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REGIMENTAL MUSEUM36NADFAS REVIEW / WINTER 2011www.nadfas.org.ukin 1702 to its amalgamation with theSomerset Light Infantry in 1959. Themany wars and campaigns are put intothe perspective of the history of ournations by means of maps, pictures andartefacts. These include a MasonicBible, which was printed in England in1712, and was the family Bible of theWest family of New Bedford,Massachusetts. The Bible was acquiredby the regiment during a raid of NewBedford on 5 September 1778. It waslater captured by the Americans butreturned under a flag of truce. In thewars against Napoleon, it again fell intoenemy hands but was once againreturned under a flag of truce.The museum is perhaps unique in thatit also has a full collection dedicated tovoluntary forces - in this case displayingthe history of the Volunteer Militia, theHome Guard and the Territorial forces. The final collection turns the focus tothe history of the Light Infantry, whichwas formed by the amalgamation ofseveral famous county regimentsincluding the Somerset and CornwallLight Infantry in 1968. The display takes the visitor through the regiment'swork in several of the most notoriousconflicts in the latter part of the 20thcentury, from the Cold War to theNorthern Ireland troubles. There are fascinating stories behindmany of the exhibits. In January 1990,the joint RUC/2nd Battalion LightInfantry base at Newtonhamilton cameunder fire from an IRA multi-barrelledmortar. The four tubes were fired fromthe rear of a Toyota van, but only one ofthe bombs landed inside the base andluckily it failed to explode. The mortar ondisplay at the museum is the actualweapon used and was seized by theLight Infantry after the attack. There are hundreds of weaponsexhibited in the museum armoury,creating one of the best displays ofsmall arms in the country. The itemsdate from 1805 to the 1970s andoriginate from the USA, Germany, Italyand Australia as well as Great Britain. SIEGE OF LUCKNOWThe most famous battle that the 32ndRegiment was involved in, leading themto be honoured with the title 'LightInfantry', was the Siege of Lucknowduring the Indian Mutiny in 1857.Long-standing tensions betweenIndian 'sepoys' (soldiers) and the rulersfinally exploded as an uprising leading to a full-scale mutiny. Across NorthernIndia there were massacres ofEuropeans and the British foughtdesperately to save their communities.In Cawnpore, a detachment of theRegiment was repeatedly attacked by ahuge number of rebels. When theirsupplies were finally exhausted theyaccepted the rebels offer of freepassage to safety. However, onsurrender most were immediatelymassacred and those women andchildren who initially escaped werecaptured and murdered with theirbodies thrown down a well.The main body of the Regiment werein Lucknow and were under siege in theAbove:Themuseum boastsone of the UK'sbest small armscollections Right: Medalcollection of WWI veteranHarry PatchLeft:EmilyHobhouse was a staunchcampaigner forBoerrights

www.nadfas.org.ukNADFAS REVIEW / WINTER 201137REGIMENTAL MUSEUMResidency which they defended fromJune until they were finally relieved inNovember. When finally relieved, theRegiment had been in increasing actionfor six months - soldiers' beards werelong and matted and the uniforms whichsurvived were in tatters. During the siegethe Regiment had lost 15 officers, 364other ranks with 11 officers and 198soldiers wounded. Many women andchildren also perished.One of the most moving displays is a counterpane created by the womenof the Lucknow siege. An impressivepiece of needlework in itself, the piecehas added significance when you learnthe materials used to create it. The blueand red panels were taken from theuniforms of dead soldiers, whilst whitepieces were taken from the collarfacings of the same uniforms. Finally, the central green panels were salvagedfrom baize of the ruined Residencybilliard table.News of the Regiment's gallantryspread through the Empire and received official recognition fromBuckingham Palace in a letter whichread: "Her Majesty the Queen Victoria, in consideration of the enduring gallantry displayed in the defence ofLucknow, has been pleased to directthat the 32nd Regiment be clothed,equipped and trained as a Light Infantry Regiment." Very much a battle honour and one that is stillcelebrated today. The museum is open Mon -Fri, 9am-5pm. Contact: 01208 72810 or visit www.cornwalls-regimentalmuseum.org LENDING A HAND The museum relies heavily on volunteers- and is actively recruiting more. Major(retd) Trevor Stipling outlined a fewongoing projects where volunteers could contribute, explaining that he iskeen to recruit people for specific tasks.There are opportunities in areas such asthe digitisation of photos, pictures andmap, including the archive items;assisting with photographing andcataloguing artefacts; answering visitorquestions/providing room stewards ingalleries; or as a research assistant tothe museum's historian. If any HeritageVolunteer teams or individuals would beable to help with any of these projects,please contact Chloe Bevan at NADFASHouse at volunteering@nadfas.org.uk