The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum

The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum showcases the history of the County Regiments of Berkshire and Wiltshire and their more recent successors.
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Wiltshire Museum
14/08/2020

Wiltshire Museum

Familiar August weather has certainly returned...

On the bright side, it's a great time for visiting and supporting your local museums as they re-open. See a list of open museums in Wiltshire and their details here (wonderful how many there are!): http://museumsinwiltshire.org.uk/good-to-go/

Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, Chippenham Museum, Crofton Beam Engines, The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum, The REME Museum and The Salisbury Museum.

Our little Rifles Ted is looking for new recruits!Do you have any spare small soft toys to donate to the museum for our ...
03/08/2020

Our little Rifles Ted is looking for new recruits!

Do you have any spare small soft toys to donate to the museum for our bear hunt?

If you have any to spare please drop them off at the museum in the next two weeks

Armed Forces Day
03/08/2020

Armed Forces Day

In just two weeks’ time we’ll mark 75 years since Victory Over Japan.

We must never forget those who served and died to restore peace in the Pacific and the Far East.

Thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, memorials to thousands of British and Commonwealth troops remain throughout those regions as a lasting reminder of their immense sacrifice.

#NeverForgotten #VJDay75

Call Out for help!Do you or anyone you know have a spare three hours once a week?  We are in desperate need of volunteer...
03/08/2020

Call Out for help!

Do you or anyone you know have a spare three hours once a week? We are in desperate need of volunteers to help on our front desk here at the museum during the summer time. (Over 18s)

We are situated in The Close opposite Salisbury Cathedral in one of the most beautiful areas in the city.

This is a great excuse to get out of the house for a few hours, we can even provide free parking at the museum. You will have regular access to a chair if needed and as always tea/coffee and biscuits are available!

We are a very friendly team from all age ranges and backgrounds so no prior experience is needed we can support any training needed.

We have over the next few weeks these places available, some are temporary and some are more permanent gaps we would love to fill with new faces:

Monday afternoons
All of Tuesdays
All of Wednesdays
Thursday mornings
Friday afternoons

Front Desk is a really rewarding job, you get to chat to lots of lovely people but we are not so busy that it is stressful. The desk has been adapted to have a Perspex screen for safety along with the standard Covid-19 safety guidelines.

If you are interested please email Bethany:
[email protected]

Please share far and wide!

As a follow up from yesterdays exciting arrival we have come across this image of 66th Regiment officers with the colour...
28/07/2020

As a follow up from yesterdays exciting arrival we have come across this image of 66th Regiment officers with the colours that were lost at Maiwand, the photograph was taken in 1879!

William is standing right of the colours, a close look at the sword scabbard shows it is the one that has been donated to us. it's the same.

The sepia photograph here shows of the officers and Colours of the 66th taken in 1879. This is the only known photograph of the Regiment’s Colours that were lost the following year in the battle of Maiwand.

Officers identified are rear row (Left to Right) Captain Cullen, -?-, Captain McMath, Lieutenant Pigott, -?-, (Colours), Lieutenant Beresford-Pierce, Lieutenant Stevenson, Lieutenant Roberts, Captain Oliver, 2nd Row, Paymaster Bryon, Lieutenant Colonel Galbraith, Captain Stewart, Captain Saunders, Lieutenant Price. 3rd row sat Captain Wood, Captain Garratt, Captain Murphy, Captain Soady, Lieutenant Jones (QM), Major Hogge, Captain Ready, Callaghan, -?-.
Front row sat (between 1st & 2nd row) Lieutenant Smallpiece Lieutenant Hassard, Lieutenant Barclay, -?-, -?-, -?-, -? - , Captain Harris, -?-, -?-, -?-.

‘What A Discovery!’We were delighted to welcome the arrival of John Devonport and his wife with a very special gift to t...
27/07/2020

‘What A Discovery!’

We were delighted to welcome the arrival of John Devonport and his wife with a very special gift to the museum on a very poignant day. 27 July 2020 marks the 140th Anniversary of the Battle of Maiwand. Here at the museum we remember the battle because of the connection it has with our own Berkshire regiment.

1880 Battle of Maiwand

The Battle was part of a larger conflict called "The Great Game" which was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the 19th century between the United Kingdom and Russia over Afghanistan and neighbouring territories in Central and South Asia.

Early in 1880 the 66th Regiment was ordered to Afghanistan, which the British had invaded in the previous year after the massacre of their envoy and his escort at Kabul.
The Regiment was commanded by Brigadier-General Burrows and consisted of two Indian cavalry regiments, two Indian infantry regiments, a battery of Royal Horse Artillery, another of smoothbore guns, and six companies of the 66th Regiment, under Colonel Galbraith.

On the morning of 27 July, the cavalry advance guard reached Mahmudabad, on the arid plain of Maiwand, about 45 miles from Kandahar. The village stood on the edge of a deep, dry, watercourse and on the plain beyond it they saw the Afghans - not the small force they had led to expect but a great Army, streaming eastwards towards Kandahar. It was later established that the force consisted of 4,000 cavalry, 8,000 infantry, 30 guns and some 20,000 irregulars, many of them the religious fanatics known as Ghazis.

After several hours desperate fighting, the enemy had broken through to the rear of the British line and the 66th were fighting them on both sides. Colonel Galbraith, who was carrying the Queen’s Colour at this stage, rallied most of the survivors of his battalion in the watercourse, but the position was very exposed and he decided to retire to Khig, where use might be made of houses and garden walls. During the withdrawal Colonel Galbraith, still grasping the Colour, was killed.

About a hundred of the Regiment made their second stand in a walled garden. Surrounded by hordes of irregulars they fought on until only two officers and nine other ranks were left. This small group charged out of the garden, formed up back to back and continued to fire until the last of them fell.

The 66th received no official recognition for its services at Maiwand. No Victoria Crosses were awarded for the good reason that no one qualified to make recommendations had survived. It was a defeat, so no Battle Honour could be given for it. Nor, apparently, did it warrant a bar to the Afghan Medal. However, no one had anything but praise for the 66th. Even the Afghans, who valued courage above all other virtues, had been impressed, and one of their Colonels who had been present spoke in glowing terms of their admiration for the Regiment’s conduct. General Primrose, in his official despatch to the Commander-in-Chief, India, wrote:

". . . . history does not afford any grander or finer instance of gallantry and devotion to Queen and Country than that displayed by the 66th Regiment on the 27th July 1880."

A small dog named "Bobbie", who was the pet of a Sergeant in the Regiment, was wounded in the battle but survived and became the Regiment's mascot. He was eventually brought back to England where he was presented to Queen Victoria at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

It is an interesting fact that the Regiment’s Medical Officer, Surgeon Major A F Preston, who was wounded in the battle, was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character, Doctor Watson, who describes in A Study in Scarlet how he was shot while attending to a fallen soldier.

The loss of the Colours at Maiwand, coming soon after a similar loss, led to the end of the practice of carrying them into battle. In 1881 as part of the Cardwell reforms of the army the 49th and the 66th Regiments were amalgamated to become the 1st and 2nd battalions of the "Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Berkshire) Regiment".

Today we mark the anniversary by receiving the sword that belonged to Lieutenant William John De La Poer Beresford-Pierse, who survived the Battle of Maiwand.

He is important in the Regiment’s history and a very lucky man to have survived the battle of Maiwand and the subsequent retreat to Kandahar. During the battle he commanded ‘H’ Company, and as such was in the thick of the action. He returned to the battlefield to locate and identify as many from the regiment who fell as possible. He would have known all the officers having been with the regiment since 1872.

When the Regiment went into battle at Maiwand the officers would have been armed with both a pistol and a sword. We cannot say that the sword that we have been gifted was carried into battle at that time, but we suspect it was. As a young officer in 1872 William would have had his own sword, which he would have used and kept for the remainder of his service. The fact that he had engraved his initials on the blade shows how much that particular weapon meant to him.

The sword has for 50 years been in the well loved collection of John Devonport and today marks it new journey and story with us here at the Wardrobe. We hope to have the sword displayed with Bobbie very soon for people to come and see.

Prince Philip steps down as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles In a rare public appearance at Windsor Castle, the Duke of Ed...
23/07/2020

Prince Philip steps down as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles

In a rare public appearance at Windsor Castle, the Duke of Edinburgh has handed over patronage of The Rifles to the Duchess of Cornwall.

Prince Philip held the role of Colonel-in-Chief from 2007, but his connection to the infantry regiment stretches back to 1953.

Four buglers, from The Band and Bugles of the The Rifles, came to Windsor Castle to mark the occasion and thank the 99-year-old for his service.

Camilla received the honour at a separate ceremony at her Highgrove home in Gloucestershire.

The photo says it all!!  It's great to be back and we look forward to seeing you all this year.Our Café is also open
22/07/2020

The photo says it all!! It's great to be back and we look forward to seeing you all this year.

Our Café is also open

We have made a very quick video to show everyone the changes we have made to the museum to make it safer for visitors an...
21/07/2020
Post COVID Reopening Video 1

We have made a very quick video to show everyone the changes we have made to the museum to make it safer for visitors and our wonderful volunteers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tepKOIxxFhA

Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.

The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum's cover photo
20/07/2020

The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum's cover photo

We are excited to announce that we will be opening our doors to welcome you back on the 22nd July 2020.Following a deep ...
20/07/2020

We are excited to announce that we will be opening our doors to welcome you back on the 22nd July 2020.

Following a deep clean of the museum building we have followed Government guidelines and have made the museum Covid safe. Do stop by to support us in getting back on our feet again.

We also have some exciting news coming soon about next year's temporary exhibition which we will be inviting our local community to help with!!

The Café also plans to open on 22nd July too.

TALES FROM THE REGIMENTAL ARCHIVEAid to the civil power - Newlyn, Cornwall - 1896. In May 1896 riots erupted in the fish...
03/07/2020

TALES FROM THE REGIMENTAL ARCHIVE

Aid to the civil power - Newlyn, Cornwall - 1896.

In May 1896 riots erupted in the fishing village of Newlyn, Cornwall, caused by Yarmouth fishermen landing their catches on a Sunday. The local police were unable to contain the situation and the government of the day called on the Army and Navy for help. It came in the shape of the 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment who at that time were stationed in Plymouth, and three Royal Navy vessels HMS Ferret, HMS Traveller and HMS Curlew.

The Regimental contingent consisted of Major Hassard, 10 officers [one of whom was Captain Bray who had survived the Battle of Maiwand] and 300 hundred men. The photograph shows soldiers of the battalion marching along New Road, Newlyn. A local newspaper reported ‘Three Lowestoft boats in the bay were making for Newlyn but being warned by the soldiers firing in the water they kept off. About eight o'clock when the police were being hooted and the local fishermen were gathering in dangerous crowds, the military started marching.

Cheers marked their progress towards the trouble, but after they crossed the bridge leading to the village, they gave way to hissing, hooting, yelling and screeching from the masses of fishermen through which the ‘thin red line’ made its way. From all quarters, stones came flying amongst the soldiers, and attempts were made to trip them’. Further reports stated that during the entry of the battalion several casualties occurred.

One local man had his ear cut off by either an officers sword or a bayonet, one had a bayonet thrust through his ear, while another, who attempted to interfere, was struck with the butt end of a rifle. Order was restored with the battalion remaining for several weeks. The remainder of the time was peaceful.

STOP THE PRESS!!The government has announced that museums and galleries can begin to re-open from 4 July 2020. Although ...
01/07/2020

STOP THE PRESS!!

The government has announced that museums and galleries can begin to re-open from 4 July 2020.

Although we will not be opening on the 4th July, we are excited to announce that we are working hard to get the museum COVID-secure and therefore safe to re-open very soon.

We will keep you up-to-date as soon as we have an opening date.

Burma Part SixMandalayThe Japanese had set up a military camp within the fortified walls of Fort Dufferin.  The Fort was...
25/05/2020

Burma Part Six

Mandalay

The Japanese had set up a military camp within the fortified walls of Fort Dufferin. The Fort was surrounded by a wide moat and the walls were almost impenetrable, even by the 25 pounder guns that the Battalion was using.
After heavy air strikes, the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment followed the 4/4 Gurkha’s on foot. Soldiers from ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies under the command of Major Twidle moved up and captured Mandalay Hill. The Japanese made a spirited defence, digging themselves into and around the hundreds of golden topped pagodas, on the sides and crest of the hill. Gradually they were eliminated.
The Japanese were finally burnt out of the tunnels and passages of Fort Dufferin by the British rolling barrels of tar and burning oil down on them.
Colonel John Hill MC: -
‘Surprise and concentration of force at the right time and place had been the key to the success we were now experiencing’
With strong military leadership and perseverance, the allied forces won.
After the fall of Mandalay, the Burmese turned against the Japanese and the Japanese Army retreated out of Burma.
Colonel John Hill MC, recollects the conditions for the soldiers in Burma: -
‘Sometimes he is without food and water. He may be dirty, unkempt and weary, yet willing and able to maintain the momentum, proud to serve among his friends and colleagues many thousands of miles away from his homeland.’

Burma Part FiveThe Road to Mandalay, 1945The British and Indian forces continued to advance into Burma.  After the succe...
24/05/2020

Burma Part Five

The Road to Mandalay, 1945

The British and Indian forces continued to advance into Burma. After the successes at Kohima their winning streak continued. It was very heavy going, and the soldiers were only able to move at walking pace. The equipment per soldier often weighing 60lbs.
There were several divisions all advancing against the Japanese fighting regularly as they approached Mandalay. Between 2nd January and 31st January there were ninety casualties on the allied side.
After the protracted and successful battle at Kohima, they moved twelve miles downstream to Kyaukmyaung where they came under the command of the 64th Indian Infantry Brigade. On the 19th February, the Battalion crossed the Irrawaddy to Ngapyin. From this position long range patrols were carried out, some with great success.
On the 2nd March ‘C’ company approached the village Shwegondaing. The Japanese were well dug in and one of the heaviest artillery bombardments in Burma followed. ’C’ Company eventually captured the village (but a number of Japanese troops had escaped). This led them to the outskirts of Mandalay. It was here that the battalion were to fight major battles at Mandalay Hill and Fort Dufferin.
They were in continuous action till the 19th May, in one of their hardest fights.
A post action report from B Company read: -
‘Japs were seen moving about a little way up the main street, and our fellows had a real birthday. First Jap running across the road was hit three times. Snipers were sent to the second floor of the largest house. Later one Jap was left holding the house with an L.M.G., a 77 grenade was thrown in to burn him out. The grenade burst and set the whole town on fire. The Jap, trying to escape was shot.’
After several further fire fights and taking the town, the battalion joined up with the 4th/4th Gurkhas and continued the march to Mandalay.

Burma Part FourKohimaApril-June 1944The fighting that took place in and around the area of Kohima was to become the turn...
23/05/2020

Burma Part Four

Kohima

April-June 1944

The fighting that took place in and around the area of Kohima was to become the turning point in pushing back the Japanese offensive into India. Much of the fighting took place at close quarters with the British finally managing to gain victory and forcing the Japanese to retreat.
The most savage fighting of the battle erupted in mid-May 1944 in the area of the mined tennis court and terraces of the District Commissioner’s bungalow. This area had been seized on April 9, 1944 by the Japanese who had built a warren of bunkers and weapons pits on the surrounding terraced hillside. The 1st Royal Berkshires were sent as relief for the Royal Kent's who bore the initial brunt of the area under siege.
Captain Frankie Boshell later recalled:
‘I took over an area overlooking the Tennis Court… The lie of the land made it impossible to move by day because of Japanese snipers. We were in Kohima for three weeks. We were attacked every single night… They came in waves… Water was short and restricted to about one pint, per man, per day. So, we stopped shaving. My company went into Kohima over 100 strong and came out at about 60.’
‘Without exception, they were walking like Zombies. Red rimmed eyes from lack of sleep, their faces covered with beards and dirt. These men had been through hell and back.’
As the Japanese Army retreated, both British and Indian troops kept pushing forward to expel them from Burma. The Japanese were running out of time, supplies and ammunition, they were exhausted, and many were sick. The Allied forces finally had the victory they needed to take Burma back.

Address

The Wardrobe, 58 The Close
Salisbury
SP1 2EX

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 10:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 17:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00

Telephone

01722 419419

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Comments

Would like to trace family of a PTE WOODWARD 9689 WILTS REGT from WW1. Any help greatly appreciated
I believe the man on the right in the attached photograph is my grandfather Henry Albert Ellner, regimental number 5202. who served with the Wiltshire Regiment from 1898 to 1911 and then was recalled in 1914 and was discharged in December 1915. Can anyone confirm he is wearing the uniform of the Wiltshire Regt. and that the stripes on his sleeve are good conduct stripes. Thank you
This is perhaps my most treasured photograph. It is of my late grandmother, Gladys Topping, and her first husband Robert Thompson. Both came from families that went back many generations in Blackpool. They were childhood sweethearts. Robert was killed in action on 13th June 1918. The photograph was taken in Blackpool after he was sent home to recover from a gunshot wound to the leg. Several days after the picture was taken, Robert returned to the Western Front and was assigned to a new unit, The Royal Berkshire Regiment. He was killed after being with them only a couple of weeks. It is a sobering thought that, but for the sacrifice of this brave young man who most members of my wonderful family have never even heard of before, none of us would have been born. Robert's body was never found. His name appears on the Loos Memorial which remembers those men who have no known grave.
I hope everyone's well. I'd just like to note great thanks to the team at the Wardrobe for their help and generosity with a booklet Reading Libraries are working on about the Maiwand Lion, and for a really brilliant piece of customer service online😊!
This photo says on the back, Winchester Barracks, WW1. C.J.D. Cave is seated far left front row (my grandfather). He was shell-shocked in 1916 not long after going to France.
Due in hardback published by Fonthill Media in April 2020. The author was RMO to the Royal Wessex Yeomanry for 22 years.
As a member of the 1st Battalion Wiltshire Regiment 1954 to 1956, demonstration Batt. Also a member of the 4/6th Royal Berkshire Regiment, later the Wessex Volunteers, based in Brock Barracks Reading, then a member of the Royal Corps of Transport in East Kilbride Scotland, I used to get regular emails & updates on these units plus other news. Now, despite requests via a friend of mine, I have not heard a single thing for at least 3 years now, & I am wondering why. In 1954, I was involved in the building, (shovels & wheelbarrows) of the long observation platform built overlooking the Salisbury Plain, just off the road leading down to Imber village. I have tried on a number of occasions to acquire a photograph of this long mound that I assume is still in existence, but to no avail, it would be a nice keepsake of fond memories. I was also a guinea pig during the three months equipment trials conducted by C, Company to test the old 38 pattern equipment, a new American webbing & a new British webbing, plus rubber boots & the FN rifle. The trials, watched over by a high ranking American from the Green Beret & our own officers were extensive & exhausting. I was required to give blood & urine samples 3 times a day for the whole 3 months during which we were followed & filmed by a unit of Redcaps & cine film crews. The subsequent films were shown to the participants in a later time of the year, I unfortunately missed the showing as I was posted to Cherry Tree Barracks in Colchester as a Brigade driver. If these films were at all available, I would love to see them as a fond memory of my youth. I was posted to Cyprus for the last few months of my National Service, (Aghirda Camp near Kyrenia). .
Pegasus Bridge Memorial Flight at the National Memorial Arboretum.
Sidney Herbert Matthews was my Great Grandfather, he served with the Wiltshire Regiment, but then enlisted into the South Wales Borderers. Sidney Herbert Matthews born 3rd April 1885 Foxham Lock Cottages Bremhill Calne Wilts Date Died 9 May 1915 Aged 35/36 Died How Killed in Action Theatre of War France Flanders Buried Where? Bethune Town Cemetery 29k North Arras Plot 3 Row C, Grave 16 Private Number 14073 Regiment South Wales Borderers Battalion 1st Battalion Enlisted Newport, Mon Sept 1914 Occupation Coal Miner When Married Matthews, Sidney Herbert Regimental No. Rank Forename Sidney Herbert Surname Matthews Regiment 3rd Militia Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment Date 1900-10-29