The English Army was first established as a standing military force in 1660. In 1707 many regiments of the English and Scottish armies were already combined under one operational command and stationed in the Netherlands fighting in the War of Spanish Succession. Consequently, although the regiments were now part of the new British military establishment, they remained under the same operational command, and so not only were the regiments of the old armies transferred in situ to the new army so too was the institutional ethos, customs, and traditions, of the old standing armies that had been created shortly after the restoration of the monarchy 66 years earlier. The order of seniority of the most senior line regiments in the British Army is based on the order of seniority in the English army. Scottish and Irish regiments were only allowed to take a rank in the English army from the date of their arrival in England or the date when they were first placed on the English establishment. For example, in 1694 a board of general officers was convened to decide the rank of English, Irish and Scots regiments serving in the Netherlands; the regiment that became known as the Scots Greys were designated as the 4th Dragoons because there were three English regiments raised prior to 1688 when the Scots Greys were first placed on the English establishment. In 1713, when a new board of general officers was convened to decide upon the rank of several regiments, the seniority of the Scots Greys was reassessed and based on their entry into England in June 1685. At that time there was only one English regiment of dragoons, and so after some delay the Scots Greys obtained the rank of 2nd Dragoons in the British Army.
After 1745, recruits were increasingly drawn from Scotland; by the mid-1760s between one fifth and one third of officers were from Scotland. The British Empire expanded in this time to include colonies, protectorates, and Dominions throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australasia. Although the Royal Navy is widely regarded as having been vital for the rise of the British Empire, and British dominance of the world, the British Army played an important role in the colonisation of India and other regions. Typical tasks included garrisoning the colonies, capturing strategically important territories, and participating in actions to pacify colonial borders, provide support to allied governments, suppress Britain's rivals, and protect against foreign powers and hostile natives. British soldiers also helped capture strategically important territories, allowing the empire to expand. The army was also involved in numerous wars to pacify the borders, or to prop up friendly governments, and thereby keep other, competitive, empires away from the British Empire's borders. Among these actions were the Seven Years' War, the American Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic Wars, the First and Second Opium Wars, the Boxer Rebellion, the New Zealand wars, the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, the First and Second Boer Wars, the Fenian raids, the Irish War of Independence, its serial interventions into Afghanistan (which were meant to maintain a friendly buffer state between British India and the Russian Empire), and the Crimean War (to keep the Russian Empire at a safe distance by coming to Turkey's aid).
The collections of the National Army Museum relate the overall history of the British Army, British colonial, Imperial and Commonwealth forces and the British Indian Army as a whole from 1066 to the present and its effects on national and international history. However, prior to the 2014 closure, the Museum's displays on the period from 1066 to 1642 were wholly via interpretation rather than objects, since its collecting remit is from the English Civil War onwards. Though the National Army Museum does hold a small number of early objects (such as a bronze saker from the 1530s), acquisitions of pre-1642 military items for the national collection is usually by the Royal Armouries. (Displays from 2017 onwards will be thematic rather than chronological). The museum is currently closed for major renovation work and will reopen in spring 2017.
Location : Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4HT
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10:00 to 17:30.
Reopens Spring 2017
Tickets : Free.
Tel: 020 7730 0717