Tag Archives: World War Two

Guide to Moose

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

The main theme this week has been talks in the community. On Monday, staff were present in East Chinnock Village Hall to provide a talk entitled: “The Heritage of East Chinnock.” This was particularly intriguing as we used images of St. Mary’s Church from 1880 taken by Henry Stiby and a comparative image taken on 4th February 2017. The main difference between the two images is the stained glass windows given by Gunter Anton and installed by Gunter and fellow POW Anton Bischof and several of Gunter’s employees. The windows were given by Gunter to the village for the kindness he received in East Chinnock while a prisoner of war in 1945-1948. Gunter was a POW at Houndstone Camp, Yeovil but worked during the day on a local farm in the village. The windows were designed by Sepp Vees. We understand that Sepp was not a POW but was held in a disciplinary camp in the Balkans for most of World War Two by his own people for speaking out against the Nazi Regime.

During the talk, staff also referred to the entry for “East Chinnock” in the Kelly’s Directories from 1861, 1910 and 1935 to examine the types of trades in the village and the family connections to the War Memorial Tablet in the Church.

On Tuesday, we provided a short outreach activity with local Brownies; Guides and Rangers at the Abbey Manor Community Centre. This was part of their Thinking Day, which we believe was part of the Birthday of Scout Founder, Lord Baden-Powell (born on 22nd February 1857). We showed a Guide Tunic from 1921-1930, dated by the badges and a Brownie tunic from 1987-1991 – dated by the donor.

The interesting element was the types of badges attained. One of the striking differences to the children was the “Photography Badge” which required the participant to “Take”; “Develop” and “Fix” an “Interior Photograph” “Exterior Photograph” and “Running Action Photograph.” We compared this with a staff digital camera.

We then travelled across Yeovil to The Moose Hall to give a talk on “Education in Yeovil” where one of the Members remembered Reckleford School, though as staff pointed out, not from one of our illustrations, which was dated 1880!

All in all, staff hopefully did enough to earn their “Entertainment Badge!”

Some of the badges on a recently donated Brownie tunic from a Yeovil-based Brownie Group.

dscn3738

dscn3735

These include from top:

“Magnifying Glass – Collector’s Badge”

“Rabbit – Discoverer”

“Quill and paper – Writer’s Badge”

“Key and Lock – Crime Prevention”

And the “Jester’s Badge” at the bottom. All of these badges were introduced around 1968.

Value the Victory

Another intriguing and varied week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, Yeovil, Somerset.

We recently received a ‘timely’ reminder in the form of the ‘W.J. Sherriff’ Clock from Preston Road Methodist Church, Yeovil. This week’s blog is timely for another reason. Literally, in the last hour, we have received a photograph of a Victory in Europe (VE) Day Party at Western Terrace,            St. Michael’s Avenue, Yeovil with the 70th Anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th May.

Once again, this highlights the poignancy of photographs ‘capturing’ a particular moment and the importance of accurate documentation. For those generations separated by time from the ‘global conflict’ or accustomed to images of war relayed on 24 hour news, the significance and impact of Churchill’s speech announcing cessation of conflict (though Victory in Japan VJ Day would come later) may be difficult to imagine.

Something of the feeling of the time is captured in the faces of the children and their parents, especially with the request to attend in fancy dress. With rationing still in force, some imagination seems to have gone into the costumes – perhaps ‘make do and mend’ becoming ‘make do and imagine’. The smiles and number in the group also reflect the momentous nature of the event. Many of the children may also have attended the local Pen Mill School, suggesting this was either part of the school day or a special weekend occasion. The majority of adults in the image are ladies, which may give some indication.

Timely and accurate documentation is also key to record at the time of donation, any one known in the photograph. This was certainly the case, with members of the Trask family (mineral water fame) being identified. This can also help if we ask for further information through a press release – as not only are people able to identify unknown ‘faces’ but also confirm existing details and can share memories of the time.

The strange and perhaps sad point, inevitably, is what lies ‘behind’ the image, with losses on both sides. Perhaps the point remains and is strengthened further, especially with Thursday 7th May’s General Election, is the freedoms we enjoy and owe to previous generations – “For our tomorrow, they gave their today” – with our celebrations tempered by the suffering experienced but also the choice we now have, and consider how we ‘value the victory.’

Victory in Europe Party, Western Terrace, Yeovil 8th May 1945 with the Methodist Church in the Background.

VE Day Party Swain844