Items from the past donated to the museum in 2023, will help with our immediate and future plans for displays and special exhibitions.
In the past 12 months we received items donated from 39 individual sources. Taking these objects, which include personal documents, medals and photographs into our care means we have been able to create 354 new museum collection records for the museum.
More than half of these new records relate to items belonging to one soldier who served with the regiment in the First World War. Robert Henry Murray attended Richmond Grammar School, played the organ at St Mary’s parish church, went up to Selwyn College, Cambridge and rowed at Henley Regatta.
When war broke out in 1914, Robert joined up. He was posted to his home regiment The Yorkshire Regiment, as the Green Howards were called at the time. He trained with the 11th battalion at Hummersknott Camp, Darlington, before being attached to The Royal Munster Fusiliers, serving in Gallipoli from late spring 1915 to early 1916. Next, he served on the Western Front.
Whilst serving in the trenches, Robert was working his way along the front trench line in preparation for the next attack. He stopped to enquire after a wounded man who was being tended on the fire step. A shell exploded on the top of the parapet where they were standing, killing him and three others. Robert’s parents and sisters lived at Westwas Cottage in Richmond. His mother and sisters later moved to Temple Lodge. In agreement with the donor, we have transferred some of the local history related archive contained within the wealth of papers to The Richmondshire Museum.
“An almost life-sized framed photograph of Robert in his captain’s uniform is by far the largest image we’ve had donated in many years,” explains Head of Collections, Zoe Utley. “It now hangs next to our First World War case, which is full of uniforms, equipment and personal objects. Being able to literally place someone from that time into the same space adds something special.”
Some of Robert Murray’s personal items will feature in our CONNECTED exhibition.
We were also pleased to welcome donations relating to our current special exhibition, Great Escapes during the year. Herbert Briers wrote down his experiences of being a captive as part of a competition in The Sunday Pictorial, whilst Noel Blunt’s photo album, donated towards the end of the year contains a precious image of the Italian family who helped him evade the authorities after his escape. Briers and Blunt will both feature in our refreshed Great Escapes special exhibition.
Three medal groups belonging to soldiers who served at D Day will be on display in our next special exhibition. It is the 80th anniversary of D Day in 2024, and we have the only Victoria Cross awarded on that day in the collection.
The medals of Pte Bob Shaw, a driver/mechanic who drove Bren Gun carriers in North Africa, Sicily and at D Day, Corporal Stanley Melling, who served with the regiment during training on the south coast for D Day and landed on Gold Beach and Private Lol Flavell, who joined the regiment’s 7th Bn part way through the Normandy Campaign on 13 June 1940 will help us tell the story of the Normandy Campaign in this major new anniversary exhibition.