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Cavalry of the New Model Army, c1645
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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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A Conqueror tank of 5th Royal Tank Regiment in Germany, c1960

Nato and the British Army

Nato has been the cornerstone of British defence planning for 70 years. Originally formed in the 1940s as a bulwark against communism, more recently it has been involved in peacekeeping roles and the ‘war on terror’.

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Soldiers with a refugee Kosovo Albanian family, 1999

Kosovo

In 1999, British soldiers deployed to Kosovo as a peacekeeping force. Today, troops still serve in the disputed country as part of a multi-national force helping to ensure security and stability.

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British UNPROFOR troops outside a destroyed mosque near Vitez, Bosnia, 1994

Bosnia

British soldiers first deployed to Bosnia in 1992 during the country's vicious civil war. Initially tasked with protecting aid convoys, they have remained there on peacekeeping duties ever since.

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Saving the guns at Maiwand, 1880

Second Afghan War

In 1878-80, British-Indian forces fought a war to ensure that Afghanistan remained free from Russian interference. Although eventually successful, the British suffered several setbacks in their struggle to control the volatile country.

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Tribesmen from Kohistan, a region north-east of Kabul, c1842

First Afghan War

Between 1839 and 1842, British imperial forces fought a bitter war in Afghanistan. Initially successful, the British eventually withdrew having suffered one of the worst military disasters of the 19th century.

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Soldiers huddle under helicopter

Iraq War: The counter-insurgency

Between 2003 and 2009, British troops in Iraq were engaged in a counter-insurgency war. They also helped train local security units, assisted with reconstruction and provided humanitarian aid.

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A Royal Irish Regiment vehicle passes a burning oil well during the invasion of Iraq, March 2003

Iraq War: The invasion

In March 2003, British troops took part in a coalition invasion of Iraq. After a month of combat operations, they overthrew Saddam Hussein's regime and occupied the country.

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

The battle for Italy

From 1943 to 1945, the Allies fought an attritional campaign in Italy against a resolute and skilful enemy. Far from being the ‘soft underbelly of Europe’, Italy became one of the Second World War’s most exhausting campaigns.

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A Mahsud tribesmen, c1919

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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