Arundel's contribution to the First World War recorded for future generations

More than five years of work researching Arundel's contribution to the First World War have culminated in a touring exhibition that will be available for years to come.

Friday, 9th November 2018, 4:28 pm
Updated Monday, 12th November 2018, 1:47 pm
Some of the many people who have been working on the research for Arundel Museum

Arundel in the Great War features information panels which having been displayed separately at various locations in the town for about a month.

They were all brought together at Arundel Museum today for a presentation to invited guests, including the Duke of Norfolk.

Malcolm Farquharson, chairman of trustees, said: “Today is the culmination of a number of projects to commemorate the people and groups of Arundel who made a contribution to the war effort between 1914 and 1918, and it is the result of over five years work.

Arundel Museum life president Pauline Carder offering trench cake made from the original government recipe, right, and gingerbread made from Alice Officers hand-written 1917 recipe. She explained trench cake was created to provide carbohydrates for the soldiers, who were eating too much protein as their diet consisted mainly of bully beef.

“A key part of the three Arundel in the Great War research projects has been the way that museum staff, volunteers and researchers have worked with the castle archivists, schools, Arundel Scout Group, all the local churches and the town council.”

The work started with A Taste of the Home Front, which gave a flavour of what people were eating. Trench cake made from the original government recipe and gingerbread made from Alice Officer’s hand-written 1917 recipe were handed round.

Casualties, Convalescence and Community, the story of Arundel’s Red Cross Hospital during the First World War, was the second project, including an exhibition at the museum last autumn.

David Gillard said: “The idea was that we would look at how the town had responded to the call that was made for facilities such as convalescent hospitals.”

Explorer Scout leader Bob Rendall from 1st Arundel Scout Group and Centurion Explorer Scouts, with the panels about the Scouts' contribution

During the process, the remarkable diary of Winnie Bishop was uncovered, which proved invaluable as no official records survive from the Red Cross hospital, which was set up at St Wilfrid’s Priory. Winnie had even collected autographs from the many soldiers cared for and this provides the only known list of patient names.

David said: “That actually was such a discovery, we had to go back to the Heritage Lottery Fund and say ‘may we have longer’, and they granted that to us.”

At the beginning of the war, the 15th Duke and Duchess of Norfolk responded by providing accommodation for officers and the Duchess was instrumental in the establishing of St Wilfrid’s Red Cross Hospital in Arundel.

The latest project, led by John Morrison, outlines the service and compassion of all those in and around Arundel who served and supported the Great War 100 years ago.

Mr Farquharson said: “It was a mammoth undertaking.”

All three projects were financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and have been brought together for the centenary of Armistice Day on Sunday.

The exhibition, which will be on display at Arundel Museum until Tuesday, details the many names, locations, employers and voluntary organisations from 100 years ago and sets out stories of service, loss, determination, ingenuity and compassion for people to reflect on.

Mr Morrison said it was important that proper credit was given to the service and compassion given by the people of Arundel, both on the Home Front and in battle.

The exhibition includes eight different strands, including the Scouts, who were involved in a number of activities at the start of the war, the two Arundel schools, where the pupils have responded to the project with great enthusiasm, and a panel for Tortington, where there is a roll of honour of people who signed up to serve.

The panels will be available for people to borrow and use to help tell the story.

Mr Morrison said: “It is not the exhibition today that is important, it is the fact the story has been built up and shared. People will be using the material for years to come. It is to carry on being used, out and about.”

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