My wife declared - despite my protestations - that we needed a holiday; she may have been right but it meant abandoning the catch-up on my Command & Control project, let alone completion of my Conqueror and Champ. Anyway, in the interests of marital harmony off we went to darkest Cornwall, or at least a small part of it, based in a small cottage near Fowey (pronounced “Foy” in case you wondered).
After previous military-centric excursions, I thought I’d better curb my appetite for the historical; extensive exploration of North Devon a couple of years ago (What I did on my holiday Part 1 (Cobbaton Combat Collection)) and forays at former Thor missile sites in Lincolnshire before that, were, I suspect proving a little too much for my long-suffering wife; I suppose there’s only so much 1960s rubble and WW2 concrete landing craft a girl can take.
However, I just couldn’t help myself, and as the weather was proving inconsistent, we headed north one damp afternoon to Bodmin, which I rather deviously knew was home to “Bodmin Keep - Cornwall’s Army Museum”. That was, naturally, via a decent pub for lunch. I have to say, it turned out to be pretty good – the museum that is (lunch was fine too). Relatively inexpensive at £9 per adult, it traced the forming of what became the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, from the Militia of 1760, along the way embracing the endless reorganizations and amalgamations which the British Army has, in my opinion, seen far too much of especially over the last couple of decades. Anyway, the pics below largely speak for themselves, and I’ve only annotated where I thought necessary.
First – Lunch – The Crown at Lanlivery:
The Museum – exterior and main entrance. Note the statue of a WW1 soldier:
It was quite cheering to note the use of models in some displays, although this WW1 one was perhaps a tad imaginative with a German aircraft around 25 scale metres from the trenches.
I thought this german body armour and helmet and description were of interest;
not everyone knows what those lugs on WW1 German helmets were for:
Some of the mannequins were less than inspirational:
However, a shot to assist those in modelling '37 Pat webbing.
And for Normandy modellers, the badges of the DCLI.
And sadly a rather murky shot of a King Tiger destroyed by the DCLI - minus its turret so it must have been some fight.
A good selection of small arms was on display.
Including an early German anti-tank rifle:
And a PIAT:
And my favourite personal weapon of all time - the Sterling SMG - only because I knew it so well.
And this remarkable account - which hopefully readers will be able to expand and read; a very resourceful officer, who it appears, “blacked up” to blend in with the enemy. I believe a similar modus operandi was undertaken by the Rhodesians in their struggles, especially the Selous Scouts. Imagine the outcry today amongst the Woke and Snowflakes(!) Discuss - actually, better not. Anyway, a Military Cross well deserved.
A model of the Bodmin barracks.
And one of the surviving buildings, in this case the former Officers’ Mess (in the pi**ing rain!)
Now to the et al piece: my predilection for all things military got the better of me, and again, ie amidst an overcast but clammy day I managed to persuade my wife we should visit Restormel castle, not least as “it would be a good place to walk the dog” Sold! I’m not sure if my wife is just gullible or defeated/resigned to her fate. Hmmm.
Anyway, an interesting enough fortification; based on the traditional Motte and Bailey set-up, from, well, the Norman invasion at least, it was later transformed into what I believe is known as a “Shell Keep” or at least the motte bit is. Perfectly situated on high ground, with steep banks and a ditch/moat, it wouldn’t have much fun trying to storm it I imagine. In its heyday it may have had both a proper drawbridge and a portcullis. It also had its own water supply. Luckily enough, it survived the slighting of so many castles and forts post the English Civil war – they just couldn’t be bothered apparently.
An artistic impression on one of the many informative signs.
A copy of one of the postcards showing it today.
And yours truly folks, with “Wren”, our latest canine acquisition (his predecessor having succumbed to some ghastly disease whereby the red blood cells wouldn’t reproduce; RIP Tilly - sorry, woefully off-topic).
From there we journeyed to yet another pub (which was an epic fail sadly on the culinary front), but Lo! And behold! Parked up opposite was this Series III Land Rover, apparently in pretty good nick: Obviously with a civilian registration, but otherwise more or less as it left the Army when sold off. It looked to me as though it had been a REME version as there was a tow bar pintle on the front bumper and it was fitted with an amber warning light on the rear – both typical REME mods:
So, hopefully a bit of interest generated for military buffs in general, as well as those who might like fortifications, not least for those based in the UK who might be thinking of visiting the south-west. As an aside, Fowey was swamped by US forces – as was most of southern England - in the Second World War, and was home, amongst other units to SLCU 7 (Standing Landing Craft Unit No 7); I discovered this small book in the cottage we are in, but have only gotten half way through it:
It seems extremely comprehensive, but if it prompts more military-focused expeditions, I may be pushing my luck - I’ve still 3 days to go (!)