Sunday, 10 July 2011

Genealogy notes 9-10 July 2011 Royal Australian Armoured Corps Tank Museum

It was as I expected - a weekend with no genealogy as we were visiting a friend's farm and staying overnight.  In some ways a technology free weekend is quite nice and it is good to know I can go 48 hours without turning the laptop on. However, I am now wading my way through various emails, tweets, Facebook and Google+ invitations.

But there is one thing that I do want to report on. We finally managed a visit to the  Royal Australian Armoured Corps Tank Museum at Puckapunyal on the way home. We had gone there previously on the spur of the moment when passing, but it is not open every weekend and we hadn't picked an open weekend. This time, as it was school holidays, it was open.

Museums don't always reflect what the name suggests and this is no exception. Of course there are many, many tanks (over 70 of them) to wander around and look at. In fact, I hadn't realised just how many different kinds there were or the differences between British, German, Japanese and American tanks until you see them all lined up. Each tank had it's history and statistics on a display board which was good for people like me who know nothing about tanks. There was an icy wind blowing and rain threatening so we didn't spend all that long wandering around the huge, open sheds which give some cover to the tanks.

I found it more interesting in the interior museum which paid tribute to every war since the Boer War. There were lots of photos, medals, uniforms, weapons, with various stories and tributes in display cases. I took some photos but the museum's website has a very good 3D map which allows you to do almost a virtual tour.

Visiting these kinds of museums can help us to understand our own military research better. For example, my ancestors fought it the Boer War in Light Horse Regiments and while I knew that meant they rode horses, I had not consciously thought how they transported the horses. There is a Light Horse memorial at the Museum which is a railway carriage and when you go up to have a look inside there is a fake horse inside a horse stall. It's obvious when you think about it, but it wasn't till I explored that Light Horse memorial that I realised exactly what it meant for soldiers to not only have to transport themselves and their gear but they also had to look after their horses.

It's a great place to visit and if you don't live in Victoria, do the website tour and look for other military museums - who knows what you will learn and perhaps even better, it will be of interest to your own family history.

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