Ypres’ In Flanders Fields museum is focusing its attention on the subterranean relics of war this year.
Entitled Traces of War, WW1 Archeology the museum’s fascinating new exhibition explores the strata of buried First World War remains that lie less than half a metre beneath the surface of the farmland of modern-day Belgium and France.
Highlights include numerous artefacts that have been recovered over the past 10 years and the light they shed on everyday life in the trenches.
The displays also tell the story of some of the soldiers whose remains have finally been recovered and identified in recent years.
The exhibition runs from 17 February until 26 August. To find out more both about it and the In Flanders Fields museum, click here.
America’s National WWI Museum and Memorial celebrates the opening of its new, $5m Wylie gallery space with an exhibition dedicated to John Singer Sargent’s monumental painting, Gassed.
The 21ft-long work, on loan from London’s Imperial War Museum, depicts a line of blinded British soldiers making their way to a dressing station near Arras, while other wounded men lie on the ground.
Redolent with loss
The exhibition, which runs from 23 February to 23 June, also includes preliminary sketches, maps showing the dressing station’s location and objects relating to the chemical warfare that took place across the Western Front.
The huge painting has lost none of its ability to shock and is redolent with the waste of life and youth that was such a feature of the First World War.
On seeing the work for the first time, Sir Winston Churchill, himself a veteran of the trenches, wrote: ‘With all its brilliant genius and painful significance… how the field of national psychology must have been harrowed by events which had taken place during the war.’
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is trying to trace relatives of a World War One soldier who died in France in 1918.
Sergeant Edward Norton was born in Stotfold, Bedfordshire, in 1881 and lived in Luton. He enlisted in the Bedfordshire Regiment, but was later transferred to the 7th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.
In July 2016 human remains were discovered in Gavrelle, northern France, close to where Sergeant Norton went missing. Researchers also discovered a shoulder title from the Durham Light Infantry.
The battalion’s records show six men died during that month; four officers and two soldiers. After analysing the artefacts and accoutrements at the site, the researchers believe the remains are ‘likely’ to belong to one of the two soldiers.
A grandson of the other soldier has been traced, but the team have been unable to find any relatives of Sergeant Norton.
Louise Dorr from the Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) said: ‘He is to be buried in France on 15 March.
‘Rather than bury him as an unknown soldier, I would love to be able to identify him so that his headstone may bear his name.’
One of the greatest works produced by British war artist Christopher (CRW) Nevinson will go on sale at Sotheby’s Modern & Post-War British Art Sale on 21 November.
Entitled A Dawn, the powerful image depicts a unit of French infantry, bayonets fixed, marching through a town centre.
A gripping example of Nevinson’s thought-provoking Vorticist style, the painting was first exhibited at the artist’s 1916 solo exhibition to an audience that included Sir Winston Churchill and George Bernard Shaw.
Simon Hucker, Sotheby’s senior specialist in modern & post-war British Art, said: ‘Nevinson’s A Dawn ranks alongside the Tate’s La Mitrailleuse and the Imperial War Museum’s French Troops Resting as the very best of the artist’s war paintings, works that define our vision of the Great War.
‘With the majority of Nevinson’s most important works in major museums, the term “museum-quality” can be applied with total confidence to this profoundly powerful painting. The auction represents a very rare opportunity for collectors.’
A Dawn was last on sale in 1964. It will be offered with an estimate of £700,000-1m.
Some 100 years after he won the Victoria Cross in Belgium, a soldier from Ceredigion has been honoured with a memorial in his home county.
Machine gun taken
Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis Pugh Evans received the award for his actions on 4 October 1917 when he singlehandedly captured a machine-gun emplacement.
Severely wounded, he went on to lead his troops from the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment to attack another enemy position.
Evans was later promoted to general and was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, the Belgian Order of Leopold and the French Croix de Guerre, in addition to being mentioned in dispatches seven times.
His citation stated the officer had observed an enemy gun emplacement that was causing casualties and had rushed at it firing his revolver, forcing the German gunners to surrender.
His grandson, Christopher Evans, told the BBC his grandfather always felt he had been lucky; both to have survived the war to have been awarded the VC.
The memorial is in Llanbadarn Fawr, near Aberystwyth.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, is marking the centenary of the formation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) with an exhibition entitled Pioneers to Professionals. Women and the Royal Navy.
On show within the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the display opens on 18 February and charts the history of women and the Royal Navy from the age of sail to the present.
WRNS working on depth-charges during the First World War
Drawing on the collections of the National Museum of the Navy, in addition to loans from other museums and private individuals, the exhibition shines a light onto an area of naval history that has all too often been forgotten.
Among those whose story is told are Hannah Snell, who disguised herself as a man to serve in the Royal Marines, and Ann Hopping, who went to sea on Royal Navy ships in the 18th century.
The exhibition also explores the role of women during two world wars and considers the realities of everyday life in today’s Royal Navy.
For more about Pioneers to Professionals. Women and the Royal Navy, click here.