Band of Brothers collection to be digitised following £30,000 lottery grant
A collection of World War Two artefacts recalling the deployment of hundreds of American servicemen to the Marlborough area during the Second World War is set to be digitised as part of a community history project.
The Kennet Valley at War Trust has received £30,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project to conserve and enhance the charity’s collection of artefacts and to increase the number of ways in which the local community can access the collection and celebrate their local heritage.
Based in a small museum at Littlecote House, which was once home to the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the Trust’s collection of Second World War artefacts is of regional significance.
The collection’s artefacts range from a three-ton Sherman tank turret, and an entire stable – used to billet four American airborne soldiers over the winter of 1943-1944 – relocated from the village of Aldbourne, to part of a German Heinkel 111 bomber’s wing.
British, Canadian and American military uniforms, civilian artefacts and photographs, personal testimonies, helmets, badges and spent ammunition also help to tell the story of the conflict.
Company E of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the US 101st Airborne Division was brought back to prominence in Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks’ 2001 mini-series Band of Brothers.
The Trust’s museum was opened in 2007 by Ira Clyde Grube, a veteran of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the US 101st Airborne Division.
The grant will help the Trust to produce an educational pack, which will be sent to 250 schools in North Wiltshire, West Berkshire and Swindon. Three walks exploring the Kennet Valley’s war time archaeology will be developed, and a series of 10 workshops will be delivered.
Meanwhile, Trust members and volunteers from Newbury College and Ramsbury Primary School will digitise the collection, which will be collated into a new website.
Trust spokesman Tim Green said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are confident the project will help young people and the wider community better understand and take pride in their local heritage.”
Newbury College’s interactive media course leader, Julian Bellmont, said: “The project is of enormous educational benefit to the students, enabling them to get actively involved in the local community.”
Lisa Flower, the history coordinator at Ramsbury Primary School said: “We look forward to trialling the new educational packs and online resources, and the opportunity to make more links with our local community, to bring history alive for our pupils.”
Bruce Steggles of Littlecote House said: “Littlecote House Hotel fully support the project and the Trust’s work to keep the history of the local community alive for present and for future generations”.
And Stuart McLeod, head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: “The Kennet Valley at War Trust’s collection reflects many different aspects of civilian and military life along the valley during the Second World War and we’re pleased to announce our support for this project which will create a lasting digital and educational legacy of the local community’s wartime memory.”