N.H. Connection to the Sinking of the Bismarck
Matchsticks and Memories Tell the Story of an Enduring Friendship
(Published May 2007)
One eventful summer and several hundred cigarettes later, Lloyd Badman had a story to tell. Where Shakespeare preferred iambic pentameter and Michelangelo’s medium of choice was Italian white marble, Lloyd could work wonders with matchsticks.
Shown at right is a scale model of the British battleship, the HMS Rodney. Lloyd, who lived in Weston, England at the time of his enlistment, fashioned this three-foot-long model entirely out of matchsticks while serving in the British Royal Marines. But what is its connection to the American Home Front and how did it become part of the Wright Museum’s collection? Here’s where things get interesting.
First, a little background. The HMS Rodney, along with the King George V, pursued the German battleship Bismarck on the morning of May 24, 1941. Partially damaged during the Battle of Denmark Strait, the Bismarck succumbed to the firepower of Royal Naval forces.
Following the battle, the Rodney set off for repairs at a shipyard in Boston. Since the job would take several weeks, the ship’s crew was temporarily released to local Civilian Conservation Corps camps for some well-deserved R&R. Many of the Royal Marines were sent to the CCC camp in Townsend, Mass., near the N.H border.
At the time, Townsend resident Mabel Richardson was 17 years old. One day, her uncle, while driving to the family’s summer home, encountered two British Marines in partial uniform, walking along a local road. Curious and intrigued, he stopped and said hello. Learning of their story, Mabel’s uncle offered to take them for the day out to the family farm in Temple, N.H. to relax.
Among the two marines was Lloyd Badman, who quickly befriended Mabel. Lloyd made frequent trips to Temple and their friendship deepened during the summer of ’41. Mabel is quick to point out, however, "The visits were only day trips and that there were no overnight stays."
Once the Rodney was repaired, Lloyd and the rest of the crew were summoned back to Boston to ship out. During his off hours later in the war, Lloyd assembled this model, which he brought back to civilian life as a cherished keepsake. "He and all the men smoked. He collected all their burnt matches and carefully cut off the burnt ends," said Mabel.
With his hitch with the Royal Navy behind him, Lloyd got married, settled down and started a family in England with his newly wedded wife, Iris.
Back in the states, Mabel learned of Lloyd’s marrying through her uncle. "Lloyd didn’t want to tell me himself that he had married, which was very sweet of him."
Mabel and Lloyd remained friends until his death several years ago. She made several visits to his family’s home in Bristol, England and, after the Badmans relocated, in New Brunswick, Canada. It was during one of Mabel’s visits to Canada that Lloyd gave her the model.
Mabel, who never married herself, donated the matchstick Rodney to the Wright Museum in 2004 at a time when she was moving to a smaller home. She wanted the artifact to be preserved and to help future generations understand and appreciate the history of the time. This unique piece of WWII history tells a compelling story that reminds us all of the American experience’s personal dimension.
The Wright Museum is a non-profit institution devoted to educating learners of all ages. With its nationally-significant collection of fully-operational military vehicles and vast collections relating to the American Home Front, the Wright Museum is a member-supported national treasure located right here in New Hampshire.
To learn more, call the museum at 603-569-1212 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.