Museum to help kids learn about First World War

The Mobile Military Museum at Mauricewood Primary in Penicuik.
The Mobile Military Museum at Mauricewood Primary in Penicuik.
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A MILITARY history buff with a mobile museum is being swamped with school requests – as teachers clamour to teach kids about the outbreak of the First World War.

Ian Inglis, 49, brings a ­century of warfare to life by ­allowing children to handle artefacts he has collected such as medals, shells and guns.

And, with the anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War approaching, the Danderhall enthusiast is delighted interest in his transportable museum has never been so great.

He said: “Being able to actually handle the objects makes a real difference, the children say it makes it seem more real to them, to actually touch these things from the past, and makes them think more about what it actually must have been like for the people who lived through that time - and those who did not make it.”

Mr Inglis was inspired to begin his collection after being given medals won by his father in the Second World War.

They were passed to him when he was just eight-years-old and are the most prized items in his collection.

“My father George gave me all but one of his medals before he passed away in 1973. He had served in the Royal Artillery, firstly in North Africa, then he came back to the UK to take part in the D-Day Landings. After D-Day he fought his way across France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, before he was finally demobbed in 1946.” George Inglis received a number of medals in recognition of his service to his country, ­including the 1939-45 Star, the French, German, Italian and North African Stars, the ­Defence Medal, and the 1939-45 War Medal.

“All these medals form part of the Mobile Military ­Museum exhibition. My father was also awarded the Military Medal for Gallantry.”

Mr Inglis first got the idea to create his one-of-a-kind exhibition after a teacher friend suggested he show some of his war-themed collection, which includes shell casings, weapons such as bayonets and ­rifles, and home front artefacts like ration books and information posters, to her class, who were studying the Second World War.

He said: “I was only supposed to be there for an hour or so, but I ended up staying most of the day, talking to the children and answering their questions. She then suggested to me that I should think of taking the exhibits to other schools.”

A year-and-a-half later and the Mobile Military Museum, which has four separate displays covering the First and Second World Wars, the Home Front and the Post-War years, has already proven a big hit with children in his local community.

Mr Inglis, who has also been decorated for his service, receiving the Queens Jubilee Medal for his time in the regular Army, the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserves Service Medal, and a UN Peacekeepers medal for time served in Cyprus during 2003, added: “I also have a collection of Army uniforms that they can try on - more modern ones ­obviously, as genuine World War I and II uniforms are rather more difficult to get hold of! I also have an antique Bren Gun which the children can handle and feel the weight of, along with many other pieces of equipment.”

He is also hoping to expand his collection to include modern conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan. “More recent conflicts have seen massive developments in the way war is waged. It’s important they understand the conflicts happening in their own era too.”

jen.lavery@edinburghnews.com