The National History Show
The National History Show at Olympia as an event came as quite a surprise to us. When on the Wednesday before the event, we were contacted by the SKY-History Channel, who had been given our details by the Solent Sky’s Museum, who’s 3.7 we had used at Fort Nelson. With the short notice and the fact the group had been booked for the event at the Gun Powder Mills finding members available to attend was difficult. Jonathan and I felt that it was an event worth supporting, so after sometime persuading Tracey to go and getting some volunteers, Dave Nesbit, and friends of the group Nigel & Julie Peachey, we had a team ready.
We all travelled up by train for the event and were put up in a hotel all at the expense of the History Channel. Thanks. The event it’s self was different to anything I had done before, it was a joint venture between the BBC’s TV Programme “Who do you think you are” with The Society of Genealogists Family History Show, it was indoors, full of trade stands, of every form of History Society, History Magazine, TV programme and Medal collectors.
We were in the Military Zone with The Imperial War Museum & National Army Museum, who were the only Military Experts there, the rest were magazines and medal collectors etc, our role was as set dressing with the 3.7 HAA Gun on the History Channel Stand, that’s the way it started anyway but it was soon to change.
On the first morning the public queued right round the block they must have had 5000 people that first day most of them armed with photos, documents and item of memorabilia to help identify there relatives and their part in history. It was not long before the N.A.M was swamped and with no other museums available we soon started to take the role as experts, at one point we had a small queue waiting to ask us questions, we of course was only able to deal with ATS and RA WWII questions but there was enough for them to be going on with. I was fortunate to have the use of one of the History Channels Internet Computer and spent the day along with the others answering the public’s questions. I found Beryl’s web site invaluable and I lost count of the number of people trying to find out what there mums did in the ATS.
The Sunday was much the same but did not seem to kick off for us until about lunch time and although we where not as busy as the first day but there were enough to keep us all at it. We did get a lot of WW1 artillery questions that we where not able to help with but we just forward then on to the N.A.M. stand. One incident had me a little taken back and the rest amused. A gentleman showed us the photo in the programme of the Garrison on the 3.7 taken at Fort Nelson. He then went on to say that his dad was on that type of Gun, and proceeded to ask a number of questions about it and Ack Ack in general. I showed him around the gun and give him all the info he was after. He then caught me out by asking for my autograph which I of course gave him, fame at last!
The Monday was similar to Sunday only a little busier. Over weekend I surprisingly did get a number of searchlight questions to deal with and one on the Monday was the icing on the cake. A lady asked me about her mum, she said that she had been on motorbikes and had started out on a searchlight battery. Well it was with great delight I was able to show her both our site and Beryl’s tell her about 93rd SL Regt and was able to show her a photo of her Mum and her mums friend which really made her day.
In conclusion we had a great weekend, and cheep, but the event was lacking some content it could have done with more re-enactors of the WW1 and WW2 periods to help the public put the History of the relatives into context. Also with 1 - 4 Solders in WW2 in the Royal Artillery not having the RA Museum or in fact the RAF and RN there was I believe an over site, but the organisers are going to sort it out for next year.