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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Remembrance poetry workshop
Primary workshop

29 October 2018 - 30 November 2018

FREE

Remembrance poetry workshop

Join our poet-in-residence to develop your poetic vocabulary and powers of description taking inspiration from our First World War handling collection and archive.

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Remembrance poetry workshop
Secondary workshop

29 October 2018 - 30 November 2018

FREE

Remembrance poetry workshop

Join our poet-in-residence to develop your poetic vocabulary and powers of description taking inspiration from our First World War handling collection and archive.

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The Great War and the Middle East
Talk

16 November 2018, 11.30am

FREE

The Great War and the Middle East

Rob Johnson addresses the First World War in the Middle East, looking with a fresh perspective at the thinking that lay behind the operations there.

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Remembrance poetry writing workshop
Workshop

17 November 2018, 12.00pm

FREE

Remembrance poetry writing workshop (ages 5-8)

Join our two poets-in-residence for this family-friendly poetry writing workshop.

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A Century of Remembrance
Conference

17 November 2018, 9.30am

£12.50

A Century of Remembrance

Join us for a conference on how the First World War has been remembered over the past 100 years. Hear from an international panel of experts and learn more about how and why we remember.

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Remembrance poetry writing workshop (ages 9-12)
Workshop

17 November 2018, 2.00pm

FREE

Remembrance poetry writing workshop (ages 9-12)

Join our two poets-in-residence for this family-friendly poetry writing workshop.

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Sunday MASSive: Verdi's Requiem
Performance

18 November 2018, 7.30pm

£30.00

Sunday MASSive: Verdi's Requiem

The GAFA Arts Collective presents a series of choral concerts to mark the centenary of the 1918 influenza pandemic.

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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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