Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bold Brigand: Royal Marines Museum

When I arrived in England in 2004, the first tourist attraction I visited was the Royal Marines Museum. In the course of two visits that summer, I bought two T-shirts, one of which is now hilariously undersized, the other having mysteriously disappeared from Globetrotters Hostel in Dublin. (Unfortunately, the latter is no longer available - and it was the awesome blue one, too! Dagnabbit!) Anyway, as I was going to be passing through Portsmouth anyway... Sort of... I went to the Royal Marines Museum! With about fifty pounds of kit on my back! Just like a yomp, except I took a cab!

The Royal Marines Museum is awesome - easily one of the best museums I've ever been to. It resides in the former Royal Marines barracks in Eastney, a neighborhood of Portsmouth not so far from the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - also worth your time if you get an opportunity. I remember back in July of 2004, when I insisted that I'd been to Eastney, and several of my employers insisted that I meant Eastleigh. I did not, in fact, mean Eastleigh. At any rate, there are a number of great exhibits throughout the museum, beginning with the formation of the Royal Marines in the 1600's and ending with current operations in Afghanistan. While I was disappointed that operations in Iraq were largely skimmed over, I was thrilled to see that both the Jebel Akhdar War and the Dhofar Rebellion were mentioned, as was an early 1960's operation in Kuwait about which I'd never heard at all, even once, in my entire life. My one gripe was with their SA80 simulator, the sighting for which was off, and the plastic/glass for which hadn't been cleaned in ages. Aside from that, it was great to review some of the old exhibits (including the talking Hannah Snell mannequin, using a projector that's probably been running non-stop since I last saw it in 2004); and, as before, my favorite bit in the whole museum was this gem at the very beginning, trying to put a positive spin on the American Revolution:
"The war raged on for a further 8 years involving battles on sea and land. Peace and defeat came for the British in 1783 and the new republican nation of the United States of America made its triumphant military commander, General George Washington, the first President."
Bam. We nailed it. And by "we", I mean America.

I bought myself another shirt - the green one, as the blue one isn't available anymore... drat! - and was on my way, after taking a few more pictures. One of those was of the legendary "Yomper" statue, dedicated by Baroness Thatcher and commemorating the Royal Marines' 1982 yomp across East Falkland. You can see an overhead shot of The Yomper statue here. And then, with my fifty pounds worth of kit, I got into another cab and headed to the ferry terminal for the next leg of Operation Bold Brigand.

But wait! There was one more thing! As the cab was pulling away from the museum's "car park" (parking lot), we saw a Trafalgar class fast attack submarine pulling out of Portsmouth harbor! It was quite obviously a Trafalgar class sub, because the new Astute class submarines look completely different, and the Vanguard class ballistic missile subs are all based up at HM Naval Base Clyde, outside Glasgow. Suh-weet! With that, I was off to the Isle of Wight.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see you are yomping along. Isle of Wight? The name sake of the county I reside in... Of course the county I live in was only just established in 1642, not nearly as old as the original, but not as young as some...