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Operation Granby Commemorations

Most of us know the conflict that took place in Iraq and Kuwait against the forces of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain in the first years of the 1990s as The Gulf War, but the military name for these engagements (in which the 1st Battalion The Staffordshire Regiment played a great part) was Operation Granby. Operation Granby took place from September 1990 until March 1991, and over 50,000 troops were deployed to the region. The Operation took its name from the Marquis of Granby; a commander during an 18th century war - the Seven Years War.

Before deployment, the 1 Staffords, as the battalion was known, was training for Northern Ireland, but quickly refocused on the new Operation. When war became inevitable, the Adjutant of the Battalion was swamped with calls from Ex Staffords offering their services, in fact many just turned up at Regimental Headquarters.

The Battalion had undergone intensive training in Canada in the summer of 1990, so was known to be in good order and well trained. Warrior combat vehicles were prepared (painted for desert conditions) and training began in earnest. This training included desert navigation, first aid, nuclear biological and chemical warfare training and fitness and acclimatisation. In late October 1990 the Battalion flew to Saudi Arabia; “Relieved that the uncertainty was over, proud at having being chosen, confident in their abilities and determined to give a good account of themselves.” (The Gulf Knot).

Initially, soldiers had to deal with a severe lack of equipment – for instance there were 856 people, but only 250 camp beds. The first three months were spent taking part in gruelling training and the hot days, cold nights, sand that interfered with equipment and sandstorms that left everything full of grit posed their own problems.

On 20th January the Battalion moved to Kuwait – where its job was to break out of an established bridgehead and push on to destroy the enemy’s tactical reserve. On 24th to 28th February the battalion fought in the ferocious Operation Desert Sabre – The liberation of Kuwait.

It is 25 years since Operation Granby, and the Staffordshire Regimental Association is commemorating this date with a service of Commemoration in the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, a Regimental Dinner, an All-Ranks Lunch and a get-together in Lichfield, on 27th February.

On Sunday 28th February the Gulf War Memorial Trust will be unveiling an Operation Granby Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum. Members of the Regimental Association have been invited to attend.

Veterans have also expressed their gratitude for the extraordinary support shown to them by the people of Staffordshire and the Black Country, who wrote, sent parcels and welcomed them home. Veterans would be delighted to meet these supporters again at the memorial unveiling.

 

Museum delighted at return of medals

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum has been delighted to welcome back 25 medals that were stolen from its collections over 41 years ago. In 1974, as part of the Museum’s campaign to promote the history of the Staffordshire Regiment, 43 medals were lent to the Lichfield City Museum (now no longer in existence).

The selection loaned to the Lichfield City Museum covered all of the overseas campaigns where Staffordshire regiments were deployed, from The Peninsular War (1808-1814), the Indian Mutiny and the Boer War through to The Great War and the Afghanistan - North West Frontier campaign of 1919. Decorations included the Distinguished Service Order, Distinguished Conduct Medal, Military Medal and the British Empire Medal.

Sadly, despite the medals being displayed with all of the care and security that was possible over 40 years ago, the display cases were smashed by an unknown individual, and all 43 medals were stolen, never to be seen, so it was assumed, again. The theft was reported to the police in 1974 in the hope that someday some of the items might again see the light of day.

It was an unexpected surprise when the Museum’s research team spotted some of the medals available for purchase in the militaria market, and after working closely with the vendor and some of the new owners, the return of 25 medals was then negotiated.

This unexpected return is a true occasion for celebration, bringing the history of so many acts of heroism back to a Museum dedicated to celebrating and commemorating the fighting men of the Regiment. The museum continues to search for the remaining 18 medals stolen in 1974 – they are out there somewhere!

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum can be found at Whittington Barracks, Whittington, Lichfield, WS14 9PY. Tel: 01543 434394. Further details are available at www.staffordshireregimentmuseum.com and you can follow the museum on Facebook..

 

A Brilliantly Evocative WW1 Weekend

On Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st September, The Staffordshire Regiment Museum will be holding its annual WW1 Weekend, which this year also commemorates the outbreak of the Great War.

On each day, members of the Museum’s Education Team, in period uniform, will be conducting tours of the Museum’s fantastic WW1 trench system, giving a real taste of what life was like for soldiers during the Great War. Visitors can walk through the 500ft long trench, look over the Firing Step, explore an Officer’s Dug Out and venture into a tunnel. Watch out for snipers, explosions and cries of “Gas!” Whilst in the trenches, you’ll also be able to chat to both British Tommies and German soldiers, and experience the crack of rifle-fire up close.

In addition, the Museum is welcoming a host of re-enactors. Visitors can experience ‘Living History’ and see how soldier’s lived, worked and socialised. The Staffordshire Regiment Museum WW1 Weekend provides a thought-provoking and brilliantly evocative experience.

On both Saturday and Sunday, the event starts at 10am and concludes at 4pm. Entry fees are £6 for adults, £4 for children under 16, senior citizens and full-time students and £18 for a family ticket that admits two adults and up to three children.

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum can be found at Whittington Barracks, Whittington, Lichfield, WS14 9PY. Tel: 01543 434394. Further details are available at www.staffordshireregimentmuseum.com and you can follow the museum on Facebook..

 

Portrait of a Victorian Hero – Major General Thomas de Courcy Hamilton, VC

Recently, The Staffordshire Regiment Museum were delighted to welcome Mr Francis de Courcy Hamilton and his wife Catherine. Mr and Mrs de Courcy Hamilton had travelled from their home in Melrose, Scotland to present representatives of the Museum with a framed facsimile of a rather fantastic document.

Mr de Courcy Hamilton is the great-grandson of Thomas de Courcy Hamilton, V.C. who was born on 20th July 1825 at Stranraer in Scotland. Thomas joined the Army in 1842 when he purchased a commission (as was usual in the 19th century) and became an Ensign in the 90th Regiment of Foot. In 1846/47 he served in conflicts in South Africa and became a Lieutenant. In 1850 he became Adjutant of the 68th Regiment of Foot (the Durham Light Infantry) and served in the Crimean War where he fought in many of its most bloody battles. He was promoted to Captain during this war, and carried out the actions that won him the VC when on May 11th 1855 the Russians made a surprise night-time attack on the British lines outside Sevastopol, capturing some guns and leading the British in danger of being overrun. Thomas showed such gallantry and leadership in the smoke and confusion that he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

An account in the London Gazette of February 24th 1857 states that the commendation was given to...” Captain T. De Courcy Hamilton. For having, on the night of 11th May, 1855, during a most determined sortie, boldly charged the enemy, with a small force, from a battery of which they had obtained possession in great numbers, thereby saving the works from falling into the hands of the enemy. He was conspicuous on this occasion for his gallantry and daring conduct.”

Thomas went on to be promoted to the Major in 1857 and Lieutenant Colonel in 1868. In the same year he was appointed Commanding Officer of the 64th (2nd Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot. Thomas retired from the Army, as Honorary Major General, on 21st January 1874.

It was at this retirement ceremony that Thomas was presented with a hand-painted testimonial scroll, on behalf of all the Senior NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) of the Regiment at the time. These are individually named as the Sergeant Major (John Holmes), eight Staff Sergeants, ten Colour Sergeants and thirty Sergeants. It was a very unusual mark of esteem and respect for the Regiment’s retiring Commanding Officer.

A framed copy of the scroll was presented to Major Jim Massey (Retd), Director of the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, and will be kept in the Museum’s fascinating and extensive archives for future generations to see and enjoy.

Jim Massey commented: “The Museum is delighted to receive this presentation scroll. It is always a pleasure to add to our collections and increase our depth of knowledge of the history of the Staffordshire Regiment. Today’s descendants of the Regiment’s Senior NCOs in 1874 may be interested to see their forebears’ names listed on the scroll.”

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum can be found at Whittington Barracks, Whittington, Lichfield, WS14 9PY. More information is available at www.staffordshireregimentmuseum.com.

 

Swing Along to the WW2 Weekend at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum

On Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th July 2014 the Staffordshire Regiment Museum will be alive with the ‘swing’ of 1940s performers, the action of Lindy Hop dancers, the pleasure of vintage themed stalls and the excitement of battle re-enactments. 2014 is the 70th anniversary of one of the most iconic engagements of WW2 – Operation Market Garden (the subject of the film A Bridge Too Far) and the Museum is staging a 1940s extravaganza in commemoration.

The weekend is designed to be a mixture of interactive activities lead by fantastic re-enactors – many of whom are depicting the men of the heroic Airborne Division who were dropped into Holland in gliders in 1944, plus stalls, performances and activities that evoke the Home Front.

On the day visitors will be greeted at a WW2 ‘Guard Point’ and welcomed into the event by ‘Land Girls’. Why not wander through the Black Market Bazaar that’s selling all manner of lovely items, including 1940s fashions, homewares, crafts and jewellery? If you’re feeling peckish, try the NAAFI canteen tent that will take you back to the time of ‘make do and mend’ or there’s the hog roast and beer tent (if your ration book runs to it!)

Visitors can also listen to the much loved singer Bexi Owen who puts the glam into glamourpuss, and sing along with the ‘evacuee choir’ made up of local school children. Watch out for the ‘Spiv’ who might try to sell you silk stockings and you might even spot Mr Churchill in the crowd. There’s so much to see and do you’ll want to stay all day!

This weekend is designed to be a respectful but engaging and exciting look at this period of WW2 with re-enactments that are a great way to learn about the men of the Regiment’s heroic involvement in the campaigns of 1944.

The WW2 Weekend takes place at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, Whittington Barracks, Whittington, Lichfield, WS14 9PY on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th July 2014. The events starts at 10am and concludes at 4pm. Entry £6 for adults, £4 for children under 16 and all concession including senior-citizens and full-time students. Family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children £15). For more information go to www.staffordshireregimentmuseum.com or call 01543 434394.

 

Staffordshire Regiment Museum Bank Holiday Trench Tour

Walking in the Footsteps of Staffordshire Soldiers.

Soldiers in the trenches of WW1 France lived an outdoor existence. They ate, slept and fought out in the elements for days and nights on end in temperatures that could be so hot, or so cold you couldn’t touch the metal of your gun without leaving a layer of skin behind. The Staffordshire Regiment Museum is offering one of the most authentic ‘Trench Experiences’ in the UK, with tours of the Museum’s 500ft trench system taking place on Bank Holiday Monday 26th May.

This extraordinary trench system is open to the elements and gives visitors a real feeling of what it was like to live day by day in the trench. As you walk down the ramp into the trench, you’re greeted by the zip of sniper bullets, and the thundering of heavy artillery guns. Original signage points the way and the sharp-eyed will spot little rhymes and limericks drawn on wooden panelling all over the trench, just as soldiers would leave in 1914-18.

During the tours taking place from 11am on May 26th, visitors will learn all about a gas attack and see a trench First Aid Station complete with original artefacts donated by the Red Cross.

Uniformed re-enactors will guide visitors through each stage of the trench, taking you into the Dug Out where you will sit amongst bunk beds and photographs from home to watch a film presentation on trench life.

Always a favourite is the tunnel, used to undermine the enemy’s trenches, but watch out, this is a very dangerous place to be!

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum Trench Tours are designed to be an informative, exciting and interactive way to learn about the Great War that’s suitable for all ages. Included in the price of the Trench Tour, is an interactive session where adults and children will get the chance to try on period uniforms and hold weapons. Also on the day visitors will have access to the Museum’s collections and can finish off their tour with a cuppa and slice of cake in the ‘pop up cafe’.

Tickets are £3 for adults and £2 for children under 16, senior citizens and full-time students. Family ticket (2 adults and up to three children) £6. Tours start at 11am, 12 noon and 1pm. There is ample free parking on site. The trench and Museum are also fully accessible to wheelchair or disability-scooter users.

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum can be found at Whittington Barracks, Whittington, Lichfield, WS14 9PY. Tel: 01543 434394 www.staffordshireregimentmuseum.com

 

Local Author Tells Tales of Bravery

On Friday May 23rd at 11am The Staffordshire Regiment Museum will be hosting the launch of the new book ‘Honours and Awards, The Staffordshire Regiments, 1919 – 2007’ by Rugeley author Jeff Elson.

The book is the third in the series and a work of extraordinarily painstaking research that lists all of those Staffordshire Regiment men who have been awarded a commendation in the 88 years from 1919-2007. This book is the last in the series and completes a set of works that covers all Regimental commendations from 1914 until the end of The 1st Battalion Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's) in 2007.

Jeff is Head of Research at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum and alongside the team of research volunteers is responsible for new historical insights generated by the first hand documents held in the Museum’s archives, and for helping to guide the individuals who come to the team looking to research their own family.

Born in Lichfield, Jeff spent seven years in the army, joining The Staffordshire Regiment in 1971. He followed this with 14 year’s service in the Staffordshire Police Force.

Jeff commented: “I obtained details on the awards from local newspapers and by interviewing veterans and speaking to their families. I’ve been visiting the battlefields of WW1 and WW2 since 1986 and have been to many of the scenes where these acts of gallantry occurred. Researching these books I’ve met some remarkable individuals including Richard Gordon Rutter MM (known as ‘Dick’)  who was awarded his Military Medal for acts of gallantry in Normandy in 1944. Despite a head-wound, when his No. 2 on the Bren Gun was killed he assaulted a German position on his own. His actions saved the lives of the remaining men in his platoon.

“I wanted to add as much detail as possible by including awards for Gallantry and Long Service in both the Regular and Territorial Army plus Regimental, Home Guard and Army Cadet Force awards, in addition to awards given after leaving the army for civilian life.”

This impressive hard-backed book is priced at £39.95 and can be purchased from the Museum or direct from the publishers Token Publishing. Call 01404 46972 or go to www.tokenpublishing.com for further details.

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum can be found at, Whittington Barracks, Whittington, Lichfield, WS14 9PY. Tel: 01543 434394. Go to www.staffordshireregimentmuseum.com or Facebook: The Staffordshire Regiment Museum for further details.

The Museum is holding a series of fascinating WW2 and WW1 events in 2014 including a WW2 Weekend on 12th – 13th July and an Edwardian Fete and Fair on Sunday August 3rd. Contact the Museum for further details.

 

Trench Life comes to the Staffordshire Regiment Museum this Easter

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum will be holding a WW1 Trench Tour and Discovery Day on Easter Bank Holiday Monday April 21st. The last Trench Tour and Discovery Day was held in February and was a great success, with lots of families exploring the Museum’s remarkable 500ft trench system.

On the day, you’ll be greeted by a ‘WW1 Officer’ who’ll take you down into the trenches of France during 1916. The crackle of sniper-fire and the boom of big guns will accompany each visitor as they are guided past First-Aid Stations, into the Officer’s Dug Out and down into the darkness of the tunnel built to undermine the German trenches.

Parents and children will also get the chance to try on uniforms, as well as handle weapons and equipment from the time, plus explore the Museum and its fascinating collections of medals (including VC’s) weapons, uniforms, recordings of real WW1 soldiers talking about their experiences and much more.

Discovery Day tours start at 11am, 12 noon and 1pm. Adults £3, children and concessions including senior citizens £2.

WW1 Discovery Days take place on all bank holidays, every Monday during school half term holidays and every Monday during school summer holidays.

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum can be found at, Whittington Barracks, Whittington, Lichfield, WS14 9PY. Tel: 01543 434394. Go to www.staffordshireregimentmuseum.com or Facebook: The Staffordshire Regiment Museum for further details.

The Museum is holding a series of fascinating WW1 events in 2014 including an Edwardian Fete and Fair on Sunday August 3rd. Contact the Museum for further details.

 

Photographer: Terry Fidgeon

New Museum for Staffordshire Announced.

On Wednesday 26th March veterans, VIP’s, volunteers and schoolchildren gathered at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum to celebrate the official re-opening of the Museum’s WW1 ‘Coltman’ Trench.

Two years ago, a team of dedicated Museum volunteers decided to re-design and update the on-site trench system that has been a favourite with visitors for the last twelve years. Years of hard work, dedication and inspiration have now created a remarkable new 500ft trench system that truly evokes life for soldiers ‘at the Front’ in 1916.

As the visitor enters the trench, they are immersed in a professionally created soundscape, filling the air with the whizz and crack of sniper bullets and the rumble of big guns in the distance. ‘Duck boards’ cover the ground and sandbags line the walls. There is a First Aid station filled with original WW1 artefacts, and an Officer’s Dugout where visitors can sit surrounded by bunk-beds, family photographs and other personal items as they watch a video presentation on life in the trenches.

Original signage points the way to a tunnel that gives a feel of the conditions that the enormously brave and tenacious men of the North and South Staffordshire Regiment both tunnelled and fought in, as depicted in the recent BBC TV series ‘Peaky Blinders’.

Visitors exit via a bombed-out French village with crumbling walls and the forgotten detritus of a home peeking from the wreckage.

This extraordinary trench system is dedicated to the memory of William Coltman. William Harold Coltman, VC, DCM and Bar, MM and Bar was awarded many commendations including the Victoria Cross, the highest possible commendation for gallantry. He is the most highly decorated soldier of the First World War. William served as a stretcher bearer and showed extraordinary courage, saving many lives.

The Museum was also honoured to have present on the day 18 members of the Coltman family.

At the ceremony VIPs and students from King Edward VI School, Lichfield were given tours of the trench, before the ribbon was cut by Graham Stow, one of Staffordshire’s Deputy Lieutenants.

 

New Museum for Staffordshire Announced
Photographer: Terry Fidgeon

Brigadier Jim Tanner OBE, Chairman of the Trustees of the Staffordshire Regiment Museum commented: “The Museum is also delighted to announce its future plan. The intention is to entirely rebuild the Museum on the current site. But in an exciting new development this new museum will encompass the museums of the Staffordshire Regiment, the Staffordshire Yeomanry and the Mercian Regiment to create the Museum of the Soldiers of Staffordshire and Mercia. In addition, the Army Medical Services Museum will move their fantastic collection in alongside us to create the National Museum of Military Medicine. This partnership will be called Front Line.

“Detailed planning and work are now underway. The effort required is considerable, not least the raising of the estimated £11 million required, but we are hoping to complete the Front Line project sometime in 2018.”

The Museum is holding a series of fantastic events in 2014, including a Trench Tour and Discovery Day on Easter Bank Holiday Monday April 21st, and an Edwardian Fete and Fair on August 3rd. For details of these and their many other events go to www.staffordshireregimentmuseum.com or call 01543 434394.

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum can be found at Whittington Barracks, Whittington, Lichfield WS14 9PY. Opening times are Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm, and from Easter the Museum will be open on Saturday and Sunday 12.30pm – 4pm. Adults £3, children under 16, senior citizens and full-time students £2. Family ticket (two adults and up to 3 children) £6.

Update on 2013 so far

So far 2013 has proven to be one of our most challenging years to date with various obstacles we have had to overcome. But thankfully with the support of museum staff, the museum trustees, and the amazing team of Volunteers we have managed to turn 2013 into a year to celebrate- and its not even ended yet!

In January we had to submit our first return to the Arts Council in order to have our accreditation status reviewed. This is a regular application which all accredited museum have to go through in order to ensure that high standards are maintain across the United Kingdom for Collections Care and Visitor Experiences. We used the opportunity however to review all of our forward plans and museum objectives and now have a fantastic plan for the future which will ensure the Museum will be around for many more years to tell its important story. We can now, thankfully, let you all know that we have been successful in our application have retained our Full Accredited Museum Status.

 

Our second piece of excellent news was that our volunteers through all their hard work over many years have been awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. We are so immensely honoured to have received the award and really proud of all of our volunteers, past and present, who have helped the museum over the years. We wouldn't be where we are today without them.

The final piece of news which we wish to share with you is that starting in September our Trench system will be getting a fantastic new make over. This project is the brain child of several of our education volunteers in particular David Shergold and Philip Schofield who have been working on plans all year. It is expected that the trench will be out of action for a couple of months while the contractors are in. New features will include a larger dugout which will be available for use as an educational space during our school visits, new sound effects and some new interpretation boards. Please keep a look out for when the new trench is open and come and have a look.

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum-A Volunteer’s Visit to Buckingham Palace by Ken Hughes

It all came about for me when I had a phone call from the Curator one morning to say that the Museum had been invited to send four volunteers to the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and would I like to be one of the four? I thought about it for about a nanosecond and said that I’d be delighted! I was asked to pencil in three dates in my diary and wait!! The invitation from the Lord Chamberlin arrived in an envelope marked with the Royal Crest and postmarked Buckingham Palace for me to attend on Wednesday 22nd May 2013. I then told a few people about it and was really “chuffed” by all the good wishes I received.

Having had a preliminary get together to talk about our arrangements, the three of us (by now one of the four was not able to go), Ben, Derek and myself, travelled up to London by rail on the appointed day and having arrived at Euston station, we had lunch and then went by taxi driven by a very helpful, friendly and knowledgeable cabby who dropped us off at the Hyde Park Corner Gate , which had a shortish queue, giving us some twenty minutes to wait until we were allowed in at 3.00pm. There didn’t seem to be any preference given to those waiting in the queue with an assortment of Mayoral chains, traditional dress from a variety of countries, morning suits and uniforms being worn as well as in our lounge suits all waiting together.

Visit to Buckingham Palace

 

Having successfully passed through the security check, we were in the gardens. It was hard to believe we were in such a busy part of London as the sound of traffic was barely audible. The lawns, flower beds, trees, shrubs and lake were really lovely and as we ambled across the grounds we chatted with other guests, among which were three officers from the Mercian Regiment Army Cadet Force and sometime later, a couple of people from Staffordshire County Council. At 3.30pm it was time to sample the food and we joined one of the small queues to be handed a plate and then help ourselves to an assortment of sandwiches (including cucumber, of course), cakes and pastries, tea of coffee.

At 4.00pm the Guards Band struck the National Anthem and Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Party came down the steps out of the Palace and commenced the walk through the avenue of guests, preceded by courtiers in morning suits and a cameraman. It was prearranged that the Queen would be introduced to some guests and these were strategically positioned as she made her way to the marquee where the Royal party then had their own afternoon tea. The sky had been overcast up to this time and then suddenly at 4.20pm the sun came out and stayed!!

We tried some more sandwiches and cakes and then watched the Yeomen of the Guard parading and listened to the bands until it was time to watch the Royal Party (The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Earl of Wessex and The Duchess of Cambridge) return to the Palace. Having wandered around a bit more, chatting to different people, the time had sped on to almost 6.00pm and the party was over. The Queen had hosted some seven and a half thousand guests that day, apparently! We left by the main entrance but there was no attempt to hurry anyone off the premises. It was about twenty minutes before we piled into a taxi for Euston, although the queue was not too long and the taxi-sharing system well organised. The Mall was gridlocked and it took us almost half an hour to get to the railway station once we had left the front of the Palace, with no time to sink a pint of beer before we left for home by the speedy Virgin Pendolino train (109 miles to Tamworth in 65 minutes!).

Our day at Buckingham Palace was one to be remembered and I was very honoured to have been there. If you get chance to go anytime, just think about it like I did for about a nanosecond and say a big YES, PLEASE!

New Exhibition: The Battle of San Sebastian

As part of the celebrations in the lead up to the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015, we have installed a new exhibition which features around the contribution by the 38th Foot to the Battle of San Sebastian in 1813.

The Exhibition features various objects and images from the museums own collection and also some which have been kindly loaned to us from outside sources.

 

The star items of our display however is a collection of 6 buttons on short term loan, which have kindly been granted to us by the Spanish Government. These buttons were excavated from one of the graves of our soldiers during an archaeological dig in the burial ground of the old Covenant. You can still make out the numbers 3 and 8 which prove the belonged to a soldier of the 38th and you can also still se the tiny Stafford knot, which is still worn by our armed forces today.

If you would like to come and look at the exhibition, it will be on display until April 2014, however the buttons will only be on display as part of the exhibition until the 13th September.

Mercian Welfare Box appeal

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum has teamed up with Christopher Pincher MP for Tamworth on an appeal to send out welfare boxes to members of 3 and 4 Mercian during their next operational tour. We are collecting items now and will be sending out parcels during the end of 2013 and through the beginning months of 2014.

All donations are greatly received and our aim is to be able to collect enough so that we can ensure each soldier receives at least one box during their tour, which has been extended to 9 months rather than the usual 6. Please donate items if you can, all support from home is welcomed by the servicemen and women.

You can donate items here at the museum, to the office of Christopher Pincher in Tamworth or to the Offices of the Tamworth Herald in Ventura Park, Tamworth. Full details of the campaign can be found on the following website: www.tamworthsos.weebly.com

Mercian Welfare Box appeal

Please note that items such as chocolate or perishable items are not suitable due to the heat of Afghanistan, also please do not include any aerosol's.

We are not accepting cash or store vouchers, their are many groups accepting financial donations. If you want to donate money to this type of campaign charities like "Support Our Soldiers" will accept them.

We thank you for you support.

 

A list of suggest items is below:

Toiletries

  • Moisturiser
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Shower Gel
  • Roll on Deodorant
  • Razors
  • Shaving Gel
  • Talcum Powder
  • Foot Powder
  • Cotton Buds
  • Wet/Moist Wipes
  • Tissues
  • Lip Salve
  • Travel Wash
  • Sanitary Protection

Savoury Snacks

  • Pringles
  • Crisps
  • Nuts
  • Pork Scratchings
  • Beef Jerky
  • Savoury Rice
  • Noodles
  • Oatcakes
  • Crackers
  • Stock Cubes
  • Packet Soups
  • Small Tins of Meat

Sweet Snacks

  • Fruit/Cereal Bars
  • Fruit Flakes
  • Dried Fruit
  • Shortbread
  • Small Cakes
  • Biscuits
  • Small Tins Fruit
  • Packets Custard

Misc

  • Boot Laces
  • Blank Greetings
  • Cards
  • Message of Support

Confectionery

  • Travel sweets
  • Toffee
  • Fudge
  • Kendal Mint Cake
  • Energy Sweets
  • Love Hearts, etc
  • Fruit Pastilles, etc
  • Lollipops
  • Mints
  • Chewing Gum

Clothing

  • Socks/Undies
  • T Shirts
  • Underwear

Recreation

  • Paperback Books
  • Magazines (NOT TOP SHELF)
  • Puzzle Books
  • Crossword Books
  • Playing Cards
  • Travel Board Games
  • Jigsaws
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Notebooks
  • Artists Paints
  • Sketch Books

Pharmacy

  • Zinc Oxide tape
  • Imodium
  • Rennie
  • Paracetamol
  • Plasters
  • Ibuprofen
  • After sun/Aloe Vera
  • Insect Repellent
  • Sun Screen

Congratulations to our representatives across the Atlantic..

All Museum Staff and Volunteers would like to send a massive well done to all members of the North Staffordshire Regiment Living History Association, who have recently won two awards for their period re-enactments.

North Staffordshire Regiment Living History Association

 

They attended an event called Military Through the Ages or MTA as it is known, in Jamestown VA. Despite a difficult start the unit, in true Staffordshire Regiment spirit, pulled together and impressed the judges. They were awarded 1st place for uniforms and were given an honourable mention for field cooking.

The group are extremely strong supporters of the Museum and more importantly the Staffordshire Regiment, now 3 Mercian (Stafford’s). It is fantastic to see all their hard work on display as they help us to promote the history of this incredible County Regiment. We wish all the members good luck for future events and look forward to being able to welcome you all along to one of our Big Weekend soon.

Beanie hats for 3 Mercian (Stafford’s)

On Friday 22nd March we were joined by Christopher Pincher, Member of Parliament for Tamworth, Elford, Edingale & Little Aston and 74 hardy knitters who braved arctic conditions to take part in the handover of knitted beanie hats to the 3rd Mercian battalion (Stafford’s). The handover took place at the Museum and there were more than 15 boxes of hats handed over to some visiting soldiers from 3 and 2 Mercian.

Around 700 hats have been generously knitted and donated by individuals and groups from across the County for troops to wear under their Kevlar helmets during training and deployment to Afghanistan. The helmets can be very uncomfortable in high or low temperatures so a knitted beanie hat worn inside the helmet helps enormously.

Also on the day we were able to welcome, for the first time, the Regimental Mascot of the Mercian Regiment, LCpl Derby and LCpl Watchman V of the Staffordshire Regiment.

Beanie hats for 3 Mercian

Commenting, Christopher Pincher said:

“I want to thank all of the knitters who have put in so much of their time, effort and money to do their bit for 3 & 4 Mercian before they begin their tour in Afghanistan. We have received hats from all over the county – one even came from the US. It goes to show the profound respect and regard in which local people hold our brave soldiers. Thanks to the efforts of our tremendous knitters we managed to beat our target of 700 hats ensuring that each soldier on deployment to theatre will get a beanie.”

Presentation of New Mercian Colours- 6th June 2013

Mercian LogoThe Mercian Regiment is coming together on the 6th June to celebrate receiving its new Colours. It will be a unique event with representatives from all four Battalions being on Parade, as well as members from all the Regimental Associations. RHQ Mercian is keen to encourage that this event is open to all members of the Regimental Family and would like as many people as possible to attend to help them celebrate the occasion.

It will take place at Sixways Stadium, Worcester and will start at 10.30 am, although the grounds will be open from 9am.

 

Anyone wishing to attend, except parading troops and nominated administrative staff, will require a ticket (£2 each) in order to gain access to the ground and a souvenir programme on arrival.

Please note:

  • Serving soldiers and officers who are attending but are not parading still require a ticket.
  • Children under 3 years of age do not require their own seat but those over 3 years of age do.
  • Anyone with a disability should ring the stadium direct on 01905 454183 so that they can be provided with personal assistance.

If you would like more information on the event please contact RHQ Mercian on 01543 434390, where staff will be happy to provide more details.

Alternatively you can book your tickets online on the Stadiums website using the following link: http://tinyurl.com/merciancoloursparade.

Wonderful donation received from across the seas...

The Trustees and Staff would like to say a big thank you to all members of the North Staffordshire Living History Association for their kind generosity to the museum.

The North Staffordshire Regiment Living History Association is a group who strive to further the public understanding of the average British soldier in World War Two through research and collecting. The organisation is located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States with members from Eastern Virginia to Southern Pennsylvania. They are currently the only group who portray an English Infantry Regiment

Their primary focus is that of the 6th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment which served in Normandy during the brutal fighting in the summer of 1944. In addition to this, we portray the 2nd Battalion in Italy for events in the summer months so that members can wear clothing more fitting the weather. However, this organization is not just for men. We have a separate group of women who portray an ATS Detachment in order to help study, and interpret the role of Britain’s women in the military during the Second World War.

US Group

Museum volunteer news

For the past year volunteers at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum have been developing plans to commemorate the centenary of the Great War 2014 - 2018. These include commemoration of the various battles and key events that the South and North Staffordshire Regiments fought.

Volunteers

 

The flagship of the plans is the redevelopment of the museums Coltman Trench. The volunteers consulted with the users of the existing trench including schools and visitors and agreed proposals to improve access, security and the trench learning experience. The museum is currently awaiting planning permission approval.

The volunteers are developing funding applications which will be submitted early this year and have been raising funds with the sale of battlefield relics found on the Somme by volunteers and pictures drawn by one of our volunteers.

If all goes well the work will be completed this summer and open to the public later this year. There is a lot of work to be done and we are always looking for more volunteers to help us.

Unsung Hero

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum is celebrating this week after one of its long serving volunteers, Jeff Elson, became one of ten finalists to be recognised by the Arts Fund as a Museum Unsung hero.

Jeff served with the Staffordshire Regiment for three years following two years with the Junior Leader Battalion. Once leaving the army he served as a police officer for 14 years before being medically discharged. Since then he has devoted his time to the museum. He has catalogued the museums vast photograph archive, deals with all the museums research enquiries and has written various histories on the Regiment.

The prestigious award ceremony was held at the British museum in London. Geoff was presented with his prove along with ten fellow winners representing museums across the country.

Danielle Pritchard, the museum curator has expressed her joy this week at the recognition, “The staff and trustees at the museum are all so incredibly proud of Jeff, who has served both the regiment and museum with distinction. All our volunteers are so incredibly important to us here and without them we simply wouldn’t be able to function. They are all heroes in our eyes.”

Art Fund Prize

Jeff Elson said, “I don’t class it as work more of an enjoyable hobby. It’s nice to be able to pass on the knowledge and to help those who are starting out on researching their military family history. I am a third generation Stafford; my family members have served in nearly every campaign from the South African War to the present day Afghanistan conflict.”

The Staffordshire Regiment museum is always looking for new volunteers, if you would like to get involved with Museum research, collections, re-enactments or general volunteering, please contact the assistant curator William Turner on 01543 434394.

First World War Centenary

Planning for the centenary of the First World War at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum is in full swing. A small group of volunteers are working hard to ensure the bravery and sacrifice given by the men of the Staffordshire Regiment is not forgotten.

Several ideas are being worked upon including recreating Kitchener’s Call to Arms in various towns across the county and some larger events including a memorial concert which would feature readings from our archival material.

Our main focus at the moment is putting together an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in the hope that we can refurbish our current trench system. David Shergold one of our education volunteers is leading the charge and last week took museum staff and volunteers on a field trip to look at another replica trench, which is owned by Taff Gillingham. His trench has been used in several films and TV shows including Downton Abbey.

Please keep your eye on our website for future updates on the project. If you would like to get involved with any of the ideas mentioned here or have a idea of your own you would like the museum to get involved with please contact us here at the museum on 01543 4343494.

Trench Project

A Right Royal Occasion

On Saturday 2nd June the Museum celebrated the Diamond Jubilee in style with a 1950’s themed event. Despite the threat of rain nothing could dampened our spirits.

We had a fantastic display of 1950’s memorabilia and a dance display by two of our volunteers; Sue Leighfield and Roger Harris. Other activities on the day included face painting make your own jubilee masks; sink the submarine and traditional skittles. Thanks to a £200 grant from Cllr Matthew Ellis we were able to provide all children on the day with free hats/crowns, mini Union Flags and a drink and snack.

To make the day even more special we had a fantastic array of prominent guests including Christopher Pincher MP, Cllr Matthew Ellis, Sarah Elsom High Sheriff of Staffordshire and most special of all was Lance Corporal Watchman V and his handler Colour Sergeant Greg Hedges.

Jubilee Celebrations

Late Christmas Delivery by Santa

Cllr Robert Pritchard, Deputy Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, has presented a cheque for £150 to the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, after raising the money by doing Tamworth’s Annual Santa Stroll.

Cllr Robert Pritchard said “I dressed up with my 15th month old son, Alfie, as Santa and we had great time, I chose the Staffordshire Regiment Museum because they are a great museum on our door step. They hold great events and run a fantastic education programme helping local children learn more about our local military past.”

On the 5th and 6th of May the museum is holding a living history event staring at 10am, this is where people can see what WW1 was like 1st hand, meet actors dressed in period uniform and explore the authentic WW1 trench at the museum.

Assistant Curator Willie Turner said, “Staffordshire Regiment Museum tells the story of the Staffordshire Regiment and all its antecedents from its formation in 1705. The Museum is situated alongside Whittington Barracks near Tamworth and houses a collection of around 11,000 items. The collection now includes items from the new Mercian Regiment.”

The museum is looking for more volunteers and donors to support the museums various projects. If you would like to consider becoming a Museum Volunteer and arrange an initial visit, please telephone 01543 434394.

Poignant Mementos of Wartime Presented to Staffordshire Regimental Museum

In 1940 Leonard Bennett was a 21 year old private in the Staffordshire Regiment. He was also one of those who trained to become part of the famous ‘Airborne’ detachment, fighting men who were deployed in gliders in to some of the fiercest battles of the 2nd WW.

In this way Len took part in the Sicily landings, the start of the Invasion of Italy in July 1943 and a dark period in the Airborne’s history. Inexperienced tow pilots dropped some of the gliders too far out to sea and many men drowned, weighed down by their heavy kit and battle dress.

Len however survived and was involved in the capturing of the Ponte Grande Bridge (Syracuse). Shortly after this victory he was captured and spent the next few years in the POW camps of the Italians and Germans.

Recently Debra Harris, Len’s niece discovered a wonderful collection of artifacts collected by Len during the 1940’s in the attic of the family home. These include many medals, Len’s battle dress and a collection of writings made during his time as a POW.

Most poignant perhaps are the postcards written to Ellen, Len’s fiancée back in Billesley, Birmingham. These cards could say very little but must have been treasured by Ellen as every one was safe and carefully stored away.

In 1945 Len and Ellen married in Billesley. The wedding photograph found amongst the items shows a wedding dress that must have cost every clothing coupon in the family. Amazingly the dress was also found and is soon to be displayed.

As Debra Harris commented: ‘We are so happy to have found a home for these precious family pieces. Uncle Len never spoke about his experiences so after his death in 2000 we were amazed to find out all that he had done during the war.’

Many of the items collected by Len and Ellen Bennett will be on display during the Wartime Whittington Weekend taking place at the museum on the 17th and 18th September 2011. This evocative and immersive weekend focuses on life on the home front and puts these new donations brilliantly into context.

Ellen Bennett died in 1999 and Len followed her a few months later. In his will was a request that their ashes should be buried together, each on the same side that they usually slept.

A decade later these thought provoking and unique items were discovered. They will be on display to the public for the first time in September.

Art Exhibition in honour of Help for Heroes

From September 10th the museum will be playing host to a fantastic art exhibition from the wonderfully gifted artist John Hayward.

Now retired John has finally found the time to follow his passion of creating pieces of artwork in either watercolour or oil. John’s recent creations are a series of pieces dedicated to all British soldiers and their families, in particular those who have returned home from deployment with some form of disability. As a thank you to the museum for allowing him to display his artwork, John has commissioned a special painting depicting The Staffordshire Regiment in action in Basra, Iraq.

Art Exhibition in honour of Help for Heroes

All proceeds from the sale of any of the paintings will go towards Help for Heroes, the Birmingham Hospital and the Staffordshire Regiment Association. Please come and view the wonderful collection for yourselves.

“We are really looking forward to displaying some of John’s works. It will be particularly exciting to see John’s painting of the Staffordshire Regiment in action unveiled for the very first time.”

New Book traces The Staffords in World War II

One of the most frequently asked questions at the popular Staffordshire Regiment Museum , on the A51 between Lichfield and Tamworth, is ‘what happened in World War II’? Many visitors have at least one relative who fought in that war and they are always keen to find out where he went and what his unit did. Until now there had been no single reference publication that provided all the answers.

Roll Call Book

At long last that gap has been filled by a 40 page booklet written by the Chairman of the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, Lieutenant Colonel Tony Scott MBE. His book traces the history of all the twenty one units from the South and North Staffords that, in one capacity or another, defended Great Britain between 1939 and 1945. It contains many photographs of the era, as well as quotes from eye-witnesses plus tables to give exact detail of who was where.

It draws almost entirely on the archive held in the Museum. Highlights include Dunkirk, the airborne invasion of Sicily, Anzio, the second Chindit campaign and Arnhem and a host of less well-known incidents.

Roll Call Book

The booklet joins two other very successful publications, one dealing with ‘The Staffords in World War I’ and the other giving a history of Whittington Barracks, built 126 years ago to be the depot of both South and North Staffords and today the home of the Army Training Regiment, Lichfield. Like the other booklets, the new arrival will retail for £2.50.

Tony Scott, who also wrote the Barracks Booklet, served for nearly thirty years in the Staffordshire Regiment and commanded 1st Battalion, the Mercian Volunteers between 1980 and 1983. He has served in Ghana, Kenya, Belize and Germany, as well as being an attaché in Canada and both a military and civilian executive in NATO HQ in Brussels, where he spent thirteen years in all. He is now retired and lives near Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, where he is a part-time guide.