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  • Chelsea, London
  • 10.00am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

First World War

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

German aerial incendiary bomb, c1917

Bombs over Britain

This aerial bomb's banged-up condition reveals something of the impact it must have made when dropped from a German airship during the First World War. Today, it forms part of an impressive display of weaponry in our Conflict in Europe gallery.

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Installing a First World War rum jar in the Conflict in Europe gallery

Mudbound: Conserving an Army rum jar

One of the items in our Conflict in Europe gallery is a rum jar unearthed from the trenches of the Western Front. Before going on display, it raised some interesting ethical questions on how to deal with dirt.

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‘Welcome to the Irish Republic, Sir!’ A British infantry patrol lost on the border with Northern Ireland, 1988

Timeline: Ireland and the British Army

The British Army has played a central role in the long history of conflict and co-operation between Britain and Ireland. Here we explore some of the key moments in this difficult but fascinating story.

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Sergeant Major James Frederick Plunkett, 2nd Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment, c1911

Lieutenant Colonel James Frederick Plunkett

James Frederick Plunkett served on the Western Front throughout the First World War. His courage, leadership and devotion to duty enabled him to rise through the ranks and become one of the most highly decorated servicemen of the war.

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‘Amar Singh - fait a Orléans’, 16 October 1914

Paul Sarrut: Interpreting the Army on the Western Front

Paul Sarrut was a French soldier who was posted to the British Army as a military liaison officer and interpreter during the First World War. Trained as an artist, Sarrut created an important visual record of the 3rd (Lahore) Division in France.

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The Royal Artillery Memorial, Hyde Park Corner, London, 1925

Honouring the fallen

After the First World War, British society had to come to terms with the loss of huge numbers of its service personnel. Across the country, people found ways to commemorate the fallen at a local and national level.

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The coffin of the Unknown Warrior borne in a wagon with a guard of Allied soldiers, 10 November 1920

The Unknown Warrior: A mystery solved

The grave of the Unknown Warrior contains the remains of an unidentified British serviceman, interred in 1920 to honour the fallen of the First World War. The selection was a secretive event and remains shrouded in mystery.

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Luck and superstition

Luck and superstition

Chance plays a significant part in deciding a soldier’s fate on the battlefield. Here we look at examples of close shaves and extraordinary escapes, and examine some of the superstitions soldiers draw on for comfort and protection.

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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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Explore First World War events

School children taking part in a Remembrance workshop
Primary workshop

1 June 2024 - 18 July 2025

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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Recruitment and conscription
Secondary workshop

1 June 2024 - 18 July 2025

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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A British medical orderly treats a wounded German soldier, c1916
Secondary (virtual)

1 June 2024 - 18 July 2025

FREE

Trench medicine: Illnesses, injuries and their treatment (virtual)

Explore artefacts and sources on the causes and treatment of injuries and illnesses on the Western Front during the First World War, and assess the impact of these innovations.

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Your Country Needs You! Propaganda and recruitment
Primary workshop

1 June 2024 - 18 July 2025

FREE

Your Country Needs You! Propaganda and recruitment

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

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School students getting to grips with the handling collection
Secondary workshop

1 June 2024 - 18 July 2025

FREE

Trench medicine: Illnesses, injuries and their treatment

Explore artefacts and sources on the causes and treatment of injuries and illnesses on the Western Front during the First World War, and assess the impact of these innovations.

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School students getting to grips with the handling collection
Secondary workshop

1 June 2024 - 18 July 2025

FREE

World at War: Soldiers of Empire

Discover more about the contributions of soldiers from the British Empire in the First and Second World Wars.

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Mission accomplished? Comparing First World War battles
Secondary workshop

1 June 2024 - 18 July 2025

FREE

Mission accomplished? Examining 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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Part of a First World War propaganda poster showing a soldier and a munitions worker
Primary (virtual)

1 June 2024 - 18 July 2025

FREE

Your Country Needs You! Propaganda and recruitment (virtual)

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

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Officers of the Indian Contingent, Hampton Court, June 1911
Talk At Museum / Online

19 July 2024, 12.00pm

FREE

The Indian Army at the Palace

Dr Tejpal Singh Ralmill shares the stories of some of the Indian Army soldiers encamped at Hampton Court Palace in the early 20th century.

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Explore First World War learning resources

Poppies and Remembrance: Gallery Trail
Trail

KS1-KS2 (Ages 5-11)

Poppies and Remembrance: Gallery Trail

Follow this gallery trail to find out more about Remembrance and the lives of soldiers during the First World War.

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History of Warfare: Gallery Trail
Trail

KS3-KS5 (Ages 11 to 16+)

History of Warfare: Gallery Trail

Follow the trail to find ten gallery objects that explore the nature of warfare and the British Army through time.

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First World War: Gallery Trail
Trail

KS3-KS4 (Ages 11 to 16)

First World War: Gallery Trail

Follow this gallery trail to find out more about the role of the British Army during the First World War.

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Outside an advanced dressing station at Tilloy-les-Mofflaines, Western Front, April 1917
Timeline

KS4-KS5 (Ages 14+)

Health and Medicine in the Army: Interactive Timeline

Uncover the history of medical developments in the British Army through this interactive timeline packed with nearly 200 sources.

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Indian Army troops travelling upstream on a barge, Mesopotamia, c1916
Timeline

KS3-KS5 (Ages 11+)

India, Empire and the Army: Interactive Timeline

Explore the history of the British Army in India and the British Empire's Indian armies through this interactive timeline packed with over 200 sources.

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Recruiting leaflet, Army Cadet Force, 1991
Timeline

KS3-KS5 (Ages 11+)

Army Cadets: Interactive Timeline

Explore the history of the British Army Cadet Force and the Combined Cadet Force through this interactive timeline. 

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Make Your Own Remembrance Wreath
Home Activity

KS1-KS2 (Ages 5 to 11)

Make Your Own Remembrance Wreath

Explore the history of the poppy and create your own remembrance wreath in this family friendly activity.

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Black Poppy
Video

KS2-KS3 (Ages 7 to 14)

BlackPoppyRose at the National Army Museum

Explore the theme of remembrance and the service of African and Caribbean men and women in the British Army with BlackPoppyRose.

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Women of the West Indies Auxiliary Territorial Service, c1944
Video

KS3-KS4 (Ages 11 to 16)

Virtual Exhibition: West Indian Soldier

Explore the history of Caribbean people in the British Army, and of the British Army in the Caribbean, through this virtual tour of the West Indian Soldier exhibition.

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Soldiers of the British West Indies Regiment, France, 1916
Timeline

KS3-KS4 (Ages 11 to 16)

West Indian Soldier: Interactive Timeline

Explore the history of Caribbean people in the British Army, and of the British Army in the Caribbean, through an interactive timeline.

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Operation Science: Supply Drop
Video

KS2-KS3 (Ages 7 to 14)

Operation Science: Supply Drop

Explore the science behind parachutes and see how well Brussel sprouts can fly in this festive-themed video.

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Operation Science: Body Armour
Video

KS1-KS2 (Ages 5 to 11)

Operation Science: Body Armour

Go behind the scenes at the National Army Museum to discover more about an unusual item in our collection.

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