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Local people's World War 1 stories brought to life in new exhibition at The Novium museum


A new exhibition at The Novium museum in Chichester brings to life the experiences of local people whose personal stories reveal the impact of World War 1.

Among the stories told in The Great War Brought Home exhibition, which runs from Monday 7 April to Wednesday 31 December, is that of Private Walter Dew, a postman from Chichester, who joined the 13th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment.

Private Dew suffered burst eardrums due to the noise of the guns on the battlefield. This compounded existing ear problems and he went deaf. He died in 1919 aged 30 on the operating table undergoing an operation on his ears. He is buried in Chichester Cemetery.

The role of women in the war is also highlighted. Among the stories featured is that of Marie Nathan, a young Chichester woman. Shortly after the outbreak of war, Marie joined the Women's Forestry Service, part of the Land Army and became a tree feller. Marie's saw is on show as part of the exhibition. The Forestry Service played a crucial role in maintaining a continuous supply of timber for military and industrial use. After the war, Marie ran a private school in Chichester for many years.

The exhibition also has a specially recreated officer's trench for visitors to peek in and view the cramped living conditions.

Visitors will also be able to try on a range of soldiers' helmets and period costumes and to try their hand as a first aider at a recreated first aid station.

Footage from the first news reels at the time will also be shown and visitors will be able to hear the oral history of a soldier who served in the war. World War 1 images from The Novium's own collection will also be on show.

Other related special events at The Novium over the next few months include:

· In the Wars Weekend - A weekend of family craft and hands-on activities themed around the new WW1 exhibition. Free with museum admission. Saturday 12 April.

· Letters from the Trenches to Shippams - hear about the fascinating correspondence from the front line between Shippams' employees and Mr R.E.C Shippam. Tickets for the talk are £8, please book in advance. Wednesday 16 April.

· Momentoes: Poetry from World War One - a creative writing workshop led by a local poet exploring the theme of World War 1 taking inspiration from local stories, letters and personal artefacts from the time. Saturday 12 July.

Councillor Myles Cullen, Chichester District Council's Cabinet Member for Commercial Services, says: "One hundred years ago World War 1 began in the summer of 1914 and lasted for four years costing millions of people their lives. This exhibition commemorates the historic anniversary of the start of World War 1 and recounts the experiences of local people caught up in the conflict - bringing their stories to life for younger generations. The exhibition and the many events that are taking place in the district during this year will help us remember and learn from the sacrifices made by people at the time."

For more information please call The Novium on 01243 775888, email at or visit