Museum to chronicle Navy's role in pandemic

THE National Museum of the Royal Navy wants to hear from sailors, Royal Marines and their families about how the pandemic has affected them.

Historians want to chronicle both the Senior Service’s role in the coronavirus crisis - and its impact on everyday naval life.

Hundreds of sailors and commandos have been activated as part of the COVID Support Force, running mobile test centres, providing logistical support, assisting British citizens at home and abroad.

Numerous URNU Officer Cadets have volunteered in care homes, hospitals, or simply delivering shopping to those cut off from the world, and various units and individuals have used 3D printers to help produce PPE. 

And Royal Navy doctors and nurses are on the front line in hospitals and medical centres, working side-by-side with NHS colleagues.

The museum wants to capture this experience through the collection of images, videos, documents, art work and artefacts which represent the breadth of roles undertaken by the Royal Navy and also the experience of the service operating during this period of time.

For the first time, the project will also capture the digital responses to the crisis and how the Royal Navy has communicated with the public about its work.

It is important that researchers can explore our collection and understand what the Royal Navy was doing in 2020. By retaining the content, we can preserve this memory and pay tribute to those who served.

Nick Hewitt, the museum’s Head of Collections and Research

“Historically museums have captured the experiences of our service personnel through letters, physical, photographs and written documents,” said Nick Hewitt, the museum’s Head of Collections and Research.

“We have excellent examples in our collection of the Royal Navy’s effort throughout history to offer support in times of crisis.

“A twitter feed may be forgotten in 100 years’ time - in a digital age we seek to capture new materials and maximise on the incredible content being created using digital tools.

“It is important that researchers can explore our collection and understand what the Royal Navy was doing in 2020. By retaining the content, we can preserve this memory and pay tribute to those who served.”

The museum also wants the wider naval community to support the initiative by visiting their website and registering interest in the project at nmrn.org.uk/covid19-collection.

“Our ambition is to also collect materials from the forces families, charities and support services which represent the shared experience of the COVID-19 period,” Nick explains.

“We know that beyond our service personnel, extraordinary support networks exist and we would love to be able to collect examples of family memorabilia, messages of support, care packages and so on, which reflects how important this support is.”