US 82nd Airborne Division

The room is called the Airborne Room because it contains a number of items that relate to the American 82nd Airborne Division, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The regiment was stationed in Quorn near Loughborough during 1944, prior to taking part in the Normandy landings.

Flying jacket
The 505 PIR finally left Quorn later the same year when the regiment was required to parachuted into the area around Nijmegen in the Netherlands as part of Operation Market Garden.

There are two memorials in Quorn to the men of the 505 PIR who died in these operations.

The picture to the right shows a model of a Waco CG-4 glider used by the US forces to transport troops and equipment. The same gliders were used by British forces under the name "Hadrian".

Gas masks
Gas Masks

At the start of World War Two, all British citizens were issued with a gas mask because of the fear that German bombers would drop poison gas bombs. There was even a specially designed mask for babies.

While the local authority was responsible for supplying the respirators, each citizen was expected to look after their own mask, keeping it in good condition and carrying it with them at all times.

The masks were not comfortable to wear. Breathing through the filter could be difficult and the characteristic smell of rubber and disinfectant made some people feel sick. To encourage people to carry them, posters warned that "Hitler will send no warning - so always carry your gas mask" and there were fines for not carrying them.

In the event they were thankfully not needed.

Guns and Helmets

Also on this floor is a variety of weapons including a Sten Gun, a Bren light machine gun and, from the 1960s, an M72 66mm Anti-tank Rocket Launcher.

The helmet shown in the picture to the right is a German "Pickelhaube".

Originally introduced by the Prussian Infantry in 1842, this style of helmet became popular with several armies. However, it's construction, which was originally boiled leather, proved expensive in World War One conditions and failed to protect the wearer.

From 1916 onwards it was replaced with a more modern steel helmet which vastly reduced head injuries.

Recent Acquisitions: Tribal perang from Borneo
(Cat No. 2016.76)

A perang is a knife similar to a machete.

This example is a war or ceremonial perang, far more ornate than an everyday working perang, with a bone handle and wooden sheath decorated with goat hair, and was donated following a recent appeal for relevant objects for the Museum's forthcoming 'Britain's Small Wars' display, currently in development.

The perang was brought back from Borneo as a souvenir by a member of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment during the confrontation with Indonesia between 1963 and 1966.

This complements another item the Museum already has - a Propaganda Leaflet from the same conflict urging the rebels to surrender (Left).

Read more about this conflict in a Wikipedia article: Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation.

Model US glider Machine Gun German helmet