Doncaster museum has sights set on WW1 display

Artefacts on display to visitors at a World War I exhibition at Doncaster Museum.
Artefacts on display to visitors at a World War I exhibition at Doncaster Museum.

Bosses at Doncaster Museum have launched an exhibition looking at how life was for soldiers in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1916.

The exhibition is part of the borough’s events and displays remembering World War One, which was being fought 100 years ago.

Curator Steve Tagg showing artefacts on display to visitors at a World War I exhibition at Doncaster Museum

Curator Steve Tagg showing artefacts on display to visitors at a World War I exhibition at Doncaster Museum

Lynsey Slater, project researcher for the Doncaster 1914-18 Project, has been working in the 1916 section.

She says she believes people will be fascinated by the events of 1916 for soldiers in the regiment, which drew extensively from Doncaster.

She said: “It features lots of personal stories, original objects and it covers the history of the regiment during the year 1916, which is obviously the year of the Battle of the Somme.

“That is a real, strong story from the First World War, which a lot of people have strong feelings about and close family connections to.

Lynsey Slater, Project Researcher for the Doncaster 1914-18 Project.

Lynsey Slater, Project Researcher for the Doncaster 1914-18 Project.

“We explore that, the different technological developments that were happening during 1916 and also the reaction to conscription and the way people in Doncaster reacted to compulsory military service.

“It’s a really controversial subject matter, through the scope of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.”

Lynsey described the reaction to compulsory military service in Doncaster, brought in for the first time in 1916. She said: “It was a kind of mixed bag really. One of the stories we feature is a letter from some King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry soldiers to a local newspaper saying that there are lots of washouts in the old town and they are very much not happy . But then you also find that there is a lot of sympathy towards people who did not want to fight.”

The 1916 exhibition is running in parallel with a mobile display which is being moved around venues in Doncaster.

Jude Holland, project manager for the Doncaster 1914-18 project, said 1916 was a key year for the regiment because of its role at the Battle of the Somme, which saw most of its battalions involved.

She added: “Doncaster played a really important role in the First World war. Local industry was key. Peglers and the Great Northern Railway produced munitions for the front, and Peglers was also involved in the production of a plane called the Sopwith Cuckoo. Local men played a really key role as soldiers in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and it wasn’t just the men who were involved.

“Local children knitted scarves to send to troops at the front, and local women became tram drivers and helped out at farms .

Items featured in the display include those relating to Second Lieutenant Noel Alexander.

He was among those in the regiment killed in action on July 1 1916 - the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was aged just 22.