Our head Armourer Bob began training in 1971 as an Armourer with REME – the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, where he undertook nine months of specialist training on every weapon in the British Army – from small arms up to and including 81mm mortars.  The training encompassed inspection, repair, testing, safe handling and the use and operation of each weapon, Bob is highly experienced and confident with weapons.

Bob left the Regular Army in 1975 and joined the Territorial Army, as an infantryman. He took a civilian post as an Armourer at 44 District Workshop (REME), at Ashford, in Kent. While with the Workshop Bob undertook further courses in weapons including 30mm cannon, 105 light gun and Examination of Ordnance.

After several years at Ashford, Bob was promoted and transferred, as a Technical Officer to Weapons Branch, at Woolwich, where he qualified as a Technical Writer, writing repair manuals for small arms.

In 1988 he transferred to Cinque Ports Training Area (Hythe & Lydd Ranges), to work with weapons and targetry, where he has worked since.

With such an extensive career working with weapons, Bob has established a network of contacts in both the MoD and civilian weapons world, and is highly respected in the industry.

In his private life, Bob considers himself a reasonable shot and is a member of local shooting club.  His favourite pistol was the Colt 45 M1911A1. He still shoots with military bolt-action rifles.

For the last War and Peace Revival in 2015, Bob was interviewed for the show paper – and so you get a flavour of how an armoury runs at an event, the article is below!

You’ve seen the battles in the arena and heard the bangs.. but ever wondered where the weapons come from? Well wonder no more!

All the weapons used are from the War and Peace Weapon Supplies armoury, which has weapon types for most WW2, Cold War and Vietnam scenarios. We spoke with armourer Bob Ellis about the road to War and Peace from an armoury point of view. Bob is an ex-military armorer and still works for the MOD in that capacity – so with 45 years of experience working with all types of weapons our armoury is in safe hands!

Preparation for the weapons used in the battles starts in February when all the re-enactment groups are contacted to get lists of personnel and requirements for the show. As Bob says: “this is a legal requirement as we need to know who is having the weapons. Each individual has to provide their name and address, which is kept on the database for security.”
In the weeks running up to War and Peace, Bob and his team prepare the weapons, ensure they are all operational and that they have all the blank ammunition required and all the weapons requested for the battles.

During the show the armoury team comprises 12 people - the majority of whom are instructors charged with demonstrating the safe use of the weapons. Among the team there is collectively over 120 years of experience!

When the team first arrives onto site they undergo two days of instructor familiarisation with Bob to ensure they understand each weapon. They then carry out two days of training for any re-enactors who haven’t been trained by War and Peace Weapons previously, regardless of whether they are experienced in weapons handling or not. Without the training they are not allowed to draw a weapon from the armoury. Re-enactors are taught how to load and unload the weapon, correct any stoppages that might occur and how to use them safely during the battle.

After the battle, the weapons are checked back into the armoury, cleaned as necessary then made ready for the next use.

So with all his experience of weapons, what is Bob’s favourite weapon? “The M14 rifle, which was used by the Americans in the early Vietnam period. It's based on the WW2 Garand rifle - it's extremely well designed and engineered but sadly now probably too expensive to produce for today's warfare.”