The Imperial War Museum was opened in June 1920 with the intention of collecting and displaying material relating to the First World War. The collection now extends to the Second World War and subsequent conflicts. The new First World War Galleries were opened in July this year and were a major reason for the visit. Fortunately we arrived at the museum well before the opening time of 10.00 am as there was already quite a long queue ahead of us. It was not long before the queue was out of the gate and growing in the street. About ten minutes before the doors opened a staff member began handing out tickets for the First World War exhibition for the first group of people to be admitted.
Viewing the exhibition is a moving experience. The exhibition investigates a variety of topics including the lead up to and causes of the war,events that took place during the war, the involvement of countries from the British Empire, recruitment, experiences on the battlefield, life on the home front, role of women, logistics of feeding and looking after the soldiers on the battlefield, the advent of new machines and technology in warfare as well as Armistice and the Peace Treaty. You really need more than one viewing to take it all in.
There is a constant hum of the sounds of battle. In one section you walk through what appears to be a trench. One confronting moment is turning a corner and finding yourself face to face with a tank. A large number of artefacts and photographs help to portray the story. Fortunately the IWM has published a book by Paul Cornish to accompany the exhibition.
We also visited the library where Robin looked for information about his grandfather who died during the First World War.