Tag Archives: USA

Actively Arizona

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

Of particular interest was a recent ‘passive’ collection donated to us via Yeovil Library.

Most of the objects and photographs donated to CHAC are due to ‘passive’ collecting. This is where someone contacts staff, often by email or telephone to ask if we would like certain items. The opposite of this is ‘active’ collecting, where staff identify gaps in the collection and attempt to fill them, through actively doing something about it, often through a press release asking for specific objects to be donated. One example of this was the ‘Westland Aircraft 1914 – 1918’ Brochure, which came about as a result of asking for items during the Westland 100 Anniversary.

Two examples of ‘passive’ collecting this week started on Thursday with a call from Yeovil Library where a gentleman wanted to donate items related to an aircraft accident in Arizona, U.S.A, which had a connection to Yeovil. Rather intrigued, we asked when they would like to visit and they suggested right away. The call was very useful as this simply alerted us to expect the person, to also prepare the necessary paperwork and inform our colleagues if they came to the public reception, rather than our front door!

Upon arrival, the story emerged of John Leopold Gomm, from Yeovil, who had trained as an RAF pilot and then gone out to Mesa, Arizona for further activities during the Second World War. The central nature of the documents and photographs was recording his death due to an “aircraft accident” in August 1943 and the memorial in Falcon Field, Arizona. The documents sent a shiver through staff, as they include the original telegram informing John’s wife, Phyllis of 23, Sherborne Road, Yeovil of her husband’s death. There is also an official notice of condolence from Buckingham Palace and a colourful series of tourist postcards showing some of Arizona’s most popular attractions. The tone of this once simple document is altered completely by a simple cross in biro on the local map on the inside, which indicates The Falcon Field Memorial Graves for the pilots. Exactly what happened and why is the subject of further research.

There is also another mystery as the collection contains a black and white photograph of a ‘dancing lady’ inscribed “best wishes Phyllis” – which suggests this was obtained by John and sent home to his wife in Yeovil. This takes on an interesting meaning, when turning the image over to reveal a stamp of “The Windmill Theatre, London.”

CHAC Staff were also assisted by two Council Colleagues with a large donation of archaeological items.

We also experienced an interesting Thursday as the first afternoon without our Yeovil University Centre Students!

This week has illustrated once again that local people are being active on our behalf.


Some of the items related to the “aircraft accident” in Mesa, Arizona involving John Leopold Gomm, we believe from Yeovil, Somerset.

Letter to P Gomm from Buckingham Palace345

Arizona 1343

Arizona 2344

Our District Council Colleagues helping with a large donation of archaeological items.



















Stitchin’ USA

A busy and eventful week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, Yeovil.

We began the week with our regular volunteer update meeting, where our volunteers can express any thoughts or concerns, based on their weekly tasks. This is also a useful opportunity to update everyone on what is happening and cultivate the sense of community that is in our title. This is key for staff and volunteers, especially where 5 hours a week on a volunteer task is profitable in itself, but enhanced when we realize that this helps with research visits from the public and also that this is taking place in Museums and Heritage Sites around the Country and world wide.

The contribution of volunteer time also enables staff to complete other vital tasks, to ensure the smooth running of the centre. Tidying up the mezzanine floor certainly comes under this category! This is where we store old exhibition panels and displays and some larger conservation materials. Since the closure of the public museum in 2011, this has become one area that has required sorting to enable us to access what we need effectively and dispose of what we no longer need. Setting a specfic time in our diaries has enabled staff to complete this and to see where more than one person is required to lift heavy items.

In other news, we have welcomed a group of Yeovil College Students for a tour today in order to familiarise them with the workings of CHAC. They will be with staff for a set time each week helping with practical activities like documenting a photograph or downloading information on relative humidity. This is to help them with their English and History Courses.

I also have to beg forgiveness from the Beach Boys for our ‘play on words’ title as the sewing machine used by Moffat’s of Yeovil has now arrived with the new owner in California, USA, with the following information:

Ok, the James Moffat Yeovil glove machine has arrived!!!  Safe and sound.

We now know this was purchased while on tour of Europe.

The top tension disks were missing.  The Singer disks from a 46k1 have a center hole that is too large for the Moffat machine to use, so  they removed the whole top tension mechanism and replaced it with the top tension mechanism from a Singer 46k1.  They have kept the original, in the hopes that some day he will find a set of disks that are the correct size.  If there is an opportunity to measure the outer diameter and hole diameter of the originals in your possession, that would be of great service in being able to locate a matching size.

So excited, looking forward to making it stitch again!

We also have a First World War display currently in Yeovil Library using exhibition panels supplied by the Imperial War Museum and linked to the Newnam VAD Hospital in South Street – which is stated on the former hospital on a commemorative plaque in South Street, opposite the library.

Yeovil Calendar Sales now stand at 324.

The Moffat Sewing Machine from Yeovil – now in California, USA! (Courtesy of the owner)

01 - 1885 Mofatt 46k1 clone - Front