Every time I’ve found myself in Port Dickson, I have wanted to visit the Army Museum but it was always closed. Today on my way back to KL it was open and I just had to stop even if it was for just a few minutes to explore and view the exhibits.
The imposing cargo plane seemingly in mid flight that greets you when you enter the parking lot is enough of a hint of the many wonderful WWII items that await inside the museum. Entry was free which was a pleasant surprise.
The display most will recognise instantly is the one seen as you drive past the museum of a steam locomotive and an old 50’s/60’s era passenger coach. I don’t quite get how these fit in as army related displays but they’re none the less awesome reminders of what train travel was like back in the day. I do remember the coach for its design from my school days back in the 70’s. The interior was clearly retrofitted perhaps for the army’s official use.
Climbing up into the steam engine was precarious. The steps were recessed far in and slippery but once inside, the huge mechanical controls, levers and boiler compartment up close were nothing less than impressive. For a brief moment, looking out through the small opening on the left most side of the engine bay, I imagined what the view was like riding up front in one of these spewing steam and heat in its glory days. The tiny white armoured vehicle also on display on the track was somewhat of an oddity, I’ve not seen one of these before. I can only wonder what it was used for.
The outdoor exhibits continued with Japanese cannons small and large, a battery of tanks, armoured and amphibious vehicles that were used during peacekeeping as well as for the defence of the nation. Camouflaged and painted to blend in with our tropical jungles there were many fine examples to view and marvel at. Massive and imposing, I felt like a dwarf up against these beasts. If you look closely, you can see propellers mounted at the rear on some of the all terrain vehicles allowing them to manoeuvre in the water.
Lying out in the elements and rusting away were several aircraft engines. One belongs to a Sky Hawk that’s on display but the others had no information on their origin. They were a curious couple that looked like a whole bunch of motorcycle engines arranged in a circular configuration. I’m guessing these came from a Spitfire or similar single propeller type aircraft but I could be wrong.
A couple of helicopters and the Sky Hawk wrap up the outdoor exhibits if you do the anti-clockwise walk through the museum yard. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough but there was no information on the choppers. The Sky Hawk on the other hand was majestic. It had a unique windshield and screen wiper just like the ones we have on our cars. Very neat, I wonder how effective it must have been up in the clouds at the speeds this was capable of. I’m surprised the wiper arm didn’t clean rip off at 600mph.
Last but not least, I chanced upon some motorcycles hidden away down a not so visited corridor and found a couple of gems, a BSA and an unidentified classic looking bike. Very nice to see these old bikes. Must have been crackers in their day.
I wished the outdoor exhibits had more information on each item and their historical significance in context. Some of the smaller items perhaps should be relocated indoors and saved from rotting in the harsh sun and rain. Overall I just loved everything I saw on display.
I would go as far as to say this museum was more impressive than the Vietnam War Museum I visited in Saigon. Yeah, it was that good, highly recommended.
The Roving Photographer