British raiding party await the word to go, 1916

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First World War

The First World War was the first truly global conflict. From 1914 to 1918, fighting took place across several continents, at sea and - for the first time - in the air. It cost the lives of over ten million soldiers.

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Explore First World War stories

Lord Strathcona’s Horse on the march, 1918

Beauty in desolation: Munnings and the First World War

In 1918, the artist Alfred Munnings was tasked with recording the wartime contribution of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and Forestry Corps. His paintings highlight the military role of horses, capturing their beauty in the war-affected landscapes of France.

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1st Reserve Regiment of Cavalry in training, 1914

Cavalry on the Western Front

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.

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Horses carrying ammunition, c1917

Horse power in the First World War

Without its hard-working horses, the Army could not have functioned during the First World War. Their contribution included carrying and pulling supplies, ammunition, artillery and even the wounded.

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Stables of The Buffs, 1914

Army horse care in the First World War

During the First World War, the Army relied on its horses to perform a wide range of jobs. The requisition, transportation and care of these animals was therefore of huge importance.

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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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The Cenotaph in Whitehall, 1919

Peace and commemoration

After the Armistice in November 1918, millions of soldiers hoped they would soon go home. But demobilising so many troops was a huge task. How best to mark the Allied victory and commemorate the fallen also became subjects for debate.

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Celtic plaid brooch taken from the body of a Sinn Féin rebel, 1916

Easter Rising

On Easter Monday 1916, Irish nationalists launched an armed revolt against British rule in Ireland. Although quickly suppressed by the British Army, the rising was a seminal moment in modern Irish history.

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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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Warrington Road in the Ypres Salient, 1917

1917: Year of stalemate

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.

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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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Explore First World War 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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Will you join? Propaganda and recruitment
Primary workshop

3 September 2018 - 23 July 2019

FREE

Will you join? Propaganda and recruitment

Explore how advertising and propaganda work, particularly focusing on recruitment campaigns of the First World War.

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Recruitment and conscription
Secondary workshop

3 September 2018 - 23 July 2019

FREE

Recruitment and conscription

Analyse recruitment posters from the Museum's collection and multimedia recreations of First World War parliamentary debates to explore the history of Army recruitment and conscription.

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Poppies to remember?
Primary workshop

3 September 2018 - 23 July 2019

FREE

Poppies to remember?

Discover some of the stories of Remembrance held by the Museum, the evolution of the poppy as a symbol, and how it is used today.

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Mission accomplished? Comparing First World War battles
Secondary workshop

3 September 2018 - 23 July 2019

FREE

Mission accomplished? Comparing First World War battles

Investigate four key battles through primary sources and decide whether they can be considered victories or defeats.

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Alfred Munnings: War Artist, 1918
Exhibition

30 November 2018 - 3 March 2019

£6.00

Alfred Munnings: War Artist, 1918

Sir Alfred Munnings was one of Britain's most celebrated equine artists. This exhibition features over 40 original paintings from his time with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

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Behind the scenes: British cavalry and the Western Front
Workshop

5 February 2019, 6.00pm

£15.00

Behind the scenes: British cavalry and the Western Front

Join historian Allan Mallinson and curator Belinda Day for a unique insight into the British cavalry on the Western Front during the First World War.

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Horsing the British Army, 1914-18
Talk

8 February 2019, 11.30am

FREE

Horsing the British Army, 1914-18

Dr Graham Winton will discuss the challenges of supplying and caring for horses during the First World War.

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Curator tour: Alfred Munnings
Tour

14 February 2019, 11.00am

£10.50

Curator tour: Alfred Munnings

Join a curator on an hour-long tour of our exhibition, 'Alfred Munnings: War Artist, 1918'.

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Giant games for little soldiers
Workshop

16 February 2019 - 24 February 2019

FREE

Giant games for little soldiers

Step inside our life-size board game this February half-term and battle it out to see who wins.

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The Stomach for Fighting: Food and the British soldiers of the First World War
Talk

22 February 2019, 11.30am

FREE

The Stomach for Fighting: Food and the British soldiers of the First World War

Dr Rachel Duffett will discuss the role of food in the lives of soldiers on the Western Front, both as a physiological necessity and a source of psychological comfort.

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BSL tour: Alfred Munnings
Tour

23 February 2019, 2.00pm

£10.50

British Sign Language tour: Alfred Munnings

Join Edward Richards for a BSL guided tour of our major exhibition, 'Alfred Munnings: War Artist, 1918'.

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Explore First World War learning resources

Remembrance
Trail

KS1 (Age 5 to 7)

Remembrance

Follow this gallery trail to find out how and why people remember those who have served in wars.

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A soldier's life
Trail

KS2 (Age 7 to 11)

A soldier's life

Follow this gallery trail to find out what life was really like for a soldier in the First World War.

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First World War
Trail

KS3-KS5 (Age 11+)

First World War

Follow this gallery trail to become an architect designing a new memorial to those who served in the First World War.

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The story of conscription
Video

KS3 (Age 11 to 14)

The story of conscription

Explore the story of conscription from its origins before the First World War, through National Service and beyond.

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Easter Rising 1916
Video

KS3 (Age 11 to 14)

Easter Rising 1916

Watch experts from museums in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland sharing their thoughts on objects from our Easter Rising collection.

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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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Somme 1916
Video

KS3 (Age 11 to 14)

Somme 1916

Explore the story of the Somme through objects from the National Army Museum's collections.

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Do you enlist?
Video

KS3 (Age 11 to 14)

Do you enlist?

Experience some of the ways civilians were pressured to enlist during the First World War. Will you choose to hold out or opt in?

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