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New First World War exhibition opens in heritage centre

A history organisation has urged anyone with stories about the First World War to stop by as part of a new exhibition.

The Maidenhead Heritage Centre is showcasing exhibits about the local men who fought and the women who served on the home front during the conflict.

It coincides with the 100-year anniversary of armistice, which ended the four-year conflict.

The exhibition includes memorial items, medals and items such as a Princess Mary gift box, which was a morale-boosting present of tobacco or sweets handed out to troops at Christmas.

Information about people from the area who died, survived and worked on the home front are included.

“I don’t think we can really understand the scale of the slaughter,” the Park Street centre’s chairman, Richard Poad, said.

“For our generations, it is just impossible to understand.”

The exhibition also takes a look at the women workers of the King Street munitions manufactory and the voluntary aid detachments (VADs), which were civilian units who gave nursing care to wounded soldiers.

The uniform of Florence Almond, who lived in Furze Platt and served as a nurse during the war, is on display in great condition. Her grandson, Roy, still lives in Maidenhead.

Information about VADs is included in a wall display. Elsewhere, items related to the death of Harry Easden, who lived on the Hedsor estate of Lord Boston, are on display.

The then-Lord Boston commissioned a Cookham-based craftsman to create a memorial plaque to the Able Seaman.

He died aged 19 at the Third Battle of Ypres, and a piece of shrapnel purported to have killed him is in the plaque, sitting between two medals and next to a poppy from the first armistice commemoration.

Richard has urged anyone with stories to stop by the centre and tell them to its staff and volunteers.

“People are marking (the centenary) all over the country, all over the world, but I think it is really important that we should not forget the war that was supposed to end all wars,” he said. The exhibition, which opened last week, will run until Saturday, November 17.

Visit maidenheadheritage.org.uk for details.

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