The National Army Museum

Published in History Today

D.G. Chandler describes how the National Army Museum, Chelsea, was officially opened in 1971.

One major purpose behind the project for the National Army Museum is a determination to dispel ill-founded attitudes towards military history and to ensure that the past of the British Army has its rightful place in our national heritage.

The Museum achieves these aims admirably, and the numbers of visitors bear out the truth of General Sir Edward Hamley’s century-old opinion ‘that no kind of history so fascinates mankind as the history of war’, in its constructive as well as its destructive aspects.

The Army has long needed a Museum of its own, and has now achieved parity with the ‘Senior Service’s’ fine display at Greenwich.

Many fine regimental museums are to be found in the county towns throughout the land, while the Imperial War Museum has long contained many weapons, mementoes and records relating to the Two World Wars; but a national centre dedicated to the overall history of the British Army from its earliest foundations down to 1914 has long been a deep-felt need.

Thanks in no small measure to the zeal and toil of Field-Marshal Sir Gerald Templer and his committee, the first million pounds has been raised and the result is the National Army Museum standing near the Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea. The result is an important addition to the major collections of the capital.

The Museum was opened in its permanent home by the Queen on November 11th, 1971.

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