Last updated: 4 September 2013
Now Open - Level 3 Corridor
In 1945 Britain celebrated the end of the Second World War. However, this victory did not mean an end to Britain’s military commitments abroad. The nation faced new challenges in a rapidly changing world and to meet these the young men of Britain were called up.
Our National Service display explores the contribution of Britain’s post-war conscripts as they moved from civilian to soldier. The experiences these young men went through, including call-up, training, drilling, polishing kit and equipment and deployment, is portrayed in the soldiers’ own words. This is contrasted with detail on the political factors that made these commitments necessary.
The exhibition is largely delivered through oral history, quotations, illustrations and photographs. Objects such as ankle boots, dubbin and a polishing brush reflect the repetitive nature of a serviceman’s tasks. The far-flung and exotic locations these men were sent to are shown with a pair of Mau Mau deerskin shorts and a native Malayan parang. A captured Malayan communist flag and a Simonov self-loading rifle demonstrate the political causes these men found themselves fighting against.