11th Nov 2014
Staff, volunteers and visitors at the museum gathered near the memorial garden to remember the fallen and for the two minutes silence today at 11am.
10th Nov 2014
Twenty-eight school children today visited the museum for a special Remembrance themed learning programme. The children, aged between eight and nine, were from St Osmunds School in Salisbury. They learned about the First World War by discussing and filling in forms using documents, walking around and learning about the museum's First World War displays and handling artefacts and uniforms. Our photo shows volunteer Sue Johnson talking to some of the children about the uniforms they are trying on.
3rd Oct 2014
We are pleased to announce that we have received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to commemorate World War 1 through workshops in primary schools in the counties of Berkshire and Wiltshire. Our aim, in partnership with CREW (www.crew.uk.net ),is to provide opportunities for school children to gain a broad understanding of some of the ways the War affected people in these counties. We are offering interactive, engaging workshops with props and costumes to bring this dramatic and significant period of British history to life.
This is a commemoration of the contributions made by the men and women of the counties of Berkshire and Wiltshire during the war years, and will maintain local memories for local communities for years to come.
The workshops will run in Berkshire 3rd – 7th November 2014 and in Wiltshire 10th – 14th November 2014.
If you are a primary school teacher and would like to know more about this scheme please contact Ros Senior firstname.lastname@example.org or 0845 260 4414.
30th Sep 2014
Dan McAleavy, a disabled young man recently submitted an application for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund so that a group of young Air Scouts could study the events that saw the 1st Battalion The Wiltshire Regiment mobilise on 4 August 1914. This was to cover their deployment from their Barracks in Tidworth on 13th August until their arrival in Mons and subsequent Retreat from Mons. Dan’s project is fairly ambitious and the whole project was to be filmed.
Having been successful in obtaining the grant, the Scouts major objective was to retrace the actual route that 1st Battalion, The Wilshire Regiment took from Mons to the action at Le Cateau, the scene of another Battle Honour for the Wiltshire Regiment. The Recce of the route and liaising for the Camp sites and other administration was undertaken in January 2014 and the re-enactment of the Retreat was carried out 100 years to the day that 1st Wiltshire’s undertook the retreat between 23rd and 27th August.
Dan will be giving a presentation, which will include the finished film footage, to The Chippenham Royal British Legion as part of his condition of gaining the grant and to gain the final pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to those events that happened 100 years ago, twenty of the Scouts and their leaders attended a presentation put together by volunteer Martin McIntyre and on hand to supervise the handling of the weapons was Peter Shorten.
The images show Mac in full flow oh the subject matter and the film crew at work.
19th Sep 2014
My name is David Thomas, a second year university student of history, and for the last three months I have had the privilege of working alongside the incredibly talented volunteer staff of The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum in my home town of Salisbury. Housing the regimental histories of the Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments, from the 18th century up until the modern day, volunteering at the Wardrobe has given me the great opportunity to research local history and learn new skills. I have had the good fortune to be working with an amazing team whose dedication to the preservation of local history is inspiring.
Over the past three months, the majority of my work has involved the researching and completion of paid customer archive enquiries to trace their ancestors and relatives. I have researched many members of our regiments throughout the time period covered, ranging from one soldier who served as a shipboard marine during the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 right up until the service of soldiers in the Second World War. The enquiries I have worked on have taken place around the world, from Canada and North America, to India and the Far East, from Afghanistan and South Africa, to Ireland and pretty much everywhere else in-between. The scale of what these men did for their country really became apparent to me whilst I read the details of their lives and service careers.
Working with the Archivist, Chris Bacon, I have learned the skills of museum archiving. The centenary of the First World War has seen a huge rise in demand for enquiries and we have been subsequently rushed off my feet on some days. The effort that some enquiries require (especially trying to decipher some of the handwriting!) is paid off a-hundred-fold by the absolutely fascinating and often enthralling personal tales that my job has allowed me to uncover. I like to think that, in some small way, I have helped reduce the pressure on Chris as he no longer had to complete all of these enquiries on his own. My role was not limited to enquiries however; I have also been working closely with staff to develop a social media channel in order to promote the museum, a role which I am very happy to be able to continue once I have returned to University.
As I look forward to the new academic year starting, I shall take from my volunteering role at The Wardrobe a great sense of pride and achievement. My researching skills have been vastly improved, my letter writing abilities also. I am familiar now with archiving processes and have participated in the digitisation of museum resources and documents. I have learned so much over this summer and have made many great friends that I will most certainly return in the holidays to help out.
14th Aug 2014
The Prime Minister has reflected on his own family's links to the First World War as he visited a cemetery where his great-great-uncle is commemorated.
Captain Frank Mount, a relative on David Cameron's mother's side of the family, was killed in action at the Battle of Loos as he fought as a member of the 5th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment on October 12, 1915.
His name was among 1,800 servicemen remembered at the cemetery, 1,100 of whom are unidentified, in a rural site outside Lille.
Captain Francis Mount is remembered with an inscription on the wall of the Dud Corner Cemetery and Loos Memorial in northern France.
4th Aug 2014
Claire Perry MP opened a new exhibition at the Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum on Friday 1st August. Entitled ‘A View of the Great War’, the exhibition shows the artwork created by children from two local schools, Avon Valley College, Durrington and Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury. Also in attendance were, the artist in residence for the month who worked with the school children, Henny Burnett, Manager/Curator Simon Cook and Pamela Glintenkamp, Project Manager from the National Portrait Gallery. The children who took part and created the artwork and their parents were among the invited guests.
The Museum took part in a project with the National Portrait Gallery and a company called Media 19 called National Memory Local Stories. The project was funded by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation Arts Programme and gave young people the opportunity to learn about World War One through their examination of some of the records kept in the archives of the Museum, and some of the objects and photographs in the Museum’s Collection. Other museums that took part were The National Museum of Scotland, The National Museum of Wales, The National Museum of Northern Ireland and The Redbridge Museum.
Museum staff and volunteers Michael Cornwell and Martyn McIntyre, and artist in residence for the month, Henny Burnett worked for two weeks with ten children from Avon College, Durrington and then two weeks with ten children from Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury. The results of the project can be seen on the National Portrait Gallery web site www.npg.org.uk/whatson/national-memory-local-stories/home.php
17th Jul 2014
National Memory Local Story Schools Project
The museum took part in a project with the National Portrait Gallery and a company called Media 19 called National Memory Local Story. The project was funded by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation Arts Programme and gave young people the opportunity to learn about World War One. Other museums that took part were 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 worked 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 had an artist in residence for tamonth, Henny Burnett. Artefacts, photos and archives from the museums’ collection were used and the children also learnt 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 explored 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 sought 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 aimed 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 this museum.
The collection of artworks have now been brought together for a new exhibition in the museum together with the artefacts that were used during the project.
Please enlarge the image for more details.
3rd Jun 2014
This month of June sees three important anniversaries – the day Sergeant Rogers of The 2nd Battalion The Wiltshire Regiment won his Victoria Cross, D-Day and the Battle of Kohima and all are all the more important as the events took place 70 years ago in June 1944 and on three fronts during the Second World War.
Maurice Albert Wyndham Rogers was born in Plaistow, London and joined the 1st Battalion Wiltshire Regiment in 1934, aged 14 and started his service as a Drummer Boy. In the years leading up to the war he proved to be a strong athlete and was a Corporal at the start of the 2nd World War, serving in France. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1941, and a Platoon Sergeant of the Carrier Platoon, 2nd Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment and was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry on 1st August 1943 in Sicily.
The 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment had sailed from Naples and landed at Anzio on 12th March 1944, reliving another battalion in the gullies North of La Gogna. Here they dug in and faced the German 4th Parachute Division. After a number of sharp actions they were relieved returning to a rest area that was in fact under constant German bombardment. At the beginning of April they took positions known as ‘The Fortress’ and took over the trenches that in some cases were only 30 yards apart and both sides could hear each other talking. They remained on ‘Stand to; all night and tried to snatch sleep during the day. This war of attrition continued until the break out from the beach head on the 23rd May. The battalion’s part in the break out was to carry out a pre-planned attack on Ardea. On the 3rd June they attacked, and it was during this battle that Sergeant Rogers’ carrier platoon attacked an entrenched German Parachute Division emplacement. His platoon was held up by barbed wire and intense machine gun fire. Advancing alone and only 70 yards from its objective, while the platoon took cover, Sergeant Rogers penetrated the wire, ran across a minefield and destroyed two of the seven enemy machine gun posts. Inspired by his example, the platoon began to assault the enemy position. Still well ahead of the platoon and whilst attempting to silence a third machine gun post he was blown off his feet and wounded in the leg by an exploding grenade. He continued towards the machine gun post and was shot and killed at point blank range. The Germans eventually withdrew and they continued the advance to Rome. In July the battalion sailed from Taranto for Palestine. They spent the rest of the year training near Nathanya, Damascus and Gaza. For his great gallantry and heroic self-sacrifice Sgt. Rogers was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, which was presented to his widow by King George VI. Sgt.Rogers was 24 years during the Battle of Anzio.
The Normandy landings, codenamed Operation Overlord, were the landing operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy. The landings commenced on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 (D-Day), beginning at 6:30 am British Summer Time. The 5th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment spent the early part of the year preparing for their role as a beach battalion in the forthcoming Normandy Landings (Operation Overlord). They were destined to Land on Juno Beach as part of the Canadian 3rd Division. They landed on the beach at Bernieres-Sur-Mer Although a beach battalion they were also a fully trained and equipped Infantry Battalion. After the Canadians landed and moved through it was left to the battalion to mop up German defenders in a number of pill boxes. Each of the defences was attacked in turn with grenades and bayonets. They also dealt with the aftermath in ensuring that wounded men were shipped out quickly and Prisoners of war were processed. Lieutenant Spackman won a Military Cross during this phase of the operation. After all opposition was removed the battalion carried out their primary role as a beach battalion and started work to ensure the supplies and reinforcements landed with the minimum of fuss. They also dealt with the aftermath in ensuring that wounded men were shipped out quickly and Prisoners of war were processed. As time progressed and the situation stabilized whole platoons were drafted away to other units that required reinforcements due to battlefield casualties. Many were sent the 4th and 5th Wiltshire Regiments in the 43rd Wessex Division. By the 26th August the battalion had been reduced to sixteen officers and 136 men. What remained later moved to Rouen. In December they were reinforced by 380 men of a low medical category, but were still designated as a ‘beach group’ unit. . When the Germans attacked through the Ardennes they were formed into a mobile column. In the early hours of Christmas morning they moved into Lille.
The Battle of Kohima
The Battle of Kohima took place from 5th April and ended on 22nd June. It was to prove the turning point of the war against Imperial Japanese forces in the Far East; a battle so fierce it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Stalingrad of the Far East’. The battle fell into two phases, a siege with the British and Commonwealth forces holding off the Japanese forces invading North India followed by a subsequent advance and clearance of the Japanese back across the border with Burma.
During the battle and on May 3rd, the 2nd Division, including men from The 1st Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment (the battalion had moved up to their positions on the Manipur road on 12th April) who were the first unit from the Division to relieve the Royal West Kent’s, launched their attack on Japanese positions surrounding Kohima. Japanese mortar fire proved especially effective in countering this attack, as did the series of inter-locking trenches that the Japanese had dug around Kohima. The hilly terrain was also taking its toll, as was the weather. Rain became a major problem affecting the use of transport and men fell ill with dysentery. Sleep was a luxury. Conditions were reminiscent of the trenches in the First World War where in some cases men were in hand to hand combat. On May 12th, Lee-Grant tanks were used to attack Japanese bunkers – much to the delight of the infantry who had been detailed to attack them. By 15.00 the tanks had completed their task and on May 13th, Japanese soldiers were seen to be leaving their trenches in other areas around Kohima. After five weeks hard fighting 2 officers and 56 men were killed, 15 officers and 239 men were wounded, with a further 60 falling sick. On May 31, Sato ordered his men to withdraw to Imphal. The last major Japanese unit moved back on June 6th/7th. Exhausted and riddled with disease, they were harried all the way by the Allies. Imphal was relieved on June 22, after over 80 days of siege. Early in July, his 15th Army pulled out, the survivors struggling down liquefied roads to cross the Chindwin on to the Burma plains. Only 20,000 of the 85,000 Japanese who had come to invade India were left standing. After a short rest and on 22nd June, the battalion returned to the fight in other areas. The British Commander, Field Marshal Slim now had a springboard for the re-conquest of Burma. The cost to the Allies had been 17,857 British and Indian troops killed, wounded and missing. The dead at Kohima have their own simple and moving monument which bears the epitaph: 'When you go home, tell them of us, and say: "For your tomorrow, we gave our today".' It “was one of the greatest battles of the Second World War, rivalling El Alamein and Stalingrad, though it still remains comparatively unknown.
The photo shows (from left to right) a painting of the Battle of Kohima, a photograph of the 5th Royal Berkshires landing at Bernieres-Sur-Mer and a photograph of Sergeant Rogers' wife Mrs Lena Foster besides her husbands grave in Italy.
2nd May 2014
The Museum Collection includes some impressive pieces of silver, including a magnificent centre piece bought by the officers of 1st Battalion The Wiltshire Regiment in 1876, and several medals that demonstrate the gallantry of the men of Wiltshire. All of these are on display to the public, including, for example, the medals of Sergeant Maurice Albert Windham Rogers VC MM. This is possible, in part, because the Salisbury Area Board contributed £1,290 towards the CCTV that provides part of the security system.
Maurice Rogers, joined the Wiltshire Regiment in 1934 aged 14, earned a Military Medal for gallantry in 1941 and in 1944 at the battle of Anzio earned a posthumous Victoria Cross.
The citation in the London Gazette of 8 August 1944, gave the following details;
"In Italy, a battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment was ordered to attack high ground held by the enemy. The carrier platoon of the leading company, dismounted was ordered to capture the final objective. They advanced under intense fire and sustained a number of casualties. The platoon, checked by the enemy's wire and the intensity of his machine-gun fire, took cover some 70 yards short of their objective. Sergeant Rogers continued to advance alone, and penetrated 30 yards inside the enemy's defences, drawing their fire and throwing them into confusion. Inspired by his example, the platoon began the assault. Sergeant Rogers was blown off his feet by a grenade, and wounded in the leg. Nothing daunted, he ran on towards an enemy machine-gun post, attempting to silence it. He was shot and killed at point blank range. This NCO's undaunted determination, fearless devotion to duty and superb courage carried his platoon on to their objective in a strongly defended position. The great gallantry and heroic self-sacrifice of Sergeant Rogers were in the highest tradition of the British Army".