December 5 2013 Latest news:
Monday, August 26, 2013
Life on Norfolk’s Home Front during the second world war was brought vividly to life this weekend as a rural life museum near Dereham celebrated the Bank Holiday in 1940s style.
The Village at War event at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse included an army of costumed characters and military vehicles – topped off with an evocative appearance from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flypast in the summer skies.
Meanwhile, vintage farming displays showed how the county’s “land girls” helped to feed the nation, and retro music performances and radio shows proved how spirits were kept high during our darkest hour.
Children were shown what life was like for their wartime predecessors, with scouts and guides setting up 1940s camps, and an exhibition of images explaining the story of a school class evacuated from London to Norfolk.
But while a costumed Winston Churchill gave stirring speeches in the museum’s marquee, one of the special guests was able to give first-hand accounts of how the war was won.
Len Bloomfield, a 91-year-old former Royal Marine, from Beetley, near Dereham, talked to children about his memories of the D-Day landings, and his role in the destructive naval battle at Narvik in 1940, which finally earned him an Arctic Star medal last month.
He said it remained as important as ever to pass on his stories to a younger generation.
He said: “It is really important. I love talking to people and if I can be of help and answer their questions about where their grandfathers served, then I am happy. It is mostly 10 or 11-year-olds who learn about the second world war in history at school.
“I was just a tiny little part of it all. It is nice that people appreciate that, and with the youngsters coming through I can let them know that I was there. They get to see someone who took part in the war. That’s why I do it.”
An estimated 4,000 people visited the special bank holiday exhibition during Sunday and Monday.
Hannah Jackson, sustainability project officer at Gressenhall, said: “The education side of it is very important. A lot of schoolchildren will study the second world war, but we hope to bring it to life for them. They can speak to our costumed enactors, or even talk to veterans like Len Bloomfield and hear about it first hand.
“That is the key thing. You can read about it in books, but for youngsters to go and get their sweet ration here and find out how small it is, that is a good lesson to learn, and it stays with them.”