The best military history websites, online exhibitions, and digital courses
With the pandemic closing museums and galleries for the foreseeable future, Military History Matters has compiled a guide to some interesting websites you can check out from the comfort of your own home. Click on the links below to find out more.
Virtual Tour: Churchill Cabinet War Rooms
Imperial War Museum, London
Churchill’s secret underground headquarters may have closed to visitors, but you can still enjoy the virtual tour recently launched by the Imperial War Museum.
Built underneath Whitehall in 1938 and opened just a week before the German invasion of Poland, the War Rooms saw constant use through the following six years and became ‘a global hub of information on the war’.
Click the link above to explore in full the offices and meeting rooms where the Prime Minister and his key advisors made decisions that changed the course of history.
Although it may not quite compensate for the lack of a real-life visit, you can still glide seamlessly through the many chambers and corridors that make up this historic site.
The First World War in Focus
The National Army Museum, London
The sheer scale of the First World War is often hard to comprehend, as are the consequences the conflict had for individual soldiers and their families.
Launched to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the National Army Museum’s dedicated website is an excellent resource, allowing the visitor to explore the conflict from the perspective of the men and women on the ground.
Highlights include a clickable map of the war’s many fronts, with detailed information on battles – large and small – and the soldiers who fell on the front line.
Visitors can spend many hours exploring this repository of wartime stories, interactive features, and other media.
The Poster: Visual Persuasion in WWI
National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City
James Montgomery Flagg’s poster of Uncle Sam with the caption ‘I Want You for US Army’ is an iconic image of American involvement in World War I.
In this vivid online exhibition, visitors can view a wide variety of striking propaganda from the conflict.
These minor works of art appealed to very different emotions – including a sense of duty, love, and fear – often all at once, and were astonishingly successful at convincing Americans to fight.
‘Posters literally deluged the country’, one commentator said. This exhibition illustrates why.
ONLINE COURSE: From Waterloo to the Rhine: the British Army 1815-1945
This course promises to teach its students all about the evolution of the British Army, from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the climax of World War II.
Developed by historians from the University of Kent in cooperation with the National Army Museum, the course requires four hours of study a week for four weeks, and is entirely free. No prior experience or qualifications are necessary.
ARCHIVE: The 1939 Register
The National Archives
The 1931 census for England and Wales was destroyed by a fire, and no census was taken in 1941 because of the war.
Thus the 1939 Register – later used to produce identity cards, ration books, and conscription information – is an invaluable source of data regarding the population of England and Wales just as WWII began.
COLLECTION: Hundred Years’ War objects
Royal Armouries Collection
The Hundred Years’ War between 1337 and 1453 could be more accurately described as a series of separate battles, sieges, and raids on both land and sea between the English and French.
The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds has a particularly impressive collection of items from this period, including armour, early artillery, and projectile weapons. Explore how the technology evolved in this fully digitised and highly accessible site.
This article was published in the June/July 2020 issue of Military History Matters. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.