The Royal Marines Museum will be bringing the 1940s to life from 23 to 25 September with their 1940s weekend. The event will showcase all that is fabulous about the 1940s with make do and mend crafts, a 40s fashion show, weapons demonstrations, re-enactors, vintage vehicles and wartime cookery talks. ‘Edna’ from Vintage Sweethearts will be cooking up a storm with her ‘wartime kitchen’ talk and will let us in on the real secrets for cooking on rations.
The 1940s event at the Royal Marines Museum (23-25 September) is an opportunity to reflect on the fact that this was a momentous decade for the Royal Marines, especially during the Second World War. Between1942 and 1943 the first Royal Marines Commando Units were formed and they played a major role on D-Day. Marines also served at sea and helped to man the guns on big warships as well as manning smaller vessels such as landing craft and even canoes known as “cockles”. The Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment was a cover name for a forerunner of the Special Boat Service and it used cockles for the famous raid on enemy ships in Bordeaux Harbour in December 1942. This became known as the story of the “Cockleshell Heroes”.
So, the summer holidays are finally finished. Over the last few weeks we've delivered 52 family sessions. That comes to over 850 visitor contact hours.
It's been great fun. We've run 12 hours of Commando Fit, which seems to be more popular with parents than children. Unless they're taking part, that is. We've done 12 hours of the Field Gun Run. That means we've terrified residents & visitors alike by setting off 12 thunder flashes at the end of those sessions. We've run the mine clearance exercise 6 times and gone through hundreds of water balloons in the process.
I've just got back from the Group for Education in Museum's annual conference. On the face of it, it was a lovely jolly to Norwich. In reality it's one of the most important events on my calendar.
The Learning Team here is something of a misnomer, there's just me and a group of occasional volunteers. That means I end up ploughing something of a lonely furrow, so a chance to spend three days with other museum learning people is not to be missed.
This photograph arrived at the museum recently amongst a donation of documents, and depicts a mixed RMLI and RMA ship’s detachment ‘band’. It was common for casual players to form up amongst the detachment for their own and ship-mates entertainment, and Banjos and Mandolins were very popular instruments between the 1900s and the 1930s.
‘Banjo’ in Royal Marines slang can mean ‘to hit someone or something very hard’, so presumably if Royal didn’t master the instrument, he could always add it to his weaponry!
Paul Morgan is following a long family tradition when he steps back in time with a 1940s Military display, as part of the 1940s event running from 23 to 25 September at the Royal Marines Museum.
Paul is born and bred in Portsmouth and his family served in all three services along with the Merchant Navy, Portsmouth Dockyard and the NAAFI throughout the Second World War. Whilst listening to their stories of Portsmouth through the blitz, service overseas and on board convoys, he soon developed a keen interest in all things military from an early age.
The occurrencesat the Royal Marines Barracks, Eastney during wartime were not always as you might imagine them to be. The following report from an around the divisions section of a 1940 Royal Marines magazine, the Globe and Laurel, highlights the ‘keep calm and carry on’ attitude of wartime Britain.
“Towards the end of June H.R.H The Duchess of Kent honoured the Division by inspecting the W.R.N.S. personnel serving at Eastney. This charming visitor caused much fluttering in our "Wrennery"; however, they acquitted themselves very creditably.
Friday 23 September at the Royal Marines Museum is the kick off for the 1940s weekend. A film screening of ‘The Cockleshell Heroes’ followed by a talk with items from the collection will be the first of many activities happening over the weekend celebrating the best of the 1940s.
For one night only the very mittens that Lt Col ‘Blondie’ Hasler wore during the legendary cockleshell heroes raid, and the boots given to him by a French farmer whilst he escaped will be on show. As part of the Royal Marines Museum special 1940s weekend, the museum is holding a special evening telling this amazingly brave story.
The Museum has recently borrowed a 6-inch breech loading gun and an associated hydro-pneumatic carriag dating to the late 19th century. It was known as a disappearing gun because after being fired from a position above the parapet, the force of the recoil would drive it downwards ready for re-loading. When ready for firing again, the gun barrel would be raised using the hydro-pneumatic system. The Museum’s disappearing gun is located in Eastney Fort East, only a short distance from the Museum. When it has been restored, it will be placed on display in a concrete emplacement that would have housed such a gun between the late 1890s and 1907.
Next in our extraordinary stories series is Captain Green.
The Band of the Royal Marine Artillery was given the honour of becoming the official Band of the Royal Yacht after they impressed King Edward VII.
The band, under Captain Green, played at many prominent events such as the funeral of Queen Victoria, King Edward VII’s Coronation and on a Royal tour to India. Whilst Green was a Director of Music the band visited and played for those serving on the Western Front on several occasions during the First World War.
The Royal Marines Museum archive is being totally rebuilt this week as phase one of the ‘Study Centre Scheme’ gets underway. However, a team of priceless volunteers have been helping the Archivist clear the collections from the store rooms over the preceding weeks, and are now busy preparing some of the documents for return to their ‘new’ environment.
A 70 year old machine gun is being prepared for public demonstration as the Royal Marines Museum gets ready for its 1940s event running from 23 to 25 September. The 1942 manufactured Vickers Machine Gun was one of thousands produced from 1912, when the gun was first designed, up until the end of the Second World War.
This week in our series of extraordinary stories of Royal Marines is Sam Bassett.
Sam's Bassett’s career started in 1907 and lasted 53 years. He served in both World Wars. In the First World War he served entirely at Sea. During the Russian Revolution his Russian language skills were utilised when he helped process Russian refugees in Novorossiysk in 1919, for this he was awarded the Order of St Stanislaus.