Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to go to one of the open days at Crownhill Fort in Plymouth, UK. Crownhill is part of a series of fortifications built against a possible French invasion in the 1870's. Collectively, these fortifications are known as the Palmerston Follies.
Thankfully, the forts never saw action, but they would have been part of the defences in 1940 against Operation Sealion had it happened. Indeed, there are the remains of trenches dug in World War 2 at the top of the ramparts.
I'd been meaning to visit Crownhill for a few years but most of the open days fell when I was away or on the odd Friday, which was tricky with work deadlines.
They had a number of displays at the fort, including an interesting lecture on the evolution of the British infantry firearm, from the matchlock to the Martini Henry. The arsenal at Crownhill used Martini Henry carbines as the shorter barrel was better suited to garrison duty.
They even had some blank firing Martini Henrys. I tried one out, the receiver was extremely hot despite only firing approximately a dozen rounds. This would explain the accounts at Maiwand where the rifles jammed due to extreme heat and might help explain the disaster at Isandwana.
There was a lot to see at Crownhill. If you have the opportunity to go to one of their open days, or similar open days around the country, I highly recommend you do.