Best WW2-related places to visit in southern UK?

Discussion in 'WW2 Museums. Events, & places to see.' started by Chris C, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi all,

    I may be able to visit the UK this year. Based on compromises with my family, the route might be something like London-Dorset (to be sure to visit the Tank Museum) and then places west.

    I think I saw a comment from Von Poop - albeit one from years ago - that he found the the National Army Museum more interesting than the Imperial War Museum. Anyone else feel the same way?

    I noticed that Portsmouth, in addition to all its naval attractions, has a D-Day museum which is closed at the moment but reopening this spring. Was it worth a visit, prior to closing?

    I've heard the Isle of Wight military museum is a bit iffy.

    Any suggestions?
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Went to the d-day museum in Pompey a couple of times. I liked it.
    Chris C likes this.
  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    P.S. I did visit HMS Belfast on a trip in 1991 - and I think possibly a submarine, but perhaps I am confused on the sub.

    P.P.S. I had to go look up Pompey. Please don't confuse this colonial! :D
  4. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    You could save some big money if Owen let you stay 3-4 nights at his place. I've heard he loves Canadian visitors.
    Just sayin.:salut:
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  5. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    The IWM - and to a less extent the national Army Museum have been designed as museums about "war and society" and the "Army and Society" largely driven by the way the heritage Lottery funding drives every new investment towards a certain model. (think fewer exhibits - more thematic interpretation - dumbed down content - lots of space for temporary exhibitions for whcih they can charge and for corporate entertainment ). The latest redesign of the IWM added a good first world war gallery but took out a lot of WW2 exhibits.

    The IWM Duxford north of London is full of real kit and will take a day.

    The IWM Cabinet War Rooms are well worth a visit. A couple of hours will do then visit the IWM.

    The RAF Museum has lots of good kit and is accessible by car or public transport.

    If you have a good claim you could try to visit the Canadian memorial in Borden Camp and you might like to visit the Brookwood military Cemetery. Those that died of wounds from Dieppe are buried there.
    Chris C likes this.
  6. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thanks, Sheldrake!!

    My grandfathers were both British. If I went somewhere with a family WW2 connection it would be to Bletchley Park where my father's father worked as a translator. But I don't know if we're going that way.
    canuck likes this.
  7. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic


    The Isle of Wight Museum closed a few years ago and I don't think it has reopened under another guise - you need to check before you waste a visit to the Isle.
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    The Portsmpouth D Day Museum is supposed to be re-opening. Its an exhibitions about the preparations for D Day. It is OK but far from mined blowing.

    Besides the Royal Dockyard (Mary Rose - Victory- Warrior etc) which is mind blowing if you are into ships, there are some other relevant museums and places in the Portsmouth area.

    #1 Fort Nelson - the Royal Armouries collection of big bits of kit in a 19th century fort that also served as an ammunition deport in WW2. This is good if you like artillery, but I am a little biased...
    #2 The Royal Marines museum Southsea.
    #2 The Southsea memorial - listing the Portsmouth based sailors who lose their lives in the word wars.
    #3 There are two good pubs in Southwick You cant get into Southwick House, where Ike took the go decision, but you can drink in his pub. The Golden Lion was the Officers pub and claimed to have served all the Allied top brass.

    Fort Nelson and the Golden Lion are visited by de luxe WW2 tour groups.

    Another unusual place is the Cheaspeake Mill in Wickham north of Portsmouth. It is made from the blood stained timbers of the USS Cheasepeake captured in 1814(?) after bloody fight. Its a cafe and antique shop. Its a place for Canadians to toast HMS Shannon and His Majesties forces and their victory in the war of 1812!
    Chris C likes this.
  9. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Although Bletchley Park is at some distance from Dorset, you could easily fit in a visit there if you have your own transport. It's well worth the effort, and though I haven't been to the other places mentioned, for me it was an outstanding experience.
    And would be especially for you if your grandfather worked there.
  10. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thanks everyone, I appreciate all the tips!

    I should have said that advice on favorite pubs or restaurants are good too :)
  11. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

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  12. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  13. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    If you're in the south east and are interested in the Battle of Britain, Hawkinge is small but has a really good authentic feel and you can look closely at things without lots of interactive glass in the way.

    Welcome to the Kent Battle of Britain Museum

    Although not strictly WW2; the Brooklands site has a lot of history in terms of Vickers and Hawker and includes the Loch Ness Wellington. Again a nice authentic museum where you can get close to the exhibits and see how a radial engine works- if that's your thing. It probably helps if you like pre-war racing cars too. It's one of may favourite museums.

    Aircraft Factory
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  14. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    The Army Museum of Flying at the former RAF Fighter Command airfield at Middle Wallop,Hampshire must be a worthy place to visit which also covers the Glider Regiment era.

    Home | The Museum of Army Flying

    Dartmouth is fine holiday location to visit in the southwest with the old Dartmouth Castle illustrating the coastal defences of old when the French were thought to be the potential enemy.To the south,a few miles along the coast is Slapton Sands where US forces rehearsed for D Day in May 1944 as Exercise Tiger with a tragic results when Kreigsmarine E Boats out of Cherbourg intercepted the exercise....a fine memorial to the US Forces dead stands on the Sands.

    Off the Sands is a Sherman tank memorial placed there through the efforts of the late Ken Small who bought it from the US government for $50 in 1974 and recovered it from the sea.....represents a permanent memorial to the dead of Exercise Tiger.
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  15. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    On way to Dorset stop off at Salisbury, see the cathedral & then call in The Wardrobe museum. They have a good 1/32nd scale diorama of 5th Royal Berks on JUNO beach.
    Chris C likes this.
  16. Shelley7043

    Shelley7043 Member

  17. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

  18. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member

    If you do get to Dorset and the Tank Museum, you could take in the small Devon and Dorset Rgt Museum at The Keep,Dorchester. Also Tyneham village, requisitioned by the army for the War, used for shell practice and still a range today. Need to check if it is in use ,usually ok weekends and holiday weeks. Also at Studland a lookout and gun emplacement built above the bay, where troops carried out DDay landing practices. You might also see old tank traps nearby built to forestall invasion. Also in Portland there used to be an original Mulberry Harbour.Too much to fit in really.
    Chris C likes this.
  19. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Wait... one of the Mulburry Harbours survived the war? I seem to recall one failed in some way and I don't remember hearing about what happened to the other.

    I take

    P.S. very grateful for all the suggestions. Did come across Tyneham Village (well, Tony mentioned it!) and the Keep Museum in my searches!
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    As a former resident of the area, I second Warrior & Victory in Portsmouth. Not WW2, but Warrior is possibly one of my favourite heritage 'things' ever. Victory at least has a WW2 connection in taking a couple of bomb hits.
    Fort Nelson up on Portsdown Hill is the Royal Armouries large exhibits collection. Free entry, remarkable building & fine collection of artillery. Really worth considering.
    The DDay museum is indeed being tarted up. The plan looks good with more interesting vehicles, though the Overlord tapestry was always worth a look.
    Odd one, and Gosport not a great 'passing through' place, but Haslar Naval Cemetery is fascinating. (Alliance at the Sub museum may be where you visited a sub?)

    Duxford indeed essential - start with the land warfare hall as many miss it given the size of the place.
    Given your interests, the Tank Museum could be worth two days - think you get a year's return entry with a normal ticket.
    TE Lawrence's little house at Clouds Hill, very close to The Tank Museum is a pleasant hour's distraction.
    Other end of the coast, Churchill's place at Chartwell is a fine property. Feels like the old man's just popped out with Clemmie. Take sarnies... the catering is awful, as is traditional at National Trust places.
    Winchester has a good concentration of merged regimental museums, 6-in-1 AGC, Green Jackets, Rifles, Hussars, Gurkhas & Hampshires.

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