A NEW First World War exhibition has been officially opened at a museum in Dorchester.

Former BBC war correspondent Kate Adie opened the exhibition at The Keep Military Museum this morning.

The exhibition is an interactive learning resource, funded with the aid help of a Heritage Lottery grant worth more than £50,000.

It will continue to grow and change as the First World War centenary passes over the next four years.

Mrs Adie said: “I’m fascinated by local history. The First World War is something which huge numbers of people have a family history. What did grandfather do? What’s that photograph of?

“When you come to an exhibition like this it draws on that. It’s about the local area, what the local regiment did, where the men went and what it was like.

“1914, there would have been enthusiastic men – farm labourers, shopkeepers – with men coming to this building which was part of the whole military complex in Dorchester.”

Chris Copson, the museum’s curator, said he was very grateful for the work of the volunteers who put the exhibition together, particularly custodian John Murphy.

He said: “I’m very pleased with it. The way it’s actually turned out I think is superb.

“I think it really does give a good impression of the physical appearance of a trench. It will actually physically reflect the combat of war.

“1914, nobody expected trench warfare. It happens. They have to get used to it.

“We will aim to reflect that over the course of the centenary, the next four years.”

The niece of Birdie Loder, who was the sweetheart of Lance Corporal Horace Collier of Cerne Abbas was also present at the ceremony.

The Keep has a photograph of Birdie and a letter written to her by Horace. Birdie kept his letter after he was killed and until her death in her mid-80s.

The letter finishes “yours until death”. Horice was killed in action on October 13 1914 in the fighting north of Bethune.

Jan Millard, who lives in Weymouth, said: “I have given them everything I have. I have nothing of Horace’s – only these two letters. I have been holding them since 1980 when Birdie died.

“I said to my two sons and my daughter, ‘Will you want these at any time?’ They said, ‘No, mum, you should give them to the museum.'

“Then I read in the Echo that The Keep was looking for things to do with the First World War and I thought my two letters could go.”