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1st Reserve Regiment of Cavalry in training, 1914
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Cavalry on the Western Front

In the First World War, the cavalry could no longer deliver the decisive charges it had performed in the past. But it continued to carry out a variety of useful roles that contributed to British success.

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The 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers with Achilles tank destroyers near Ferrara, April 1945

The battle for Italy

For almost two years during the Second World War (1939-45), the Allies fought a bitter struggle in Italy against a determined and skilful enemy. Far from being the ‘soft underbelly of Europe’, Italy became one of the war’s most exhausting campaigns.

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A Mahsud tribesmen, c1919

The Third Afghan War and the Revolt in Waziristan

In May 1919, conflict broke out between British India and Afghanistan. Although peace was quickly agreed, the violence spread to the North West Frontier, challenging British control of that region.

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The Battle of Minden, 1759

Seven Years War

Fought between 1756 and 1763, this conflict can claim to be the original 'world war'. Franco-British fighting in North America and India became part of a general war in Europe with far-reaching consequences.

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The death of Major Pierson and the defeat of the French attack on Jersey, 1781

American War of Independence: Key battles

In 1775, Britain’s American colonies rebelled in a bid for independence. The British Army performed fairly well in battle against the rebels, but it was unable to prevent the loss of territory following French and Spanish entry into the war.

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Battle of Bunker Hill, June 1775

American War of Independence: Outbreak

In 1775, political and economic concerns led the inhabitants of Britain’s 13 American colonies to rise up in revolt. The subsequent conflict divided families and communities across North America.

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Horses carrying ammunition, c1917

Horse power in the First World War

Without its hard-working horses, the Army could not have functioned during the First World War. Their contribution included carrying and pulling supplies, ammunition, artillery and even the wounded.

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General Sir Charles Keightly, Commander in Chief Operation Muskateer, meets French paratroopers at Suez, 1956

Suez Crisis

In 1956, British and French forces invaded Egypt in collusion with Israel. Although the military operation was a success, the political storm it caused led to a humiliating withdrawal.

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Charge of the Light Brigade, 1854

Crimean War

The Crimean War was fought by Britain, France, Turkey and Sardinia against Russia. For the British, the campaign was symbolised by military and logistical incompetence alongside the bravery and endurance of its soldiers.

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The Battle of Abu Klea, 17 January 1885

Egypt and the Sudan

British forces occupied Egypt in 1882 to safeguard the Suez Canal and British financial interests. This led to further intervention in the neighbouring Sudan, where two wars against rebellious Islamic tribesmen were fought in hostile desert conditions.

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General Sir Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1894

Frederick Roberts: Bobs

Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts was one of Britain’s most successful military commanders of the 19th century, winning victories during the Second Afghan War and revitalising the British campaign in the Boer War. 

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Field Marshal Auchinleck, c1947

Claude Auchinleck: The auk

After initial successes in North Africa during the Second World War, Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck transferred to India as Commander-in-Chief. His unstinting logistical support there was vital to the Allied re-conquest of Burma.

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General Sir Thomas Fairfax, c1645

Thomas Fairfax: A man of honour

General Sir Thomas Fairfax was arguably the most important general of the British Civil Wars. As Commander-in-Chief of the New Model Army, he played a key role in defeating the Royalists.

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