The Museum cares for a fascinating and eclectic mix of objects from around the world. Each helps to tell the REME story and therefore the story of the British Army in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Many of these precious artefacts date from World War Two, but there are earlier objects from the individuals and predecessor Corps, such as the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, who transferred to the REME when it was formed in 1942. The Cold War period is well represented and the range of objects from 1991 to the present, is growing.
The diversity of this collection is incredible. It includes tracked vehicles, firearms, swords, art, medals, uniforms, radios, personal mementos, a baby’s respirator and a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It is also international with objects from such countries as Germany, Singapore and Australia. Scroll down the page to see a sample.
The Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle is the largest recovery vehicle used by the British Army. With the hull and engine of a Challenger tank and the specialist equipment of the REME, it can rescue any vehicle in the army.
Equipped with a spade, winch and a crane, it is capable of pulling 52 tonnes. The Museum’s example is an early prototype.
John Commander was present at the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940. When he returned home, his wife refused to allow him into the house due to the state of his battledress uniform, and he had to take it off on the doorstep. Their children collected the sand from his trouser turn ups.
Cfn Commander transferred to the REME when the Corps was formed.
Prisoner of War’s toothbrush
G Street was a Prisoner of War during World War Two. Captured by the Japanese, he stayed in Changi Jail, Singapore, from 25th Feb 1942 to 16th October 1945.
It was difficult for prisoners to obtain these simple things we take for granted and they are important for staying healthy. Mr Street had to replace the worn out bristles with coconut fibres.
Volkswagen Beetle Model
VW created three of these models. They gave one to Major Ivan Hirst as thanks for his involvement in re-establishing their factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, after World War Two.
When Maj Hirst arrived in the autumn of 1945, the factory was a bombed ruin. He exceeded all expectations and soon cars were running off the production line.
This jacket was worn by William Leppard. The 6th June 1944 was an important day for Bill. Not only was it his birthday, but he was also landing at Sword Beach as part of D Day.
On its shoulder are three badges. The top and bottom badges belong to REME. The middle badge is the seahorse of the 27th Armoured Brigade, to which he was attached.
United Nation’s medals
REME personnel have served in many United Nation’s operations. These medals represent three of these. The first was awarded to anyone who served in the Korean War 27th June 1950 – 27th July 1953. The second was for members of the United Nations Protection Force, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992 -1995. The final medal is for those who have served in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, 1963 to the present.
Model of a Crossley armoured car
The Museum has a large model collection. Many of these are scratch built models created as gifts for retiring soldiers, trophies or to test the skill of the apprentices.
Crossley Motors made various vehicles and the Indian pattern car was constucted with Vickers at the request of the government of India in the 1920s. It was not a successful design.
Trade test pieces
REME soldiers undergo intensive training to learn their engineering skills. To prove that they have learnt their trade, they must produce ‘trade test pieces’ that demonstrate their skills and knowledge. This is a long standing tradition of engineering apprentices.
These trade test pieces were created by a former REME soldier and donated by his daughter.