as a child, walking into the War Tunnels was enough to make the
hair on the back of my neck stand on end, but despite the chill
inside the tunnels, it was 'The Long Wait' that provoked this response
Long Wait tells the story of
D-Day's impact on Jersey.
Long Wait' puts Jersey's story into context with the progress of
WWII as a whole; something that will be of great use to visitors
and history amateurs alike.
In mainstream examinations of the final year of WWII, the difficulties
that were faced by islanders and the occupying forces between D-Day
and Liberation Day are often forgotten or presented as slight footnotes.
This exhibition provides a necessary local angle on the impact of
D-Day as the 60th anniversary is commemorated this year.
The exhibition requires rather more than just passive glances at
video screens and archive documents. The heart of 'The Long Wait'
centres on a collection of audio recordings which can be accessed
from points around the room. To listen I had to pick up a single
headphone and hold it to my ear. The act of listening like this;
concentrating on really engaging with the memories and reflections,
enhanced the experience no end.
Of all the exhibits from the Occupation period, it was
the letters and diaries that stole my attention. In one I read of
the private anticipation felt by a local man for news that the allied
invasion had finally begun. Being able to nose-up to someone's handwriting
from so many years ago is an astonishing privilege. You can't help
but get a sense of a whole island collectively holding its breath.
the visitors move through the exhibition, many of whom were of the
age to have been war veterans or children during the conflict, there
is a palpable sense of something precious happening which I'm not
able to access. In some eyes I see a quiet pride to be freely walking
around a former stronghold of the enemy; in others there is sadness
as they read about the island's plight for perhaps the first time.
there were shoulders hunched over the panels whilst fingers pointed
at images and artefacts; the exhibition does its work and tells
a powerful story. If you make an effort to see 'The Long Wait' this
year I believe you won't be disappointed.
Long Wait' runs from May 29 to December 19 this year. A programme
of talks from staff and veterans will be on offer at Jersey War
Tunnels during the month of June.
to each other
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