Airborne Assault Museum – IWM Duxford, United Kingdom

The Airborne Assault Museum traces the history of British Airborne Forces since their beginning in 1940 to the present day. The museum was originally established by the Committee of the Parachute Regiment Association in October 1946 and relocated from its former home in Browning Barracks, Aldershot to Hangar no.1 (Building 213) of the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in 2008.

airborne assault duxford-73

Service Dress Jacket based on a WW1 Royal Flying Corps “maternity” tunic, worn by Lt-Gen Frederick Browning GCVO KBE CB DSO, the father of the British Airborne Forces. This uniform, designed by Browning was made of barathea with a false Uhlan-style front, incorporating a zip opening at the neck to reveal regulation shirt and tie. It was worn with medal ribbons, collar patches and rank badges, capped off with grey kid gloves, a Guards Sam Browne belt and swagger stick. Above the medal ribbons you can also see the Army Air Corps wings which he also had a hand in designing and qualified as a pilot himself in 1942.

Whilst relatively small and tucked away in the back corner of the hangar, the museum is extremely well done. The outside the entrance some of the heavy equipment used by the Airborne Forces is on display, but the really interesting stuff, for a collector like me, was inside. Lots of uniforms, weapons, personal kit and artifacts related to the Parachute Regiment and other Airborne soldiers from the time of their formation in 1940 through the various campaigns of WW2 to post war operations in the Suez crisis,  Borneo, Aden, Northern Ireland, The Falklands, Kosovo, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

To visit Airborne Assault you have to buy an entry ticket to the Imperial War Museum Duxford, which will also give you entry to the other exhibition spaces, including the Land Warfare Display and the Royal Anglian Regiment Museum both of which are also worth a visit along with the other air warfare related displays. I’ll do a review and show some pictures of those exhibits in a future post.

Airborne Assault IWM Duxford Photo: Julian Tennant

‘Bing’ the ParaDog. ParaDogs were trained to parachute with the troops and subsequently undertake guard, mine-detecting and patrol duties. ‘Bing’, war dog 2720/6871, was assigned to the recce platoon of 13 Para. His first operational jump was in Normandy on 6 June 1944 and served in France until September 1944 and on 24 March 1945 he parachuted over the Rhine. ‘Bing’ remained in Germany until the war’s end, before being returned to his original owner. On 29 March 1947, ‘Bing’ was awarded the Dickin Medal which is given to animals for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while serving in conflict.

 

Airborne Assault
Building 213
Imperial War Museum Duxford
Cambridge
CB22 4QR                                                                                                                                                   United Kingdom

Email: askthearchive@paradata.org.uk                                                                                            https://www.paradata.org.uk/article/airborne-assault-museum-iwm-duxford

Open every day from 10am, including Bank Holidays                                                              Opening times for the Winter (October to March) are:
10am – 5pm                                                                                                                                               Opening times for the Summer (March to October) are:
10am – 6pm                                                                                                                                               Closed 24, 25 and 26 December.

 

Airborne Assault Duxford map

Airborne Assault - The Museum of the Parachute Regiment & Airborne Forces.

Airborne Assault – The Museum of the Parachute Regiment & Airborne Forces. © Julian Tennant

Operation Market Garden: Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45

Some of the military vehicles on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum. Photo: Julian Tennant

Military vehicles on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant

Arnhem oorlogsmuseum Arnhem war museum

Parachute Regiment beret. The caption indicated that this beret belonged to a dead British para and was found in Hartenstein, site of the British HQ. Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum. Photo: Julian Tennant

Like the Glider Collection Wolfheze, the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum (sometimes referred to in English language search engines as the Arnhem War Museum) is another private museum in the Arnhem area.

Owner Eef Peeters started collecting militaria as a boy, storing his collection at first in his home, followed by a shed and then finally, in 1994, moving the collection to its current location, an old school, in Schaarsbergen. The collection does not focus specifically on Operation Market Garden but paints a much broader picture of what happened in Arnhem and the surrounding areas during the war years. This includes a number of objects relating to less popular subjects including collaboration and the Dutch Nazi Party, the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging in Nederland (NSB).

This is an old-style museum concentrating on artifacts, rather than interactive displays. It’s a fascinating and at times eclectic collection of items squeezed into the available space. A lot of the memorabilia is not captioned in English, so I had to rely on my rusty Afrikaans/Dutch skills to interpret some of the captions, but the staff were helpful and friendly. When one of the volunteer staff members found out that I was a collector, after I asked if there were any antique or shops around which may have militaria for sale, he invited me into the office to show me some of the original items that were available for sale to help fund the museum upkeep. But, whilst I was tempted by a couple of period Dutch National Socialist badges, I decided that I had better try to maintain focus on my airborne interest and left empty handed.

Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Arnhem War Museum 40-45.

Display featuring uniforms worn by soldiers of the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division, nicknamed “The Polar Bear Butchers” after their shoulder sleeve formation sign and a 6 lb anti-tank gun as used by the 1st Air Landing Anti-Tank Battery during the battle for Arnhem. Photo: Julian Tennant

If you have a car, Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum is about 10 minutes drive from central Arnhem or if you are using public transport can be reached in under half an hour via the #9 bus departing from near Arnhem Centraal train station.

Arnhems Oorlogsmuseum 40-45

Kemperbergerweg 780
6816 RX Arnhem

Telephone: +31 (0) 26 4420958

https://www.arnhemsoorlogsmuseum.com

Opening hours:

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 until 17:00, however the ticket office closes at 16:30 hrs.

Admission prices:

Adults: € 9.00
Children up to 4 years old:  free
Children 5 to 12 years old:  € 7.00,-
Adults 65+: € 7.00

Note that there is no ATM at the museum, and they do not accept credit cards.

Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Arnhem War Museum. Photo: Julian Tennant

A T34-85 and Flak gun at the front of the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant

Operation Market Garden: The Glider Collection Wolfheze

Operation Market Garden. Glider Museum Wolfheze

Glider Collection Wolfheze. Horsa glider section. Photograph: Julian Tennant

The Glider Collection Wolfheze is a private collection relating to the British airborne assault on Arnhem in 1944. Operation Market Garden which occurred between the 17th and 26th of September 1944 is one of the best known allied airborne operations of World War Two. The goal of the operation was to push through the German lines from the Belgian city of Neerpelt to Arnhem in Holland, bypassing the German Siegfried Line and crossing their last natural obstacle, the Rhine river. This would allow them to sweep east into Germany, knock out the German industrial base in the Ruhr pocket and end the war before Christmas. But as history shows, things did not work out that way.

Operation Market Garden Glider Collection Wolfheze map-01

Operation Market Garden. Map showing 1st Airborne Division’s planned landing zones on the 17th of September. The Glider Collection Wolfheze is situated roughly midway between LZ ‘S’ and LZ ‘L’ on the map. Map source: wikimedia.org

As part of the operation, the British 1st Airborne Division had to secure bridges over the Rhine at Arnhem and hold them until linking up with the XXX-Corps who were advancing from Neerpelt. On 17 September, pathfinders from the 21st Independent Parachute Company marked the drop zones and landing areas near the small Dutch village of Wolfheze, approximately 10km northwest of Arnhem in preparation for the arrival of the 350 gliders ferrying the 1st Airlanding Brigade under the command of Brigadier Philip Hicks.

The landings were largely unopposed as the Germans were initially thrown into confusion and the 1st Airlanding Brigade moved off from the landing zones whilst the 1st Parachute Brigade headed east towards the bridges. The fields around Wolfheze remained one of the primary entry points for the Allied airborne troops, receiving reinforcements from the 1st Airborne Division on the 18th and troops from the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade on the 19th.

Around the town of Wolfheze are several sites commemorating the operation including a Glider Memorial at Liberation Route Marker 25. The Liberation Route follows the course of the Allies during the liberation of Europe. The route starts in Normandy and continues via Nijmegen and Arnhem in the direction of Berlin.

The memorial is also located close to the entrance of “De Lindenhof” Camping & Chalet Park which is also home to the private collection of Paul Hendriks who has assembled a collection of artifacts related to the gliders used during Operation Market Garden. The Glider Collection Wolfheze contains several pieces salvaged from the landing zones around Arnhem as well as sections of a Horsa and a Hamilcar glider plus other bits and pieces related to the battle.

This is a private museum so it is not open for viewing every day however his website lists the official opening days for the year. Alternatively, you can contact Paul by telephone or email to arrange a viewing.

Operation Market Garden Glider Museum Wolfheze

Glider Collection Wolfheze. Section of a Hamilcar glider setup. 39 Hamilcar gliders were used primarily to transport the newly introduced 17-pounder Anti-tank guns and their prime movers into the landing zones at Arnhem, in order to provide a significantly improved capability against the increased armour of the newer German Tiger tanks Photograph: Julian Tennant

 

The Glider Collection Wolfheze

Camping & Chalet Park “De Lindenhof”

Wolfhezerweg 111-113

Wolfheze

The Netherlands

Telephone:  +31 (0)610143467

Email: silentwings@online.nl

For opening times refer to the website

https://www.wolfheze.nl/_Glider/glidermainuk.htm

 

Finally…. and to get you in the mood, Richard Attenborough‘s epic war movie about Operation Market Garden, A Bridge Too Far.

 

The Museum of Army Flying (UK)

Museum of Army Flying Middle Wallop, Stockbridge Hampshire SO20 8DY United Kingdom

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

The Museum of Army Flying is located next to the Army Air Corps Centre in Middle Wallop. It covers the history of British Army Aviation from the Royal Engineers Balloon sections through the establishment of the Royal Flying Corps, the Air Observation Post (AOP) Squadrons and Glider Pilot Regiment to the establishment of the Army Air Corps. As can be expected in an aviation museum there are a nice selection of aircraft for the visitor to examine. But in addition there is a great selection of uniforms, insignia and equipment related to the history and operational deployments of the various units represented in the museum. This includes some absolutely unique items such as the original proposed design for the Air Observation Post Pilots qualification that was prototyped by the Royal School of Needlework in 1940. A one off and very interesting piece of insignia.

The original Air Observation Post badge designed by Capt. J.R. Ingram (Royal Artillery) of 657 Air OP Sqn and embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework in 1940. It was submitted as a design for an Air OP pilot's flying badge, but the war office had already decided to have one Army Flying Badge for both the Air OP and Glider pilots and so it was not approved.

The original Air Observation Post badge designed by Capt. J.R. Ingram (Royal Artillery) of 657 Air OP Sqn and embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework in 1940. It was submitted as a design for an Air OP pilot’s flying badge, but the war office had already decided to have one Army Flying Badge for both the Air OP and Glider pilots and so it was not approved.

The displays are well organized and there is a wealth of information to support the artifacts on display. For a collector with an interest in military aviation or the Allied airborne operations in World War 2 this museum is definitely worth a visit.

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Museum of Army Flying

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Post 1945 Galleries at the Museum of Army Flying

Post 1945 Galleries at the Museum of Army Flying

Early WW2 German airborne forces uniform

Early WW2 German airborne forces uniform

Glider Pilot Regiment battledress uniform

WW2 period Glider Pilot Regiment battledress uniform

Glider Pilot crash helmet belonging to Staff Sergeant 'Jock' East GPR who served in Sicily and Arnhem. These helmets combined a fibre motorcycle helmet and a flying helmet with headphones for communications.

Glider Pilot crash helmet belonging to Staff Sergeant ‘Jock’ East GPR who served in Sicily and Arnhem. These helmets combined a fibre motorcycle helmet and a flying helmet with headphones for communications.

WW2 period Army Flying Badge

WW2 period Army Flying Badge

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland display

Iraq 2003 display.

Iraq 2003 display

Iraq 2003 display.

Iraq 2003 display

Apache pilot's life support jacket and associated items used in Afghanistan.

Apache pilot’s life support jacket and associated items used in Afghanistan.

Apache pilot - Afghanistan.

Apache pilot – Afghanistan.

Royal Marines pilot

Royal Marines pilot

Uniform worn by the Royal Engineers Balloon Section

Uniform worn by the Royal Engineers Balloon Section

Royal Flying Corps Pilot

Royal Flying Corps Pilot

RFC pilot

Royal Flying Corps pilot

Air Observation Post Squadron pilot (Royal Artillery).

WW2 period Air Observation Post Squadron pilot (Royal Artillery)

Glider Pilot

WW2 period Glider Pilot

Post WW2 AOP Squadron pilot.

AOP Squadron pilot

Post war AOP pilot

WW1 Field Kitchen

WW1 Field Kitchen

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Glider Pilot Regiment Pilot wings. At first all Glider Pilots were awarded the Army Flying Badge (top). From 1944 new pilots were initially trained as Second Pilots and awarded the Second Glider Pilot Badge (middle). Successful completion of a Heavy Glider Conversion Course qualified Second Pilots for the Army Flying Badge. This system operated until 1950 when glider training ceased. In 1946 a smaller pattern of the Army Flying BAdge was adopted (bottom).

Glider Pilot Regiment Pilot wings. At first all Glider Pilots were awarded the Army Flying Badge (top). From 1944 new pilots were initially trained as Second Pilots and awarded the Second Glider Pilot Badge (middle). Successful completion of a Heavy Glider Conversion Course qualified Second Pilots for the Army Flying Badge. This system operated until 1950 when glider training ceased. In 1946 a smaller pattern of the Army Flying Badge was adopted (bottom).

D-Day Glider lift diorama

D-Day Glider lift diorama

Proposed AAC dress hat, not adopted.

Proposed AAC dress hat, not adopted.

On 1st September 1957, the AOP Squadrons and Glider Pilot Regiment amalgamated to form the present day Army Air Corps. AAC pilots wear the Army Flying Badge (top). The middle brevet is for Observers and the bottom badge is the Air Gunner's brevet.

On 1st September 1957, the AOP Squadrons and Glider Pilot Regiment amalgamated to form the present day Army Air Corps. AAC pilots wear the Army Flying Badge (top). The middle brevet is for Observers and the bottom badge is the Air Gunner’s brevet.

Museum of Army Flying

Middle Wallop,

Stockbridge

Hampshire SO20 8DY

United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 1264 784421

http://www.armyflying.com/

enquiries@flying-museum.org.uk

Open daily 10:00 – 16:30 (Last admission 16:00)
Adult: £10

Senior/Student: £8

Child: £7

Family Ticket £32 (2 Adults 2 Children)