Page last updated at 07:02 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

Regimental museum to open doors

Regimental artefacts
Military paraphernalia dating back to the early 19th century will be on show

A new £1m museum tracing the history of the Welsh soldier at war over the last 300 years is set to open to the public.

Firing Line: Cardiff Castle Museum of the Welsh Soldier is a joint collaboration by 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards and The Royal Welsh.

Opening on Monday, the museum spans conflicts from the Battle of Waterloo to Iraq and Afghanistan today.

Director Christopher Dale said it would tell "a story of years of fortitude, humour and courage under fire".

The new museum will take over the entire lower floor of the interpretation centre at Cardiff Castle.

It will offer a mix of historical information, exhibits, a programme of living history events and hands-on activities.

Firing Line exhibit
We'll give our visitors an understanding of why ordinary people are prepared to do extraordinary things and carry out outstanding acts of bravery
Christopher Dale, museum director

"Our aim is to tell the story of the Welsh soldier from the creation of the two regiments, through the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, when both regiments fought together, up to Iraq and Afghanistan today," said Mr Dale.

"We'll give our visitors an understanding of why ordinary people are prepared to do extraordinary things and carry out outstanding acts of bravery."

Among the famous actions highlighted is the story of the nine men of the 24th Regiment of Foot, who won the Victoria Cross for their defence of the supply depot at Rorke's Drift in 1879 - the greatest number of VCs ever awarded for a single battle.

The museum also boasts an Afghan pennant and sword taken in Afghanistan in 1919, during what is reputed to be the last cavalry charge made by the British army before tanks and other armoured vehicles replaced horses.

Exhibits commemorating the attack by the 38th (Welsh) Division at Mametz Wood, France, in July 1916 and the late Sir Tasker Watkins' celebrated assault on a German machine-gun post in Normandy in July 1944 would also on display, said Mr Dale.

"The exhibition also shows how after 1945 the Welsh soldier has been all over the world trying to keep the peace between warring factions," he added.

The new museum has been jointly funded by the two regiments and Cardiff Council, with donations from livery companies and grant-giving trusts.

Council spokesman Nigel Howells described it as "a significant new addition to the visitor experience at Cardiff Castle."

Firing Line opens to the public on Monday 22 February at 0900 GMT.

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