War Museums

From a traveller’s perspective it is interesting to learn how the first and second world wars in particular affected areas of the world that you are less familiar with. There are some very good war museums around, here are a few of my favourites.

Imperial War Museum, London, UK

The IWM is the most impressive collection of war memorabilia I have seen. Collections include clothes, uniforms, gas masks, wartime advertising and personal artefacts such as ration books. They tell personal stories of wartime, have an exhibition on the holocaust and show exhibitions of wartime art and photography. They also have a bombing simulation in a reconstruction of a bombed street in 1940 where you can experience being bombed. Not nice, but very interesting. IWM is open daily and entry is free.

Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, Germany

The Checkpoint Charlie Museum focuses on the erection, meaning of, effects and dismantling of the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1990. The wall divided East and West Berlin and it is estimated that over 200 people died in their attempts to escape from East Berlin. The museum showcases parts of the Berlin Wall and tells the stories of those who escaped. Modern day Berlin is a young city with lots happening and some great places to stay too. It is open daily and entry is €12.50.

JEATH Museum, Kachanburi, Thailand

JEATH stands for Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand and Holland, which represent the nationalities of the prisoners of war forced to work on the construction of the famous Bridge on the River Kwai. The museum is on the bank of the river, near the bridge, and displays items used in the railway’s construction in 1942-3. The museum features graphic photos of the conditions the POWs lived in and real accounts written by survivors. The museum is small but worth a visit and the town of Kachanburi, where it is situated, is only a few hours drive west of Bangkok. The museum is open daily and entry is 30 Baht.

Barbados Museum, Bridgetown, Barbados

Being educated in the UK I never heard about Barbados’ involvement in the world wars, but my eyes were opened by a visit to the Barbados Museum.  Their military gallery shows the military milestones from the 17th century to the Barbados Defence Force’s development in the 1970s. The museum showcases military regalia, armaments, medals and photographs and a list of the names of Barbados servicemen who lost their lives in the world wars. It is open daily  and entry is $11.50.

HMS Belfast, London, UK

The HMS Belfast is a navy ship that is permanently moored on the Thames. It has been preserved as it was in use, with some areas, such as the galley featuring models depicting a reconstruction of life onboard the ship. Sleeping quarters, officers’ quarters, the wheelhouse and engine rooms are all on show. Exploring HMS Belfast offers a fascinating insight into life onboard a navy battleship during world war 2 and is convenient to visit being in central London.. It is open daily and £14.

Have you been to any impressive war museums that are not on this list? Please share your recommendations in the comments below.

Photo credit: drbexl


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