Friday 8 October saw the official launch of the EACH exhibition at Andover Museum, sponsored by the Co-operative Group. The event was a huge success, attended by The Worshipful the Mayor and Mayoress of Test Valley, Chris and Frances Lynn, as well as many other local dignitaries and community members.
Colin Smith, war correspondent, military historian and co-author of the widely-acclaimed Alamein: War Without Hate (Penguin Books), began the evening with a fascinating recount of the events of the Battle of El Alamein in North Africa 1942. Guests also had the opportunity to hear an astonishing first-hand tale from Alamein veteran, Murray Wrobel, who served in the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre:
On 4 November 1942, during the closing stages of the battle, Lieutenant-General Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma, commander of the German-Italian Afrika Korps, was captured. He was treated with notable chivalry; when he expressed his regret at leaving Egypt without seeing the pyramids at Giza, it was decided to oblige him. Lieutenant Wrobel, aged 21 and a German speaker, was assigned as his escort. Guards kept watch and the general’s uniform was concealed by the same kind of full-length trench coat Wrobel was wearing. Although they posed together for a photograph, no word of the general’s outing ever got out. Wrobel’s abiding memory of it was the encyclopaedic knowledge of the pyramids Von Thoma enthusiastically demonstrated. In 1948, Von Thoma died of a heart attack in Germany shortly after he was repatriated. Following this intriguing talk, guests toured the lively, interactive exhibition which celebrates the community of this unique Hampshire village. Disabled clients of the Enham charity, pupils from Smannell and Enham CE Primary School, and University of Winchester students all contributed to the display, which also showcases showcases many interesting artefacts from the North African Campaign.
The EACH Project exhibition is open free to the public, Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm, until 13 November, at Andover Museum, 6 Church Close, Andover SP10 1DP. Colin Smith can be contacted on 07929 915937, email@example.com, or via the Penguin Press Office on 0207 010 3000; copies of the book Alamein: War Without Hate are available for sale at the exhibition and at Andover Waterstone’s.