A £4M MUSEUM celebrating Oxfordshire’s military history has been given the go-ahead.

The museum, in the grounds of the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock, will tell the story of the county’s armed forces from the 1700s to the present day.

The idea has been enthusiastically backed by Oxfordshire service personnel.

The museum, which could open as early as 2012, will feature items from the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust’s collection of 12,000 artefacts and the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry archives.

The collection includes medals, tins of tobacco, cigarettes and chocolates given to First World War soldiers, diaries, and uniforms.

Oxfordshire has a large service population, with thousands at RAF Brize Norton, RAF Benson, and barracks in Didcot, Bicester and Abingdon.

Oxfordshire County Council this week gave permission for a new building at the Park Street museum after a 10-year campaign by the trust.

Trust chairman Brigadier Ian Inshaw said: “We are delighted that the planning authority has given permission for this project.

“We will now be working closely with the county council and the Oxfordshire Museum to deliver the best outcome for all.”

He said the trust’s current base in Hensington Road, Woodstock, was too small to open regularly.

Project manager Major Hugh Babington Smith said: “Oxfordshire has a long and much more involved connection with the armed forces than some people think.

“This will be a fitting tribute.”

He said £2m had already been raised, including £1.45m from an anonymous donor.

The armed forces yesterday welcomed the news.

RAF Brize Norton spokes-man Katie Zasada said: “Since 1937 we have played a part in every major conflict and our support to current operations in Afghanistan, and the personnel deployed there, remains our top priority.

“To have a museum which reflects on the achievements and, sadly, the losses of military personnel over the years, will stand as a fitting tribute and ensure that their sacrifice will never be forgotten”.

Oxfordshire Museum curator Cherry Gray added: “This exciting development offers huge opportunities to work together to attract new and wider audiences, and provide new leisure and educational facilities.”