Royal Oak Historical Society Museum to present D-Day exhibit

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published November 5, 2019

 A World War II map will be on display during an exhibit about D-Day, which will run Nov. 10-Jan. 11 at the Royal Oak Historical Society Museum.

A World War II map will be on display during an exhibit about D-Day, which will run Nov. 10-Jan. 11 at the Royal Oak Historical Society Museum.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

 Royal Oak Historical Society Museum Curator Muriel Versagi holds a vessel filled with sand from the coast of Normandy.

Royal Oak Historical Society Museum Curator Muriel Versagi holds a vessel filled with sand from the coast of Normandy.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

 Royal Oak volunteers pose with an American Red Cross truck during World War II. The home front will be a large aspect of the Royal Oak Historical Museum’s exhibit about D-Day.

Royal Oak volunteers pose with an American Red Cross truck during World War II. The home front will be a large aspect of the Royal Oak Historical Museum’s exhibit about D-Day.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

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ROYAL OAK — From Nov. 10 to Jan. 11, the Royal Oak Historical Society Museum will host its latest exhibit, which focuses on the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, also known as D-Day, during World War II.

While the historic event actually fell on June 6, 1944, museum volunteers opted to run the show through the end of the year because WWII continued on for another year, and there was plenty going on both overseas and on the home front.

From 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, the museum will host a free grand opening event. Refreshments will be served, and the public will be able to have a first look at a series of panels and artifacts revolving around D-Day.

The exhibit will include photos of Royal Oak men and women who served during WWII, WWII uniforms from each branch of the military, and articles about inventions created during the war to help defeat the enemy, as well as information about the homefront.

“We wanted to explain some of the things that happened even before the actual invasion and the planning,” museum volunteer Johanna Schurrer said. “I came across all these things and ideas that people came up with, things they would need to do to even get across the channel.”

Museum Curator Muriel Versagi stressed the ingenuity of the young men serving in WWII who created new uses for pieces of war equipment and materials.

“It was without a doubt a really pivotal point in the war,” Versagi said. “They were under heavy bombardment by those barricaded German guns. They figured out how to get around, come up from behind and take it over, and they did it even though our paratroopers got dropped in the wrong zones.”

Artifacts in the exhibit will include ammunition, guns, a real WWII Jeep, canteens, mess kits, cameras used by Berkley resident Bill Barr to photograph battles, newspaper front pages printed during the war, battle maps, sand from Normandy, military Bibles, medals, hand grenades, military pamphlets and more.

Versagi said the museum is still receiving items either donated or on loan to include in the exhibit.

In Royal Oak during WWII, women and children were instrumental in aiding the war effort through victory gardens, bond drives, blood drives, scrap metal drives, food and gas ration stamp drives, and more.

“A lot of beautiful young men lost their lives, and we are forever indebted to them for our freedom,” Versagi said.

From 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 15, local historian James Craft will host a talk about the Allied invasion of Normandy at the museum. The cost to attend is $10.

The Royal Oak Historical Museum is located at 1411 W. Webster Road, west of Crooks Road.

For more information, call (248) 439-1504, visit www.royaloakhistoricalsociety.com or email curator@royaloakhistoricalsociety.

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