North Devon Maritime Museum Appledore
Odun Road, Appledore, Devon, EX39 1PT
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Appledore Visitor Attraction
75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings
6 June 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of The D-Day Landings, one of the most remarkable Allied wartime operations.
THE North Devon coast and its estuaries was changed beyond recognition 75 years ago as thousands of Allied troops began training for the most important operation of World War Two.
D-Day preparations had a big on the area, including British and American troops training on Braunton Burrows, the formation of RAF Chivenor and Braunton Home Guard plus air raids around the village.
Tales of the huge mine field laid on Saunton Beach and its subsequent removal using German prisoners of war as labour, the building of an American army camp on the edge of Braunton.
Around 25,000 troops passed through the region as they trained for D-Day.
The North Devon Maritime Museum will be playing it's part by hosting many displays to mark this memorable event.
NEW to the museum for 2019 is a large exhibition commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings in Normandy in 1944
Also NEW for 2019:
An audio/visual presentation on “making an Appledore Frock “”
A working model of a rope walk, and an opportunity to try your hand at tying some knots “
In the Victorian Toilet a short audio/visual presentation on the history of the flushing water closet “
Appledore at War
Bernard Mead’s story
Several years ago Bernard Mead gave the museum a copy of his memoirs and his Naval uniform. His memoirs form the basis of much of our Appledore at War story. We are grateful to his wife and daughters for sharing their stories of Bernard and for allowing us to use his photographs and letters in our exhibition.
At the outbreak of war Bernard lived next door with his parents. He was 17 and in his final year at Shebbear College. The Museum itself was home to his Aunt and Uncle, Robert and Elsie Sutherland.
In the months before the war Bernard had been on a school trip to Germany where, in his words, they “toured the Rhineland, going to Cologne, Berlin where we saw the Olympic stadium, and so to within spitting distance of the heavily fortified border with Czechoslovakia. We stayed in Hitler Youth camps and had many a camp fire sing song with their organised parties of Jugend.”
When war was declared Bernard really wanted to join the Navy, but his father felt he should complete his education first. As a compromise he was allowed to join the LDV – the forerunners of the Home Guard. The extracts from Bernard’s memoirs tell us what it was like in the early years of the war as people adjusted to a life of bombing, rationing and uncertainty.
Eventually he did join up and went to Torpoint for his initial training where he experienced the Plymouth bombings first hand. After some time at Devonport he was drafted to Glasgow and HMS Palomares. She had been converted into an anti-aircraft cruiser from an Elder and Fyffes banana boat.
Bernard was happy on the Palomares but after finishing his officer training he moved on to HMS Scarborough, which he joined in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Scarborough was one of the ships protecting convoys of merchant ships from the German U Boats on the voyage to Freetown in Sierra Leone. He had several stories to tell about the times they outwitted the submarines and the times when they didn’t.
In November 1942 Bernard took part in Operation Torch which was the Anglo-American invasion of North Africa. HMS Scarborough was protecting the ships going to Algiers. They then returned to the Atlantic convoys until taking part in extensive training at the beginning of 1944 on the Isle of Mull in preparation for Operation Overlord – the invasion of Normandy. His cousin, Don was also at D Day taking Canadian troops to Juno Beach
After D Day Bernard had to leave the Scarborough and join HMS Mounsey which was also protecting convoys but this time in the Arctic. She sailed from Belfast to Murmansk in Northern Russia, quite a contrast to the Londonderry to Freetown route. In November 1944 the ship was torpedoed and had to return to Russia for repairs.
Throughout the war he wrote to his parents almost every week. Often the letters were about people he had met who knew Appledore; things he wanted sending from home; things he was sending back and some news about what he had been doing. If he wasn’t careful the censor would cut bits out of his letters.
You can listen to extracts from his memoirs as you go around the museum as well as seeing copies of some of his photographs and extracts from his letters home. In the wartime kitchen you can see ‘Bernard’ himself, dressed in his actual uniform.