Exhibition commemorating women’s wartime role comes to Hornchurch

PUBLISHED: 15:00 06 May 2019

Women at War exhibition coming to Hornchurch on Sunday, May 12.

Women at War exhibition coming to Hornchurch on Sunday, May 12.


An exhibition remembering the role of women during various wars is coming to Hornchurch.

Women at War exhibition coming to Hornchurch on Sunday, May 12. Picture: Richard C. SmithWomen at War exhibition coming to Hornchurch on Sunday, May 12. Picture: Richard C. Smith

Kim Smith, an historian from Rainham, is hosting a special one-day exhibit to commemorate the role of women during wartime on Sunday, May 12 at the Ingrebourne Valley Visitors Centre in Hornchurch Country Park.

There will be a large selection of memorabilia, uniforms and a photographic display for members of the public to view.

Writer Francis Clamp will also be attending the exhibition to sign copies of her book on the military in Essex.

Kim told the Recorder: “During my research over the last 20 years, I have found that the contribution of women during wartime has been overlooked until recently when the government started to recognise and award lady veterans in their 80s and erect a memorial in Whitehall.

“My aim in producing a DVD a few years ago was to preserve the memories of local women who served in the Land Army, Airforce and Navy.

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“Exhibits from my own collection will be on show to the public alongside a photographic display giving an insight of how women served during two World Wars.”

The exhibition covers the women agents of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) who were parachuted into occupied France during the Second World War and helped send coded messages back to Britain.

There will also be a feature on the famous woman Russian sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko who visited Hornchurch in 1942.

“I have a special interest in women agents and spies who served in the Special Operations Executive whose stories have only recently come to light due to the Official Secrets Act,” said Kim.

“I was able to meet one of these heroic women, Yvonne Baseden, code name 'Odette,' who worked as a radio operator in German occupied France prior to D-Day Allied invasion in June 1944.

“There will be some gadgets and a suitcase radio as used by the agents on display together with uniforms and other memorabilia.

“I hope the public, young and old, will find the exhibition informative.”

The event runs from 10am to 4pm and entry is free.

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