Exhibition armed with personal tales of war

Museum curator Ruth Howard. Picture: OX65714 Antony Moore

Buy this photo Museum curator Ruth Howard. Picture: OX65714 Antony Moore

First published in News

ALTHOUGH it looks strange to our eyes, this prosthetic arm has a poignant history.

It belonged to a soldier who joined up to fight in World War I when he was just 17. He lost his arm and was given a so-called dress arm as well as this articulated one.

It is currently on loan to the Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage, which is collecting local donations for its upcoming World War I exhibition.

The arm, from 1920, is its first acquisition.

The lender, who did not wish to be named, said: “I never saw him wearing it, but it must have been very uncomfortable.

“The girl he was seeing before the war didn’t want a man with only one arm, so he remained a bachelor for the rest of his life.”

Museum curator Ruth Howard, pictured, said: “The articulated arm has a fascinating and poignant history.

“Some experiences were never talked about whilst the person was alive and the significance of family belonging, passed down the generations, can get lost over time, unless the stories are captured.”

The exhibition’s theme, Every Sad and Lovely Thing, was inspired by a line from a poem Before Action by Lieutenant William Noel Hodgson, a 23-year-old soldier who died in the Battle of the Somme.

Set to open in June, during the Wantage Summer Festival, it will highlight personal stories from the Great War, based on objects and photographs lent by local residents.

If you have something that could be included, call the museum on 01235 771447.

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