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Outbreak of war remembered

Imperial War Museum North marks the start of the second world war with evacuation stories and toothbrush radios

Published on September 3rd 2009.


Outbreak of war remembered

70 years ago, on 3 September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany. Younger generations will struggle to imagine what it was like to live during those times, while older ones will have memories that they may prefer to forget. At the Imperial War Museum North, they do a fine job of exploring different experiences of war, good and bad, and this season of events to mark the start of the second world war is no exception.

Unusual objects on display include a secret radio made by prisoner Captain Ernest Shackleton using a combination of tin cans, toothbrush heads, toilet roll tubes and a German film projector.

Confidential has already written about Captured – their exhibition about prisoners of war which was timed to coincide with this year's major anniversary. Unusual objects on display include a secret radio made by prisoner Captain Ernest Shackleton using a combination of tin cans, toothbrush heads, toilet roll tubes and a German film projector, and a dress made by prisoners from mosquito nets and used in theatre productions at Changi POW camp. Click here to read a full review.

The anniversary events began in earnest last weekend with performances from a Vera Lynn tribute band. They continue this week with a themed tour of the museum which will look at objects that relate to the outbreak of war (Thursday 3 September, 2.30pm), and a showing of films from the archives about life on the Home Front (Sunday 6 September, 2.15pm).

Events for children include animal-themed craft sessions where they can make a Dickin Medal which is often known as the animals' Victoria Cross (Saturday 12 and 26 September, 12.45pm, 1.45pm, 2.45pm), and the popular Animals and War sessions which are being relaunched with new puppets, a replica Dickin Medal and some new animal heroes alongside old favourites (Sunday 6 and 20 September, 2.15pm).

Also aimed at children is Billy's War – An Evacuation Story. This lively session uses a charming rag doll character, replica objects, sound and visual materials to tell the story of a young boy from Salford who was evacuated to the countryside during the second world war (Sunday 13 and 27 September, 2.15pm).

All of these sessions are free. If you've got youngsters who want to know more about what happened between 1939 and 1945, or if you want to learn about this strange period in our history yourself, now is the time to go.

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