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.

Painted scene of mountains in background and red sky with small clouds. A large white and yellow flower and large yellow mushroom with red dots in the foreground

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

Black and white photo of nine actors on a stage dressed in costume. The set is painted like a village.

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

Handwriting on the back of a photograph.

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

Two sepia and black images. From left to right, the first is a collection of caricature faces with the names of the actors underneath. The second picture is a programme for Jack and the Beanstalk in January 1944, includes drawings and writing.

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.

 Dark red tea cosy with white quilting and first pattern REME badge embroidered in yellow and green thread. White embroidery above and below the badge 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.

Beige envelope with green type. The title reads "Active Service". A signature is at the bottom.

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.

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.

Short, typed letter to 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).

Outline map of Germany, Poland, Austria and surrounding areas printed on paper. Various locations of Prisoner of War camps marked in red on map. Table on right side of map. British Red Cross symbol in top left corner.

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

Click here to find out more about our donations process.

Laura Stewart, Assistant Curator