News

Bank Holiday Monday closure

Please note that the gallery of the Northern Ireland War Memorial will be closed for the Bank Holiday on Monday 31 August 2015.

The museum will reopen again as normal on Tuesday 1 September 2015 and will resume normal hours of operation from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

*Please also note that the gallery will be closed on Tuesday 8 September 2015

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A thank you to Mr Bob Wright on the occasion of his retirement from the Northern Ireland War Memorial, after 27 years of devoted service as Senior Museum Attendant.

Bob Wright has been our Senior Museum Attendant for 27 years, I have known him for 2.5 of those years.  Most of you have known him for much longer than I have, so I can only assume he has made a similar impression on you.

I first met Bob in December 2012, when I delivered my application form to the gallery for the post of Education Officer.  He wished me luck with a firm handshake.  It must have done the trick.

When I took up the post a month later, I really had to learn on my feet.  We had a diary full of upcoming school visits and I could not disappoint. Bob helped me enormously.  He guided me through the main areas of the gallery and gave me the confidence to develop the learning programmes into what they are today.

Bob Wright is one of those special people in life who take great pride in all they do. He greets every visitor to the gallery and offers to explain the exhibits, drawing on his experiences to embellish his stories of the war, the blitz on Belfast and times past.

You would often see Bob leading a tour for 50 people, climbing up a ladder to fix lights, chasing after the postman with an undeliverable letter or standing on cardboard boxes, flattening them for the recycling bins.

Last year, over 2400 children visited the museum, taking part in our half-day Primary School programme.  Bob is a huge hit with the schoolchildren, telling them about his real life experiences and teaching them about what life was like during the war.

Bob was Talbot Street’s very own lollypop man as he stopped traffic to ensure the children got off their bus and safely into the War Memorial building.  Primary Schools begin their visit in the foyer where I welcome them and read them the riot act.  The trip continues in our education room on the second floor, and then in this gallery.  Before the class comes into the gallery, I tell them that they are going to meet Bob, and that he is, as they would put it “a real life soldier!”  I tell them his age (sorry Bob) and make them promise not to tell him I told them.

When we walk into the gallery, this revelation about Bob can be felt in the air, as the children look at him in awe with bucketsful of respect and a great sense of wonder.  We often have to change the regular programme to allow for a questions and answers session with Bob, as they are so interested in his stories, and no longer want to listen to me.

His stories include raiding Japanese Saki stores, the comradeship he felt in Burma and Hong Kong, and the difference between a Sten gun, a Bren gun, and a Lee-Enfield rifle.  He would often challenge Chinese children to count to ten in Chinese, and he took great delight in teaching them what they didn’t know.  During our dressing up activity, Bob would show the children the correct way to put on a helmet (chin in first).  He even fashioned a pretend rifle with an old flag pole, and the boys would fight over who got to pose with it next.  When talking about rationing, dried eggs and the Dig for Victory campaign, Bob would teach the children to sing Hey Little Hen, explaining that it was a popular tune in the 1940s. Bob is 92 years young!

Besides work, Bob and I just became great friends.  As you all know, Bob shares great stories and gives sound advice on life.  Prior to his 27 years at the NIWM, Bob held a similar role in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, where I also teach, so we have lots in common, and plenty of people to talk about. Bob would give Kerry and me at least one chocolate bar a week, so we’ll miss that too!

I will really miss Bob, his support and his stories.  There are too many stories to retell now, but I will share this funny one.  I remember his story about when he returned to Northern Ireland and was demobbed in Victoria Barracks (in 1950 or thereabouts).  Bob had to take off his uniform and find civilian clothes to fit him, from a limited wardrobe in the barracks.  Apparently the only thing that fitted was an obnoxious striped suit.  Bob told me he was so embarrassed wearing this suit, that he ran up the back alley to his house on Hunter Street (Sandy Row), snuck into the house, raced upstairs to change, and then came downstairs to present himself to his mother.  He told me the striped suit made him look like radio comedian Charlie Chester.  I laughed politely, but I admit, I had to go upstairs to do a Google search for Charlie Chester.  Then I laughed again.

Bob, it has been an honour to work with you, and I would now like to read a few thank you letters we have received from Primary School children recently.

Jenny Haslett
Education NIWM
August 2015

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Commemoration of 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan (VJ) Day at the Northern Ireland War Memorial

Victory over Japan (VJ) day, celebrated on 15 August 1945, officially announced the end of WW2. The Northern Ireland War Memorial will be hosting a commemorative event to remember VJ day, which will include a two minutes silence at 12.00 pm. Flowers will be placed on a memorial sculpture by Carolyn Mulholland in the gallery.

The commemoration will include a tribute to Mr. Bob Wright BEM, who has at the age of 92, decided to retire from his role as Senior Gallery Attendant after 27 years in service. As a Sergeant Major in the Army Commandoes, Bob saw action against the Japanese, and in one fierce encounter even came to the aid of the 8thBelfast Heavy AA Battery. The tribute to Bob will be especially poignant on this the 70 Anniversary of VJ Day, as countless visitors to the Northern Ireland War Memorial have been enthralled by his personal stories and knowledge he so willingly gave.

70th Anniversary of VJ Day

70th Anniversary of VJ Day

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A tribute to Mr Bob Wright BEM on his retirement from the Northern Ireland War Memorial

As we commemorate VJ Day this morning, we will also be paying a very special tribute to Mr. Bob Wright BEM, who has at the age of 92, decided to retire from his role as Senior Gallery Attendant after 27 years in service.

As a Sergeant Major in the Army Commandos, Bob saw action against the Japanese, and in one fierce encounter even came to the aid of the 8th Belfast Heavy AA Battery.

The tribute to Bob will be especially poignant on this the 70 Anniversary of VJ Day, as countless visitors to the Northern Ireland War Memorial have been enthralled by his personal stories and knowledge which he so willingly gave.

Mr. Bob Wright BEM

Mr. Bob Wright BEM

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70th anniversary of VJ Day

The date 15 August 1945, the surrender of Japan, following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was celebrated round the world as the end of World War Two – although the surrender document was not signed till 2 September. This date is sometimes quoted as the official end of the war. The Japanese Emperor, Hirohito, warned that atomic warfare would see the end of civilisation, but did not mention that Japan had earlier received an ultimatum to surrender. Two-day holidays were declared in the USA, UK and Australia, and cheering crowds filled the streets and public places, like VE Day the previous May. At midnight on 15 August, Prime Minister Clement Attlee (who had shortly before replaced wartime leader Winston Churchill) broadcast to the UK, and King George VI later addressed the country. Atlee declared ‘the last of our enemies is laid low’. However, it was well into 1946 before all the servicemen who had been in the Far East returned home, as well, of course, as the POWs, some 13,000 of whom had died in Japanese captivity.

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Wartime Scrapbook

The wartime scrapbook of Mrs Betty Porter will be on display in the gallery of the Northern Ireland War Memorial throughout its commemoration of VJ Day. This scrapbook allows its readers to see VJ Day through the eyes of a young girl who witnessed the end of war celebrations in Ulster first-hand. A replica will be available to handle.

The Scrapbook includes newspaper clippings and images of Japanese Prisoners Of War being released on VJ Day, and soldiers returning to their families. In one newspaper clipping entitled ‘World at Peace’ Clement Attlee makes the statement that the Japanese have surrendered, proclaiming peace at 12pm on Tuesday 14th August 1945.

In a handwritten note Betty Porter writes about her personal experience of VJ Day:

‘VJ day was greeted with flags, and happy holiday makers. Once again two days holidays were granted. On VJ Day the fellowship went to Castle Espie on Strangford Lough. We had a lovely day. Home in time for the King’s broadcast, and then we all met and went around town. We just went wild with everyone else and followed bands etc. We had a light in our garden for decoration. Once again there were bonfires, and many parties, dancing in the open air.’

Scrapbook with POW press clippings

Scrapbook with POW press clippings

How Ulster celebrated Japanese surrender

How Ulster celebrated Japanese surrender

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Craft Open Day

Thursday 13th August 10.30-4pm
Free admission
No booking necessary

The Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum is reviving the spirit of WW2, the Blitz, the Blackout and rationing with a special 1940’s style Craft Open Day on Thursday 13th August.

The Open Day, organised as part of August Craft Month, will launch a series of ‘Make Do and Mend’ workshops taking place in the gallery throughout 2015 and 2016.

It comes just two days before the 70th Anniversary of VJ Day, which marked the end of the war against Japan.

The event has been organised by the museum’s Education Officer Jenny Haslett, who will be dressing up in vintage clothing, demonstrating needlework and playing music to give the day an authentic feel of those austere wartime years.

During the war, the government had to reduce the production of civilian clothes to prioritise the making of ammunition, parachutes and uniforms. Clothing rationing was announced on June 1, 1941 and shoppers had to present coupons to buy clothing, fabric, footwear etc. until rationing ended in 1949.

The Make Do and Mend campaign was launched to encourage people to make their clothes last longer. The ability to repair, darn and make your own clothes became increasingly important.

Come along to our Craft Open Day to see what you can make in the War Memorial gallery as we launch our 2015/2016 Craft Calendar,  re-introducing the public to the wartime skills their grandparents and great grandparents possessed as second nature.

Download our Craft Days Calendar to see what we are making .

The NI War Memorial Museum monthly workshops run from October 2015 to June 2016 and will teach people to make everything from their own woollen rugs, hats, children’s toys, a poppy brooch for Armistice Day, and a recycled paper gift box for Christmas.

Workshops run from October 2015 to June 2016.
Spaces are limited and booking is necessary.

For more information, and to download our Craft Calendar, go to www.niwarmemorial.org/education-outreach

Craft Open Day

Craft Open Day

 

 

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Launch of “From Ulster to the Dardanelles”

Northern Ireland War Memorial is to host a private evening event to launch From Ulster to the Dardanelles by Philip Orr and Nigel Henderson, with accompanying music by violinist Ciaran Mulholland.

 

About the book

From Ulster to the Dardanelles focuses on several individuals from the nine-county province of Ulster, who served in the Gallipoli Campaign during the First World War.  The book explains why so many Irish soldiers fought there, what happened to them, and why their involvement in the Gallipoli campaign came to be almost forgotten.

The book is available to purchase from the NIWM gallery (open Monday-Friday 10am – 4pm) and on Amazon.co.uk priced at £8.00.

 

Who is the book for?

From Ulster to the Dardanelles is published to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign.  This book is written not for the specialist but for the general reader who would like to know more about the role this corner of Ireland played in that conflict.  Teachers wanting to inform their pupils about the war and its connections with a specific locality should find this volume especially useful.

 

6th August 2015 – 100 years on

‘On the night of 6th August 1915, the men of the 10th Irish Division boarded boats that would take them to the shores of Suvla Bay.

100 years ago, to this very day and hour, soldiers from every county in Ireland were about to fight at Gallipoli and many of these men would not return.

They landed in the dawn of the following day, facing the gunfire of a formidable Turkish enemy.

We owe it to the memory of the 10th Division to acknowledge these men, so many years after the event.’

Philip Orr speaking about the significance of launching the book on this anniversary

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Visitor Notice July Closure

Please note that the NI War Memorial gallery will be closed from 10th July to 15th July. The gallery will reopen as normal on Thursday 16th July.

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Amended gallery hours this Friday

Visitors please note that the NIWM gallery will open at the earlier time of 9.00 am on Friday 26 June, with last admission at 3.00 pm.

RAF clock

RAF clock

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