MHM’s Centenary Season continues this month with a wide variety of events, exhibitions, and family activities. From a new display at the Royal Artillery Museum, to a photography exhibit at the Tate Modern tracing 150 years of conflict, there is plenty coming up to keep the history enthusiast busy.
NATIONAL HISTORIC SHIPS UK
First World War: Britain’s Surviving Vessels.
Think of the First World War at sea and Jutland and a number of other big ship actions probably spring to mind. However, the real history of the war at sea is a much richer story, incorporating not only these battles, but requisitions by the Navy, the development of new technologies, and transporting supplies to the troops on the Western Front. A few vessels even managed to continue their usual roles, seemingly relatively unscathed by the war.
National Historic Ships UK’s (NHS-UK) has developed a dedicated website telling the veteran stories of the 60 ships which took some part in the war. Each of them has a story to tell – the enormous debt owed to those who served, in whatever capacity, should never be forgotten.
If you know of other surviving vessels that played a part but we have missed, please help NHS-UK tell these stories to a wider audience.
TEL: 020 8312 8558
TATE MODERN–CONFLICT, TIME, PHOTOGRAPHY
Conflict, Time, Photography traces diverse and poignant journeys through 150 years of conflict around the world since the invention of photography.
In this moving exhibition at Tate Modern, the works are ordered according to how long after the event they were created from moments, days and weeks to decades later. Photographs taken seven months after the fire bombing of Dresden are shown alongside those taken seven months after the end of the First Gulf War. The result is the chance to make new connections while viewing the legacy of war as artists and photographers have captured it in retrospect. Tickets on sale now.
TEL: 020 7887 8888
OPENING TIMES: 26 November 2014 – 15 March 2015
LONDON CANAL MUSEUM
Waterways on the Western Front shows how the canals of Belgium saved millions from starving while in France they brought tens of thousands of wounded to safety. It explains how a tug boat owner stopped the Germans taking Dunkirk. It reveals the secret munitions port at Richborough, Kent – built in six months – which launched seagoing barges to supply the Ypres salient. It is also an opportunity to remember those who lost their lives crossing the canals in the war’s decisive battles. Film, photos and first hand testimonies vividly recreate the sheer scale of what happened and the essential role of the Royal Engineers. While keeping the waterways open, they blew bridges behind British retreats, and built new ones that took tanks into the final offensive. The exhibition also highlights the unexpected – men billeted in empty lock chambers, hospital barges for horses, and canal water purified for troops to drink.
OPENING TIMES: Open until 12 April 2015. Tuesday – Sunday 10am, to 4.30pm. Free entry to the exhibition only on the first Thursday of every month from 3.40 p.m. till 7.00 p.m.
CHAMPAGNE-ARDENNE TOURIST BOARD
To complete the picture of the Western Front, visitors to the Somme and the Chemin des Dames should follow the Front Line south-east towards Reims and the Marne. This area suffered heavily, with two major Battles of the Marne, which effectively started and ended the War, and bitter trench warfare and fighting during the Argonne and Champagne offensives.
Ruins, trenches and camps from a century ago, plus military cemeteries, monuments and museums recording the sacrifice and suffering during the conflict, are detailed in a free brochure: The First World War in the Marne. To get your copy, please email us or download from the ‘brochure/information’ section on the website.
After exploring some of these sites, take a cellar tour of one of Reims’ champagne houses, where soldiers and civilians sheltered during the war. Today the chalk tunnels and chambers are lined with millions of bottles of champagne. Why not finish your visit of the area with a glass of the world famous bubbles?
TEL: 00 33 (0)3 26 21 85 80
BATTLEFIELD TOURS (THE WAR RESEARCH SOCIETY)
Our highly acclaimed family run tours have taken thousands of people to visit the battlefields throughout the World over 30 years.
During the next four years we are organising tours to commemorate the Centenary of such battles as Neuve Chappelle, Ypres, Looks, Aras, The Somme, Vimy Ridge, Messines, Passchendaele, Cambrai, The Advance to Victory, and 100th Anniversary of Armistice in Ypres and Thiepval, as well as the 70th Anniversary of Crossing the Rhine.
Come and experience history being brought alive by our experience and caring guides, visit the grave of a loved one, and the battlefield they fought on, or simply walk in Great Granddads footsteps.
Our tours incorporate visits to Normandy Beaches, Arnhem, Nijmegen, The Dambusters Raid, Colditz Castle, Stalg Luft 3 (The Great Escape), Berlin, Auschwitz, South Africa, the Boer and Zulu Wars, Russia, Stalingrad, Jursk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Gulag Visit to Solovetski.
TEL: 0121 430 5348
OPENING TIMES: January – November
ROYAL COLLEGE OF NURSING LIBRARY AND HERITAGE CENTRE
Nurses, both military and civilian, made important contributions to the allied war effort and also sustained the principle of humanitarianism at a time when human life seemed to hold little value. On the centenary of the First World War, the Royal College of Nursing commemorates the professional nurses who worked, served and died between 1914 and 1918.
The Royal College of Nursing Library and Heritage Centre, near Oxford Circus in central London, is home to Europe’s largest nursing specific collection. In 2013 we opened an exciting new venue which includes exhibitions, a cafe and a shop as well as research space and access to our collections for all.
A series of public talks, workshops and performances, running throughout 2015, will introduce the history of First World War nursing to a general audience.
TEL: 0345 337 3368
OPENING TIMES: 9am – 7pm Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm Saturday (closed Saturdays in August). For the full event programme, see our website.
FIRST WORLD WAR: REFLECTING ON LIVERPOOL’S HOME FRONT
Running from 23 July 2014 to 1 March 2015, the exhibition will explore some of Liverpool’s lesser-known stories of the First World War, asking visitors to look at this period of history from a different perspective. Featuring a special display about Liverpool’s Black and Minority Ethnic families during the First World War, other key themes which have remained untold over the last century will be examined using historical and previously unseen images. With more than 100,000 men from Merseyside serving, the dramatic shift in social dynamics undoubtedly had an impact on many areas of daily life, such as women’s struggles to manage funds, strikes for wartime wages and working conditions, and a sustained commitment to fundraising. This thought-provoking exhibition will support the Museum of Liverpool’s First World War items already on display in the City Soldiers Gallery and From Waterfront to Western Front exhibition. Free entry.
TEL: 0151 478 4545
OPENING TIMES: Open daily 10am to 5pm. Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day & New Year’s Day
FIREPOWER – THE ROYAL ARTILLERY MUSEUM
In their own words …
By 1914, man found that he had the weapons, technology and ability to kill, maim and destroy on an industrial scale. For the first time man fought in the sky, on land, on the sea and below the waves. It was a war that touched everyone, including civilians and at its end there probably wasn’t a town, village or family that hadn’t in some way been affected by this war’s cruelty. “In Their Own Words” brings to life Gunners from different nations, separated 100 years ago by their country’s political ideology, the colour of their uniforms, or skin. Now 100 years on, as we look back upon their history and read their words, we realise that they are all united in the fact that they are all Gunners; this is their museum.
TEL: 020 8855 7755
OPENING TIMES: November 8, 2014 – November 11, 2018
THE WELLINGTON TRUST
The Wellington Trust is currently holding an exhibition to help inform and educate on the role of Hospital and Troop Ships in WW1. The war was world wide, although many people only seem aware of the horrors of the Western front. Without these Merchant ships, mostly taken up from trade by the Government, we could not have fought the war, let alone returned all those who were wounded back to their Homeland, be that in Britain, India, ANZ or elsewhere. 1/7th of the Allied troops in France came from India, 140,000 labourers were transported from China to dig trenches, carry ammunition, recover bodies from No Mans` land etc. In addition to the British troops going to France, Gallipoli,
Mesopotamia and elsewhere, there were millions of horses to be shipped, and all had to be undertaken by sea. 19 hospital ships were sunk by mine or torpedo. Visit our free exhibition to learn more or help with your research.
TEL: 020 7240 3082
Sundays and Mondays until 15 December, 11am-4.30pm
Sundays and Mondays 1 March until 1 June, 11am-5pm
Damn the Dardanelles – The Gallipoli Campaign
In the centenary year of the Gallipoli campaign, pre-eminent First World War historian, Prof Gary Sheffield, will lead you on a tour of the landing beaches and significant sites of this controversial campaign. We will visit Anzac Cove, Cape Helles and Suvla Bay, as well as the associated battlefields and cemeteries. Prof Sheffield will offer fresh insight into the campaign and will discuss topics including: military strategy and tactics, the challenges of naval warfare and amphibious landing, issues of command, and the experience of the ordinary soldiers and sailors on both sides. We will look at a variety of perspectives, not only that of the British, Australian and New Zealanders, but also of the French (the neglected ally) and the victors in the campaign, the Turks.
TEL:+44 (0) 1722 713 820
www.historicaltrips.com/damn-the-dardanelles (Tour page)
OPENING TIMES: 6-13 September 2015
BRITISH POSTAL MUSEUM & ARCHIVE
The General Post Office played a vital role in the war effort both on the home and fighting fronts. From telegram messenger boys delivering news of the fallen, to the Post Office Rifles fighting on the Western Front and the 35,000 women who stepped into the roles of men who answered the call to arms, the Post Office’s role expanded drastically during the conflict. At the heart of battlefield communication, it operated field telephones, helped in breaking codes and provided a lifeline to the many British and Commonwealth Prisoners of War across the globe. All this while still providing a regular postal service to those left behind at home.
In partnership with Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Last Post: Remembering the First World War reveals the impact the postal service played in communications, morale and social change through personal stories and fascinating objects. A touring version is available for hire. FREE ADMISSION.
TEL: 020 7354 7287
OPENING TIMES: Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron Monday-Friday 10am-5pm. Open until 27 March 2015
BIRD BATTLEFIELD TOURS
Bird Battlefield Tours specialise in friendly tours of mostly European battlefields for small groups. They visit many of the major European sites, including Waterloo, Normandy and Falaise, the D-Day Beaches, Vimy, and the Somme and Ypres battlefields. They also go to Istanbul and Gallipoli – and Caporetto and the Italian WWI Front. Art tours to Venice and Veneto are popular. A mini-bus is the preferred method of transport (not in Venice!), as it ensures access to difficult terrain and allows for a more intimate atmosphere. The tours are always informal, with no risk of being lectured to death, or suffering a slide show after dinner. In fact, lunches and dinners are an essential part of their visits to battlefields and cemeteries, as they can be stimulating occasions where historical views are taken and exchanged.
TEL: 020 8752 0956
COMMEMORATING THE CENTENARY OF WORLD WAR I AT THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM
Centrally located in the heart of England, the National Memorial Arboretum is the natural location to reflect on the sacrifices of the Great War and to learn more about the contributions made by both our armed forces and those who remained at home to keep the nation going.
With over 300 memorials and 50,000 trees, the uplifting site offers a wealth of fascinating insights into how conflicts have impacted on our society and how contemporary remembrance has developed.
World War I trails are available to help visitors navigate the site to explore memorials relating to World War I. Key memorials to visit include Shot at Dawn, Toc H and the Gallipoli memorial along with the Christmas Day Truce and Women’s Land Army memorials, both of which were dedicated in late 2014.
TEL: 01283 245 100
OPENING TIMES: The National Memorial Arboretum is free to enter and open every day except Christmas Day.
MUSÉE DE LA GRANDE GUERRE DU PAYS DE MEAUX
Devoted solely to the First World War, France’s Musée de la Grande Guerre (Museum of the Great War) showcases a unique collection of some 50,000 First World War artefacts in a purpose-built Museum that attempts to place the First World War in its 20th- and 21st-century context.
The collection is housed in over 3,000m² of purpose built permanent exhibition space. The museum’s collection is remarkably diverse, with such extraordinarily rare items as complete uniforms from most countries involved, alongside weapons and artillery, heavy equipment and objects from everyday life on the front and home front, as well as rich documentary and graphic arts collections.
The museum utilizes state-of-the-art audio-visual systems, interactive displays and current museum expertise to appeal to every visitor. Innovative scenography illustrates the great changes and upheavals in society that resulted from the War.
TEL: +33 1 60 32 14 18
OPENING TIMES: May-September 9.30am-6.30pm, October-April 10am-5.30pm
To see this guide as it appeared in issue 52 of Military History Monthly, click here.