The Royal Welsh Regimental Museum, which sits next Brecon Barracks, houses a number of rare and highly valued military pieces, many recovered from the famous battles of the Anglo-Zulu War, as well as 17 Victoria Crosses –thought to be the largest collection of VCs in the UK.
The Royal Welsh Regimental Museum Appeal is set to be launched to breathe new life into the Museum and protect the proud past of the B Company of the 2nd Battalion, 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment – later to be retitled the South Wales Borderers – and many other regiments whose military history is kept alive in the museum, so it can be protected and shared for future generations.
The appeal is intended to raise £1million in five years to better present the numerous relics and breathe new life into the Royal Welsh Regimental Museum, moving it into the 21st Century. Among the most prestigious pieces is the iconic Union flag raised over the momentous battle of Rorke’s Drift in 1879, which still bears the bullet holes from the wear and tear of bloody battle.
The national Royal Welsh Regimental Museum Appeal campaign will be officially launched on Thursday 14th June which coincides with the annual ‘Beating the Retreat’ celebrations in Brecon. This special launch will be followed by a special Anglo-Zulu War-themed weekend at the Regimental Museum from Saturday, 16th June to Sunday, 17th June – which promises a day of historical fun for the whole family.
Highlights of the event programme include re-enactors dressed as soldiers from the 24th Regiment, a surgeon demonstrating field techniques, foot and weapon drill displays, costumes for children to dress as soldiers from 1879 and a lecture by keynote speaker Ian Knight – a leading author on the Anglo-Zulu War – at Brecon Cathedral. The appeal is also encouraging friends to make donations, bequeath legacies and transfer assets to support the cause.
Bill Cainan, Curator of the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh, explained why it was so important the appeal raised funds to improve the presentation of these historical military pieces.
“The actual Union flag, which witnessed the momentous events of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, is now hanging in a corner of the Regimental Musuem. The flag was recovered from battle by Private Evan Jones, and spent many years in a chest of drawers which kept it extremely well preserved. He gave it to a Mr Jack Higgs shortly before his death in 1931, whose family generously donated it to the museum in 1978.
“The Appeal is being launched to preserve and enhance our most precious of artefacts, together with many others that deservedly ought to be presented in a more appropriate manner. It would be a fitting tribute for the brave men of the 24th to be immortalised forever.”
Colonel Tim Van Rees, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Trustees of the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh, noted: “Many of the fantastic items here are not currently on display, and we are fundraising with the hope of eventually using modern technology to better present this fantastic collection in all its glory so future generations can be proud of their past and the town’s history.”
Dorcas Cresswell, Chairman of the appeal fund raising committee, added: “Our strategic goal is to raise enough funds to enable our vision to be fulfilled, and to increase visitor numbers by raising the profile of the Museum.”
Mrs Julie James, Chairman of Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, said: “The Royal Welsh Regimental Museum is one of the jewels in the crown of the National Park, and we as an Authority felt it was important to support the appeal and help preserve Brecon’s proud cultural heritage. We hope as many people as possible can support them with their appeal.”
For more information or to find out how you can help with the appeal please contact the Royal Welsh Regimental Museum on 01874 613310.