As a Training Ground for War: How Sport Prepares Soldiers for the Battlefield
(14 October – 29 November 2019)
From 14 October the REME Museum will play host to a touring exhibition, focused on the way sport prepares soldiers for the battlefield. It explores the three key strands of fitness, teamwork and fighting capability through historic and current day examples of military and sporting equipment.
The Army has always played sport. Through peace and war, the British soldier has carried the boxing glove alongside the bayonet. Army sport evokes a series of striking images, from footballs being kicked across No Man’s Land in the First World War, to 80,000 spectators roaring on the Army vs Navy rugby match at Twickenham.
Sport builds qualities of fitness, discipline and camaraderie. It teaches soldiers to negotiate battlefield obstacles, operate effectively together and develop the determination to win. It is recognised as a crucial factor in maintaining the physical development and operational capability.
The exhibition draws on the collections of several military and sporting museums, including objects from the REME Museum’s collections, as well as items borrowed from current serving soldiers. These range from the Olympic wrestling medal won by a First World War unarmed combat specialist to the gloves worn by the Army boxing team in Inter-Service and international competitions in 2018.
This exiting display forms part of Sporting Heritage and the Armed Forces, a collaboration between the Army Museums Ogilby Trust and Sporting Heritage networks. The project aims to uncover, share, and celebrate collections with a focus on sporting heritage and the Armed Forces.
Located in the Museum’s Remembrance Gallery, entry to the exhibition in included with your ticket.
The Ruined Factory: REME Volkswagen and the car that defined an era
(8 October to 8 December 2019)
Of the many stories of WW2, the role played by the British army – and REME in particular – in kick-starting one of Germany’s post war car industries, is one of the most surprising.
Founded by the Nazi Party in 1937, Volkswagen was tasked with producing an affordable car for the masses, a design that would become the VW Beetle. During World War Two, Volkswagen’s factories in Wolfsburg, Germany, were bombed in raids by Allied forces and left in ruin.
It wasn’t until the summer of 1945 when a REME Workshop began to operated out of the ruined factory that the plant’s use as a solution to the vehicle shortfall amongst occupying forces came to light. As part of a plan masterminded by REME Officers, Major Ivan Hirst and Colonel M A McEvoy, orders were soon placed for 20,000 Beetles, securing the immediate future of the factory.
The early days were not easy but REME’s engineering prowess ensured that by October 1946 the factory had produced 10,000 cars. Under Major Hirst’s stewardship, strict quality control measures were introduced as well as an extensive service and dealership network was created.
Launched to mark the 70th anniversary of Volkswagen’s relaunch as a civilian controlled company, this exhibition has been extended by popular demand from its planned week-long run. Don’t miss out, visit soon to learn more about this fascinating Anglo-German story.
Located in the Museum’s Temporary Exhibition Space, entry to the exhibition in included with your ticket.
Women of REME
(23 April to 5 October 2019)
Throughout REME’s history, women have worked alongside REME’s male fighting force, excelling in careers not always available to women in the civilian world.
This exhibition told the stories of some of these exceptional women. Women such as Junior Commander Marjorie Inkster who served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), an organisation created during World War Two for the thousands of women keen to help the war effort. She was attached to REME to maintain and repair radar equipment – vital work that helped defend Britain from aerial attack.
The role of women in the British Army has seen dramatic changes over the decades. The exhibition looked at the restriction’s women had to overcome, from being unable to serve if married, to being paid less than the men they commanded. It also highlighted the opportunities and support which women received to help them excel in their chosen career and to proudly serve their country in the same role as their male colleagues.
With women making up 10% of the British Army, and with this number increasing, the exhibition showcased some of the stories of women currently serving with REME, alongside their pioneering predecessors.