Since its opening on Saturday 21 July, the Museum’s summer exhibition ‘Tangmere and the SOE’ has been well attended and received by our visitors, many deciding to visit after viewing our recently acquired full sized Westland Special Duties Lysander aircraft, displayed in the Museum’s Merston Hall.
The exhibition’s programme of talks and demonstrations commenced on 2 August with Martyn Bell, a good friend of the Museum and the current Mayor of Chichester, giving a very interesting and informative talk on Jean Moulin, de Gaulle’s representative within the French Resistance. On the evening of 9 August, the Museum’s Pete Pitman provided his audience with an excellent talk on ‘Tangmere and the SOE’ (to be repeated on the afternoon of Sunday 2 September). Further exhibition talks include the Museum’s Director Dudley Hooley on Jimmy ‘Mac’ McCairns and Noor Inayat Khan, Rosemary Coxon on ‘Operation Anthropoid’ and Dr Andrew Smith of Chichester University on ‘Resistance and the Free French’– details on the website.
On the first two weekends of the exhibition espionage equipment used by the SOE were demonstrated by a local Living History Group called the ‘Baker Street Boys’, dressed as members of the French Resistance. They showed our visitors the ingenious and deadly devices used by the SOE to carry out Churchill’s famous order to “Set Europe Ablaze”. On Sunday 5 August four ‘trainee agents’ and one ‘conducting officer’ from the recent BBC documentary series ’Secret Agent: WW2’ visited the Museum and answered questions on how during the filming they had managed the training undertaken by the real SOE agents in the Second World War. Also present to speak with our visitors was a real SOE wireless operator Fred Bailey who, in 1944, was parachuted into France as part of a Jedburgh team and who later, whilst operating in Burma, had be rescued from a jungle strip by a Lysander.
The ‘Tangmere and the SOE’ exhibition is open daily from 1100 until 1600 hours daily (except on Sunday 26 August, the Museum’s Family Day) until Sunday 2 September. Entry is included in the Museum entry price.