Historian’s book charts history of training camp

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A major new exhibition is set to open at Mansfield Museum at the weekend - celebrating Clipstone’s vital role in Britain’s First World War effort.

Curated by Forest Town local historian Pauline Marples, Clipstone Camp and Mansfield in World War One opens at the Leeming Street museum on Saturday.

Running until 22nd November, the exhibition is the third in the museum’s trio marking the outbreak of hostilities 100 years ago.

The camp’s story will be brought to life by photographs, documents, artefacts and the letters of some of the thousands of soldiers who were stationed there, organisers said.

Pauline said: “This is the largest and most exciting exhibition I have done so far in Mansfield Museum. There is plenty to make people smile, or shed a tear as they discover what an amazing part this area played in the history of the Great War.”

Construction on the camp started in 1914, soon after the outbreak of war, and it took its first cohort the following year - with the arrival of 5,000 troops from University and Public Schools Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers.

From small beginnings, the camp grew to become a massive concentration of wooden huts which, at its height, was home to 30,000 people – at a time when the population of Mansfield was only 37,000.

Though many training camps were built nationally, it is believed that Clipstone was the largest in the whole country. It also served as one of the biggest demob centres at the end of the war.

The museum is open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday. Admission is free.