The Staffordshire Regiment Museum is at Whittington Barracks just outside the centre of Lichfield on the A 51 road to Tamworth. It is a museum I'd never visited before but they had a WWI exhibition that we wanted to see.
In the Museum was this wonderful tapestry made with lots of crochet poppies.
There is also a knitted pigeon. This represents the pigeon known as 'Cher Ami' or 'dear friend' a male name for what was found later to be a female homing pigeon who saved the lives of 194 American soldiers. Here is a link to the full story. Cher Ami was the last pigeon to be sent with a request for help in October 1918 from the Lost Brigade at the Battle of Argonne and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for her bravery. Despite being badly wounded she got her message back to the division headquarters.
The trench is a reconstruction of a hundred metre section of a British trench. It was built in 2000 but updated and added to for the centenary of the commencement of WW1 last year.
The trench is named after Lance Corporal William Coltman, VC in memory of him and all the Staffordshire men who served in the war.
There are several re-enactments, educational tours and experiences planned through this year in the trench but when we visited there was just us two.
Of course it was lacking the mud
and the damp and the vermin
and the smells
and the danger
and the fear
It lacked the cold and bleakness of winter, the autumn fogs, the cool of spring and the searing heat of summer. It lacked the smell of woodbines, the sound of the voices of the men as they went about their duties or rested before heading for the front but it did have the sound of sniper fire and the constant boom of the heavy guns. I thought of Private Baldrick's poem in Blackadder 4 - Boom, Boom, Boom ........
How dreadful it must have been, how brave they all were and how afraid they must have felt - all the time.
This was quite a splendid reconstruction of how the trenches must have looked when first created but no one could or would want to recreate the appalling conditions experienced as the war progressed.
I did climb up the ladder to look at 'no man's land' and the German front line.
There is also a Sap or mine adit. Many miners were recruited to dig tunnels under ground towards the enemy lines. If you have read Sebastian Faulks' novel 'Birdsong' you will have read about the mines and the tunnels running close to those of the enemy.
In the bright sunshine of an ordinary August afternoon it was sometimes hard to imagine how truly awful it must have been.