What I did on my Cornish Riviera holiday 2023 - Military Museum et al

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 (!)


Bodmin Keep is nice to look around … I am just down the road at St Eval, north of Newquay. If you have not been already and you get a half decent day, you should try Lanhydrock, NT, old family house with a military family history and extensive walks and a nice garden. Its not to far of a hop from Fowey, back towards Bodmin. Restormel is nice too … I do like looking round the old ruined castles like that. Been there a few times for a wander.

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Bloody hell John - I didn’t know you were so near; I thought you were further west. I was looking at St Eval on my 50,000. Only today I suggested to my wife that perhaps we should go and look at an “Antennae Farm”; she gave me a funny look. Lincolnshire was obviously too punishing all those years ago - I got chased out of a field which harboured the scrapped ACE High dishes, formerly RAF Steingot, but now a farmer’s land. I do sometimes suffer for my art(!)

Right, we’ll be round for NAAFI break tomorrow (only kidding!) Thanks for the tip re Lanhydrock - my Zero Alpha is a very keen gardener - I’m not even allowed to mow the lawn.

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Looking at the Antenna array wont last long … lots of Dipoles and mast set ups … still on MOD land and totally fenced off. Its on part of the old WW2 air field. If you are stuck for places to look at, there are several nice places , a drive to most but nice all the same. Trelissick, the lost gardens of Heligan, Trebah, Lanhydrock is nice though so I would recommend that as its close. If you are in the NT that will be a bonus as a few are part of it, and it will keep the prices down. Trebah is a sub tropical garden that goes down to the Helford river and out to the channel. They used the beach there as a loading point for the Omaha beach on D Day.

Cant make NAAFi break lol… on the range all day up on Dartmoor

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Roger that John and thanks.

Moderators, or whomsoever: is it possible to modify my title so that it isn’t all in capitals? It sort of looks like I’m shouting(!)

Thanks in advance.

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Sorted :grin: :+1: … with an add in lol


Interesting collection there and some great shots of the old fort too.

I have to take you to task on this chap though Brian.

I think you’ll find he is demonstrating the correct angle of lean when encountering a gale force wind :smile:!


Probably to keep his toupee on! Most of the mannequins were fitted out with the most appalling almost purple coloured wigs - horrible!

Mind you, I have some sympathy with military museums - they hardly ever receive any cash from the national lottery or similar, so struggle on as best they can. The current national and even political psyche doesn’t really lend itself to any celebration of military history, no matter how relevant, and hasn’t for some time, almost to the point of revisionist history. A crying shame.


Brian, not sure how long you are going to be down this neck of the woods, but if you are around Sat, Falmouth has pretty much devoted the whole day to Armed Forces day. its a tri service venture. Lots going on and there is at least a Warrior down there and a few other bits of kit plus a fly past and also a Navy frigate there on display, i think yo uneed tickets for that one though, but its tied along side. KCS are there and a fair few other displays/areas …


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Thanks John, but sadly our time’s up and we’ll be trekking back to darkest Wiltshire; thanks for the heads up though!


A postscript: appropriately enough, on our last day, I discovered this memorial plaque in Fowey harbour, which I’d earlier missed:

The eloquence of that simple plaque speaks volumes I feel - for those that are aware of the significance of 6 Jun 44 that is. Of course, most modellers on this site will be, but I wonder if the hordes of fellow tourists are or were?


Looks like you had a great trip down in Cornwall Brian. We were there (Falmouth based) in early May. Great place.

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