Letter - I was disappointed with World War I display

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I visited the Pontefract Museum on Saturday afternoon to view the opening and displays to commemorate World War 1.

I was greatly disappointed with what was only an artistic display of the war period and nothing to show the horrors of war or the sacrifice made by this country.

I felt the event was poorly advertised and I doubt that shoppers in the town were aware of the activity with not even a notice at the entrance to the museum indicating the commemoration and displays.

On viewing the paintings I notices only one mention of The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and nothing of the York & Lancaster Regiment.

In the display, apart from two members of The Royal British Legion well dressed in WW1 uniforms with their equipment, no other memorabilia was exhibited.

Pontefract was the Garrison Town and home of both Regiments who moved into Pontefract Barracks when it first opened in 1878 and this remained their depot until 1963.

They played a significant role in WWW the KOYLI raised 24 battalions and suffered 10,000 casualties.

The Y&L raised 22 battalions and suffered 9,000 casualties.

Soldiers of both regiments received many bravery decorations during the war including many VCs. With so many, over 600, from the borough of Pontefract dead, it was impossible to have their names engraved on the War Memorial but it was agreed that there would be two regimental badges - the KIngs Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and York & Lancasters in their memory.

Both regimental museums exhibit a large quality of regimental memorabillia and I am quite sure that has they been approached much could have been available towards this Pontefract Museum display and commemoration making it far more interesting to the public.

Some years ago I gave to the Pontefract Museum curator items of Trench Art made by the soldiers in the trenches which surely would hae been of great interest had they been displayed, where are these pieces of Trench Art now?

Once again I feel that Wakefield MDC have neglected the Garrison Town and old Borough of Pontefract in this commemorative year and those soldiers who contributed so much in the battles of WW1, many thousands with their lives.

C G Delany

KOYLI/Light Infantry/Rifles

Regimental Association

Maple Grove

Pontefract

Coun David Dagger, Cabinet member for culture, sport and libraries at Wakefield Council, said: “I am sorry your reader is disappointed with the First World War display in Pontefract Museum. I appreciate the feedback. We are actively inviting suggestions so we can add to the exhibition until the end of its run to August 30 so we will be taking these comments on board.

“Museums across the district have a programme of events commemorating the First World War, of which The Great War Inspires exhibition at Pontefract is a part.

“This particular display is a community project led by locally-based Faceless Arts, funded by the Arts Council England and involving local groups including 2460 (Pontefract) Squadron of the Air Cadets, Army Cadets, RAF Association, Royal British Legion and the Pontefract Live at Home Scheme.

“The project is working with these groups and specific World War One related items from the museum collection, in this case the silk handkerchiefs on display at the museum.

“The objects provided inspiration for participants to give their personal response to the war. Those responses were then made into a piece of artwork – the silk banners that form the current display.

“Additionally, there is now also a display of First World War related material in the entrance display case at the museum which includes around 50 photographs and other items of ephemera.

“Beyond 2014 we are in the early stages of a dialogue with the neighbouring museum service in Doncaster.

“Although subject to a Heritage Lottery Fund bid, we hope that Pontefract Museum will be a venue for their travelling pop-up display on the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) with the aim of attracting KOYLI family history from local residents.”