Step back into the military history of the area at this museum housed in a Victorian Drill Hall. The hall was opened in 1880, and has served as the regiment's headquarters ever since. The old drill hall, which has been declared as a national monument, has undergone extensive restoration, and has been partly used as a museum since 1996. The Prince Alfred's Guard Museum, which can be found on Port Elizabeth's Prospect Road, was formed by combining the military museum formerly housed in the Donkin Reserve Complex, and the regimental museum of the Prince Alfred's Guard Regiment.
The proud history of the Guard
Prince Alfred's Guard was originally formed as the Port Elizabeth Volunteer Rifle Corps on 19 September 1856. The name of the regiment changed in 1860, after providing protection to Queen Victoria's second son, Prince Alfred, when he visited Port Elizabeth. The Regiment first saw action on 2 December 1877 against the Gcaleka tribesmen during the Ninth Xhosa War, and continued to participate in local campaigns. The regiment served as mounted infantry in the Second Anglo-Boer War from 1899 to 1902. Members of the Guard also volunteered for service in World War I, but there was dissension in the ranks after a long deployment in Cape Town. As a result, the contingent was disbanded and most of its members saw active service during the war in other South African units. During World War II, the regiment first served as link battalion for the 2nd Brigade, South African Infantry in North Africa. On 20 April 1944, equipped with armored vehicles such as Mark V Shermans and Stuarts, the Regiment landed at Taranto in the heel of Italy to reinforce the exhausted Allied forces trapped at Anzio. Today, its members are currently trained as air assault infantry. Its status as a reserve unit is on a par with that of a British Army Reserve or American Army National Guard.
The Drill Hall, the headquarters of Prince Alfred's Guard, was opened in 1882, and another floor was added in 1893. The grounds surrounding it were once parade grounds. The hall has fulfilled other roles in its time, in particular it functioned as a hospital from 1899 to 1902. It has also hosted balls, held theater productions, and was a roller skating rink.
The Miracle Cannon
Admire the Victorian architectural style and Edwardian façade of the building before entering the regimental museum which displays fascinating military exhibits, including the "miracle cannon"—one of the bronze cannons rescued from the wreck of the Sacramento at Schoenmakerskop. The cannon is a wonderful example of the work of master cannon founder, Pedro Dias Bocarro, who is said to have made the best cannons in the world. Please note that the cannon and exhibits are not automatically open to the public; contact staff on duty to find out a time that you can visit this important reminder of the past.