He gave us chocolate orange... but almost died at war

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It IS thought a silver cigarette case may have saved the life of Noel Terry during the First World War.

The man famous for later introducing the Terry’s Chocolate Orange to the public served as an officer in the Yorkshire Regiment during the war where he took part in the Battle of the Somme. During his service he was wounded by a bullet to the thigh.

“A silver cigarette case in his pocket took most of the impact and may well have saved his life,” a spokeswoman for the National Trust said which opens up the former family home of the Terry family to the public.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the the start of the First World War, Goddards in York reopens to visitors today with a new display for 2014 – Terry’s and War.

It tells the story of how the family and the business were affected by both world wars in new displays throughout the house.

When Mr Terry was injured at the Battle of the Somme he was taken away from the frontline and treated nearby as the bombing continued.

Clare Fletcher, visitor experience and volunteering manager, said he was lucky to survive for a second time.

Upon his return Terry’s really began to make its name and some of its most famous products were conceived during the war years.

“The business was established before the First World War but it was in that inter-war period between the First and Second World Wars when he became the managing director of Terry’s and that’s when the business was at its height when all the products that we know and love like the Chocolate Orange and All Gold were created.”

The story opens in Noel Terry’s former library at Goddards and charts the start of the First World War and highlights extracts from letters which went back and forth between Noel and his wife Kathleen during the war.

It takes visitors through the interwar period when Goddards was built and business was booming to the Second World War when the couple had to cope with the loss of their son, Kenneth.

Kenneth, who served in the RAF during the conflict, was just 23 when he was killed. His bedroom is one of the main areas of the new display.

“He was only 23 when he died but unfortunately that was the story of so many men during the Second World War,” Miss Fletcher added.

The conflict also marked a change of direction for the factory with the premises used to assist the war effort.

Instead of chocolate its focus was on building propeller blades. Although boiled sweets were also made. Goddards was the home of the Terry family between 1927, when the property was built, up until 1980 and sits on Tadcaster Road, close to the famous chocolate factory which closed in 2005.

The house was home to Noel and Kathleen, and their four children, Peter, Kenneth, Betty and Richard, before it was bought by the National Trust in the 1980s as the organisation’s regional offices and was opened to visitors in July 2012.

Period furniture and exhibitions on display show how the property would have looked in the 1930s – which was the heyday of the Terry’s chocolate business.

All Gold and Chocolate Oranges were among the world-famous confectionery that was made at the factory.

However, more than 300 jobs were lost when the Terry’s factory was closed in 2005 after US parent company Kraft transferred all of its production to Europe.

The exhibition features personal notes and letters, including one from Noel’s mother to her son.

It runs until June 18 at the museum which is open every day from Wednesdays to Sunday.

Miss Fletcher added: “The wartime display tells the story of loss, love, service and duty and charts the change both for family and business during the two world wars.”

For more information about the exhibitiion, call 01904 771930