The Sound Archive holds over 33,000 recordings relating to conflict since 1914. This consists of the largest oral history collection of its type in the world, with contributions from both service personnel and non-combatants as well as significant holdings of speeches, sound effects, broadcasts, poetry and music.

The range of material collected is vast with the bulk of the collection comprising of oral history recordings with veterans of the First and Second World Wars. There is also substantial material relating to Britain and the Empire in the inter-war period 1919-1939, conflicts since 1945 and the Holocaust. Interviewees are largely drawn from Great Britain, the former Empire and the Commonwealth, but there are a number of recordings with Europeans and Americans as well.

Broadcast material includes all surviving BBC recordings from the Second World War, speeches from twentieth-century personalities and the unedited sound from the ground-breaking series ‘Great War’ and ‘World at War’.

We are extremely grateful to the Western Front Association, who funded digitisation of the majority of IWM's First World War sound recordings, thereby widening public access to this important historical resource.

Related Objects

Caroline Rennles 566 TS

Curator's Choice: Caroline Rennles

As part of a season of exhibitions and events commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War in 1918, IWM featured 32 voices from the IWM Sound Archive in a sound installation called ‘I Was There: Room of Voices’.  Caroline Rennles, born in Camberwell, London in 1899, vividly recalls her experiences as a shell filler at Slade Green munitions factory, where she began working in 1916.