News Archive

New for 2014

New for 2014

20th Aug 2013

We are currently working on plans to re-design some of the museum for 2014. This will include displays and a new exhibition related to the First World War, to coincide with the 100th Anniversary of the start of the war.  Also to be included in the new plans, will be an updated exhibition about the Rifles Regiment involvement in Afghanistan

Our new temporary exhibition for next year will be entitled ‘1914 The Country Goes to War’ and we are aiming to hold an exhibition for each year of the war. This first exhibition will concentrate on mobilization - from life as a civilian through to conscripts and on to the front line, and we will be using photographs, weapons, medals, artefacts and original documents from our own collection! Amongst the new displays, will be an exhibition about the machine gun and we will have on display three of those used during the First World War – The Lewis, Vickers and Maxim guns.

Some facts about the museum and the First World War - We have 11,439 objects in our collection that relate to WW1! The Royal Berkshires raised 13 Battalions, The Wiltshires 11. They served in France, Flanders, Italy, Salonica, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia and Palestine. The Berkshires earned 55 Battle Honours, The Wiltshires 60. Two  Officers and a LCpl.  serving with the Royal Berkshire's and an Officer serving with the Wiltshire's won VC's. The Royal Berkshire's lost 6,688 men and the Wiltshire Regiment nearly 5,000.

National Memory Local Story Schools Project

National Memory Local Story Schools Project

8th Jul 2013

The museum is currently taking part in a project with the National Portrait Gallery and a company called Media 19 called National Memory Local Story. The project is funded by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation Arts Programme and gives young people the opportunity to learn about World War One. Other museums taking part are The National Museum of Scotland, The National Museum of Wales, The National Museum of Northern Ireland, The Redbridge Museum.

Museum staff and volunteers Michael Cornwell and Martyn McIntyre are working for two weeks with ten children from Avon College, Durrington and then two weeks with ten children from Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury. We also have an artist in residence for the month, Henny Burnett. Artefacts, photos and archives from the museums’ collection are being used and the children are also learning about our catalogue system called MODES.

Project summary

National Memory Local Stories is a creative participation project, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and led by the National Portrait Gallery, London, in partnership with Media 19 and five national and local area museums across the UK.  These are National Museums Northern Ireland, National Museums Scotland, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, Redbridge Museum and The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum.

This innovative project will explore how the discovery of locally relevant objects from museum collections, via creative digital media production workshops, can engage young people and artists in responding to significant moments in the history of the First World War.

As the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War approaches, the stories and knowledge of this conflict are no longer in living memory.  This contributes to the history being perceived as distant and disconnected from many individuals including young people. However, on examination the links are still there through personal stories, objects and museum collections. We are seeking to develop these local stories as a way into understanding the scale and impact of the First World War at the time and its ongoing legacy today, and in relation to current conflict throughout the world.

The use of anniversaries and centenaries by museums, galleries and heritage sites is a common device.  Through this project we aim to explore how to make these notable dates relevant to young people.  The results of this will not only link to the ongoing events surrounding the First World War centenary commemoration (2014 – 2018) but will be applicable to other such anniversaries for the National Portrait Gallery and the wider sector.








20th Jun 2013

The museum has recieved a generous donation of a silver pocket watch (Hallmarks for London 1879), purchased by the Redcoats Society of Freinds. The inside of the case is engraved and has the inscription "Presented by Lt H Lynch to W Clayton as a token of gratitude for his gallant conduct in resuing him while wounded on the battle of Maiwand 27th July 1880”. Both Lynch and Clayton playing important roles in the battle.


In August 1881, the men of the 66th Royal Berkshire Regiment who had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for their gallantry during the battle in Afghanistan, were presented to Queen Victoria with Bobbie, the regimental dog, to have an audience with the Queen at Osborne House. The officer who presented Bobbie to Her Majesty was Lieutenant Hyacinth Lynch who had been severely wounded at Maiwand. Also present was Private William Clayton who also received a DCM.

Visit to the Museum by World War Two Veterans

Visit to the Museum by World War Two Veterans

18th Jun 2013

Len Butt (pictured on the right) was barely 18 years old when he landed as a Sapper 30 minutes after the first assault with the 184 Field Company, Royal Engineers, landing at precisely 7.45 am, during D-Day. Their job was to assist the Armoured Royal Engineers used in the first assault, to clear the lanes of the sea shore of obstacles and mines.


Doug Botting (on the left) who at the same age, landed at the same time with the Royal Berkshire Regiment (he served later with The Wiltshire Regiment) to cover the Sappers as they worked. Both these war veterans must have been within a very short distance from one another and up until now have not known of each other’s existence. That all changed on Tuesday 18th June, when both of them visited this museum. Both the Royal Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments suffered horrific casualties during D-Day and the subsequent advance through France and Germany from June 1944 until the end of World War Two. Doug is very proud of both Regiments. Hopefully this will be the first meeting of many as they live such a short distance from one another and on their own. Doug's Captain was Capt. Basil Tarrant, father of Chris, the television presenter.

Len Butt was blown up 3 times during the advance through France just managing to arrive at the Germany Borders before being returned to the UK suffering from traumatic distress, on each occasion he was given the choice to return home or stay with his section. Doug, serving alongside Capt. Tarrant, got as far as Arnhem where he was shot several times in the stomach.


Both men were photographed beside the model of the D-Day landings which took place at Bernieres-Sur-Mer. On top of the model can be seen two uniforms as worn by the Royal Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments at that time and a captured German MG.


Victoria Cross Exhibition

Victoria Cross Exhibition

21st May 2013

Our exhibition for 2013 is dedicated to the soldiers who served with The Royal Berkshire and The Wiltshire Regiment who won this country’s highest award for bravery – the Victoria Cross (VC). The museum has seven of these medals and one replica. The exhibition tells the stories of the men who won these in detail, together with photographs, artefacts and documents.

During the Crimean War, the following Victoria Crosses were won by three soldiers who served with the 49th Regiment. They were; Sergeant James Owens, who won his VC at Sebastopol, Sergeant George Walters for his bravery at the Battle of Inkermann, and Brevet Major John Augustus Con(n)olly who also won his VC at the Battle of Inkerman. These men were also some of the first soldiers to receive the Victoria Cross from Queen Victoria in 1857.

In 1900, Private William House who served with 2nd Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment won a Victoria Cross for rescuing a wounded colleague while under fire during the Second Boer War, South Africa. Private House was himself also severely wounded.

During First World War, Second Lieutenant Alexander Turner (3rd Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment), Lance Corporal James Welch (1st Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment)  and Captain Reginald Hayward (1st Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment) won their VC’s while serving during some this war’s most famous battles.

Our most recent recipient was Sergeant Maurice Rogers who served with 1st Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment when, during the battle for Anzio, Italy he was killed in action while advancing alone attacking German defensive positions.

Also included in the exhibition is information on other recipients from our regiments whose Victoria Cross medals the museum does not hold. These soldiers are; Brigadier-General Robert Loyd-Lindsay, 1st Baron Wantage, who was Colonel of The Royal Berkshire Volunteers, Captain Harold Ackroyd VC MC who, during the First World War, was medical officer with 6th Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment, Private Frederick Hobson VC, who served with The Wiltshire Regiment and Lieutenant John Dimmer VC who served with 2nd/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment.

Find out more about our Victoria Cross recipients and the history of this famous medal by visiting us here at the museum. Our Opening times are detailed on the Home Page.

The photograph on the left is Lance Corporal James Welch seen here in hospital uniform while recovering from his wounds, after he received his Victoria Cross.



Oath of Allegiance Ceremony Monday 19th November 2012

Oath of Allegiance Ceremony Monday 19th November 2012

11th Dec 2012


12 new Army recruits from Salisbury were sworn an oath of allegiance to the Queen as part of their official entry into a career with the British Army. The Attestation ceremony took place here at The Rifles Museum and included a traditional parade of the new recruits in front of their proud friends and family.

Having successfully completed their oaths of allegiance, each candidate received his or her Attestation certificate which marks the final completion of their recruiting process and welcomes them as new members of the British Army.

Aged between 17 and 26, the new recruits will now embark on training courses that range in length, depending on their chosen career path. They will go through military, leadership and vocational training, helping them to gain the soldiering skills they need before moving to their selected regiments and corps.

Anne-Marie Magaharan who is joining The Royal Army Medical Corps as a Combat Medical Technician said, “It’s a very special feeling to stand up in front of my family and pledge to serve my country and my Queen. I’ve always wanted to do something a bit different in my career so joining the Army really is my dream job. I can’t wait to get started on my training.”

Lieutenant Colonel Brendan Shaw, the Commander Regional Recruiting of 43 Wessex Brigade, who presented the certificates to the new recruits said, “We’re very proud of all our new recruits – they have demonstrated strong potential in a competitive recruiting process and now the adventure begins.

“Their careers with the Army will be as rewarding as they are challenging, offering them the opportunity to travel abroad, take part in a range of sports and build friendships that last a lifetime.”

The 12 new recruits will be employed as a variety of Army professions including combat medical technicians, chefs, electricians, vehicle mechanics and riflemen. The Army offers a wide variety of careers for both soldiers and officers, both Regular and Territorial Army, with over 200 different job types available.

Recruiting remains one of the Army’s highest priorities and there are currently more than 200 jobs for people living in the Wiltshire and Dorsetarea which need to be filled each year. For further information about the exciting career opportunities available in the Army visit www.armyjobs.mod.ukor call the Army Careers Information Office (ACIO) Salisbury on 01722 320 445.

Full list of new recruits

1. Daniel Burton, 21, Tidworth, Royal Armoured Corps (King’s Royal Hussars)

2. Jamie Crossley, 18, Tidworth, Adjutant General’s Corps Pro

3. Anne-Marie Magaharan, 24, Salisbury, Royal Army Medical Corps Combat Medical Technician

4. Salome Sauduadua, 26, Larkhill, Royal Army Medical Corps Combat Medical Technician

5. Michael Mercer, 17, Warminster – Royal Logistics Corps Chef

6. Adriu Tuilagi, 23, Bulford – Rifles

7. Mark Thompson, 19, Salisbury– Rifles

8. Dean Newman, 19, Durrington – Rifles

9. Alexander Stevenson, 20, Warminster - Rifles

10. Jacob Noble, 23, Warminster – Royal Artillery

11. Joshua Risi, 20, Salisbury– Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Vehicle Mechanic

12. Daniel Till, 18, Gillingham - RE Electrician



5th Nov 2012

We have had a large collection of donations again this year which include documents and medals that belonged to Lieutenant Colonel George, items including a tin hat and mess tins that were found with the remains of Private Lewis Curtis, a framed print of the Battle of Maiwand, drumsticks and medals that belonged to William Wynne of the 66th Regt, who
served at Maiwand. We also had film footage from the BBC, plus programmes, menus etc and photos of HM The Queen’s visit here at the Wardobe on 1st May, and a DVD of Chris Tarrant's programme about his father’s Second World War accomplishments, filmed at here The Wardrobe. We have also had a large collection of medals awarded to  numerous recipients and donated by their families.

Pte Lewis J. Curtis 5th Wiltshire Regiment

Pte Lewis J. Curtis 5th Wiltshire Regiment

23rd Oct 2012

Nearly seventy years after he was killed in action, Pte Lewis James Curtis of B-Coy, 5th Battalion The Wiltshire Regiment was re-interred in CWGC Arnhem-Oosterbeek War Cemetery in the Netherlands on Wednesday, 3rd October 2012.

Pte Curtis was born in 1924 in Liskeard, Cornwall; he attended Liskeard Church School and worked in the Co-Op before enlisting in the Army in Colchester on 4th March 1943. He served in North West Europe and was killed on 2nd October 1944 during an artillery barrage, in the aftermath of Operation Market-Garden.

His remains were discovered in a shallow field grave at De Laar Farm south of Arnhem (now Schuytgraaf housing estate) in 2003, recovered and eventually identified by the Dutch Army Recovery Unit in 2008 using Army dental records.

The service on 3rd October was attended by his niece and nephew and their families. The Honour Guard was found by The 5th Battalion The Rifles who will accord Pte Lewis full military honours. The Royal Netherlands Army National Reserve Band provided the music at the ceremony.

19 year-old Pte Curtis had landed in Normandy and had taken part in all major battles such as Hill 112, Mont Pincon, The Odon box and the crossing of the Seine at Vernon. By the time 4th & 5th Wilts (129th Brigade, 43rd Wessex Division) had reached Arnhem, they had lost 250 men. Unfortunately they had arrived too late to help relieve 1st Airborne Division, though the battalion took part in a diversion during operation Berlin, the withdrawal of the remnants of 1st Airborne Division over the Rhine. Pte Lewis Curtis was killed in the early hours of 2 October 1944 during the battle for the level crossing east of De Laar farm (B-Coy HQ, now Buitenplaats community centre) by an artillery barrage prior to a German infantry attack. As Captain McMath wrote in the 5th Wilts history: “This was the fiercest fighting the battalion had ever experienced.”

The re-interment of Pte Curtis was followed by a commemoration service at the Wiltshire Regiment monument at Arnhem-Schuytgraaf, in memory of the officers and men of 4th & 5th Battalion The Wiltshire Regiment whom were killed during “The Battle for the Island”. The service was attended by Pte Curtis’ family, representatives of the Regimental Association and a party of 5th Battalion The Rifles.


Lieutenant-Colonel George Woolnough

Lieutenant-Colonel George Woolnough

5th Sep 2012

Lieutenant-Colonel George Woolnough who was the last CO of 1st Battalion The Wiltshire Regiment and the first of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment after the Wiltshires amalgamated with the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1959 died this year on 5th January, he was aged 97.  He was awarded a Military Cross after leading an extremely hazardous night attack in the Italian campaign.

In September 1943, Woolnough landed in Italy, north of Reggio, with 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment (2 WR). The following month he was commanding a company which was ordered to capture a daunting hilltop position considered key to the battalion attack on Cantalupo, south of Isérnia.

The assault was made in darkness and in dense, thickly-wooded country intersected by deep ravines. Two platoons became detached from the main force, and Woolnough found himself approaching his objective with only one rifle platoon and his company HQ.

Despite strong opposition, he pressed forward and drove the enemy off the hill. The missing platoons did not arrive and it was impossible to reinforce him. One section of the remaining rifle platoon was overrun and all its men either killed or captured; but Woolnough held on to the position in the face of heavy mortar fire and a series of determined counter-attacks. He was awarded an Immediate MC.

George Frederick Woolnough, the son of an Army schoolmaster, was born at Aldershot on December 7 1914. The family lived in India for four years but returned in 1923, and George was educated at the Bishop Wordsworth School, Salisbury.

He gained a scholarship to the RMA Sandhurst, passed out third, and won a half blue for Athletics. He also represented the Army in the Inter-Services Championships.

After being commissioned into the Wiltshire Regiment, in 1936 he accompanied 2nd Battalion to Palestine during the Arab Revolt. On the outbreak of war he went to France with the British Expeditionary Force. During the withdrawal to Dunkirk, with the Germans hard on their heels, a fellow officer with lofty concepts of military strategy suggested they construct a roadblock by moving a hedge to the middle of the road, then add a road sign to direct the enemy into a nearby pond.

After the evacuation, for which Woolnough was mentioned in despatches, in March 1942 he took part in the campaign in Madagascar against the Vichy French. They captured the town of Antisirane after a 17-mile forced march in darkness.

The invasion of Sicily followed, and in June 1944 the battalion took part in the breakout from the Anzio beachhead. When they were pinned down by intense machine-gun fire, Sergeant Maurice Rogers led a charge and knocked out two of the posts before being killed. Woolnough, who was a witness to this gallant action, contributed to the award of a posthumous VC.

After the battalion was withdrawn from Italy it joined the British Second Army for the final phase of the war in north-west Europe. Woolnough then served in BAOR, Singapore and Cyprus. He was on the directing staff at the Iraqi Staff College, Baghdad, before returning to Cyprus in 1958 to command 1st Battalion during the Eoka campaign.

He and his men had to deal with more than 50 incidents involving bombs, mines, ambushes and armed assaults. He was again mentioned in despatches. A number of staff appointments followed before he retired from the Army in 1965. He then moved into a cottage in a Wiltshire village and became secretary to the Friends of Salisbury Cathedral, a post that he held from 1966 to 1980. He was also a regional superintendent for St John Ambulance, a member of the parish council and a stalwart supporter of his local church. He remained in close touch with his friends in the regiment.


Our Sporting Heroes Exhibition

Our Sporting Heroes Exhibition

3rd Jul 2012

On Friday 29th June, we held an official opening ceremony
for ‘Our Sporting Heroes’ Exhibition. The guest VIP who
performed the opening ceremony was Claire Perry MP. Guests included
representatives from the other tourist attractions in Salisbury and from Visit Wiltshire.

Below is some background information about the exhibition.


This new exhibition tells the story of some of the sporting achievements of soldiers who served with the Royal Berkshire Regiment, The Wiltshire Regiment, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and who are serving with today’s Regiment – The Rifles.


The sporting life of British soldiers from the 19th Century through to today at home and abroad, in times of peace as well as war, is something that sometimes gets forgotten.  Sport's role within the army was to develop physical fitness, advance esprit de corps, raise morale and, at times to relieve boredom.


Since the game’s earliest years, members of the army have been keen players of rugby but it was not until the Crimean War (1854–56) that a record was made of a game being played. Thereafter regiments of the British Army played wherever they were stationed in the British Empire spreading its popularity around the globe. It was a result of a game being played in British India in the 1870s that led to The 3rd (East Kent) Regiment and the 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment having a hand in the creation of the Calcutta Cup, the oldest international rugby trophy.

Behind the trenches of the Western Front and in the midst of the Desert War, British servicemen and women have played sport in the least promising circumstances. When 400 soldiers were asked in Burma in 1946 what they liked about the Army, 108 put sport in first place - well ahead of comradeship and leave. Organised sport was developed in the Victorian army and navy but became the focus of criticism for Edwardian army reformers. It was officially adopted during the Great War to boost morale and esprit de corps.


The exhibition includes details of individuals from our forming regiments and the story of their success, such individuals include; International Cricketer Ken Barrington who served with The Wiltshire Regiment and who played for England and Surrey; Peter Martin a Wiltshire Regiment and Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment Officer, who was Great Britain and British Army shot (he is here today); and Major Thomas Wand-Tetley, Wiltshire Regiment Officer, Olympic athlete and fencer.

Today, wounded soldiers use sport to overcome injuries and all soldiers who are keen to pursue a sporting interest can do so - whatever their ability. This includes the injured and disabled, who are able to participate in sport through an initiative called ‘Battle Back’ which is a UK Military initiative and backed by Help for Heroes. They train with and compete alongside the able-bodied, as all Battle Back activities are integrated into able-bodied programmes. Battle Back uses Adaptive Adventure Training and Sports Rehabilitation to help seriously wounded Service personnel gain confidence and return to an active life.


The best athletes in the Army can compete internally and also at a Combined Service level against Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and civilian teams. ‘Elite' athletes are given encouragement and assistance to compete at the highest level possible.


Mrs Perry paid tribute to the many injured servicemen who are
currently being given rehabilitation by being offered sport to regain
their strengths.

The photograph shows (from left to right) Claire Perry MP, Simon Cook Manager/Curator and Assistant Curator Jackie Dryden who curated and designed the exhibition.