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Exhibition of the Great War in Dorchester library
WITH the centenary of the Great War just months away, Dorchester historian Brian Bates is holding an exhibition in the county town’s library to commemorate the ‘war to end all wars’.
The display, which will run from November 4 to 15, will present a picture of the town during that catastrophic period, told through the stories of some of the men who lost their lives fighting for their country.
There will also be rare photographs of the town’s prisoner-of-war camp in Poundbury.
Brian, pictured, said: “It is the right time of year to be holding a remembrance exhibition and we have just a year to go until the anniversary and I think that people ought to be made aware of what’s coming up.
“I’m also rather hoping that the word will spread to the authorities and prompt them into doing something too. People need to be aware of what happened.”
In 2012 Brian published Dorchester Remembers the Great War, which lists every man from the town who died during the First World War and he is currently working on a book about the history of the prisoner of war camp, which was one of the largest in the country.
He said: “I call the PoW camp ‘Dorchester’s best kept secret’ and there will be two boards dedicated to it at the exhibition.
“It stood where the Grove Trading Estate is today and there are still some of the old buildings there. Thousands of men stayed there and Americans used to come and inspect it while their country was still neutral.
“Once America joined the war, the Swiss, Swedes and Danes took over inspections.”
Brian hopes that the exhibition will make people realise the full impact of the First World War on the town.
“A lot of people don’t realise how much the war mattered to the people of Dorchester, because it was a garrison town.
“There were always troops coming and going and people charging about and for the locals, it was a really big event and one that touched many families.”
Great War Exhibition is at Dorchester Library in South Walks House, Charles Street from November 4-15.
- The Dorset Echo is collating memorabilia and photographs for special Great War centenary publications next year.
It you have anything to share, call Ruth Meech on 01305 830973 or ruth.meech@ dorsetechoco.uk
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