The Army Flying Museum in Hampshire tells the story of aviation in the British Army.
The Army Flying Museum 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 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.
Museum of Army Flying
Hampshire SO20 8DY, United Kingdom
A Horsa glider near the Caen Canal bridge at Benouville, 8 June 1944. This is glider No. 91, which carried Major John Howard and Lieutenant Den Brotheridge with No.1 Platoon, ‘D’ Company, 2nd Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. It was one of the six gliders that carried 6th Airborne Division’s ‘coup de main’ force – commanded by Major Howard – which captured the bridges over the Orne and Caen Canal in the early hours of D-Day. Photograph: Sergeant Christie. No. 5 Army Film and Photo Section, Army Film and Photographic Unit Imperial War Museum Catalogue Number: B 5232
Pegasus Bridge, 9 June 1944. Vehicles including a Royal Signals jeep & trailer and a RASC Leyland lorry on ‘Pegasus Bridge’ over the Caen Canal at Benouville. The signallers are fixing telephone lines across the bridge. Photograph: Sergeant Christie. No. 5 Army Film and Photo Section, Army Film and Photographic Unit Imperial War Museum Catalogue Number: B 5288
On the night of 5 June 1944, six Airspeed AS 51 Horsa gliders carrying 181 men from the 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and 249 Field Company (Airborne) Royal Engineers departed RAF Tarrant in Dorset. Under the command of Major John Howard, their mission, code-named Operation DEADSTICK was to capture two road bridges near Normandy across the River Orne and the Caen Canal. This was the first action of D-Day in the British sector and would allow the allied troops landing on Sword Beach to exit and advance east of the Orne.
One of the six gliders went astray and landed a dozen kilometers from the objective, but the other five landed within meters of their objectives. The bridge over the Orne was guarded by only two German sentries and was captured without firing a shot. The more heavily guarded Bénouville bridge over the Caen Canal was taken after a short but intense firefight. Both bridges had been captured within 10 minutes. Reinforced by soldiers from the 7th Battalion Parachute Regiment during the night, Major Howard’s men held the bridge despite repeated counterattacks until they were joined in the early hours of the afternoon of 6 June, by the commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade, who had landed at dawn at Sword Beach.
Imperial War Museum Video – Operation Deadstick The Airborne Assault on Pegasus Bridge
Shortly after the engagement, on the 26 of June 1944, the Caen Canal bridge was renamed Pegasus Bridge as a tribute to the British airborne troops involved in the action. In 1974 the Airborne Forces Museum was opened on the west bank of the canal, opposite the glider landing site and close to the original Bénouville bridge but closed in 1997. A campaign started for a new museum and on 4 June 2000 Memorial Pegasus was opened by HRH Prince Charles, Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment.
Pegasus Bridge and memorial plaque to Lieutenant H.D. Brotheridge who was the first British soldier to be killed in action on D-Day when he led his platoon across the bridge. Photo: Julian Tennant
Fullsize replica of an Airspeed AS 51 Horsa Glider as used by the British troops in Operation DEADSTICK and the assault on D-Day. Photo: Julian Tennant
Glider Pilot of the Army Aviation Corps. Photo: Julian Tennant
Exhibits at the Memorial Pegasus museum. Photo: Julian Tennant
Heavily laden 6th Airborne Division jeep as transported by glider on D-Day. Photo: Julian Tennant
Objects relating to the Royal Ulster Rifles. The Dennison smock was worn on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy by Captain Bob Sheridan, Adjutant of the 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles. Photo: Julian Tennant
German parachutist’s Gravity Knife, rare British Beaded & Ribbed’ pattern Fairbairn Sykes commando dagger and other 6th Airborne Division objects on display at Memorial Pegasus. Photo: Julian Tennant
Spread over three acres, the museum grounds contain the original Pegasus Bridge, which was purchased from the French authorities for just one Franc in 1999, along with a full size replica of a Horsa glider. The main exhibition building features a very interesting selection of artifacts related to the British 6th Airborne Division and the D-Day landings. There are guided tours of the museum conducted in both French and English which last for about an hour and a half. These are worth doing in addition to taking your time to browse the exhibits. Visitors can also scan the QR code panels to get information about the exhibits in ten languages, French, English, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish and Czech.
British paratrooper kitted out for the jump into France in advance of the D-Day landings. He is wearing the British X-Type parachute over the 1942 Pattern Parachutist Oversmock and Mk1 Parachutist helmet. Photo: Julian Tennant
British military chaplain’s dress uniform. Note the bullion Glider Pilot qualification wing. Photo: Julian Tennant
Canadian Parachute Battalion soldier wearing the 2nd pattern Dennison smock and Canadian parachutist qualification wings. Photo: Julian Tennant
Cloth insignia of the ‘Forces Navales Francaises Libres” (Free French Naval Forces) worn on the sailors jackets and commando’s green berets until May 1944. Photo: Julian Tennant
Beret worn by Guy de Montlaur who served with the French No. 4 Commando. Photo: Julian Tennant
Avenue du Major Howard
Open:The Memorial Pegasus is open everyday from 1st February to 15th December. A visit, with guide, lasts about 1h15.
1st February to 31st March from 10.00 to 17.00
1st April to 30th September from 9.30 to 18.30
1st October to 15th December from 10.00 to 17.00
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The Airborne Assault Museum is housed within the IWM Duxford complex and visitors have to buy an entry ticket to the Imperial War Museum Duxford to gain entry to Airborne Assault.
Yamaha Quad All Terrain Vehicle (ATV), Afghanistan 2010. The ATV’s with attached trailers deliver food, water and ammunition to troops in difficult to access areas or where larger vehicles are not suitable. Photo: Julian Tennant
Horsa Glider nose cone and exhibit displays in the Airborne Assault Museum.
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.
Some of the weapons and uniforms on display at Airborne Assault Duxford
Early WW2 era parachutist during training at Ringway. He wears the early smock and training helmet made by by SL & M Feathers Ltd and used between 1940-43.
Horsa Glider Pilot
WW2 Parachute Regiment soldier kitted up with equipment and parachute.
Horsa Glider cockpit nose cone.
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.
Parachute Regiment crowd control duties, Op ‘Banner’, Northern Ireland 1960’s to early 70’s.
Para Sig wearing a 1959 pattern Denison smock. Note the claymore in front of his radio.
Glider Pilot Regiment battledress blouse with M.R.C. (Medical Research Council) body armour, consisting of three 1mm thick manganese steel plates, covering the chest, lower belly and lower back. They were usually worn under the denison smock.
Parachute Regiment circa 1944
Parachutist undertaking a static line jump with equipment.
Pathfinder of 16 Air Assault Brigade kitted out for a High Altitude parachute insertion. Photo: Julian Tennant
Parachute Regiment ‘Red Devils’ parachute display team display.
Subdued Parachutist wing and DZ flash worn by members of the 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment.
Op ‘Corporate’ 1982 – Falkand Islands display.
“Crow” from 1 Para, Operation Agricola, Kosovo, 1999.
British paratrooper removing his Welbike motorcycle from it’s drop container in the Market Garden display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant.
Plastic ‘economy’ issue Parachute Regiment beret badge and half section of a German dog-tag. Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
Operation Market Garden German soldiers and British para captive on display at the Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant.
British and German paratrooper on display at the Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
Various British 1st Airborne Division shoulder and beret badges. Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
German fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) helmet on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
German weapons display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
British Sten gun variations on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. 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).
Dutch Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging in Nederland (NSB) uniform. The printed caption in Dutch referred to Carolus Huygen, the Secretary General of the NSB fron 1940. However it did not indicate whether this uniform was his or belonged to another member. Photo: Julian Tennant
Various insignia and items relating to the Dutch Nazi Party, the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging in Nederland (NSB). Photo: Julian Tennant
Dutch Nazi Party, the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging in Nederland (NSB) cap. Photo: Julian Tennant
Dutch volunteer of the Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 10 ‘Westland’ / SS-Standarte ‘Westland’ and propaganda recruiting poster. Photo: Julian Tennant
Two Dutch SS cufftitles. The “Frw. Legion Nederland” title was worn by members of the “Freiwillige Legion Niederlande”. The “Landstorm Nederland” was originally a a home guard unit, which the SS took over in 1943 and became the SS-“Freiwilligen-Brigade Landstorm Nederland” before evolving into the “34. SS-Freiwilligen-Grenadier-Division Landstorm Nederland” in February 1945. I am not sure of the significance of the newspaper beneath the cuff titles. Photo: Julian Tennant
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.
German Luftwaffe display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
Shoulder patch of the Legion Freies Arabien (Free Arabian Legion), which was worn by units raised by the Germans using recruits from the Middle East and North Africa. Photo: Julian Tennant
Selection of German gorgets that have seen better days, on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant.
German Waffen SS officer’s cap with bevo type Totenkopf skull on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant.
German Luftwaffe uniforms worn during the occupation of Holland. Photo: Julian Tennant
German army officer uniforms worn during the occupation of Holland. Photo: Julian Tennant
Dutch resistance ‘Oranje’ armbands on display at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Photo: Julian Tennant
Items for sale at the Arnhem Oorlogsmuseum 40-45. Like many museums, there are a selection of replica items for sale. However after chatting to the staff and mentioning my collecting interest, they also showed me some original pieces that were not on display that were also available to help fund the museum. 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.
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.
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.
USAAF aerial photograph of Landing Zone ‘S’, Wolfheze, 17 September 1944.
Paratroops of 1st Airlanding Brigade disembark from their gliders on the outskirts of Arnhem, 17 September 1944. Photograph by Sergeant D M Smith, Army Film and Photographic Unit. [National Army Museum Image number: 106458]
Horsa Glider carrying Polish troops of the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade (Gen-Maj. Stanislaw Sosabowski) landing on the Wolfheze landing zone.
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.
Glider Memorial and Liberation Route Marker 25 near the entrance to the Camping & Chalet Park “De Lindenhof”, home to Paul Hendriks’ Glider Museum Wolfheze. Photo: Julian Tennant
The building at the Camping & Chalet Park “De Lindenhof” housing Paul Hendriks’ Glider Museum Wolfheze. Photo: Julian Tennant
The Glider Collection Wolfheze. Photo: Julian Tennant
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.
Mannequin displaying the uniform of a glider-borne soldier from the 1st Airlanding Brigade during Operation Market Garden, September 1944. Photo: Julian Tennant
The Glider Collection Wolfheze. Photo: Julian Tennant
Royal Enfield ‘Flying Flea’ (or WD/RE to use its official title) motorcycle in the carriage frame used to transport the bikes on Horsa Gliders. On the ground, it was used for reconnaissance, communications and proved itself invaluable during the battle when beset with radio communication problems, commanders relied on these motorcycles to relay messages. Photo: Julian Tennant
Glider Collection Wolfheze. Unloading a General Aircraft GAL-49/50 Hamilcar Glider. Detail from one of the dioramas on display at the museum. Photo: Julian Tennant
Glider Collection Wolfheze. Posing for a photo. Detail from one of the dioramas on display at the museum. Photo: Julian Tennant