3rd Dec 2015
The Museum website has now had it's annual update with almost 2,000 more images! These relate to the collection and include photgraphs, weapons, documents and uniform. In addition, almost a further existing 900 images and/or records have been enhanced.
30th Nov 2015
The Museum is now closed for the winter until Tuesday 2nd February 2016. During this time the museum displays get their annual conservation clean. We will also be working on our new Temporary Exhibition which will focus on the Battle of the Somme, which took place between July and November 1916 - 100 years ago.
1st Nov 2015
In November 1917 - 98 years ago the 1st Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment made a fighting stand at Bourlon Wood. In the spring the Germans had retired to the newly constructed Hindenburg Line methodically destroying everything as they went. The Hindenburg Line consisted of a heavily wired continuous line of entrenchments, which comprised all the high ground west of Cambrai. After pushing back the enemy to this line, nothing had been done until 20th November, when the British opened a surprise attack supported by a large number of tanks that swept through the wire of the Hindenburg Line as far as Bourlon Wood. From this position on high ground, one had excellent observation of Cambrai. In consequence, attack and counter attack followed one another for a week, the village changing hands daily. The casualties on both sides had been heavy.
The Battalion had started the year in a rear area keeping the roads free of snow where they remained until early February. On the 4th Feb 1917 a small fighting patrol launched an attack at Courcelette and achieved the odd result of taking prisoner exactly the same numbers of German officers and of men that the patrol itself consisted of. Further attacks were made at Miraumont on the 15th February and Oppy Wood on the 29th April where Lance Corporal J Welch won a Victoria Cross. By the 1st May there was only enough men left to form two companies of 4 officers and 100 Other ranks each which was merged with the 23rd Royal Fusiliers to form a composite battalion. At the end of a second action at Oppy on the 3rd May the battalion was down to 2 officers, both wounded and 94 other ranks. They were restored to a complement of 38 officers and 694 Other ranks by the end of August. They were back in action for the Battle of Cambrai near Bourlon between the 26th and 30th November 1917 as part of 99th Brigade. The 2nd Division withstood the assault by two German Divisions with very little assistance from other units of the Division. After this it was back to the rear areas and then to the rest of the winter in the trenches.
On 5th November 1854, George Walters won his Victoria Cross.
George Walters was born in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire in 1829 and enlisted into the 49th Regiment in 1848. Promoted Corporal in 1854 and Sergeant in 1855, most of his service was in the Mediterranean.
He served with his regiment during the Crimean War and, as a result of his bravery on 5 November 1854, was recommended for the Victoria Cross. The citation reads:
‘Sergeant George Walters highly distinguished himself at the Battle on Inkerman in having rescued Brigadier-General Adams, C.B., when surrounded by Russians, one of whom he bayoneted.’
George Walter paid 15 shillings for his discharge in November, 1856. Having only served 7 years he was not entitled to a pension. George was one of the 62 men to receive the medal on the first distribution in 1857. At that time he was constable in the Metropolitan Police. He died in poverty in 1872 and was buried in a pauper’s grave at the City of Westminster Cemetery, Finchley.
Our photograph shows George, wearing his Police uniform, recieving his VC from Queen Victoria.
14th Oct 2015
13th October, 1812 – two hundred and three years ago, The Battle of Queenstown Heights took place during the American War of Independence. The American General Van Renselaar had assembled a force of 6,000men and on 13 October 1812 the invasion of Canada began. Crossing in boats at early dawn the Americans succeeded in gaining a foothold on Queenstown Heights, which was defended by 300 men of the 49th (Hertfordshire) Regiment (later 1st Royal Berkshire Regiment) and York Militia with a few heavy guns. General Sir Isaac Brock was at Fort George when he heard the sound of firing and galloped to Queenstown. He ordered reinforcements from Fort George but, without waiting for their arrival, placed himself at the head of the Light Company of the 49th and advanced to the attack. After one attack had been beaten off he led the second advance and again the Americans opened fire, and Brock conspicuous by his height and uniform, was struck in the right breast by a bullet and fell mortally wounded. He survived but a few minutes. Almost his last words were 'Push on the York Volunteers' alluding to a force of corps now arriving on the scene.
On 26th October 1854 Lieutenant John Con(n)olly VC (30 May 1829 – 23 December 1888) won his Victoria Cross. Born in Celbridge, County Dublin in 1829, John Augustus Conolly served as Lieutenant with the 49th Regiment during the Crimean War. He was awarded the Victoria Cross as a result of his gallant behaviour on 26 October 1854 at Sebastopol. An attack by the Russians was repulsed and the enemy fell back pursued by men of the 49th Regiment, led by Lieutenant Conolly, whose gallant behaviour was most conspicuous in this action. He was 25 years old. He ultimately fell, dangerously wounded, while in personal encounter with several Russians, in defence of his post. He felled one Russian with his telescope. For his great gallantry John Conolly was promoted into the Coldstream Guards and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He died in the Magistrates house Curragh Camp, Co Kildare, 23 December 1888 and is buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery. By his wife Ida Charlotte, daughter of Edwyn Burnaby, he had several children. His medal is at The Coldstream Guards Museum.
On 30th October 1854, James Owens VC (1827 – 20 August 1901) won his Victoria Cross. He was born in Killaine Baillieboro, County Cavan, and was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross. He enlisted into the 49th Regiment in Glasgow in 25 December 1848. He was 27 years old, and a corporal in the 49th Regiment of Foot, later The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's), British Army during the Crimean War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC on 30 October 1854 at Sebastopol, in the Crimean Peninsula. At the time he was part of an outpost which was attacked by a larger Russian force. The outpost defended gallantly and helped to give the main defence time to organise. He was later promoted to Sergeant. After 21 years’ service he obtained his discharge in 1870, to become a Tower Warden at the Tower of London until 1878. He later achieved the rank of Sergeant. He died in Romford, Essex, on 20th August 1901 and is buried at Brentwood, Middlesex.
On 1st October 1915 Second Lieutenant Turner VC died (22 May 1893 – 1 October 1915) on 1st October 1915. He was 22 years old, and a second lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's), British Army, attached to 1st Battalion during the First World War when the deed for which he was awarded the VC. On 28 September 1915 at Fosse 8, near Vermelles, France, when the regimental bombers could make no headway, Second Lieutenant Turner volunteered to lead a new bombing attack. He made his way down the communication trench practically alone, throwing bombs incessantly with such dash and determination that he drove off the Germans about 150 yards without a check. His action enabled the reserves to advance with very little loss and subsequently covered the flank of his regiment in its retirement, thus probably averting the loss of some hundreds of men. He was shot in the abdomen at close range during the action Second Lieutenant Turner died three days later of the wounds received in this action. He was reported to have died at No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station, Chocques on 1 October and he was buried at the Military Cemetery Chocques. His brother was Lieutenant Colonel Victor Buller Turner VC was also awarded the Victoria Cross during World War II. He also had a family connection with General Sir Redvers Buller VC.
Our image shows a pastel drawing of General Sir Isaac Brock
8th Sep 2015
On the 2nd August 1900, William House (pictured) of the Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's Own)won his VC.
The 15th August 1945 was the 70th Anniversary of VJ (Victory in Japan)Day.
173 years ago in August 1842 the 99th Regiment were shipwrecked.
8th Sep 2015
In September 1777 – 238 years ago, the 49th Regiment attack American Forces at Paoli.
September 2015 is also the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Loos. Lt Turner (pictured) won his Victoria Cross on 28th September 1915 at Fosse 8 during the Battle of Loos.
30th Jun 2015
In 1999 - 16 years ago The Royal Rifle Volunteers were formed.
During the Opium Wars the 49th of Foot departed from India in April and arrived on 4 July 1840 in Chusan, China. The ships arrived at Tinghai Harbour for a few days, and then sometime later the 49th were sent to Harbour Point. 1845 (July) is the 175th Anniversary of the 49th earning the right to the China Dragon as their badge for their part in the wars
1815 saw the 2nd Battalion of 62nd Regiment of Foot move from Ireland to join the Duke of Wellington in July (after the Battle of Waterloo) and ended up in Paris.
4th Jun 2015
56 years ago in June 1959, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment were formed.
This year also sees the 75th (1940) anniversary of Dunkirk in World War 2 and both the Royal Berkshire (1st Bn) and Wiltshire Regiments (2nd Bn) were involved in this. We have accounts from a Mr Cainey who was interviewed by volunteer Martyn MacIntyre and are between 26 May–4 June 1940.
The photograph, from our collection is of the Amalgamation Parade of the Royal Berkshire Regiment and the Wiltshire Regiment which resulted in the formation of the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment at Albany Barracks, Isle of Wight.
11th May 2015
During World War 2, in 1945, 76 years ago this month, the 1st Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment were relieved after heavy fighting during the Battle of Kohima, Burma. Also during this month in 1945, the 4th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment set fire and burnt Belsen Concentration Camp. This was done to prevent the spread of diseases and infections. In 1940, the Dunkirk evacuation took place mainly during May. This year is also the 70th Anniversary since the end of WW2, 8th May. 1945.
This year is also the 150th anniversary of the 62nd receiving new Colours on 18 May 1865 in Aldershot and on 19th May the old Colours were laid up in All Saints Church, Aldershot.
1st Apr 2015
On 29th April 1917, James Welch won his VC. He was born in Stratfield Saye, Berkshire, in 1889, and enlisted into the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1908. During the Battle of Arras in 1917 he was awarded the Victoria Cross. His gallantry is described in the citation:
‘For the most conspicuous bravery. On entering the enemy trench he killed one man after a severe hand-to-hand struggle. Armed only with an empty revolver, Lance-Corporal Welch then chased four of the enemy across the open, and captured them single-handed. He handled his machine gun with the utmost fearlessness, and more than once went into the open fully exposed to heavy fire at short range to search for and collected ammunition and spare parts, in order to keep his guns in action, which he succeeded in doing for over five hours, till wounded by a shell. He showed throughout the utmost valour and initiative.’
Subsequently, he was promoted to Sergeant. However, he was later discharged as unfit in 1919. James Welch died in Bournemouth in 1978, aged 88.
Second Battle of Ypres. The Second Battle of Ypres was fought from 22th April until 25th May 1915 for control of the strategic Flemish town of Ypres in western Belgium, following the First Battle of Ypres the previous autumn. It marked the first mass use by Germany of poison gas on the Western Front.
100 years ago between 25th April 1915 and 9th January 1916 the Dardanelles (Gallipoli) Campaign took place. The Royal Navy's attempts to pass through the Dardanelles in order to disrupt Ottoman shipping were thwarted. The Allies decided to launch a land assault instead, but this also failed leading to the Ottoman victory. The 5th Battalion The Wiltshire Regiment took part in this campaign.