• 10.30am - 3.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London
National Army Museum
  • 10.30am - 3.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

Africa

The infantry advance at El Alamein, 1942

The infantry advance at El Alamein, 1942
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The struggle for North Africa, 1940-43

The bitter struggle that rolled back and forth across the North African desert was the first major Allied victory of the Second World War.

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Explore Africa stories

Lieutenant Jock Lewes, 1940

'Jock' Lewes: SAS mastermind

As the co-founder of the Special Air Service (SAS), Lewes played a vital role in establishing the unit’s ethos and high standards of training and discipline.

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Major David Stirling, c1942

David Stirling: The Phantom Major

Colonel David Stirling was a pioneer of British Special Forces. In 1941, he founded the Special Air Service (SAS) in Egypt to undertake small-scale raids behind enemy lines.

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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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Bagnold sun compass used by the LRDG, c1942

Desert innovator: Bagnold's sun-compass

The Long Range Desert Group were masters of navigation. They owed much of their success to the scientific talents of Major Ralph Bagnold, whose sun-compass invention revolutionised desert travel.

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Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Wavell, 1938

Archibald Wavell: Britain's first wartime victor

Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell led an imaginative and flexible campaign against the Italians in North Africa. His triumph over their vastly superior forces was Britain’s first success of the war and paved the way for later victories.

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Field Marshal Viscount Garnet Wolseley, 1910

Garnet Wolseley: The modern major-general

Field Marshal Garnet Wolseley won important victories in several colonial campaigns. Because of his reforming zeal and attention to detail the phrase ‘All Sir Garnet’ came to mean everything’s in order.

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Brass bilge-pump valve salvaged from the wreck of HMT 'Birkenhead', 1852

Women and children first

Several objects from our collection reveal a remarkable tale of self-sacrifice and steadfast military discipline during one of the 19th century’s most infamous maritime disasters.

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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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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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On patrol during the Kenya Emergency, c1955

Kenya Emergency

The Kenya Emergency, or Mau Mau Revolt, was one of the British Army's bloodiest and most controversial post-war conflicts.

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The infantry advance at El Alamein, 1942

The struggle for North Africa

The grim struggle that rolled back and forth across the North African desert from 1940 to 1943 resulted in the first major Allied victory of the Second World War.

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Lieutenants Melville and Coghill saving the Colours at Isandlwana, 1879

Zulu War

In 1879, the British fought a war against the Zulu kingdom. The Zulus resisted bravely and were only defeated after a series of particularly bloody battles that have gone down in the annals of colonial warfare.

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Explore Africa learning resources

Army and Empire
Trail

KS4-KS5 (Age 14+)

Army and Empire

Follow this gallery trail to become a documentary filmmaker exploring the British Empire in Africa.

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Commonwealth soldiers in East Africa
Video

KS3 (Age 11 to 14)

Commonwealth soldiers in East Africa

Discover the diverse range of soldiers who contributed to the British First World War effort in East Africa.

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