HONOURING THE FALLEN - Friday, 25 October 2013

Royal Armouries Museum at Fort Nelson will ring to the sound of First World War gun salutes to mark Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.

Museum visitors will join the nation in honouring those British servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the two World Wars and later conflicts – including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Remembrance Sunday (November 10) – Six uniformed gunners from the Living History group, Ubique Right of the Line and Brockhurst Artillery, will fire a 2.5inch quick-firing mountain gun at 11am, dressed in First World War cavalry uniforms of the Royal Field Artillery. Visitors and museum staff will then observe a two-minute silence immediately followed by a second gun firing. A further gun salute will take place on the parade ground at 1pm.

Armistice Day (November 11) – The same gun will be fired to mark the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month – commemorating the moment when the guns fell silent on the Western Front in 1918. The 11am gun salute will be followed by a second, marking completion of the two-minute silence; plus a further firing at 1pm.

The Remembrance commemorations have special significance at Fort Nelson as the Victorian building acted as a transit depot and training establishment for soldiers embarking at Portsmouth for France. Barrack accommodation in and around Portsmouth was at a premium since the wartime garrison at times numbered as many as 25,000 men.

The Fort also played a vital role in defending the City of Portsmouth, and surrounding area, during the dark days of 1940/41 when it was used an anti-aircraft ammunition depot.

Royal Armouries’ Curator of Artillery Philip Magrath said, “It is always a great privilege to take part in the Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day commemorations and is an ideal opportunity for local people to pay their respects.

“This is the first time the 2.95 inch quick firing gun has been fired in eight years at Fort Nelson. Manufactured by Vickers, it dates to 1901 and was used during the First World War by the defence forces of British African colonies, under the Royal West African Frontier Force. As part of the British Empire these units became part of the British war effort in the First World War.

“It is a compact gun, designed for difficult terrain, and it was designed to be quickly dismantled into several pack loads for transport by mule for action in mountainous regions. Four mules were required to carry the gun and carriage, with additional mules for the ammunition and stores.”

Fort Nelson is home to Royal Armouries’ national collection of artillery – the big guns. Museum admission, parking and the gun firings are all free.

In 2011, this unique heritage attraction underwent a £3.5m redevelopment to create a museum for the 21st century, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, complete with new galleries, state-of-the-art education centre and visitor facilities.

For more information and the latest news about Fort Nelson and the Royal Armouries:

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Notes to editors

To find Fort Nelson, follow the brown Tourist signs from the M27. The Fort is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm.

Download the PDF press release.