Hidden stories – Blitz handbag
Sometimes a museum object stands alone as an engaging painting or a beautiful dress, other times you need to know its story to bring it to life. So when I was offered this little blue handbag, with dried, cracked leather and signs of rust I wasn’t sure what to make of it – until I heard its story.
The donor told me about a night in Coventry during the 1940 Blitz: ‘the sirens went and I got into my siren suit, climbed over the next door neighbour’s fence and into the Anderson shelter. When the bombs dropped I remember the candle going out and my mother screaming ‘that’s our house’. When the raid was over we got out and all our windows had been blown in. But to my horror my friend’s house which was at the bottom of our garden was razed to the ground, this being in Ashington Grove [in Whitley]. I remember seeing one of the dolls in the rubble. My friends were Enid and Andrew Moffat and along with their mother they were all killed; their father lived. It was said that the children and their mother went under the stairs and their father stayed in bed. He gave me Enid’s handbag out of the rubble which I have cherished all these years.’
While the Herbert can not collect every item relating to Coventry during the Second World War, this handbag tells a tale that connects us to the donor’s survival and the loss of her friends. Stories of the Blitz and Coventry’s experience of peace and reconciliation are an important part of the city’s history.
To find out more about our peace collecting project see Natalie’s blog: https://theherbert.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/the-herberts-peace-collecting-project/
You can also add share your stories of Coventry on the Coventry Memories website.
Themes of peace and reconciliation are of key importance to the city of Coventry. This stems from experiences during the Second World War but continues today through the lives and work of people of Coventry. We have highlighted this in our Peace and Reconciliation gallery and we now want to expand our collections around these themes.
As part of this we are keen to collect stories of war and peace from local people. Together with Coventry Transport Museum we have created a new website www.coventrymemories.co.uk where you can add your memories and images around a range of themes and events.
We are also interested in material linked to themes of peace and reconciliation with a local connection, for our collection. This could be banners, badges and clothing from peace demonstrations but also photographs and objects illustrating your personal story. If you have anything you think we might be interested in for the collection, please email Natalie: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note we can not accept everything offered. We can not accept any items left at the museum without prior arrangement with a member of staff.