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World War Two

A photo of a creepy child wearing a gas mask with a illustration of a small phone box in the sky collaged on a burgundy background. A photo of The Devil's Porridge Museum is just visible behind the background. Some white text underneath the photo of the child with a gas mask gives that images source as Wikipedia.

The Devil’s Porridge Museum’s Doctor Who Playlist

By News

The 23rd November 2023 marks the 60th anniversary of sci-fi TV show Doctor Who and since our usual Monthly Roundup person is a bit of a fan, she thought it would be fantastic to look at some of the times the show visited the general times or subjects The Devil’s Porridge Museum focuses on.  Read on to discover The Devil’s Porridge Museum’s Doctor Who Playlist!

Of course we are NOT saying that these Doctor Who episodes are in any way historically accurate or the views expressed in this program are those of The Devil’s Porridge Museum (Doctor Who is about an alien traveling in time and space in a phone box after all!). This is just for a bit of fun!

SPOILER WARNING! Although, we’ve done our best not to share too many spoilers be aware that some will be included in this blog post and you’ll find more if you choose to follow the links by the clicking on the episode titles.

World War One

The War Games (1969)

The War Games is a last story featuring the 2nd Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and the first few parts are based during World War One. There’s a WW1 ambulance driver and the trenches feature. Of course, it soon turns out that things are not quite how they seem and much more is going on (don’t worry we’re trying not to share too many spoilers here!). This 10 part story and not all the parts are based during World War One, but we still think it deserves a mention.

The Family of Blood (2007)

The Family Blood is the second part of a two part episode (the first part is Human Nature) based prior based prior to World War One. It is only near the end of the this episode were WW1 features. The 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) also have a beautiful moment of remembrance in this story. Both these things earn it a mention here.

Twice Upon a Time (2017)

Twice Upon a Time was a Christmas special, which was the 12th Doctor’s (Peter Capaldi’s) last episode. It features a World War One British army captain (played by Mark Gatiss) and also includes a heart-warming scene in relation to this. Well, it is Christmas after all. Football anyone?


World War Two

The Curse of Fendric (1989)

The Curse of Fendric is a 7th Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) story, which is based during World War Two at a British Naval installation. This is what earns it’s place on this list.

The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances (2005)

The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances are based in London during The Blitz and features The 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston).  A quick word of warning! This episode has probably one of the most terrifying monsters in Doctor Who and there’s a chilling transformative moment in The Empty Child. (Obviously, this is just the opinion of our Monthly Roundup creator person, but nevertheless you have been warned)!

A creepy child wearing a gas mask with a hat on

The Empty Child. Is it just me or does that gas mask seem familiar? Photo source:

Victory of the Daleks (2011)

Victory of the Daleks is based during World War Two, it features Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice) and The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith). As you may have gathered from the title it does feature some of The Doctor’s best known foes, or the daleks (we did say these episodes might NOT be historically accurate didn’t we?). Look out for the jammy dodger.

The Window, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2011)

This is another Christmas special, this time featuring The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith). The episode is based in 1941 and there’s a few moments inside a Lancaster Bomber, which is why we’ve included it here. We do have to say that it may feature a Christmas Eve excursion to another planet and some rather wooden people though!

Spyfall Part 2 (2020)

Part 2 of Spyfall features the 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and spends some time in Paris during World War Two. The episode also features WW2 British Resistance agent Nora Inayat Khan (Aurora Marion). This is what earns it’s place as the most recent episode on the list. However it’s important to note that not all this episode is based during World War Two.



Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station

Ok, obviously there’s no Doctor Who episodes based explicitly around Chapelcross Nuclear Power station, but what about one which was filmed at a nuclear power station? Yes the connection may be a wee bit thin, but this is just for a bit of fun so bear with us!

The Hand of Fear (1976)

“Eldrad must live.”(Can you talk about The Hand of Fear without saying that?) The Hand of Fear features The 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen). Some of this story was filmed at Oldbury Nuclear Power Station in Gloucestershire (we’re pretty sure that this probably wasn’t the bits on the alien planet though), which is why we’ve included it here.



So there you are! That’s the end of The Devil’s Porridge Museum’s Doctor Who Playlist. Now if your ever wondering what Doctor Who episodes to watch before or after visiting The Devil’s Porridge Museum you’ll know just which ones! Are there any you think we missed? Or is there is any more Doctor Who episodes you think deserve a mention? Why not let us know on our Facebook or Twitter pages?

WW2: The Landscape Legacy in Dumfries and Galloway

By Events


9th September 2022

10am -3pm (with a lunch break included).


This event will start and end at The Devil’s Porridge Museum.

Come along and explore the WW2 heritage of Dumfries and Galloway with county archaeologist Andy Nicholson. The trip will showcase local WW2 history, landmarks and untold stories as part of Scottish Archaeology Month. Beginning at the Devil’s Porridge Museum at 10am we will travel by bus through the county to various sites including the Eastriggs MOD, a site normally off-limits and RAF Dumfries, finally returning to the museum at around 3pm.

A lunch break is included and bringing a packed lunch is advised.

There is limited space on this tour, so it is first come first served.

Due to limited space there is a booking limit of two per person.

Please book your place on eventbrite here>


View this event on Archaeology Scotland’s website here>

The event will support the exhibition ‘Landscapes of War’ being held at the Devil’s Porridge Museum from 1st September – 31st October 2022. Learn more about this here>

See more events that are happening as part of Scottish Archaeology Month here>

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.

Canary Girls poster for online talk which happened in 2022.

Canary Girls Online Talk

By Events

Thursday 9th June 2022

Canary Girls – the forgotten heroines of WW1 and WW2


Learn about the important role that munitions workers had in both World Wars & the Canary Girls project which campagins for a memorial to them in the FREE online talk.


Book your place and learn more here>

The talk will :-

• Introduce a Canary Girls project, started in Cumbria, campaigning for a memorial to the munitions workers, mainly women, of both World Wars in the National Memorial Arboretum.

• Explain what the women were actually doing in the factories in both world wars; where the nickname Canary Girls came from and the risks they faced daily.

• Look at the precedents they set in challenging gender roles and social class in fashion, sport, factory design and working conditions for women.

• Consider why they are called the forgotten heroines and finally, look at how they have been and are being remembered.

The talk will be given by Valerie Welti. After over 30 years as a teacher in London, in her retirement in Cumbria she has taken on various voluntary roles. One of which, with the Canary Girls Memorial Project, has reignited her interest in history.


Heinrich Himmler

Eastriggs man involved in the capture of Heinrich Himmler?

By Collections blog

We have received a really interesting inquiry and are looking for your help.

For several years, Chris Mannion has researched his grandfather’s connection to the capture of Heinrich Himmler (one of the ‘architects’ of the Holocaust, right hand man to Hitler and head of the SS) at the end of World War Two.  Chris has managed to discover a great deal of information and is going to use that information to write a book.

Himmler (front left) with Hitler.

Himmler was captured by a patrol made up of men from the 196 Battery, 73rd Anti tank regiment, Royal Artillery.

You can watch a video about Chris’s research here:

Within the ranks of 196 battery was L/Bdr Thomas Steel, service number 14596001.

The only other information on L/Bdr Steel is the address he gave the regiment.  That address is, 2 Butterdales, Eastriggs.

Chris has photos L/Bdr Thomas Steel should be on (below), but sadly no method of recognizing him.

To the best of Chris’s current knowledge and understanding, he wasn’t connected to Himmler’s capture, but still he may have left stories, photos etc. so we are looking for people who may have known Thomas Steel to come forward.

This photo was taken late May 1945 in Germany.
It shows 196 battery, 73rd Anti-tank regiment, and it is highly likely L/Bdr Thomas Steel is on this photo.

Currently, all the information on L/Bdr Steel is as follows:

Rank Lance bombardier, service number 14596001, the address he gave the regiment was 2 Butterdales, Eastriggs. Of course, this maybe his parent’s address or another relative, a sister maybe?

He enlisted on the 6th May 1943. He joined the 73rd A/T regiment  in March 1944.

When the War ended, he was transferred to another regiment and was posted to India.

He was demobbed in 1947.

196 battery landed on Gold beach, Normandy on the morning of the 7th June 1944.

They fought in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

No record of him ever being wounded.

Anyone with any information, date of birth, death, family, possible photos etc.

Anything at all would be welcome.  Please do email or phone 01461 700021 if you have any information.  We would love to be able to help!



Maud Bruce OBE.

The Marvelous Miss Maud: From Gretna Girl to Aycliffe Angel

By Collections blog, News

In the World Wars of the twentieth century, there are certain historical themes and people that almost everyone knows: Kaiser Wilhelm, Winston Churchill, young idealistic men hardened by their time at The Front, soldier-poets, VADs, The Blitz—the list goes on and on. These ideas, people and events are discussed and taught in almost every history classroom across the country. Like Henry VIII and his six wives, the World Wars are an integral part of our country’s collective history. Every year, on Remembrance Sunday, we pause and commemorate those who sacrificed so much and the men and women who lost their youths, and sometimes lives, to war. Although the story of both World Wars is well-trod, there are still discoveries to be made, and histories to be told. This article strives to be one of those.

This is the story of a woman who you’ve probably never heard of. I hadn’t either, till I started working at The Devil’s Porridge Museum in Eastriggs, Scotland. Maud Bruce was an ordinary woman who was extraordinarily courageous in the service of her country during both the 1914-1918 and the 1939-1945 wars. She is barely, if at all, mentioned in the numerous history books that cover both periods of history. Until a few months ago, she didn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. If you googled ‘Maud Bruce’ the first couple of entries would be all about a very different Maud Bruce—Robert the Bruce’s daughter, who lived in the 12th century! Our Maud Bruce is absent from history, and I am determined to put her back into it. Maud was a woman from a working-class background, traditionally not someone considered ‘important’ enough to be remembered. But Maud is important—she played a key role in munitions making in both wars, winning awards for her bravery.

Maud Ellen Bruce was born on 20th December 1894 in Coundon, Durham, England to Thomas and Emma Bruce. She was their fifth child and had two brothers and six sisters. Her father Thomas worked as a coalminer.[1] Coundon was traditionally a coalmining village, and Thomas probably worked at either Black Boy Colliery or Auckland Park Colliery, both nearby.

In 1901, Maud was six years old. Although the census doesn’t record whether or not she attended school, by this time education was compulsory by law for children aged five to twelve.[2] By 1911, Maud was sixteen and working as a general domestic servant.[3] Her older sister, Rose, who worked as a dressmaker, filled out the census form. This strongly implies that the Bruce children did have some form of education—they were clearly literate. Despite this, it is also clear that the family did require their older children to work to supplement the family income. Alongside Maud and Rose, William, then aged twenty-five, worked as a collier mechanic labourer and Emma, aged fourteen, was working nearby as a servant for James Black.[4]

Maud dressed in her munitions uniform

Prior to the World War One, the Gretna area was mostly agricultural, but during hostilities ‘the largest cordite factory in the UK was established’ in response to the need for munitions.[5] This new wartime industry meant a dramatic increase in the local population as people migrated to the area to work. One of these workers was Maud Bruce. Maud arrived at HM Gretna in late 1916 to work as a forewoman of the cotton drying house in the Dornock section. Maud was billeted at Grenville Hostel, Eastriggs.[6] She was head of the Women’s Fire Brigade and in charge of thirty girls. It is clear that Maud was an exemplary worker: she is described as having ‘gained rapid promotion’ during her time at Gretna, and as being ‘exceedingly popular’ with her staff and superiors.[7] It is likely that her younger sister, Lily also worked at the factory, as she appears in a photo alongside other munition workers in Maud’s papers.

Maud would have been doing potentially dangerous work in the factory—there were accidents throughout the war, and some munitions workers were horribly injured. Cordite was what was made at Gretna—a type of explosive propellent which went inside the shells used at the Front.

Maud was recognised for two notable events during her time at Gretna. The first occurred around April 1917, when a fire broke out at night in the cotton drying machine. Maud used a hose to subdue the flames, and then the fire brigade put out the fire.[8]

On the second occasion, Maud similarly demonstrated her calm and collected approach to danger. This event was outlined in detail in the local newspaper:

“Three months ago, about eight o’clock in the morning, she was close at hand when fire broke out in the drying machine. In a few seconds, the chamber was filled with smoke. As quick as lightning Miss Bruce climbed up the ladder to the top of the machine, twenty feet height, and with the vigorous use of a sweeping brush cut away the cotton at the top part of the machine, and pushed it down. In this way she prevented the fire spreading to the next machine. The staff of girls under her charge, encouraged by her example of coolness, set to work with the hose, and in a short time the fire, which was arrested in the willower part of the machine, and before it could reach the elevators, was successfully extinguished.”

In June 1917, Maud was awarded a British Empire Medal by The Duke of Buccleuch, K.T., who was Lord Lieutenant of the county of Dumfries.[9] This event was held at the central offices of the factory in front of a number of staff. It was stated that ‘each of the recipients of the medal stepped forward, and was cordially shaken hands with by the Duke, who pinned on the medals, and as he did so there were cordial cheers from the assembly.’[10] The Duke said that ‘it was extremely gratifying to realise that deeds of heroism were also being performed by factory workers at home, and especially by women.’[11]

Maud was awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire[12] (MOBE) in August 1917 ‘for admirable behaviour in charge of the women’s fire brigade at a fire at an explosive factory.’[13] In the aftermath of her heroic deeds, Maud had been interviewed by The Standard. She is described as wearing ‘khaki trousers and jacket’ and didn’t realise that she’d been awarded the MOBE at the time of the interview.[14]

Maud did get some media attention from her actions and the honours bestowed upon her. Usually these took the form of celebrating the work of women war workers. In the Sheffield Weekly Telegraph, she was referred to as a ‘plucky munitions lass’ and is cast as a heroine—the news story details the ‘thrilling story’ that led to her being awarded the Munitions Medal which it’s stated ‘has rarely been more pluckily won.’[15]

Maud worked at H. M. Factory Gretna from January 1917 – August 1919 and was only let go due to reduction of labour.

The year after leaving Gretna, Maud married Thomas Edward Nunn in Shildon, Durham, England.[16] Thomas had grown up in Shildon, only around 4 miles from Maud’s hometown of Coundon.[17] He was born on July 8th 1892, and was the son of Charles Nunn, a coalminer and Ellen Nunn. He had a younger sister, Lily and a younger half-brother, Wilfred. Aged 19, in 1911, Thomas had followed in his father’s footsteps and was working as a banking out miner.[18] Like Maud, Thomas had played his part in the war effort. He served in the Royal Irish Regiment and was discharged due to disability on 10th May 1917.[19] Thomas received the Silver War Badge, also known as the Wound Badge, for his service, as well as the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Maud and Thomas welcomed their first child, Raymond, in 1920, and their second child, John in 1922. The inter-war years seem to be pretty quiet for the family—Maud and Thomas appear on the election registers during these years but as of yet I haven’t found them in other records during this time.[20] In the 1939 Register, Maud and Thomas are working at ’unpaid domestic duties’ and a ’general labourer’ respectively.[21] Thomas is also working full-time as a A. R. P. Warden. A. R. P. Warden’s were at integral part of the Home Front War effort—they patrolled neighbourhoods during the blackout and made sure that everyone was abiding by the rules! This register was conducted less than a month after the United Kingdom declared war on Nazi Germany, and Maud and Thomas were facing the second worldwide military conflict during their lifetimes.

In World War Two, as with World War One, there was a HUGE need for munitions. Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) Aycliffe was built in Aycliffe, County Durham in 1941. During the war, ROF Aycliffe employed 17,000 people and operated 24 four hours a day.[22] Unlike at Gretna, at Aycliffe cordite wasn’t made, but the workers were filling shells and bullets with powder.[23] This was still very dangerous work—there was accidents and explosions, as Maud would soon find out.

The Women Behind the Women- Munitions work at a Royal Ordnance Factory in the North of England, c 1942 War worker Mrs Wilkinson breaks down fuses at ROF Aycliffe, near Darlington, County Durham.

The women workers of Aycliffe were soon known by the moniker ‘Aycliffe Angels’. This was given to them by the infamous Lord Haw-Haw, an English man who worked for the Nazis throughout the war, and regularly broadcast propaganda radio programmes to the UK. Haw-Haw frequently said during his shows ‘the little angels of Aycliffe won’t get away with it.’[24] Not only did this give the workers a sticking nickname, but it also highlighted the importance of their work—it was essential to the war effort.

Maud’s identity card, which she would have had to have shown upon entry and exit to the factory.

At Aycliffe, ‘all workers had to wear special shoes and overalls which they put on at the beginning of each shift. They were checked to make sure they didn’t have any flammable items in their possession, like matches and cigarettes, or metal objects like hair grips which might fall into machinery.’[25] This would’ve been very similar procedure to Gretna—I wonder if Maud had a sense of déjà vu when she began working at Aycliffe? Also like at Gretna, the materials they were working with at Aycliffe were dangerous, it ’often causes skin and hair to turn yellow (munitions workers were referred to as ‘canaries’), caused asthma and breathing problems, sometimes made teeth fall out and damaged the lining of the stomach.’[26] The many potential health issues involved in working in munitions would also effect Maud. Later in life, those who knew Maud would note that’ My grandmother…read the newspaper to Mrs Nunn each morning as her eyes had been damaged in the munition factory, so she always wore specifically tinted spectacles.’[27] But the danger didn’t just come from the chemicals–the workers at Aycliffe were also at risk from bombing.[28]

In fact, I think Jacky Hyams sums up the work of those at Aycliffe and other munitions factories during World War Two best: ‘To describe their work as hazardous is something of an understatement. The Bomb Girls endured much: exhaustion, fear, sacrifice, separation from loved ones, personal or family tragedy – not to mention the enormous risks to their own lives and physical welfare as they worked. Yet these women, all ages, married or single, from different backgrounds, were a crucial link in the long chain that made up Britain’s wartime endeavour. The men were sent off to fight, fire the bullets, drive the jeeps, fly the planes and drop the bombs. But it was the Bomb Girls who helped make the final victory possible. They too were amongst the country’s true heroes of wartime.’[29]

John D Clare has emerged as the authoritative historian of the Aycliffe factory during World War Two, and has offered valuable critique of the happy and positive image of the Angels that some accounts portray.[30] He argues instead that the reality was far more complex—that ROF factories weren’t great places to work, that the work itself was boring and monotonous, and that they were undervalued and underappreciated—both during the war and for many years afterwards.[31]

Maud (far right) at a reunion of Aycliffe munition workers in the 1980s.

The fight to recognise the work and sacrifice of munitions workers has been long and sadly many Aycliffe workers died before their work was even acknowledged. One of the more recent campaigns has involved the Rotherwas Munitions Group, the National Munitions Association and BBC Hereford & Worcester, who have campaigned for workers to be recognised with a munition workers veterans badge, which you can now apply for if you or a relative worked in munitions in World War Two.[32]

Maud worked at the factory from when it opened in 1941. She later said of her work, ‘I loved the work until the accident. I was in hospital over five months.’[33] The accident Maud spoke of happened in 1943, when ‘some ammunition exploded, and she was very severely burned on her face, arms, hands and chest. She spent six months in Darlington Hospital and then returned to the factory until the end of the war.’[34]

In order to fully recover from this injury, Maud underwent plastic surgery—still a pioneering procedure mostly used on servicemen who suffered awful injuries in the course of their duties. Later in life, she would have a distinctive mark from these injuries; ‘My mam seemed to think that Mrs Nunn had had some plastic surgery on her face – she’d put her hands up to shield her face in the explosion. I think she was one of the first people to have it and her skin was kind of wrinkle free in those areas.’[35]

In addition to her work in munitions, and her recovery from her injury in 1943, it’s important to acknowledge that during the war Maud’s husband was also an ARP warden, and her sons were both away fighting. Raymond served as a lance-corporal [36][37]Later, friends remembered that ’Both of her sons fought in WW2 and were commended for bravery. One of them, I believe, was on the Burma railway.’[38] This must’ve been a stressful and scary period for the whole family—not only was their country at war, but all four of them were intimately involved with that warfare.

World War Two came to an end in 1945, and the factory at Aycliffe closed. I’ve been able to find out a little of Maud’s life after this time. From the copy of her death certificate, it appears that Maud worked as a school dinner lady at some point. In 1954, her husband Thomas, died by suicide at the age of 61.[39] Her oldest son, Raymond, also predeceased Maud, dying in 1984. Even in 2021, over twenty years after her death, Maud is remembered fondly by Shildon locals:


‘Mrs Nunn was as you can see a happy cheerful person, who just lived an ordinary life and got on with looking after a husband and family of boys.’[40]


‘She loved a chat and was always happy to have visitors and this continued when she moved to the nursing home…Overall, I remember her as a kind, strong, practical, determined, smiley old lady.’[41]


But even though Maud had already lived an extraordinary life—bravely taking part in both World Wars alongside raising a family and dealing with both her husband’s and son’s death, she wasn’t done yet. In 1995, Maud turned the big 100! She celebrated with her family and friends at the nursing home in which she lived, and received a letter from the Queen. Her big birthday was reported in the local press and Maud spoke to reporters about her long life. ‘I didn’t want to reach 100, I think it is too long to live, but I am now looking forward to my birthday.’ Maud also recalled the moment she was awarded the OBE, saying: ‘the OBE was the most memorable experience of my life. It was a great honour and I am very proud of the award.’[42] Her son John mentioned in the same article that Maud ’is hard of hearing, but says ’hearing aids are for old people.’’

Maud surrounded by her family at her 100th birthday.

Mrs Maud Nunn (Nee Bruce) OBE passed away on January 8th 1995. Her great-grandson, Andrew, remembers her as ‘a remarkable woman and an inspiration to generations of our family.’ I wholeheartedly agree.

[1] ‘William Bruce’ Census Return for Shop Hill, Coundon, Parliamentary Borough of Bishop Auckland, Public Record Office, folio 140. Retrieved from

[2] See: The Elementary Education Act 1880 and The Elementary Education (School Attendance) Act 1893. Despite being compulsory by law, the enforcement of such a law was a different matter and many working-class families needed their children to earn a wage as soon as they possibly could.


[3] ‘Maud Bruce’ Census Returns for Tyne Terrace, Coundon, Parliamentary Borough of Bishop Auckland, p. 918. Retrieved from


[4] ‘Emma Bruce’ Census Returns for Tyne Terrace, Coundon, Parliamentary Borough of Bishop Auckland, p. 922.

[5] Timothy McCracken, Dumfriesshire in the Great War, (Pen and Sword Books, 2015) p. 13.

[6] ‘Brave Gretna Girls: Munition Workers Honoured’ Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 29 August 1917, p. 2.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] ‘Heroism in Factories: Duke of Buccleuch presents medals at Gretna’ Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 19 June 1918, p. 2.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] ‘Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood’ The Edinburgh Gazette, 27 August 1917, issue: 13133, p. 1788.

[13] ‘Brave Gretna Girls: Munition Workers Honoured’ Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 29 August 1917, p. 2.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Heroism in Factories: Duke of Buccleuch presents medals at Gretna’ Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 19 June 1918, p. 2.

[16] England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005, General Register Office, Maud Bruce to Thomas E Nunn, Jan-Feb-Mar 1920, vol no: 10a, p. 483

[17] ‘Thomas Edward Nunn’ Census return for Albert Street, Shilden, Chapel Row, Parliamentary Borough of Bishop Auckland, Public Record Office, folio 44, p. 31. Retrieved from

[18] Thomas Edward Nunn’ Census return for Albert Street, Shilden, Chapel Row, Parliamentary Borough of Bishop Auckland, Public Record Office, Retrieved from This probably means he worked as a banksman, a person who dispatched the coals at the pitbank, unloading and loading the cage.


[19] ‘Thomas Edward Nunn’, UK, World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923, service number: 3/8372, reference number: 2/MN/No772, Retrieved from

[20] England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1920-1932, Durham England

[21] ‘Maud E Nunn’ 1939 England and Wales Register, Borough of Shilden, Public Record Office, Retrieved from

[22] Royal Ordnance Factory Aycliffe in the Second World War 1939-1945 – The Wartime Memories Project –

[23] Aycliffe Royal Ordnance Factory – Aycliffe Angels (

[24] | CommuniGate | Why were they called ‘The Aycliffe Angels’? (

[25] Colin Philpott, Secret Wartime Britain, Hidden Places that Helped Win the Second World War (Pen and Sword, 2018) p. 4.

[26] Colin Philpott, Secret Wartime Britain, Hidden Places that Helped Win the Second World War (Pen and Sword, 2018) p. 5.

[27] Facebook recollection from a lady who knew Maud as a child.

[28] Colin Philpott, Secret Wartime Britain, Hidden Places that Helped Win the Second World War (Pen and Sword, 2018) p. 5.


[29] Jacky Hyams, Bomb Girls – Britain’s Secret Army: The Munitions Women of World War II (Kings Road Publishing, 2013), p. 14.

[30] RealAycliffeAngelsNN.pdf (

[31] Ibid. See also: Days before VE Day an explosion tore through the Aycliffe Angels factory – killing eight | The Northern Echo

[32] Apply for a munitions worker’s veterans badge – GOV.UK (

[33] ’Munitions Blaze Heroine Maud Reaches Century’, Unknown Newspaper Article, shared by the family of Maud

[34] ’Munition Factory Workers Re-Union a Great Sucess’, Unknown Newspaper article, shared by Maud’s family.

[35] Facebook recollections from a lady who knew Maud as a child.


[37] Supplement to the London Gazette, 13 December 1945, p. 6072.

[38] Facebook recollections from a friend who remembered Maud.

[39] Thomas Nunn’s Death Certificate

[40] Facebook recollections from a person who knew Maud.

[41] Facebook recollections from a person who knew Maud.

[42] Munitions Blaze Heroine Maud Reaches Century’, Unknown Newspaper Article, shared by the family of Maud

A young person holding a badge in front of The Animals in War display.

Loan of Pigeon Service badge

By News

We’re very grateful to Stephen Glencross of the Carlisle Animals in War organisation for loaning the Museum this object.  It will go on display shortly with the Dickin Medal (currently on loan from the Royal Pigeon Racing Association) which can be seen in our First Floor Animals in War display.  Alastair Ritchie, one of the young people completing an SVQ in Museums and Galleries Practice at the Museum did a little research to find out more about this object, this is what he discovered…

National Pigeon Service badge.

The badge has the symbol of the NPS (National Pigeon Service) on it. This organisation was founded in 1938 by Major W.H.Osman to look after and continue to breed pigeons for use in military communication. As a result between 1939-1945 it supplied 200,000 to the RAF, British Army, Intelligence Service and the Special Section of Army Pigeon Service.

Including one called, Commando, a red chequer cock bird that became a recipient of the Dickin Medal for having flown more than ninety trips into and out of France all during the occupation, carrying confidential messages including the location of German troops, industrial sites and injured British soldiers.

(above Commando served 1939-1945)

The Official issue number on our badge is 15093 with silver plate and enamel.  Stephen Glencross told us it belonged to Mr Chamkin who was in the World War Two Signal Corps.

It is also engrained with J.R Grant London a company that sadly closed in 2016 after 71 years of business.





World War Two Scrapbook Donation

By News

Some of our young volunteers looked at a recent donation to the Museum this morning: two scrapbooks from World War Two.  Someone during the War carefully cut out newspaper articles and stuck them into books.  These books are now in the Museum’s care.  Here, they have chosen a selection of pages that interested them.

Jake chose this page below. ” I found this page very interesting as it tells the story of a boy – roughly my age –  called Ronnie Sanderson who worked for 14 hours after  a lodging house was bombed and destroyed. Ronnie’s mother had died in a previous Air Raid and his brother was injured and in hospital after helping in a rescue effort. Ronnie was tasked with passing on messages and also helped with moving debris. When asked about what he had done he said he did “nothing special”. At the time he was described as one of Britain’s Bravest Boys.”

Neil chose this picture because: “This picture shows the dramatic events during the evacuation at Dunkirk, it also shows shocking pictures of civilian ships carrying many troops across the channel being escorted by military vessels which I found very interesting and quite an insane sight especially considering how many men were on that beach and how many ships arrived on the coast of France to rescue them.”

Finn chose this picture because: “This article shows the devastating events in the year of 1940 during WW2, and how it show an in depth description of the events in chronological order.  An amazing donation to work with”.

Andy picked the page below and said, “I have chosen this page as it shows a time period of the War when countless people died in the War when Britain attacked Norway in the early stages of War as a strategy to obtain control of the North Sea.”

These young people are participating in our new Saturday Club: a new event each Saturday morning for young people who want to learn about how Museums work.  To find out more, email:

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.

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