The Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh is a place I have wanted to visit for a long time. My dad is a great history buff, loves the film Zulu and to be honest I don’t spend enough time with him. So, on a sunny morning in August we set off for the museum in Brecon; my dad, myself and Toby.
The journey from Swansea is lovely and the scenery is breathtaking. It’s a lovely area with loads to see and do. But our focus was on the museum next to the barracks in Brecon town.
If you like the film Zulu, which tells the story of the defence of Rourke’s Drift in Natal Province by 2 company, 24th Foot, you will find this fascinating. I will say though that the regiment has seen service for over 320 years and has one of the finest collections of military artefacts I have ever seen.
These tell the story of a regiment that has participated in many of the great events of British History. The Royal Welsh is Wales’s infantry regiment. It has inherited a notable military tradition from its predecessors: The Royal Welch Fusiliers (23rd Foot) and The Royal Regiment of Wales (formerly the 24th, 41st and 69th Foot – and later the South Wales Borderers, Welch Regiment and Monmouthshire Regiment). The history reaches back to the year 1689 when the 23rd and 24th Regiments of Foot were first raised.
The Regimental moto is : Gwell Angau na Chywilydd – “Better Death than Dishonour”
The Zulu War
The Zulu War Room is definitely one of the main attractions. The heroism of the 24th Regiment during the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War is mythical. The Zulu War Room tells the compelling story of personal courage for all to see through video, diorama’s explaining the battle and a huge number of artefacts such as assegais, shields, uniforms, weapons, paintings and photographs.
The children can try on a red coat uniform jacket and see what it was like to be a Victorian soldier. There are also WW1 uniforms to try on as well.
The Medals Room
In 320 years, the Regiment has gained 244 Battle Honours and 43 of its soldiers have received The Victoria Cross. Eleven VCs were awarded during the defence of Roarkes Drift. This is one of the largest numbers awarded for a single action, and the largest number (7) awarded to a single unit (the 2nd/24th Foot) for a single action.
The medal room in Brecon does contain more than 3,000 medals awarded from their campaigns. Many soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice for these awards. The museum also shows the individual stories behind the award of the eighteen Victoria Crosses, held in the collection.
The museum holds one of the finest collections of weapons and firepower that traces the development of soldiers’ weapons from the 18th Century to current day. You can see all the ammunition from pistol to rifle and machine gun. All the weapons made famous by the current video game Call of Duty are on display. Toby’s eyes were wide as he walked around the armoury. Unfortunately, you can’t touch, only look!
The Armoury needs some electrical work at the moment and donations are being sought to put it back in good order.
You can spend a fascinating morning or afternoon at The Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh and get a slice of military history. Its not a large building but you can spend a good while reading and looking at the displays.
Definitely one to put on the list. Pictures and paintings, dioramas and drums, assegais and ammunition, buttons, badges and uniforms – its got it all.