Thank you Sophie for this lovely account of our trip to NAM and all the exciting things we found there:
On a sunny Sunday, a group of volunteers had the chance to visit the National Army Museum Stores in Stevenage. Short journey by train and there we are.
A very warm welcome – around delicious Indian food – from the Museum team led by Jasdeep. Then we could walk inside the huge storage area, where we found swords, tanks, trucks and a… bicycle, some pieces of the Berlin wall weighing several tons, 4 or 5 rows of uniforms; then we are inside the Reading Room.
Jasdeep explained what was the purpose and activities of the NAM stores, the overwhelming work done to collect, keep, and scan documents and the joy of discovering stories and History.
A tiny black and white photo, the size of 4 stamps, was too small to provide information: all we can see are people standing and others sitting on a ferry in the shade of the upper deck.
After digitising and enlarging the photo, the Museum team was able and happy to see, now, on the boat deck, a group of Indian soldiers dancing in a circle, holding hands with flying long coats, while people were sitting and watching them!
We saw books and diaries related to the WW1 and Indian soldiers, the purpose of our Group research. There were Officers’ Diaries from the Gallipoli and Egypt campaigns. We could even feel desert sand on those thin paper pages.
Everyone spotted a large book of drawings of a wide range of Indian soldiers (Gurkhas, Punjabis… and others) and their life on the front in Northern France. It was delicate thin lines on light brown paper by Paul Sarrut, a Military Liaison Officer and interpreter between the Indian and British troops.
We were so lucky being able to turn the pages of large photobooks with handwritten comments. Here, soldiers standing in line for official photo group; there, preparing food, playing polo and the awards ceremony.
A huge thank you to the team of National Army Museum Store for being able to see History with a capital H, that Sunday.