Places of interest to visit in Britain with a military theme, including museums managed by one of the armed services.

A tour of Stirling Castle

Visit Stirling Castle

You can see it from miles away.  Stirling Castle stands guard from the top of a massive volcanic plug, with steep cliffs on three sides, towering above the ancient crossing over the River Forth and the route armies take between Highland and Lowland.  It has witnessed so much of Scotland’s history, including two of its …

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What really happened at Orford Ness?

Orford Ness, a ten-mile long shingle spit on the Suffolk coast, is one of the most extraordinary places in Britain. Its environment, part natural, part man-made, provides a perfect, and in places rare, habitat for an enormous variety of flora and fauna. But, more than that, for the greater part of the 20th century it …

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A visit to the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm Museum

Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, Somerset

The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm Museum is situated, with startling logic, twenty miles or more from the sea.  It is a massive place and, if you haven’t already guessed, it tells the story of the Royal Navy in the air: oh, come on – you know what I mean… The museum opened in 1964 …

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The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918

Sanctuary Wood near Ypres

The Belgian town of Ypres, now more generally and correctly known by its Flemish name, Ieper, is very close to Britain.  Geographically, it is only about an hour and a half away – through the Channel Tunnel from Folkestone to Calais, head north to Dunkirk, hang a right and you’re there.  Spiritually, it’s even closer. …

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A tour of Portsmouth Harbour

Sealink, Gosport ferry, Portsmouth Harbour

This is HMS Queen Elizabeth.  She and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales are the largest warships the Royal Navy has ever had, and their home port is HM Naval Base Portsmouth, on England’s south coast. Portsmouth is well-known for its naval heritage: this is, after all, the home of Horatio Nelson’s flagship, HMS …

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Formidable Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle, visit Edinburgh, Historic Scotland

You can’t imagine Edinburgh without Edinburgh Castle – it is one of the City’s landmarks, dominating the skyline, perched on a seemingly impregnable, daunting, volcanic rock at the end of The Royal Mile.  On a bright day, perhaps at festival time and viewed through the colours of Princes Street Gardens, it is ambiguous; fearsome yet …

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The folly of Fort Nelson

Fort Nelson, Mallet's Mortar

To the north of Portsmouth, on England’s south coast, is Portsdown Hill, a long chalk elevation that dominates the city and harbour 400 feet below.  And on the top of Portsdown Hill, the Victorians placed five large forts – from east to west: Fort Purbrook, Fort Widley, Fort Southwick, Fort Nelson and Fort Wallington.  Redoubts …

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Trooper Pearson and the Charge of the Light Brigade

Cavalry Charge at Balaklava

It all started with my chum, Dave.  You remember Dave, don’t you?  He’s the one that told me about Swinbrook.  Not only is Dave an excellent drinking buddy, but he also used to be a gravedigger, often known in these euphemistic days as a ‘burial ground custodian’.  You should see the risk assessment.  But he …

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Memorial to James Tillet

Memorial to F/O James Tillett

There are so many stories behind every memorial.  Of course, there are exceptions, but outside graveyards most memorials tend toward the grand.  However, if you happen to be wandering about the southern slopes of Portsdown Hill, just north of Fareham in Hampshire, you might stumble across a modest tribute to a Battle of Britain pilot, …

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The Christmas Truce of 1914

Christmas Truce, 1914, German and British troops mingle

In the dying moments of 1914 and the opening days of 1915, remarkable stories began to circulate in Britain’s newspapers.  The stories came from France and Belgium, where great armies were locked in mighty conflict, and told of a truce between British and German soldiers.  At this time of peace and goodwill, it was said …

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Eleven O One

In 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns on the Western Front fell silent.  Just imagine.  For the first time in more than four years, in this part of Europe, men stopped killing one another.  Fighting had officially continued throughout that morning, however.  Some, like American General …

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National Service of Remembrance

Poppy wreaths, Cenotaph

Amazing; moving; humbling; impressive: words you could choose to describe the annual National Service of Remembrance held in London on Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday in November.  Thousands attend every year; thousands watch it on TV; thousands more attend similar, albeit slightly more modest, services throughout the United Kingdom – and beyond.  It is an …

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