In the aftermath of the D-Day landings and the subsequent Allied advance across France it seemed for a fleeting moment that the end of the war in Europe might be in sight. The bloody struggles of 1944-45 eventually ended in the final defeat of Nazi Germany.
For almost two years during the Second World War (1939-45), the Allies fought a bitter struggle in Italy against a determined and skilful enemy. Far from being the ‘soft underbelly of Europe’, Italy became one of the war’s most exhausting campaigns.
Flamboyant hussar uniforms belonging to Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, demonstrate the close dynastic links between European monarchies and the tradition of foreign royals serving as honorary heads of military units.
In the First World War, the cavalry could no longer deliver the decisive charges it had performed in the past. But it continued to carry out a variety of useful roles that contributed to British success.
The Crimean War was fought by Britain, France, Turkey and Sardinia against Russia. For the British, the campaign was symbolised by military and logistical incompetence alongside the bravery and endurance of its soldiers.
In 1917, Germany adopted a defensive strategy on the Western Front to counter the growing strength of the Allies. Despite launching several offensives, and suffering heavy casualties, the Allies achieved mixed results.
Two samovars that belonged to French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte shed light on his disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812. They also show how practices like tea drinking spread through different cultures.
From 1915 to 1918, British troops were part of a multi-national Allied force fighting the Bulgarians and their allies in the Balkans. Despite harsh conditions, they eventually brought the campaign to a successful conclusion.
In August 1914, the British Expeditionary Force was sent to France. Although small when compared with the German and French armies, it was to play a role out of all proportion to its numbers. But the cost was huge, and by December 1914 it had been almost wiped out.
Marlborough’s long career as a soldier and statesmen spanned the reigns of five monarchs. His triumphs were not only due to his amazing military talents; they were also a result of politics and patronage.