Public challenged to decide Britain's Greatest Battles in National Army Museum vote

By Culture24 Reporter | 07 March 2013

Exhibition preview: Britain's Greatest Battles, National Army Museum, London, until June 2 2013

An image of an oil painting of men firing muskets at oncoming troops in a bygone field
William Barns Wollen, The Battle of Lexington (April 19 1775). From the Battle of Lexington and Concord, American War of Independence (1775-83)© National Army Museum
The debate over the most notable conflict in British history is, it seems, as clear as battlefield mud.

“It has to be Waterloo,” offers one commentator on the National Army Museum website, describing the dust-up in early 19th century Belgium as “a classic battle of any period” with the then-modern “technology” of rifles, rockets and shrapnel shells.

Waterloo is, at the time of writing, leading the public vote by a bullet’s length, a handful of votes ahead of D-Day and the Normandy campaign of World War Two.

The surrounding discussion is just as intense as the poll, variously suggesting the likes of Culloden (“it stabilised politics and helped bring hard-fighting Scottish troops in”), the Boyne (“a massive strategic impact on Europe”) and the Falklands (“probably the last truly British campaign”).

Whatever the outcome, passions are high when it comes to military history, from the Battle of Quebec, in 1756, to the 21st century Operation Herrick – specifically, the Battle of Musa Qala.

Voting, which ends on March 20, will decide the themes of a day of talks at the museum during April, and each entry on the longlist is narrated through an online exhibition full of artefacts and stories.

More pictures:

An image of a colour lined engraving of a 17th century battle in faded yellow and black
A Representation of the Armies of King Charles I and Sir Thomas Fairfax exhibiting the exact order preparatory to the Battle of Naseby Coloured line engraving (circa 1645). From the Battle of Naseby, The Civil Wars of Britain (1639-51)© National Army Museum
An image of a painting of a conflict on a light yellow field with smoke billowing into air
Denis Dighton, Attack on the British Squares by French Cavalry (1815). Watercolour. FromThe Battle of Waterloo, Napoleonic Wars (1803-15)© National Army Museum
A photo of the back of two male soldiers in camouflage gear working on sandy terrain
Soldiers from Mortar Platoon, the Parachute Regiment fire mortars into Musa Qala prior to British troops arriving there (2006). From the Battle of Musa Qala, Operation HERRICK (2001 to present)© Crown
A black and white photo of soldiers in uniform carrying guns running through a sea tide
Troops wading ashore from landing craft at St Aubin-sur-mer, Juno Beach (June 6 1944). From D-Day and the Battle for Normandy, Second World War (1939-45)© National Army Museum
An image of an oil painting of soldiers running through crowds within a battlefield
William Barns Wollen, The Territorials at Pozières (July 23 1916). Oil on canvas. From The Battle of the Somme, First World War (1914-18)© National Army Museum
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