Viney Memorial Lecture Returns After Covid Break

 The Trust is delighted to announce that our annual Viney Lecture returns on Sunday, 26th June, after a two-year gap due to Covid.

 We are pleased to be partnering with the Buckingham Literary Festival to bring you “The Forgotten War” with distinguished military historian Dr Robert Lyman, examining the Burma campaign of the Second World War. The lecture will take place at The Vinson, University of Buckingham, from 1230-1330.  Dr Lyman will be exploring some aspects of the conflict that are not yet fully understood, and along the way he will touch on the part played in the fighting by the men of 99th (Royal Bucks Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, a Territorial Army unit from Buckinghamshire with roots that go back to the formation of the Yeomanry Cavalry in the 1790s.

The Viney Memorial Lecture remembers the Trust’s founder, Aylesbury-born Major Elliott Viney, DSO, MBE, TD, DL, who briefly commanded the 1/1st Bucks Battalion at the French town of Hazebrouck, in May, 1940, helping to hold the perimeter around Dunkirk in order to buy time for over 300,000 personnel to be evacuated from the beaches.

Dr Lyman FRHistS is a Research Fellow at the Changing Character of War Centre, Pembroke College, Oxford. Following 20 years in the British army, he publishes widely on the Second World War in Europe, North Africa and Asia. He lectures for the National Army Museum and the Kohima Educational Trust, and speaks regularly at Chalke Valley History Festival. His new book about the Forgotten War is A War of EmpiresJapan, India, Burma & Britain 1941-45.

Tickets for the lecture are available from the Buckingham Literary Festival booking office at: https://www.bucklitfest.org/tickets/

 

 

2022 Spring Lecture Series – “Battles with a Buckinghamshire Connection” 

If you’re interested in the military history and heritage of Buckinghamshire you won’t want to miss the BMMT’s Spring Lecture series.

We’ve pulled together a stellar line-up of academics to shine a spotlight on battles with a Buckinghamshire connection.

From Agincourt to Waterloo, from Somme mud to the pine-clad limestone slopes of the Italian mountains,  Bucks soldiers have left an indelible mark on the nation’s military history. During our Spring lecture series we’ll be exploring the links between Buckinghamshire and some of the most famous battles in history.

Lecture 1 – 26 April, 2022 at 1900.

The programme will kick off on Tuesday, 26th April, with a look at one of the great historical controversies of the Battle of Waterloo.

Which regiment should get the credit for inflicting defeat on Napoleon’s crack Imperial Guard as the famous battle reached its climax on 18 June, 1815? This question has been the subject of historical debate for decades. Some argue that the glory belongs to the 1st Foot Guards, later renamed the Grenadier Guards. However, for others, the daring attack into the enemy’s flank by the 52nd of Foot, the forerunners of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was the decisive act that forced the previously undefeated Guard to break and run. Military historian, Gareth Glover will shed new light on the controversy when he delivers the first of our Spring lectures.

A former naval officer, Gareth Glover is one of the foremost experts on Waterloo, his many publications including The Great Waterloo Controversy: The Story of the 52nd Foot at History’s Greatest Battle (2020); Waterloo in 100 Objects (2015), Waterloo: Myth and Reality (2014), Wellington’s Voice: The Candid Letters of Lieutenant Colonel John Fremantle, Coldstream Guards.

This will be a virtual lecture, via Zoom. You can register to take part here:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Py6sTnZdRU2mAAc4HDfvmg

If you missed this lecture you can view a recording here

Lecture 2 – 10 May, 2022 at 1900.

Was the Battle of Agincourt Buckinghamshire’s first “battle honour”?
According to local folklore, a Bucks contingent took part in Henry V’s famous victory over the French on St Crispin’s Day, 1415. This is based on a stanza from Michael Drayton’s poem, “The Ballad of Agincourt”, circa 1600, in which he wrote: “The mustered men for Buckingham are gone, Under the swan, the arms of the old town.” Professor Anne Curry will consider the county’s supposed connection with the battle in the second of the BMMT’s Spring Lecture Series.
Anne Curry, Emeritus Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of Southampton is an internationally recognised expert on Agincourt and the Hundred Years War. Her many publications include Agincourt (2015), Henry V: From Playboy Prince to Warrior King (2018) and, edited with Malcolm Mercer, The Battle of Agincourt (2015). She also directed The Soldier in the Later Middle Ages research project and is a Past President of the Historical Association and Chairman of the Battlefields Trust.

This will be a virtual lecture via Zoom. You can register to take part here:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_LBHS-QzQSR6pzsZFARtl5A

If you missed this lecture you can view it on our YouTube channel here.

Lecture 3 – 14 June 2022 at 1900.

The 1/1st Buckinghamshire Battalion, a Territorial Force unit, fought as part of the 48th (South Midland) Division throughout the First World War, seeing service at the Somme, the advance to the Hindenburg Line and Passchendaele before leaving the Western Front for Italy in November, 1917.  In the third of our Spring Lectures, Dr Bill Mitchinson will chart the 48th Division’s war on the plains of Flanders, the rolling chalk downland of the Somme, the rocky, pine-clad slopes above the Asiago Plateau, and the advance into Austria as the war came to an end. Dr Bill Mitchinson is a former lecturer at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College, London, based at the UK’s Defence Academy, Shrivenham. Known for his work on the Territorials in the Great War, his books include Defending Albion: Britain’s Home Army, 1908-19 (2005), England’s Last Hope: The Territorial Force, 1908-14 (2008), The Territorial Force at War, 1914-16 (2014), The 48th (South Midland) Division, 1908-19 (2017), and Of No Earthly Use: The 2nd Line Territorial Force Divisions and the Western Front, 1914-18 (2021).

This will be a virtual lecture via Zoom. You can register to take part here:  

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_AtBjRpbBQmmSn3KDBxVI6g

If you missed this lecture you can view it on our YouTube channel here

 

 

 

Moggie Stuck in Machine Gun Muzzle for 105 Years! 

Felix, the cat with nine lives, has emerged from the muzzle (flash-eliminator) of a German machine gun after being trapped there for over 100 years!

The furry feline had possibly been shoved into the weapon by a British Tommy during the battle of Passchendaele in 1917, and remained hidden ever since.

Not a real moggie of course. Felix The Cat was the name given to a popular brand of nougat manufactured by Leeds-based confectioners, Rogall’s, who had a factory in the Seacroft area to the east of the city. It was the waxed wrapping paper from the sweet that was rolled up and placed in the end of the gun barrel, only discovered when the weapon was being prepared for display at a military history festival this summer.

The Bucks Military Museum Trust has had the German MG08 Maxim machine gun in our collection for some time. The First World War-vintage weapon was a gift from the Royal Green Jackets Museum (now The Rifles) in Winchester in 2014 and has been in store ever since, awaiting an opportunity to be exhibited.

Having been invited to take part in a military history event this summer, we decided that this would be the perfect time to put the machine gun on show. However, the gun’s mount was missing, making it difficult to display it safely. To rectify this, we asked a local engineering company to fabricate a stand. And it was while dismantling the weapon to fit the new tripod that Felix came to light (see photographs).

This particular MG08 was captured by troops of the 16th Battalion, the Rifle Brigade, a forerunner of the Royal Green Jackets. It still bears the scars of the fighting in which it was taken, with several bullet holes clearly visible. An inscription on the water-jacket of the gun reads: “Trophy claimed by 16th Rifle Brigade, 31 July 1917”. That date was, of course, the first day of the Battle of Passchendale, on which the battalion, part of 117th Brigade, 39th Division, XVIII Corps, took part in the 5th Army attack that would become known as the Battle of Pilkem Ridge.

The men of 16 RB were tasked to capture the German front and second line trench systems, in front of, in and behind Kitchener’s Wood, before securing crossings of the Steenbeek river, to the north of St Julien (see photograph). The battalion’s war diary contains a detailed account of the fighting, written by the Commanding Officer, Lt Col The Hon Edward Coke, MC, who was himself wounded in the assault (WO95/2586/1).

Zero was set for 0340, about 30 minutes before dawn, and was heralded by a heavy artillery bombardment on the German front line and beyond. At 0513 the battalion advanced to capture its first objective (the Black Line). Racecourse Farm offered serious opposition to the left company, where a machine gun in a concrete bunker inflicted numerous casualties until it was captured. This company then came under fire from a second machine gun at Bochcastel Estaminet, and this was silenced by rifle grenades and Lewis Gun fire. The leading waves advanced into Cannon and Canoe Trenches (Black Line) where they came under further heavy machine gun and sniper fire from Kitchener’s Wood. One machine gun in particular, apparently positioned near the ‘M’ in Bochcastel Estaminet (see map) gave a great deal of trouble until it was captured. Two officers, Lt Taylor and Lt Barrett, were among its victims.

Meanwhile, the right company was fired on by two machine gun positions in Kitchener’s Wood. Both of these were captured, along with the guns and the wood was cleared before the troops advanced to the second objective (the black dotted line) where more machine guns and snipers were encountered. These groups were killed or captured and while the second objective was being consolidated, the attackers were fired on from further MGs at Regina Cross, a second position, south-west of the cross-roads, and from Alberta. The follow-on waves then passed through and headed for the Steenbeek. It was now Zero plus 1 hour 40 minutes. Regina Cross, which consisted of three strong points, offered further serious resistance on the left until platoons managed to outflank it, using Lewis Guns and Rifle Grenades, and No 27 bombs (phosphorus). About 30 Germans were killed or captured along with three further machine guns before the Steenbeek was reached and crossed. Over the six days in which the 16 RB were involved in this action their casualties were 32 killed (including two officers), 277 wounded and 18 missing. A total of seven machine guns were recovered by the battalion and taken back to the rear.

There is a direct, if tenuous Buckinghamshire link to this action. The Rifle Brigade was forced to withdraw back across the Steenbeek after a strong German counter-attack and established their line to the west of the watercourse. Two weeks later, on 16 August, the First Buckinghamshire Battalion would attack in the same area, successfully crossing the Steenbeek and securing a new line to the east.

The MG08, calibre 7.92x57mm, was the standard German heavy machine gun throughout the First World War. It was a beast, weighing in at 62.2kg (with water tank and fixed to its sled mount), but being belt-fed it had a cyclic rate of fire of 450-plus rounds per minute and an effective range of 2500 yards. A lighter version, the MG08/15, was developed during the war and could be carried and fired on the move. The MG08, although largely replaced by the lighter and more modern MG34 and MG42, was still in use by some German units in the Second World War. It was mainly used in fixed defensive positions, including along the Atlantic Wall, and was certainly encountered by allied troops in Normandy during and after the D Day landings.

Launch of Ogilby Trust Great War Digital Archive

Following a 4-year project funded by a LIBOR grant from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Army Museums Ogilby Trust (AMOT) is excited to launch The Ogilby Muster (TOM). TOM is an online platform which provides access to the First World War archives held in Regimental Museums across the UK. Launching during Remembrance month, TOM has preserved the experiences and memories of those who served in the First World War for future generations.

With over 75 participating collections, and more set to join in 2022, TOM will eventually hold over 2 million items including some never-before-seen material. Covering the period 1900 to 1929, the platform contains documents, photographs, letters, diaries and more, all related to the British Army and the men and women who served.

TOM will be an essential tool for anyone interested in military, social or family history. You can use it from the comfort of your own home, exploring material which is held across the UK while staying in one location. With all material digitised, users can search knowing that there is a visual copy available to see. If you need any extra direction, you will be able to contact the relevant museums directly and speak to their expert Archivists and Curators.

The Hon. Mrs Katherine Swinfen Eady, Trustee of the Army Museums Ogilby Trust, commented:

“With the opening of the TOM Platform we are given a wonderful key to unlock history. As historians this is an invaluable gift, as family members researching their beloved lost relatives, it is equally as important. TOM allows us to piece together the truth left behind by the subjects, to build up that wonderful pattern of a jigsaw and find the missing fragments of information. It is especially important as it will help us all further our knowledge and understanding of not just the military side of the First World War, but the social aspect of an event in history that affected and shaped this country and the world.”

Lieutenant General Sir Philip Trousdell, former Chairman of the Army Museums Ogilby Trust added:

“In The Ogilby Muster, the Army Museums Ogilby Trust has created an enormously powerful research tool for students, family researchers, historians and those with even a casual interest in the First World War. This project honours the memories and experiences of those who served in the Army in ‘The War to End all Wars’, their families and their communities. The museums from which these archives have been mustered have rich collections of artefacts ready for you to examine.”  

The Ogilby Muster will go live online from Wednesday 3rd November 2021.

Records included from the BMMT collection include those of the Bucks Battalion in 1908, and the 1/1st, 2/1st and 3/1st Royal Bucks Hussars.

Bucks History Festival 2021

Researching a Village in the Second World War: Whitchurch

Professor Ian Beckett

7-8pm Wed 24 Nov 2021

Live via Zoom

The Second World War has entered popular memory as the ‘people’s war’.
Whereas just 1,570 British civilians died as a result of direct enemy action in the First World War, British civilian war dead in the Second World War totalled 66,375.

One constantly recurring wartime theme was of the English countryside as visual shorthand for all that was at risk. On 24 August 1940, H. V. Morton, the journalist and travel writer, encapsulated much of the rural vision in Country Life: ‘It came to me that one of the most remarkable things about this war is the quiet way England has, for many of us, ceased to be a country, or even a county, and has now become a parish.’ It is perhaps appropriate then to look at one particular wartime parish.

The talk will examine the sources available for studying the local history of the Second World War from servicemen and women to the Home Guard, other emergency services, agriculture, fund raising, the impact of national events, and two unique aspects of wartime experience – ‘Winston Churchill’s Toyshop’, and the connection to Mrs Miniver.

The talk will not be recorded

Book your free tickets here: https://bit.ly/3iP2GQg

New Exhibition of Bucks ‘County’ Gun at Fort Ticonderoga

The new exhibition, ‘A Well Regulated Militia: Citizen, Soldier, and State’ at Fort Ticonderoga Museum, New York State, focuses on the history of the American militia in the colonial period, Fort Ticonderoga is using examples from its collections to illustrate the trans-Atlantic connections to the English militia. One exhibit is one of the two Bucks cannon purchased by the museum in 1926 at the sale of Stowe, these being originally presented to the Royal Bucks King’s Own Militia by county subscription in 1794. Usually, both are displayed on the ramparts of the reconstructed fort but one has been brought inside for the exhibition. It is shown alongside a copy of the watercolour of the artillery attached to the Bucks militia – in this case a government-supplied cannon – executed by Sir William Young in 1793. The original of Young’s watercolour is in the British Library whilst the story of the Bucks cannon at Ticonderoga was told in ‘A Tale of Two Guns’ in Bugle and Sabre 2 (2008).

For details of the Ticonderoga exhibition, see

Oving Commemoration Day

Sunday 15 August 2021

2.50 – 5.00 p.m.

A service to commemorate Wing Commander George Laurence Bazett Hull DFC, buried at Oving, who was killed when his Mosquito aircraft crashed in Leicestershire on 17 May 1946. It will also commemorate the 1942 crew of his Bristol Blenheim, the remains of the aircraft having been recovered by the Field Detectives group.

The Primrose Past

A Primrose Path: The Gilded Life of Lord Rosebery’s favourite Son by Martin Gibson is being republished by Arum Press. The Hon. Neil Primrose, second son of Lord Rosebery and Hannah Rothschild of Mentmore, was Liberal MP for North Cambridgeshire from 1910 until his death in 1917. He was briefly Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office in 1915; and then Liberal Chief Whip in 1916 alternating parliamentary and active service in the 1/1st Royal Bucks Hussars, in which he was commissioned in 1909.

Primrose was killed in action against the Ottoman Turks at Abu Shusheh, Palestine on 15 November 1917 whilst serving with the regiment. Two days previously, he had taken part in the charge at El Mughar.

The result of extensive research, Martin Gibson’s book tells for the first time the story of this member of the Liberal political elite, including his friendship with a previous officer of the Royal Bucks Hussars, Thomas Agar-Robartes, briefly Liberal MP for Bodmin in 1906 and for Mid-Cornwall (St Austell) from 1908 until his death in 1915. Agar-Robartes transferred from the Royal Bucks Hussars to the Coldstream Guards in January 1915 and was killed in September that year.

Available in hardback @ £20 plus p&p direct from the publishers, www,arumpress.co.uk/books

——————

Bletchley Park, British Intelligence and the Second World War

History Professor John Ferris has been named the “Authorized Historian” in chronicling the history of its British communications intelligence agency (Government Communications Headquarters). Ferris stands next to an Enigma machine, a type of enciphering machine used by the German armed forces to send messages securely.

Wednesday 7 April 2021

1900 Hours (Virtual Talk)

Professor John Ferris, Official Historian of GCHQ

In the first of a series of talks on ‘Secret Bucks’ in WW2, Professor Ferris will discuss the role of the Bletchley Code-breakers in Allied victory

Professor Ferris is Professor of History at the University of Calgary and was selected to write the first authorised history of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in 2017. Behind the Enigma: The Authorised History of GCHQ, Britain’s Secret Cyber Intelligence Agency was published in 2020. It challenged the myths of ‘eccentrics overcoming the odds, the enemy, and the establishment’.

To book please visit zoomtalk@bmmt.co.uk

 You can now view the talk on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/wxqawCqx_fs 

 

Buckinghamshire Historical Association

‘Known onto God’ Lost in the Battle of Arras (a WWI detective story)

Wednesday 17 February 2021

2000 hours Online Talk

Tom Shannon, Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum

Identifying an unknown officer of the 5th Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry lost at Arras in May 1917 whose remains were found in 2013

Please register your interest by emailing:
secretarybucksha@gmail.com

Price: free for members, donations welcome

Membership of the Buckinghamshire Branch of the Historical Association costs £12 annually from October each year.


The Pegasus Bridge Story: Online Talk by David Innes

Monday 18 January at 1900 hours


In the opening hours of D Day – 6 June 1944 – a small glider-borne coup de main force from the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry seized key objectives in Normandy ahead of the main landings which marked the start of the invasion of Europe.  This is the story of the men in this operation, what happened when they hit the ground, how they took on their German enemies and why their actions that day will always be remembered in that part of France.

This lecture is one of the Army Flying Museum’s Lockdown Lecture series and was created in partnership with the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum.

Just visit the website and watch online using your web browser (Google Chrome recommended).

There is no ticket charge or pre-registration required for this event, but please consider donating if you enjoy the talk

www.armyflying.com or sofo.org.uk


Buckinghamshire History Festival

BRINGING HISTORY HOME: 12-13 SEPTEMBER 2020
Curated by Buckinghamshire Archives

Dad’s Army in Bucks: The Local Defence Volunteers and Home Guard

By Professor Ian Beckett

Sunday 13 September 2020

6 p.m.

This year, the popular annual history fair is going all-digital, in response to the challenges of COVID-19. In collaboration with local museums, libraries, and cultural organisations, there is an exciting, varied programme for all ages. Sign up for email updates, or follow on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

https://buckshistoryfestival.co.uk/


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