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Naval college oral history recordings completed

6 January 2017
The recollections of some of the UK’s most senior naval officers have been recorded for posterity as part of an oral history project to document life and training at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth.

Since the project was officially launched in December 2015, around 80 hours of sound recordings have been made by volunteers, thanks to a £45,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and support from the Britannia Association (the college alumni association).

The 62 first-hand accounts span the decades between 1930 and 1990, and include recordings with officers who served in World War II, the Falklands conflict and Gulf wars. There are also interviews with former cadets from Commonwealth nations who trained at BRNC, as well as some of the first women to attend the college.

With around seven months to go until the conclusion of the project, extracts from some of these recordings will be showcased in an exhibition at Britannia Royal Naval College planned for May 2017.

The recordings will form an important archive for use by future historians, students and members of the public.  They have already been used by college staff working with young people in schools and universities.

These interviews have provided a fascinating insight into what it really felt like to be at BRNC and are a priceless part of our history.

Commander Rob Dunn

Project staff would be keen to hear from anybody interested in volunteering to help transcribe the interviews before February 2017.  If you think you could help, please email the project manager [email protected].

Commander Rob Dunn, the Commander of BRNC and Chairman of the Britannia Museum Trust, said: “These interviews have provided a fascinating insight into what it really felt like to be at BRNC and are a priceless part of our history.  The recordings show how much the place has changed, but the ethos of BRNC and the pride felt by cadets has remained a constant.

"Some of our contributors have had prestigious careers within the Royal Navy and in the wider world, including the First Sea Lord and the first woman to command one of our major naval establishments.

"The exhibition in the spring will see the exciting culmination of the project and I am sure that many people will feel the benefit for years to come. This important milestone would not have been achieved without the help of an incredible band of volunteers and the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

Finally a mobile exhibition will be created which will firstly be displayed at the Britannia Museum, which is open to the public, and will then travel to interested institutions in Devon, the UK and abroad.

To hear extracts from the recordings, please visit the project’s Twitter page @brncoralhistory

If you would like quotations from the recordings for print, please contact the project manager [email protected]

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