First World War

The First World War was the first total war and at the end of four years of fighting all sections of society were drawn into the conflict.

This section explains how, during the Centennial period we revealed the true impact of the war on England; the legacy of what may be regarded as the First Home Front. This programme of investigation and photography will continue beyond the 2014-2018 centenary.


  • First World War: Drill Halls

    From the middle of the 19th century, Drill Halls were a common sight in every town and city.

  • First World War: Camps

    Revealing the traces of the vast new army camps built to house the troops following Field Marshal Kitchener’s call for hundreds of thousands of volunteers for the New Army.

  • First World War: Trench Warfare

    Less well-known images of the First World War are the extensive ‘practice’ trenches that were dug to train troops before they were sent to the Western Front and some may still be found across England.


  • Wartime Maritime Innovation

    Innovations to counter the German U-Boat threat such as ‘Q-Ships’, decoys to lure German U-Boats into a surface attack, and ‘Cubist’ ships painted with ‘razzle-dazzle’ camouflage designed to break up vessels’ contours and visually confuse U-Boats.

  • First World War: Merchant Shipping Wrecks

    Many merchant vessels were lost, along with many others involved in protecting and maintaining the War Channels.

  • First World War: Submarine Wrecks

    Historic England’s marine archaeologists carried out a project to locate German U-Boats and British submarines sunk within territorial waters.