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Remembering D-Day at The Customs House Museum & Cultural Center

The Customs House Museum & Cultural Center Remembers D-Day with New Exhibition

CLARKSVILLE, TN – The D-day invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history.

On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy. In recognition of the upcoming 75thanniversary, the Customs House Museum has brought out artifacts from its collection, supplemented by items from private collectors. The exhibition displayed in the museum’s Memory Lane gallery includes both American and German artifacts.

Some of the items included in the show are a German Army Officers Dagger and a German Mauser Rifle and Bayonet. Frank Willard collected these artifacts as trophies of war as he fought his way from Utah Beach to Czechoslovakia with General George Patton’s Third US Army. Museum guests will also find a US Army Field Uniform worn by John Lane, an ammunition vest, a sawtooth bayonet, and a Silver Star Distinguished Service Cross Pilot’s Wings Army Air Corp Ribbon awarded to Frank Atkins. After D-Day, Adkins was attacked while leading a squadron of P-47 Thunderbolts over France. He acted quickly, diving on the enemy aircraft and causing them to scatter, allowing his unit to escape. For this, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. Also included in the exhibition is a Christening Bottle & Case used on the USS Clarksville Victory, one of the many cargo ships built to support the war effort.

Along with the D-Day artifacts, the museum is showcasing the story of Captain P. V. H. Weems, the inventor of navigational instruments including the nautical slide rule, the parallel plotter, and the second-setting watch. Weems spent his childhood in Montgomery County, Tennessee, graduating at an eighth-grade level, before attending the Naval Academy in Annapolis. His tours at sea over a span of eight years shaped his interest and later success as a navigator and inventor. The museum has partnered with Weems & Plath of Annapolis, Maryland to bring the Captain Weems story to Clarksville. The museum is also displaying the newest additions to its collection – MA-1 Bubble Sextant with Case, Weems Rolling Parallel Plotter, Proportional Dividers, Nautical Slide Rule, and a Weems Star-Finder. These items were gifted to the museum by David & Debbie Winters.

Commander David Winters USN, retired will be at the Museum to talk about Weems and demonstrate some of the Weems inventions June 8, from 10 am to noon, and June 9, from 1 pm to 3 pm, as part of the Museum’s 35th anniversary celebratory weekend.

Remembering D-Day: 75th Anniversary is on view through September 22. The Customs House Museum & Cultural Center is located at the corner of Second and Commerce Streets, the Customs House Museum is the second largest general Museum in Tennessee. For more information contact Terri Jordan, Exhibits Curator, at 931-648-5780 or terri@customshousemuseum.org.

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