From 1 February to 30 November 2018 the Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum in Salisbury opens a fascinating new exhibition on the events of what happened in the last year of the First World War from the perspective of both Wiltshire and Berkshire regimental soldiers.
“1918: War and Peace” brings together personal soldier diaries and letters, photographs and unique objects from the museum’s collection to highlight the main events of 1918. It examines what happened on the front line, what it was like to be a prisoner of war, witnessing a change of events in the war and what happened during and after the ceasefire was announced.
The exhibition starts by explaining at the start of 1918, Allied troops were suffering from low morale because of the huge losses at Arras and Passchendaele in northern France in 1917. It was at this point that Germany thought they were on the brink of victory. Just one more battle in the spring of 1918 would be enough to win the war outright, or so the German leaders believed.
The resulting battle called the Spring Offensive started on 21st March 1918. The Allied troops faced a heavy barrage and many were either killed or taken prisoner. But due to events at home and on the front line the Germans did not achieve the victory they were expecting. The exhibition then explains what happened next, how the Allied troops retaliated later that year, the Armistice and why the end of the First World War didn’t necessarily mean a return home for all Wiltshire and Berkshire soldiers.
This exhibition is the museum’s final instalment of a four year programme commemorating the First World War.
Looking ahead the museum will also be offering fun and fascinating family events commemorating 1918 over Easter, May half term and the summer holidays. These include hands-on sessions looking at what happened to soldiers and civilians at the end of WWI and a spellbinding storytelling session on Wiltshire and Berkshire soldier stories taken from our archive collections.