Military History 1
The Military History 1 Group's interests includes the Army, Navy and Airforce. The group leader is Paul Mardon. Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month.
Since our beginning our numbers have grown from the original four of us to the current ten. We encourage all members to make a presentation of, for example, a particular war or battle, on land, sea or air. The researching for the details is both interesting and fulfilling. The preparation can take time, a couple of weeks or even a month would not be unusual.
We also make visits to places of interest such as; Hendon & Duxford Aircraft Museums, the Imperial War Museum and the Royal Naval Museum at Greenwich &, on several occasions the Combined Services Museum at Maldon.
The group normally has a trip each September to an outside venue. Given all the current travel restrictions we chose this time to have a local guided walk around the Shoebury Garrison. Five members of the group attended together with our guide, Brian Sandford from the Shoebury Society.
The Garrison owes its existence to the Napoleonic Wars & the need to improve our military weaponry. A weapon testing centre was needed & Shoebury was ideal surrounded as it is by mud flats. Testing began in 1849 & the full development of the site began ten years later. Our walking tour covered the Barge Pier where guns were brought ashore through to the various firing areas which kept on changing as larger & more powerful guns became available. (later of course the firing was moved to Foulness island). We then walked around the Garrison itself looking at various aspects of the facilities & accommodation for both officers & men, from the very grand Commandant's House to the barracks for single soldiers (wives not encouraged). A very up to date hospital facility was provided on the site but other than this little attention seem to be paid to the needs of the men outside of their duties. Long walks into Southend for the pubs seemed to be the main recreation though a very smart cricket green was built in the middle of the site where once a year a match was played between the Officers & the men."
The group returned to a virtual meeting via Skype. We were joined by Peter Graves from Military History group 2. Again, members had chosen their own topics to discuss & we had the usual wide variety which kept us going for just short of two hours. These included: the career of female German WWII flying ace Hannah Reitch who survived the war & remained a dedicated Nazi until her death in the 1970s; the WWII development of RADAR & in particular its deployment in Essex including RAF Canewdon; the history of RAF stations in Singapore in particular RAF Changi; the naval Battle of Sluys in the early years of the Hundred Years War; the life of Queen Boudicca & her rebellion against the Romans; the biological warfare operations of the Japanese army in WWII through its 'Unit 731' which appears to have been every bit as nasty as anything the Germans had been undertaking.
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