Friday, 3 January 2014

A Military Routine

19th December 2013

By Jack Welch, Volunteer Press Officer

After Christmas celebrations on Tuesday, it was back to business as usual for today, as a number of the WITS team made a short walk up to the The Keep Museum, where its vast resources made this the perfect location to continue our investigations into Dorset soldier's experience of the First World War. The team split off into various tasks, in order to ensure we could gather enough evidence for the ten caches we are going to place around various locations on our interactive heritage trail of Walking in the Shoes of a First World War Dorset soldier's training for war.

Rosie, in her librarian role, compiles documents together.
Issy was delving into the works of T.E. Lawrence and his journey and listing Devon and Dorset regiments and the Dorset Yeomanry engagement in the war and researching 'telling facts' of a  Dorset soldier's personal experience. The team at the museum believe in the value of "bringing back to life' the soldiers of Dorset, by telling their story and we had the privilege of sharing in their research. They advised us by using real-life stories set in the correct political and social context of the war would have the most impact on the Dorset public.
 We were surprised to learn when a photograph revealed that our base, Routes: Young Persons Information and Advice Centre, 5 North Square, was once a recreational centre for soldiers who were based in the local area. How times have changed, with the building strikingly different compared to how it appears in the photo. Ashley had got himself stuck into his own specialist subject of the weapons of a soldier and recording a description from a retired sergeant major on how they would be trained to appropriately handle these dangerous objects.

The group getting busy with their assigned tasks
Rivan was on research duties, as he looked for additional stories and photo evidence on trench raids, and quizzed one of the Keep's volunteers on any findings about trenches and the experiences of crew members who operated tanks. Finally, Jack was capturing some new primary evidence, as he recorded the stories of curator, retired Captain Colin Parr and volunteer, Christopher Jary, about their own knowledge and family recollections of the time. Colin was even kind enough to don the hat of an officer, as he took Jack through the day in the life of  a new First World War recruit. The building of The Keep Military Museum was part of the barracks for the Devon and Dorset regiment and was a place that new recruits would have come to from all over Dorset.  Our morning there proved to be very constructive, with less tasks to complete now when the group returns to the museum after the New Year.

Alongside some of the treats we had leftover from Tuesday and hot drinks all round, we thanked the Keep for their time and expertise and terrific primary source research opportunities.

The group were very proud of their efforts.

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