Bembridge Heritage Society are to host a free exhibition entitled ‘Bembridge at War’ on Saturday 20th May between 10:00-16:00.

The exhibition, which is being held in the village hall, aims to demonstrate with plans, photographs and artefacts how the community of Bembridge and surrounding areas have played their part in times of conflict, from the days of perceived French invasion during the 19th century, through both World Wars, the Falklands conflict and up to the present time.

Bembridge is surrounded by a variety of fortifications, some dating from the Victorian period and details of these defences and fortifications will be on display at the exhibition. One of the principle displays will be the seaplane base at Bembridge Point where the Royal Naval Air Service provided protection to Portsmouth and the eastern Solent from enemy vessels during the 1914 -18 war.

In addition, there will be details of 3 locally designed and manufactured items of weaponry, including the unique ‘Bembridge anti-aircraft gun’. The public will be able to see a number of items of military hardware and armaments on display.

As well as the military side, the exhibition will demonstrate the human aspect of warfare as well with items such as ‘letters home’ from soldiers at the Front during the First World War, the local Home Guard and how wartime restrictions and conditions affected the local people with bombing and food rationing at that time.

A full-size diorama of a typical wartime living room will be on display to show how the civilian population lived and coped, during the Second World War.

Other items likely to interest the public will be an ARP (Air Raid Precautions) warning rattle, various gasmask respirators and other equipment. There will also be information of how a local boatbuilding company produced vital craft to support the war effort and the part played by the Bembridge lifeboat and Fire Brigade during the Second World War.

It is planned to have an authentic WW II military jeep on display outside the Village Hall during the event and men in authentic World War I and II uniforms with full kit will be present as well.

The well-known military historian and author, Adrian Searle will be giving 2 fascinating talks on wartime topics during the course of the day.

Teas, coffees and refreshments will be served and there will be a raffle and Heritage Society publications and books as well as a ‘nearly-new’ range of items will be on sale.

This event is entirely free.

The items on display at the exhibition constitutes part of a vast range of material that can be seen at the Bembridge Heritage Centre behind the library in the Village Centre on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 11:00-15:00  and Saturdays between 11:00-13:00 (entrance free).

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