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Museum plan for Army memorial

PUBLISHED: 10:20 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 11:19 08 July 2010

A new Nissen hut could soon house a museum dedicated to the bravery and sacrifice of Britain's most successful armoured force.

The 7th Armoured Division Memorial Association has applied for planning permission to build a second 1940s-style troop hut at its memorial site in Thetford Forest.

A new Nissen hut could soon house a museum dedicated to the bravery and sacrifice of Britain's most successful armoured force.

The 7th Armoured Division Memorial Association has applied for planning permission to build a second 1940s-style troop hut at its memorial site in Thetford Forest.

If given the go ahead by Breckland Council the hut, which would sit alongside one which already exists at the association's memorial at High Ash Wood, near Mundford, will be used to house memorabilia relating to the Desert Rats' campaigns and the time they spend at the former army camp.

The other hut will be used to recreate the conditions the troops lived in so the public can get a feel for what it was like for the 14,000 soldiers camped out in the Norfolk forest.

Rod Scott, chairman of the memorial association said: “A huge amount of people visit the site and people are more and more interested in what happen in the last world war as the last of the veterans come to an old age.

“By adding a second hut we can create a proper visitors centre.

“One of the huts will be kept like it was during the war and the other will be kept and used as a museum.

“There will be photos and other things including one of the original six Desert Rat badges.

“Visitors will also be able to take some time and experience what life was like in the huts.”

The memorial in Thetford Forest has been placed there because 14,000 members of the 7th Armoured Division were housed at the site in Nissen huts between January and May 1944 prior to the Normandy landings.

The concrete bases for up to 60 huts still remain embedded in the forest floor.

Prior to D-day the division fought in every major battle of the North African Campaign, including both battles of El Alamein.

The division later went on to fight in Italy before being withdrawn to the UK prior to the D-day landings.

After landing in Normandy it fought its way across Europe ending the war in Germany.

“Prior to El Alamein the division was under constant barrage 24 hours a day,” said Mr Scott.

“They were the best of the best and the legend of the Desert Rats continues to instil respect and pride.”

If planning permission is granted the association hopes to have the hut built by the end of the year with the work being carried out by a team from the Royal Engineers.

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