As a History and Politics student volunteering in the Royal Marines Museum for Amy Hurst (Curator of Archives), I have learned a lot in my short time here. Even with my leisurely (but productive) one day a week schedule I have already experienced foxing (browning spots on pages), Adlib (archiving software), the maze of the museum, and of course tea breaks! In this blog I will give you a brief insight into the daily duties and discoveries of the museum archives. My role so far at the museum has involved various types of cataloguing, including books and maps with the latter being the topic of discussion today. While cataloguing the maps, a process which involves noting down the key features and information of the maps and designating them a shelf for future reference, we came across an interesting discovery.
On Valentine’s Day - One truly amazing story of love is captured in the Second World War collection of letters we have just received from Lt Douglas Payne to his future wife Eileen Crutchley. In a collection of about 350 letters, spanning over 5 years from 1941-1946, we see the heartache, difficultly, optimism and hope of a long distance relationship attempting to survive the test of war. Here is an extract from one of the letters: “To My Darling Eileen,
I hope you received my last letter alright & I hope also that you have been thinking the matter over….There doesn’t seem anything for me to tell you except I’m still as much in love with you now as I possibly could be & even if you decide on somebody else I’ve still got your photo as a memory of happier times. All my love, Douglas”. HAPPY VALENTINES DAYS
How one piece of equipment can make so many people happy
Is there any better way to begin the New Year for a Curator than the arrival of their brand new book scanner? And it’s not just any scanner but a Zeutschel OS 15000 with Omniscan software! Now that may sound like a bunch of jargon and it is but in the world of scanning and digitisation it’s very exciting. It means that the Museum can now press ahead with digitising large portions of its archive, library and photographic collection.
My name is Dennis, I’m retired and I work as a volunteer for Alison Firth, the Museum’s Curator of Images. I work on average about 2½ days a month with the Museum’s photographic album collection. There are about 350 albums in the collection and although the albums have been catalogued the individual photos in each album have not. This means that about 100,000 photos, some of them dating from as early as the 1860s, are not searchable in the Museum’s Collections Management system.
“The Third Run In” donated by artist's friend Getald Brittain
This is a reproduction print of an oil painting by Alfred William Roberts showing “The Third Run In” - 510 Landing Craft Flotilla on D-Day, 6th June 1944 at approximately 0730.
The print was donated to the Museum by Mr Gerald Brittain, a friend of the artist, the late Mr Alfred William Roberts who died in 2008. Roberts served as a Chatham Division Royal Marine during the Second World War having enlisted at the Depot Royal Marines, Lympstone. He was involved in either the D Day landings or the follow up operations for which he was awarded the France and Germany Star campaign medal. He was demobbed in 1946.
After the war, Alfred Roberts painted under the name, Bill Waterloo. He had trained at Birmingham College of Art and found work initially painting window backdrops in Lewis’s department store in Birmingham. Roberts later co-founded Osbourne Studios in Birmingham before later retiring to North Wales.
510 Landing Craft Flotilla, crewed by Royal Marines, landed at JUNO beach in the area of Courseulles sur Mer, Normandy, France on 6th June 1944. LCA (Landing Craft, Assault) of 510 Flotilla were lowered from warships including the SS Invicta, a passenger ferry converted to a troopship and which served as HMS Invicta during the Second World War. HMS Invicta carried members of the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade to Juno beach. It is possible that this painting shows LCAs shortly after they had been lowered from HMS Invicta.
Captain James Cottell (1781-1842), a talented artist and long serving Marines’ Officer, saw active service aboard HMS Tonnant at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. He painted many cartoons and wrote several letters complaining that the Battle of Trafalgar was not celebrated and that no government medal had been awarded for the battle…
As part of National Poetry Day, we would like to pay tribute to Lieutenant-Colonel William Price Drury CBE (Nov 1861– Jan 1949) a Royal Marine Light Infantry officer but also a novelist and playwright. He wrote many poems but we particularly like this one entitled 'The Dead Marines' in tribute to the Royal Marines after the Duke of Clarence supposedly called empty alcohol bottles "Dead Marines". Here is a copy of the poem which is held in the Museum archives.
The Museum is always honoured when we get a visit from ex Royals but this particular American visitor really did spark our interest. Accompanied by Mr Ron Moyse (right), United States Marine Corps Veteran, Mr Len Maffiolli (middle) gave an account of his unrivalled distinguished Military Service lasting over 30 years. We were intrigued to hear his story…
Silver expert Ian Pickford reveals the true value of presentation piece
After two very busy weeks at the Royal Marines Museum members of staff are starting to recover. Last week, at the end of a long, but successful, days filming, the Museum had an object from the collections valued on Antiques Roadshow.
This silver presentation piece to former Royal Marine, Lt Col William Wood, was from the 36th Middlesex Paddington Volunteer Rifle Corps, that he went on to lead after retirement from the Marines. It takes the form of a rifle range in a wooded copse. An unusual scene it caught the eye of the Antiques Roadshow silver expert, Ian Pickford, and keen to find out more about the maker, we agreed to have it examined outside the Museum. This is probably the first time this piece has been in the open air for well over a hundred years!
Highlighting the exploits of members of the Royal Marines who have played this sport at the highest level
Royal Marines in the England Rugby Union team
As the finale to this year’s Six Nations Rugby Union Tournament is fast approaching it seems a good moment to highlight the exploits of members of the Royal Marines who have played this sport at the highest level. After looking through the sporting memorabilia in our collections, this has become a tale of an Englishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman who all ended up playing for the same country…
Perhaps the most high profile Royal Marine to have represented England is Sir Basil Alexander Hill KBE CB DSO JP. Indeed, he also captained his country on two occasions.
Beginning work at the Royal Marines Museum was a daunting prospect for first-time, Canadian, Curator with only the smallest knowledge of British Naval History. But Amy Hurst’s, Curator to Archives, very first enquiry was somewhat unusual and started her on an unexpected journey through the archives.
Learning the correct method of working is always useful and last week, I had the opportunity to attend an excellent three day course held at WestDeanCollege, West Sussex. It was specifically designed to offer guidance and practice in training the museum curator, art handler and/or art courier in what are the ‘best practice’ methods for handling, packing, storing and displaying works of art and pieces of sculpture. Although, I have worked in museums for many years and have moved a variety of very large and often quite lumpy objects including gun barrels and ship models, my experience of moving valuable works of fine art is more limited hence my keenness to attend this specific course.
Amongst the many fascinating photographic prints and albums that cross my desk heading into the Prints Store here at the RoyalMarinesMuseum, an interesting and unusual album recently arrived from a donor in New Zealand. The donor is a descendent by marriage of the compiler of the album, Marine Alfred Edwin Hall of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, 1896-1902. Marine Hall born in 1877 enlisted in the Chatham Division of the RMLI in 1896. During his time in the Marines, he served aboard the gunboat HMS Pigmy, a Pygmy-class gunboat built at H M Dockyard, Sheerness, Kent in 1888.
There is a long and illustrious history of Royal Marines’ involvement in Royal Tours. In 1920 Colour Sergeant Nathaniel Stacey developed a close relationship with the Prince of Wales on a tour of Australia and new Zealand.