Take a journey from North Devon to the Middle East

Posted on: 19 February 2016

A new exhibition opens at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon next week, offering a unique insight into the experiences of local war heroes in The Great War.

The exhibition, which runs from 26 February to 9 April, showcases the experiences of the 6th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment in Mesopotamia during WWI, as seen through the eyes of artist and soldier Sergeant Vernon C.Boyle.

Vernon C. Boyle was a member of the 6th Devons and travelled from North Devon to Mesopotamia (now modern Iraq) and to India during The Great War. During this time he produced a vast collection of sketches and watercolours, which have been generously loaned to the museum by his grandchildren.

The images range from the smoke-filled cafes of Baghdad through to the mountains of Darjeeling, from quick sketches of local life through to completed paintings of the magnificent architecture of the Middle East.

Executive Member responsible for parks, leisure and culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “This is a unique exhibition, showcasing the work of a skilled artist working in a turbulent time thousands of miles from home. This is the first opportunity for visitors to see this beautiful body of work and I would like to thank Sergeant Boyle’s family for sharing it with us all.”

In 1914 Vernon C. Boyle, along with many of his North Devon comrades in the territorials, re-enlisted at the outbreak of war. Believing they were sailing for France, the regiment were sent to Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) via India to face the Ottoman Empire. Boyle took with him his paints and his brushes and recorded everything he saw. Just weeks before his departure he had married his beloved Winnie, but spent Christmas Day 1914 on a troopship in the Mediterranean. He did not return for five years. Miraculously, the majority of his paintings from the first world war have survived together with a manuscript which he wrote of his experiences.

The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is open from 10am to 4pm on Monday to Saturday, admission is free. Check out the museum’s Facebook page to keep up to date with all the latest news and events.

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Posted in: Leisure