Remembering the Second World War

A project to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War has been launched by Somerset County Council’s Heritage Service following a grant of £47,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The project, called ‘War Stories: Reflections on the End of the Second World War’, will focus on recording and sharing video testimony of people whose lives were shaped by the war.

Armed forces veterans from Somerset will tell their stories, as well as other people who directly experienced the war, including members of the Women’s Land Army, evacuees and civilians.

The project’s centrepiece will be an exhibition at The Museum of Somerset in Taunton which will open in Spring 2015. The exhibition will feature video interviews as well as objects, photographs and documents collected as part of the project.

A website will also be created allowing people from Somerset and beyond to engage with the video interviews.  There will be many other opportunities for people to get involved, including through volunteering, attending events or participating in learning activities.

David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for heritage, said: “This project comes at a significant time. As the number of people who experienced the war gradually grows smaller it has become ever more important to capture the first-hand testimony of a remarkable generation.  We are very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for making the project possible.”

Commenting on the grant award, HLF’s Head of South West, Nerys Watts, said: “All communities living in the UK were affected by the Second World War in some way, either by the events that took place, or by the changes it brought about.  We are delighted to support projects such as this one, which both help to preserve the first hand memories and experiences of those people who lived through the wartime period, and also allow us all to understand the influence of wartime events on the way we live today, as well as enabling new generations to mark the key anniversaries of the war.”

The project has also been generously supported by a range of other funders, including the Somerset Military Museum Trust, the Friends of the Museum of Somerset and the Rifles and Light Infantry Association.