We want to ensure that the story of D-Day can be communicated to a wide range of people. To help achieve this, we work with the local community.
Working with young people
The D-Day Museum's Youth Advisory Board (known as 'Blackout44') was active during 2013-2014, funded through a grant of £90,000 from Arts Council England. It was formed from Portsmouth young people aged 13-18, and was created in partnership with local charity Pompey in the Community. The group met weekly, with activities including giving feedback on how the D-Day Museum could be improved for young people; working with museum staff to create a display in the museum; creating and performing a drama about the story of a Normandy veteran, which took place in the museum displays; making a documentary film based on interviews they conducted with three local veterans. The documentary film was shown to the public at No.6 Cinema at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
Above: members of 'Blackout44' visiting the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Bayeux, Normandy.
The D-Day Museum was awarded the Shaping the Future of Portsmouth - Future Generations award for this project. Funding for the project has ended. We are now assessing how we can continue with this work in connection with our plans for the redevelopment of the museum.
Four members of the group visited the landing beaches, military cemeteries and museums in Normandy, as part of the project. Two other members of the group visited Auschwitz. These visits enabled the group to greatly increase their understanding of D-Day and the Second World War, and how these subjects can be presented in museums. Museum staff gained insight into how to tell the story of D-Day for young people, and what aspects of this subject they find interesting (which naturally varies for different young people).
You can see a film about the 'Blackout44' drama project here. The cast included local Normandy veteran John Jenkins.
See the documentary film here, which featured interviews with nurse Mary Verrier, munitions worker Joyce Cross and Normandy veteran Dennis Wilson. The 'making of' film about how and why the young people created the documentary can be seen here. Sadly Joyce has since passed away, and we greatly appreciate the time she devoted to this project, and the great relationship that she struck up with the young people.
Project apprentice Jake Walton created a dynamic presentation about what the D-Day Museum and Pompey in the Community have learned from the project, which can be seen here.
Working with community groups
Facilitated by a grant of £91,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the D-Day Museum was able to work with community groups based within a thirty mile radius of Portsmouth. Combining financial input with practical advice and training opportunities the museum supported six groups that were interested in commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and whose work resulted in a mixture of outputs including exhibitions, oral history films and D-Day related publications.
A group from Portsmouth created an oral history film called "Unseen Voices", based around the wartime and D-Day memories of some of their members, all of whom are now visually impaired. Louise Chandler and Allen Jennings led the work and interviewed and filmed seven individuals, who were children or young adults at the time of D-Day. A commemorative book and a programme with audio CD were also created with the needs of the visually impaired in mind. The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth was invited to a private view of the film and it was also shown for the general public on 26 June 2014 at No.6 Cinema at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Unseen Voices was also awarded a place in the Imperial War Museum's Short Film Festival 2014.
Above: The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth presents the Unseen Voices commemorative book to Bert Edwards, one of the interviewees. Photo by Peter Missen.
Groups from Droxford, Bishops Waltham and Buriton all undertook research (including visits to The National Archives, The D-Day Museum and The Hampshire Record Office amongst others); seeking to find out more about the build-up to D-Day in their local area. This research was used to create several different exhibitions. The Buriton group also chose to collate their research into a publication which they will distribute for free within the village. Several groups also produced resources that nearby schools are now using to help them study local history.
Above: D-Day exhibition at Bishop's Waltham Museum.
Portchester Community Association completed a booklet that was successfully launched at the Portchester Gala on the 21st June 2014. Volunteers had collated research and interviewed Portchester residents who could remember D-Day and its impact on the local area. The information was presented in a commemorative booklet that was distributed for free to Year Six Portchester school-children and anyone born on or before 6 June 1944.
The Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham, wanted to investigate the link between D-Day and the Second World War graffiti that covers much of the wall surrounding the centre.
Above: Wall with Second World War graffiti outside Ashcroft Arts Centre. Photo - Catriona Cooper/Sam Griffiths.
Closer examination revealed that none of the graffiti could be specificaly dated to D-Day, and unfortunately there was nothing that enabled us to identify individual soldiers. As part of the project, and inspired by the graffiti and D-Day objects that they were shown, the arts centre group put on a D-Day inspired exhibition featuring a combination of art pieces and information about the graffiti and its relationship to D-Day.
Above: the D-Day exhibition at Ashcroft Arts Centre.
The last project involved working with the Southwick village D-Day group to carry out archaeological surveys of several woods near that village that in 1944 were the home to various Allied headquarters. Supported by professional archaeologists from Chris Butler Archaeological Services, the volunteers carefully examined the woods and recorded any wartime features that were found, taking photographs and measurements as well as a GPS location.
Above: A group of Southwick volunteers carefully survey the woods.
Above: A volunteer and an archaeologist record the remains of a wartime slit trench in one of the woods. The trench wood probably have been dug alongside a trench as a simple air raid shelter.
The community groups were all invited to the D-Day Conference in May 2014 to present their work alongside leading experts in the field of D-Day research. More information about these projects can be found on their own websites:
Buriton Heritage Bank
Bishops Waltham Museum
Portchester Community Association
Friends of Droxford Church
Southwick D-Day Group