Tank Museum & Armoured Trials and Development Unit
by Louise Bell
The 13th – 14th January 2020 saw some of the Herstory crew make a trip down south to (what ended up being very rainy) Dorset. Specifically: Bovington, for some tank fun!
The first afternoon was spent at The Tank Museum. There is so much to see there; too much for us to do on our visit, actually! After lunch, we ran – literally – to do the Chieftain tour. Now, I knew nothing about tanks before this, but getting to go inside one was pretty damn cool! And pretty cramped. The group had to split in two for this, which meant that everyone else went and did some dressing up/exploring, whilst the others were in the tank. After this, we were given a tour of the Vehicle Conservation Centre, where we were allowed to see vehicles that interested us, and all of our questions were patiently answered. Honestly, the staff and volunteers were such a lovely bunch, and put up with us over-excited lot. We had a bit of time to explore the rest of the museum after this, but there’s just SO MUCH to see there.
Big shout out to Rob Page for letting us crash with him, and cooking us a lovely dinner. And for making the second day possible:
Day 2 was all about more tanks, and armoured vehicles – all thanks to the Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU). The day started off with health and safety, and trying on coveralls, ear defenders, etc. And then was the part I think most of us had been waiting for: smokescreen time! We all piled out in the rain and mud, to see the recovery of a tank stuck in a bog, and we got Challenger 2 doing not one, but TWO, smokescreens for us! Lunch was provided at the Officer’s Mess (thanks to Rob, again!) and then we had a session of trying out some equipment and gear. Last up was a static line in the vehicle shed, where we got to hear about different armoured vehicles and climb on/inside some! Again, all of the guys who came into contact with us and took time to chat to us were all excellent, and really helped make the trip!
London meet up
by Christina Mackie
In the early summer of 2019, I started to use Twitter as a way of reengaging with my interest in military history. Through some judicious following, I came across the founder of the Herstory Club and saw a tweet about a planned meet up of female military historians, taking place in London later in July. On asking if anyone was welcome to attend, I was enthusiastically encouraged to join, and promptly put the date into my diary.
When the day of the meet up arrived, I was somewhat apprehensive about meeting a group of strangers from the internet. My fears were completely unfounded – as soon as I walked into the venue I was given a riotously warm welcome and a seat at the table.
The Herstory Club’s inaugural meet up was my first introduction to this group of passionate, diverse, talented women. We spent several hours chatting, our group expanding to welcome each new arrival with as much enthusiasm as the last, before gathering together for a group photo that remains printed and on my desk to remind me of a wonderful day.
I had no idea what to expect of the social meet, but what I found was a group of women passionate about what they did, driven to succeed, determined to bring military history to a whole new audience, and inspire a whole new generation of young women to follow in their footsteps.
I made lasting friendships, and the decision to join the London meet up remains one of the best decisions I made in 2019.