Museums


North Weald Airfield Museum

The North Weald Airfield Museum displays items that show the active service life of the airfield between 1916 and 1958 when the airbase closed. The museum is situated in what would have been the old station office for the airfield. It's been some years since I've been here so I thought it was well overdue a return visit. As usual, I went camera hand and took a load of photos, some of which are shown below.  Outside the entrance is a large memorial stone donated by Norway in recognition of the use of the airfield by the Royal Norwegian Air Force that was based here during World War II after the occupation of Norway by Germany.The Norwegen War Memorial outside the MuseumInside the museum, there are five main rooms dedicated to different periods of airfield history. The first room looks at the history of the airfield for WWI right through the interwar period. There's a heavy emphasis on the fight against the Zeppelin raids and the development of tactics to deal with this new weapon of war.WWI posters portra

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DAK's over Duxford - Build up to D-Day

Over the next two days, the Imperial War Museum Duxford is having a special air show called DAK's over Duxford. It gathers together dozens of Dakota aircraft that served in WWII, many in the D-Day invasion and later in Operation Market Garden. As members, we were able to have access to the site on Sunday to watch many of these aircraft arriving from across the world. Later in the week, they will be performing a mass flyover to Normandy, replicating the huge airborne armada that mirrored the seaborne landings below them. Unfortunately, I won't be in Normandy to see that, as I'm accompanying local D-Day Veterans to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire for a special anniversary service. As usual, I took a load of pictures of the aircraft but rather than bore you with yet another museum photo report here's just a handful of pictures from the day. This C-47 was built in 1943 and towed Waco Gliders on D-Day and later dropped Paratroopers during Market Garden.A C-47B Skytrain built 1943 which a

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Another historical weekend away

I've been away on yet another short weekend trip, this time down to 'Hells Corner' in sunny Kent. We had to dodge a few showers but on the whole, the weather was pretty good and we had a great weekend. We have been taking full advantage of our English Heritage membership, re-visiting sites we haven't been to in several years. The weekend started with a relatively short trip over to Rochester and from there we travelled on to Dover Castle and the coastline of the Cinque Ports. The 12th Century keep of Rochester CastleThe internal floors are missing, but the walkways through the walls are still accessible.The view from the top is stunning, especially when the sun is shining. This is the view across Rochester towards Chatham and the building in the foreground is Rochester Cathedral. Another view of the Castle, this time from outside the curtain wall. Then on Monday, we drove down to Dover for a WWII weekend inside arguably Britains most important castle. Dover castle had a special WWII themed

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Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum Winchester

The final day of my Museum Crawl Weekend and we visited Winchester. I had one specific target for this leg of the trip, the Waterloo Diorama in the Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum. This museum brings together the collections of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, the King's Royal Rifle Corps and the Rifle Brigade. These regiments went on to form the Green Jackets Brigade in 1958 and the Royal Green Jackets Regiment in 1966. Private, 60th (Royal American) Regiment c 1758This paiting depicting the 3rd Bn, 60th Rifles somewhere in Zululand in 1879Diorama of the Battle of Vimiero, 21st August 1808. It shows the 5th/60th, the 2nd/95th and the 1st/95th firing on the French. An Infantryman of the Greenjakets at the start of the 'Road to Waterloo exhibitionThe route of the Imperial Guard at Waterloo by Jason AskewThe capture of a French Battery by the 52nd Regiment at Waterloo by Ernest Crofts RAThe exhibition, entitled “With the Rifles t

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Bovington Tank Museum

Day three of the museum crawl and I visited the Tank Museum at Bovington. I have been here dozens of times but the thing that I love about this place is that it is always changing. Their collections is massive so they are constantly moving items around and are able to display new items and put on new special exhibitions regularly.My happy place...and on a gloriously sunny day too.King Tiger. I have seen this tank dozens of times and its size never fails to impress me. The French FT17 may have been small but it was probably one of the best tanks of WWIThe British Whippet Tank. This vehicle was commanded by Lt Cecil Sewell. His VC is on display in the entrance to the museum. On 29th August 1918 Lt Sewell saw one of the tanks in his troop fall into a schell crater and catch fire. He got out of his own tank and under fire ran to the stranded vehicle and helped dig out the door and free the crew before they burned to death. He then ran back to his own tank and gave first aid to his own gunner. While doin

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Boscombe Down Aviation Collection

After our morning at Stonehenge we took a drive down to Amesbury and then on to Sailsbury for a bit of shopping...but en-route we made a chance discovery and took a little diversion to see the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection. The original museum was created in 1999 but moved to its current site in 2012 and tells the history of Boscombe Down. Inside one of the hangers at the museum. There are several full aircraft and dozens of cockpit sections, many of which you can climb into (not me, too big!)Meteor Mk D16 - This complete aircraft was used to chase target drones.This Jaguar GR1 served in the RAF and the IAF before being used for explosives testing. It had now been largely restored.A Hawker Sea Harrier. This one has a side panel removed to show the complex wiring running through the wall of the plane.Auster AOP Mk 4/5. This aircraft was deployed in Normandy in 1944 and is being restored in its Overlord paint scheme. A replica BE2B. There is also an extensive model plane collection. This

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Stonehenge - A Neolithic wonderland

Day two of the Museum Crawl and we visited Stonehenge, a World Heritage site and the jewel in the crown of English Heritage. Once again we were taking advantage of a gift membership saving ourselves a considerable sum. We visited the site a few years ago and have wanted to come back ever since.I am fascinated by the developing archaeological work that has been taking place here for decades. Interpretation of the site has been constantly evolving as our understanding of the wider landscape has grown. There is still more to learn and discover; Stonehenge clearly hasn't given up all its secrets yet.We arrived early and had absolutely glorious weather for our visit.The Young Padawan looking suitably impressed!There is also a small museum and living history encampment by the visitor centre.A few years ago English Heritage moved their visitor centre away from the stone circle, in part restoring the Neolithic landscape and (in my humble opinion) improving the visitor experience. Arguments about whether to divert, or

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Museum Crawl Weekend - The REME Museum

Day one of my epic, four-day, birthday celebration Museum Crawl and we visited a place that has been on my bucket list for some time. The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Museum is located just outside the REME training establishment at MoD Lyneham, near Chippenham in Wiltshire. It is home to thousands of artefact that tell the story of REME but the thing that has attracted me here are the large armoured recovery vehicles and the weapons and uniform collections. Prior to REME's formation in 1942, maintenance and repair of equipment was the responsibility of the various arms of service. However, by the start of WWII, it was increasingly clear that existing repair systems were not adequate for the massive scale of equipment being deployed in every theatre. REME was formed around the existing Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) skilled personnel drawn from the Royal Engineers (RE) and the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC).Sherman Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle, or BARV for short. This ex

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A Birthday Treat - Churchill War Rooms

Yesterday was my birthday (let's just say it was a significant number and leave it at that) and my treat for the day was a chance to visit the Churchill War Rooms in Westminster. We have been talking about coming here for a long time but have never seemed to get around to it. We joined IWM as members earlier in the year and this gave us free entry to the War Rooms and meant when we arrived we were able to jump the quite considerable queue (I only felt slightly bad about that). Construction of the Cabinet War Rooms, located beneath the Treasury building in the Whitehall area of Westminster, began in 1938. Previously they had been used for storage and archiving but with conflict looking increasingly likely, this area was hastily converted into an operations centre. It was never actually meant to house the war cabinet but after Number 10 was damaged in an air raid meetings regularly took place here in the 'relative' safety of the underground complex. Contrary to popular belief the War Rooms are not bomb pro

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Back to Duxford

I've been to the Imperial War Museum Duxford lots of times over the years, either for Air Shows or just to look around the huge collection at this site. This year we decided to renew our annual family membership when we were here back in February. We didn't have a lot of time that day so we intended to come back again over the Easter school holidays and here we are. Annual membership is great value, especially if, like us, you plan on visiting some of IWM's other sites like the Churchill War Rooms and HMS Belfast. When we came here in February I didn't post any pictures (we were knee deep in the Painting Challenge at the time and I didn't have time) so let's start with a few photos from that trip when we spent most of our time in the 'Land Warfare' hall. Inside one half of the Land Warfare building. They seem to have changed some of the exhibits since I was last here.Monty's Command version of the M3A3 Grant Tank. The Hull Gun is a wooden mock-up to allow extra room inside for additional radio

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Quick visit to the Mucklebrough Collection

The Family and I went away last week as it was the school half term break. Thankfully it wasn't as cold as it could have been for the time of year and we managed to make the most of the trip, despite the fact that many of the museums I wanted to visit were closed for the winter! Fortunately, the Mucklebrough Museum was open and I was given a day pass by the wife to visit it while she and the youngling went to a nearby zoo.Concentrating while taking a selfie! I'm very happy in this picture...honest. Russian T34 & T55 tanks with a British A34 CometThe Artillery HallThe museum also has an excellent gallery of models and military diorams88mm FLAK37 German Anti-Aircraft gunCanadian 'Grissley' ShermanIf you are ever in the area this place is well worth a visit. Some of the exhibits are a little cramped but the collection is very impressive none-the-less. 

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Toy Soldiers at Colchester

Last week the wife and I went out for the day and after a bit of wandering we ended up at Colchester. We had a very nice afternoon wandering around town, browsing the shops and exploring the Castle Museum and next door at the Hollytrees Museum. The latter is set inside a Georgian Town House in the grounds of the parkland directly adjacent to the Castle Museum. Somehow we have missed this when we visited in the past but this time we decided to make the short diversion inside. The varied collection includes domestic artefacts from across the ages, a modest WWI collection and a small but interesting collection of Toy Soldiers. I was of course very interested in these although I have to say their position in a ground floor cabinet did make looking at them difficult. In the end I had to lay on the floor to get a better view (much to the horror of my wife). The undignified position did give me a much better view of the figures although my poor wife's embarrassment was greatly increased when other visitors had

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Bomber Command Museum, Nanton, Alberta

This summer we passed through Nanton, Alberta on our way to a family vacation in the mountains. I'd recalled that Nanton housed the museum of Canada's bomber command. My wife's uncle was a tail gunner in a Lancaster so we decided to stop in and see what the museum had.Outside there are the usual "planes on a post" but also a very moving tribute to the 10,000 Canadians killed in bomber command operations. We were able to find her uncle's name. The sheer number of names is quite staggering (both sides of the monument above).The museum inside was pretty interesting. The only exhibit picture I snapped was of this 1/72-scale model of a training base in nearby High River.From the museum, you enter the hanger, which is full of planes. Some you can climb into (Jessica is inside the front fuselage of a bomber created for a movie). I was a touch too big and stiff to get in there myself.The largest plane is a Lancaster (which still runs) set up with a dam buster bomb hanging below.There was also an ME-109. I was surpris

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