A ‘treasure trove’ of artifacts belonging to World War One soldier Capt Reg Malerbi has been donated to the British Imperial War Museum and reveals amazing details of his experiences on the front line.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the donation was made by Capt Malerbi’s Step Grandson who found the materials when his step father died. Dr Dean Clarke, a retired probation officer, discovered the extraordinary mementoes when clearing out a house in Dore that had belonged to his step-father, Bernard, Malerbi’s son who died in 2019.
He said: “My stepfather died two years ago. I was left in lockdown sorting out his bungalow, getting rid of everything. That’s how I came across all this stuff. There was a huge number of suitcases in wardrobes and under beds with jaw-dropping letters.”
The collection included letters and photographs, as well as some more suprising artefacts such as a service revolver and a glass eye used by Capt Malerbi after receiving injuries.
A letter of Sept 19, 1917, could have been his last, written hours before he would go over the top of the trenches into battle. It was to have been sent to his parents had he been killed and says: “If this letter ever reaches you, you will know that I have ‘passed over’. I am going over the top in the morning, and you know what that may mean. My greatest worry at this moment is the grief that this news will cause you.”
Commenting on the collection, Alan wakefield, head of First World War at the museum said “We’ve got everything here – his letters, his course notebooks when he was training, photographs. We get offered lots of individual objects or collections. It’s impossible to take on everything. We’re trying to collect really exciting material like this collection.”