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The Royal Green Jackets

Major Sharpe may have won the day but this commemorative exhibition is certainly worthy of promotion.

March 2015 saw the opening of the exhibition 'With the Rifles to Waterloo' coinciding with the bicentenary year of the famous battle.

Two of the antecedent regiments of The Royal Green Jackets, the 52nd Light Infantry and the 95th Rifles, played leading parts in the Battle of Waterloo, each with over 1,000 men. Each was awarded the battle honour 'Waterloo' in recognition of their courage and achievements on the battlefield. Generations of officers and soldiers in these regiments, The Royal Green Jackets and now The Rifles, have since been brought up to revere and take pride in the part played by their predecessors at Waterloo. The battle honour 'Waterloo' was emblazoned on the cap badge of The Royal Green Jackets and today adorns the belt badge of The Rifles.

The exhibition examines the causes, course and consequences of Emperor Napoleon's rise to power from 1789 through to 1814, the Hundred Days following his escape from Elba, and his eventual defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington and his Allies at the Battle of Waterloo on Sunday, 18th June 1815. The exhibition is divided into three main galleries:

First Gallery - The Road to Waterloo: 1789-1814
This part covers the period from the French Revolution in 1789 to Napoleon's exile to Elba in 1814.
Displays focus on: Napoleon's rise to power. The formation of the 5th/60th Rifles in 1797 and the Corps of Experimental Riflemen (later the 95th Rifles) in 1800, and the introduction of the Baker Rifle. The inclusion of a hands-on musket and Baker rifle for visitors to compare weights, length and performance. Sir John Moore's camp at Shorncliffe and the designation of the 43rd and 52nd as light infantry regiments in 1803. The distinguished part played by all the antecedent regiments and The Light Division during the Peninsular War (1808-14) including an audio explanation of the chronology of the war by Sharpe's TV actor, Jason Salkey. A life-size figure of Rifleman Harris, immortalised in the Sharpe's TV series by actor Jason Salkey, who relates Harris's own words on audio about what it was like to have taken part in the retreat to Corunna in January 1809.

Second Gallery - The Hundred Days
This part covers the course of events from Napoleon's escape from Elba and explains how the Battle of Waterloo came to be fought when and where it was.
Displays focus on: A specially commissioned Waterloo campaign table explaining Napoleon's movements on his escape from Elba on 26 February 1815 to mainland France and the decisions facing him in the lead in to the Waterloo campaign. An impressive display of two French eagles specially commissioned for the exhibition together with comparison of the important roles of French eagles and British colours. Battle tactics models explaining the strengths and weakness of cavalry, infantry and artillery when deployed against each other in attack and defence.

Third Gallery - The Battle of Waterloo
Displays focus on: The principal actions during the battle which resulted in Napoleon€€Ã…¾Â¢s defeat. These are covered in text on the walls of the gallery and are explained in a first-class light and sound commentary, narrated by Kate Adie. The critical moments which led the Duke of Wellington to declare the outcome as a 'close run thing' The crucial part played by Britain's allies, especially the Prussians. The actions of individuals, particularly those who distinguished themselves and/or about whom there are interesting stories to tell, including women. The scale of the battle and the enormity of the loss of life on both sides. The treatment of the wounded. The immediate aftermath and consequences of the battle. A summary of why the outcome of Waterloo was so important and a defining moment in British and European history.

Particular emphasis is placed on the part played by the 1st/52nd Light Infantry, aided by the 2nd and 3rd/95th. Rifles, in initiating the rout of the French Imperial Guard. Similar emphasis is placed on the 1st/95th and the part they played in contributing to the defence of the vital ground at the Mont St Jean crossroads.

The Waterloo diorama, with an amazing backdrop of over 100 Waterloo medals spelling out the word 'WATERLOO' is the pièce de résistance and abiding memory that all our visitors take way with them on departing the Museum. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a huge 25 square metre diorama of the battlefield of Waterloo with over 30,000 model soldiers and horses. An explanatory sound and light commentary, narrated by Kate Adie, brings the battle to life in a manner which greatly impresses our visitors who have invariably seen nothing like it before. The model, which had been on display in the museum since its opening in 1989, was in desperate need of attention. Expert conservators, Kelvin and Mary Thatcher, spent five months painstakingly removing 45 years of accumulated dust from the diorama in preparation for the exhibition. They cleaned and, where necessary, restored and repainted every figure by hand in their Norfolk workshop.

The model is displayed in a bespoke display case designed by ClickNetherfield and climate controlled. The light projection to accompany the soundtrack is housed above the case. Also within the exhibition is the Kincaid Gallery displaying related artworks. This space provides an alternative classroom for school visits as well as evening talks, seminars and corporate events.

The exhibition was supported by a £100,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and designed by DesignMap with AV by Fusion LX Ltd.

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Exhibition fact file

What's Inside

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a huge 25 square metre diorama of the battlefield of Waterloo with over 30,000 model soldiers and horses.

Museum

The Royal Green Jackets Museum

Date

March 2015

Designer

designmap

Cases Used

vista