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Wymondham to tell the story of its role in First World War

Planning for 2014, the Wymondham Heritage Group at Wymondham Heritage Museum.
Pip Woodward with part of a new 1st world war exhibition being installed.

Planning for 2014, the Wymondham Heritage Group at Wymondham Heritage Museum. Pip Woodward with part of a new 1st world war exhibition being installed.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013

Wymondham’s role in the First World War will be told in an exhibition at a museum due to be officially opened for its summer season this week by a former head of the British Army.

General Sir Richard Dannatt will be joined by relatives of those who fought in the conflict when he formally opens Wymondham Heritage Museum for its 2014 season at a ceremony on Friday.

With this year being the centenary of the start of the Great War, the conflict will be the main theme of the museum’s displays until it closes for the year on November 1.

Pip Woodard, chairman of the Wymondham Heritage Museum Committee, said the goal was to “tell a number of stores of how the war affected the town, such as the local hospital and some of its soldiers”.

It will include the life story of Harry Daniels, the Wymondham-born soldier who was awarded the Victorian Cross after advancing on German trenches at Neuve Chapelle, France in no-man’s land when it was strewn with barbed wires.

Letters, diaries and photographs will also be used to illustrate the experiences of Wymondham men who fought in the fateful Gallipoli campaign of 1915 and 1916, where the Allied forces suffered one of their heaviest defeats.

Men from the 4th and 5th Battalions of the Norfolk Regiment were sent in to lead the battle but many did not return after Britain’s opponents took advantage of poor leadership, a lack of planning and bad luck.

A community cabinet project, which is being supported by a grant from Arts Council England, will display the private collections of different people from Wymondham who fought between 1914 and 1918.

The small displays will be changed every six weeks or so to tell the story of a different soldier from the town.

Mr Woodard said: “This centenary has actually touched a huge number of people. There isn’t a town or a family that hasn’t been affected in some way by the First World War.”

He added that the project had taken a year to put together because so many people had contacted the museum with their own stories about relatives during the period.

“The number of people contacting us to say they had got stuff was quite incredible,” he said. “It is quite fascinating how many people have got stories to tell about their relatives.”

There will also be information about those who ran the Red Cross Hospital at Abbotsford.

Is your community mark the anniversary of the First World War? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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