Our new acquisitions display has now been installed at the Museum! It shows you just a few of our many recently arrived objects and will be updated every six months as we welcome new items to the collection.

All of the items shown below have been added to the Museum’s collection in the last six months. Each one represents a home comfort to the person it belonged to.

From diary entries to photographs of social occasions, these objects each tell a unique story of these individuals’ experience with REME during World War II.

Pantomime, Egypt, 1944

Records in our archive reveal that pantomimes were a familiar tradition to soldiers overseas in World War II.

2 Base Workshops REME performed an annual Christmas Pantomime whilst in Egypt. George Galsworthy Palmer was based there at the time, his professional background in art meant that he was responsible for the set design and posters for Jack and the Beanstalk in 1944. Paintings and photographs show the vibrant backdrops that he created, accompanied by his annotations describing each scene.

Image shows a painted scene of mountains in background, with a large white and yellow flower, and large yellow mushroom with red dots

Set Design painted by GG Palmer, from the collection (2021.41).

Image shows actors on a stage dressed in costume

GG Palmer collected photographs of the Jack and the Beanstalk performance (2021.64).

Image shows a handwritten letter

Annotations on the reverse of each photograph detail the scene and name each actor (2021.64).

Image shows a programme for Jack and the Beanstalk in January 1944, includes drawings of caricature faces and names of actors

As well as scenery paintings, George Palmer also produced programmes for the pantomime. We recently acquired the original drawings as well as prints (2021.64).

Tea Cosy, Belgium, 1945

Craftsman Harry Wright served with REME in World War II under 10 Lines of Communication Troop Workshop. Whilst serving in Antwerp, Belgium, he sent a tea cosy home to his wife, Doris, as a gift in 1945.

 Image shows a red tea cosy with white quilting and first pattern REME badge embroidered in yellow and green thread. White embroidery reads "To my dear wife Belgium 1945

Tea Cosy sent by Craftsman Wright to his wife from Antwerp, 1945 (2021.91).

Envelopes addressed to and from Craftsman Wright and his wife in 1945 are stamped to show that the contents of their letters passed censorship regulations. Censorship ensured that no sensitive information was leaked that could impact the war effort.

Image shows a beige envelope with Active Service and other text printed in green.

Envelope addressed to Doris Wright, 25 July 1944 (2021.91).

Diary, 1942

According to his diary, it was the little things that counted when Thomas Edward Johnson was Prisoner of War (PoW) from June 1942. Each page records the cigarettes he was able to acquire each day or the letters that he received.

Image shows an open diary with handwritten entries

Thomas Edward Johnson kept a diary entry of each day of his imprisonment between June 1942 and 1943 (2021.74).

Letter, 1942

Thomas Johnson was captured in Tobruk, Libya whilst serving with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC). Like many PoW’s serving with the RAOC, he was automatically transferred to REME upon its formation in October 1942. First imprisoned in Italy before being moved to a camp in Germany, his diaries are a unique insight into his experience and are supported by a wealth of telegrams and letters sent between the War Office and his family in the UK as they tried to establish where he was imprisoned.

Image shows a typed letter concerning Cfn Johnson T E REME

A letter received by Thomas Edward Johnson’s father describing his transfer to REME on its formation, October 1942 (2021.74).

Image shows an outline map printed on paper, showing Prisoner of War camps published by The Red Cross

This map records prisoner of war camps in Germany, Austria and Poland. September 1943 (2021.74).

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