Aldershot Military Museum in Aldershot Military Town in Hampshire was conceived by former Aldershot Garrison Commander, the late Brigadier John Reed (1926-1992). Reed believed that it was essential to preserve the history of Aldershot Military Town and established the Aldershot Military Historical Trust to raise funds for the establishment of the Museum. Reed acquired the two Victorian barrack bungalows in which the Museum is still based. The Museum was opened by HRH The Duke of Gloucester in 1984 and is housed in the only two surviving barrack bungalows built in the "North Camp" area of Farnborough in the 1890s. The Museum tells the story of the British Army in Aldershot, the "Home of the British Army", from the Army's arrival in the area in the 1850s to the present day. It also acts as the local history Museum for the civil towns of Aldershot and Farnborough, which form the modern Borough of Rushmoor.
The museum has a collection of vehicles, displayed either in the Montgomery Gallery, or outside the museum. There is an active programme of restoration on the vehicles by the museum's volunteer Vehicle group. Most of the vehicles work and some are registered for road use, enabling them to travel to outside events. Some of the vehicles may not be on display, owing to conservation work. There are uniforms, badges, medals, weapons, furniture and other equipment which illustrate typical equipment used by regiments that have been stationed in Aldershot. It includes vehicles tested and evaluated on the local training areas from the Army's Fighting Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (FVRDE) which was nearby. There is also a variety of local and social history material ranging from bus tickets to sewing machines. Exhibits include: The 5.5 inch Howitzer was introduced in 1942 as a replacement for the 6 inch Howitzer and was the standard equipment of medium artillery regiments until 1978. This particular example was in use until 1986 at the Royal School of Artillery at Larkhill. The gun was towed by an AEC 6x6 lorry and fired an 82 pound shell to a maximum range of 14,810 yards. It had a 10-man crew.
18 Pounder Field Gun and Lumber. Introduced in 1904 and was the main field artillery weapon and saw extensive service during the First World War. The 3.3 inch calibre (84mm) shell weighed 18.5lb and had a max range of 6525 yards (3.7 miles). At the outbreak of World War 1, the Army had 1,226 of them, and although modifications took place, such was their reliability that by 1918 over 9,400 were in service. It was the backbone of divisional artillery units between wars, until it started to be replaced in 1939 by the 25 pounder. It did serve during the Second World War but for training or in reserve. Each 18 pounder and limber had a crew of ten and been drawn by six horses. The limber carried ammunition as well as stores, including spare parts for the gun. The limber also served as seats for two of the gun crew when on the move. 25 Pounder Field Gun, 1943. Designed in 1939, it remained Britain’s main type of Field Artillery until 1972. Long service was due to its excellent design, robust nature and its versatility. It could fire a variety of ammunition, high explosive (HE), smoke, armour-piercing and special carrier rounds containing propaganda leaflets. The Armour Piercing shell could also be fired with a supercharge, which at first caused nearly as much damage to the gun as the enemy, so in 1943 a muzzle brake was introduced to reduce the strain. The gun was operated 6 men and has a firing range of 13,000 yards (7 miles). This particular gun was produced by the Belfast ship builders Harland & Wolf.
Alvis Saladin Armoured Car, 1960. Introduced in 1959 as an Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle. Powered by Rolls Royce 8 cylinder engine, with a maximum speed of 45mph Driven by all six wheels and steered using the front four. If one of the wheels was blown off it could still operate. Armed with a 76mm gun with a 3-man crew. Relegated to second line duties including service with University Officer Cadet units and Yeomanry Regiments, and replaced by the Scorpion and Scimitar series. Some remained in service in Cyprus until the mid 1980s. This vehicle is a pre-production model used for testing and evaluation at the Fighting Vehicles Research Establishment at Chertsey. Alvis Scorpion Light Tank, 1974. The Scorpion was introduced in 1973, and withdrawn in 1994. It is made from aluminium and mounts a 76mm gun. The box to the left of the gun contained a night sight for observing enemy movements during darkness. It also mounts grenade dischargers so that if necessary a smoke screen could be quickly produced. This would enable the tank to get out of an area under cover of smoke if its position was discovered. Scorpion was a highly mobile vehicle and could travel rapidly across rough ground. Because it was light, it was far less likely than most other vehicles to get stuck in soft ground.
Alvis Scimitar Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Tracked (CVRT), C1972. The Scimitar is a variant of the Scorpion class of Combat Vehicle. It carries a 30mm Rarden Cannon and is a fast and agile armoured vehicle that can travel over the most difficult of terrains. Due to its aluminium armour and high weight distribution across the tracks, the vehicle can reach up to a speed of 55mph. It is powered by a 4.2 litre Jaguar engine. It would be operated by a crew of three: driver, commander, and gunner. Its primary role to gather information (reconnaissance) and is used by reconnaissance regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps and ‘recce’ elements of the armoured infantry. Service History of 00 SP 98:Little is known about the service of this vehicle but we can tell from the SP in the army registration number that it was a ‘Special Project’ vehicle used for trials and testing purposes. Air Raid's Warden Shelter, 1940. These shelters were used in various locations all over Britain during the Second World War. They were used by fire watchers in the blitz during WW2 and replaced the sentry boxes outside royal residences. They provided some protection to air raid wardens during air raids. They were designed with slits near the top of the shelter enabling wardens to look upwards and follow enemy aircraft movements. The shelters were not permanently fixed to the ground. They were designed only to give protection from bomb splinters and the effects of blast, rather than being able to resist direct hits.
Bedford J Type Ambulance, 1953. This ambulance is an RAF type and was originally used at RAF Farnborough. Although Farnborough was chiefly known as the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), for the RAF personnel stationed there the station name was RAF Farnborough. It was subsequently used by the Cove section of the St. John's Ambulance brigade, after retirement from RAF service. Bedford RL Truck, 1963. Vehicles of this type formed the mainstay of Aldershot's troop transport fleet during the 1950s and 1960s. They were adapted for a number of roles including radio and recovery vehicles. For young men joining the Royal Army Service Corps (later Royal Corps of Transport) at Buller Barracks, the RL would be the vehicle in which they would undertake basic driver training. This particular example was last in service at the Army Personnel Research Establishment at Farnborough. It was finally used for recovery exercise by the Defence Research Agency (DRA) fire brigade on the same site.
Challenger 1 Main Battle Tank, 1981. The Challenger continued a tradition of tank names beginning with ‘C’, following the Centurion and Chieftain. They were the main weapon of Britain’s heavy armoured units during the ‘Cold War’. Fitted with a fully stabilised 120mm gun, and protected by revolutionary new ‘Chobham’ armour - so named because of where it was developed. It was recognised as one of the best of its type in the world. It achieved particular success during the Gulf War of 1990 and 1991. This particular vehicle was manufactured as a prototype, and then added to the Army’s fleet of training Challengers in 1991. After this time it was used in that role by both the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the Royal Tank Regiment. It was transferred to the Museum in January 2004, having been replaced in service by Challenger 2. Chieftain Battle Tank, 1967. The Chieftain also continued a tradition of tank names beginning with 'C' - It was the main weapon of Britain's heavy armoured units during the 'Cold War'. Not only therefore does it mount a 120mm gun but was also designed to give full protection against chemical weapons. It was fitted with self contained air purification, water supply and cooking facilities so that its crew of four could live 'closed down' for anything up to a week. Many prototype Chieftains were extensively tested on the Long Valley tracked vehicle testing area in Aldershot before their introduction into service. This vehicle in our collections was in active service until 1991. It is still run regularly - please ask a member of staff when it is next due to run!
Mobat Anti Tank Gun, 1954. This type of gun was introduced into service in 1954 and was capable of knocking out any enemy armoured vehicle at that time. It was designed for use by weapon companies of Infantry Battalions and could be towed behind a landrover. It was also air portable. The gun fired a 120mm calibre projectile to a maximum range of 1,100 metres. When the gun was fired the noise level was over 200 decibels. A distance of over 270 metres to the rear of the gun had to be kept clear because of back blast. Developments in armour meant that the gun was declared obsolete in 1984 and replaced by MILAN. Daimler Ferret MK 1/2, 1963. The Ferret was developed from the WW2 Daimler Scout car and the first versions were delivered in 1950. They have seen service all over the world e.g. Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Aden,and the Gulf War. It had a crew of 2. It is powered by a Rolls Royce B60 engine and its maximum speed is 93 kph (60 mph). The Ferret has further developed into the Fox AFV. It was armed with either a Bren Light Machine Gun, a GPMG or a .30 Browning MG. This one saw service with 40 Field Regiment Royal Artillery as part of the British Army of the Rhine. It is now road registered and is regularly taken to shows around the local area.
Willys 1/4 Ton Jeep, 1943. In July 1940 the US Army required a combat truck able to carry a 272kg (600lb) payload which weighed less than 590kg (1,300lb). Manufacturers American Bantam and Willys-Overland took up the challenge. Only the Bantam car met the army's time limit. Unfortunately this car was insufficiently robust and lacked power. The Willys car, produced by Ford, then became the army's choice. It soon became a part of every allied army and remained in service until the mid 1950s. This particular Jeep was used after the Second World War by General Sir Brian Horrocks, one of Field Marshal Montgomery's Wartime Corps Commanders. It is marked with the insignia for 30 Corps, who were commanded by Horrocks. FV 432. The FV432 was introduced in 1962 as a replacement as an Armoured Personnel Carrier for the Saracen. It can be waterproofed for river crossings and is fully nuclear bio-chemical proof. It is rugged and reliable but the lack of vision for the driver and crew was a drawback. It has now been replaced by the Warrior AFV, which was introduced in 1987.
Military Pattern General Service Wagon C1900. Wagons of this type formed the mainstay of the British Army's transport equipment during the late 19th Century. They continued in service until just after the First World War when mechanised transport, which had been emerging from the early years of this century, took over. In Aldershot Companies of the Army Service Corps used these wagons to transport tentage, foodstuffs, hay and forage for horses. Aldershot was unique in being the last area in the British Army to regularly use these vehicles. Here a section of wagons were operated by the Royal Corps of Transport until 1970. Humber, 1 Ton 'Pig', 1955. Originally introduced into service as a general purpose truck, they were soon armoured to provide an interim armoured personnel carrier until the Saracen was introduced. They were then withdrawn in the late 1960s. When the security situation in Ireland deteriorated in the late 1960s they were brought back into service. This time they were modified with additional armour, smoke grenade launchers and 'bull bars' for urban disturbances. It is powered by a Rolls Royce engine developing 160hp and a top speed of 45 mph. Because of the added weight to the vehicle they used to wallow on rough ground and then gained their popular name 'Pig'. The 'Pig' had a two man crew and carried 6 - 8 men.
Land Rover 'Piglet', 1972. This vehicle was developed for use in Northern Ireland, giving better protection to the troops travelling in it from bullets and bomb splinters. It is based on the standard Land Rover chassis of the time, with additions of 'Macralon', a composite material which provided additional protection. This particular vehicle is a manufacturer's trials vehicle, and was used for evaluation at the Fighting Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (FVRDE) at Chertsey. The Searchlight, 1938. The searchlight was introduced in 1938 as the standard searchlight during WW2, its main use was to search for aircraft but was also to provide `Artificial Moonlight` by directing the beam at low level cloud. This made driving without lights, and made river crossing etc. much easier. This system was known then as `Movement Light`. Locally searchlights like this were used to great effect during the pre Second World War Aldershot Command Searchlight Tattoos. Illumination was by carbon arc light that was magnified by a large concave mirror. As a high temperature is generated it was cooled by an electric fan on top of the casing.
'Sexton' Self Propelled Gun, 1945. Sextons were produced at the Montreal Locomotive Works, Canada between 1943 and 1945. They mounted a 25 pounder gun, weighed just under 25 tons with a maximum speed of 25 mph. They were used in action, by both British and Canadian units during the landings in Normandy and in the campaign in north-west Europe. A total of 2150 were produced. After the war they were used by the Royal Artillery as well as territorial army units. Withdrawn from service in the mid 1950s. Many were sold to overseas armies, such as this one which saw service with the Portuguese Army until the 1970s. This vehicle is on loan from the Royal Artillery Institution. Stalwart, 1967. An Amphibious High Mobility Load Carrier, introduced in the late 1960s, until withdrawal in1992. It was a private venture vehicle produced by Alvis and based on the chassis of the Saracen APC. It could also used as an ammunition and supply vehicle for armoured and artillery units in armoured formations. It had a crew of 2 powered by a Rolls-Royce B81 engine it had a top speed of 35 mph and a range of 250 miles.
In 1908, Farnborough was the site of Britain's first powered flight by the American, Samuel Franklin Cody. The Cody gallery includes a reconstruction of part of Cody's workshop. Cody was a flamboyant character, frequently seen wearing a Stetson and riding a white horse. When flying, he was a little more practical and has been often pictured wearing this flying helmet. Although he never strapped himself into his aircraft or wore a parachute, the helmet did provide some measure of head protection. The helmet was purchased in 1996 and can be seen in the Cody Gallery.The Boyce Building. This 1930s wooden barrack block came from Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Church Crookham, and was once the home of the Regimental Administration Offices for the camp. Carefully reconstructed at the museum, the Boyce Gallery explores the users of the barracks which were once home to the Royal Army Service Corps, Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Corps of Transport and many battalions from the Brigade of Gurkhas before closing in 2000.
There is a large car park on site. All buildings are single story and wheelchair accessible although some rain gullies may be difficult to traverse. There is an accessible toilet as well as other toilet facilities. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Aldershot Military Museum, Queens Avenue, Aldershot GU11 2LG
Transport : Aldershot (National Rail) then bus (1). Bus Routes : Stagecoach Gold 1, 10, 402, 423 and 441 stop close by.
Opening Times : Wednesday to Friday 10:00 to 17:00; Saturday, Sunday 11:00 to 16:00
Tickets : Adults £3.85; Children (5 - 15) £2.70; Concessions/Seniors £3.60
Tel. : 01252 314598