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The Museum at Bullecourt
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Remembering the battles at Bullecourt

Detail of the museum at Bullecourt

The museum in Bullecourt is a surprising experience, perhaps more intense because of the informal manner in which the artefacts are displayed in a relatively small space.

Those who surf the Internet looking for information about Bullecourt will see a number of references to the small museum at Bullecourt run by the ex-Mayor, M. Letaille. Situated in a courtyard just off the main road at 1 Arras Road, it is a surprising collection of artefacts found around the area of Bullecourt and supplemented by documents and photographs related to the battles.

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Origin of the artefacts

I have only visited Bullecourt once but understand that it is under continuous expansion, apparently funded only by voluntary contributions by those who visit. The objects inside and stored in the yard outside come from the immediate environs of Bullecourt and are provided in the main by the farming community.

Camwal bottle

Thousands of artefacts turn up in the fields all the time. This is an empty Camwal soft drink bottle given me by M. Letaille. I am not sure where it originated but, possibly, it came from their factory in Harrogate, North Yorkshire and bottles like it would have been shipped out in their hundreds of thousands. Much of the interest for me is in the ordinary character of many of the contents of the museum. They represent the items which would have been in day to day use by the troops fighting in the area and, as such, give a real feeling both for the background of the men who found themselves fighting for this part of France as well as something of life in the trenches.

The museum in which the artefacts are kept is a single storeyed building approached across a courtyard in which there are a number of large items surrounded by part of a tank track. Adjacent to it is a large barn in which there are shovels, picks, ammunition boxes and a lot of the larger items associated with the fighting. The museum contains many of the ordinary artefacts used by the troops.

Inside the museum there is much to see. The single room in which the artefacts are displayed has shelves containing found objects from the battlefield around Bullecourt, as well as photographs, newspaper articles, sheet music, medals, letters, extracts from diaries and so on – all giving a complex rather overwhelming impression of the battles in Bullecourt.

Having said that, I found it very difficult to gain an impression of the battles, more a feeling of the sadness and waste of all the lives lost in it.

I also think there's too much detail to see in a single visit and, for that reasoon, I shall have to go back and spend time looking more carefully at the items in the museum. I believe the museum is being added to all the time as items are found around the town and as people associated with those who died in Bullecourt give artefacts or copies of them to the museum.

The museum is swamped with artefacts and needs to be expanded – unless the intention is to overwhelm with these artefacts. I recommend it not only to those interested in the battles at Bullecourt, but to anybody with an interest in the First World War and passing through this area.

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