Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum: Dad’s Army exhibition opens August

Dad’s Armies: The Amateur Military Tradition

Starting from Sunday 21st August and ending in December , a new exhibition is arriving at SOFO. The exhibition has been developed in conjunction with the Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust.

Ian Beckett, secretary of the BMMT, explains what can be expected from this forthcoming exhibition:

We all associate Dad’s Army with the Home Guard of the Second World War but this was only the last in a long line of amateur citizen soldiers brought into existence as needs dictated for supplementary defence against invasion. Such local and amateur soldiers pre-dated the establishment of a standing army in the seventeenth century for military obligations were first imposed on citizens in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

This new joint exhibition between the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust and the Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust is devoted to the story of these local auxiliary forces – the militia, yeomanry and volunteers – and to their successors in two world wars – the volunteer training corps and the home guard. With regular soldiers policing an empire, the auxiliaries were the real link between army and society. They helped keep order before police forces were established and bore the brunt of popular anti-militarism, not least because the militia was the only part of the army raised by conscription before 1916. But they were also pillars of the community and part of the very fabric of county life.

The exhibition brings together some unique uniforms, artefacts, and images of a largely forgotten part of Britain’s military, political, social and cultural history.”

About the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum

The Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust (SOFO) museum opened during the summer of 2014 and was officialy opened by the Princes Royal in September.

Sitting in the grounds of the Oxfordshire Musuem, the site now offers two fascinating museums for visitors of all ages to explore and engage with.

SOFO uses the material of the two county regiments, the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars (QOOH) and the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry to act as starting point for reflecting on the county’s rich and diverse military heritage.These collections contain over 3,500 objects and 7,500 archive items. The regimental collections date back to the late 18th Century and reflect the local regiments’ involvement in major conflicts such as the War of American Independence, the Peninsula War, the Boer Wars, the Great War and World War II, together with less well known events such as the New Zealand war of 1864 and the Brunei emergency in the 1960s. They comprise weapons, equipment, clothing, flags, musical instruments and regimental silver as well as extensive personal memories, diaries, letters and photographs.

The breadth of the collections allows us to present and contribute to a wide range of historical themes and mark key anniversaries, for example in 2015 such as the bicentary of Waterloo and 70 years since the end of the Second World War.