Sergeant Herbert Chambers with fellow Special Boat Service soldiers in Athens, 1944

Origins of the Special Forces

During the Second World War, Britain created a range of special units who undertook a variety of daring operations against the Axis Powers. The bravery and commitment of these forces has become the stuff of legend.

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Entry of the 5th Lancers into Mons, 1918

Soldiers in love: Courtship, engagement and marriage

Despite the difficulties, soldiers' affairs of the heart have flourished; some casual, others ultimately leading to engagement, marriage and a life together.

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Aden Emergency

Aden Emergency

The insurgency against British rule in the south of the Arabian Peninsula marked the end of a 20-year retreat from Empire.

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Gurkhas open fire during an attack near Palel, April 1944

Battles of Imphal and Kohima

These were the turning points of one of the most gruelling campaigns of the Second World War. The decisive Japanese defeat in north-east India in 1944 became the springboard for the subsequent re-conquest of Burma.

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British infantry vehicles advancing, Iraq, 1991

Gulf War

The war against Iraq in 1990-91 saw the largest single deployment of British troops since the Second World War. Altogether about 35,000 British servicemen and women served in the campaign.

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The Battle of El Alamein, 1942

Second Battle of El Alamein

Fought in October-November 1942, this was the climax and turning point of the North African campaign of the Second World War. The armies of Italy and Germany suffered a decisive defeat by the British Eighth Army.

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9th Hodson's Horse in General Chauvel's march through Damascus, 1918

Battle of Megiddo

Fought in September 1918, this was the climactic battle of the Sinai and Palestine campaign of the First World War. Ottoman forces found themselves encircled by British Empire forces under General Edmund Allenby.

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Battle of Prestonpans, 1745

Jacobite Risings

The Jacobites, supporters of King James II and his descendants, sought to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne. In 1715, 1719 and 1745 they tried to overthrow the ruling Hanoverian Royal Family.

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The Battle of Blenheim, 1704

War of the Spanish Succession

The campaigns of the Duke of Marlborough in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13) stopped France dominating Europe. They also brought about the first popular recognition of the British Army’s fighting powers.

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A 25-pounder of 45 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, fires at enemy positions on the Imjin, 1951

Battle of the Imjin River

Fought in April 1951 in Korea, this was the bloodiest engagement fought by the British Army since the Second World War. For three days the 29th British Independent Infantry Brigade Group thwarted massed Chinese attacks.

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Battle of Salamanca, 1812

Battle of Salamanca

The Earl of Wellington's victory at Salamanca in July 1812 defied his reputation as a purely defensive general and shattered French dominance on the Iberian Peninsula.

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Lieutenant Colonel Robert Clive at Plassey, 1757

Battle of Plassey

Robert Clive's victory at Plassey on 23 June 1757 led to the British becoming the greatest economic and military power in India.

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The storming of Magdala, 1868

Abyssinia Expedition

The 1868 expedition to Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia) was one of the most ambitious and expensive military campaigns ever undertaken by the British Army.

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