The XII Manitoba Dragoons / 26th Field Regiment Museum in the
Brandon Armoury opened its doors to visitors.

Visitors from around the world have a wide variety of questions
by Diane Nelson
The Brandon Sun

Ross Neale and USSR Flag
It was Flag Day and Open House at the
XII Manitoba Dragoons / 26th Field Regiment Museum
in the Brandon Armoury yesterday.

Ross Neale displays a German flag that was liberated from Rommel's headquarters in Normandy in 1944.
Jennifer Botham/For the Sun
And while "not too many" people took advantage of the opportunity to see such items as a two-by-three metre swastika-emblazoned flag captured from a German battleship and liberated from Rommel's headquarters in Normandy in 1944, that's par for the course for the museum, which has preserved a vast array of items from both world wars. 

"That's the way it goes," museum curator Ross Neale said with a shrug. "You can't force people to come out." 

Neale, who has been the collection's curator since 1979, said visitors from far - Europe, England, Scotland and the U.S. - and near visit the museum for a variety of reasons. And it's seldom boring when there are people in looking a the displays.

"You never get the same question twice," Neale said with a smile. 

While one might expect the most common visitors would be former service people, Neale said that's not the case. 

"Mostly younger people, wanting to know something about something," Neale said about those who come to view the museum. " A lot comes from school, a lot comes from grandchildren looking for information on granddad and they need a regimental number and stuff so they can join the legion. 

"We had the adjutant from GATES in here. And he said, 'My grandfather told me that they had a great big rifle in 1915. And I searched all over Germany,' he said, 'and I come to Brandon and in this little museum on third floor, there's the great big rifle my grandfather told me about.'"

Bill Pierson displays the regiments that comprise the five divisions of the Canadian army in the Second World War.
Jennifer Botham/For the Sun
Neale is most proud of the 12-piece wheel-shaped display of badges and insignia from a variety of regiments. The wheel's creator, Wilf Falconer donated the massive collection to the local museum before his death in 1992.

"This old gentleman, Mr. Falconer - he lived in B.C. - he had some Brandon connections," explained Bill Pierson, a museum volunteer. "He made this up there. And each (section) represents one division and these (badges) represent the regiments within that division. 

"(Falconer) wrote George Crowston, our secretary, and wanted to know if we'd accept it. So George said, 'You betcha,' so he drove and brought it down from B.C." 

Neale said the piece is a great jumping off point in talking to young folks about the war. "Every cap badge on there represents 1,000 men," Neale said. "So you can kind of educate the younger people as to that's 1945."

He's also glad to have the diorama of A-4, the former army camp in the south end of Brandon. "If you go down to where Cancade's is, south of their place, you can still see some of these old structures," Pierson said. 

The Museum also boasts uniforms, medals, armaments, competition cups, and "some old spiked helmets form the Prussians," according to Pierson. 

Neale said it's important to hang on to these relics from the past, in order to maintain a tangible connection to what happened during the war years. And he echoed a comment made frequently by veterans - we can't allow future generations to forget the sacrifices made on their behalf. 

"Someday, it'll be in the paper that the last survivor of the First World War passed away today," Neale said quietly. "And there goes just a little bit of history. "We always tell the kids, you enjoy this and you enjoy that. Freedom wasn't paid for by nickels and dollars. It was paid for by people's lives."

Bill Pierson
The Museum Volunteers
invite you to visit the
Museum Flag Wall


Sweetheart Pin Collection: Special Valentine's Day Display
On Valentine's Day, February 14, we are inviting the community to view a free exhibit of the Museum's "Sweetheart Pin" collection
Sweetheart pins were presented to mothers and wives and special gals by members of the RCA, RCAF and RCN.
This is a very rare collection that is only brought out on Valentine's Day. Visitors are encouraged to bring their sweethearts to view this amazing collection and eat a free cupcake to celebrate the day. 

1116 Victoria Avenue
Brandon, Manitoba
R7A 1B2 Canada
Fax: 204.725.1766
Brandon Armoury
Free Admission to the Public
Hours of Operation:
9 am to Noon and 1 pm to 4 pm

Tours may be accommodated by calling 
Curator Edd McArthur at 726-3498 
Gord Sim at  (204) 727-7691

The XII Manitoba Dragoons / 26th Field Regiment Museum

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