In the main room we trace our history through the famous battle of Minden in 1759 and some of the many ‘small wars’ (eg Burma and South Africa) which dominated the 19th century. Learn about the battle of Taku Forts in 1860 where members of the 67th (South Hampshire) Regiment won 4 Victoria Crosses. Discover why Private Thomas Lane actually has two VCs and how Lieutenant Lenon was so hard up he tried to pawn his, only to have it purchased by his brother officers.
As this is the period of the 100th anniversary of the First World War, we look at the stories of individuals from Hampshire from their recruitment and training to going to France and Flanders in August 1914 and on to the Somme where the 1st Battalion suffered horrendous casualties on 1st July 1916. The ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign is covered in some depth as we are fortunate to have many artefacts from the converted coal ship the HMT River Clyde. Discover how she was beached at Gallipoli and the trials and tribulations of the three Hampshire battalions on that peninsula. Displays continue in a chronological order through the War, with the Western Front in 1917, Mesopotamia (Mespot), Salonika and even on to Russia where three battalions were sent to help prop up the White Russian government.
As you go along the corridor, past trophies, Regimental Colours, and the 2014 Portsmouth Football Club Home strip, you can discover what the Regiment was doing between the wars and how Major HW Le Patourel earnt his Victoria Cross (initially recorded as posthumous) before it was discovered that he was still alive.
As you enter the Second World War room you can again follow, in a logical order, via the retreat from Dunkirk, the siege at Malta and on to the baptism of fire which our Territorial Battalions had in North Africa in 1943. A large interactive map of Italy traces the progress of the fighting from Sicily to the Landings at Salerno and on to the breaking of the Gothic Line with a brief stop-over at Cassino.
General Montgomery had been so impressed with the assault landings undertaken by Hampshire’s men at Sicily and the toe of Italy that he took them back to England where the 1st Hampshires were the first British troops ashore at D Day on 6th June 1944. It was at D Day that the Regiment acquired its only mascot – a Pyrenean Mountain Dog who had been captured from the Germans. Read the story of Fritz, the reluctant recruit. If you have small children with you they may enjoy manning a half scale Jeep while you look around.
Finally you can come right up to date with displays about operations in Malaya in the 1950s, Borneo in the 1960s and the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 80s. As you leave the Museum there is a display about the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment to show that the Tigers live on.