AS towns and villages across the area prepare to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Emsworth Museum is showcasing its history with a fascinating exhibition.
Museum committee member Bob Duncan got in contact with D-Day veteran Captain Leonard (Len) Butt just over two years ago.
With Bob’s extensive research and Len’s eye-witness accounts, Emsworth’s history has now come to life.
The exhibition, ‘D-Day for Emsworth and its People’, has been more than two years in the making, and the amount of work that has gone into it is ‘remarkable’, said Len.
“So much effort has gone into it and it is an incredibly important exhibition for the local community,” he added.
Visitors to the exhibition, which runs until June 22, will have the opportunity to learn about everything from the role of women in Emsworth during the war and the local ambulance service, to dropped ‘skirts’ and ‘Hobart Funnies’, and Apuldram, Funtington and Selsey squadrons.
For further details, visit the website www.emsworthmuseum.co.uk
THE exhibition gives a vivid and detailed picture of what life was like in Emsworth in the run-up to D-Day.
It is the brainchild of Bob, who took many of the pictures himself and used maps and images from hundreds of books he has collected over the years.
The small museum is filled with photographs and stories depicting life through the war, with everything from personal anecdotes to the stories of Emsworth-born soldiers who lost their lives in battle.
Visitors will be transported into an Emsworth of bygone days, when anyone could be stopped for their ID card at any given time, and even crossing the bridge through the town was a mission in itself.
“I have tried to keep everything as local as possible,” said Bob.
Among the fascinating memorabilia are pieces of shrapnel recovered from Emsworth during the war. Bob said: “People often don’t realise this is shrapnel until they take a closer look. You used to hear it, rattling on the rooftops.
“In the centre of the town – in the square – was a brick air raid shelter for residents, which we helped to build.”
Adjacent to the museum is Emsworth Church, where netting was made – and pictures in the exhibition clearly show women and Red Cross volunteers at work.
It also details the life of women in the war, and depicts how to live with rations – Bob has even got a display of rationed food. “Many people don’t realise that rationing lasted for 14 years!” he added.
Visitors can read about glider pilots and the story of Lt Ronald F Eades, from Emsworth, who died just four days after D-Day.
The exhibition caters for naval, air force and combat enthusiasts alike, even detailing local air spaces around the area which would be disguised as cattle grazing fields when not in use so as to camouflage them from the enemy.
For the full feature, including an interview with D-Day veteran Cpt Len Butt, see this week’s Chichester Observer (June 5).