newbies all eager to snap up what they can; but where we might once have been seen as just another bunch of oddballs hoarding things away, only one step removed from those who collect train numbers, now we can tell people we collect medals and are interested in researching the stories behind them and not be met with blank stares, barely suppressed giggles or sympathetic nods! Our hobby isn’t a “trendy” one—we all know that, but, thanks to the raft of family and military history programmes, and the renewed pride in our armed forces, our military past is no longer a taboo and those who study it no longer considered reactionary nutters.
Back in 1983 the spectre of political correctness was just beginning to stalk the land, and even though the Falklands conflict was barely over, there were some very powerful voices speaking out against anything that might be seen to glorify the British Empire’s bloody past. History was suddenly off the agenda, except, it seemed, for the revisionists who were busily re-writing everything to make our evil Empire the bogeyman of the past responsible for all the world’s ills; that still happens sometimes of course and there are still stories of the PC brigade’s never-ending fight against common sense but they are fewer than they were and, when they do appear, the howls of derision from the right-minded amongst us see to it that they are swiftly buried again. We won’t stop Political Correctness entirely. We won’t stop idiots insisting we should be ashamed of what this country and its allies have done over the years and we won’t stop politicians trying to re-write the past, just to appease a vociferous minority, but thankfully those of us who don’t subscribe to their way of thinking no longer have to be ashamed of speaking out for what we believe and can once again be proud that in our own way we have helped preserve part of history. Two and a half decades ago we wondered whether a passion for history, let alone military history, would survive into the 21st century. Today the subject is enjoying an unprecedented surge of popularity—so here’s to the next 25 years!