Forgotten Fighters gallery

Essential information

Opening times: 
10.00–17.00 daily
National Maritime Museum, Second floor, Forgotten Fighters gallery

As part of the  National Maritime Museum’s commemoration of World War I, Forgotten Fighters: The First World War at Sea gallery explores the naval and maritime dimensions of the conflict. 

The horrors of the Western Front are all too familiar, but did you know about the Britons who gave their lives fighting at sea in World War I? The war at sea was fought on an epic scale and with terrible human loss. Despite their activities often being unseen or unreported, the men and women of the Royal Navy and merchant fleet were intrinsic to Britain’s contribution to WWI. Their war raged on the sea, beneath the waves, in the air and also on land.

The gallery includes stunning ship models and objects including weaponry, photographs and medals exploring everything from the heroism of merchant mariners to the shattering realities of naval battle, and from the Falkland Islands and the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and the North Sea.

Personal accounts

At the heart of the display are the personal stories of sixteen individuals including  reservists, WRENs, pilots and submariners, which bring the realities of the maritime struggle into sharp relief, from the heroism of merchant mariners to the shattering toll of naval battle. Among them are seventeen-year-old Graham Trounson, killed when HMS Good Hope was destroyed by German forces off the coast of Chile in 1914, and Katharine Furse, the first director of the Women’s Royal Naval Service. 

Royal Navy submarines and aircraft

The Royal Navy was at the forefront of new technologies in the form of submarines and aircraft during the First World War, neither of which had played a major part in conflicts before. The number of Royal Naval Air Service personnel grew to 55,000 from its humble beginnings of fewer than 1000, involved in the spotting and attacking of German targets on land and at sea.

View First World War items from the Museum's collections