North Devon museums mark D-Day 75th anniversary
Posted on: 28 May 2019
Visitors to museums in North Devon this summer will get a glimpse into the area’s contribution to D-Day 75 years ago.
Seven museums and visitor centres are joining forces to tell the story of wartime coastal experiments and the presence of 10,000 American GI soldiers. The exhibitions, which also include a touring show of the work of Braunton wartime artist Brian Chugg, are part of Devon D-Day, a summer-long commemoration of the time that North Devon’s coastline hosted preparations for the end of World War II.
Alison Mills, Manager of The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, says: “World War II changed the landscape of North Devon and had a profound impact on its people. Much of the area was used for military experiments and training for D-Day and thousands of service personnel intermingled with local people. Our museums have fascinating material from these extraordinary times and the exhibitions this summer bring these real life stories to the fore”.
Braunton Museum has one of the largest D-Day displays in North Devon, including rare film footage of the army training on Braunton Burrows and personal testimony from American soldiers and the local people whose lives they touched. A special exhibition explores the military and cultural impact of World War II across North Devon.
In Appledore, North Devon Maritime Museum presents photographs and eyewitness accounts of local military experiments with names like ‘Carrot’ and ‘Hobart’s Funnies’, and explores underwater warfare techniques.
Visitors to Ilfracombe Museum can discover the story of the American troops stationed in the town, its vibrant wartime community of Jews and other refugees and view contemporary British press photos of the action on the Normandy beaches.
Mortehoe Museum’s exhibition includes one of the most evocative objects from the era, an American Red Cross Register kept at the Red Barn pub in Woolacombe when it was used as a social centre for US troops. Featuring the signatures of countless American GIs, the register can be digitally searched for names.
From 25 May, Northam Burrows Centre will display photographs, film footage and artefacts from Northam Burrows and Westward Ho! during World War II.
At Combe Martin Museum and Information Point, visitors can discover how the people of this busy coastal village helped with the war effort.
A free ‘What’s On’ programme listing all of the events in Devon D-Day is available from Tourist Information and visitor centres and museums. You can also view it online at www.barnstaplemuseum.org.uk.
Devon D-Day is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, with additional financial support from North Devon Council, North Devon Coast AONB Sustainable Development Fund
and North Devon Marketing Bureau.