence that we continue to fulfil this part of the Accreditation Standard gained in 2014.

Secondly, this was extremely fulfilling for our student as we went to the shelf or box and, like magic, the actual items were revealed. This was particularly so, when we discovered what a Guide or Ranger had to complete to achieve a specific badge; running 100 yards in 14 seconds for example, as part of the ‘Athlete’ Badge or ‘Being entertaining for 15 minutes and playing a banjo’ for the ‘Entertainers’ badge; the first half of which I was trying for!

We also suggested how forward thinking the guides were, as in the 1926 ‘list of badges’ there were badges for ‘Photography’ and for the oldest group ‘Rangers’ there was a ‘Motorist’ Badge, where young ladies had to ‘start; stop and change a flooded carburettor’ on a motor car.

We also compared and contrasted the 1926 and the 1946 badges – with the notable inclusion of an ‘Aircraft’ badge in the latter and the significant ‘July 1945 returned to London’ possibly indicating an evacuee. We completed the talk with an actual Girl Guides Uniform, which an email from the World Society of Guides and Scouts indicated dating from between 1921 and 1930 by the badges and provided a detailed description of each badge and therefore the wearer.

The talk was great for our student to see the fruition of all the work put in at CHAC actually demonstrated and enjoyed by the Trefoil Guild Members; especially as we linked Girl Guides to the changing perception of ladies’ roles in the First World War and how this helped to break down barriers in society. A real highlight was a 1950’s account book for the Yeovil Girl Guides and a list of girl’s names at the top – and a lady came up to us afterwards, pointed at one name and confirmed ‘that’s me!’

Our Yeovil College Students also enjoyed their weekly visit, helping us to check the environmental conditions in our stores, by downloading the information from the dataloggers.

Our bi-monthly Archaeological Finds Afternoon also yielded a selection of notable finds including Roman coins and a ‘locally specific’ design of Roman ‘clothes broach.’

We also think of National Holocaust Memorial Day, which is held next Wednesday 27th January 2016 and our Yeovil Library Display on this theme is proving popular.

Girl Guides Athletes235

The 1926 Girl Guide Rule Book ‘Athlete’ Badge – anyone for a 100 yard dash?!

We have also received this mystery ‘marker’ – originally thought to be a car park marker, or railway marker – or perhaps even something to do with ‘Petters’? Please let us know!