Saturday, 1 September 2018

I have been to... The National Army Museum

On the recent Bank Holiday, my wife went down to London to catch up with some friends and I tagged along and managed to fit in a trip to the National Army Museum in Chelsea. I've not been there before, so was looking forward to seeing something new.

It was a pleasant walk down through Chelsea, I went to South Kensington tube rather than Sloane Square as the Circle Line was packed with carnival goers heading for Notting Hill. The Kings Road has changed a lot since 1978 though!

This was an interesting display which featured painted blocks of toy soldiers to practice drill manouvres with. Eighteenth century I believe.

Hats and more hats. The bottom display covered various items to do with Germany. It looks my my Bicorne might need a bit of toning down as the real examples are a bit smaller than my dressing up one.

Scottish and Mahdist clothing. Both angry tribespeople with lots of pointy sharp objects who for some unaccountable reason objected to the English turning up.

There wasn't masses of kit in the museum, but they had both a nice WW1 4.7" howitzer and a WW2 pack howitzer as well as a very well preserved Dingo.

William III.

A nice Falklands era Parachute Regiment display, with a folding stock FAL contrasted with an SLR.

Sadly, I've completely forgotten whose jacket this was!

Bengal Lancer. What a great outfit.

Kings African Rifles.


Relative sizes of the British Army at various times. I think you can guess where the most modern one is. I was surprised how small the Cold war army was though, even smaller than the Napoleonic Wars.

Indian Army display, nice Enfield rifle, along with an SMLE and No. 4.

The Siege of Namur.

Napoleonic Drummer.

Napoleonic Officer, with kilt.

Chosen Man. Sadly too much reflection, although the Baker Rifle came out OK. A surprisingly large weapon, much bigger than the stubby carbine many figures are cast with.


A close up of the British cavalry around Blenheim village. It looks like using 6mm buildings with 15mm cavalry is fine after all, not those towering monstrosities of buildings that many companies seem to sell these days.

Sir John Moores telescope.

The Battle of Corunna.

Standard and Eagle captured at Waterloo. Another one for Sharpe.

Pictons hat (not the one he got shot in).

Wellingtons cloak and bicorne.

Old Nosey himself and a pair of his gloves

The Corsican Ogre and poor old Marengo, forever galloping.

Sibornes diorama of Waterloo. Unfortunately this was very dimly lit to preserve it, but the touchscreens around the display were great and I spent quite a while here. Yes, the Prussians were mentioned, whatever Peter Hofshroer may have said.

Crimean uniform with Enfield rifle.

Early khaki uniform (an interesting tan with a hint of grey).

Zulus Sir, thousands of them. Classic redcoat with Martini Henry. The leather valise equipment is white, not buff (well, possibly a light cream).

Khaki drill uniformwith a long Lee Enfield (a rechambered Lee Metford). This is a very different shade of KD to WW2 era KD, and really quite dark.

Lord Raglans telescope.

And Nolans cloak.

Isandlwhana plus Zulu shield.

Hauling guns and supplies in the Crimea.

There was a rather annoying weapons display with piles of stuff in a single cabinet. Centrepiece was a nice 18pdr, but otherwise it was just a ton of small arms hanging from wires, nothing like the old display at the IWM.

Bergmann MP18, stick grenade, and stosstruppen stahlelm.

A beautiful FG42, one of the best I've seen. Hanging from the ceiling five feet above my head.

A rather  more accessible Gw43 in excellent condition. MG08/15 'light' machinegun behind.

There was a motorcycle tucked in among all the other stuff.

A curious thing happened here. I took these two photos to show that original WW1 and WW2 uniforms were very similar in colour (in the display they were both distinctly brown) but the photo of the officers uniform came out distinctly green. Difference in lighting? Colour blindness? Who can say, although I have noticed that khaki in particular responds to local light and can look green or brown depending on the surroundings. Which makes it a great camo colour of course.

One of the standards carried by tanks at Cambrai.

Various light AT weapons (Boys and Mauser AT rifles, PIAT and a Teller mine).

This was good fun. An interactive wargame!

Funnily enough, I was pretty good at the battlegroup game. My armour handily won the tank battle and now the infantry go in to mop up after a good artillery and air stonk.

Sadly the counter insurgency bit didn't go quite so well. Those airstrikes in the BUA seemed like a good idea, but I hadn't realised the RAF couldn't hit the side of a barn. Oh well, we got there in the end and finally peace and order was restored in the Galaxy.

There were lots of fantastic posters around the museum like the recruiting posters above, and a load of great film posters like those below.

As well as these newspaper billboards.

Finally, I took a walk down to Chelsea Embankment.

I was a bit surprised to see that Battersea power station had disappeared behind a sea of cranes and new build flats. Oh well, that is progress I suppose.


  1. When I was there last, many, many years ago there wasn't much stuff; there were life sized manikins in uniform dotted around the museum which I remember. I have some postcards from the museum shop showing them in natural settings, looking very human.
    I am puzzled why Lord George Sackville is next to the Napoleonic eagle.....

    1. It certainly isn't large. There are several interactive display type things.

      I'm glad I went but I won't be rushing back.

  2. The art collection is impressive there.

    1. Yes, there were some fabulous paintings but not a patch on the IWM.

  3. I applaud you getting there .. it was on my doorstep for three years and I didn't go .. more the fool me.

    I have a hankering to go to the WATU event at the Western Approaches Museum 8th September .. I think there is a demo of how they wargamed

    1. I lived in London for 23 years and there is all sorts of stuff I never went to. When it is on your doorstep it is very easy to put off going to things.

  4. Excellent pics, thanks for sharing. It's been many years since I visited NAM, in fact it has gone through at least two head curators! I must get back one day.