Mutinous sepoys, 1857

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Why did the Indian Mutiny happen?

In 1857, Indian soldiers rose up against their British commanders. They were joined by native rulers and thousands of ordinary people in a struggle that threatened to destroy British colonial power on the Indian subcontinent.

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Explore Empire stories

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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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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Major-General Robert Sale, c1845

Robert Sale: Fighting Bob

Major-General Sir Robert Sale served in several important campaigns on the Indian subcontinent. He skillfully commanded the besieged garrison at Jalalabad during the First Afghan War, before being killed in action in the First Sikh War.

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Field Marshal Gerald Templer, 1958

Gerald Templer: The smiling tiger

Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer commanded infantry and armoured divisions during the Second World War. He later went on to lead a successful counter-insurgency operation in Malaya.

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General Jan Smuts, 1918

Jan Smuts: The warrior-statesman

Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts successfully led troops against Britain in the Boer War. He later commanded the South African Defence Force fighting alongside British soldiers in several First World War campaigns.

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British and Gurkha troops, 1917

Egypt and Palestine campaign

The struggle against the Turks in Egypt and Palestine began with a test of endurance and engineering in harsh desert terrain. It evolved into a fast-moving mobile campaign, which resulted in Allied victory and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

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General Herbert Kitchener, 1899

Herbert Kitchener: The taskmaster

Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener was famous for colonial victories in the Sudan and South Africa. Later, he helped build Britain’s first mass army during the First World War.

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Carved figure of a sergeant of the King's African Rifles, 1917

East Africa campaign

Throughout the First World War, British Empire soldiers fought a guerrilla campaign against a small German force in East Africa. Led by Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the Germans inflicted many casualties and avoided defeat in the field.

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Turkish prisoners after General Brooking's victory at Ramadi, September 1917

Mesopotamia campaign

During 1914-18, British troops fought the Turks in Mesopotamia. After many setbacks, they finally took Baghdad in March 1917. This marked the high point of a long and tragic campaign fought in a harsh climate.

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The Nigerian Regiment Artillery with a field gun,

West Africa campaign

In February 1916, the Allies finally completed the conquest of Germany’s West African colonies. One of the First World War’s forgotten sideshows, this campaign was fought in hostile terrain and disease-ridden jungles.

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Indian troops passing through a communication trench on the Mesopotamian Front, 1917.

The Commonwealth and the First World War

Over 3 million soldiers and labourers from across the Empire and Commonwealth served alongside the British Army in the First World War.

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Explore Empire events

What is Total War?
Secondary workshop

3 September 2018 - 23 July 2019

FREE

What is Total War?

Investigate the concept of Total War by tracing the steps taken to prepare an individual for industrialised conflict in the First and Second World Wars.

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Seven Years War
Secondary workshop

3 September 2018 - 23 July 2019

FREE

Seven Years War

What was the Seven Years War and why is it known by so many different names? Use historical and geographical evidence to investigate the legacy of the conflict.

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The Indian 'Mutiny'?
Secondary workshop

3 September 2018 - 23 July 2019

FREE

The Indian 'Mutiny'?

Analyse evidence from documents and artefacts, then curate an exhibition to make a case for whether the conflict was a mutiny or war of independence.

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A Gurkha Odyssey: 200 years' service to the British Crown
Talk

7 December 2018, 11.30am

FREE

A Gurkha Odyssey: 200 years' service to the British Crown

Lieutenant General Sir Peter Duffell recounts the history, character and spirit of the loyal and dedicated Gurkha soldiers.

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Imperial trophies: Collecting on campaign during the reconquest of the Sudan
Talk

21 December 2018, 11.30am

FREE

Imperial trophies: Collecting on campaign during the reconquest of the Sudan

Join Nicholas Badcott as he shares his research into the trophies and souvenirs collected during the Sudan campaign of 1896-99.

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Explore Empire 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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Take a view on soldiers
Video

KS3 (Age 11 to 14)

Take a view on soldiers

Explore the real people performing a soldier's tasks, their reasons for joining and the lasting impact it can have on their lives.

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Take a view on the army's role
Video

KS3 (Age 11 to 14)

Take a view on the army's role

Explore what the army does and why; from fighting in sometimes contentious conflicts to the specialist support and skills it can provide.

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Commonwealth soldiers in Palestine
Video

KS3 (Age 11 to 14)

Commonwealth soldiers in Palestine

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

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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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Commonwealth soldiers on the Western Front
Video

KS3 (Age 11 to 14)

Commonwealth soldiers on the Western Front

Discover the diverse range of soldiers who contributed to the British First World War effort on the Western Front.

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Commonwealth soldiers at Gallipoli
Video

KS3 (Age 11 to 14)

Commonwealth soldiers at Gallipoli

Discover the diverse range of soldiers who contributed to the British First World War effort at Gallipoli.

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