IWM Stories is a video series from the Imperial War Museums that tackles big conflict questions. From the First World War to the present day, we look at some of history's most important conflicts and examine how they were won and lost. We're sharing a brand new IWM Story on our YouTube Channel every fortnight, so make sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Falklands Conflict in the Air | Episode 3

Sea Harriers flying low over the South Atlantic

Falklands Conflict in the Air | Episode 3

In the 3rd episode of our Falklands series IWM Curator Paris Agar examines the conflict in the air. Just how big was the Argentinian advantage? How did each side change their strategy? And how did British pilots beat the odds and take control of the skies?

To answer those questions and more we take an in-depth look at the aircraft of the Falklands Conflict including the Vulcan, Pucará, Wessex and Harrier.

Watch online here >


Winston Churchill making his signature V sign
Second World War

Where does 'V for Victory' come from?

Winston's Churchill's V for Victory sign is perhaps one the most iconic of the Second World War, but where does it come from?
Clement Attlee in red and Winston Churchill in blue
Second World War

How did Churchill Lose the 1945 General Election

Winston Churchill is arguably Britain's greatest wartime leader, having led his country through its 'Darkest Hour' all the way to victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. So why, just months after VE Day, did he lose the 1945 General Election?
Adolf Hitler in front of the Eiffel Tower
Second World War

Blitzkrieg Explained

In 1940, Hitler did the seemingly impossible. Within a matter of weeks, Germany had managed to take the entirety of France and send the British army back across the channel. This remarkable success was widely put down to their new tactic: Blitzkrieg or 'Lightning War'. So, what is Blitzkrieg and why was it so effective?
The first official photograph of a Tank on the Somme
First World War

Why do tanks have genders?

On 15 September 1916, tanks were used in combat for the first time at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. These early tanks slow and unreliable, shown by the fact that only 25 of the 49 tanks deployed actually moved forward at the start of the attack. But more strangely, half of those 25 tanks were male and the other half were female. So why do tanks have genders and why do we name weapons at all?
Female workers loading crates of soap
First World War

The forgotten animals of the First World War

The First World War was the first 'total war'. That meant that every facet of each nation was focused on the war effort and that nothing was out of reach. The victims of this new global conflict stretched beyond the soldiers in the trenches and the civilians caught in the crossfire. So who were the forgotten victims of the First World War and why were they so important?  
British children with their saving certificates
First World War

How children helped pay for both world wars

Wars are expensive, world wars doubly so, and that meant governments were fighting for every penny. They raised taxes, introduced rationing, and took on loans. But after all that, they still had to borrow money from their own citizens in the form of War Bonds. So what is a War Bond and how did states their citizens, including children, to pay up?
A bomb thumbnail
Second World War

Why were Atomic Bombs Dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 brought an end to the Second World War, but at a terrible cost to the Japanese civilian population, and signalling the dawn of the nuclear age. What had led to the fateful decision to deploy these new weapons of mass destruction?
Sir Hugh Dowding in red superimposed onto a radar station
Second World War

How Hugh Dowding and the RAF won the Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain is often defined by images of Spitfires and Messerschmitts duelling in the skies. But what if the deciding factor in this fight for air supremacy was actually based on the ground? IWM Duxford Curator Craig Murray takes a look at the Dowding System and explains how it turned the battle decisively in Britain's favour.
Refugees leaving their homes in Bosnia
First World War

Why do Refugees leave their homes?

Since the First World War, countless lives have been shattered by conflict. Refugees across the globe have had to leave their homes and make journeys to settle somewhere else. This is still happening today. But what drives this displacement? Why do people leave their homes?

Observer Corps thumbnail
Second World War

How did the Observer Corps help win the Battle of Britain?

Just under 3,000 RAF aircrew risked their lives to face the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain, yet on the ground, around 30,000 volunteers formed a highly-trained network of aircraft observers working around the clock to support the men in the air.
A Group of Pilots of No. 303 Fighter Squadron
IWM CH 1533
Second World War

The Polish pilots in the Battle of Britain

The pilots who defended Britain against the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain came from across the globe. The largest foreign contingent to fight in the Battle of Britain were the Polish, and their contribution and skills during the battle have become legendary.
British soldiers ducking down in their trench
First World War

Life in the trenches of the First World War

When it comes to the First World War there's one thing that instantly comes to mind - trenches. Muddy, rat-infested hell holes with death around every corner. Places so bad that only going over the top could be worse. Trenches dominate our perspective. But are our perceptions really accurate?
Winston Churchill visiting the ruins of Coventry Cathedral
Second World War

Could the Blitz have made Britain surrender?

London, Coventry, Manchester and many more were bombed. But could the Blitz have worked? In this episode of IWM Stories, Senior Curator Ian Kikuchi answers that very question by looking at one the deadliest nights of the Blitz, the bombing of Coventry.
British troops and an armoured car in Ireland
First World War

When did the First World War really end?

What happened after World War One? What were the consequences of the First World War? When the First World War ended, Europe did not return to peace. In fact, by some estimates, the five years following 1918 were deadlier than the 4 years of war preceding it. In this week's episode of IWM Stories, Assistant Curator Geoffrey Spender takes a closer look at three of these conflicts; The Irish war of Independence, The Russian Revolution and The Greco-Turkish War.
Evacuees thumbnail
Second World War

Evacuees of the Second World War

Evacuation in Britain during the Second World War amounted to the biggest mass movement of people in British history, with around 4 million people leaving their homes to escape the Blitz. How did it feel to be an evacuee, a parent or a volunteer host?
Christmas truce thumbnail
First World War

The Christmas Truce of 1914

The photographs, letters and interviews in IWM’s collection tell the real story of the Christmas Truce. In this video, Head of Documents and Sound Anthony Richards explains how the truce came about, its impact on the course of the First World War and why it never happened again after 1914.
Wounded soldiers at the Somme
First World War

Top 10 most important battles of The First World War

Discover the 10 most important battles of the First World War from 1914-1918. From the longest, deadliest and most difficult battles of the First World War to the battles which would define nations and change warfare forever.
Animals thumbnail
Animals At War

7 Animals That Went To War

From dogs and horses to bears and pigs, animals have accompanied men and women into combat throughout history. As modes of transport and communication, protectors and companions, they have fulfilled a variety of roles at war. In this video, we take a look at seven animals that have fought and worked alongside humans on the battlefield over the past 100 years.

Nuremberg thumbnail

Nuremberg Trials: Films that brought the Nazis to justice

The Nuremberg Trials were held at the end of the war to try the leading figures of the Nazi regime. This was the first time that international leaders had attempted to put another nation on trial for war crimes, and numerous innovations were introduced in the trials, including the extensive use of film. 
Archduke Franz Ferdinand superimposed on a newspaper announcing 'War with Germany'
First World War

The causes of the First World War

By the summer of 1914, Europe was in a crisis. Just a few weeks before, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, had been assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist. Now, the continent’s largest armies were mobilising against each other with new nations joining the fight seemly every week. The world watched with bated breath as Europe marched to war. So what happened? How did a seemingly insignificant scuffle in South-Eastern Europe become a World War? And why did Britain decide to get involved?
Winston Churchill superimposed on papers showing his 'We shall fight them on the beaches' speech.
Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill's Speeches | Why are they so good?

Winston Churchill has many famous speeches. From 'We shall fight on the beaches' and 'Their finest hour', to 'Blood, toil, tears, and sweat' and 'The few', Churchill's words have shaped how we remember the Second World War. But what made his speeches so special and how did his words affect the outcome of the Second World War?
Women in WWI thumbnail
First World War

Did the First World War transform women's lives?

Delving into the IWM film and sound archives, we uncover some incredible true stories of the women who served and worked during the First World War.
Saddam Hussein, Tony Blair and George Bush superimposed onto a map of Iraq
Contemporary conflict

Iraq War 2003 Explained

In this episode of IWM Stories, Chris Cooper explores the timeline of events that led from the 9/11 terror attacks to US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair invading Saddam Hussein's Iraq. From Saddam's use of chemical and biological weapons during the Iran-Iraq War to the First Gulf War in 1991 and from the 9/11 terror attacks to UN weapons inspections the Iraq War has a long and complicated history that goes far beyond oil and weapons of mass destruction.
Libya Video Thumb
Contemporary conflict

Tim Hetherington's Photojournalism in the Libyan Revolution

The outbreak of civil war opened up Libya’s borders, and allowed many journalists to access the country for the first time in over four decades. Photojournalist Tim Hetherington travelled with anti-Gaddafi fighters across the country to document the Libyan revolution.
Adolf Hitler in Blue and Josef Stalin in Red superimposed on a map of Operation Barbarossa
Second World War

Operation Barbarossa Explained: Why Hitler failed to defeat Russia

Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Adolf Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union. Beginning in June 1941, this blitzkrieg attack on Russia and its leader Joseph Stalin would ultimately decide the Second World War. In this episode of IWM Stories, John Delaney takes a look at why Operation Barbarossa failed with the help of archive film, photographs and battle maps.
A ship loading troops from Dunkirk's harbour mole while the city burns in the background
Second World War

Why the Dunkirk evacuations were an unexpected success

The allied evacuations from Dunkirk in 1940 are often described as a miracle. After Germany's Blitzkrieg swept through France and Low Countries expectations for Operation Dynamo were dismally low, and yet over 338,000 allied soldiers were saved. So how did they do it?
Split screen with the disastrous Dieppe landings on one side and a Mulberry Harbour on the other
Second World War

Mulberry Harbours explained: The invention that kept D-Day afloat

2 years before D-Day and Operation Overlord, the Allies mounted a daring rehearsal raid on the French port of Dieppe. The attack ended in disaster, but out of its ashes came one of the greatest unsung inventions of the Second World War, one that would keep the Allies in the fight when they returned to invade Normandy: the Mulberry Harbours.

HMS Belfast and Scharnhorst thumbnail
Second World War

Battle of North Cape: HMS Belfast and the sinking of the Scharnhorst

Scharnhorst was one of the most dangerous German warships of the Second World War, and the last of her kind. In late December 1943, she was sunk, after attempting to intercept two Arctic convoys. What happened at the Battle of North Cape?
British troops going over the top superimposed onto a map of the Battle of the Somme
First World War

Who won the Battle of the Somme?

The Battle of the Somme began on the 1st of July 1916. The British army took over 57,000 casualties on the first day alone making it the bloodiest day in British military history. But who really won the Battle of the Somme? To find out we have to look at the Somme beyond the first day.
HMS Belfast in Korea thumbnail
Cold War

Korean War and HMS Belfast: The hottest point of the Cold War?

The Korean War broke out on the 25th June 1950 when communist North Korea invaded South Korea. HMS Belfast was soon in action. In her two years of service in Korea, she saw more action than at any point during the Second World War. The Korean War was primarily fought on land, so why did HMS Belfast see such intense action during this period?
British workers getting their tea at a food truck donated by the people of British Honduras
Second World War

What role did the British Empire play in the Second World War?

In 1940 the British Empire contained a quarter of the world's population and a fifth of its landmass, all of which, bar Ireland, was also at war with Germany. Far from standing alone, as the war spread across the globe, Britain relied on the people, land and resources of its Empire to continue fighting.
Big Wing thumbnail
Second World War

Was the Big Wing a bad idea?

The RAF were regularly outnumbered by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain, earning them the name of the Few. One solution to this was the Big Wing. But was the Big Wing a good idea or not?
British troops on patrol in Nowzad, Helmand, Afghanistan, July 2006.
© IWM HTF-2006-043-398

Afghanistan War: How did 9/11 lead to a 20-year war?

After 20 years of conflict, the Taliban again claim to be in control of Afghanistan. In this video, we look at how the war in Afghanistan began, what Britain’s role was, and why the war lasted for 20 years.
Weeping Frenchman looks on as German troops march past the Arc de Triomphe
Second World War

Life under Axis occupation

Almost 700 million people were under occupation during the Second World War, but their experiences varied widely depending on where they were and who they were. Some people chose to risk their lives to resist their occupiers, others chose to collaborate, and many simply tried to get on with their lives as best they could.
Poppies thumbnail
First World War

The History of the Remembrance Poppy

During the First World War, millions of soldiers saw the poppies in Flanders fields on the Western Front. Over 100 years later, the poppy is still a world-recognised symbol of remembrance of the First World War, and millions of people choose to wear a red poppy in November. But when did this tradition start? Find out in our film. 
British West Indies Regiment troops loading shells on the Western front
First World War

The black British soldiers who were deliberately forgotten

Though black units played a vital role in Allied victory in the First World War, once the war was over their contribution was deliberately forgotten in an attempt to protect the British Empire. In this episode of IWM Stories, Alan Wakefield looks at who these men were, what they did, and why they've been forgotten.

Emperor Hirohito superimposed on a map showing the oil fields in the Dutch East Indies which Japan targeted.
Second World War

Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor?

Japan attacked the U.S Pacific Fleet on the 7th of December 1941, but what led to that decision? Why did the Japanese attack the USA? - The answer is oil. In this episode of IWM Stories, Adrian Kerrison looks at why the Japanese decided to attack Pearl Harbor.
Allied bombing of Germany thumbnail
Second World War

Allied bombing of Germany

Over the course of the war, the strategic bombing campaign developed from a limited force into a weapon of immense destructive power, with hundreds of cities subjected to air attack alongside military targets. How had the bombing campaign escalated? Was strategic bombing effective? Did it actually weaken Germany’s war industries and break the German people’s morale? 
Map Room
Churchill War Rooms

The Map Room at the Cabinet War Rooms

The Map Room at the Cabinet War Rooms was staffed day and night throughout the Second World War. In this video, find out exactly went on in the top secret Map Room, who worked here, and why will some of these details will continue to remain a mystery to this day.
A map showing the furthest German during the Battle of the Bulge. Adolf Hitler is superimposed on top. The text reads: "Why the bulge failed".
Second World War

Why the Ardennes Offensive was Hitler's last

The Battle of the Bulge was Hitler’s final throw of the dice. With Germany in retreat across all fronts and a worsening situation at home, Hitler hoped to force the Western Allies out of the war. But almost nothing went to plan. German forces were able to create a bulge in the Allied line, but by the end of January that bulge was closed. In this episode of IWM Stories, curator Adrian Kerrison takes an in-depth look at the Battle of the Bulge and why it failed.
A map shows the British plan to invade the Gallipoli peninsula. Winston Churchill is superimposed on top.
First World War

What went wrong at Gallipoli?

On the 9th of January 1916, the last remaining Allied troops on the Gallipoli peninsula were evacuated. Despite catastrophic predictions, the withdrawal went off without a hitch and the entire force escaped with only a few casualties. It was the only bright spark in a campaign marked by failure. In this episode of IWM Stories, Alan Wakefield explores what went wrong at Gallipoli and why the evacuations were the only success.
A map of the Japanese attack on Singapore with British general Percival superimposed. The text reads: "Britain's biggest defeat".
Second World War

Why did Singapore fall?

On the 15th of February 1942, Lt General Arthur Percival signed the largest surrender in British history at Singapore. The city was supposed to be a fortress, but his force of 85,000 men had been defeated by just 35,000 Japanese troops. So how did the Japanese defeat a numerically superior force? Why wasn’t Singapore an impregnable fortress? And could the British have held out?
Medicine in First World War thumbnail
First World War

Medicine in the First World War

The First World War was one of the deadliest conflicts of all time: the weapons of shells, machine guns and poisonous gas used en mass for the first time resulted in a scale and severity of injuries that had never been encountered before. This video explores how the medical services evolved to meet these challenges. 
Margaret Thatcher superimposed onto a map of the Falklands with British and Argentinian flags on either side.
Cold War

Why the Falklands Conflict happened | Episode 1

In the first episode of our five-part Falklands series IWM Curator Carl Warner looks at why the Falklands Conflict happened. Why did Argentina believe they could take the Falklands without a fight? What was the invasion like? And why did Britain choose to fight for these islands 8,000 miles from home?
Falkands Conflict at Sea thumbnail
Contemporary conflict

Falklands Conflict at Sea | Episode 2

In this video, IWM Curator Alan Jeffreys tells us about the Falklands Conflict at Sea. We look at an Exocet Missile on display at IWM London and some objects that belonged to commander of a naval bomb disposal team, Nigel 'Bernie' Bruen including a scorched alarm bell from RFA Sir Tristram.


Camerman war still Projected Picture Trust

Film Favourites from the Archives

Discover our Film Favourites series in which curators talk about their highlights from IWM's vast film collection. 
Duxford videos thumbnail
IWM Duxford

Duxford in Depth

Duxford in Depth is a new video series from IWM. Get up close with some of the extraordinary aircraft and tanks on display at IWM Duxford, as we go behind the scenes and into the cockpits with our experts.
Photograph of HMS Belfast sailing from Scapa Flow

HMS Belfast and D-Day

Discover the role HMS Belfast played on D-Day.