17th Dec 2013
A special Christmas concert in aid of Help for Heroes and ABF (Army Benevolent Fund) the Soldiers Charity, which included traditional carols, music from the Band and Bugles of The Rifles, the famous Military Wives Choir, a soloist and Salisbury Cathedral Choir took place on Friday 6th December.
Ahead of the event, a champagne reception was held here at The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum.
There were readings by: actress Emilia Fox, a familiar face from the BBC1 series ‘Silent Witness’ and her father the highly respected stage and screen actor, Edward Fox OBE; stage and television actor David Oakes well known for playing George - Duke of Clarence in the BBC’s recent production, The White Queen; and a veteran from Afghanistan, Captain David Henson, Royal Engineers.
More than 1,200 guests attended the Service in Salisbury Cathedral and the event raised over £30,000.
Our photograph shows actress Emilia Fox with her father Edward with Bobbie of the Berkshires.
9th Dec 2013
Salisbury resident’s had the chance to honour service personnel today when soldiers from 4 RIFLES marched through the city this morning (Monday December 9th) after their return from Afghanistan.
Based at Ward Barracks, Bulford Camp, the 4th battalion the Rifles conducted the role of Brigade Advisory Group while on Operation Herrick 18 serving under 1 Mechanized Brigade during the 6 month deployment.
The Rifles, who have the freedom of the city, left the Cathedral close at 11.20am and marched down the High Street, Silver Street, Minster Street and into Blue Boar Row, before the battalion formed up on the Market Square, ten minutes later. There, local soldiers were presented with medals.
The first parade was in quick time, on the second parade the soldiers marched in double time and headed past the Guildhall into Brown Street, Milford Street, New Canal and back into the High Street before finishing at the Cathedral Close.
On their return to barracks, they received a visit from its Royal Colonel, The Duchess of Cornwall, and for family parties.
Our photograph shows the soldiers forming up for the parade in front of the museum.
6th Dec 2013
The museum is currently closed to the public until 4th February 2014, but we are currently very busy re-constructing some areas of the museum displays. Included will be a new exhibition related to the First World War, to coincide with the 100th Anniversary of the start of the war. This will be called ‘1914 – The Country Goes to War’ and will cover a soldiers life from a civilian through to conscripts and serving on to the front line. It will include some of the many artefacts that we have in our reserve collection that are not on display and related to 1914. Also photographs from that year and documents, including the original telegraphs sent to the various battalions telling them to ‘MOBILZE’.
The First World War permanent displays are also getting a makeover. We are including an exhibition about the machine gun using a Lewis, Vickers and Maxim gun that have also been in the reserve collection. We will also have a new display case called ‘A Close Shave’ and will be made up of objects that have been involved with saving a soldiers life, such as a cigarette tin with a bullet hole through it.
Also included in our new plans, will be an updated exhibition about the Rifles Regiment involvement in Afghanistan a new display case exhibiting artefacts related to The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment involvement in Northern Ireland and a new Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment display case.
The 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.
The photograph on the left is of the 1st Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment 'going over the top' at Thiepval in 1916.
6th Dec 2013
Our ‘Object of the month’ for December is a postcard sent from Ruhleben Prisoner of War Camp in Germany, especially created to send Best Wishes for Christmas 1916; it was sent by Frederick George Ellen, who was a cousin of Sergeant Frank Taylor of 2nd/4th Bn, Wiltshire Regiment. This card was sent to a Miss Taylor of Eastbourne House, Devizes in Wiltshire, so there is a good chance that the sender was a soldier in one of the Battalions of the Wiltshire Regiment which served on the Western Front in France or Belgium.
29th Oct 2013
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 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 formerly 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.
Unfortunately we have no enlistment details for him, so he must have been transferred to the Wiltshire Regiment from either the Wiltshire Militia or the Territorials. What is fairly certain though is that he painted the eggs while serving with the 1st Battalion at Pietermaritzburg in South Africa between 1909 and 1913.
He was with the 1st Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment in England on the outbreak of the First World War and arrived at Rouen in France with his Battalion on 14th August 1914, in the rank of Lance Corporal. He was wounded in action on 30th June 1915 when the enemy shelled the Menen Road at Hooge, Belguim and broke into the trenches. He was then promoted to Sergeant on 1st October 1916 while serving at Thiepval, France. He was wounded again in June 1917 at Wulverghem, Belgium with gunshot wounds to the left arm and left leg. Now a Sergeant he rejoined the Battalion later that month.
On 16th August 1917 he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal ‘for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when held up by machine gun fire. He then, with a party of soldiers, captured the machine gun emplacement, bayoneting and grenading the occupiers of the gun emplacement, thus enabling the advance to continue’.
On 24th March 1918 he was reported as missing in action and presumed Killed in Action or a Prisoner of War. Nothing more is recorded until he arrived in Hull, England on 6th January 1919.
He was discharged on 6th April 1919.
For his war service he was also awarded the 1914 Star medal, together with the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
17th Sep 2013
The object for this month of September is a helmet with a bullet hole in it which was used by a Wiltshire Regiment soldier during the First World War which has a special story attached to it.
It was worn by Lance Corporal Thomas Uzzell of the 5th Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment who is believed to have been part of a reinforcement draft from the 2nd/4th Battalion who were stationed in Poona in India during most of the 1st World War when he was transferred to the 5th Battalion in 1915. He was involved in the siege of Kut, Mesopotamia and was wounded at Gallipoli by a bullet that penetrated the helmet and took out his right eye and came out through his right cheek. He was left for dead but on regaining consciousness managed to reach safety and treatment and lived to the age of 93!
The titanic struggles on the Western front now so dominate the popular view of the First World War that the fact that, as its name suggests, it was a global conflict is often forgotten. Men of the 5th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment served elsewhere; at Gallipoli, in Mesopotamia and on the North -West Frontier of India and Persia, a series of gruelling campaigns in tough environments that cost more than 600 hundred of its soldiers their lives either in battle or from disease. Yet in Wiltshire the unit, raised from volunteers who rushed to join the colours amid the patriotic fervour of 1914, became ‘The Forgotten Battalion’.
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.
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.
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.
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.