An exhibition of D-Day and the Second World War in North Devon will open at Barnstaple Guildhall on Monday (May 13).

There is a wealth of memorabilia and information to explore at the Barnstaple Guildhall D-Day exhibition. Picture: Tony GussinThere is a wealth of memorabilia and information to explore at the Barnstaple Guildhall D-Day exhibition. Picture: Tony Gussin

The showcase of pictures and memorabilia of American GIs stationed in the region in the run up to D-Day as well as memories from wartime North Devon has been organised by Barnstaple History Group.

It is marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied troops invaded Normandy to reclaim Europe from the Nazis, as well as the 80 years since the start of the Second World War.

The exhibition is free to view and runs until Saturday, May 18 from 10.30am to 4pm daily.

There are uniforms, weapons, medals, artefacts and a host of fascinating memories and facts about North Devon during the war years.

The D-Day and wartime North Devon exhibition is running at Barnstaple Guildhall daily from May 13 to May 18 and is free to visit. Pictures: Tom Teegan/Tony GussinThe D-Day and wartime North Devon exhibition is running at Barnstaple Guildhall daily from May 13 to May 18 and is free to visit. Pictures: Tom Teegan/Tony Gussin

It is being supported by North Devon Athenaeum, Barnstaple Town Council, North Devon Veterans Association and the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.

From 1943 and in the build up to D-Day on June 6, 1944, around 10,000 American troops were stationed in North Devon to train on the local beaches and surrounding areas.

They brought with them American culture, big band swing music and transformed local communities in a big way.

Gwyneth Faye, Barnstaple History Group leader, said they had tried to ensure the exhibition was as local as it could be.

She said: "A few bombs were dropped on Barnstaple and also around Chivenor.

"There was a sunken lane around Castle Mound that had a concrete lid on top of it, which was about the only public air raid shelter in the whole town, as far as we know."

Snippets from the exhibition include the information that white and black GIs were segregated in separate Symonds warehouses and not allowed to mix - on one occasion irritated black GIs threw crockery and furniture at their white counterparts as they walked down Boutport Street.

The railway was commandeered by the military and locals had to squeeze in where they could, although the soldiers were always very polite and would often hang between or on the side of the carriages.

The Guildhall display also includes Aftermath of War, a display of art by Braunton artist the late Brian Chugg, who painted the decaying beach defences in the area after the war.

The showcase is part of the wider D-Day Devon series of events being held around North Devon during May and June - watch this space for more details very shortly.

Devon D-Day is funded by the North Devon AoNB, Arts Council England and North Devon Council.

For more snippets about the war and GIs in North Devon, drop in and see the exhibition at Barnstaple Guildhall between May 13-18.