Manx National Heritage plans new Military History Gallery

– Posted on Tuesday 28th June 2016

Manx National Heritage, the national heritage agency for the Isle of Man, is in the early stages of planning a new gallery at the Manx Museum, examining the role armed conflict has played in the history of the Island and the response of Manx people to it.

The gallery will build upon the success of 2014’s temporary exhibition ‘This Terrible Ordeal’, which covered all aspects of the First World War, and aims to examine what armed service and conflict has meant for Manx people from the 1700s to the present day.

In preparation for planning the new gallery, curators from Manx National Heritage would like to hear from people on the Isle of Man who have been affected by armed conflict in recent years.

Matthew Richardson, Manx National Heritage Curator of Social History commented:

“We are seeking to examine all aspects of warfare and military service in the past 250 years, including those who have gone willingly or unwillingly to war, those who have been bystanders, and indeed those who have opposed conflict. Our collections are strong in terms of the years up to the Second World War, but there are always new stories to tell. 

We are especially interested in hearing from Manx people who served in Korea, the Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Gulf or Afghanistan, and who may have memories or memorabilia which they wish to share with a wider audience. We would also be interested to hear from those who have been affected by conflict in other ways, or who have protested against it”.

Through the support of its Friends organisation, Manx National Heritage was recently able to acquire the medal awarded to Trafalgar hero John Cowle, who lost his arm in the famous naval battle in 1805. Five such medals were awarded to Manx sailors, who played an important part in the battle, but Cowle’s is the only one now known to survive.

Matthew continued:

“John Cowle’s story will figure prominently in the new gallery. Manx seafarers were greatly prized by the Royal Navy, and many were swept up by the infamous press gangs. John Cowle suffered what we would term today a life-changing injury, but he overcame this, and lived a successful life for many years afterwards. Injury and disability will be one of the themes running throughout each era we cover”.

One of the most poignant items to be displayed in the new gallery however will undoubtedly be the simple wooden cross from the battlefield grave of Private Thomas Corlett, who was killed in action near the Belgian city of Ypres 1917.

If you have a story to tell or an object you would like to see on display, contact Matthew Richardson at the Manx Museum on 01624 648053 or email


Manx Flag from the Iraq War – an example artefact from recent conflict.


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