Picture gallery: IWM Duxford commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War
- Credit: Archant
In this centenary year, Imperial War Museum Duxford will be exploring the outbreak of the First World War with a range of family activities, events, and offering opportunities to hear from historical interpreters and speakers.
The museum will also look at how the development of the war led to the creation of RAF Duxford and how strategic warfare changed from 1914 through to 1918.
Duxford in the First World War Tour (May 17, July 16, August 16, September 3 & 20 – 11am)
IWM Duxford has a long and fascinating history dating back to the First World War. The land it was built on was originally Temple Farm, along with some small holdings, all of which were requisitioned for the war effort. The Royal Flying Corps used Duxford and neighbouring Fowlmere as Training Depot Stations.
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It was during the time of the Royal Flying Corps that the first buildings were erected. Many of those First World War buildings are still an integral part of the museum today.
In the tour, a museum guide will discuss Duxford’s early history, the First World War buildings that you can see and how they were built, how an airfield operated during the war and how aeroplanes were used in warfare. The tour will also look at some of the aircraft that were flown from Duxford during the war.
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Groups will not exceed 25 people and there will be plenty of opportunity foquestions, debate and personal interaction. The tour, which lasts for about 90 minutes, is suitable for all ages but is primarily aimed at adults. Places must be booked in advance and can be booked online at iwm.org.uk
Ticket prices (including admission to all IWM Duxford exhibitions):
Adult (15-59 years) £20.75
Child (under 16 years) £3.25
Senior (60 years and over) £16.60
Student (in possession of a valid student card) £16.60
Unemployed (with proof of entitlement) £16.60
Disabled Adult (proof of disability allowance required) £16.60
Disabled Senior (proof of disability allowance required) £14.50
Disabled Student (proof of disability allowance required) £14.50
Disabled Child (proof of disability allowance required) £3.25
Carer (one per disabled visitor) £3.25
Supporter (Duxford Aviation Society Member, Friend of Duxford, IWM Friend, IWM Volunteer) £3.25
Summer holiday family activities (July 26 to September 3)
Find out how and why the First World War started as a costumed interpreter explains which countries were involved and who was on whose side. The museum will look at numerous aspects of the war throughout the day, involving families in lively learning about the progress of the war.
Using a large interactive map, visitors will be asked to represent troops from different nationalities and actively demonstrate how far they had advanced in the conflict.
In addition to discovering how the war started, visitors will also find out about the race to the sea and how the war was fought from the trenches.
The museum will discover what trench life was really like and how trenches changed and developed over the four years of the Great War. Finally, it will examine the strategic changes that took place over the duration of the war, the myths that still persist today and how it finally ended.
Explore the small replica trench and see how it would have looked at the beginning of the war in 1914. Moving through, visitors will see how different the trench experience was by the end of the war, in 1918. As you travel, you can handle objects that would have been used by the Tommies in the trenches, try on mini replica First World War uniforms and look through the periscope to spy on what’s happening in No Man’s Land. You can also get creative by making and painting Airfix models of First World War aircraft.
Summer holiday family activities are included in general admission to IWM Duxford. Visitors aged 15 and under enjoy free admission to the museum and to our summer holiday activities. Airfix Make and Paint is suitable for ages eight and above and is subject to availability.
The Duxford Air Show (September 13-14)
The Duxford Air Show is a celebration of aviation in its many diverse and varied forms. Combinations of historic aircraft, contemporary jets, mind-boggling aerobatics and those quirky, ‘did-I-really-just-see-that’ displays make the show an entertaining aerial spectacle with a fabulous family atmosphere.
Replica First World War aircraft displaying at the show include a Nieuport 17 and the Great War Display Team, comprising two 7/8 scale Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5 aircraft, two 7/8 scale Junkers CLI aircraft, a Sopwith Triplane, a Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2 aircraft and a Fokker Triplane DR1.
Air show tickets and hospitality passes are now on sale and can be purchased online at iwm.org.uk
The recommended last booking date for overseas postal delivery is August 29. The off-sale date (and last date for UK postal delivery) is September 2.
Purchase your tickets in advance and receive one free child ticket with every adult ticket purchased. You’ll also enjoy 10 per cent off ‘on the day’ ticket prices when you book in advance.
Advance ticket prices:
Adult (16 or over) £24.75
Child (5 to 15 years) £16.30
The First World War Uncovered: Special Interest Day (September 27)
The First World War Uncovered looks at different aspects of the Great War with authoritative and engaging speakers.
Professor Gary Sheffield presents two fascinating lectures.
In Douglas Haig Reassessed he looks at the controversial military commander who is seen by some as a great leader, while others view him as a callous, unthinking butcher.
In this lecture, Prof Sheffield, author of the most recent biography of Haig, weighs up the evidence and argues that while both extremes of opinion are wrong, Haig deserves a great deal of credit for the Allied victory in the First World War.
In his second lecture, Not Sleepwalking: The Origins of the First World War Revisited, Prof Sheffield argues that the currently fashionable view that no state can be blamed for causing the war, that Europe ‘sleepwalked’ into a devastating conflict, is wrong. The origins of the war rest with the leaders of Germany and Austria-Hungary, who took conscious decisions in the summer of 1914 which led to the ensuing Armageddon.
Jonathan Krause is a lecturer in Strategic Studies at the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell. He discusses Philippe Petain, who in 1914, was a 58 year old Colonel and just two years away from retirement after a long and middling career. The next four years would turn Petain into a household name.
Rising quickly to the rank of General, Petain would be rocketed to fame upon taking control of the Battle of Verdun in the early, desperate days of that ten-month-long struggle. Petain’s popularity with his soldiers, who appreciated his caring, attentive command style, led to his becoming Commander-in-Chief of French forces in the aftermath of the disastrous Nivelle Offensive and resulting mutiny.
Mr Krause will introduce you to Petain, both as a commander and as a human being, to better contextualise his influence on the conduct of the First World War.
Places for The First World War Uncovered Special Interest Day must be booked in advance and can be booked online at iwm.org.uk
Ticket prices (including admission to all IWM Duxford exhibitions):
Adult (16-59 years) £21.50
Child (under 16 years) £4
Senior (60 years and over) £17.20
Student (in possession of a valid student card) £17.20
Unemployed (with proof of entitlement) £17.20
Disabled Adult (proof of disability allowance required) £17.20
Disabled Senior (proof of disability allowance required) £15.05 Disabled Student (proof of disability allowance required ) £15.05
Disabled child (proof of disability allowance required) £4
Carer (one per disabled visitor) £4
Supporter (Duxford Aviation Society Member, Friend of Duxford, IWM Friend, IWM Volunteer ) £4
October half term activities (October 25 to November 2)
October half term activities look at the dawn of aerial warfare and the increase in the use of aircraft at the start of the First World War.
A costumed interpreter, representing a First World War pilot, will tell the story of aircraft development during the Great War. The museum will explore the evolution of aircraft roles, from reconnaissance to fighter and bomber aeroplanes, and will take a closer look at the First World War Royal Aircraft Factory RE.8 and de Havilland DH9 aircraft that can be seen in our AirSpace exhibition.
They’ll be enlisting visitors’ help to build a large-scale model of a DH9 aircraft. Try on mini-uniforms in the style worn by the First World War air aces and have a go at some hands-on crafty fun.
Half term activities are included in general admission to IWM Duxford. Visitors aged 15 and under enjoy free admission to the museum and to our October half term activities.
Remembrance Sunday (November 9)
On Remembrance Sunday, we offer free admission to all as we remember members of the Armed Forces who lost their lives in active service.
At 11am, a two-minute silence will be observed across the museum. There will also be a traditional service of Remembrance.
The museum will also be giving families the opportunity to learn about remembrance together, with hands-on activities throughout the museum.
Why was Duxford built?
To increase the number and quality of British military pilots, a new training system was introduced halfway through the First World War. Part of that system involved setting up new training bases called Training Depot Stations (TDS). Previously, a pilot would learn to fly in different stages at different airfields.
At a Training Depot Station, he could learn everything he needed in one place. Over 60 Training Depot Stations were built in the UK, including Duxford and nearby Fowlmere. They formed part of a huge training operation, spread across the UK and overseas.
A Scottish company, P and W Anderson Ltd, was given the job of building Duxford. The total cost was supposed to be £90,000. Building began in October 1917. Nearly 900 men worked at Duxford and Fowlmere. They worked shifts, seven days per week.
The cost of the work at Duxford and Fowlmere increased; the cost of Duxford alone rose to £460,000. The work fell behind schedule. Villagers complained about workers left ‘idle’ waiting for supplies and about builders damaging local roads.
Despite all of these problems, building work continued and Duxford was finally completed shortly before the end of the war.
Duxford in 1918
Although the airfields were not finished, military personnel began to arrive in March 1918. Duxford and Fowlmere weren’t used for their designed purpose until very near the war’s end.
First, they were used as mobilisation stations where whole squadrons – pilots, ground crew and aeroplanes – were put together before being shipped off to fight in France.
America entered the war in 1917 and, at different times, the ground crew of six American Aero Squadrons were based at Duxford.
They helped to construct the temporary wood and canvas hangars that housed some of Duxford’s aircraft while building work continued.
When the First World War ended, there were around 800 people based at Duxford. As well as the young men learning to fly and the ground crews working on the aircraft, there were also nearly 150 women of the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF). They did many jobs that used to belong only to men.