Imperial War Museum London – Part I

If you’re in London please take time to visit one of the Imperial War Museums.

It’s a great place to see British Military History (and hide from the terrible weather).

The pictures below are from TFB’s recent visit to Imperial War Museum London, on Lambeth Road.



Imperial War Museums (IWM) is a British national museum organization with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. Founded as the Imperial War Museum in 1917, the museum was intended to record the civil and military war effort and sacrifice of Britain and its Empire during the First World War. The museum’s remit has since expanded to include all conflicts in which British or Commonwealth forces have been involved since 1914. As of 2012, the museum aims ‘to provide for, and to encourage, the study and understanding of the history of modern war and “wartime experience”‘.


British 15-inch naval guns (38 cm) is what greets visitors at the main entrance. One of these guns was mounted on the HMR Ramillies in 1916 and saw action in 1920 in the Greco-Turkish war.


Each example is said to weigh 100 tons and could fire a 876 kg shell up to 16 miles or 29 kilometers.

Junior TFB member Max shows the size of the projectile. That would make the projectile about 170 cm long.


The entrance of the museum. Note the HarrierJet, Spitfire and the V2 rocket. My recommendation is to start from the bottom, with World War I sections and work your way to the top.

The top part of the museum features a rather large part about the Holocaust and Crimes against Humanity, no pictures allowed but a must to visit for obvious reasons.


Below: Various inventions to hurt other people.


The words of a French soldier in 1918.


German body armour and grenades.


I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that the makers of the computer game Battlefield 1 have visited this museum for inspiration.


Picture from Battlefield 1


Old School snipers, nevertheless deadly. Converted Gewehr 98 with scope.


Lewis machine gun, light enough to be carried by attacking troops.


By late 1917 each platoon had two Lewis guns. 47 round drum. At the back, a rifle with some sort of grenade launcher.


The Germans also had developed a machine gun that could be carried, sort of.

The 22 kilogram heavy MG08/15 was used from 1917.

Note the flame thrower top right. If you’ve played Battlefield 1 you know!


The Webley Mark VI revolver, carried by Captain Carpenter during the Zeebrugge Raid in 1918.



The Irish Republican Army used smuggled Thompson sub-machine guns from 1921. The Provisional IRA used the Thompsons into the 1970s. Makes you wonder how many there are left?


Due to TFB’s focus, these articles focus on firearms but there are lot of other interesting planes, boats, vehicles and automobiles to look at.


Mid-left, Mark 1 Welgun sub-machine gun in 9×19 mm, designed by SOE but never used in operations.

Below the Welgun, Mark II 9 mm Sten, a simple mass produced sub-machine gun.


Nr 9, Mark 1 Welgun sub-machine gun


Polish 9 mm Radom automatic pistol. This pistol was carried by SOE agent Christine Granville.


United Defence 9 mm M42 “Marlin” sub-machine gun.


Browning .30 machine gun, as used on SAS vechicles during the Italian campaign.


Thompson .45 sub-machine gun and M1 .30 carbine used by SAS. The revoler is a .38 Webley.


Below: Nr. 13 is a Delisle silenced carbine. Nr. 14 is a M2 .30 caliber carbine.

At the back, No. 5 .303 rifle, also known as the “jungle carbine”.


Who dares wins” – The Secret Soldiers of the British SAS.

At the back .303 No 4 Mark 1T sniper rifle, L1A1 7,62 mm SLR self loading rifle and RP46 Light machine gun captured by the SAS in Oman.

M79 grenade launcher, single shot.



The IWM London website:

Entrance is free. Special exhibitions may cost money, check at the entrance.

The address is Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ, Great Britain.

I would allow at least 1 hours up to 2.5 hours for the visit, depending on your level of interest.

Next: Part II

Eric B

Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with an European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatic firearms, optics and sound suppressors. Owning the night would be nice too.


  • I would never go to the UK on general principals because they don’t actually have a justice system, but that is a damn fine museum and an excellent highlight article about it.

    • Tom

      As a British person I’d love to hear your expert legal opinion as to why we don’t have a justice system.

      Feel free to add sources, references and example court cases

      • It is literally illegal in the UK to punch someone who is actively trying to murder you with a knife. If you do not have the right to defend yourself against violent attack, you do not have any rights.

        By all means, though, don’t take my word for it.

        • some other joe

          Except that’s not what Q589 says. 589 is advice about things like pepper spray.

          However, Q85 does relate to use of force and is quite liberal and reasonable. For example,

          “What you honestly and instinctively believe is lawful and necessary self defence of either yourself, your family or your property, even if you use a weapon could constitute reasonable force.

          You do not have to be attacked first to be able to use reasonable force in self defence.”

        • Tom – UK

          I’d also be curious as to how on earth you developed your opinion of my country given you’ve never even been here.

          Not trying to be rude or anything but could you please outline how your opinion of the UK and its 67 million people was formed?

          I predominantly have formed my opinion of the US from meeting Americans (in the UK, across the world and in America for both tourist and work reasons), going to America, reading news articles and researching in depth into certain issues. I do however profess that I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to make determinations about the entire country and all 300+ million people who live there.

        • Jonathan Ferguson

          It literally is not.

        • The Forty ‘Twa

          You can clobber somebody in the face if you are trying to murder you, you could even stab them yourself. I’ll give you a couple of examples.

          Kenneth Noye is a name that is (or certainly used to be) rather well known over here, he killed a police officer engaged in surveillance of him and was acquitted of murder at court as it was judged to be self defence.

          In 2014 a man was found not guilty of attempting to murder an armed officer from the National Crime Agency after he shot at the officer 7 times with an illegally held firearm. That was also ruled to be self defence as the officer was not in uniform and he claimed he thought it was a rival trying to kill him. He was still entitled to defend himself (even with a firearm he shouldn’t have owned) and was only convicted of the firearms charge.

          You’d be right in saying the UK doesn’t have a justice system; it has three.

          • SP mclaughlin

            Remember that baggage handler at the Glasgow airport who kicked a burning jihadi in the nuts?

          • The Forty ‘Twa

            They even gave him a medal!

        • phuzz

          “Q589: Are there any legal self defence products that I can buy?”
          That’s clearly about self defence products, not your fists. Q85 is the one you want.
          Note also that Q589 is about buying something *specifically* for self defence. It says nothing about picking up (eg) a cricket bat in the unlikely event of finding someone in your house.

      • RocketScientist

        I don’t know much about your justice system specifically, so can’t comment there. But i DO know that in the 21st century, you guys still have a f****ing QUEEN and other nobility. What else do you guys have… is the black death still around? What about dragons and wizards?

        And before you tell me about how she’s just a figurehead, and a draw for tourism (as if that excuses the institution), don’t forget that there are currently 92 seats in the House of Lords (the upper house of parliament) that are reserved for the 750 hereditary peers. In common speak (for my fellow Americans) that means there are 92 people in your highest lawmaking body, who are intimately involved in the government of your nation, who inherited the job because it was their daddy’s (and likely his father’s, and so on back for many generations). That would be like having a half-dozen of our senators who have the job merely because of their last name.

        So I think its pretty fair for nations with more evolved and free forms of government to look at you guys with a little bit of a chuckle and a little bit of sadness.

        • The Forty ‘Twa

          I think Brits look at US politics in much the same way people like you look at ours. It’s different so they don’t like it. I’ve lived in both countries and I think both systems are flawed in all honesty.

          I actually find it more troubling that 26 people are allowed to sit because they are bishops, there should be no place for that in this day and age.

        • Graham2

          So the American system is perfect then?

          You can have a President from one party and the majority in Congress from another party! That must work so well…

          • RocketScientist

            Please point me to where in my comment I said the US system was perfect, or even gave it any praise other than to say its more evolved and free than the UK form of gov’t? And I think its pretty objectively correct to say a freely elected government where major roles at the national level aren’t inherited, and without a king/queen is more evolved and more free.

            And as for your specific criticism, if that’s what the people vote for, then yes I think having an executive of a different party than the majority party in one of the legislative bodies is just fine. Especially if it prevents a single party from ramming through extremely unpopular legislation due to their stranglehold on the government (affordable care act ahem ahem).

          • Tom – UK

            I can’t remember saying my countries system was perfect. I merely rebuted someone who made an incredibly ignorant comment by giving the facts.

            Now I am not expressing my personal opinion but I think it is fair to say that while the US system has many advantages it is fair to say that current US politics does not. Case in point being that the absolute vast majority of the planet is looking at both Trump and Clinton with more than a touch of sadness and incomprehension.

            So while our mechanism is often out of date, or just plain wrong it also doesn’t produce the sort of politics or leaders that are present in US politics.

        • lurpy

          “That would be like having a half-dozen of our senators who have the job merely because of their last name.”

          Yeah, I mean it’s not like *cough*Udall*cough* there have ever been any *cough*Kennedy*cough* politicians *cough*Bush*cough* who got a job just because of their last name.

          • RocketScientist

            Okay, since your reading comprehension is sub-par, let me parse this out for you. MERELY, /ˈmirlē-/: just, only. The ONLY thing these hereditary peers did to get their position in the government of the UK was be born the child of their father. All the men you named were all ELECTED, in free, well-regulated elections, by the people they governe(d). Now you can complain that the electorate is stupid for electing someone based on their name/family all you want. But those men WERE elected, and they left office when they lost an election or had their term expire. There is NO comparison between that and someone INHERITING a government position they hold for life and pass on to their offspring. If you find the examples you listed objectionable, you should find the situation in the UK absolutely abhorrent.

          • anonymouse

            FYI, after the House of Lords Act of 1999, the few remaining hereditary peers (about 10% of the total) are actually elected to sit in the Lords. For sure it’s a small pool they’re elected from, but it isn’t a position for life, and it isn’t (directly) passed down to their offspring. As for the rights and wrongs of it, well the purpose of the Lords is only to scrutinise legislation (they cannot create legislation, nor can they block legislation), so their practical role is fairly limited to that of being a check/balance. The purpose of the Lords is really a repository for expertise with which to scrutinise legislation. As those hereditary lords are almost always significant landowners or owners of major businesses they do bring with them valuable expertise (or they wouldn’t be elected from among the pool of hereditary Peers). It’s not a perfect system (what system is perfect?), but it does at least avoid the deadlock that having twin elected houses can create, while still having a second house to check legislation. Whether the hereditaries need to remain a part of that is an open question, but my feeling is from having worked in Parliament that those who are elected to serve as hereditary peers take their role very seriously and tend to be some of the best speakers and participants in debates in the Lords. Even if you dropped the hereditaries altogether, I think you’d still end up appointing most of them back in (albeit on a different basis, presumably with new life peerages).

            As has been said before, it is perfectly legal to defend yourself if attacked in the UK. TexasUberAlles, couldn’t be more wrong about that.

            But we’re well into politics here, which isn’t what TFB is about.

          • The Forty ‘Twa

            Worth pointing out that sitting in the House of Lords and being part of the Government are not the same thing. It is just the same as it is with those sitting in the Commons, just because they have been elected as an MP does not mean they form part of the Government. Members of the Lords can be part of the Government but most are not.

        • MeaCulpa

          Being a staunch republican, I still do believe that constitutional monarchies with a prime minister elected by parliament is the most stable form of democratic government and does have the advantage of removing the political squabbling from the representative of the country leaving him or her to concentrate on the figureheading. Having said that I do get a bad taste in my mouth when a position is only available to one family but is financed by government funds and I’m a subject instead of a citizen, but on the other hand his excellency the president of the United States is treated about the same as a pharaoh with demands that whole countries must be closed down if he decides to pop by for tea.

    • Graham2

      Yes, the museum is ‘damn fine’, I’ve been many times and the it’s an excellent article. However, your first point is rather bizarre! Of course we can defend ourselves here in the UK. If anyone attacked me, I would certainly spoil their day, or try my best anyway.

      • lurpy

        The OP is an idiot, but I just have to point out that “I would certainly spoil their day” is perhaps the most British Internet Tough Guying I’ve ever heard.

    • SP mclaughlin

      Saying bullshit like this is a great way to get people to not like Texans.

      • American Dan

        Eh, We expect it from you guys honestly. The rest of America rolls it’s eyes and quietly says oh here we go again Texas just put his 10 gallon hat on and saddled up his high horse. The rest of the world doesn’t know how to react yet.

        • MeaCulpa

          Is that hat 10 imperial or colonial gallons?

    • Dan

      That’s pretty funny. I would never go to Texas for the exact same reasons.

  • Anonymoose


  • Rnasser Rnasser

    It IS a worderful museum, well worth the visit.
    And London is a great place too. Shame some people will miss it “on principle”.

  • junyo

    Awesome timing. I’m doing a week in London in a couple of months (thanks for making my dollar go farther Brexit!) and I was debating on whether to take the time to do this and/or the Churchill War Rooms.

    • Tom – UK

      The pound has been falling in value for 4 years, Brexit correlates with the pound falling but its not the entire cause of it.

    • Graham2

      It’s also worth visiting the National Army Museum in Chelsea and HMS Belfast (moored on the Thames near Tower Bridge) and the Maritime Museum in Greenwich (where we invented time!)

      • junyo

        Definitely going to Greenwich, wavering on the Belfast, and probably won’t do the Army Museum this trip. Me and the wife’s tastes are different, she wants to do the art museums and shop and see where they film Inspector Lewis and all the cozy mysteries in the Cotswolds (I pointed out that based on those mysteries there’s a 99% chance that taking a tour of the Cotswolds will result in someone being brutally murdered, but nobody listens to me), and I want to do the historical stuff, Roman ruins, and castles, and WW2 stuff. Walk into the Holland and Holland shop and sniff the air, which is probably all I can afford. And we’re taking a day to go to Paris. So much to see in a week. So we’re going to take the pressure off, considering this a first trip, and plan to come back when the kidlet is a little older.

        • Graham2

          When you’re in Greenwich, go on board the Cutty Sark, it was re-built a few years ago after a huge fire. Walk up through Greenwich Park from the maritime Museum (where my Dad used to work on the small nuclear reactor!) and check out the best view of London that was used in the film ‘Layer Cake’. The National Gallery and Portrait Gallery are off Trafalgar Square, so your wife can go there while you go to the cabinet War Rooms, just down the road.

        • lurpy

          If you have some spare time (which it sounds like you may not) take a train out to Dover. The castle there is one of my favorites, and it’s got the bonus WWII history as well so you get a twofer.

          Also, if you’re still in a museum mood when you get to Paris, check out the Musee de l’Armee/Les Invalides. Not only do you get Napoleon’s tomb, but the WWI and WWII sections of the museum are truly outstanding.

      • Sir Alec Douglas Home

        I absolutely recommend the Belfast! Just opposite the Tower of London. The Tower (at least when I visited) was one of the few museums that wasn’t full of idiots getting in the way. Good if you have kids as well, they are well catered for. As a non-Brit, the Crown Jewels are really worth seeing, and it’s worth leaving time for the armoury (funnily enough, full of armour). A short walk across the river via Tower Bridge is HMS Belfast so you can do both in a day. My wholeheartedly uninterested-in-military-stuff wife begrudgingly accompanied me to HMS Belfast, and we spent 2.5 hours on board. Shows all the stuff that goes bang, and all the mundane ‘how they lived on board’. Fantastically interesting and brilliantly exhibited, although the mannequins are as usual a bit freaky, and look like they have been there since the 1960s. A bit unfortunate..

  • Graham2

    Come on TexasUberAlles, have you been learnt anything? Have you changed your mind at all?

    I will accept your apology on behalf of the UK.

    • American Dan

      My brother from another Royal Mother. You just gotta ignore our Texans. We do.

  • DIR911911 .

    one of each please sir

  • tt_ttf

    Actually its a V1 in that first photo….

    • Graham2

      The V1 is facing the camera, the V2 (green) is on the left.

    • Stephen Paraski

      V-1 Pointing at you, V-2 pointing up.

  • SlowJoeCrow

    Fun fact for the day: The Imperial War Museum’s building was originally the bedlam insane asylum, a thoroughly appropriate place to document the horrors of war.

  • Sgt. Stedenko

    That last picture is pure sex

  • lurpy

    IMO the Imperial War Museum is one of the best museums in London, and given the other museums in London that’s saying something.

  • iksnilol

    The 08/15 was so boringly effective that to this day the expression 08/15 in German means something that’s non-interesting albeit efficent.

  • anonymouse

    Lovely museum, have been there many a time. Personally I preferred it pre-refurbishment when it was absolutely bursting at the seams with kit. Feel the upper floors are quite confused now.