The Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham launched a major new exhibition ‘VC: For Valour – Sapper VCs of the First World War’ with an event on Thursday 19 July. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the exhibition runs until 21 December and aims to engage the local community through a series of workshops which will explore the concept of valour and what it means to people today.
The exhibition allows visitors a unique opportunity to see the ten Victoria Crosses on display, along with some of the personal items belonging to the men who were awarded them. From James McCudden’s diary, to the service jacket worn by Cyril Martin as he led his men into the trenches in 1915, complete with traces of mud and blood, the exhibition really does allow a unique opportunity to take a very personal look at the First World War and the effect it had on some of those involved.
Rebecca Nash, Museum Director, said “Whilst a Victoria Cross is amongst the smallest objects in the Museum, the actions they represent changed lives – that of the man who one it, those rescued, led or killed by him; their families and wider communities. It is the first time our original VCs have gone on display in over 15 years and in this centenary year the Museum is proud to be able to display ten of these extremely important medals and discuss their meaning and legacy with our partners and visitors”.
The exhibition includes an opportunity for visitors to share their thoughts and feelings, and it is expected that many will be touched by the remarkable stories told. Inspired by these ordinary men and their extraordinary actions, these comments will be incorporated into the display making this aspect of the presentation dynamic and responsive within the coming months. Between August and November, there will be an opportunity to meet the curator behind the exhibition and to see the items up close, by taking part in one of the project workshops being held at the Museum. For more details and to book, see the website http://www.re-museum.co.uk/vc-for-valour-community-engagement-workshops/.
The exhibition is included in standard admission prices which are £8.80 for adults, £4.40 for children, £7.00 for students and senior citizens, and £23.50 for a family ticket. Tickets are valid for a whole year and include entry to the Museum’s programme of events.
The Museum is Kent’s largest military museum with highlights including 25 Victoria Crosses, Wellington’s map of Waterloo, Zulu War weapons, amazing bridge-laying tanks, a Harrier Jump Jet, a large section of the Berlin Wall and an enormous V2 Rocket. With interactive exhibits, indoor and outdoor play areas, and a newly refurbished café and gift shop, there’s plenty for all the family!
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