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First World War exhibition opens at the RD&E


A photographic exhibition which gives an insight into Devon’s war hospitals during the First World War (1914–18) has opened at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

‘Devon Caring in War’ includes a series of images showing how the county’s war-wounded were cared for on their return home, including by the use of some pioneering therapy techniques.

The exhibition is part of the Devon Remembers Heritage Project which is run by the South West Heritage Trust with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project aims to give local people an opportunity to explore the county's First World War experience and tell new stories about life in Devon one hundred years ago.

The photographs, which were originally black and white, have been colourised for this exhibition by Plymouth-based graphic artist Joe Chisholm to give them a more realistic feel and contemporary look.

They depict varying aspects of Devon’s war hospital experience including some of the nursing staff who cared for the returning soldiers, some of the halls and private homes converted into war hospitals and some of the patients who underwent acute care and rehabilitation treatment for physical and mental injuries. Among the most striking photographs in the collection are those showing the early development of occupational therapies at Seale-Hayne Military Hospital near Newton Abbot for mentally traumatised soldiers. The photographs include images of outdoor therapy and animal care on a farm and a programme of craft therapies such as basket making.  

Stephen Pettet-Smith, Head of Exeter Health Care Arts at the RD&E, said: “We are pleased to be able to display this exhibition at the RD&E as it gives our patients, visitors and staff a fascinating insight into the development of rehabilitation treatments similar to those used at our hospitals today. The addition of colour to the photographs almost makes the subjects appear more alive and contemporary – as if you could see then walking past on the high street.”

The Devon Remembers Heritage Project has received a grant of £267,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with additional support from the South West Heritage Trust, Devon County Council, Torbay Council and the University of Exeter. 


To find out more about the Devon Remembers Heritage Project

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