This free, temporary exhibition will run from 9 December 2021 to 6 May 2022 and tells the story of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry from D-Day on 6 June 1944 to VE Day 8 May 1945.
Based upon the book by James Holland of the same title, the exhibition will fill the Museum’s Focus Gallery and through compelling eye-witness testimony, and Holland's expert analysis, bring to vivid life the final bloody scramble across Europe from the powerful perspective of one of the greatest tank regiments: the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry.
Focusing on the stories of several soldiers who served in this extraordinary regiment, the exhibition explores the different aspects of life in a tank regiment from the dangers and pressures they faced, to the camaraderie and bonds that bound them together in the face of terrifying odds and casualties.
The exhibition is curated by James Holland, assisted by Andrew Whitmarsh and features many objects from private collections of the men who served in the elite tank regiment, including the wallet that saved Stan Perry’s life and Harry Heenan’s last letter home.
Follow the regiment’s story from D-Day to VE Day through personal items, from a nine of hearts card found by Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Christopherson just before D-Day and kept for luck, to the handwritten last message from brigade HQ received before the end of the war: ‘No further advance, Germans going to surrender.’
The Sherwood Rangers learned their trade under the burning sun of North Africa, on the battlefields of El Alamein and Alam el Halfa. By the time they landed on Gold Beach on D-Day, they were toughened by experience and ready for combat. From that moment on, the Sherwood Rangers saw relentless action for over 11 months and finished the Second World War with more battle honours than any other single unit in the British Army.
They and their Sherman tanks covered thousands of miles and endured some of the fiercest fighting in Western Europe. The first British unit to cross into Germany, their engagements stretch from the Normandy beaches to the bridges at Eindhoven, and the grinding crossing of the Siegfried Line and on into the Nazi heartland.
On the partnership with the National Army Museum James Holland commented:
‘It’s very exciting to be able to help the National Army Museum with this new exhibition. I hope everyone visiting will come away with a greater understanding - and even appreciation - of not only how brutal those last 11 months of the war in Europe were for those in the front line of the action, but also with a shared sense of the awe that I feel for those who somehow kept going. They were certainly extraordinary men, and it is a privilege to tell their story here at the National Army Museum.’
Justin Maciejewski DSO MBE, Director of the National Army Museum commented:
‘The story of the Sherwood Rangers and their part in the liberation of Europe is both heroic and heart-breaking in equal measure. It has been a privilege working with James Holland to ensure their story is told through the words of these brave men.’
The exhibition will be accompanied by an events programme, in the Museum and online, including guided tours, talks and a live podcast stream of 'We Have Ways' with James Holland and Al Murray.
On Saturday 11 December, the Museum puts the spotlight on tanks, one of the most important weapons of the last century. This free event will feature talks, tours and tank challenges for the family – plus an unmissable Sherman tank parked up at the Museum. The exhibition and its events programme are free, but it is recommended to book tickets online.
Established in 1960 by Royal Charter, the National Army Museum is the United Kingdom’s leading authority on the history and traditions of the British Army. It explores the impact that soldiers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth have had throughout the world, from the 17th century to the present day. Through its world-class collections, the Museum safeguards and shares the stories and values of ordinary people who have been called upon to bear extraordinary responsibilities on behalf of others.
James Holland is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning historian, writer, and broadcaster, the author of a number of best-selling histories including Battle of Britain, Dam Busters, Normandy ’44 and Sicily ’43. He has presented - and written - many television programmes and series for the BBC, Channel 4, National Geographic, History and Discovery Channels. James is also co-founder of the Chalke Valley History Festival and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He hosts a weekly podcast with Al Murray, 'We Have Ways of Making You Talk' - it has had 5 million downloads to date.