Saturday, 1 October 2016

Tally Ho!

On my recent trip south I had some time to kill before the gaming day in Peterborough, I had sort of planned to go to the Imperial War Museum which I have not been to since the very late sixties and was my first stop in London, and possibly the Guards Museum, as it turned out I had had enough of being on my feet so didn't make the Guards, maybe next time.

The Friday was a beautiful Autumn day and I felt good as I wandered around the leafy suburb of Chorleywood, life felt good, I had had a bit of a lie in and fortified by a bacon buttie courtesy of my daughter-in-law, I set off for the capital. I was going to get as close as I could to the IWM by tube but found the nearest station was shut until we discover another planet with life, so I walked from Waterloo. The area hasn't changed much and is still fairly shabby, I was on Defcon 4 just in case.

The museum has had a make over since my day, they do like space don't they, its sister museum up north is all space, like an empty factory with the emphasis on empty. Anyway I started with the WWI section, I enjoyed this, it was very well done, there didn't seem to be a lot about the battles as it concentrated more on what life was like at the front and the effect of modern weapons on the conflict and of course how it affected the ordinary men and women. An excellent start. I moved on to WWII and morale fell, I thought it very poor, I remember the place being stuffed with WWII gear, all that was on show on this level was some junk and a Sherman tank. The only thing which I enjoyed here and could have done with more of, was a three minute film which showed the British (for a change) 3rd Division landing in Normandy, the soundtrack was old soldiers who had been there, each giving snippets of their remembrances, priceless.

I skipped the next two floors which seemed too modern for me, terrorism of course was on the agenda and some other stuff which to me is dubious content for a war museum. The whole upper floor was given over to the Holocaust, again I am unsure where this fits in with the title of the building, but I have to say it is a harrowing exhibit and it excels at showing the victims as human beings which of course makes it even more horrendous.

Overall it was a decent way to spend a few hours but I thought the WWII exhibit very poor, I suspect most of their stuff is hidden away in some kind of large warehouse which also has the Arc of the Covenant in it.

The next day I headed for the RAF Museum London, which is at Hendon, it was only thirty minutes away according to Ms Satnav but it was one of the worst thirty minute journeys I have ever made, driving down there is no fun. Anyway I got there barely in one piece, thankfully with no bumps on the Batmobile. From the moment I entered the vast hanger this place was a joy, they have all sorts in there from stringbags to jet bombers, all my favourites were there of course, Spitfire, Mosquito, 109, 262, Albatross and Bristol Fighter. They have a main hanger which has all sorts in it, I particularly liked the Buccaneer, much bigger than I thought and being able to stand under the massive Vulcan bomber.

They have a Spitfire which you can pay £10 to sit in, my son paid this, he was going to pay for me as well but I declined, I at first thought it a bit much but on reflection how many people can say they have sat in a Spitfire, a once in a lifetime experience and the £10 will be well spent keeping this magnificent museum free to the public. I also have to mention that the young lady doing the 'tour' was very knowledgable and extremely helpful. Does being in a Spitfire trump having been in a real U-Boat, I digress.

Graham "Biffo" Anderson

Beautiful, not a thing out of place.
The First World War hanger was a delight containing many of the legendary aircraft from that conflict, they were brave men who took those crates up, did you know that of the over 9,000 men killed during WWI in the RFC or RAF 8,000 deaths were due to flying training and accidents.

Sore head coming up.

 Last but not least there was the WWII hanger, again more legends in various forms and states of repair or rebuilding. I can thoroughly recommend this museum if you are within shooting distance, a great day out.


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