A glimpse of life in the trenches

Part of the trench system within the museum.

Part of the trench system within the museum.

Doris: to the mayorality born

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If you have any interest at all in the First World War, may I suggest a visit to the museum that recently opened at Fort Widley on Portsdown Hill.

A collection of marvellous artefacts has been put together by Charles Haskell and most are original. Rifles, pistols, machine guns and bayonets can all be seen as well as maps, books and dozens of other items.

There is even a trench system with coloured lights and sound effects to show, just slightly, how frightening it must have been at the time.

Two items caught my attention. One was a bible which the owner kept in a cigarette tin and placed in the top left pocket of his tunic over his heart.

He took a direct hit, the bullet piercing the tin lid and the bible. How fortunate was that soldier?

The bullet stopped half way through the bible, saving his life.

The second artefact is a German bayonet.

The finder literally wrapped the blade in paper then wrote the address on it and posted it home. Yes, it was actually delivered to the addressee.

All of this and much more can be seen for just a £3 entrance fee and there is free parking as well.

Charles also gives private tours for corporate visits and lays on a special tour for schools.

The museum also needs your help.

It is looking for guides, even if you can only spare one day a week. Full training is given.

And if you have any relevant artefacts which you no longer need, the museum will gladly take them off your hands.

But most of all the museum wants to hear the stories about your relatives and the part they played in the First World War.

Contact Charles on (023) 9279 8751.

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