New exhibition to mark 100th anniversary of the First World War

– Posted on Monday 16th April 2012

Manx National Heritage is planning a major exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War in 2014, and curators would like to hear from anyone who has material which they feel they can contribute.

This special exhibition is scheduled to open in January 2014 at the Manx Museum and will be on display for the duration of the anniversary year.

Manx National Heritage Curator of Social History Matthew Richardson commented:

“This exhibition will look at the whole range of Manx experiences in the First World War, from soldiers on the battlefields, to sailors at sea, women in factories, conscientious objectors, politicians, fishermen and others on the Home Front. If you have family letters, diaries, photographs or artefacts relating to a Manx person who lived through the First World War, we would be delighted to hear from you. We are particularly keen to find material relating to the less well documented aspects of the war, such as its impact on women”.

The First World War was the world’s first truly global conflict, and it affected the lives of those at every level of society on the Isle of Man, from Government House down to those in the humblest croft, as sons were sent to the trenches, daughters went to work in munitions factories or volunteered as nurses, fathers helped guard the Island from attack and mothers raised money for Belgian refugees and knitted socks for those at the Front.

In many ways it created the modern world in which we live today, introducing for the first time state control of industry, daylight saving time, and the gradual decline of a sense of deference on the part of the working classes towards those in authority.

The First World War changed the face of warfare forever. It started with the horse as the prime mover on the battlefield, and with cavalry making heroic charges in the battles of 1914, but the machine gun soon came to dominate the battlefield, and it quickly saw the horse superseded by the tank and the aeroplane.

At sea, the first ever attack made on an enemy ship by a plane carrying a torpedo was launched in 1915 from the Isle of Man’s own Ben my Chree. It would render most of the world’s navies (including the mighty Dreadnought battleships) obsolete overnight, as the age of the aircraft carrier was born. Under the waves, a new deadly threat emerged – the submarine.

Whilst the Isle of Man housed thousands of enemy aliens in internment camps, many of its sons were fighting on battlefronts across the world, and its women were engaged in a range of war-related work. On the political front, the war brought to a head a constitutional crisis in the Isle of Man which had been brewing for a number of years.

Matthew continued:

Major exhibitions always take a lot of planning, and an exhibition on this scale is certainly no exception to that rule. That is why we would like to hear now from anyone who has letters, photographs or artefacts which they feel may be relevant to this subject. Even if you feel able to loan material to us for just a short time, this would still be useful to us and would enable us to photograph, record or copy these items.

Contact Matthew Richardson on 01624 648053 or by email:

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