…so you know I visited the Ministry of Food exhibition last week? After catching a bus at stupid-o’clock I arrived on the steps of the Imperial War Museum snow flecked, cold and very early. I was wondering how best to phrase a plea to let me in early when a member of staff arrived beside me swipe card in hand. In a perfect moment of serendipity (making a fortunate discovery by accident) when I asked if she could let Lisa, the Press Officer, know I’d arrived she answered ‘I’m Lisa, come on in‘.
While Lisa and her colleagues made a few final preparations I introduced myself to another early bird called Steve. We exchanged stories about how we came to be there and immediately I was struck by how many fascinating tales I’d be leaving London with. This is Steve’s story (I hope I tell it as well as he did and rest assured Steve you didn’t bore me one bit!)
I’m no celebrity snapper: Steve Thomas is not a household name but his great grandfather was during the Second World War. Well not a household name exactly: if you google William Henry McKie you won’t find any clues to his notoriety. Steve’s great grandfather was the oldest member of the Acton Gardening Association in 1941 and very well known locally for the prizes, medals, firsts and specials awarded for his flowers and vegetables. But it was being photographed driving a spade into the ground on his plot in Acton, West London that his legend was made. W H McKie was the owner of the iconic booted ‘foot all the Nation knows‘ on the Ministry of Food’s ‘Dig for Victory‘ poster.
Thanks for sharing your great grandfather’s story so enthusiastically Steve and sending me the newspaper cutting below (tickled by that advert for the three piece suite too!). Feel free to add anything I missed in the comments! (For readers who find the news print a little small to read click on the image to magnify it).
The Acton Gazette, 7th February 1941
If you’re still undecided about whether the exhibition is worth the trip to London take a look at what some of today’s household names had to say about the exhibition on the opening night
© Ministry of Food poster – Imperial War Musuem
See The Imperial War Museum’s YouTube channel for other interesting videos