24th Feb 2012
We have two new exhibitions for 2012, one of which is titled 'The War of 1812', which one of our antecedent regiments - the 49th of Foot took part and this year is the 200th anniversary. This war was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions due to Britain's ongoing war with France, the impressment of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy, British support of American Indian tribes against American expansion, outrage over insults to national honour after humiliations on the high seas and possible American desire to annex Canada. The exhibition includes comprehensive display panels, a touch screen kiosk which we have recently invested in, a mannequin dressed in a replica 49th Regiment of Foot uniform and paintings. The replica uniform has been made by members of NADFAS and some of the material used had to be improrted from Canada - the only place that supplies the material for this uniform. The Canadians have large reenactments of this war as it is celebrated yearly as a great victory. General Sir Issac Brock the British Commender of the 49th is regarded as a hero of this war and was killed during the Battle of Queenston Heights, in 1812.
The second exhibition has a sports theme. In this year of the London Olympics, we thought we would celebtrate the sporting acheivements of members of our current and past regiments. They include Ken Barrington, England Cricketer and Wiltshire Regiment soldier and Brigadier TH Wand-Tetely who was an olympic athlete and Wiltshire Regiment Officer. The exhibition includes lots of photographs some of which are sports events that took place over 100 years ago, trophies, a football that was used in an army England football match in 1908, informative text panels and medals. Today, sports is a major part of rehabilitation for injured soldiers.
Both exhibitions are running now and will end in November this year. We do not have a date for the official opening of the sports exhibition yet, but the War of 1812 exhibition will be officially opened on 23rd March.
The image on the left shows the War of 1812 exhibition, click on the image to enlarge.
1st Jan 2012
New to the Collection are some additional 2,000+ images which we hope our web site visitors will be able to take advantage of, especially if you are involved in Family History Research. Those responsible for the upgrade are Richard Long-Fox Martin McIntyre and Bob Hamblin, who have been collating the images from the Photograph Albums held within the Photographic Archives. Martin was able to identify inidividuals partly due to the captions within the albums and in some cases due to his extensive knowledge of the regimental history and the archives. This was followed by Bob who copied up each and every item.
Without Richard Long-Fox's technical know how much of Martin's hard work would not even reach the web site. From our viewpoint a great parternship working for your benefit.
We hope this new addition will bring some satisfaction. Martin has many other albums to work through and it is the Museum's intention to upgrade the Collection once a year to incorporate his work on your behalf.
5th Dec 2011
We have two new exhibitions planned for 2012, one of which will be 'The War of 1812'. The exhibition will include comprehensive display panels, a touch screen kiosk, a mannequin dressed in a 49th Regiment of Foot uniform - of that period, and paintings; all of which depict life during the war. It will run from 1st February 2012.
Please see poster on the left - click on image to enlarge.
11th Nov 2011
On the 11th hour, of the eleventh day and month 2011, museum staff and visitors paid their respects to those who have given their lives for their country by observing the two minutes silence in the museums' Memorial Garden.
Remembrance day services started after the catastrophic loss of those who were killed and wounded during the First World War. Both The Royal Berkshire and The Wiltshire Regiment had their full share of this. The Royal Berkshires raised thirteen battalions and the Wiltshires eleven battalions which served in France, Flanders, Italy, Salonica, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia and Palestine. The Regiments earned fifty five Battle Honours and sixty Battle Honours respectively. 2nd Lieutenant Turner and Lance Corporal Welch of the Royal Berkshires and Captain Hayward of the Wiltshires were awarded the Victoria Cross. The cost in deaths was heavy, The Royal Berkshires 6,688 men and the Wiltshires nearly 5,000.
During the Second World War both Regiments fought over an even wider front than in 1914-18. A total of eleven Royal Berkshire Battalions were eventually raised of which six (1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th 10th and 30th) saw service in France, North West Europe, Italy, Sicily and Burma while The Wiltshire Regiment raised six Battalions of which four (1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th) saw action in France, North West Europe, Italy, Sicily, the Middle east, Burma and Madagascar. Sergeant Rogers was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for his gallantry while serving with the 2nd Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment in Italy. Although the overall cost in lives did not approach that of the Great War, individual battalions at times suffered heavily. For example, The Berkshires lost 300 men at Kohima and both the 4th and 5th Battalions of The Wiltshire Regiment took heavy casualties during the ‘break out’ from the Normandy beaches and the advance into Germany.
Today, we remember also the many men and women who have been killed or maimed in Afghanistan. All battalions of the Rifles Regiments have seen active service there and since December 2008 the Regiment has lost fifty one soldiers and countless more have received horrific injuries.
The image on the left shows the 'Remembrance' display case in the museum. Click on it to enlarge.
28th Oct 2011
On Thursday 27th October the Museum received a visit from Graham Mckechnie of BBC Radio Berkshire together with the Mother of Rifleman Cyrus Thatcher from Reading who was killed in Afghanistan whilst serving with 2 RIFLES in 2009. The visit came about because Helena who has lived in Reading for many years had no idea of the Counties connection to Afghanistan via the actions of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment at Maiwand in 1880.She was aware of the Maiwand Lion located in the Forbury Gardens , Reading but was not aware of the significance. The death of her son Cyrus brought this all into focus realising that the area where he was killed was not far from Maiwand so she came to the Regimental museum with the BBC team to find out more about those events so long ago. The BBC reporter Graham is a sports reporter with Radio Berkshire with a very strong interest in Military history and had recently produced a radio article on another Royal Berkshire Regiment Soldier Lieutenant Ronald Palmer who was killed in 1915. On their arrival they were met by the Curator Simon COOK and given a brief run down on the history of the museum. Helena was then given a guided tour around the museum, followed by a more comprehensive examination of the Regimental archives and photographs as far as it relates to the Afghanistan Campaign in 1880. All of this was recorded by the BBC team and it is the intention of the BBC to play the visit and surrounding events on BBC Radio Berkshire on remembrance Sunday 2011. At the conclusion of the visit the curator presented Helena with a museum produced publication about the 66th Regiment at the battle of Maiwand by Richard Stacpoole-Ryding.
Photos by Jackie dryden. Click on image to enlarge
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).
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 http://www.openhandopenspace.blogspot.com/
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.
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.
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!
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.