Sharpshooter News

Curator's Pick - The Oscar

Hever Castle grounds have reopened to the public this week. Our museum alas remains closed as it is a confined indoor space. Based on current government policy, it looks it will need to stay closed until at least 4 July.

But you can still learn lots about our history through this website, especially in the Stories section. For the next week weeks, a different member our our team will talk about one item in the collection that is really special to them.

First off is our Honorary Secretary Huw Jones, who has picked the story of  "The OSCAR" - this silver statuette is one of the prize exhibits inside our museum.

The beautiful statuette shows a soldier of the Punjab Regiment in World War II fighting order and recalls The Kent Yeomanry’s time in Italy as part of the 25th Indian Infantry Brigade. It is inscribed ““To those who served our guns.  Presented to the officers 385 Battery The Kent Yeomanry, 1944-1945, 3rd Battalion 1st Punjab Regiment”.

The regimental history records an arduous campaign across terrain of mountains, steep valleys and thick woods, which favoured the determined defence by experienced German units.  The Kents’ field guns and ammunition lorries often had to be moved up narrow and muddy mountain tracks while their forward observation parties, responsible for directing fire, suffered alongside the infantry from continuous enemy activity and often dreadful weather.  In one ten week phase the regiment fired over 100,000 shells.

An account of one action during the campaign, in which Captain Jack Bazzard won the Military Cross, is recounted in the Stories section of our website - go to 1939-45 and open up "The Oscar Winner"..

Jack received the statuette soon after the war’s end and it quickly gained its nickname from the resemblance to the awards given by the US Academy of Motion Pictures.  It has been a regular, and popular, table decoration at regimental dinners ever since.  When I was serving I always tried to put it in front of me and the officers’ mess sergeant described it as the piece he was most likely to save in the event of a fire.

The British Indian Army was the largest all-volunteer army in history.  It was divided with the partition of India in 1947 and The Punjab Regiment serves today as part of the Pakistani Army.  It is perhaps fitting that the museum also has a kukri, presented by the 18th Royal Garwhal Rifles, which served in the same brigade during the campaign, but whose descendants are today part of the Indian Army.

Huw Jones

KSY Museum Trust Secretary

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