2018 - Radio - From Gallipoli to the Gulf

Our 2018 Exhibition concentrated on two milestone events from 1918 – the founding of the Royal Air Force in April and the conclusion of WW1 in November …

The USA’s declaration of war was the turning point in the hostilities and throughout the summer of 1918, the strength of the Allied Front Line troops doubled – with American soldiers arriving in France at the rate of 10,000 per day, whilst, dring the same period, the German strength halved … The result was inevitable.

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Moving on from the Foyer, which showed us methods of ‘rapid’ communication from the 1790s and 1850s, we reached the Stairwell. This was our War in the Air section from WW1, and was dominated by a 1:32 scale model Zeppelin, suspended from the ceiling. These monsters were at least the length of 2 football pitches, with gas-bags (usually leaking), containing about one million cubic feet of highly volatile hydrogen. They were unstable and cumbersome but could carry a huge payload of bombs.

The three aircraft on display in the Stairwell, are built to the same scale as the Zeppelin!!

The entrance to the Exhibition Hall profiled David Henderson and Hugh Trenchard – Founding Fathers of the RAF.

Inside the Hall, the first bay on the left-hand side was dedicated to RAF 100, with emphasis on the young Air Cadets – in particular, the 1333 Grangemouth Spitfire Squadron, and with valuable contributions from Kirkcaldy and Leven Squadrons.

We then moved back to WW1 – with a cased display of cap badges and medals, followed by a visit to our Trench … complete with rats and spiders – (courtesy IKEA!)  Our War on Land section aimed to give you an idea of how men coped, year after year, with life in the trenches (ours is far too dry, clean, quiet, odourless and vermin free!) Mercifully, trench warfare was not repeated in WW2. Neither were poison gas attackes, although 40 million gas masks were issued at the start of hostilities in 1939.

Cased in the next section, War at Sea, was one of the Museum’s greatest treasures – the Grosser Kurfurst Morse Key. This was the only Morse key ever to be recovered from the German High Seas Fleet, scuttled in Scapa Flow in 1919. It was presented to our founder, Harry Mathews, following a BBC interview, in 1986.

The two (1/350th scale) model ships displayed were Grosser Kurfurst and HMS Dreadnought, from WW1. 

The final WW1 section described how women answered the challenging call to war work – in the home, the workplace and in the armed forces – and how this terrible war changed their role in life forever.

The rest of the Exhibition was dedicated to RAF 100.

The first bay on the right-hand side contained a case of several RAF aircraft models, dating from WW1 to the Gulf War. Also on display was radio/direction finding/communication equipment, from Lancaster bombers, Spitfires etc. from WW1, with many evocative photographs adorning the walls. 

The middle bay contained more communication equipment – this time from the post-war years to the modern day.

The final bay contained Radar components, 2 comfy chairs and TV showing films such as ‘Reach for the Sky’!!

Dominating the centre of the room was a ‘hands-on’ demonstration of a WW2 Sunderland flying boat, using Radar to track a submarine. 

The remaining central area was taken up with the complete – and very intricate Radar from an English Electric Lightning.