Officially opened in advance of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, ‘Mann at War’ is a new gallery commemorating the role of Manx men, women and children in conflict from the 1700s to the present day.
The new gallery includes material relating to the Manx Fencibles, raised in the 1790s to defend the Island against possible invasion, a rare notebook carried by a sailor in Nelson’s fleet, and artefacts relating to the Isle of Man’s role in the internment of enemy civilians during the two world wars. Perhaps the most poignant artefact on show is the simple wooden cross which marked a Manx soldier’s battlefield grave, exactly 100 years ago.
In addition to stories, manuscripts and objects including weapons and costumes, ‘Mann at War’ features three paintings conserved with generous support from Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, including the magnificent ‘Surrender of the German Fleet’, painted in 1919. Rare Napoleonic era uniforms are displayed including the uniforms of Manx heroes John Quilliam and Caesar Bacon, which have recently been studied by military and textile specialists, giving fresh insights into both Quilliam and Bacon’s military careers.
The bravery of soldiers and the Manx people in the two World Wars is also commemorated including Hector Duff BEM. Hector was a tank crewman during the Second World War. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in North Africa, and later was wounded in the Normandy campaign.
We also hear of the bravery of soldiers in more recent times, including Major Voirrey Walsh (nee Corkish) from Douglas who served as an officer in the Royal Engineers from 2002 to 2017. Voirrey deployed during the Iraq War (2003) in an Air Support role to the RAF. Later she was based in Al Amarah with the Scots Dragoon Guards Battle Group, as their first female Battle Group Engineer.