image Wartime Creative: Personal Ingenuity in World War Two

In 2019, a small display in the foyer of the Museum showcased examples from the collection of artistic endeavour during World War Two. While the Museum is closed, we have been busy updating the information of objects as part of our ongoing collections audit, including those from that display. To highlight some of this work, the display, Wartime Creative: Personal Ingenuity in World War Two, is now available in blog format for you to enjoy.

Wartime Creativity

World War Two brought out peoples’ creativity and ingenuity. However difficult the circumstances, their imagination turned whatever scrap was at hand into something meaningful. Whether for artistic expression or functional need, Prisoners of War (PoW) and civilians tested their ingenuity making these items; whether made for loved ones, themselves or even prison guards.

Prisoners of War

2020-04-23 1999.4270.2

Statuette, William the Conqueror – Made from a wheelbarrow handle for PoW J Scarth by another prisoner, Ledgerton. While a PoW, J Scarth defaulted to REME from Royal Army Ordnance Corps in 1942. From the Museum’s collection, 199.4270.2. 

 2020-04-23 2006.4810

Mandolin, 1942 – Made with wood, metal and goatskin by Captain Murchie of the Indian Army Ordnance Corps. He was a PoW in Italy at the time. From the Museum’s collection, 2006.4810.

 2020-04-23 E1196

Cigarette Case and Lighters – Metal engraved cigarette case depicting a Mosque; a Map of Africa is engraved on the reverse. Two lighters accompany the case. Made by a German PoW. From the Museum’s collection, E:1196.

  2020-04-23 E07.0853

Clandestine radio receiver, 1940 to 1944 – A secret radio used by the Vroomen family in occupied Holland. Parts were stolen from a Philips Factory in Eindhoven. The radio was concealed in a wooden cigar box. From the Museum’s collection, E:07.0853.

 Charles Alfred Felstead

The following objects belonged to Charles Alfred Felstead. They were gifts from German Prisoners of War, 1944 to 1946. Some are personalised with family names.

2020-04-23 2015.8487.3 and .4

Sketches, 1945 – Drawn by G Kothe, a German Prisoner of War. The portraits are of Felstead and his wife. From the Museum’s collection, 2015.8487.3 and 2015.8487.4.


 2020-04-23 2015.8487.2

Sewing Box, 1944 to 1946 – This box was made for Felstead’s wife, Josephine. From the Museum’s collection, 2015.8487.2.

  2020-04-23 2015.8487.11

Lighter, 1944 to 1946 – This windmill, made from scrap metal and wood by a German PoW, conceals a cigarette lighter. From the Museum’s collection, 2015.8487.11.

Collections Audit

These items were uncovered while Museum staff were conducting an audit of our collection: an in depth inspection of the items we look after. If you would like to find out more about our collections audit, why not check our other blog posts:

Learn about our artwork audit

A look at the progress of the collections audit from this time last: year:

Take a look inside the Museum’s recently completed Art: Store:

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