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

Second World War

British troops practising for D-Day, 1944
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Second World War

The Second World War took place between 1939 and 1945 and was the bloodiest conflict in human history. It split the world's nations into two opposing military alliances, the Allies and the Axis Powers.

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Explore Second World War stories

Detail from 'Troops of the Royal West African Frontier Force in the Arakan, Burma, 1944'

Troops of the Royal West African Frontier Force in the Arakan, Burma, 1944

This painting by Captain Hugh Micklem depicts West African soldiers on campaign in Burma (now Myanmar) during the Second World War.

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Rex Whistler’s self-portrait, May 1940

Rex Whistler’s self-portrait, May 1940

This self-portrait is one of many depictions of Second World War soldiers on display at the National Army Museum. Here, we take a closer look at the painting to discover more about Whistler's life as an artist and soldier.

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Gerry Chester, during training with the Royal Tank Regiment, c1942

Sergeant Arthur ‘Gerry’ Chester

Gerry Chester served with the tanks of the North Irish Horse in North Africa and Italy during the Second World War. Like other tankmen, he forged a close bond with his crew mates, with whom he endured many hardships and combat actions.

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Section Leader Mary Oldnall of the ATS working electrical apparatus, Shoeburyness, c1941

Hidden voices: Mary Coomer

The voice of Mary Coomer, who served in the ATS during the Second World War, was recently discovered in the National Army Museum's collection of oral history interviews. This is her story, in her own words.

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Valerie Erskine Howe, Auxiliary Territorial Service, on a motorbike, c1944

Hidden voices: Valerie Erskine Howe

What would you do if your partner told you to get out there and 'learn about life' before they would marry you? Valerie Erskine Howe opted to join the Army... in the middle of a war. This is her story.

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3rd County of London Crusader tank and crew, Libya, 1941

The Sale Collection: Operation Crusader

In the fourth instalment, we explore the wartime exploits of the 3rd County of London Yeomanry in 1941. During this time, the men of the unit underwent a baptism of fire in the Libyan desert.

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3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) keeping fit on board HMT 'Orion' en route to Egypt, 1941

The Sale Collection: Voyaging to war

In the third instalment, we explore the exploits of the 3rd County of London Yeomanry in 1941 as they travel around Africa en route to the desert war in Egypt and Libya.

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Civilians gathered around British tanks, Hamburg, May 1945

The Army and the occupation of Germany

Following their victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, the Allies were faced with administering a country in ruins. British soldiers had a leading role in this, helping to hunt war criminals, rebuild industry and help displaced persons.

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Levison Wood (left) with his dad Lev Wood Senior

Levison Wood: My Grandfather’s War

Author and explorer Levison Wood discovers the story of his grandfather's wartime service in Burma through family memorabilia and National Army Museum archives.

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Mapping the Far East Campaign

Mapping the Far East campaign

This video provides a brief summary of the battles fought in the air, on sea and on land during the Far East campaign of the Second World War. It also examines how we remember these events today.

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Japanese flag captured by 6th Battalion, 5th Mahratta Light Infantry, 1945

Japanese good luck flags

A collection of flags captured during the Second World War sheds light on the tough close-quarter combat of the Burma campaign and provides some rare insights about soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.

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‘The 1st Cruiser’, 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), Surrey, November, 1940

The Sale Collection: Preparing for action

In the second instalment, we explore the wartime exploits of the 3rd County of London Yeomanry in 1940-41. During this time, the unit prepared for overseas deployment, training hard and getting to grips with a variety of armoured vehicles.

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Explore Second World War events

Foe to Friend: The British Army in Germany since 1945
Exhibition

12 September 2020 - 1 September 2024

FREE

Foe to Friend

More than a million British soldiers have lived and served in Germany over the past 75 years. Follow their evolution from conquerors and occupiers to allies and friends.

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London in the Second World War: The Blitz
Primary workshop

8 January - 19 July 2024

FREE

London in the Second World War: The Blitz

Explore historic artefacts to discover more about the Blitz and the people who worked to keep civilians safe.

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School students getting to grips with the handling collection
Secondary workshop

8 January - 19 July 2024

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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A clergyman and Civil Defence workers helping to clear the debris of a London school, 1940
Primary (virtual)

8 January - 19 July 2024

FREE

London in the Second World War: The Blitz (virtual)

Explore historic artefacts to discover more about the London Blitz and the people who worked to keep civilians safe.

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Sister Evelyn Morgan character actor
Performance At Museum

25 February 2024

FREE

Soldier Stories: Sister Evelyn Morgan

Meet characters, both real and imagined, from the Army’s past and hear their amazing stories in our galleries.

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Soldiers crossing a parade ground in Sialkot, 1942
Talk At Museum / Online

8 March 2024, 12.00pm

FREE

Doctrine and Training in the Indian Army

Dr Alan Jeffreys of the National Army Museum highlights how the Indian Army was shaped by its training and doctrine in the Second World War.

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A still from the film 'The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp', showing the lead character
Screening At Museum

23 March 2024, 1.45pm

£18.00

Soldiers on Screen: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Join us for a screening of the wartime satire 'The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp'. Afterwards, a panel of experts will be exploring the film's themes and examining its impact.

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Airborne troops synchronising their watches before the invasion, 5 June 1944
Members Only At Museum

27 March 2024, 6.00pm

FREE

Ham and Jam: Members Talk

Join us for an exclusive members-only talk with Dr Andrew Wheale, discussing his award-winning book 'Ham and Jam: 6th Airborne Division in Normandy'.

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A graphical composite image representing the event
Talk At Museum

20 April 2024, 11.00am

FREE

The 2nd Dorset Regiment at the Battle of Kohima

Christopher Jary discusses the role of the 2nd Dorset Regiment at the Battle of Kohima in 1944.

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A graphical composite image representing the event
Talk At Museum

20 April 2024, 12.00pm

FREE

The Transformation of the Indian Army

Dr Alan Jeffreys examines the transformation of the Indian Army over the course of the Second World War.

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A graphical composite image representing the event
Talk At Museum

20 April 2024, 12.00pm

FREE

The Jungle War

Hannah Watson speaks to Robert Lyman about her new book for young readers set in the jungles of Burma in 1942-43.

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A graphical composite image representing the event
Talk At Museum

20 April 2024, 2.00pm

£12.50

Operation Ha-Go: Britain’s First Victory in Asia

James Holland sheds light on the bloody Battle of the Admin Box, which was fought in Burma in February 1944.

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Explore Second World War learning resources

Second World War: Gallery Trail
Trail

KS3-KS4 (Ages 11 to 16)

Second World War: Gallery Trail

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

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The Blitz: Gallery Trail
Trail

KS2 (Ages 7 to 11)

The Blitz: Gallery Trail

Follow this gallery trail, accompanied by ATS servicewoman Shirley Hamilton, to find out more about the Blitz.

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Auxiliary Territorial Service personnel operating anti-aircraft defences, c1940
Quiz

KS2 (Ages 7 to 11)

Britain and the Blitz in the Second World War: Quiz

Put your knowledge of the Blitz to the test in this interactive quiz.

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'The Divided Dominion', poster, published 21 June 1947
Video

KS3-KS4 (Ages 11 to 16)

The Partition of India: A Poetic Retelling

Discover more about the Partition of India and the events leading up to it through this poetry film, featuring archival images and original epic poetry.

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British soldiers and locals watch the burning of Belsen, May 1945
Video

KS3-KS4 (Ages 11 to 16)

The Liberation of Bergen-Belsen

Uncover the story of the Army’s liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the tail end of the Second World War in Europe.

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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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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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Members of the Coldstream Guards during an infantry exercise in Germany, c1977
Timeline

KS4-KS5 (Ages 14+)

Britain, the Army and the Cold War: Interactive Timeline

Explore the British Army’s role in the Cold War through this interactive timeline packed with over 100 sources. 

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Let's Talk Tanks
Video

KS2 (Ages 7 to 11)

Let’s Talk Tanks

Set off on a mission to find out more about the everyday lives of tank crews during the Second World War in this family friendly video.

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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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Shirley Hamilton: ATS Servicewoman
Video

KS2-KS3 (Ages 7 to 14)

Shirley Hamilton: ATS Servicewoman

Explore the contribution of Caribbean women who joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during the Second World War.

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