|ABOUT THE GROUP
Lancaster’s Military Heritage. The history of Lancaster is integral with the military history of the area. The arrival of the Romans in 70 AD led to the establishing of a Roman fort which remained on Castle Hill for the next three centuries. Only recently, in October 2005, excavations revealed a memorial to a Roman Trooper, and we include this in our survey (see Chapter 2). Whilst soldiers lived in the fort, a village grew up outside the walls, and this expanded to what we today call Lancaster.
The conflicts of the 20th century have had a major impact on Lancaster. In the South African War of 1899-1902 the locally based King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment was one of the first to depart England for South Africa - and as the war continued Volunteer and Militia soldiers from the local area went out to join the regular army
Both the First and Second World Wars saw the involvement of the local regiment, The King’s Own, but many other units also recruited in the area.The local gunners of the 88th Field Regiment Royal Artillery (350 Battery was based at Dallas Road) served in France and Belgium, before being evacuated through Dunkirk, only to be sent to the Far East where many men were captured at the fall of Singapore to the Japanese. The Second World War saw an influx of soldiers, taking over Ripley School in Lancaster and Middleton Towers Holiday Camp and the RAF took over many of the hotels in Morecambe (The Midland being a Hospital).
Local industry turned to support the war effort. Furniture makers Waring and Gillow made everything from tents and canvas bags and equipment to the wooden wings for gliders. Many women were employed in support of the war effort, including clerks who worked for the Canadian Treasury who had offices in Lancaster; the City Museum was closed for the duration of the conflict and handed over for office use.
Wars are not only won by soldiers, sailors and airmen alone – but also by those who remain at home supporting them.
Lancaster Military Heritage Group was founded in 1999 by a small group concerned that these historic links between the area of Lancaster and Morecambe and the Armed Forces were becoming severely reduced and resolved to maintain them. The Founders were conscious from the outset of the debt the armed services owe to the local communities who provide their sons,daughters and support in times of conflict and the need to concentrate on links with the community. So the main purpose of the Group is to:
"To maintain and develop the historical links between the armed forces, their supporting civilian services, and the local community"
The Group LOGO, shown above, consists of the John O’Gaunt Lancaster landmark with the crossed swords of the Ministry of Defence Logo representing the service connection.
An essential element in the Group’s philosophy is to tell the story of the various conflicts that the long-suffering civilian population have had to endure.
Every few years we see further reductions in all three services. Perhaps this makes the Group all the more necessary; certainly we shall continue to try to maintain the close liaison which has existed between the Lancaster and Morecambe area and the Armed Forces. An essential part of this is to tell the story of the various conflicts that the long-suffering civilian population have had to endure. The War Memorial Project and VE 2005 are examples.
We lay on a variety of events open to all; two or three talks each year, a Cadet Competition and a Carol Service. Dinner dances are organised for special events; in 2005 we celebrated the 200th Anniversary of Trafalgar. Our most important project has been to compile the Books of Honour which were presented at the VE 2005 commemoration.
We are very keen to attract members of the wider community, who may no longer have any direct links with the services, as memories of National Service and previous conflicts fade. Employers, organisations, youth groups and anyone interested in the heritage of our locality are particularly welcome. Should you wish to join click on Contact.