Friday, 13 February 2015

Museum appeals over wartime photo riddle

Can you help to solve this wartime picture mystery?

The team behind the Devon Remembers website based at Budleigh Salterton’s Fairlynch Museum hopes you can tell them more about this photograph they have been sent.

Sheila Jelley, one of the local history researchers at the museum who helped compile the website, has been sent the picture of men convalescing at a Budleigh Salterton home by the granddaughter of one of the men in the photo.

He is Alfred Oscar Harrage, who is the man with a moustache and no cap standing over the left shoulder of the nurse with the cross on her chest. Sheila said: “We wondered if readers could help to tell us some more about the photo. We know quite a lot now about Mr Harrage, who was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers and who spent time in a convalescent home in Budleigh after he was injured in World War One.

“The picture must have been taken no earlier than 1916 as Sapper Harrage didn’t enlist until in the Royal Engineers until the January of that year.

“Sapper Harrage, service number 120826 was a married man with four children when he signed up. We don’t know where the picture was taken, but we suspect it may have been on a day-trip from the home. Was it taken in Budleigh or one of the surrounding communities?

Does anyone recognise any of the other people in the picture, or the building where it was taken?

“We know from our earlier research at the museum that Harriet Barton gave up her Budleigh home in the war so it could become a Voluntary Aid Detachment hospital, and she became its commandant. Mrs Barton died shortly after the war, and is commemorated on war memorials in the town, as well as, of course, on the website.

“Is Mrs Barton, or Dr Henry Semple, who served Budleigh Salterton in war and peace, also in the photograph? We’d love to know.”

The website was set up by the Lord Clinton Charitable Trust to honour the 1914-1918 generation from the Clinton Devon Estates’ communities in East and North Devon. It tells the stories of men and women from Beer, Budleigh Salterton, Colaton Raleigh, East Budleigh, Huish, Merton, Newton Poppleford and Otterton who served their country in the Great War, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sheila said: “We’ve had an amazing response to the website, with people from all over the country and beyond contacting us about our work and telling us how it has touched them.

“Now we’re hoping that someone out there can tell us more about this picture, which will help us to discover more about what life was like in the area during the First World War.”

If you can help, please email or call Sheila on 01395 443197.

‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ 2015 exhibition at Budleigh Salterton’s very special museum! Reviews included: “Wonderful display on WW1, informative, bright and relevant. Well done!! 

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