World Wars Experience brings flying parade and tank display to National Museum of Flight
Edinburgh exhibition brings history to life over May Day weekend 2011
War and warfare are a constant presence in world news, both now and throughout history. While many of these conflicts take place in far off lands - in countries very different to our own which most of us will never visit - it’s easy to forget our own country was a part of two World Wars, both of which occurred within living memory. It can be particularly complicated to explain to children and young people exactly what a war is and what it was like for the grandparents or great grandparents who’s lives were affected by it.
The World Wars Experience Day, an all-day event for adults and children at the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian on Sun 1 May, aims to preserve these memories and provide a flavour of what life was like during wartime, as experienced both by those fighting at the front and those left running the country at home.
Whilst the drama of front line warfare at the event is represented via battle reenactments and flight demonstrations, there will also be a recreation of a front line kitchen to explore, an overview of nursing on the front line, and supervised handling sessions of rifles, ration books and other military objects dating from the time. Several military vehicles, including tanks and jeeps, will be on site to explore, and you can brush up on the communication technology of the day by visiting the Homing Pigeon Society, learning about the vital role played by these messenger birds during wartime.
At home, women were charged with keeping the country running while their husbands, brothers and sons fought overseas. This is also recreated as part of the day, with a live cooking event using real rationing measures and ingredients available during WWII. There will be a dressing up box full of period costumes to try on, vintage street toys to play with and compare to their modern equivalents, and visitors will have the opportunity to prepare for their own wartime victory street party by making their own decorations, listening to the popular music of the time, and getting photographed in full victory party mode.
There will be a cinema on site, similar to those found in wartime RAF air bases such as East Fortune, showing propaganda film and short features. Finally, in addition to a catwalk show displaying the fashion of times, actors in full period attire will be on hand throughout the day to offer a guide to their particular uniforms and explain the vintage exhibits.
Aside from these special events and exhibits taking place as part of the World Wars Experience Day, the Museum of Flight’s permanent attractions are also available as usual - including, most famously, Concorde and a Boeing 707 - making it a pretty impressive event for all ages, and probably best possible way to answer the question: ‘What did your grandparents do during the war?”