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The Queen's Gurkha Regiment assist with the construction of NHS Nightingale, 2020
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In case of emergency

As soldiers are mobilised to help public services deal with the coronavirus pandemic, we explore how Britain has often had to rely upon the Army at times of emergency.

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Women's Royal Army Corps

Women's Royal Army Corps

Formed in 1949, this corps was the women’s branch of the British Army. Its members undertook a variety of important roles until 1992, when its remaining personnel were integrated into the Adjutant General's Corps.

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Auxiliary Territorial Service

Auxiliary Territorial Service

Formed in 1938, the Auxiliary Territorial Service tasked women with a range of vital roles during the Second World War. It was disbanded in 1949, when the remainder of its troops transferred to the newly formed Women’s Royal Army Corps.

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Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps

Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps

This unit was formed as the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1917 to free up more men to fight in the First World War. It was the first time women had served in the British Army other than as nurses.

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Victoria Crosss

The Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross is one of the highest awards a British soldier can receive. It requires an act of extreme bravery in the presence of the enemy, and has achieved almost mythical status, with each award accompanied by an inspiring tale of gallantry and daring.

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Cap badge, Royal Engineers, c1940

Corps of Royal Engineers

Formed in 1716, this corps helps keep the British Army in the field by providing engineering and technical support. Known as ‘Sappers’, Royal Engineers have served in all of the Army’s campaigns.

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The Battle of Busaco, 27 September 1810

Peninsular War

From 1808 to 1814, the British Army, aided by its Spanish and Portuguese allies, held off superior numbers of French troops before driving them out of Iberia. They then carried the war into France, playing an important part in Napoleon's first overthrow.

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Capturing the Army

Capturing the Army

Today, the Army trains specialist photographers to capture its story. But the demand for images depicting soldiers' experiences is nothing new. Here we look at some of the earliest pioneers of military photography.

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Lieutenant-Colonel Randolph Egerton, The King's Troop of Horse Guards, c1672

The Restoration and the birth of the British Army

In 1660, the monarchy was restored when Parliament invited King Charles II to take the throne. Although the military played a crucial role in his return, the King soon established a new force - the British Army.

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Luck and superstition

Luck and superstition

Chance plays a significant part in deciding a soldier’s fate on the battlefield. Here we look at examples of close shaves and extraordinary escapes, and examine some of the superstitions soldiers draw on for comfort and protection.

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Cavalry of the New Model Army, c1645

British Civil Wars

Fought between 1642 and 1651, these wars were primarily disputes between Crown and Parliament about how the British Isles should be governed. But they also had religious and social dimensions, and witnessed the creation of the first national standing army.

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The Battle of the Boyne, 1690

Nine Years War

Between 1689 and 1697, British soldiers joined a European alliance against French expansionism. At the same time, extensive fighting took place in Scotland and Ireland between the supporters of King William III and the deposed James II.

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King James II, c1685

The Glorious Revolution

The Army played an important role in the downfall of King James II and his replacement by William of Orange in 1688. This ‘Glorious Revolution’ restricted royal power and had a profound impact on the long-term future of the British Army.

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