Last weekend we decided to have a drive along the coast. Living in Newcastle we have lots of great coastline to choose from, we normally take a trip to Whitley Bay where I love to look at the lighthouse. It is not far from the Tynemouth Aquarium which is an interesting place to visit. For a longer trip it is lovely to drive along the Northumberland coast where there are plenty of castles to visit, from Bambrough Castle to Holy Island and its priory and castle. This time we drove to Blyth which has lovely sandy beaches. It is not far from Seaton Delaval Hall where went a couple of weeks ago.
When we got there we were surprised to find that there were soldiers at Blyth Beach. All around the car park and on the way down to the beach were displays. These were showing what life is like in the army now and what it used to be like during the world wars. We went to have a look around.
The displays were set up in tents with lots of army vehicles surrounding them. Some of them were covered in camouflage netting which gives you an idea of what it must be like in the field. These dummies showed how much kit a solider has to carry. I would not like to carry that rucksack far. My son tried on a gas mask. He did not like the experience, he said it was very claustrophobic and hot inside.
He was fascinated by the display of weapons in front of the tents. These showed different types of gun and how they had changed over the years. From the very first type of machine gun, the sort that you see used in gangster films by Bonnie and Clyde, to the latest state of the art guns, they were all there. Even the heavy artillery made an appearance.
Inside the tent was a display of the different badges from army regiments over the years. This was fascinating, many of the badges dated back to the 1800’s. They show the history of the army over the years and how it is changed. The middle row shows the Scottish regiments, many of these have now been disbanded and only two remain. The army officer in the tent was able to identify all the different regiments and tell us their history. It was really interesting and we lingered here for a while.
Leaving the tent we wandered towards the beach. The vehicles here were decidedly vintage and the motorbike reminded me of the one that Steve McQueen rode in the Great Escape. The group of soldiers standing by the tent behind were wearing vintage costume.
They looked like they were planning an important mission. With a backdrop of beachhuts there were areas that showed the equipment that was used by the soldiers during the second world war. From the different types of guns to the tents and hospital equipment. It did give you an idea of what it would have been like on a field camp in those days, although without the background of guns and other noise of war.
Before we left we found an APC and my son took the chance to climb aboard and pretend he was driving.
It was really interesting finding all these different displays at Blyth beach and I am glad we accidentally came across it. It really did give you an idea of what it was like to be a soldier then and now.