Wales

WW1 families bring along artefacts to ask the experts

Allan Doyle and some of his grandfather's WWI mementoes
Image caption Allan Doyle and some of his grandfather's WWI mementoes

Private Frank Thompson didn't like to talk about his time in World War One.

"I spent a lot of time with him in the 1960s and I would ask him to tell me things but he never wanted to," said grandson Allan Doyle.

Frank, a railwayman from Lower Pipe Street in Barry had returned home safely from action on the Western Front and Gallipoli with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

He might have been reluctant to impart any stories but he did bring back some interesting mementoes.

Allan, from Porthcawl, brought along his late grandfather's collection for historians to cast an expert eye over at an event in Cardiff.

Dr Lester Mason, from Lampeter University, was impressed with a shell, which he suggested was likely to have been designed to be fired from a small gun from a vehicle.

"It's fully intact and would have been for a breach-loading gun," he tells Allan.

There was also a German pair of field glasses and an identity tag, reading Walter Barnum.

"I don't know who he was but if anyone can find out, I'd love to know," said Allan.

Image caption Frank Thompson's medals, a German identity tag and field glasses
Image caption The shell is recorded and digitised for the online archive
Image caption Alison Phillips has been researching her husband's great uncle Rhys David Harries
Image caption Rifleman Harries, from Seven Sisters, died in September 1915 - in a tragic twist of luck he was being treated for injuries in a dressing station when it was hit by a shell
Image caption The family managed to trace two of his medals and they were sold back by an Irish collector for the same price he bought them for
Image caption His letters tell of everyday things - including the French 'ripping them off' when they sold them loaves
Image caption Alan Cox from Cardiff took a few years to finish collecting a full set of postcards, which were sold to raise money for troops' families
Image caption Historians are particularly interested in personal items, including letters
Image caption This boy's scrapbook of charity 'flags' collected between 1909 and 1918 shows the Home Front raising money for good causes and the war effort

An Antiques Roadshow-style event in Cardiff saw artefacts, letters and photographs studied by experts and then digitised by CultureNet Cymru for future generations.

Dr Gerry Oram, of Swansea University, said: "I've been studying World War One for decades but there is always more to learn.

"What's particularly interesting are the letters and the soldiers in family photographs which show them in context."

"People bring things along because they want to know more and they also want to share for future generations."

The event at the Motorpoint Arena is part of the two-day Connected Communities festival, which brings together academics and local people interested in history, archaeology, media, literature and music.

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