A major exhibition at the London Science Museum includes wartime telegrams from Guernsey. ‘Information Age’ tells the story of how information and communication technologies have transformed our lives over the last 200 years. However, this is not just a gallery of technology, it’s a gallery of astonishing stories and incredible people that shows how we have created, used and been affected by each new wave of change.
Gillian Mawson has worked with the Science Museum to ensure that some of Guernsey’s wartime communications are included. Four telegrams have been used in a digital display in the Cable section of the gallery which explores the history of telegraphy. Visitors who view the display are told “Many telegrams were sent to and from evacuees during the Second World War. Over 5,000 children were evacuated from Guernsey to mainland UK between 1940 and 1945. There was no postal or telegram service to Guernsey during its five years of Nazi occupation, meaning many families did not hear from their loved ones until after the War had ended.”
The four Guernsey telegrams are shown below:
The first telegram, dated 29 June 1940, belongs to Mrs Rosemary Le Page. It was received by her mother who had been evacuated, with her children, from Guernsey to an evacuee reception centre in Stockport Town Hall. The telegram was sent by Rosemary’s grandparents in Guernsey to advise her mother that Guernsey had been bombed by Germany and that they were unable to follow her to England. The island was occupied the following day.
It reads ‘Guernsey Bombed last night. Many casualties.Staying here’
The second telegram belongs to Mrs Sheila Brown and was sent to her Mother, Mrs W Reeve, whose family had evacuated to Stockport from Guernsey. Mrs Reeve’s brother was overseas, in the forces, and sent the telegram to her.
The third telegram was provided by Arlene Elphicke who states: “It was sent to my Grandmother Cecilia LePage Fisher in Vancouver, Canada by her brother Douglas LePage in Guernsey. It was one of the first telegrams to come out of Guernsey after the war ended. Her brother wanted her to know that everyone was safe and well.”
It reads ‘All Well Hope Same’
The fourth telegram, dated 26 May 1942, was provided by Brian Aylward, after a copy was found in Bury Archives by Gillian Mawson. Brian still owns the original. He left Guernsey to join the Forces, whilst his wife and children were evacuated from Guernsey to Bury, Lancashire. He sent the telegram to thank the Bury Billeting Officer, Miss Roberts, for her assistance in finding a nice home for his family.
The telegrams will be permanently on display in the museum’s ‘Information Age’ gallery. Those wishing to visit the exhibition can call 0207 942 4000 or visit the Science Museum website at http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/
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