On 02 October 2015, nine members of the Group set off at 10am from the car park opposite All Hallows Church on a mini coach to the Royal Armouries.

Here is the group in the Royal Armouries café

A Handling Tour hand been booked with tour guide Scott and a wheelchair was made available for a disabled member of the group. All the galleries were accessible by very speedy lifts which made it easy to travel from floor to floor.

Scott was extremely knowledgeable about all the exhibits and the history of warfare through the ages.

To understand how weapons developed in the Bronze Age through to warfare during the First World War, the group was guided through the different galleries.

The photo shows a helmet from the Bronze Age and although later armoured helmets featured moveable visors and ear pieces, the basic shape remained the same over centuries.

As the group was particularly interested in World War One, quite some time was spent in the First World War gallery which brought home to everyone just how awful trench warfare was during the conflict. Early recruits were sent into the trenches in just uniforms and cloth hats – tin helmets were not introduced until later in the war.

British troops had to contend with Germany’s chemical warfare such as mustard gas and the gallery held a variety of gas masks plus the small guns and knives used for hand to hand fighting in the trenches.

This exhibit in the World War One Gallery shows some of the machine guns used at the time. The figure behind the gun looks as though he is wearing old fashioned armour, but on the head is a tin helmet and a gas mask. On the body is a metal breast plate to protect the soldier from enemy bullets. Soldiers firing these guns were above the trench line so it was vitally important for them to wear protection as they were visible to the enemy.

Members of the group handled an Enfield rifle and Scott showed everyone the technique used for rapid fire.

In fact, the troops were firing this rifle so quickly that the Germans thought that the British were using machine guns and put in a complaint under the Geneva Convention despite the fact they were using chemical weapons themselves.

The record for the number of shots fired from an Enfield rifle was recorded by a soldier in 1914 and has never been beaten.

The gun at the front of the table is a Kalashnikov which is the most used gun across the world during the present day.

Scott wore his specially made helmet which he uses during re-enactments at the Museum. Fighting is choreographed to ensure none of the people taking part in a display are injured. Later this year Scott will be travelling to the Tower of London to take part in a historical display.

On display in the Theatre was a range of weapons, helmets, swords, chain mail and leather clothing that we were all able to handle. The chain mail was extremely heavy, and it must have been extremely difficult to fight in it. Although the swords and guns were long, they were very well balanced and easy to hold.

Other Exhibits

Even elephants had to wear armour at one time and it was hard to imagine how difficult it would be to get it on and off.

It must have been very precarious perched on top and there was an obvious risk of being trampled to death if the person on top fell off.

Fighting on horseback has played a significant part of warfare through the ages. Knights were heavily armoured, as were their horses. This armour was extremely heavy and very difficult to move in so it was not suitable for hand to hand fighting on the ground. Pointed weapons such as lances were able to pierce this type of armour and the hooks on them were used to pull the knights off their horses. Once on the ground the armour made it very difficult to get up.