RSR "Golden Thread" snapped already?

#1
Further to a previous thread in this forum http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn/index.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=180797#180797 -

When I saw this headline in the newsagents, my first thought was "That's Gen Alistair's 'Golden Thread" snapped then".

However, I see from the article that Brig Allan Alstead was way ahead of me. Annabelle Ewing MP (did she get that ARRSE mug?) said it is "another stab in the back" for soldiers who had risked their lives.

MoD moves to shut down regimental museums
Link to Herald front page article here: http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/32753.html I'll post the text later.
 
#2
Logically this MOD plan will also block funding for many regimental museums elsewhere in the UK.

Anyone heard of other proposals for centralised regional museums? In some cases, presumably these can be based on existing large-regiment museums, with 'smaller' museums losing any Defence funding and also, equally importantly, losing for ever their link with today's Army.

Are regimental museums not a part of the Army's local "footprint" which we hear so much about?
 

X-Inf

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#3
Hackle,

I suppose I should be surprised and shocked, but after the actions of our 'glorious leaders' over the past few months I can't say that I am.

It will be interesting to see what comments the ECAB will make now and if PoD will continue to say that the long term plan is all that counts.

There are calls for 'Peoples Museums' to be set up, and in fact many have been, but it should be noted that the Regimental Museums are about the people of the local community. It does not matter if a person actually served with that unit, as most people will have family links somewhere along the line. Getting shot of local Regimental museums is something which concerns the community as a whole.

I am sure that if a poll of those people visiting Regimental museums were to be made, only a small portion would have actually served with that particular Regiment.

If you hear of anything being set up to try and counter this, other than the STSR campaign, please let us all know, I will do so also if I hear.
 
#4
All the more important campaigns like STSR. There seems to be a building momentum for other campaigns as well.

Thes proposed "changes" are far deeper and cutting than many realise
 
#5
'Roger', RCSignals. Jings!

That Herald front page article in full:

Copyright notice included. I trust The Herald wont mind our reproducing their excellent article in the circumstances, any problems to hackle@hotmail.co.uk or the moderators. We do know that as well as the occasional masked appearances by "adenoidal 22-year old hacks" looking for dirt, several top journalists make entirely appropriate use of this fine website to check facts, and get a feel for all-ranks opinion. This "Current Affairs" forum has consistently helped to raise the web profile of the quality newspapers, especially the Scottish ones. Hope you will return the favour!

MoD moves to shut down regimental museums

IAN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent and ALISON CHIESA February 03 2005

Copyright © 2005 Newsquest (Herald & Times) Limited. All Rights Reserved

THE Ministry of Defence is threatening to withdraw funding from regimental museums unless they agree to pool their exhibits at a single site to cut costs.

Regimental associations are to be told that centuries of military history and relics, from Aberdeen to Berwick, are to be housed in a central museum somewhere in mid-Scotland. It means they may not be easily accessible to veterans from either end of the country.

The move brought claims that the MoD is trying to rob Scotland's soldiers of their heritage.

It follows December's confirmation that the existing six Scottish regiments are to be cut by one battalion and then merged into a new super-regiment, the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

There are 11 army museums north of the border. The one museum would have to contain tens of thousands of uniforms, medals, paintings, silverware and battlefield trophies.

Senior officers have told The Herald the latest move is designed to erode further the individuality of units which recruit in fiercely tribal areas from the Borders to the Western Isles, despite promises made two months ago that the "golden thread" of regimental identity would be maintained after amalgamation.

Brigadier Allan Alstead, a former commander of 51st Highland Brigade, described the plan as "a complete betrayal". He said it would "snap the golden thread" and deal a potential hammer-blow to recruitment by removing the last visible military footprint in towns and cities north of the border.

Annabelle Ewing, SNP MP for Perth, in the heart of Black Watch country, said it was "another stab in the back" for soldiers who had risked their lives.
Jeff Duncan, organiser of the Save the Scottish Regiments campaign, added: "It is a travesty that almost 1800 years of combined military history will be centralised, marginalised, and ultimately forgotten if this scheme goes ahead. Regimental museums are a focal point for the 'old and the bold' whose service was a pivotal experience in their lives. How does the MoD expect an 80-year-old ex-Gordon Highlander living in Peterhead, or a King's Own Scottish Borderers pensioner from Duns, to make the journey to Perth or Edinburgh."

A spokeswoman for the MoD said: "We can confirm that there is a study under way aimed at rationalising regimental museums and headquarters, but no decisions have been taken so far. It is something which has to be examined in conjunction with the amalgamation of the existing regiments in 2008."

The MoD says it cannot provide figures for its funding of 11 regimental museums in Scotland and 58 in England and Wales, but a spokesman said the ministry met the cost of staff salaries and the upkeep of the buildings. Raising cash to buy exhibits when they came on the market or to pay for improvements to displays was a matter for the individual regimental associations.

The Scottish regimental secretaries, paid as MoD civil servants, have been forbidden to handle media inquiries after several spoke out against the amalgamations last year.

Sources close to the secretaries have, however, said they have been given a target date of next year to prepare for the change. Those who resist centralisation and keep their premises open will be left to find the money for rent, wages, and maintenance from their own limited resources.

Of the 11 army museums, three are for units which no longer exist: the Cameronians, the Gordon Highlanders, and the Ayrshire Yeomanry. These survive financially on a lifeline of MoD grant-aid, private bequests, hosting veterans' functions, and entrance fees.

Three regimental museums are housed in prime tourism sites, with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in Stirling Castle and the Royal Scots and Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in Edinburgh Castle. The Scottish National War Museum is also based in Edinburgh.

The others are the Royal Highland Fusiliers (Sauchie-hall Street, Glasgow), the Highlanders (Fort George), the Black Watch (Balhousie Castle in Perth), and the King's Own Scottish Borderers in old barracks in Berwick-upon-Tweed. All receive MoD grant-aid, and the regimental sites operate a system whereby serving soldiers from their parent units contribute an annual sum from their pay.

At the Glasgow museum yesterday, veterans lamented the proposed centralisation. The museum is a lifeline for veterans keen to maintain links with former colleagues. Although now in their eighties, many still meet there for lunch.

Michael Mulheron, 80, who served with the Highland Light Infantry in the second world war, said: "It is the hub of the regiment and a lifeline for former soldiers to keep in touch."

Joseph Kane, 65, a former soldier from Ayrshire, said: "Closing the museums and centralising them would be like ripping the soul out of them. Young people especially need to know their history."
 

X-Inf

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#6
R Sigs, you may have picked up my comment re STSR wrongly. I am not in any way putting down STSR it is just that they are well known. My point was should there be a separate campaign and if so please let us know. BTW, if I can get away from work I will be on the April jaunt.

I will try and make myself more clear in future.
 
#7
X-Inf said:
Hackle,

I suppose I should be surprised and shocked, but after the actions of our 'glorious leaders' over the past few months I can't say that I am.

It will be interesting to see what comments the ECAB will make now and if PoD will continue to say that the long term plan is all that counts.

There are calls for 'Peoples Museums' to be set up, and in fact many have been, but it should be noted that the Regimental Museums are about the people of the local community. It does not matter if a person actually served with that unit, as most people will have family links somewhere along the line. Getting shot of local Regimental museums is something which concerns the community as a whole.

I am sure that if a poll of those people visiting Regimental museums were to be made, only a small portion would have actually served with that particular Regiment.

If you hear of anything being set up to try and counter this, other than the STSR campaign, please let us all know, I will do so also if I hear.
X-Inf

Just seen your post. Masterly summary. Every one of the regimental museums I have visited in different parts of the UK was excellent in its own way. I happen to be fond of one which has no space for interactive modernistic displays, but is packed with well-displayed and catalogued items from so many of our country's wars, and donated by named "all ranks" and their families. I have seen visitors from home and abroad wandering around the galleries, and exclaiming with delight on recognising individual and family names.

Most of such items will never be displayed in a centralised museum. The Scottish United Services Museum in the Castle is excellent, but it doesnt cover the same ground - and never could.

The "community" aspect you point out is most important, although with a potential double edge if others dont present it carefully: proponents of this centralisation could be tempted to say "well, if its a community asset, the community can pay for it".

The answer to that false argument can be developed in this thread. I would say that it would indeed be a betrayal, and also self-defeating in terms of footprint and recruiting, to decree that the service and sacrifice represented in our museums will now be reduced to a flashing-lights centralised theme display.

Many of the donors (and I know one rather well :oops: ) are still with us but that's not the point:

Not only do we and the MOD have a duty to previous generations of soldiers, but the Army and the community can only lose by consigning most of the displays to dusty store-rooms.
 
#8
X-Inf said:
R Sigs, you may have picked up my comment re STSR wrongly. I am not in any way putting down STSR it is just that they are well known. My point was should there be a separate campaign and if so please let us know. BTW, if I can get away from work I will be on the April jaunt.

I will try and make myself more clear in future.
Not at all X-Inf. I think we are more likely on the same page in this.
 
#9
X-Inf said:
BTW, if I can get away from work I will be on the April jaunt...
Good point. Maybe I'd better try to get there too.

Which sparks a dramatic veer off topic :oops: : As many will have seen (and I know the threads ARE being read), I and others are heavily involved in the "voter registration/voting arrangements" campaign.

Unavoidably we've had to post some pretty turgid information in those threads, including analysis aimed not at the forces community but mainly at "outside observers".

As you will have noticed, this week there has been welcome progress on several fronts. Not taking any of the credit away from any of the politicians who have taken this up, including now the PM, but I confirm we have been consulting "off-line" and would, of course, be happy to speak to any political affiliation about our emphatically non-partisan campaign.

Reason I am saying this is that I hope after all the lively discussion which sparked this campaign off in the first place, I hope that all the alleged 'expertise' currently being displayed in that thread does not put any member off from contributing, and picking up some of the issues we have aired. Just one example, what will the view be if the General Election does take place in early March, with the renewed MOD electoral registration efforts thus largely wasted?


Errrrm... back on topic :oops: :oops: :wink: , 'Herald' editorial opinion piece to follow.
 
#10
as promised, more from The Herald
Army museums under fire

Editorial Comment February 03 2005

It is an offer Don Corleone would have been proud to make. Scotland's 11 Army museums have apparently been told by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that, unless they agree to their exhibits being pooled and shown at one central site, they will lose the bulk of their funding. In other words, close or die. It is not much of a choice. In the battle of the ultimatums it seems there is only one winner (the MoD) and one loser (the museums).

The MoD confirmed yesterday that a review was under way to "rationalise" regimental museums and headquarters, an exercise to be viewed in the context of the planned merger of the existing Scottish regiments in 2008. While there is probably merit in that amalgamation, a convincing case for closing regimental museums is lacking. This is partly because closing museums could conceivably make the task of recruiting more troops to the regiments more difficult, something that needs to be made easier. Promises were made when the plan to merge units into a new Scottish "super-regiment" was announced that the "golden thread" of regimental identity would be preserved.

Closing museums suggests the opposite. They are a popular meeting place for old soldiers. The honours, uniforms, weapons and trophies they show attract visitors who want to find out more about Scotland's military heritage. Importantly, the museums can convey to potential recruits a sense of the history and character of the Scottish regiments. When recruitment depends to an extent on local loyalty to individual regiments, breaking the "golden thread" of identity would be a risky, and possibly counter-productive, strategy.

The 11 Army museums in Scotland receive a grant from the MoD to help keep them going. They also depend on serving soldiers donating a sum annually from their pay to support their local regimental museum. Would these troops be so keen to contribute if their regiment's physical heritage was swallowed up in a single "super-museum" which, by virtue of its location, would probably make it more difficult for old soldiers to visit?

There is another reason why the MoD proposal seems wrong. It is driven mainly by an effort to cut costs, the same consideration that has caused local museums throughout Scotland to face an uncertain future. They must make do and mend with the limited, stop-gap public funding at their disposal. Yet, like the Army museums, they also have a crucial role in preserving Scotland's past in a way that informs the future. Scotland's communities, military or otherwise, would be the poorer without them.
source: http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/32696.html
 
#11
The cynic in me would suggest that if this Government is working so hard to re-write history so that our youth learn about our past colonial shame rather than our glorious past, that the idea of men joining regiments and fighting with pride for King/Queen and country is anathema to the party that wants loyalty to itself rather than a nation.

Interestingly, I read a thread that had an article in it from a left-wing think tank that has recognised how Labour have tried to create a culture of dependancy for each and every type of demographic, and part of that culture must be severing links with a past that did not need New Labour and reinforcing the belief that we cannot survive without them. Can anyone say "totalitarian state"?
 
#12
Here comes the Socialist Paradise, where everyone is equally miserable!

actually i have heard something about this at a dinner we had in Nov up in the Bydandie musuem. they have decided to break completely away from MOD funding for this very reason (hence lots of fund raising coming soon - watch this space).

We should all encourage our Reg'ts to take less funding from the MOD and riase funds in other ways (the GH's have some excellent ideas). Not always practical i know, but....

One of the problems they had up in A'deen was making all exhibits wheelchair access, at ridiculous costs, just in case someone came by. Previously it had been done by lifting them up a few stairs, but apparently the Health & Safety weren't happy! (shock)
 
#13
Plastic Yank said:
Here comes the Socialist Paradise, where everyone is equally miserable!

actually i have heard something about this at a dinner we had in Nov up in the Bydandie musuem. they have decided to break completely away from MOD funding for this very reason (hence lots of fund raising coming soon - watch this space).

We should all encourage our Reg'ts to take less funding from the MOD and riase funds in other ways (the GH's have some excellent ideas). Not always practical i know, but....

One of the problems they had up in A'deen was making all exhibits wheelchair access, at ridiculous costs, just in case someone came by. Previously it had been done by lifting them up a few stairs, but apparently the Health & Safety weren't happy! (shock)
Good points. If the Museums can get by without MOD funding, that would be immensely better than them closing in favour of a centralised facility. No doubt MOD might then kindly allow them to retain most of "their own" exhibits on loan.

As to raising funds, yes I think there was something in my mail, half completed but not yet sent, thanks for reminder :wink:

Another question is how this affects Museums on Govt property - off the cuff I can think at least 3 Inf (and 1 Cav). Fortunately most of these are also ancient monuments, where the museums undeniably form part of the public attraction.

I dont know how the centralised museum will work. And location? directed to someone's constituency as part of an urban regeneration project?
 
#14
One of the old and bold suggested to me that each battalion of the new Royal Regiment of Scotland might maintain a small museum at its permanent base when these are assigned. But since one's likely to be Fallingbostel and another located in sunny-Ulster-by-the-sea, that's not tremendously convenient for visiting vets.
 
#15
claymore said:
One of the old and bold suggested to me that each battalion of the new Royal Regiment of Scotland might maintain a small museum at its permanent base when these are assigned. But since one's likely to be Fallingbostel and another located in sunny-Ulster-by-the-sea, that's not tremendously convenient for visiting vets.
Interesting suggestion, although a QM's (and curator's) nightmare?

Although, I havent personally come across anything in infantry battalions quite comparable with some excellent "battery history rooms" which I have seen in RA Regts. (Have heard of others doing similar.) Hate to lavish praise on the Gunners :wink:, but as a huge generalisation they tend to much better in maintaining links with the Old and Bold, and inviting them over for regtl occasions, even in Germany. Some of us could learn from that.
 
#16
Have heard from informant about a local newpaper piece - Inverness Courier.

Havent seen the full text, no web link. Gist seems to be that a Colonel who is former Curator of the Regtl Museum at Fort George describes the closure speculation as a wild idea put about by politicians wanting to stir up trouble. (Is there any other kind? :wink: )

Also an Army spokesman had a comment about someone adding 2+2 and making 5.

If anyone has some minutes over the w/e to check reaction in the regional paper - Aberdeen Press & Journal? - if they have a website - or any reaction/clarification elsewhere in Scotland, could be of interest.

So NO concerns about closure. Presumably there is still some thought of a centralised RRS Museum - makes sense to me so long as the regimental link is still maintained with the present museums. Thinking of eg Castle Museum in Shrewsbury - lots of historical displays relating to disbanded regiments - but you still see clear linkage to the modern day LI and recent operations.

No apologies from me for posting Herald story and "stirring up" interest in the important subject of regtl museums - generating excellent contributions from several members - hope we can keep this going from time to time.
 
#17
It's always commendable to look after the veterans who went before, but somewhat impractical if they are pensioners who live hundreds of miles from the focal point of "their" regimental museum.

As Hackle has already said, some museums will survive more or less intact because they are located in places like Edinburgh or Stirling castles and form part of the core attraction for tourists.

The Herald article also made the valid point that the museum is part of the recruiting effort, the visible proof of tradition and tribal ties.
 
#18
hackle said:
So NO concerns about closure. (quote]

Call me cynical, Hackle, but can you really see the MoD foregoing the chance to trim costs, staff and admin by centralising the "large" regiments' museums? I've also made some inquiries about the origins of the story. It came from within the army, and not from politicians.
 

X-Inf

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#19
Hackle,

I have to agree with Claymore about this. It is like Bliar or TCH saying they have 'no plans' to send extra troops to Iraq. While telling the truth that they have no plans, they know they are going to do it anyway but have not planned how to.

The museums will find it hard to live in the civil service world if Broon's cuts to civil servants go ahead. The ones in established CS offices will fight tooth and nail to get rid in the 'incomers' at Regimental museums.

The louder I hear people deny things nowadays the more inclined I am to expect it to happen.
 
#20
Claymore and X-Inf,

Roger, very clear. Maintain overwatch?

And continue excellent discussion about the more positive aspects, and how the link can be maintained? All museums not just service museums have operated for years in a very political funding framework, but I hope us non-experts sometimes have thoughts to contribute too.

Am hoping for new members 'blackcock_feather', 'white_feet' and 'hosetop' to join us in future. :wink: :roll:
 

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