Group of people, men and women, some in military uniform, looking at the stone wall of a church

Caption: Participants engaged in a discussion on structure stabilisation of a damaged building during the exercise scenario planned as part of the CPP Special to Arm Course, Portsmouth, 16 October 2019 © UK Blue Shield

UKBS was privileged to support the UK Reserves Cultural Property Protection Unit (CPPU) in running the UK’s first CPP Special to Arm course at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding at Southwick Park.

The course trained the students to deliver CPP as part of higher-level military planning processes. It also covered the law, the history of the UK’s Second World War antecedent units and introduced specialist areas including illicit cultural property trafficking, war crimes, resilience, Defence Engagement, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, use of drones for assessment, first aid for damaged cultural property and philosophical issues.

The UK Reserves CPPU officers were joined by officers from Austria, Australia, France, Italy, Netherlands, US, UNESCO, Interpol, Carabinieri Unit for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Metropolitan Police, NATO, DfID, DCMS and 1 MP Brigade.

Dr Paul Fox from the UK Blue Shield designed and directed the delivery of the course, supported by other members of UK Blue Shield. Professor Peter Stone, Dr Emma Cunliffe, and Valentina Sabucco played locals with information, in varying forms of distress, to highlight the critical reality that cultural heritage protection is all about people. Prof Lisa Mol from UCL provided advice on damage caused to stones by munitions, and demonstrated the support that civilian subject matter experts can provide to CPP officers, and the importance of close collaboration. Prof Nigel Pollard from Swansea University, also a member of UK Blue Shield, delivered a presentation on the history of the Monuments Fine Arts and Archives Branch and the Art Looting Investigation Unit during the Second World War.

Caption: participants involved in different planning and field activities as part of the CPP Special to Arm course; October 2019 © UK Blue Shield, 2019

The students conducted reconnaissance trips to the National Trust’s Hinton Ampner House and English Heritage’s Fort Brockhurst and to the Royal Garrison Church in Portsmouth, to learn about evacuation of cultural property, cultural property refuges, and damage assessment of CP in conflict.

UK Blue Shield would like to thank the British Army, and in particular Lt. Col. Tim Purbrick, for the chance to participate in this highly valuable exercise. His exceptional dedication and hard work have made the creation of a CPP Unit in the UK possible. UK Blue Shield is committed in continuing working in close partnership with the Unit to deliver further training and provide support. Over the next month CPPU officers will be working with NATO, the Carabinieri, Historic Royal Palaces and the Defence Academy, and – together with Blue Shield International – with the Irish Defence Forces.

Group of men and women, some in military uniforms, posing for a group photo in a courtyard with a cannon in the middle

Caption: group photo of the participants to the CPP Special to Arm course, October 2019 © UK Blue Shield, 2019