The Museum was established in 1935, to mark the 250th anniversary of the Regiment’s foundation. The basis of the collection was badges, medals and items of uniform which had been displayed in the Officers’ Mess since before the Great War.
Initially most new accessions came from Officers but after the 1939-1945 War soldiers and the families of former soldiers began to donate items. As a result the collection is now a mixture of official and unofficial items which between them illustrate the lives and activities of Suffolk soldiers.
In the 1940s and 1950s new recruits were taken round the Museum in order to learn about the history and traditions of their Regiment.
The collection includes:
Silver: a large display of cups and medals awarded for shooting, athletics, boxing and football. One of the oldest items is the ‘Stabilis’ cruet, formerly owned by Scipio Douroure, who commanded the Regiment at the Battle of Dettingen.
Medals: the medals of about 600 former Officers and men include examples of medals from every campaign in which the Regiment fought, from Ireland in 1690 to Cyprus in the 1950s.
Drums: military music was a very important part of regimental life and the Museum hold a large collection of drums and associated material. Of particular note is the Wrentham ‘Long Drum’ as used by local Volunteers in the early 19th century.
Equipment: a wide range of uniforms, badges and insignia from the 18th century is on display.
Weapons: many of the weapons used by, or captured by, the Regiment are displayed in chronological order.
Art: in addition to a large collection of 18th and 19th century prints there are paintings by Thomas Baines of the Regiment in South Africa in the early 1850s.
Personal memorabilia: many of the items on display were made by soldiers as therapy or to alleviate boredom, or were brought home as souvenirs from overseas service.
The Great War: among many other items look out for the German Imperial flag taken down from the Government buildings in Togoland on 5 August 1914; one of the Tower of London ceramic poppies; and a plan of a proposed escape from Graudenz POW camp in 1918.
Second World War: highlights include the Roubaix Drum, left behind before Dunkirk and retrieved after D-Day; items made by Far East Prisoners of War; and a copy of Mein Kampf picked up from the captured strongpoint ‘Hillman’ on D-Day.
Post –war: the reconstruction of a National Serviceman’s bed space gives a nostalgic taste of regimental life in the 1950s. Captured items include the Malayan Communist Terrorist leader Lieu Kon Kim’s pistol and EOKA leader Marcos Drakos’ sten-gun.
For more from the collection see our Objects of the Month page.