News Archive

The Duchess of Cornwall visit to the Museum

The Duchess of Cornwall visit to the Museum

3rd Oct 2011

On Sunday 2nd October, The Duchess of Cornwall visited the museum as an invited guest of 'DecAid' - which is a national, charity appeal that has been set up by students to raise money for service charities through the running of six high profile events during the summer of 2011. They hope to raise a minimum of £350,000 for their chosen service charities that help current and ex-servicemen and women, and their families, who have been affected by the conflict in Afghanistan since it began in 2001.

The Duchess attended a reception which was due to take place in the museums' Regimental Room but because of the hot weather, it was moved into the Wardrobe garden. She then walked from the museum to Salisbury Cathedral for a special service. A candle was lit for each of the 382 British service personnel who lost their life in Afghanistan.

The money raised by DecAid will be divided between two charities, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association Forces Help and the British Limbless Ex Service Men's Association.

The photograph on the left was taken by Assistant Curator Jackie Dryden and shows the Ducheess arriving at the museum and about to be greeted by Terry Daly, Chairman of the Museum Board of Trustees (pictured on the right).

Heritage Open Days at the Keep, Reading. Sat 10 - Sun 11 September 2011

Heritage Open Days at the Keep, Reading. Sat 10 - Sun 11 September 2011

5th Sep 2011

The museum is taking part in a special event at The Keep in Reading this weekend, by loaning several artefacts for display. OpenHand OpenSpace welcomes visitors to the ground floor of the Keep - see what was once the guardroom, cells and fire engine house.  There will be art, artefacts from the Royal Berkshire Regimental Collection kindly lent by ourselves, a display about Trooper Potts VC, information about the Keep's history, art activities and an I-spy trail for children, and refreshments.  Free parking is available in OHOS's car park behind the Keep: from Oxford Road turn into Brock Gardens, then first left and through the double gates. Opening times for the exhibition are 11am - 5pm. More information can be found at

The Keep was built in 1877 as the armoury and the gatehouse of Brock Barracks, and is Grade II listed. It is now occupied by artists' studios. The ground floor, with its guardroom and cells, is now an exhibition space.

A special exhibition is being planned at our museum to celebrate the life of Sir Isaac Brock, whose name was given to the barracks and will run from February 2012.

The photograph on the left is of The Keep and is our collection. Click on the image to enlarge.

The Family of Private Curtis Visit 11th August  2011

The Family of Private Curtis Visit 11th August 2011

12th Aug 2011

On Thursday 11th August, the museum played host to the family of Private Lewis James Curtis, who was killed in The Netherlands on 2nd October 1944 whilst serving with the 5th Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment. They came along to find out what the battalion were doing prior to his death and were shown archive documents and photographs from the period July until October 1944. They were also given a tour of the museum with Assistant Curator, Jackie Dryden.

His remains were identified recently by dental records and his nephew and niece traced.  In the past families have always enjoyed this valuable experience, as with the family of Thomas Venn, whose remains were discovered two years ago.  Robert Cole (the nephew) and his wife attended together with Susan Wilbourne (his niece) and her husband.  The family  travelled from Liskeard in Cornwall, which is where Private Curtis also came from, so this remains his family home. The visit was arranged by Sue Raftree of the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre whose work it is to try and find the families of military personnel whose remains may have recently been discovered.

Also here were a cameraman and reporter from the BBC who are currently making a documentary about the work of the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre, who are based in Cheltenham.

Our pictures (taken by Jackie Dryden) show the family looking through archives and photographs, the BBC crew and Robert Cole and Susan Wilbourne handing over some of their own memorabilia to the museum’s Manager/Curator, Simon Cook. Click on the image to enlarge.

Four Curators

Four Curators

12th Aug 2011

Pictured are four of the museum Curators/Managers who have looked after the museum. They are retired officer's and from left to right; Major John Peters who served with The Royal Berkshire Regiment and The Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (DERR) and was museum Curator between 1985 and 1998; Lieutenant Colonel David Chilton, ex- Royal Berkshire Regiment, DERR and Royal Berkshire Regiment (TA), Curator from 1998 until February 2007; Colonel Michael Cornwell, ex-DERR, Curator from November 2007 until June 2011 and Major Simon Cook, ex- DERR, RGBW and The Rifles, who is the current Manager/Curator.

The photograph was taken by Assistant Curator, Jackie Dryden who has worked with all four Curator's!

Japanese Type 92 Battalion Howitzer

Japanese Type 92 Battalion Howitzer

27th Jul 2011

Volunteer Peter Shorten has just completed the restoration of one of the two Japanese Type 92 Battalion Howitzer's that are on display in the museum grounds. Our pictures show Peter working on the restoration and with the gun completed.

Its specifications are;

Weight (complete)  324kg
Traverse (total)……45 degrees
Elevation (total)...…80 degrees
Range (maximum)..5,000 meters
Breech mechanism. Interrupted-thread screw
Scale of issue……..4 per battalion.

The wheels are mounted on cranked arms, allowing the gun to be raised or lowered to suit role or position, the lower setting for direct fire from cover and the mid one (current) for direct or medium angle indirect fire. The high position was for high angle indirect fire – the maximum elevation allowing the gun to perform almost as a mortar.

The Museum holds two examples of the gun, both missing some parts, such as sighting equipment, shields and other small items. Both suffer some battle damage, sustained during the battle at Kohima, where both guns were taken by the Royal Berkshire Regt.

Over the past seventy years they have suffered some further deterioration, having been kept in the open air. They have also suffered periodic “redecoration” in incorrect colours and unsuitable paint. Three years ago, in 2008, Peter Shorten was persuaded to head-up a group of volunteers to undertake a full conservation of both guns. One was selected, at random, and dismantling was completed. Owing to “natural wastage”, the team was reduced to one.
Lacking workshop facilities at the Museum, the gun carriage components, less the barrel group, were taken home, where they displaced the lawn mowers etc while each component was stripped to bare metal, primed and undercoated. Small areas of original colour were found and a suitably close colour-matched paint was applied. The barrel group was stripped and painted on site, in the open, as weather allowed. The gun was finally reassembled early this summer and is now on display, suitably secured, at the front of the building.
The second gun is still awaiting attention. Click on the image to enlarge it.

The Creative and Inventive Soldier

The Creative and Inventive Soldier

21st Jun 2011

Our temporary exhibition this year has been produced to give visitors to this museum a chance to see an alternative view of a soldier’s life by displaying their creative works and inventions.

Artists included in this exhibition are Stanley Spencer who served with 7th Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment, and Victorian military artist Richard Simkin who painted pictures of soldiers from our regiments. Inventors include; aircraft inventor Lieutenant John William Dunne, who served with the Wiltshire Regiment; William Soper who invented the Soper rifle and who served with the Royal Berkshire Rifle Volunteers and poet Captain Edgell Rickword who served with the 5th Battalion, the Royal Berkshire Regiment during the First World War.
Also on display are embroideries made by soldiers during their rehabilitation in between battles; and poems written about loved ones.

The image shows hand painted decorative ostrich eggs. These were decorated by Sergeant Frederick Cook DCM while serving with the Wiltshire Regiment during the Boer War in South Africa – one was painted for the 1st Battalion and the other for the 2nd Battalion (Wiltshire Regiment). Both of these battalions were involved in the Boer War between 1899 and 1902 and were formally known as the 62nd Regiment of Foot and the 66th Regiment, hence numbers on the eggs. The Wiltshires fought in all major engagements during this War and the previous African war – the Zulu War in 1879.

Click on the image to enlarge and you will see the wonderful detail painted on these eggs.


Stanley Spencer painting sells for 5.4m

17th Jun 2011

The auction record for a painting by Sir Stanley Spencer was broken twice within minutes at Sotheby's in London.

Workmen in the House, which had an upper estimate of £2m, sold for £4.7m before Sunflower and Dog Worship, with a top estimate of £1.5m, fetched £5.4m.

The previous record was the £1.43m achieved at Sotheby's in December for 1954 work Hilda and I at Pond Street.

Stanley Spencer served with the 7th Battalion, The Royal berkshire Regiment during World War One and served in Salonika. The museum currently has an exhibition entitled 'The Creative and Inventive Soldier' in which reproduction s of his work are on display.

Congratulations to HRH Prince Philip on his 90th Birthday

10th Jun 2011

The museum extends very warm congratulations on his 90th Birthday to Field Marshall (now High Admiral) His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, KG, KT, GBE, Colonel-in-Chief The Wiltshire Regiment, the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and The Rifles.

Many of those who served or serve in the regiments remember his visits to the various  battalions and here at the Wardrobe where he took a great interest in what was going on.



Country Search Corrected

30th May 2011

The Country Search criteria is now working properly and will enhance your searching capability.   For example you can list a a unit and the country in which they were stationed and then under key word you could also put in another country to narrow your search. 

For example one could put DERR as the unit, in 1978 - 1983 they were stationed in Germany, but went to Canada.  By putting in those details with Canada as the key word one may well find images from their Exercise Medicine Hat. 

Advanced Search - The Collection

29th Apr 2011

We have just identified that if you search by Country, where we had made some editorial corrections yesterday, it has thrown the data slightly out of sync.  For the time being we suggest that you search by another criteria.

We apologise for this minor blip we are in the process of fixing it.