Britain is rightly proud of its magnificent military traditions and soldiering skills.
The country’s armed services are masters of parade ground pageantry. It is the envy of the world. Ceremonials are a chance to display our treasured array of historic honours for gallantry, including exquisite medals, ribbons, banners and the finest heraldry.
Think of the choreography of Trooping the Colour or the pageantry of anniversaries such as the Queen’s birthday and recently her Jubilees. It is a great British tradition.
Even state funerals for ‘the great and the good’ have that unique touch of pomp that could only be identified as British.
It has become part of the nation’s DNA.
What are the origins of this ceremonial showmanship? More than a thousand years of accumulated military action have created a culture of martial discipline born out of a pride and patriotism. Our island’s history is peppered with a litany of brutal wars and conflicts so the image of the foot soldier has changed along with that history.
From the Roman invasion to Viking raiders, Anglo Saxon and Celtic settlers, tribal Kings and Queens, ours is a nation which marched out, for good or bad, to form a now disbanded global Empire.
This history has left a legacy of military ‘chic’ – a stream of recognisable uniform brands created over the centuries. There are milestones along that historic route.
There’s the image of King Harold at The Battle of Hastings defeated by Norman invaders. Hastings was a turning point in our history. Harold and his troops with their protective conical copper helmets and nasal protectors. Harold’s own helmet failed to save him from that fatal arrow, depicted in the Bayeux tapestry. Some experts believe that if the arrow had missed its target, the battle could have had a different outcome.
But from ‘1066 and all that’, William the Conqueror brought a more cultured atmosphere to a chaotic island inhabited by tribes. With the Norman invaders a more ordered society emerged with Domesday Book records of the wealth and land ownership and an upgrade in battlefield fashion.
Game of thrones
Plenty of blood-letting lay ahead over the next decades. Arguments over succession to The Crown of England rumbled on. The Anarchy conflicts flared, the Wars of the Roses raged, there was carnage on Yorkshire soil at Towton and French turf at Agincourt and Crecy – a catalogue of ‘Horrible Histories’ some might say.
The image of the fighting man with his sword and shield or bow and arrow changed little. Centuries of conflict helped build layers of skill and the knowledge of experience for what was the appropriate kit when confronting an enemy.
By the time King Charles I lost his head after a gruesome civil war, the technology had changed. Muskets and artillery meant the order of battle was different.
Although hand-to-hand conflict was still common, battles often began with canon fire and musket shot. On a chaotic battlefield clouded in gun smoke, how did a soldier tell friend from foe?
One answer was to wear brightly coloured waist bands and shoulder sashes. There were fewer flags and emblems but colour coding uniforms emerged. Historians believe this was when the term ‘Redcoats’ first entered the military language.
Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army marked a change to the look of soldiers’ going into battle with their rounded helmets and brightly coloured sashes.
Why does it still matter that we can identify so closely with our military history? Why do people enjoy the experience of collecting military memorabilia and argue over the minute details of what uniforms soldiers wore and how they wore it.
They are fascinated by how they marched, their weaponry and battlefield tactics.
Psychologists argue people have a fundamental need to be able to touch and feel history. In the modern era where heroes, with writing and reading skills, could record their thoughts we have access to their poems and words written before during and after battles. We can see and touch personal items. For many it is an emotional experience and a direct link to the past.
It’s 77 years since the D-Day landings. A thousand years after William the Conqueror’s soldiers from our island, together with American and Allied troops, went off to Normandy in an invasion like no other on unimaginable scale.
That we still pay homage to those soldiers, sailors and airmen through ceremonials, souvenirs and medals feels right.
‘A nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten’
Calvin Coolidge, the US President from the 1930s, once said: ‘A nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten’.
It is hard to argue with that sentiment.
The Historic British Forces Collection
Now the visual history of British Forces has been recreated on a collection of stunning gold-plated medals. Each original illustration has been meticulously considered, with no detail too small and what’s more, the collection is strictly limited edition.
DM June 2021.
The Avro Vulcan is one of the most distinctive planes that graced our skies after World War 2, and during its time in active service with the RAF, became a national treasure that is still remembered and well loved to this day.
The Vulcan was considered to be the most technologically advanced plane of its time, and was fundamental in helping to improve our understanding of advanced aerodynamics – and some technologies used in the Avro Vulcan were later incorporated into the design of Concorde.
The Vulcan first became a part of the RAF in 1956, but it wasn’t until 1960 that the improved Vulcan B2 entered active service. The Vulcan B2 had several improved features over the B1, including more powerful engines, a larger wingspan, and an improved electrical system.
Although most Avro Vulcan’s were retired from active service, a few still exist today for air display purposes, or in the case of the Avro Vulcan XL426, are kept in taxiable condition for ground runs and events.
The Vulcan XL426 was in active service with the RAF from 1962 to 1986, and during her service, set an unofficial world record for the fastest flight from Canada to the UK, taking only 4 hours and 5 minutes – a record later officially beaten by Concorde.
In 1993, ownership of the XL426 was transferred to the Vulcan Restoration Trust, and although she no longer takes to the skies, XL426 is regularly showcased in events taxying on the runway at London Southend Airport and is maintained solely through donations to the Vulcan Restoration Trust.
It is from this very plane after some restoration work, that the metal from an elevon was taken, and sculpted into miniature sculptures of the Avro Vulcan for use in a special, limited edition commemorative…
The BRAND NEW Avro Vulcan XL426 Provenance Commemorative
And now, a small number of collectors have the chance to own a BRAND NEW Commemorative featuring an ACTUAL piece of the Avro Vulcan XL426…
This incredible commemorative features an original piece of the Avro Vulcan XL426, hand-sculpted into the shape of this iconic plane and expertly precision set into a deluxe SUPERSIZE 70mm commemorative.
Even without the piece of the Avro Vulcan, this commemorative is a work of engineering art in its own right. Combined with the actual piece of Avro Vulcan, it becomes a piece of aviation history…
Only 250 lucky collectors have the chance to own this special new commemorative. The last Provenance commemorative that features a piece of Hawker Hurricane SOLD OUT in a matter of weeks. Click here to secure your Avro Vulcan XL426 Provenance Commemorative before they are SOLD OUT!
First constructed in 1923, the LNER Class A3 4472 became a flagship locomotive for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), and due to its notable service on the London to Edinburgh Flying Scotsman line, the train itself became known as The Flying Scotsman.
Over its long career, The Flying Scotsman set two world records; one for being the first steam locomotive to be officially authenticated at reaching 100mph, and then setting a record for the longest non-stop run by a steam locomotive when it ran 422 miles whilst in Australia.
The Flying Scotsman was retired from active service in 1963 after covering over 2.08 million miles, and was bought by several private owners, before finally being purchased by the National Railway Museum in 2004 for £2.3 million.
After a couple of years of failed uses as a charter train due to various mechanical issues, in 2006 The Flying Scotsman entered the National Railway Museum’s workshops to begin a large scale overhaul and restoration project.
The complete restoration of the locomotive took ten years to complete – during which time the A4 boiler was replaced with a spare A3 boiler which matched up to the locomotive’s original specifications. Other issues were encountered during the restoration, including misaligned frames, and cracking throughout the frame and cylinders.
Finally, in January of 2016, The Flying Scotsman’s restoration was fully completed and returned to active service wearing its Wartime Black livery.
As part of this restoration, the left trailing front bogie axle-boxes had to be replaced. These axle boxes were each stamped with ‘103’ – the number The Flying Scotsman ran under in post-war years, and as such would’ve covered hundreds of thousands of miles whilst fitted to the famous locomotive.
These axle boxes were then melted down into ingots, before being commissioned by The Westminster Collection to be cast into miniature sculptures of The Flying Scotsman for use in a special commemorative issue…
The BRAND NEW Flying Scotsman Provenance Commemorative
And now, a small number of collectors have the chance to own a BRAND NEW Commemorative featuring an ACTUAL piece of The Flying Scotsman…
This incredible commemorative features an original piece of The Flying Scotsman, cast into the shape of the iconic locomotive and meticulously precision set into a deluxe SUPERSIZE 70mm commemorative.
Even without the piece of The Flying Scotsman, this commemorative is a work of engineering art in its own right. Combined with the original piece of Flying Scotsman, it becomes a piece of locomotive history…
Only 250 lucky collectors have the chance to own this special new commemorative. The last Provenance commemorative that featured a piece of Hawker Hurricane SOLD OUT in a matter of weeks. Click here to secure your Flying Scotsman Provenance Commemorative while you can!