Military history

Whether you’re looking for an ancestor in the military or interested in historic conflicts, experts from The National Archives and elsewhere offer an authoritative take on military matters.

  • Audio contentAdvertising material for Tuphine Footballs (catalogue reference COPY 1/285)

    ‘Over the top: a foul a blurry foul’ – the first football charge of the First World War

    Our collection of First World War records is one of the largest in the world. It includes, among many other documents, service records, letters, diaries, maps and photographs.  Part of Britain’s folk memory of the First World War is of […]

  • Video contentPathe film

    ‘Climbing The Greasy Pole’, a First World War cartoon

    Each month the Education team’s film of the month series highlights a Pathé film relating to current events, anniversaries, key topics that you may be covering in the classroom or just something interesting that we’ve found. This month’s film shows […]

  • Audio contentD H60 moth two seater aircraft design and test, 1925-1928 (catalogue reference AVIA 8/133)

    Big Ideas: Innovation in the Air Force

    Ross Mahoney’s talk is based on sources ranging from operational records held by The National Archives to some of the personal recollections found at other archival institutions and in the memoirs of retired officers. By bringing these together he highlights […]

  • Audio contentBattle of Waterloo, by Paul Jayet, 1884 (catalogue reference COPY 1/367)

    Waterloo men: the records of Wellington’s Waterloo army

    By taking two men who fought at Waterloo and exploring how different records bring their careers to life, Carole Divall demonstrates the hidden stories that can be found within army records. Carole Divall is a former teacher and now researches, […]

  • Audio contentDunkirk: from disaster to deliverance, by Sinclair McKay

    Dunkirk: from disaster to deliverance

    Drawing on fresh new interviews with Dunkirk veterans – soldiers and sailors – plus unseen private correspondence and diaries, author Sinclair McKay delves into a pivotal historical moment and beneath the myth. The story of how a raggle-taggle flotilla of […]

  • Audio contentSikh sepoys, non-commissioned and Indian Officers in uniform and mufti (catalogue reference CN 4/8)

    One in six: the South Asian contribution to the First World War

    One hundred years ago, undivided India provided Britain with a massive volunteer army in its hour of need. From 1914-1918 close to 1.5 million Indians served, fighting in all the major theatres of war, from Flanders’ fields in Belgium to […]

  • Audio contentSikh sepoys, non-commissioned and Indian Officers in uniform and mufti (catalogue reference CN 4/8)

    India in the First World War

    The National Archives’ principal military specialist William Spencer is joined by Brigadier Brian McCall, defence advisor in the British High Commission in New Delhi, Squadron Leader Rana Chhina, with the United Service Institution of India in New Delhi, Dr Santanu […]

  • Audio contentFootballers (catalogue reference COPY 1/260 (32))

    A game for Christmas: Football on the Western Front, December 1914?

    Any mention of football and the First World War will evoke the Christmas Truce of 1914 and the football match played in No Man’s Land. At the time many denied that a truce had occurred, let alone a football match […]

  • Audio contentChesham War Memorial, Buckinghamshire

    Putting it all together: using archives to discover your community’s involvement in the First World War

    The names of the First World War dead are there for all to see, on war memorials all over the country. Many individuals and groups are researching the stories behind the names, but what about delving even deeper? There is […]

  • Audio contentWar Diary page 11th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, March 1918 (catalogue reference

    Webinar: Tracing British battalions or regiments during the First World War

    Unit war diaries, trench maps and photographs are just some of the sources held in The National Archives. This webinar looks at how to find these records and how to use them. David Langrish graduated in War Studies from the […]

  • Audio contentCrimean War: Major Stokes and group of Anglo-Turkish soldiers (catalogue reference WO 78/1078)

    Webinar: Army musters – more than just accounts

    This webinar looks at how the army accounted for the money it spent on its personnel and what you can discover in the records in addition to financial costs. William Spencer is The National Archives’ Principal Records Specialist in military […]

  • Audio contentAir Ministry letter concerning West Indian recruits (catalogue reference AIR 2/8278)

    The untold story of the RAF’s black Second World War fliers over Europe

    While the United States could boast the black fliers of Tuskegee, few people are aware of the important contribution made by 500 RAF aircrew recruited from the Caribbean and West Africa. Overcoming the legacy of the official British Colour Bar […]

  • Audio contentcn-11-6

    Operation Unthinkable: Churchill’s plan for World War Three

    Churchill’s top secret plan to attack the Soviet Empire was scheduled for 1 July 1945. British, US, Polish and German forces were to attempt to liberate East Germany and Poland and bring Stalin back to the conference table. If they […]

  • Audio contentTroops travelling to Manchester for review by Lord Kitchener

    Digitising MH 47 the Middlesex military service appeal tribunal

    On the introduction of conscription in 1916, Military Service Tribunals were set up to hear applications and appeals for exemption. Surviving material is fragmented but two complete sets of tribunal papers were retained, including those for the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal. […]

  • Audio contentAIR 1/169/15/160/5 24

    Britain’s air forces in the First World War

    This talk covers the record sources for those who served in the air forces, their formations and machines. It also explores a case study of a famous airman to illustrate some of the inventions and developments that led to final […]

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