Museum: Refurbishment – 2005
The refurbished Museum was formally opened by Christa Ackroyd, the presenter from BBC Look North on Tuesday 11 November 2008 – exactly 90 years since the guns fell silent on the Western Front in 1918.
The Association President, Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter welcomed the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire and the Mayor of Calderdale, plus over 80 guests, including many Dukes spanning the last 70 years. He thanked the Head of the Regional Lottery Board for their essential support, and Brigadier Dick Mundell for this ‘legacy’. The Lord Lieutenant responded stressing the importance of this type of project and the links to the heritage of the County; and education of school children. Brigadier Dick thanked the small number of workers from the Museum staff and the Regiment involved. He introduced Christa; who is no stranger to Halifax and is passionate about Yorkshire. She expressed her great interest and support; and cut the tape to open the Museum.
A short ceremony then followed to mark the Anniversary which included the entrance of ‘Dukes’ dressed as Waterloo Redcoats, World War 1 soldiers and our soldiers from the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment. A moving letter from 1915 was recalled, the Last Post sounded followed by two minutes silence; during which Captain Mally Birkett recited Binyon’s ‘For the Fallen’, to conclude the formal proceedings. The guests then had the opportunity to wander around the museum and listen to audio recordings attached to the new display cases.
With an imposing entrance to “The Dukes” Museum, within the Bankfield Museum in Halifax, the visitor is taken through the history and heritage of the Regiment from 1702 to the present day with selected campaigns and stories of our West Riding soldiers “Through Soldiers Eyes” and “Forgotten Voices”.
In ‘Forgotten Voices’ they travel from the Redcoat era in America and Waterloo to the Victorians in Crimea and South Africa and onto World War 1. With 22 Dukes Battalions, the story is told by members of 2 DWR in 1914/5 in the Old Contemptibles and 1/4 DWR Territorial Battalion on the Somme and Ypres Salient. The Trench completes this story with a Memorial and panels showing the Cost (8,383 dead); the Slaughter; the Stalemate and the optimism in 1914 – To War.
Onto ‘Through Soldiers Eyes’, which opened in 2005, from World War 2, Korea, National Service, Northern Ireland, Bosnia onto Iraq and the Yorkshire Regiment – the successors to our heritage.
Backing up these modern displays, you can hear 86 stories where our soldiers recall their experiences and exploits; from 1939 by the soldiers themselves and before 1918 through the voices of actors reading from letters and diaries.