Military memorabilia found in our costume store!
On the 9 September, as part of the National Heritage Open Day scheme the Herefordshire Light Infantry Museum held an open day and welcomed over 250 visitors. The visitors saw artefacts relating to the Regiment’s experiences during The BOER War (1899-1902) in South Africa, the First World War in Gallipoli, the Middle East and the Western Front and the Second World War in England Ireland and Europe as well as their peace time service in the County.
Whilst at this time 100 years ago the Battle of Passchendaele was raging on the Western Front the 1st Battalion was preparing for the 3rd Battle of Gaza, which would take place in November 1917 against the Turks in Palestine. Many soldiers of the Regiment had also been transferred to other units to take part in the Battle of Passchendaele forming reinforcement drafts to make good for losses due to battle casualties.
Visitors to the museum could also bring in items of militaria for identification and several interesting items were ‘revealed’.
A wooden box sculpted with the Regimental title, the treslilion of the Isle of Man and the words Knockaloe had baffled the owners for some while. The Museum team were able to answer the mystery! In 1915 the Army had recruited ex-soldiers (who were unfit/too old for front line duties) to act as prisoner of war camp guards. The Herefordshire Regiment recruited a supplementary company to undertake these duties and that company was sent to the Isle of Man to undertake guard duties at the internment camp known as Camp Knockaloe.
The Courtyard theatre is currently reviewing their costume holdings, with a view to making more of them available for hire. They asked the Museum’s curator, Colonel Andy Taylor to take a look at the military items they hold.
Two items were of particular local interest and importance!
Both were Herefordshire Rifle Volunteer Corps (HRVC) soldiers tunics of the 1900 – 1910 period. These are unusual and rare for a variety of reasons: soldiers generally had to return their uniforms to the Quartermaster on discharge and few survive – officers paid for their own uniforms and on discharge the uniforms often went into a trunk in the attic. Additionally one of the uniform bears sergeants’ chevrons, a marksmans’ badge and the medal ribbon of the Queen’s South Africa Medal for service in the BOER War. Forty five members of the HRVC volunteered to serve for 12 months active service with the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in South Africa and this is probably the jacket of one of those soldiers.
The team also saw photographs and medals relating to the Regiment and are always keen to add information and items to the Museum archive; further details at herefordshirelightinfantrymuseum.com
By Andy Taylor
Dave Seeney and John Scott solve the mystery of the Isel of Man box.
Andy Taylor views one of the jackets from the Courtyard Costume collection.