New first world war exhibition

Brighton & Hove Albion player Robert Whiting who joined the Footballers Batallion in the war. Courtesy of BHACHS
Brighton & Hove Albion player Robert Whiting who joined the Footballers Batallion in the war. Courtesy of BHACHS

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, a major new exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery will bring to life the wartime experiences of 15 people whose personal stories reveal the impact of war.

The exhibition, called War Stories: Voices from the First World War will run from July 12 until March 1 next year. Admission is free.

The wide range of people featured will reveal both familiar and surprising stories of a war that profoundly changed British society.

Visitors will be able to see the war through the eyes of a young girl, born into war in 1914; young soldiers from Brighton who fought and died on the Western Front, including a Brighton & Hove Albion footballer; an Indian soldier wounded on the Front and taken to hospital in the Royal Pavilion; nurses who cared for the wounded; a young gardener who was imprisoned for his pacifist beliefs; and others.

Relatives of those featured have contributed letters, diaries, medals, photographs, uniforms, and other personal items which help to evoke the love, excitement, fear, bravery, grief, loss and longing that touched the lives of millions of people.

War Stories: Voices from the First World War is one of a number of special displays and exhibitions being organised by the Royal Pavilion and Museums.

On Brighton seafront a pictorial exhibition, Dr Brighton’s War: Hospitals and Healing in Brighton (July 9 to August 31) will tell the story of Brighton & Hove as a hospital city, helping injured troops convalesce after the horrors of trench warfare. This exhibition is taking place on the East Street Bastion, on the seafront by the kissing statue.

Brighton & Hove was transformed by the presence of the many military hospitals required to treat the increasing number of casualties returning from the Front. As a seaside resort the city was ideally suited to entertaining these young men and distracting them from the horrors of war, but more importantly, Brighton played its part in retraining the seriously injured and preparing them for their integration back into society after life-changing injury. The free exhibition will feature images from photographs, postcards and posters held in the Royal Pavilion and Museum’s collections.

Other displays include Steeplechasing Shell Holes: A Young Man’s War, at Preston Manor, recounting the wartime experience of Vere Benett-Stanford who was heir to the manor at the time.

In addition, a longstanding display at the Royal Pavilion will provide a fascinating account of how the royal palace was transformed into a military hospital for wounded Indian soldiers who were serving on the Western Front.

The exhibitions and displays are part of the INTERREG IVA 2Seas programme, a European funded programme supporting cross-border co-operation between UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands www.greatwar1418.eu/en/agenda