On Monday 18 May the Museum of Somerset hosted a special event to mark the formal opening of the ‘War Stories’ exhibition.
Over 100 guests gathered in the Great Hall of Taunton Castle to watch a sequence of films which explore how Somerset people were affected by the Second World War. The films were created by the South West Heritage Trust to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day
The exhibition includes a specially-commissioned film which focuses on five individuals and features personal objects from 1939–1945. The interviewees, all now living in Somerset, include soldiers who fought in Normandy, a Women’s Land Army recruit, a Jewish refugee who escaped Nazi persecution and an army driver who later worked in post-war Germany.
At the opening event contributors met other interviewees who have participated in the project and also talked to history students from Castle School, Taunton. Guests were able to visit the ‘War Stories’ exhibition in the new Hammet Room Gallery at the Museum of Somerset.
BBC Somerset broadcast live from the event and some of the 90 War Stories recordings made by the station in recent months feature in the exhibition and on the BBC Somerset website.
Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust said ‘The project has been very important and has ensured that Somerset people’s experiences of the war have been preserved for the future. The exhibition is a fine tribute to a remarkable generation.’
The ‘War Stories’ exhibition will run for the rest of 2015. The interviews can be viewed online at www.somersetwarstories.com