First World War

Elsie Knocker (left) and Mairi Chisholm in Pervyse, Belgium in 1917.
IWM Q2663
Women In Wartime
5 Inspirational Stories Of Women In The First World War
From ambulance drivers to translators, women served Britain in a variety of ways during the First World War. Discover their stories now.
Sommerschau über Europa 1915 [Summer Show over Europe 1915]
IWM (Art.IWM PST 6966)
First World War
5 Things You Need To Know About The First World War
Over 30 nations declared war between 1914 and 1918. Over 65 million men volunteered or were conscripted to fight in mass citizen armies and an estimated 16 million soldiers and civilians were left dead and countless others physically and psychologically wounded. 
German infantry crossing the Place Charles Rogier in Brussels as civilians look on following the invasion of Belgium, August 1914.
First World War
How The World Went To War In 1914
On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife were assassinated by a Serbian-backed terrorist. 

Second World War

Churchill waving to crowds in Whitehall, London, as they celebrate VE Day, 8 May 1945.
© IWM (H 41849)
Second World War
How Churchill Led Britain To Victory In The Second World War
Winston Churchill became Britain's prime minister on 10 May 1940. As he was later to write: 'I felt...that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial'. On the very day that Churchill fulfilled his life's ambition, Germany had, that morning, invaded France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Lieutenant Vernon R Richards of the 361st Fighter Group fliying his P-51 Mustang (B7-R, serial number 44-13357) nicknamed "Tika IV".
© IWM (FRE 6210)
Second World War
15 Rare Colour Photographs from The Second World War
Here are 15 of the images that survived from The Second World War, revealed for the first time and in great detail the world as the people in them would have seen it.
Adolf Hitler at the annual harvest festival at Bückeberg in 1934.
© IWM (MH 11040)
Second World War
How Europe Went To War In 1939
The Second World War was the most destructive conflict in human history. Years of international tension and aggressive expansion by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany culminated in the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939. Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later.

Cold War

Berlin Wall
© Crown copyright. IWM (CT 2229)
Cold War
What was the Berlin Wall and how did it fall?
At the end of the Second World War, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation under the control of the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union.
IWM (A 35119)
Britain And The Commonwealth Since 1945
A Short History Of The Aden Emergency
In 1839 Britain captured the town of Aden (now part of Yemen) in the south of the Arabian Peninsula.
Sound Room
© IWM (DC 936)
Cold War
Life On Board A British Nuclear Submarine
The dangerous and claustrophobic life on board a submarine required the ship's company of 120 men to work as a close team.

D-Day

The Supreme Command of the Allied Expeditionary Force, 1944
© IWM (TR 1629)
Second World War
Why D-Day Was So Important to Allied Victory
The invasion of northern France in 1944 was the most significant victory of the Western Allies in the Second World War. The German Army suffered a catastrophe greater than that of Stalingrad, the defeat in North Africa or even the massive Soviet summer offensive of 1944.
Looking down the quayside following the D-Day landings, with military personnel and vehicles, including a bicycle. French Tricolores and Union Jacks are hanging from buildings. A rifle and grenades lie in the gutter.
D-Day
This War Artist Captured D-Day in Stunning Watercolours
Anthony Gross was among the first artists to be commissioned as a British official war artist in the Second World War. He was also one of the longest serving. In 1944, Gross returned to Britain in time to witness the build-up to the momentous D-Day landings. 
Troops of the US 7th Corps wading ashore on Utah Beach.
IWM (EA 51048)
Second World War
The 10 Things you Need to Know about D-Day
On D-Day, 6 June 1944, Allied forces launched a combined naval, air and land assault on Nazi-occupied France. Codenamed Operation 'Overlord', the Allied landings on the Normandy beaches marked the start of a long and costly campaign to liberate north-west Europe from German occupation.

The Holocaust

Captain A W L Paget MC and Second Lieutenant P R J Barry MC of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards reading news of the Armistice to their men at Maubeuge, 12 November 1918.
Holocaust
Artists' responses to the Holocaust
The artworks shown here explore a range of reactions to the Holocaust – from the deeply personal responses of survivors to the more documentary approach of official war artists recording the sights of Bergen-Belsen after its liberation in April 1945.
There are two main portraits showing a woman and a man with their heads covered facing the viewer, but inclining their heads towards each other. In the lower left corner there are two other, smaller faces also facing the viewer. In the upper right corner of the canvas the face of a mother with a child is visible. The child's face partially obscures the mother's downcast face.
Transport, 1974, by Roman Halter. © artist's estate.
Holocaust
Ghettos In The Holocaust
After the Nazis occupied Poland in 1939, they began segregating Jews in ghettos, usually in the most run-down area of a city. By mid-1941, nearly all Jews in occupied Poland had been forced into these overcrowded districts.
A passer-by giving money to two destitute children on the street in the ghetto.
© IWM (HU 60653)
Holocaust
Daily Life in the Warsaw Ghetto
On 2 October 1940, Ludwig Fischer, Governor of the Warsaw District in the occupied General Government of Poland, signed the order to officially create a Jewish district (ghetto) in Warsaw. It was to become the largest ghetto in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Women in Wartime

Shop for Machining 15-inch Shells: Singer Manufacturing Company, Clydebank, Glasgow, 1918
© IWM (Art.IWM ART 2271)
Women In Wartime
12 Things You Didn't Know About Women In The First World War
The First World War brought many changes in the lives of British women. It is often represented as having had a wholly positive impact, opening up new opportunities in the world of work and strengthening their case for the right to vote. The reality is more complex. 
Officers of the Women Police Service led by Inspector Mary Allen, a former suffragette, maintain order at the Women’s War Work Exhibition, Knightsbridge, London, May 1916
First World War
British Women Photographers Of The First World War
The contribution of British women to First World War photography has received little attention in comparison to that of later conflicts. 
Women's Canteen at Phoenix Works, Bradford 1918, by Flora Lion
IWM ART 4434
Women In Wartime
6 Stunning First World War Artworks By Women War Artists
The first British official war artists’ scheme was set up by the government in 1916. Although several female artists were approached either by the British War Memorials Committee or the Ministry of Information, none of them completed commissions for the official schemes.

Contemporary Conflict

This image from The Exodus shows an inflatable dinghy, crowded with refugees and migrants, as it is pulled ashore on the island of Lesbos.
© Sergey Ponomarev for the New York Times
Syria
Photographing the Refugee Crisis
Over the course of five months Sergey Ponomarev followed refugees across Europe, recording their border crossings and struggles to reach their destinations.
A cyclist watches a fire caused by the explosion of a mortar shell
© Sergey Ponomarev
Contemporary conflict
Reporting from Syria
Pulitzer-prize winning photographer Sergey Ponomarev has covered subjects ranging from daily life in his homeland of Russia to conflicts including the Libyan civil war and combat in Afghanistan. 
Jamal Penjweny Saddam is Here 2009–10 Photograph Courtesy the artist and Ruya Foundation
Jamal Penjweny Saddam is Here 2009–10. © Photograph Courtesy the artist and Ruya Foundation
Contemporary conflict
The Complex Legacy of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein led Iraq from 1979 to 2003. During his rule he projected an image of himself as Iraq’s most influential leader and a courageous moderniser, but at the same time his repressive regime killed thousands of people.

Cabinet War Rooms

Second World War
How Sugar Cubes Reveal Churchill War Rooms Well Preserved Past
When IWM took over the Churchill War Rooms in the early 80s, three sugar cubes were discovered, hidden away in a desk drawer of the Map Room.
A caricature of Adolf Hitler drawn onto a map in the Chiefs of Staff Conference Room . © IWM SITE CWR 456.
Winston Churchill
9 Secrets from Churchill War Rooms
Churchill's War Cabinet met in the Cabinet War Rooms 115 times, mostly during the Blitz and the later German V-weapon attacks. They were in use 24 hours a day until 16 August 1945. These rooms are now open to the public and can be visited today as part of as part of Churchill War Rooms.
Weather news board in Churchill War Rooms
IWM HU 43777
Second World War
A Short History of The Cabinet War Rooms
During the Second World War, a group of basement offices in Whitehall served as the centre of Britain’s war effort. The complex, known as the Cabinet War Rooms, was occupied by leading government ministers, military strategists and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Battle of Britain

Supermarine Spitfire Mk I of No. 19 Squadron at Fowlmere in Cambridgeshire, 21 September 1940.
© IWM (CH 1447)
Second World War
9 Iconic Aircraft From The Battle Of Britain
Learn about the RAF Fighter Command’s aircraft during the Battle of Britain from the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane, to the Bf 109 (named the best fighter in the world), the 'Flying Pencil' and the infamous ‘Stuka’.
The Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF): Aircraftwomen learning how to handle a barrage balloon at the training station at Cardington.
Battle of Britain
Support from the Ground in the Battle of Britain
Around 3,000 pilots fought in the Battle of Britain, but thousands of other people helped defend Britain in the summer of 1940.
Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park (1892-1975)
Battle of Britain
Who's Who in the Battle of Britain
Learn more about the men who played a vital role in Britain’s struggle for survival in the summer of 1940, including Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park, Hermann Göring, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, Sydney Camm and R J Mitchell.

Afghanistan

David David Cotterrell, Gateway II, 2009 Courtesy of Danielle Arnaud Gallery and the artist
David David Cotterrell, Gateway II, 2009 Courtesy of Danielle Arnaud Gallery and the artist
Afghanistan
David Cotterell on Making Art in Afghanistan
David Cotterell went to Afghanistan in 2007, spending time with British forces and documenting the medical treatment of casualties and their journey away from the front line to medical treatment back in the UK.
IWM (LAND-02-012-0452)
Afghanistan
11 Photos from the Day International Football Returned to Afghanistan
On 15 February 2002, a landmark football match took place at the Olympic Stadium in Kabul, Afghanistan. A local team, Kabul United, played members of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in front of more than 30,000 spectators.
John Lorimer
©IWM
Contemporary conflict
Afghanistan and the British Military
In spring 2014, IWM staff visited Afghanistan as part of IWM's Contemporary Conflicts Programme. In the individual accounts presented here, senior Army officers reflect on how the war in Afghanistan has affected the British military.

Gallipoli

French Soldiers
First World War
13 Rare Photos Of The Gallipoli Campaign
In contrast to the official photographs of the Gallipoli campaign, taken by British photographer Ernest Brooks, these images show a more personal pictorial record of the campaign. 
British troops and their artillery guns being evacuated from Suvla Bay on rafts in daylight, December 1915.
© IWM (Q 13637)
First World War
Voices of the First World War: Gallipoli
Episode 14: At dawn on 25 April 1915, Allied troops landed at Gallipoli and spent months on the small peninsula of land guarding the Dardanelles Straits in modern-day Turkey. Hear soldiers recall what conditions there were like during some of the fiercest fighting of the war.
Officers of a Field Ambulance at their mess, Gully Beach
Audio: Joe Guthrie interview © IWM (IWM SR 13038)
First World War
Nine Reasons Why Gallipoli Was One Of The Worst Fronts Of The First World War
Of all the varied parts of the world where British and Commonwealth forces were deployed during the First World War, Gallipoli was remembered by its veterans as one of the worst places to serve.

Fashion

Women walk down a London street during the Second World War in 1941.
Fashion
How Clothes Rationing Affected Fashion In The Second World War
Clothes were rationed in Britain from 1 June 1941. This limited the amount of new garments people could buy until 1949, four years after the war's end. Despite the limitations imposed by rationing, clothing retailers sought to retain and even expand their customer base during the Second World War.
2. Take advice from Mrs Sew and Sew
Second World War
10 Top Tips For Winning At 'Make Do And Mend'
The Second World War saw unprecedented government intervention into everyday life on the British home front. Clothes rationing began on 1 June 1941. Handmade and hand-repaired clothing became an essential part of wartime life. 
joan_and_stanley_lewis_-_married_in_1947
© IWM
Wartime Fashion
What To Wear To A Wartime Wedding
Rationing, restrictions and the uncertainty of the Second World War were just some of the challenges faced by couples marrying in wartime. But despite wartime privations, these couples made their big days special with help of families, friends and their communities. 

Home Front

Home front
20 Incredible Photos from the First World War Home Front
Many in Britain, as in the other warring nations, expected the First World War to be a short one. In the event, the war was to last for over four years and it would change the cultural, economic, political and social fabric of Britain forever.
'Dr Carrot', a bright orange bespectacled carrot, skips left to right carrying a top hat and a doctor's briefcase marked 'Vit- A'. text: DOCTOR CARROT the Children's best friend.
Second World War
11 Amazing Home Front Posters From The Second World War
From 'A handkerchief in time saves nine' to 'Plan ahead - allow for growing', the Home Front posters of the Second World War give a fascinating insight into life in Britain during the Second World War.  
A service at a street shrine outside St Agnes' church in Acton Lane, London. Street shrines became an increasingly common expression of remembrance for the dead, particularly in working class areas, as the casualty list lengthened during and after the Battle of the Somme.
First World War
Voices of the First World War: Life On The Home Front
Episode 35: The First World War had a profound effect on the lives of civilians. In Britain, people found themselves being gradually drawn into a conflict that had, at first, seemed remote. Hear about the main ways the war affected civilians.