Elvington Things to Do
It is not possible to sum up the emotions aroused by the memorabilia contained in this small room of remembrance.
So many last letters home, so many Telegrams from the War Office - dreaded by everyone with a close family member in the Armed Forces. So many photographs of cheerful, brave young men. So much hope, courage and determination.
These sympathetically collated documents tell of the pity and the sorrow of war.
In my teens I was given, as birthday presents, books by Nevil Shute - A Town Like Alice and The Far Country. Reading them set me off on a perpetual search for other books by him.. It was my older brother who gave them to me - he had been prevented by a poor health history from joining the RAF but was always fascinated by anything to do with aviation.
It was a long time before I became aware of Shute’s scientific and flying history
Many of his novels were adapted for both the big screen and for TV. He is now I think a neglected and under-rated writer - a real teller of a good tale that encompassed not only all of human life but sets it in the real, fast moving, technological world of the mid-20th century.
So finding a whole section in the Museum’s exhibition Hall devoted to Nevil Shute was, for me, a special pleasure.
It provides an insighful and colourful picture into the life and word of a neglected aviator, scientist and writer.
I found looking in on these scenes (behind glass) rather moving in spite of the dummy models. To think of 1500 French men and women, members of the Free French Forces - about 500 air crew and 1000 ground staff, being deposited in the Yorkshire countryside while their country was under NAZI occupation brings home the disruption to lives in times of war. They were to serve in their own Squadrons - Guyenne and Tunisie alongside their British allies in the final assaults on the Ruhr, Berlin and Normandy. Many did not live to see the Liberation of their country and the eventual Victory of the Allies.
Memorial in France
But links that survive were forged between the people of the village and the young French men and women.
Where better, where else to eat when visiting a former RAF Base than in the NAAFI ? (Navy, Army and Air Force Institute),
We went in for lunch and having seen the hearty, traditional meals on offer decided on just a main course. I chose the steakand kidney pie which came with potatoes carrots and cabbage; John went for the beef casserole with dumplings with the same vegetable selection( it was a rather cool and grey day for May!)
Both meals cost £5.95 for very generous portions and were delicious - just like mother used to make. We were tempted by the apple pie and custard but thought better of it when we remembered we were on our way to have dinner with my brother and his wife that evening.
Favorite thing: Around the numerous exhibition rooms there were many examples of the role of art and the artist in times of war. These are all shown behind glass so do not photograph well. However this small selection gives a taste of the variety of work to be seen from the definitive war painting of the 20th century by Picasso depicting the horror of Guernica to the jaunty propoganda cartoons of WW2.