Sunday, August 11, 2013

I have been to... The National Army Museum

As a treat for my youngest, and to allow the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer some time alone with our eldest and the new grandchild, last Sunday found myself and said youngest heading to London for the day in preparation for a trip to Euro Disney on Monday.

The train on Monday was early, so we booked a night in a budget hotel close to the station (the Premier near to St Pancras - much recommended by the way) and decided we'd have a day in the smoke...  the "deal" was that I got to go to the Imperial War Museum in return for little'un going to see the laser light show at Disney on two nights.. I think I got the better part of the deal... 

So, train delivered us to the delights of Victoria by 11, we were in the Wetherspoons at Baker Street [clicky] (I rubbed the toe of the Sherlock Holmes statue for luck) deciding what else we wanted to do with our day...  it was at this point that little'un checked her phone for which tube station we wanted for the Imperial War Museum only to tell me that although it had re-opened after the recent re-fit, a lot of the displays weren't available yet....  quelle domage.....  quick re-think and it was decided that National Army Museum [clicky] would do very nicely as an alternative...  with the added advantage for her that it was in Chelsea so she could see one of the central spots of the swinging sixties as she's a HUGE Beatles fan..

This was my second trip to the museum but I was amazed to realise that the last time had been over 6 years ago [clicky]! Time certainly flies...

The museum is a joy, small, free entry, and dedicated to the history of the British Army in all it's roles (international peace keeper, overseas duties, anti-terror, policing, etc)  which I think it does really well...  the museum is on three or four floors, starting with the English Civil War (the New Model Army being the starting point of the current British Army) and working forwards in history as you move up the building..  it is also interspersed with various more temporary exhibits which when we were there were Korea, the Unseen enemy (an excellent exhibit this one - little'un proved to be very clever at spotting the IED's in a mock up of a middle east street scene) and also National Service - worth checking the web site for what is currently on before you go though as they do change...

Highlights for me were the following...

Selection of pistols from the English Civil War period - I really liked the wheelock at the bottom which had the most exquisite mechanism....


Full size representation of English Civil War cavalry trooper - I think this was Richard Atkyns whose horse took the wound to its nose that you can see in the picture at Roundway Down while in hand too hand combat with Sir Arthur Haselrig (he of the Lobsters fame)

"T’was my fortune in a direct line to charge their general of Horse which I supposed to be so by his place; he discharged his carbine first, but at distance not to hurt us, and afterwards one of his pistols before I cam up to him, and missed with both; I then immediately struck into him, and touched him before I discharged mine; and I am sure I hit him, for he staggered and presently wheeled off from his party and ran. 

When he wheeled off, I pursued him and had not gone 20 yards after him, but I heard a voice saying, “’tis Sir Arthur Haslerigge follow him”; but from which party the voice came I knew not they being joined, nor never did know ‘til about 7 years since, but I follow him I did, and in 6 score yards I came up to him and discharged the other pistol at him, and I am sure I hit his head, for I touched it [!] before I gave fire, and it amazed him at that present , but he was too well armed all over for a pistol bullet to do him any hurt having a coat of mail over his arms and a headpiece (I am confident) musket proof his sword had 2 edges and a ridge in the middle and mine was mine was a strong tuck; After I had slackened my pace a little he was gone 20 yards form me, riding three quarters speed and riding down the side of a hill, his posture was waving his sword on the right and left hand of his horse, not looking back to see whether he were pursued or not, (as I conceive) to daunt any horse that should come up to him; in about 6 score more I cam up to him again (having a very swift horse that Cornet Washnage gave me) and stuck by him a good while and tried him from head to the saddle and could not penetrate him or do him any hurt; but in this attempt he cut my horses nose, that you might put your finger in the wound and gave me such a blow on the inside of my arm amongst the veins that I could hardly hold my sword’ he went on as before and I slackened my pace again and found my horse drop blood and not so bold as before; but 8 score more I got up to him again thinking to have pulled off his horse; but he now having found the way, struck my horse upon the cheek and cut of half the headstall of my bridle, but falling off from him I ran his horse into the body and resolved to attempt to attempt nothing further than to kill his horse; all this time we were together hand and fist."

...and people wonder why we find military history so fascinating!


Pikeman in the same exhibition.. note how floppy the sword scabbard is - to allow the presentation of the pike in the method shown a stiff scabbard would have got in the way, but I suspect there would have been a cost saving as well.. 


...and musketeer... I thought I'd remembered reading that the apostles (the prepared measures of shot in the holders on his back) were an anachronism by the time of the Civil War (???), but he's firing a matchlock.. note also the early model knapsack on both figures...


The exhibit is really missing some representation of  Marlboroughs fine fellows but the Napoleonic Wars are covered well.. really liked this representation of a rifleman from the 95th..


Siborne's slightly controversial diorama of Waterloo [clicky] wasn't fully working unfortunately, but is still impressive even without the lighted assistance to show how the battle progressed...


Private Matthew Clay - 3rd Foot Guards, Hougomont the morning of Waterloo...  he'd fallen in a muddy ditch the night before hence his appearance...


Sergeant Charles Ewart of the Scots Greys with his captured eagle (from the 45e Régiment de Ligne)


Loved this exhibit which is of the British Army in the colonial period..  Sudanese trooper of the 10th Battalion - once again I'm not sure but I think the jersey is the wrong  colour - my reading was that the Egyptian battalions had brown, but the Sudanese battalions had navy blue, both had the navy puttee's though...


..he's armed with the famous Martini Henry - look at the size of those bullets!


...rear view... that's a lot of ammunition he's carrying - I reckon about 40-50 rounds in the bandolier, plus extra in the pouches...??


Last of all, and there was a lot of other exhibits but I limited my pictures to the eriods I was interested in - a Bren Carrier from the Sikh division at Alamein ..


Steve the Wargamer rates the museum a very solid 8 out of 10 - a more complete Marlborough section would have got them a 9..

15 comments:

  1. I'm aiming to visit the IWM as soon as all displays are completed...perhaps there should be a bloggers visit? I last visited Nat Army Museum may years ago when an exhibition was on of Lady Elizabeth Butlers artwork must visit again.

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    1. Fraxinus - I was looking forward to the IWM very much, but decided I'd rather save the visit for when I got the complete view... thinking I probably need to add Duxford to the list as well...

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  2. Last time I was there a very nice ex Ghurka sergeant stopped me taking photos. However he did tell me and the boy all about his time in the Falklands.
    Agree about Marlborough - a forgotten period.

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    1. Grimsby - no Gurkha's this time, and I didn't see anything to tell me I couldn't photo so took my usual view which is to snap away until someone tells me not too! :o)

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  3. Very nice - I was remiss to see this museum when I visited back in March. Did go to the Royal Armories at Leeds though - nice collection there too, but would've like to have seen this one too. Best, Dean

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    1. Dean - very envious of your trip to the Armouries at Leeds - need to add that to my list of must see's..

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  4. I'm quite disgusted with myself at still not visiting the NAM, I may have to suggest a trip to London,me thinks!!!

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    1. Ray.. it's one of those low key museums that kind of slips under the radar unless you have a very specific interest.. it's also probably always suffered in competition with the IWM... but it is well worth going to, so get your ar*e in gear.. :o)

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  5. Great! I tend to visit every five years or so (More often when I lived in Chelsea) and some of the individual exhibitions are very interesting. Photography is allowed. I checked when I was there a year ago.

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    1. Thanks Legatus.. there were loads of assistants wandering around and none of them told me too stop so I suspect the rues have changed since Grimsby attended..

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  6. It's a great museum, the exhibits have changed a bit since I was last there obviously though! They still had Pictons top hat there, (complete with hole) which I believe has since been moved? and lot's of other Waterloo personal items..... are they still on display? I recall the Ponsonby snuff box for example and other items. We used to enjoy the local pubs around there too, so it was always worth the trip :-)

    I wasn't sure about those dummies when I first saw your pics, but they are growing on me slowly! I must get myself back there sometime, thanks for posting.

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    1. Hi Lee - lots and lots of exhibits but can't say I saw the snuff box.. the local pubs have me interested though - what are your recommendations if I'm there next time? :o)

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  7. Nice post Steve. I would love to visit that museum one day

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    1. Moif - long trip for you, but if you were to combine it with the Salute weekend, now there's a thought....

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  8. Are any of those near Bovington by any chance :D

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