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

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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A 15-inch howitzer being prepared for action on the Somme, 1 July 1916

1916: Year of attrition

1916 witnessed two of the longest and most notorious battles of the First World War. Both resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties for both the Allies and Germans on the Western Front.

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Troops in trenches at Wulverghem, 1915

1915: Early trench battles

During 1915, the British and French undertook a series of unsuccessful attacks against the Germans on the Western Front. For both sides it was a tough learning experience.

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Landrécies, 25 August 1914

1914: Mons to Christmas

In August 1914, the British Expeditionary Force was sent to France. Although small when compared with the German and French armies, it was to play a role out of all proportion to its numbers. But the cost was huge, and by December 1914 it had been almost wiped out.

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Explore First World War events

What is Total War?
Secondary workshop

3 September 2018 - 30 July 2020

FREE

What is Total War?

Investigate the concept of Total War by tracing the steps taken to prepare for industrialised conflict in the First and Second World Wars.

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Recruitment and conscription
Secondary workshop

3 September 2018 - 30 July 2020

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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Your Country Needs You! Propaganda and recruitment
Primary workshop

3 September 2018 - 30 July 2020

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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Mission accomplished? Comparing First World War battles
Secondary workshop

3 September 2018 - 30 July 2020

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 - 30 July 2020

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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Trench medicine: Illnesses, injuries and their treatment
Secondary workshop

2 September 2019 - 30 July 2020

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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Remembrance poetry workshop
Primary workshop

23 September 2019 - 18 November 2019

FREE

Remembrance poetry workshop

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

23 September 2019 - 18 November 2019

FREE

Remembrance poetry workshop

Develop your poetic vocabulary and powers of description, taking inspiration from our First World War handling collection and archive.

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Haig's Tower of Strength: General Sir Edward Bulfin
Talk

1 November 2019, 11.30am

FREE

Haig's Tower of Strength: General Sir Edward Bulfin

Join Brigadier John Powell OBE as he discusses the significance of General Sir Edward Bulfin's military career.

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The Danger Tree
Exhibition

1 November 2019 - 5 January 2020

FREE

The Danger Tree

Immerse yourself in personal stories from the First World War with this captivating display of oil paintings and augmented reality.

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Reverend David Railton MC and the Unknown Warrior
Talk

8 November 2019, 11.30am

FREE

Reverend David Railton MC and the Unknown Warrior

Andrew Richards tells the story of the First World War chaplain who first suggested a memorial to those fallen servicemen and women with no known grave.

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Peace, poetry and poppies
Workshop

9 November 2019, 10.00am

FREE

Peace, poetry and poppies

Take time to reflect and remember at our Spotlight Saturday, which brings to life the stories of soldiers who fought in the First World War.

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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..."