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 contentReverse side of the Great Seal of John.1202. Catalogue reference: DL10-56.

    The life and death of King John

    King John’s acts of misgovernment prompted his barons to demand reform, setting the kingdom on the road to civil war and leading to John’s grant of Magna Carta. Why was he seen as such a terrible king and how did […]

  • Audio contentSailors with wreck of Zeppelin L15, shot down April 1916. Catalogue reference: AIR1-645-17-122-325

    Defeating the Zeppelins

    For almost two years during the First World War, German airships roamed over the British countryside, bombing towns and villages without fear of a significant response from the aircraft assigned to defend the country. But all that changed in the […]

  • Audio contentA sketch of a medieval scene by Jack Matthew. Catalogue reference: INF3-691

    The Battle of Agincourt

    In 1415, King Henry V led an army to victory on the field of Agincourt. In this talk, which commemorated the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, Professor Anne Curry discusses the events leading up to the conquest, and the […]

  • Video contentSomme Tales

    Somme Tales

    Funded by the Friends of The National Archives, Somme Tales is a creative project that took place at the archives from 1-5 August 2016 in partnership with professional film-maker Nigel Kellaway. Applications were invited from young people across the country […]

  • Video content

    Changing the Landscape: In conversation with Sarah Kogan

    Artist and curator Sarah Kogan in conversation with our Records Knowledge Manager Kate Wheeler, discussing her multimedia Battle of the Somme arts project Changing the Landscape, which is currently on display at the National Archives. Sarah reveals how she followed […]

  • Video contentPathe: incensed patriots besiege pacifists in a London church.

    Pacifists besieged in a London church, First World War

    This footage shows a meeting of pacifists in a London church, which is interrupted by patriots. We see a large crowd outside the church, some trying to get in and then dragging people out, or throwing things through window. A chair […]

  • Audio contentGuy Burgess, 1951

    Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess

    Guy Burgess was a brilliant young Englishman who rose through the ranks of MI5 and MI6 during the Cold War. But as a member of ‘The Cambridge Spies’, he betrayed his country by regularly passing on highly sensitive secret documents […]

  • Audio contentEnquiry into Causation and Prevention of Shell Shock report. 1922. Catalogue reference: WO32-4748.

    Shell-Shocked Britain: Understanding the lasting trauma of the First World War

    Millions of soldiers were scarred by their experiences in the First World War trenches, but how new was what we now know as ‘shell shock’? What treatments were on offer? And what happened after the men came home? Writer and […]

  • Video contentFrench Troops marching in Verdun, France, 1916.

    The battle of Verdun, 1916

    The National Archives education team’s film of the month highlights a Pathé film relating to current events, anniversaries or key topics that you may be covering in the classroom. It’s 100 years since the Battle of Verdun took place, running […]

  • Video content2016 Pathe film of the month

    Married men conscripted – last farewells in London

    The National Archives education team’s film of the month highlights a Pathé film relating to current events, anniversaries or key topics that you may be covering in the classroom. It’s 100 years ago this month since conscription was introduced in […]

  • Audio contentwo-98-8-119-naik-darwan-singh-negi-crop

    For king and another country: Indian soldiers on the Western Front

    Over a million Indian soldiers fought in the First World War, many travelling from remote villages in India to the muddy trenches of France and Flanders. In her book For King and Another Country, writer and journalist, Shrabani Basu, delves […]

  • Video contentThe chase and sinking of The Bismarck

    Writer of the month: A history of war in 100 battles – Richard Overy

    ‘Battle is not a game to plug into a computer but a piece of living history: messy, bloody and real.’ Richard Overy, Professor of History at the University of Exeter, Fellow of the British Academy and Member of the European […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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, […]

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