Our popular WHS Talks are held at the Balsam Centre, Balsam Park BA9 9HB (accessed from Memorial Hall Car Park), usually on the last Wednesday evening of the month.

Doors open 6.30pm with the talk starting at 7pm. Our 9 talks throughout the year range widely, covering local and national topics such as the Roman Villa at the Newt, life of a local vet in 20th century, restoration of Earl of Shaftesbury’s house, the Nuremburg Trials.

A brief round-up of previous talks are available if you click the “Previous Talks” button further down this page.

The programme is being constantly developed so do revisit this site, check out our Instagram or Facebook and look out for our eye-catching posters in various locations around the town advising forthcoming subjects.

Entry Charges (per person):
Members and under 18s: free
Non-members: £10.00

From time to time Special Talks are being booked. The venue for these is the Memorial Hall. Last year we heard from John Blashford-Snell, and enjoyed a live performance of Flamenco dancing. Charges for these talks differ from the standard Talks charge. Keep an eye on this site for details.

Special Talks (per person):
Members: free (donation welcomed)
Non-members: See listing for prices

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On Friday 25th October 2019 over 60 people attended The Wincanton and District Museum and Heritage Society talk by Brig. Richard Folkes, entitled “From Nowhere to Normandy”.The Glider Assault on Pegasus Bridge in Normandy 1944.

Brig. Folkes talked about Operation Deadstick, which was the codename for an operation by airborne forces of the British Army. This took place on 6th June 1944. The objective was to capture intact two road bridges in Normandy across the River Orne and the Caen Canal (to provide assistance to British Forces landing at Sword Beach), using gliders for this operation.

The bridges were thought to be heavily guarded, However, there proved to be unguarded moments when the Pegasus Bridge was not so guarded, ie at night. This information came via the Gondree family who owned a small cafe in Benouville. The cafe is close to Pegasus Bridge and is well known for its support. After the war the cafe became noted for D-day anniversary celebrations every June, and is known as the Pegasus Bridge Cafe (where you get a good omelette.)

Brigadier Folkes went on to speak of Lawrence Wright, whose book, The Wooden Sword, contains photographs of WW2 and of this operation. Some of the photographs were used during the talk. Also speaking highly of Major John Howard DSO, the British Army Officer who led glider-borne assault on the two bridges.

Interesting facts emerged during the talk. One that the gliders ranged between 8, 15, 25 and 40 seaters. Some could glide 100 miles, given the right conditions. Some could carry tanks and jeeps.

This was a very interesting, and well attended, talk. followed by a good Question and Answer session. Our thanks go to Brig. Folkes for giving his time for this subject.

By Christie (Sgt), No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit – This is photograph B 5288 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums., Public Domain,

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