Formation gallery will be closed for a private event on Saturday, 29 June 2024.

  • 10.00am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London
  • 10.00am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

Soldier gallery

Soldier gallery is closed for refreshment until the end of Summer 2024. Our other galleries remain open.

Visitors in Soldier gallery

Explore the human experience of soldiering - physical, mental and emotional - throughout the Army’s history.

About the gallery

The Soldier gallery examines what it’s like to serve as a soldier, from joining up and training to daily life and returning home.

It looks at the demands of transitioning into the Army, life on campaign, the physical and psychological impact of combat, and the lasting friendships born out of shared service.

It also shows how the human experience of soldiering has remained remarkably unchanged across more than 350 years of Army history.

  • Duration: Around 45 minutes
  • Access: Via the main lift
  • Location: Floor 0
Plan your visit
‘The people in the Army are different. We seem to have a different sense of humour... The comradeship and the camaraderie – that’s why I think some people have problems going home after it all.’

Major Patsy Beesley, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps - 2013

Things to see in the gallery

Farrier’s axe, Royal Horse Guards, c1820

Farrier’s axe

Army farriers used the spike on this axe to put severely injured horses out of their misery as humanely as possible. The blade was used to chop off the deceased horse’s hoof to keep a record of animals lost in action.
'Crimean Tom', a stuffed tabby cat, c1855

Crimean Tom

Tom was a tabby cat, adopted by soldiers during the Crimean War (1854-56) and then brought home to England. Some accounts say that he helped the British uncover hidden food supplies in Sevastopol, saving many from malnutrition.
Service tunic worn by Captain George Johnson, 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Cambridge’s Own (The Middlesex Regiment) on 1 July 1916

Captain Johnson’s tunic

Johnson was wounded in the chest, pelvis and right forearm on the first day of the Battle of the Somme (1916), the bloodiest day in British Army history. You can see where medics cut away his sleeve to tend his wounds.
Wooden painted signboard from ‘Hellfire Corner’ at Ypres, 1918

Hellfire Corner

This signboard marked the infamous ‘Hellfire Corner’, a busy and dangerous road junction near Ypres in Belgium. The damage to the board is evidence of the devastating firepower that swept across this area during the First World War.
Frostbitten fingertips and toes of Major Michael ‘Bronco’ Lane, 1976

Frostbitten toes

Major ‘Bronco’ Lane took part in the first all-military expedition to climb Mount Everest. On the descent, bad weather forced him to spend the night in a snow hole. He lost all his toes and half his fingertips to frostbite.
British Army physical training shirt and running shoes worn by Kelly Holmes, c1998

Kelly Holmes’s running gear

Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes served in the Women's Royal Army Corps, and then as a physical trainer in the Adjutant General's Corps. She combined athletics with her military career, before becoming a full-time athlete in 1997.

Gallery stories

Things to do in the gallery

Children being put through their paces by the virtual drill sergeant in the Soldier gallery

Virtual drill sergeant

Do you have the parade-ground discipline to be a soldier? See if you can impress our virtual drill sergeant.
Child crawling under the Dingo Scout Car in the Soldier gallery

Dingo Scout Car

Perfect your army crawl and get a view of our Dingo Scout Car from down under.
Visitors immersed in the Soldier gallery's action theatre

Action theatre

Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of battle, and get a sense of life on the front line from individuals who experienced it first-hand.
Child interacting with the army rations table in the Soldier gallery

Rations table

An army marches on its stomach. Discover how soldiers have been fed throughout the ages with our interactive food table.

Explore further

Join the conversation

"First time @NAM_London today. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thought the presentation & interpretation made the subject accessible..."