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

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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March past of the South Persia Rifles, c1918 

Persia mission

In June 1916, a British military mission began recruiting a local force in neutral Persia. Its goal was to bolster Allied interests and prevent enemy influence in the region.

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A British officer with the Armenians, Baku, August 1918

Dunsterforce in the Caucasus

In 1918, the British assembled a handpicked unit to carry out a daring secret mission to the Caucasus. Their aim was to unify into an effective force the various anti-Bolshevik and anti-Turkish groups fighting there.

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Private William Bowyer of 1/1st Buckinghamshire Yeomanry (Royal Bucks Hussars), 1915

Senussi Revolt

During the First World War, the British position in Egypt was threatened by rebellious Senussi Bedouin tribesmen. The campaign against them took place in the unforgiving climate of the Western Desert.

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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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Explore First World War events

The evolution of military camouflage
Talk

3 August 2018, 11.30am

FREE

The evolution of military camouflage

Tim Newark discusses the history of military camouflage, with particular reference to the First World War

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100 years since the 100 Days: How the First World War transformed the Army
Talk

10 August 2018, 11.30am

FREE

100 years since the 100 Days: How the First World War transformed the Army

Join Dr Peter Johnston to discover how the First World War transformed the British Army beyond all recognition.

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Lawrence of Arabia, the Arab Revolt and the forgotten few who shaped it
Talk

17 August 2018, 11.30am

FREE

Lawrence of Arabia, the Arab Revolt and the forgotten few who shaped it

Join historian Philip Walker to explore the Arab Revolt of 1916-18.

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The development of British artillery on the Western Front
Talk

24 August 2018, 11.30am

FREE

The development of British artillery on the Western Front

Andrew Breer will discuss the development of British artillery in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Barrack Room Ballads
Performance

24 August 2018 - 26 August 2018

£15.00

Barrack Room Ballads

Marking the centenary of the end of the First World War, Youth Music Theatre UK and The Belfast Ensemble present a dynamic, new musical production inspired by the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.

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Haig's Tower of Strength
Book Signing

15 September 2018, 11.00am

FREE

Haig's Tower of Strength

Meet the author John Powell who will be signing copies of his new book, 'Haig's Tower of Strength', a biography of General Sir Edward Bulfin.

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From Messines Ridge to Moltmann: Studdert Kennedy and the Suffering God after a century
Talk

21 September 2018, 11.30am

FREE

From Messines Ridge to Moltmann: Studdert Kennedy and the Suffering God after a century

Professor Thomas O'Loughlin and Dr Stuart Bell discuss how religion was transformed by the First World War.

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Chasing the Lion: The First World War in East Africa
Talk

28 September 2018, 11.30am

FREE

Chasing the Lion: The First World War in East Africa

Robert Fleming, the National Army Museum’s Templer Study Centre Manager, discusses the First World War campaign in East Africa.

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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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