Veteran pilot and singer launch World War II exhibition

New Forest Remembers Exhibition

Published Tuesday 26 March 2013

A veteran pilot and a singer who entertained the troops during World War II have helped launch a special exhibition, shedding new light on the New Forest’s pivotal role during the war.

A treasure trove of unseen photos and stories has been unearthed from people’s attics and cupboards for display at the New Forest Remembers exhibition at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst.

The display was officially opened by Julian Johnson, chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, and New Forest East MP Julian Lewis. The exhibition reveals how Allied servicemen based in the Forest prepared for D-Day, how German and Italian prisoners of war were kept and how local residents did their bit for the war effort.

The free exhibition is part of the New Forest Remembers: untold stories of World War II Project run by the New Forest National Park Authority, and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and ExxonMobil at the Fawley Refinery. The two-year project aims to bring the war years alive through archaeological surveys and digitally capturing the memories of those who lived through the war.

Two of the special guests at the exhibition launch were veteran pilot Arthur Poore DFC and former singer Brenda Logie. Mr Poore flew in several bombing raids over German cities, whilst Ms Logie entertained thousands of Allied troops stationed in the New Forest.  

Both have shared their photos and memories, along with dozens of others, illuminating how ordinary people lived and fought through the conflict.

Ms Logie said: ‘I think it’s marvellous that they’ve got so much material together. I don’t think the younger generations know enough about this period and the stories which are jolly interesting.’

The display also includes a previously unseen diary entry from His Majesty King George VI, detailing how in the run up to the Normandy landings he paid a secret visit to the Exbury Estate which was requisitioned as a naval training base, HMS Mastodon.

In a diary made available by the Royal Archives,  the King revealed how he sailed down the Beaulieu River to the Solent and saw a fleet of more than 300 landing craft and ships from the deck of the command ship HMS Bulolo, just days before the start of Operation Overlord.  

Nicholas de Rothschild, whose family have lived at the Exbury estate since 1912, was at the exhibition opening and said: ‘I think it’s a wonderful exhibition. I spent some time recording the people at HMS Mastodon telling their stories. I know why it’s so important to keep them. That’s why this project is such a tremendous achievement.’

Julian Johnson, chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘It never ceases to amaze me how much long-forgotten material is in people’s attics and hidden away in cupboards.  So much of this material has been thrown away in the past and it is refreshing seeing so many old photographs, diaries and recorded reminiscences being exhibited.  It is important that we retrieve as much of this historic information as we can and to ensure that it is kept for future generations.  I am proud that the National Park Authority has been closely involved with this project.’

New Forest East MP Julian Lewis said:  ‘What this exhibit has managed to achieve is bringing together local memories and records with parts of the national collection that people will normally never be able to see unless they’re a specialist researcher. What’s so particularly striking about this project is that people can continue to add their own memories and tributes long after the exhibit has finished.’

The New Forest Remembers exhibit will run at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst until 28 April.

The exhibits will also be available online on a digital portal full of recorded interviews, photos, letters, diaries, film footage and animated 3D reconstructions. Members of the public can also add their stories and memories to the portal.

For more information about the New Forest Remembers Project go to www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/wwii.

-ends-

Photo caption from l-r: New Forest National Park Authority Chairman Julian Johnson, Nicholas de Rothschild from Exbury, New Forest Remembers contributors Brenda Logie and Arthur Poore and New Forest East MP Julian Lewis at the New Forest Remembers exhibition at the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst

Background Information:

Transcript of King George VI diary entry on May 24, 1944

I motored to Exbury, which is now a naval shore base, H.M.S.”’Mastodon”’, where landing craft crews are trained. I spent the day with the Eastern Task Force to see the officers & men of the British Naval Assault Forces in Overlord. I was met by Admiral Sir B. Ramsay, Allied Naval Commander Expeditionary Force, Rear Admiral, Sir P. Vian, Naval Commander Eastern Task Force & others. We went by barge, the Royal Yacht barge, down the Beaulieu River out into the Solent passing landing craft. I went on board the “Bulolo” Command Ship, Force ‘“G’”, Commander Douglas-Pennant, the “’Langs’” Command Ship, Force ‘“S’”, Rear Admiral A.G. Talbot and I saw Force ‘“J’” ashore at the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, Commodore Oliver.  From here I saw all the landing craft in Portsmouth Harbour & lunched on board the cruiser ‘“Scylla”’, Rear Admiral Vian’s flagship. I went in a Naval Rescue Motor Launch to Southampton Water & the Hamble River passed all the landing craft there. I must have seen over 300 landing crafts and other ships attached in the command. I spent a most interesting day. I got back to Wilton at 6:.30 pm.

(This transcription has been made with the permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  No unauthorised reproduction is permitted)

People’s Untold Stories:

The Bomber

Arthur Poore DFC from Southampton took part in a number of bombing raids over German cities during the World War II and would later join the ‘Dambusters’ 617 Squadron. But it was an unscheduled stop in the New Forest which stood out for him as he looked back at his war career. A thick fog stopped hundreds of Lancaster and Halifax bombers from returning to bases on the east coast after a large bombing raid over Stuttgart. They were half way back over the North Sea when they were diverted to Beaulieu Airfield. Dozens of aircraft landed at the quiet air strip in the pitch black with only moments between each landing.  

Arthur said: ‘There must have been, I don’t know how many but dozens of Lancasters were there and of course we had lunch then took off to our various aerodromes in Lincolnshire. The local inhabitants must have wondered what on earth’s happening.’

The Singer

Brenda Logie was a convent school girl in Southampton when she started singing to the troops as part of a concert party. She sang at camps throughout Hampshire and the New Forest, mostly on makeshift stages of carpet covered packing cases. Bungled into the back of army trucks, she and the band were often taken to secret camps with no names in the thicker parts of the forest. There she entertained Allied troops from America, Norway and France, as well as singing at private concerts for badly burnt troops recovering from plastic surgery at Marchwood Priory. Her most memorable evening though came in May 1945 when she was interrupted mid concert with the announcement that the war in Europe was over. The concert turned into a celebratory sing along.

Brenda said: ‘I think personally the best thing about the official celebrations which took place the following weekend was all the lights coming on again. When it’s been completely dark for four years to see lights in the windows of houses and in the few remaining shops we had left after the Blitz and in the pubs, was super.’

About New Forest Remembers – untold stories of World War II

The ‘New Forest Remembers - untold stories of World War II’ is a Heritage Lottery Fund project. It is hosted by the New Forest National Park Authority, and supported by a wide range of organisations, including ExxonMobil and English Heritage, both financially and through staff time.

The project is carrying out essential archaeological surveying of part of the New Forest National Park including an airborne infra-red LiDAR survey (light detection and ranging), mapping work and field surveys.

An outreach programme is being designed to encourage local communities, groups and organisations to get involved. Teaching resources and educational activities will also be developed to link World War II archaeology with the National Curriculum.

If you have your own story for the New Forest Remembers Project, you can contact the team at 01590 646600, email archaeology@newforestnpa.gov.uk or write to New Forest Remembers, New Forest National Park Authority, Lymington Town Hall, Avenue Road, Lymington, SO41 9ZG.

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy – Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

■        Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect

■        Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

■         Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contacts:

Sion Donovan, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority

Tel: 01590 646639

Email: sion.donovan@newforestnpa.gov.uk

More articles in the news archive.

New Forest National Park Authority news feed

Tools

image-fade-right image-fade-left