This is the first in a new series of postings, From Our Main Gallery, a series in which we hope to give you a sense of some of our Main Gallery exhibits. With great thanks to Gary Brammer, we’re sharing with you his favourite section of the Museum ~ the Colwell Diary.
Gary writes, “I had no hesitation in picking the Flt Lt Colwell diary as my number one exhibit. The very fact it survived the war is incredible in itself. It gives us a detailed, unique look at the great escape from Stalag Luft 3 POW camp.
The detail, colour, and story hidden within its pages is second to none, but there is also something else there that is the reason why it’s my favourite exhibit.
I think we forget that the men who took part in this escape were in fact, young men, no more than boys. The inner strength and fortitude that drove these men to survive the brutal conditions alone is to be admired, but I think there is so much more. They had a pride and sense of duty that drove them on. They could have had a fairly comfortable safe war, just allowing the war to carry on outside the fence line but they felt a duty to do what they could to disrupt the German war effort in any way they could.
The diary shows the incredible intelligence of these men in the way they used everyday items to make tools and find engineering solutions to tough problems. The diary shows team work, sacrifice, and the inner strength I think they all had.
I hope that this diary can be used as a teaching tool to show our children today that they too can do more with what they have around them. The power and strength they have inside of each and every one hopefully can be brought out without having to face the same terrible adversity that these men had to face.
Gary Brammer volunteers on Tuesdays. We hope that you’ll come in to meet him and ask him to show you this special exhibit!