Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Regimental Museums in Winchester - with Steve M

Rifleman Harris
Editor's Note - I am really keen that JJ's Wargames should have lots of interesting historical and military related posts that inform our hobby. This past year I have had several posts from my old pal "Mr Steve" who has covered some excellent book reviews and trips to various events and places that have added greatly to the variety and content on the blog. 

It thus gives me great pleasure to introduce the first post from another good friend, "Steve M" who has contributed regularly to the blog behind the scenes so to speak with his participation in many of the games featured here and he brings his interest and insights in different aspects and periods within the hobby that will add yet more interesting content to JJ's.

What follows is Steve's report on several Regimental Museums visited interspersed with pictures from the trip. 

Winchester Regimental Museums – Part 1

Having being advised by JJ that I missed the opportunity to become a ‘roving reporter’ when not taking any pictures on a visit to ‘The Rifles (Berkshire & Wiltshire) Museum’ in Salisbury earlier in the year; I hoped to redeem myself on a recent trip to Winchester in Hampshire, where I visited five military museums in a day!

The Wardrobe - Home of the Infantry Regiments of Berkshire & Wiltshire

I only took pictures in three, for various reasons. One didn’t allow it, which was strange considering all the others did, and the other was quite small, of less interest to me, and I was running out of space on my memory card!!

Private 60th Royal American Regiment c1758
I have a keen interest in military history, as most wargamers probably do, but I've always had a particular interest in the individual Regiments of the British army; their history, traditions, battle honours (a whole history in itself! – see ‘Battle Honours of the British and Commonwealth Armies’-
Anthony Baker, 1986), nicknames and amalgamations.

If you’re interested in that kind of thing, I would recommended ‘A companion to the British Army 1660-1983’, David Ascoli, 1983. Clearly a bit out of date now, but good to have as a reference if you
want to know the process of amalgamation for your local, or favourite Regiment and their ‘precedence’ when on parade. Now is not the time to do a full review, but as the author points out,
‘this is neither a history of the British Army, nor a chronicle of battles and campaigns’ (p11). As an
aside, if anyone knows of a good book which guides you through the amalgamations from 1983 onwards, I’d be interested.

General Wolfe's original sash from Quebec
Back to my visit, how did I end up in Winchester? I’d found a really useful website when searching
for local Regimental Museums,

and as mentioned had tied in a visit to the museum to Salisbury following a trip to the Chalke Valley history festival. The website enables you to search by geographic area, so pulling up the South West; I found that there were five military museums in Winchester. So following a planned weekend in Essex with my sister, I set off to Winchester for a stopover on the way back to Devon, and I wasn’t disappointed!

Jacket of Lt. Colonel Hunt 52nd Light Infantry - Peninsular War
There are five museums located in Peninsula Barracks, Romsey Rd. ‘Horsepower’ The Museum of the Kings Royal Hussars; The Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum; The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum; The Gurkha Museum and The Museum of the Adjutant General’s Corps. Of the five, four are in a stone’s throw of each other (that’s ‘very close’ to any overseas readers!), the Hussar’s and the Gurkhas being accessed through the same main door! The Hampshire’s is a short walk. There were steps on the route I took, but I think there’s an alternative.

Light Infantry Officers Pattern Sword.
Lt. Dawson 52nd Light Infantry, died
of his wounds at Waterloo
Cost wise, the Adjutant General’s is free, being housed in the on-site cafe. This is not unrealistic,
considering the size of the museum (‘museum’ being rather a grand description!). The Hampshire’s
is also free, but there is a drum for donations, and I duly obliged. The Green Jackets and Gurkhas are
£4 each, but if you ‘gift aid’ in the Green Jackets you get 12 months free return visits. The entry into
the Hussars cost £2.

On the day, I arrived around 10.30. Parking is limited, but free, I got a visitors pass from the Green
Jackets museum. The barracks is close to the town centre, so if you have to park further away it’s not
too far. I went round in the following order; Green Jackets, a good hour if not hour and a half; coffee
and cake in the cafe followed by the Adjutant General’s Corps, 15-20 minutes. A 5 minute walk to the Hampshire’s, about 30-40 minutes in there, back to the Hussars, about 30 minutes in there, across to the Gurkha’s, around 40 minutes in there. I finished around 3.30, but timings are very approximate,
as I wasn’t keeping a close eye. It would certainly be easier to spend longer in most of them.

Officers jacket, 5th Battalion, 60th Regiment (Rifles)
What follows is a quick summary of each of my visits, with photos, which are clearly not up to
standard of JJ! I was using a Sony ‘Cyber-shot’, which only has six mega pixels! However, what it does have is the ability to adjust settings to a far greater degree than my phone camera. On the camera most looked ok after some experimentation, but some were disappointing when transferred to the laptop!

The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum

‘Tracing the history of the 43rd & 52nd, The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry; the 60th Rifles, The Kings Royal rifle Corps and the 95th Rifles, The Rifle Brigade, who, in 1966 merged to form The Royal Green Jackets, which in 2007 became part of today’s Regiment, ‘The Rifles’ (from the museum leaflet).

Original jacket of Lt. Walter Clarke, 2nd Battalion, 95th Rifles c1814
There’s a great ‘Regimental family tree’ at the entrance, which is vaguely apparent in one of the
pictures, unfortunately my ‘close up’ was unusable!

But I did find one here

Outside the front of the museum is a statue of Field Marshal John Colborne, 1st Baron Seaton.
Commander of the 52nd Light Infantry at Waterloo, credited with a deceive contribution to the
defeat of the Old Guard (or winning the battle, depending on your view!)

This was the best visit for me, tracing the history of the Regiments from the French & Indian Wars,
when the 60th was raised, through Waterloo, the Indian Mutiny, the Boer War, WW1, WW2 up to
the present day, where there is a small part of the museum dedicated to ‘The Rifles’. Currently (until
11th September) there is also a special exhibition comparing Waterloo with the first day of the Somme; weapons, rations, medical facilities etc.

The 'Nock' gun made famous in the Sharpe TV series
There’s an opportunity to handle replicas of the Baker rifle and the Brown Bess musket, the Baker in
particular is a bit of a weight!

The model dedicated to ‘Rifleman Harris’ is quite impressive (see the header to this post - Ed)

Clip from the Sharpe TV series with left Captain "Sweet" William Fredrickson, 60th Rifles played by Philip Whitchurch,
Richard Sharpe played of course by Sean Bean and Sergeant Patrick Harper seen here with his 'Nock' played by
Daragh O'Malley
Of particular note is the Waterloo diorama of over 21,000 model figures, with commentary, sound
and light effects. There is a picture on the museum website (mine failed!)

There are some other very nice dioramas, including the storming of the Kashmir gate, Dehli, 1857
during the Indian mutiny, and the taking of Pegasus Bridge during the D Day landings. Unfortunately
neither of my pictures came out very well!

Snipe 1 - 1942
What is very good at both the ‘Snipe’ and Pegasus Bridge display’s, are extracts of recorded interviews with the participants, including Major John Howard who led the attack on the bridge. One of my favourites was an extract from a Lt Smith at the bridge, who describes how a German threw a stick grenade at him. "When it went off ‘I had holes in my uniform, but not my body, so I shot him!"

I hope the pictures give you a flavour of the visit, but I don’t feel they do justice to what, in my
opinion, is a very good Regimental Museum.

This is a really useful link for tracing back the formation and history of the Royal Green Jackets and its founding Regiments.

An excellent reference for the complete story of the Rifles is ‘The Rifles chronology 1865-2013’
compiled by Col Ted Shields MBE

It was then time for ‘coffee & cake’, with only a short walk to the ‘Cafe Peninsula’ and the
‘Guardroom Museum’, which houses the Museum of the Adjutant General’s Corps (AGC).

‘From the Army’s Pay Department to the Women’s Royal Army Corps and the current Corps’ role
supporting the British Army of today, the Guardroom Museum provides a fascinating insight into the
Army’s administrative services’ (taken from ‘Winchester’s Military Museums’ leaflet).

A nice little museum (so small it doesn’t have its own website, the Corps was only formed in 1992),
without being of major interest to me in particular. I saved the space of my memory card in here, so
no pictures, but I did find an interesting little snippet about the Women’s Royal Army Corps Band,
formed in 1949. For forty-five years, until 1994, they were the first and only all female band in the British Army. Well I found it interesting!

More information on the AGC can be found here;

Next up, unless this is my first & last entry as a roving reporter??! The Royal Hampshire’s, the Royal
Hussars and the Gurkhas.

Steve M


  1. I'm not too far from Winchester, so I will have to make a trip out there one day to see these

  2. Not as detailed as you need, I think, but a good overview, including 'Options for Change' is 'Britain's Army in the 20th Century by Field Marshall Lord Carver.
    Hope that is of some help.

    Apropos that first picture, wasn't that figure at the National Army Museum in Chelsea. There was a series of them as you walked through?

  3. Nice Steve. I like individual regimental museums, as they are much more "up close & personal" than larger generic "war" affairs. You see much more every day kit of the individual soldier and I never cease to be amazed at how bulky and workman like most of it appears today. Certainly the no frills side of warfare, unlike the officer focused kit that fills many museums. The uniforms give some of the best contrasts, but every piece of kit emphasises the advantages that money gave at every turn.

    It is good to see that these places still exist, although I get the impression that most are run on a shoe string.


  4. Forty minutes drive from Winchester. New about the Rifles museum but not the others.

  5. Thanks Steve. Enjoyed reading it! Looking forward to future posts.

  6. Thanks for the positive comments guys :) Definitely worth it for those that live close. Thanks Nobby, I'll have a look for that. Not been to the NAM for a while, but didn't get the impression it had come from there, others may be able to comment? Vince, yep, think most are staffed by volunteers, with not a lot of spare cash.
    Cheers, Steve

  7. I live in Winchester...really should go and revisit the military museums again as they are pretty good!