One of our visitors was staggered to discover a family connection to the focal point of our ground floor gallery.
Rhydian Vaughan’s grandfather was Lieutenant Colonel Philip Edmund Vaughan, DSO. Lt Col Vaughan commanded the 8th Battalion from 21 January 1916 until he was wounded on 5 August.
Rhydian, who maintains his links with the military through his battlefield tour business, dropped into the museum for a look around recently. He’d contacted us prior to his visit, asking if we could check our records for any items relating to his grandfather we may have in the collection.
“When I looked up ‘Vaughan’ on our archive system, I was very pleased with what I found,” says Assistant Curator, Steve Erskine. “I hoped it would be a great surprise, and when Rhydian visited we weren’t disappointed.”
As Rhydian walked through the Heart of the Regiment gallery, Steve asked him if he knew of anything that might link his grandfather to the museum. Pausing for dramatic effect beside the Spandau 08 Maxim machine gun, he revealed that it was Philip Vaughan who was responsible for this heavyweight battlefield souvenir to have found its place in the museum.
The 8th Battalion, under the command of Lt Col Vaughan, captured the machine gun at Contalmaison on 10 July 1916. Lt Col Vaughan then ensured it was given to the museum.
As soon as we gave Rhydian the news, we could tell he wanted to touch the machine gun. It’s not normally allowed, but we let him!
“It was such a wonderful thing to be told; a total surprise and I couldn’t believe it at first,” said Rhydian. “It’s a great link between me, my grandfather and this marvellous museum.”