Viney Memorial Lecture Returns After Covid Break
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 Empires: Japan, 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:
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:
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:
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.
Stone Local History Group
Sunday 10 November 2019
Exhibition in Stone Village Hall
James Holland, ‘A New Look at Normandy’
Friday 11 October 2019, 7 p.m.
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Second Space
Tickets £22 from:
www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury and 0844 871 7615
Royal British Legion
Whitchurch and District Branch
Tuesday 8 October 2019, 7.30 p.m.
Whitchurch Church Hall
Refreshments and signed copies available
The Trust is delighted to announce that it has received a grant of £1,300 from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund and a further donation from the Grenville Lodge towards the cost of a computerised MODES system. This will enable the Trust to fully document its collections and continue to meet Museum Accreditation requirements.
Lieutenant Colonel Simon Wilkinson, BMMT Chairman, received the cheque from Bucks MCF representative Andrew Hough at the Old Gaol in Buckingham.
The Gateway, Aylesbury
Sunday 11 November 2018
Entertainment from the Rockabellas, the Halton Military Wives Choir, J’s Joyful Divas, the Chiltern Poetry Society, and the Buckinghamshire Band of the Royal British Legion
World War One Ration Pack Lunches and Afternnon Tea
Bucks Military Museum Trust and Buckingham Heritage Trust
30 October to 28 November 2018
The Old Gaol, Market Hill, Buckingham
Saturday 10 November 2018
0900-1230, Buckingham Town Centre
Sunday 11 November 2018
1715-2000, Buckingham Town Centre
Hosted by Charlie Ross (BBC Bargain Hunt) with Choir of 100 Voices, Miles Nottage and his Band, MK Pipe Band, Isabelle Morgan (Soprano), Local Musicians and Groups
27 October to 16 November 2018
All events in Aid of the Royal British Legion Poppy Fund
Haddenham Museum Trust
Saturday 10 November 2018
St Mary’s Church, Haddenham
1430 and 1930
A new play by Margaret Watkins following on from the previously performed production in 2014, which commemorated the outbreak of war. With the assistance of the Haddenham Players, the production will form part of the commemoration of the Armistice and the sacrifices of local people.
All profits will be shared between Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion
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