Dame Stella Rimington, General Director of MI5 between 1992 and 1996, opened Swaffham Museum’s Great War Exhibition on Saturday.
“Home by Christmas? The legacy of Swaffham’s Great War” is open until mid-November and focuses on the way in which the war changed lives in Swaffham and the neighbouring villages at all levels from the personal to the political and technological.
Sue Gattuso, volunteer museum manager, said: “We hope that the visitors will bring with them their family recollections of, and views on, the war so that we can build up a documentation of the families and organisations of the time.”
Draft Books of Remembrance are on show in which visitors can add their memories or correct mistakes.
Dame Stella began her working life as an archivist at the Worcester County Record Office before she entered the British Security Service and then broke the ranks of male dominance in the Service to become not only the first female Director General but also the first Director General to be publicly named.
Sue said: “We were delighted that Dame Stella Rimington agreed to open the exhibition. Her first career was as an archivist. The British Intelligence Service began because of the fear of espionage in the run up to the First World War, and as first female Head of MI5, Dame Stella merely reflects the emancipation of women.
“In her opening speech she spoke of the impact the Great War had on society, such as the role of women and the loss of a male generation.
“She mentioned her father who had been in the war and how that experience had impacted on his whole life.”