Thursday, 13 October 2016

There and back again: Our postponed visit to the National Archives

Sue and I originally planned to go to the National Archives last week ... but went to Canterbury and Herne Bay in Kent instead. As we wanted to try to complete our research into the military career of William Richardson, we decided to go to the Archives today.

We left home at 9.00am ... and by 9.05am the Satnav had notified us that our planned route was subject to massive delays! Luckily it gave us several alternative routes, and the one we selected enabled us to reach the Archives just before 11.00am.

We spent four hours looking through numerous documents, but despite our best endeavours we found no trace of William Richardson in any of them ... which was not the disaster it might at first appear to be. It proved that he was not demoted from his rank of Battalion Sergeant Major from the time he was promoted until his retirement.

The journey home started well ... but the closer we got to home, the worse the traffic became. We managed to find a couple of shortcuts that got us around the worst of the hold ups, but it still took us nearly two and a half hours to get home.

(The traffic problems were caused by the closure of one of the Dartford Tunnels. This caused a massive tailback on the counter-clockwise part of the M25 and the eastbound A2, which in turn resulted in huge traffic jams at almost every major road junction in South East London.)

As part of its commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, the National Archives has commissioned a number of sculptures by Canadian artist Ian Kirkpatrick. The sculptures are made from cardboard, and are designed to pack flat so that they can be assembled very quickly to create an almost instant exhibition.

As can be seen from the photographs that can be seen below, the designs are heavily influenced by the commercial packaging used during the war.

During our visit I saw two of the sculptures; BRITANNIA and BLAST.


This sculpture represents the role played by women during the First World War, and depicts Britannia atop a Mk V Tank holding a shell made by women in a munitions factory. It also makes reference to the Suffragettes.


The figure depicted in this sculpture is a machine gunner in a helmet and gas mask firing a Vickers Heavy Machine Gun.

The name of the sculpture makes reference to the magazine published by the Vorticist movement before the outbreak of the war.


  1. Bob,
    Interesting display exhibits- cleverly done. I must at some stage attempt to visit our War Memorial Museum in Canberra (A.C.T.)...have not been since about 1992 with exceptionally fond memories of the items and displays for Public viewing- apparently a lot has changed there...yes, must make an effort to go. Regards. KEV.

    1. Kev,

      I thought that these sculptures were very effective because of their basic simplicity and use of World War I posters.

      Our equivalent to the War Memorial Museum is the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth, London. Over recent years it has undergone significant remodelling and renovation and I have not yet visited the 'new' museum. I must go sooner rather than later.

      All the best,



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