A Summer at The Tank Museum

Bryher Mackenzie is a student who spent her summer at The Tank Museum on a special Exhibition project

3rd September 2014

As a curious child, I would sit and watch in awe as the tanks would go past during break times when I attended Bovington First School. Now at 17, and a budding military historian, it was only natural that I jumped at the chance to volunteer at The Tank Museum over the summer holiday.
I am planning to read History at university and would like to pursue a career in a museum, as it is where I feel most at ease. Therefore, The Tank Museum has been the perfect place for me to enhance my passion and knowledge of armoured warfare and the military. I was especially looking forward to seeing the newest exhibit, ‘Warhorse to Horsepower,’ which opened for this Centenary year. I was not only intrigued by the fascinating stories of courage and innovation, but inspired.
With every new exhibition there’s the task of completing questionnaires to see how successful it is in conveying themes and stories to visitors. Getting feedback from the general public on the exhibit was a job I very much looked forward to doing because I like interacting with people. I would have a good chat with likeminded enthusiasts from all over the world and I loved every minute of it. Even when there was a language barrier to overcome, I thoroughly enjoyed devising a great deal of sign language, and learning multiple ways of saying hello and thank you! In fact, it’s a definite highlight and I feel very lucky to have met so many lovely people from all walks of life during my time here.
bryher in a tank (ID 52750)Before I even started, my friends and family joked that I’d end up running someone over in a tank or be taken out myself. However, I didn’t actually believe that I’d get the chance to go inside one. Yet, much to my delight, I was asked if I wanted to ride in the Leopard during the Tanks in Action display – of course I said yes! Who wouldn’t? So, I put on this ridiculously large helmet and clambered into the Leopard feeling rather nervous, but extremely excited. I was officially a Ruritanian - the infamous bad guys of the display battle. Being in an operational tank is an experience unlike any other – the searing heat, cramped conditions and deafening noise are all prevalent, but I didn’t care. I was inside a tank and I had never felt more powerful.
On the 4th August 2014, it had been exactly 100 years since the outbreak of the Great War; a war that significantly shaped the world we live in today. Thus it was appropriate that The Tank Museum commemorated this momentous day. For the majority of the day I had the pleasure in assisting the wardens in the First World War hall, by manning the queue for the Mark IV talk and presenting the soldier’s ration table to the public. As I joined the expectant crowd in the Kuwait arena later that day, you really got a sense of the occasion as we witnessed a mock battle, minute silence and moving rendition of the Last Post. It truly was an honour to be a part of such a successful and poignant event, to mark the brave men and women, both home and abroad, who found themselves at arms a Century ago.
Over the past 6 weeks, I have genuinely had the absolute time of my life! It certainly has flown by but I guess that’s a true measure of all the fun I’ve been having. From this opportunity I have learnt more than I ever imagined and gained more confidence than I could have anticipated. So, I’d like to thank all the wonderful people who have made my summer an unforgettable one with their unwavering warmth, kindness and support. It really has been a pleasure to volunteer here at The Tank Museum and if you are thinking of paying a visit I’d urge you to come here – it’s so much more than tanks!