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 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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A six-inch howitzer of 127th Siege Battery, Royal Artillery, Salonika, 1917

Salonika campaign

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.

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Indian troops passing through a communication trench on the Mesopotamian Front, 1917.

The Commonwealth and the First World War

Over 3 million soldiers and labourers from across the Empire and Commonwealth served alongside the British Army in the First World War.

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V Beach at Cape Helles, April 1915

Gallipoli campaign

Gallipoli was the first major amphibious operation in modern warfare. In 1915 British Empire and French troops landed on the Ottoman-held peninsula in the Dardanelles Straits with disastrous consequences for the Allies.

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The South African Engineer Corps bury a comrade, 1915

South-West African campaign

On 9 July 1915, enemy forces in German South-West Africa (now Namibia) surrendered to the Allies. This marked the final stage of a short but successful campaign of manoeuvre fought in extremely harsh conditions.

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Landing troops from transports at Lao Shan Bay, September 1914

Siege of Tsingtao

In the autumn of 1914, British soldiers fought alongside the Japanese in China. Their goal was the German naval base at Tsingtao, which finally fell in November after a two-month siege.

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Explore First World War events

Walking tour: Beyond the battlefield
Tour

31 May 2018, 1.45pm

£12.50

Walking tour: Beyond the battlefield

On London History Day, join our walking tour from Brompton Cemetery to the National Army Museum and discover stories of the soldiers linking the two organisations.

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Get hands-on: Military medicine in the First World War
Object Handling

5 June 2018

FREE

Get hands-on: Military medicine in the First World War

Join a curator for a free 20-minute object handling session in one of our galleries.

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Romania and the First World War
Talk

15 June 2018, 11.30am

FREE

Romania and the First World War

Military historian Major General Dr Mihail E Ionescu discusses relations between Romania and Britain during the First World War.

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Temporary display: Romania and the Great War
Exhibition

15 June 2018 - 15 July 2018

FREE

Temporary display: Romania and the Great War

Visit our temporary display exploring the Romanian experience of the First World War.

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Father's Day
Workshop

17 June 2018, 11.00am

FREE

Father’s Day

Bring your dad (and the rest of the family) and enjoy a day of free tours and activities.

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Display launch: Romania and the Great War
Late

20 June 2018, 6.00pm

FREE

Display launch: Romania and the Great War

Join us for a cultural evening launching our temporary display ‘Romania and the Great War’.

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Bluebirds of War: Canadian nurses in the First World War
Talk

6 July 2018, 11.30am

FREE

Bluebirds of War: Canadian nurses in the First World War

Dr Andrea McKenzie discusses the experiences of Canadian nurses during the First World War.

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Remembering Australians in the First World War
Talk

20 July 2018, 11.30am

FREE

Remembering Australians in the First World War

Dr Jenny Macleod explores Australia’s experience of the First World War and traces how it has been remembered ever since.

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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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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

This video explores the surprising and diverse range of soldiers from all over the Empire, Commonwealth and Dominions 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 surprising and 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 surprising and 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 surprising and 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..."