Afghanistan exhibition launches at The Tank Museum
PUBLISHED: 14:57 14 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:11 20 February 2013
For the first time people will be able to hear soldiers' untold stories from Afghanistan's frontline in a poignant new exhibition at The Tank Museum...
For the first time people will be able to hear soldiers untold stories from Afghanistans frontline in a poignant new exhibition at The Tank Museum.
In front of a crowd of more than 200 VIPs, Trooper Tom Barraclough of 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, cut the ceremonial barbed wire to officially launch the significant Battlegroup Afghanistan.
Battlegroup Afghanistan is set in a recreated Forward Operating Base (FOB), as used by troops in Helmand, and tells the story of the ongoing conflict from the perspective of the armoured soldier.
Using the soldiers own words from exclusive Tank Museum interviews, the exhibition brings to life a side of the war in Afghanistan often unheard and unseen by the wider public: personal experiences, emotions and what its like working on foot searching for IEDs instead of inside armoured tanks.
As well as a unique display of armoured vehicles currently in use in Helmand, the recreated FOB features a lookout station; soldiers living quarters complete with the types of personal possessions used to make them as homely as possible; and even makeshift bathroom facilities as commonly used by troops in the Afghan desert.
Among the VIP guests there to witness the launch were a number of the soldiers themselves who had contributed their stories to the exhibition and the families of servicemen who have lost their lives during to the war and whose memories the exhibition hopes to preserve.
In his address, the chairman of The Tank Museum trustees Major General Peter Gilchrist CB said: Many people in the UK do not really understand the magnitude of what our troops have been facing, but through this exhibition we hope to help bring it to life.
This exhibition is here to reflect to the British people what the troops are going through, it is not intended in itself to be a memorial but an education on the living conditions, the variety of equipment and the type of operations that these young have been involved in. I find it fascinating and have a sense of huge pride and admiration for what they are still doing and it will be difficult for anyone not to leave emotionally moved.
After cutting the barbed wire Tpr Barraclough said: Its exciting being part of something like this that lots of the public are going to come and see. Its a bit different being in a museum compared with the real thing but if there are non-service families or people who dont know anyone whose gone out to Afghanistan, then when they come to this exhibition they will understand straight away what its like out there.
David Willey, curator at The Tank Museum, added: The launch of Battlegroup Afghanistan is a major milestone for the Museum. Everyone has worked extremely hard to bring this exhibition together from the soldiers who have generously given their time to be interviewed to the team behind putting the exhibits together.
The finished result is terrific and all the soldiers who have been round have commented on how realistic it is, which means the public can get a genuine insight into what life is like for our troops out in Afghanistan.
Other special guests included former war correspondent Katie Adie who had provided the voice over on a number of the audio-visual displays within the exhibition and actor, presenter and tank enthusiast Chris Barrie.
To celebrate the launch, during the Easter school holidays The Tank Museum is hosting desert-themed activities including tank action displays on the outdoor arena at 1pm every weekday.
For more information on the new exhibition or the events going on throughout the Easter holidays, visit www.tankmuseum.org.