Skip to main content

Second World War

A poster advertising Living History Weekend 2022 at The Devil's Porridge Museum.

Living History Weekend 2022

By Events

Saturday 30th July – Sunday 31st July 2022

All Activities Free with Admission into the Museum.


Get an insight into what life was like during World War One and World War Two with our living history weekend.



The Scottish Home Front Living History Society will give people an insight into how both civilians and soldiers lived during the Second World War by using the equipment, vehicles, and clothing from that time. They will help to make the past feel more tangible by showing the equipment working and demonstrating how it works and what it felt like to use. You will get to handle many of the objects, which will help to bring the past to life.

They will also have some suffragette reenactors to give an insight into the struggles of women protesting for the right to vote and how this affected their everyday lives.


Five people dressed as Suffergettes outside.


On War Service will be offering the opportunity to learn about First World War with an insight into medical care during that time. They will be inside the museum in uniform to share their enthusiasm and show you some medical equipment and domestic treasures from the time. Over the weekend they will be providing short specialist talks on the Spanish Flu Pandemic, the Role of the VAD and WW1 Hospitals in Dumfriesshire, and the Treatment of Shell Injuries. You can see the full talk programme for the weekend below.



You can learn more about On War Service on their website here: 


A photo form the 2019 Military Vehicle Event.

We hope this Living History Weekend event will build on the success of our Military Vehicle Weekend in 2019. You can read more about this here>


Another photo of a Military Vehicle Weekend event at The Devil’s Porridge Museum in the past.

A postcard of a munition worker holding a cigarette sat on some gun powder with the words "expecting a rise shortly."

Conference Call for Papers

By News

The Devil’s Porridge Museum will host an online conference focused on women’s work in wartime on Friday 21st May.  12,000 women worked at HM Factory Gretna in World War One and the Museum exists to share their stories.  We have just embarked on an ambitious project to research as many lives and accounts as possible and this conference coincides with this work.

The keynote speaker will be Professor Angela Woollacott, author of ‘On Her Their Lives Depend: Munitions Workers in the Great War’ and Manning Clark Professor of History at the Australian National University.


We welcome submissions of papers that will last 30 minutes (including time for questions).  Suggested topics include (but are not restricted to):

-Any aspect of work done by women in either World War

-Munitions work

-Women’s Units such as the Women’s Land Army, Women’s Auxiliary Corps etc.

-Welfare work

-Militancy or political agitation during war

-The Home Front and the impact of War on domestic life

-Women in conflicts since 1945

-Biographies of individual women or focused on female pioneers

-Objects in GLAM organisations relating to women in work

-Women working in Science, Technology or Engineering during wartime


Please submit a paper proposal of not more than 250 words and biographical information of not more than 100 words by March 15th to


If you would like to know more about The Devil’s Porridge Museum, you may find our guidebook (available from our online shop) of interest:

The Devil’s Porridge Museum Guidebook – Devils Porridge Museum

WW2 National Defence Pocket Book

By Collections blog

This Pocket Book is from WW2 and covers a wide range of subjects which anyone fighting in WW2 would need to know such as labelled gun diagrams showing where everything is, Navy, Army and Air Force badges and a morse code guide. This post highlights some areas of the booklet and future posts will follow which will cover some of the other pages in the booklet.



This page shows the Army, Navy and Air Force ranks and also shows the morse code alphabet and numerals so that soldiers can send secret messages and understand incoming communication.



This page shows all of the military conventional signs which would be seen on a map, it also shows instructions on how to read maps and setting a map to find a location.


Here is the contents page which shows everything in the booklet that would need to be known by soldiers serving in the Armed Forces. We will be posting more of the pages that caught our eye in the coming weeks such as the Royal Navy ships, Rifle mechanism, bren gun description and the knots, bends and hitches.


Sten Mag & Reloader

WW2 Sten Gun Magazine & Loader

By Collections blog

This is a Sten Gun Magazine and Magazine Loader which are currently being kept in the Museum’s store. The Sten Submachine Gun was used extensively by British and Commonwealth forces throughout the Second World War and Korean War. They had a simple design and very low production cost, making them effective insurgency weapons for resistance groups, and they continue to see usage to this day by irregular military forces.

The name STEN is an acronym, from the names of the weapons chief designers, Major Reginald V. Shepard and Harold Turpin, and EN for the Enfield Factory. Over 4 million Stens in various versions were made in the 1940’s, making it the second most produced submachine gun of the Second World War, after the Soviet PPSh-41.

The Sten emerged while Britain was engaged in the Battle of Britain, facing invasion by Germany. The army was forced to replace weapons lost during the evacuation of Dunkirk while expanding at the same time. Prior to 1941 (and even later) the British were purchasing all the Thompson submachine guns they could from the United States, but these did not meet demand, and the Thompsons were hugely expensive, costing anywhere from $70-200, whereas a sten only cost $11.

The Mark II was the most common version of the Sten with two million units produced. It was a much rougher weapon than the Mk I. The flash eliminator and the folding handle (the grip) of the Mk I were omitted. A removable barrel was now provided which projected 3 inches (76mm) beyond the barrel sleeve. Also, a special catch allowed the magazine to be slid partly out of the magazine housing and the housing rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise (from the operator’s perspective), together covering the ejection opening and allowing the weapon and the magazine both to lie flat of it’s side.

A D-Day medal.

WW2 Medals

By Collections blog

The 1939-45 War Medal is a campaign medal which was instituted by the United Kingdom on 16 August 1945, for award to citizens of the British Commonwealth who had served full-time in the Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy for at least 28 days between 3rd September 1939 and 2nd September 1945.

The duration of the Second World War in Europe was from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, while in the Pacific Theatre it continued until 2 September 1945. Foreign citizens commissioned or enlisted into the British forces, who did not receive a similar award to the War Medal 1939-45 from their own Governments, were also eligible to qualify for the award of this medal.

This D-Day Commemorative badge was made in Paris to remember the soldiers who laid down their lives in an attempt to end the War.

The Normandy landings were the landing operations and associated airborne operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War Two. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later western Europe) and laid the foundations of the allied victory on the Western Front.

Destroyer Medal

Replica WW2 German Badges

By Collections blog

This selection of replica WW2 German Badges are being kept in the Museums store. The three badges include a German E-boat badge, German Destroyer Badge and the German Coastal Artillery Badge.


The German E-boat Badge came in three different types, this particular type is referred to as the second type. This was designed by Wilhelm Ernst Peekhaus of Berlin in conjunction with Korvettenkapitan Rudolf Peterson and introduced into service in January 1943, it is not fully understood what the reason was for the change in design other than the second type has a more modern looking E-boat.


The German Destroyer Badge was a World War Two German military decoration and awarded to officers and crew for service on Kreigsmarine destroyers. It was instituted on 4th June 1940 by Grand Admiral Erich Raeder following the battle of Narvik. It was also awarded to the crews of torpedo boats and fast attack craft until the institution of the Fast Attack Craft War Badge.


The Naval Artillery War Badge or War Badge for the Coastal Artillery was a WW2 German military decoration awarded to the crews of Kriegsmarine land-based marine artillery and anti-aircraft units. It was presented to personnel of coastal defence units, and anti-aircraft units. The award was instituted on 24 June 1941 by Grand Admiral Erich Raeder to reward both the actions of both individuals and crew members. The medal was designed by Otto Placzek of Berlin.


A WW1 medic satchel.

WW2 Shell Dressings Satchel

By Collections blog

This WW2 Red Cross Medic Satchel is being kept in the Museums store, this would have been used by medics during the Second World War to heal soldiers wounds during battle. This satchel would usually only contain dressings to cover soldiers wounds and stop them from bleeding.

We thought that we would do some more research and find out what other equipment WW2 Medics had to carry around to try and save as many men as possible. This satchel would usually contain 12 dressings. Other items which a medic may carry include, A water bottle most likely used to clean the wounds or hydrate injured soldiers, a box of 5 morphine syrette’s which used to be injected into soldiers to reduce the pain they were suffering after receiving a wound, this would then be pinned to their collar to inform others of the dose administered. They also carried around serums to counteract against things like tetanus (which would be contracted if the soldiers had an open wound while out in the muddy fields and trenches) and gas gangrene which can be fatal and can be caused by an infection deep inside your body in muscles or organs which made the serums vital to save lives.


These items along with a few others left the medics well equipped to deal with most injuries sustained on the battlefield and helped save the lives of thousands of injured soldiers.

A WW1 bayonet.

WW1 M1917 Bayonet

By Collections blog

This First World War bayonet was recently brought into the Museum by one of our volunteers and is an American M1917 bayonet which was used in World War One, World War Two, Korean War and in the Vietnam War.


It was first used by American soldiers in WW1 on the Western Front. A sword bayonet design, the M1917 bayonet design was based on the British pattern 1913 bayonet. While designed specifically for the M1917 rifle, the bayonet was fitted for use on all the ‘trench’ shotguns at the time. The US continued to use the WW1-made M1917 bayonets during World War Two because of large stockpiles left over. The new trench guns being procured and issued were still designed to use the old M1917 bayonet.

The bayonet was then called upon again during the Korean war for issue due to the various trench guns still being in use. In 1966 procurement orders were let for brand new production M1917 bayonets. Stockpiles had finally run out, and new Winchester 1200 trench shotguns were being issued. These were issued in limited quantities during the Vietnam War. It was not until towards the end of the Vietnam War that new military shotguns were designed to use the newer knife bayonets.



M1917 bayonets were still used by the US Army as late as the early 2000’s for use with the M1200 shotgun.

Some of the museum's team with Easter hats on.

Easter on the Ration

By News

Everyone is familiar with the Easter tradition of chocolate eggs but what happens when chocolate and other sweet treats are rationed?


During World War Two, in an attempt to reduce the strain placed upon the merchant fleet and other vessels supplying Britain with food from around the world, rationing was introduced effecting all aspects of life in Britain. Cloths were rationed as was petrol, wood and other raw materials and fuel required for the war effort were also short in supply and subject to rationing, all of which came into force January 8th, 1940 just a few months after the outbreak of war.


However, food is probably the first thing people think of when rationing is mentioned, and all sorts of both essential and non-essential items were added to the ration list. Some food items were not rationed such as potatoes and carrots. Other fruit and vegetables that could be grown in Britain were also not subject to rationing although they did become scarce and harder to find in the shops.


But what about sweets and chocolate eggs for Easter? The rationing of sweets and chocolate began in July 1942. Even before chocolate rationing came into force Cadbury’s had ceased production of their ‘Dairy Milk’ as the government had banned the use of fresh milk in manufacturing in 1941, instead they produced ‘Ration Chocolate’ which was a poor substitute and definitely did not come in the form of an Easter egg! Shops sold carrot lollies and other vegetables on a stick as a replacement Easter treat.


The stringent rules of rationing began to be loosened in 1948 but it was not until 1953 that the rationing of sweets and chocolate was finally over. As well as sweets and chocolate: eggs, cream, butter, cheese, margarine and cooking fats were all taken off the rationed list almost a decade after the end of World War Two.


To celebrate the end of rationing one sweet shop in Clapham common gave 800 children 150lbs of lollipops during their midday break from school; and another London factory opened its doors to hand out free sweets to all comers. It was not just school children that delighted in the end of the restrictions, many adults queued on their lunch breaks to be able to get boiled sweets and boxes of chocolates to take home.

Wartime Gardening

By Collections blog

Recently the Museum received a donation of a few items from World War Two to do with the Dig For Victory gardens which was a very successful campaign during the Second World War which involved encouraging citizens to grow their own food to try and combat rationing. The Dig For Victory campaign was very successful and encouraged many people to start growing their own food during wartime.

The Museum has its own garden outside which we have called the ‘Dig For Victory’ Garden which we use to grow some of the vegetables used in our cafe. The Museum uses the Garden through the Summer and will start to plant vegetables in it soon (if the weather clears up).


This is what our Garden looks like during the Summer when in use.

This is what it currently looks like. Hopefully we can start planting things soon!

The items which were donated to us include an informational booklet from the North of England Horticultural Society which included hints about how best to grow some of the plants.


Another one of the items which was donated is also a guide but a slightly shortened down one. This guide is titled ‘War and Your Garden’ and has many tips about growing crops in every different month of the year.

The last item is a plan on how people can grow vegetables all year round and includes information about the best time of year to plant certain crops and also the distance which should be left in between each one when planting.


Translate »