Poole's 'new to you' service uncovers a fascinating piece of WWI history

Posted on Thursday 9 May 2019

A collection of historic 100 year old items has been discovered by the new to you team based at the Cabot Lane Depot in Poole. Formerly belonging to a Lieutenant John Pitt Cary RN, the items include a letter signed by King George V, rare newspapers, postcards from an Ottoman POW camp and personal letters to family.

Found within a discarded carrier bag in October last year, the documents and letters provide a unique snap shot into WWI and life during capture. Lt Cary was loaned to the Royal Australian Navy during WWI and served on the submarine AE2. The AE2 played a significant part in the Gallipoli landings of April 1915, being ordered to "generally run amok" and make attacks against enemy ships. Helping to raise morale through its exploits, the submarine was eventually forced to surface due to mechanical faults and her crew, including Lt Cary, were captured.

Letters and POW post cards continue to chart Lt Cary’s imprisonment in Turkey up to his release in 1918. Previously unknown and original copies of the "Afion-kara-hissar Gazette", a newspaper produced in the UK for the families of imprisoned Officers, were also found. In addition, the new to you team came across a letter personally addressed to Lt Cary from King George V, dated 15 April 1919 prior to his departure back to the UK from Australia.

‘new to you’ is a BCP Council service which sells affordable reclaimed items to reduce waste and support local people in difficult circumstances. This includes donated furniture, crockery, ornaments, toys, sporting equipment and general bric-a-brac.

Presented to the Imperial War Museum, the historic items have now been formally accepted for inclusion in their collections; catalogued under number 27317 they are now available for study.

Graham Crabb, Environmental Development Officer from BCP Council, said:

“We were absolutely amazed by this discovery. It had been a lengthy process but serves as a great example of how the new to you project can assist in preventing something of huge national importance being lost forever, as well as saving usable items from landfill. The volunteers and staff are extremely proud to have been part of this discovery and we’re all pleased that the Imperial War Museum is now housing this rare collection, enabling new research for historians and university students.”

To find out more about the new to you service, please visit: www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/newtoyou