King's Own Royal Regiment Museum
Museum & Collections
First World War
Second World War
Actions & Movements
King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum
Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Warren (Chairman)
The major advance of the year was the launch of the museum’s own website, an extremely useful resource which allows access to the museum’s collections for those unable to visit in person.. The number of visitors to the site are already very encouraging and with further marketing and promotion we hope these will increase.
However, we have not allowed the introduction of the website to detract from other activities and the museum has continued with it’s publications programme which has included a reprint of the 1st/5th Battalion in the First World War and of two booklets on the regiment in Iraq which coincided with the deployment of the 1st Battalion King’s Own Royal Border Regiment to Iraq in October.
Between April and September the Curator worked with the 1st Battalion, recording their activities and pre-Iraq training, including visits to Brecon, Salisbury Plain, ceremonial events in Carlisle and Whitehaven and the funeral of a 1st Battalion Border Regiment soldier in Arnhem in April 2005.
The Curator advised the regiment on a wide range of matters relating to the amalgamation of the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment with the King’s Regiment and the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, to form The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment. Topics covered have included regimental history, Battle Honours and information on regimental silver and property held by the 1st Battalion.
The Trustees met in November and had a full agenda including a report on the creation of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment. It was decided that the Regimental Museum, whilst wishing to establish firm links with the new regiment, would retain it’s independence and continue to operate under it’s existing, recently revised, Trust Deed.
The Trustees expressed their gratitude to both Lancaster City Council and Lancashire County Council’s for their continued support of the King’s Own Museum.
Management of the museum’s collection in a clean and tidy manner which allows easy access to items and information continues to be a time consuming process but reorganisation of storage spaces has enabled more efficient use of the available space. The trustees received a second collection management report on the state of the collections at the meeting in November and a third and final report is planned for 2006. During the year many items held in the collection, but not previously registered, were formally ‘accessioned’ giving them a unique number and details within the registers and indexes. In the course of this work a description of each item is recorded and the item is photographed in order to aid future identification and collection management.
Availability of storage space is always an issue and the arrival from the Ministry of Defence of a number of volumes relating to Enlistments and Discharges gave cause for concern but reorganisation of the ‘Army Lists’ allowed us to find space for them. ‘Army Lists’ are very rarely used in relation to King’s Own officers, the relevant details being available in the lists compiled by Colonel Keith, and are now only occasionally used to answer the odd enquiry which relates to an officer of another regiment - which we are, from time to time, called upon to answer.
Research and Digitisation
The on-going project of ‘digitisation’ of details of soldiers who served in the Regiment, which involves the Curator working at The National Archives at Kew, continues and the British War and Allied Victory Medal rolls are almost complete. Over twenty two thousand names have been copied from the rolls, and there remain 848 from the Royal Lancaster Regiment for the First World War. This work has been generously grant-aided by the Army Museums Ogilby Trust. There is much more to do with details of about fourteen thousand soldiers which appear on these rolls still to find, these being men who served with the King’s Own before being transferred to other regiments. It is difficult to estimate how long this task will take to complete but that continues to be our goal. It is intended that the Medal Rolls be supplemented by the Silver War Badge Roll. The Badge was issued to those soldiers who were discharged due to illness or wounds during the First World War and the roll gives the date of enlistment and discharge of each man and is therefore very useful.
The main costs of the project are the travel and accommodation costs whilst in London. Accommodation costs have been kept to a minimum as often friends of the curator are able to provide a bed for the night! Travel costs are also kept to a minimum by, whenever possible, combining a visit to Kew with attendance at another meeting. However, the fact remains to complete the project will continue to require funding.
The Ministry of Defence has contracted the work of it’s record system to TNT Archive Management. This change resulted in a number of records being transferred to Regimental Museums and we were pleased to be given the enlistment and transfer/discharge books for the King’s Own for the period from 1920 to the 1940s. The numerous bound volumes involved, which contain many thousands of names, posed something of a problem from the point of view of storage but with a bit or reorganisation of the stores shelf space has been found for all of them. The details on the soldiers are shown in numerical order so the next step will involve indexing the entries alphabetically by surname in order to facilitate prompt response to family history enquiries which are usually made on the basis of surnames.
Fundraising is always at the forefront of everything we do, for without the funds that the museum raises our activities would be severely limited.
The museum is pleased to record the support of grant giving bodies:
Donations received in response to enquiries and fundraising:
Money due to be received from Inland Revenue under the ‘Gift Aid’ Scheme
A number of King’s Own Museum publications were donated to ‘Tape Aids for the Blind’ based in South Africa.
Information Sheets published:
An A4 leaflet dispenser for use in the gallery was acquired so that a range of information sheets could be made available to visitors free of charge. A very simple thing which has added ‘extra-value’ to a museum visit and whilst information sheet uptake has been reasonable we have not been overwhelmed by printing costs!
First planned in 1999 the museum was pleased to launch it’s very own website in August. Following on from the success of the First World War ‘Remember’ website launched in 2000 and building upon the Arnhem 60th Cycle Ride website, the King’s Own Museum website is designed to be the one-stop place for all regimental and museum matters. The site can be found at www.kingsownmuseum.plus.com
Hopefully, the website’s simple layout, will allow users to learn more about the regiment’s history, find about sources of further information and the resources we hold at the museum. One of the first things to go on-line were the information sheets first produced in 1994. These have been updated for the website, and the medal information sheets now include full colour images of the medals.
As well as historical information the website includes museum policy documents and back issues of the Annual Report. Indeed this report will be published on line at the same time as it appears in print! A full list of sales items is also included on the site along with an easy to use order form which can be printed out.
December 2005 saw the addition of the Journal of Captain Mason, recording his journey out to Australia, his time there and his return in the 1830’s. It would probably not be economic to have published this in printed form but the information is now available ‘on-line’ at no cost.
One of the most popular pages to be visited was the ‘Photo Gallery’ which was designed as a later addition but which proved so popular it was decided to bring forward it’s development. By March, nearly 300 images had been added, the majority of which relating to the First World War.
Future expansion of the website will see the addition of more photographs, with the Second World War being next on the priority list. A funding bid is presently in the process of consideration by the Korean Embassy to develop the on-line collections relating to the King’s Own and the Korean War and it’s aftermath in the 1950s.
Attention in the coming months will have to be turned to the marketing and promotion of the website. A number of months advertising has been purchased in ‘Soldier’ magazine, and the website address has been listed on all museum literature. Sources of funding will be investigated to assist with the promotion.
Website Statistics: www.kingsownmuseum.plus.com
Month Visits Pages Hits
August 2005 173 736 1854
September 2005 296 844 1825
October 2005 336 1074 2378
November 2005 441 1594 3356
December 2005 412 1372 2922
January 2006 703 2928 9852
February 2006 795 2803 9644
March 2006 982 3241 10708
Totals 4138 14592 42539
In 2005/06 a total of 1541 enquiries were answered. Quite amazingly this represents a threefold increase over the number handled ten years ago and is due largely to the increased interest in family history. This is the real growth area of museum use, and email enquiries far out number all others. The museum’s website is an ideal place to direct these enquiries. The on-going development of the website and digitisation of archive collection has enabled this greatly increased number of enquiries to be handled in the same time and with the same resources.
Enquiries are also a source of gathering new information, as well as increasing sales and obtaining donations towards the work of the museum.
One such enquiry is worth recalling.
Mr Jack Stapleton contacted the museum one Monday morning seeking information on his father and his twin brother who had served together with the 8th and 1st Battalions of the King’s Own during the Second World War. Whilst his father had survived, uncle Jack had been killed in December 1944 at Pideura Ridge. A reply was sent to the enquiry that same day and information copied to George Simmons who had also served with the 1st Battalion in Italy at that time. By the Wednesday Jack and George were in contact - George having been with Private George Stapleton when Private Jack Stapleton was killed. By the Saturday Jack had visited the museum and visited George in his quest for information on his father and uncle’s service with the regiment. A very nice story
Sadly, George Simmons died during the year and, as a frequent visitor to the museum, will be greatly missed.
To commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the ending of the Second World War ‘The Living Museum’ was organised by the Ministry of Defence in St. James’s Park in July 2005. Many service related organisations and museums held displays, and because it was out of the King’s Own Museum’s league to have a stand of our own, the curator spent the week as part of a ‘Meet the Experts’ team organised by the National Army Museum to deal with historical questions from members of the public.
‘The Living Museum’ was very popular and the week successful. It was sad that the numbers on the 7th July, for understandable reasons, was so small, but it was business as usual with the displays so those who did battle their way through what must have been one of the worst days in London since the Second World War were rewarded for their efforts.
Work with outside bodies
The Curator is a personal member of the following organisations:
The Museum is a member of:
The life blood of any museum must surely be it’s collections, three dimensional objects, archives, photographs and the like which bring to life the stories of the soldiers of the regiment. Year on year we continue to receive many wonderful objects, many by donation, but an increasing number by purchase. We have had a few successes at auction in the past few years, such as Colonel Piper’s Medals and the 1800 Recruiting Poster. A growing number of items come from the internet auction site ‘Ebay’. Whilst ‘Ebay’ is criticised by some, and it is realised that it’s sales contain many items we are not interested in, we have been able to acquire some wonderful items which we would not otherwise have come across. A couple of silver rimmed ceramic port glass chargers (or coasters) were a wonderful item dating to the 1880s or 1890s of which we had no previous knowledge. If these had been for sale in an antique shop or auction house it would have been unlikely that we would have ever discovered that they exist. Whilst looking through the ‘Ebay’ pages takes time, it has been rewarding on a number of occasions, and whilst we are sometimes out bid, some items have been obtained at very attractive prices.
An enquiry from France also led to an important acquisition. An email requesting information on a small metal plaque featuring the badge of the 55th West Lancashire Division in the First World War resulted in the museum being able to acquire two examples. The plaques, on wooden crosses, were used as grave markers after the First World War but when the War Graves Commission replaced the crosses with portland stone most of the plaques were lost. The two examples now in the museum had been preserved in French farm buildings, and the wording ‘They Win or Die Those Who Wear the Rose of Lancaster’ prompted the enquiry to the museum.
The full list of acquisitions is published below, and a great thank you is offered to all of those who have thought of the museum when coming to dispose of regimental and other military items.
© 2005 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum