More than 14,000 interviews from the Imperial War Museums‘ (IWM) sound archive have been made freely available online to the public for the first time.
The recordings, which make up half of the IWM’s extensive sound archive, relate to the Western Front and Gallipoli during the First World War and vividly capture the experiences of those from all ranks who served during these military campaigns, including men who fought in the Battle of the Somme and Ypres, and those who endured daily life in the trenches. The significant naval holdings forming part of the archive include interviews relating to the Battle of Jutland in 1916, while many others offer an insight into the ordinary seaman’s life on the lower decks and conditions onboard ships of the Royal Navy during this time. Another series of recordings reflect the experiences of pioneering airmen who served with the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War.
The recordings, which can be explored here, represent more than 14,000 individual digital assets and mainly comprise interviews with men and women who experienced warfare in its many guises from the beginning of the 20th century. All the major land campaigns of the Second World War and post-1945 conflicts are also significantly represented.
Anthony Richards, IWM’s Head of Documents and Sound, said: ‘One of IWM’s main priorities is to engage with audiences across the world. By opening access to our sound archives, we’re ensuring that personal stories from conflicts are remembered and that more people have access to our extensive collections beyond museum walls.’
IWM has published the material as part of a unique online initiative and aims to make further material available in the future. The IWM’s online collections can be searched at www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search.
The IWM’s flagship branch, IWM London, is currently closed while it undergoes refurbishment in preparation for the centenary in 2014 of the start of the First World War. It is due to partially reopen in July and will fully reopen in summer 2014, when it will unveil its brand new look and First World War Galleries.