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Walking up to the Imperial War Museum in London, the very first thing you see are…guns. Two massive honking deck guns from a battleship prominently displayed in the courtyard to be exact. From that introduction you wouldn’t be remiss in thinking that the rest of the museum would follow suit, but everywhere I went in the IWM, I felt a definite absence. There was one specific thing missing from the experience, and it was so blatantly obvious that even the little children scurrying around among the shredded hulks of enemy fighters and disassembled German rockets noted the absence. Somehow, there were no guns . . .

The Imperial War Museum had fighter planes, Russian tanks, and even a few Japanese officer’s swords, but there were no firearms. For a museum ostensibly trying to convey the experience and terrors of war, the one object carried by every soldier and which carried the greatest emotional attachment was nowhere to be found. Yes, there was an artillery piece or two, but there wasn’t a single rifle, handgun, or shotgun. Anywhere.

Firearms are a hugely important part of the story. Battles have been won and lost simply because one army showed up with the better small arms — some English engagements with native African tribes come to mind, specifically the first to effectively use Gatling guns. World War One would have been a decidedly different conflict except for Mr. Maxim’s creation. And let’s not forget the role that the American rifleman played in the American Revolution. Well, on second thought, the British might actually want to forget that one.

The point is that guns are an indispensable part of the history of warfare. The development of small arms changed the course of history, and while the individual firearm in a soldier’s hand might not seem that important when looking at the big picture, it can make or break a campaign. Prime example: American M-16 rifles in the early Vietnam years, a failure that set the tone for the entire conflict. Heck, I’ve written more than one history paper dissecting the mentality of a nation based solely on how their ammunition was packaged. Firearms are as important as any airplane, tank or bomb, but the Imperial War Museum doesn’t seem to want anything to do with them.

I’ve noticed this same phenomenon at another museum recently. The people of Finland in World War Two were incredible — they not only stopped the “invincible” Russian Red Army when they were attacked, but they made them turn tail and run for home. Buried in that incredible story is the story of Simo Häyhä, perhaps the greatest sniper who ever lived. World War Two was an event that had a massive impact on Finland and shaped the nation for decades to come, but in the history museum in Helsinki there are only three uniforms, a couple of rifles, and a brief mention of some vague unpleasantness. It’s almost like they’re trying to bury that chapter of the nation’s past, ashamed to let it into the daylight any more than absolutely necessary.

There’s no doubt that the British people have been conditioned to fear guns. I was speaking to an English colleague not too long ago and when I confirmed that I owned a firearm they started visibly shaking — a reaction that I’ve seen before, sadly. The fact that this rampant hoplophobia has worked its way even into the museums of England, that the curators happily discard parts of history that are now “offensive,” makes you wonder what else is being glossed over and neglected in the English education system.

I’ve always believed that in order to understand the world, you need to be a student of history. You need to understand all aspects of the world, and not just the fuzzy fluffy pretty parts. When a museum like the Imperial War Museum shows cans of spam and cooking utensils but omits the single most important piece of equipment in a soldier’s life, they’ve deliberately made a decision to edit history and leave something out. Something incredibly important.

When a country is so afraid of an object that they won’t even allow it to be displayed in a museum, there might be something wrong with that country.

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  1. Wow. I didn’t think much coming out of England these days would surprise me. But to not have something so instrumental in warfare is a gross injustice to history.

    • I remember hearing they’ve been dumping their old war rifles in the channel. Old Blighty has taken 1984 as some kind of instruction manual. When I was a kid I never thought there would be a day that I’d think “wow, so Rage against the machine and Green Day were right.”

      • I think we can now surmise that an asteroid wasn’t the undoing of the dinosaurs. They developed societies and the rulers somehow convinced them that their sharp teeth and claws were evil. They filed them down and the rest, as they say, is pre-history….

  2. Only evil men want to rewrite history. Revisionist history is one of the greatest tragedies liberals have committed the same as book burning and killing Dicidents

    • “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. “Reality control,” they called it: in Newspeak, “doublethink”.”

      – Orwell 1984

      • I read this book sometime in the 1990s as a high school student, Maybe in Junior high, I can’t remember exactly what year, because I read it for my own interest as opposed to any requirement.That was the first time a book scared the hell out of me. Not because of rats or anything, but because I COULD SEE IT HAPPENING FOR REAL.

        • I’m one of the lucky ones. We read it as a class assignment in 1965-66, and also “Brave New World” and “Lord of the Flies.” Those were the days when they taught Driver’s Ed in the schools. Anybody remember “Defensive Driving?”

    • It is a ‘call-to-arms’ too. Go out and buy something, keep your favorite purveyor of firearms (or find one that could be your new favorite) in business and any slump out of the market, or else British museums will just be an additional place that you can’t view firearms.

      If it is to be “Live by the sword. . . die by the sword” then die peacefully, in your sleep, with one beside you, and your family fearing to disturb the body for a period of not less than 3 days.
      ; )

  3. This is my rifle. There are many like it but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life….

    • +1 As a person of Swiss decent, as a descendent of William Tell, I couldn’t agree more. On a separate note, I hosted a middle aged man from Scotland at my home a couple of years ago. I attempted to show (hand) to him a British Enfield Mk IV .303, explaining that it was the rifle that his Father’s generation used to defend the UK from the Nazi’s. He refused, stating that “it frightened him”. What a pathetic pussy of a man. It’s a good thing that Germany no longer has eyes on England…too bad that the English pussies are going to hand their country over to the Islamists in a few years…. FROM MY COLD, DEAD FINGERS……

      • go easy on the anti Brit cr@p chum, plenty of “sissy boys in the USA”, we maybe your last friend in the world.

        • Of late, Australia has been sucking up to US much harder than UK, so I don’t think they’re worried much.

    • Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than the enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I Will.

  4. Simo Hayha was a certified badass. Didn’t even use a scope.

    One of the reasons I laugh at the obsession some people have over the latest and greatest weapon accessories. Don’t get me wrong, a good red dot or scope helps with shooting but fundamentals are the key.

    • Because scopes in the 1940s were not sealed, not reliable, and made you expose an inch more of yourself to the enemy. Better to take something that will work at -40 degrees and let you stay hidden better.

    • Been working on family friends and acquaintances for years. Nice eyes open collection of CHL holders going. We aren’t the left, we don’t need to lie or whitewash. Simple facts, knowledge given in a non-condescending manner, and acknowledge their feelings sincerely. People can sense sincerity, and we are lucky as crap so few on the left can fake it.

  5. When I visited the NRA museum near DC what struck me is the richness and diversity of firearms. I’m a pretty good student of history and have always found the history of weapons and warfare fascinating, as it is such a crucial aspect of history – whether it’s been the whims of rulers, religion, resources, greed, etc..

    Many of us are conditioned to contemporary firearms, you know the sexy black tacticool stuff – so seeing wall after wall of lavishly engraved wood and metal firearms was something different for me.

    Definitely developing an appreciation for the older wooden stocked firearms; enough that my new Buckmark has a walnut UDX grip.

    • Those sleek black AR’s and polymer semi auto pistols are just a gateway drug to the even sexier classic battle rifles and revolvers.

  6. “curators happily discard parts of history that are now offensive” is some Stalinist $#!7. You’re British colleague thought they were in the presence of a mass killer since their leftist conditioning says that’s all guns are for.

    • Pretty ironic for a society that built its history and wealth at the barrel of a musket or cannon (redcoats and Royal Navy of yesteryear).

      That seems to be the trend in Europe though – pretend that bad things don’t happen; and assume you can integrate anyone into your society.

      • Europeans assume they can integrate everyone they recently pillaged under the conditions of multiculturalism. But its just appeasement, another proud tradition. Just a generation or two ago it was a country of Clarksons who just dealt with things by “being British” about it. That must have been an easygoing place.

      • The scariest prediction I have is about Europe. By 2020 we will likely be looking at a European Union Caliphate swallowing up North Africa and the Mideast. There won’t be a war, they will simply be elected as demographics shift. Its not far, just look at the UN voting to condemn Israel with only US voting against it.

        Heck, we’ll probably end up fighting the EUC to defend London while allied with Russia or China. History tends to have a sense of humor.

        • Israel? If you believe that some 4000 year old collection of Bronze-age fairy tales extracted from Mazdaism-Jainism is somehow a legal real estate document, then I don’t know what to tell you.

          The problem in that neck of the woods is 100% generated by a whack-a-doodle “government” that between itself and it’s citizens steals land and property from the legal owners via the utter nonsense known as religion.

          Nobody in the former Ottoman territories cared that the Jews took over the country, the problem came when the Jews simply stole land from it’s lawful owners in the name of their own sand-cult. Which they keep doing, and keeps feeding the militants. (Muslims may be primitive civilization-killers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes have justification.)

          Were the gov in the US to change suddenly, most folks would do what they do – get on with their daily lives. But were the new gov to start simply taking lawfully owned property in the name of their religion, I guarantee it wouldn’t be a few harmless rockets, nor a few hitchhikers.

          That someone wants to have a land that reflects their beliefs is just fine. But when those beliefs mean that you steal from others that which they have earned, it’s gonna cause trouble. Especially when you use the ‘terrorist’ tactics that you now decry to found the country. (Watch Carbomb. The Israeli ‘founders’ were quite proud to be blowing up civilians in markets to achieve their ends…) Ask the men who served on the USS Liberty what they think about Israel…

        • Your “by 2020” prediction is laughable to anyone who can be bothered to go look up the demographics.

        • What 16V said, though I am not a civilization killer (except that one time but that was totes justified*). I would worry about the EU and ISIS (ISIL or whatever they are calling themselves this week). EU swallows and f**** up countries to keep their primary countries alive while ISIS doesn’t need an explanation (bunch of murderers using religion as an excuse while going against everything about the religion).


        • We have plenty of desert in the US, gubt owns most of it, Israel better make plans to move to AZ, after that we can simply close the borders and use drones to watch the rest of the world revert to the 13th century. Bye-bye, and good riddance. By 2100, they’ll have mostly killed each other or died of starvation, we can move BACK to Europe and exterminate their natives who are using sharpened sticks to fight us.

    • They’re also forgetting when us Yankees sent over our personal firearms to them to fight off the Germans because they didn’t have a firearms manufacturing base that could produce whatthey needed. People would carve their information into the stocks or put on brass plates in hopes they would be returned.

  7. Don’t forget the Smelly. The Brits had the best battle rifle in WWI and by far the best trained soldiers when it came to using it. Would have been the best of WWII also except for the M1 Garand.

  8. Actually, a very nice gun, armour and sword museum is the Frazier Museum in Louisville Kentucky down by the Ohio River. Well worth it if you are in the area. A lot of British militaria is located at the Frazier Museum.

  9. A little historical bit to clarify: Finland didn’t make the Red Army “turn tail and run for home,” they were in serious trouble by the end of the Winter War. They were run nearly dry of munitions and men on every front. If a cease fire hadn’t been signed Russia would have bullied their way right into Helsinki within a couple weeks–surely suffering even more casualties, but winning all the same.

    As much as I am proud of my Finnish half (my grandfather was a veteran and survivor of both the Finnish Civil War and the Continuation War) and the sisu and hardy ingenuity the Finns showed on the battlefield which sent half a million Russians home in pine boxes, it is largely luck that the Winter War turned out to be a virtual draw and not a Pyrrhic victory in Stalin’s favor.

    Despite their ferocity when on the ropes, Finns and other Scandinavians are unfailingly polite and modest folks. I’m not surprised that they would rather move on with their lives than bring up a grim and painful part of their history that tested their resilience as a nation.

    • I get the Winter War, but why Continuation War is a source of pride? It was a war of aggression, and some of the things that Finns did in captured (liberated, whatever floats your boat) territories in Eastern Karelia were decidedly not nice. Not anywhere near German level of “not nice”, but mass evictions and an occasional shooting of civilians did take place, and 4,000 civilian deaths (out of 24,000 total camp population) can rival many Soviet gulags.

      • Not nice and I would never do something like that but some people believe “the friend/subject of my enemy is my enemy”. Can’t really blame them (except in a court of law).

        Though where I am from we arrested people like that. Yes, we arrested our own soldiers if they killed civilians even though these civilians were occupying our land and had no problems with soldiers killing the people who lived there earlier in front of them.

        • Finland did try to hold themselves accountable for the deaths and negligence at those prison camps, under the color of their country’s own laws and without Allied or Soviet intervention. 723 of their POW camp staff were tried and convicted and a few got life sentences. Certainly life in a Finnish POW camp was very harsh, especially pre-1942 but compared to the mass starvation, executions etc. of millions in Soviet gulags along with the widespread evasion of accountability under Stalin’s regime, it is not even close to comparable.

          And the alliance with Germany was driven by Allied neglect of Finland during the Winter War (hell, Britain was officially at war with them throughout WWII though very little action was taken). It was an alliance based entirely on necessity and mutual animosity of the Soviets, not ideology. No one’s hands are entirely clean in war.

        • I didn’t mean to say that the scale was comparable, but rather the conditions. 1 in 6 mortality rate is pretty high, and higher than most gulags other than those that were extermination camps in all but name.

          The alliance with Germany is understandable from the defensive perspective, but not when Finland went ahead and not only reclaimed the lands it lost in Winter War (that part is arguably a just war of liberation), but went further in pursuit of “Greater Finland” to occupy the entire Karelia.

          I didn’t know the part where Finland itself put the people running POW camps on trial. That’s very interesting to know (and probably the only example of a country that was not occupied after the war, nor had a puppet government overthrown at the end of the war, prosecute its own officials for such things?). Are there any good books on the subject?

        • @int19h: There are some historical references that are available online, however a good number of them are in Finnish (sadly as a 2nd-gen American I have no proficiency in it whatsoever). Here is a decent place to start, though, regarding the POW camps:

          A great source on the Winter War can be found in William Trotter’s “A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940.” Very readable and well researched. Unfortunately solid English sources covering the Continuation War are a lot harder to come by. I’ve spent hours on Wikipedia and other sites trying to get a more complete picture.

        • “Finland did try to hold themselves accountable for the deaths and negligence at those prison camps, under the color of their country’s own laws and without Allied or Soviet intervention. 723 of their POW camp staff were tried and convicted and a few got life sentences.”

          Not strictly true, as far as I know. The Allied Control Commission in Finland was behind most if not all of these trials.

          The co-belligerent theory is hogwash too, as quite a few Finns in the upper echelons subscribed to German-influenced theories of race and social hygiene. They had the whole thing planned from at least the summer of 1940. It wasn’t quite Nazi-level stuff, but the occupation of East Karelia was pretty much planned around the eventual removal of undesirable Russian elements.

          I’m glad to live in a country never occupied by the Soviets, but there is no need for whitewash.

    • Considering the fate of other nations that went to war with the Soviet Union, Finland fared very well and still fought admirably against the Reds even in the continuation war, despite not having modernized (by then standard) equipment and only what limited anti-armor munitions supplied by the Germans or what could be bargained for, improvised, or captured.

      Their fate was better than being a Soviet satellite state Ill say. I’m sure they would agree. To this day, Russia knows it is unwise to risk many losses in men and materials for that frozen deathtrap defended by a culture of people that would gladly wear Russian flesh as wet weather gear if permitted.

  10. I saw something else that was missing. Those two guns don’t have any “turret” They look way too big to be deck guns, Must have had a turret.
    Nick, were you there, did you take them?

  11. The Winchester Mystery House has a very nice collection, and in the Bay area, no less.

    It’s like a little bit of America in the heart of California.

  12. Perhaps the Finns are reluctant to point out their militaria due to the fact that they allied with Nazi Germany in WWII. Granted, it was only on the Eastern Front but still it taints them.

    • Finland did that during the Continuation War. Technically the Finns were “co-belligerents” instead of allies (they weren’t signatories to the Tripartite Pact), were not found guilty of any war crimes and actually chased the Germans out of Lapland in the aftermath of the Continuation War–but yeah, still not a point of pride for them.

    • Not specifically, no.

      Furthermore, this “alliance” was out of necessity more than anything since the reluctant Allies wanted nothing to do with Finland during the Winter War.

      German armor, anti-tank guns, and such were absolutely critical for Finland’s defense. It was a shitty set of circumstances that had to me made for survival more than anything.

    • If you think Finns are somehow hiding their wartime guns, you just went to the wrong museum. The Infantry Museum in Mikkeli is where all the small arms are at (or were when I last went there), and Hämeenlinna is home to both the artillery and armour museums. They even used to have a Russian Maxim of wartime manufacture on display at a 1940s-vintage bunker where I live, but it was stolen last year. In addition, you can find cannon strewn everywhere as decoration, etc. etc.

      The author doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  13. Not surprised. They’re giving their country away to Muslims & PC. AND Europeans lecture us about “gun violence”.

  14. Read the comments on Brit websites like The Guardian or the Daily Mail when there’s an article about American gun ownership. They think we’re absolutely crazy for owning and enjoying them. Sad, really. Completely brainwashed and living in fear.

    • Largely true, Steve, yet I see a growing undercurrent of yearning there. Especially in the DM. The Guardian, I’ve noticed, frequently has comments shut down on gun articles.

  15. The same education system that began what I consider a brainwashing program.
    Know what the english system started? A campaign to call anyone carrying a weapon a pussy. That’s the only way to describe it. They used knives and screw drivers in the videos, I think. I guess this is the next best thing since they can’t ban commonplace tools… If someone knows of a recording on the broadcasts, please reply. I can’t find it on youtube.

  16. This was also being done under Bill Clinton millions of tons of surplus firearms were taken out of government warehouses and dumped at sea , next under Bill Clinton , Canon, tanks and machine guns were taken from National Guard units, and dumped at sea, Next under Clinton the old M1,s Springfield/Enfield rifles were taken and also many old WW1 and WW2 canons were taken from VFW and American Legion posts and even a canon used to remove snow over hangs were all dumped at sea ….and one year at summer camp we had guys cutting up brand new M16 bayonet’s by tons , and not to forget the tons of M1 rifles and M1 carbines in Korea that will never come home,, We also are talking big money is surplus the government is losing ….The world is upside down in WASH. D.C.

    • Actually, the legislation mandating the disposal of certain old arms was crafted and enacted under Bush the Elder.

      Sad, though.

    • And in the meantime, Russia still has millions of Mosins, PPSh and SKS piled up in its war reserve arsenals, in the event of mass mobilization on the scale last seen in WW2 (“fool me twice”…). And is making money by selling the excess, that overfills those arsenals as new items trickle in, to American civilians. Oh, the irony.

      • On the plus side, we have lots and lots of semi-auto AR’s. Plus additional millions that are competent at hunting deer and whatnot. Not much of a shift to the two-legged type.

        My fiancé definitely gave me a look as I explained the features of my latest scope purchase that are designed to help shoot people. “This dot is to help you lead them when they’re running”.

        • I remember reading somewhere that just the registered hunters in Minnesota are larger than the next 5 largest of the worlds armies.

  17. Interesting. I was at the IWM 10 years ago, and there was an exhibit about the SAS and the storming of the Iranian Embassy in London. That display had plenty of guns, from the Browning HPs that were used by both sides to Patchett/Sterlings, MP5s and so on. They even had a P35 that had been used by the terrs to hold a hostage. That particular gun had an interesting feature of having had an SAS guy put a bullet through the grips and into the terrorist behind.

  18. I visited the Imperial War museum (same as in the article) in 2008, and I remember seeing a wide variety of small arms & crew served…. and yes, the 14″ battleship guns out front were mounted in a turret when onboard ship…but I think that display is fantastic!

  19. Hey Nick, did you at least ask your terrified colleague if all his countrymen were pussies like him? I hate English people and I’m ashamed to have any ancestry from there.

  20. Very sad about the Finns, but Finland has always been conflicted about the Russo-Finnish War and its antecedents. The Finnish political class has always had a strong Socialist streak. Marshall Mannerheim was an import – he spent most of his military career as an officer in the Russian army under the Tsar, escaping during the Bolshevik revolution. He rid his native Finland of occupying Russian troopers in the subsequent Finnish civil war, in the process breaking the back of the Finnish Reds, who were counting on the support of those now-Sovietized soldiers. As soon as that distasteful task was accomplished, he was shunted out of office with indecent haste. When the country was again threatened, this time by Stalin and Molotov, he was hauled back to Helsinki with similar haste and given essentially absolute power over the national defense. After the Russo-Finnish War and the so-called War of Continuation in which Finland was a reluctant co-belligerent of Germany, he was not only dismissed but exiled – he died in Switzerland. But he was neat and thorough – a good staff officer as well as a great field commander – and he finished his Memoirs – the best military memoirs I’ve ever read – before expiring. In them you will fail to find the slightest trace of self-aggrandizing bombast or any hint of bitterness at his treatment by the politicians.

    • Mannerheim’s political support waned after the CW because his irrational nostalgia for the Russian Empire almost led him to lead the Finnish Army to war against Soviet Russia in support of the Whites. Such an operation would have backfired horribly, so the rest of the political establishment mothballed him.

      • Mannerheim was a distinguished and well-respected officer in the Russian Imperial Army. I think that on the personal level, his feelings are quite understandable.

        • Late Imperial Russia had been a pretty terrible place to live in (what with the increasing repression and all), so the more staunchly nationalist people didn’t agree.

        • For the majority of people, sure (the revolution didn’t just happen randomly). But Mannerheim was of the nobility, and recognized by law as such.

          Also, from my reading of the situation in Finland, it really was very different (and much better) than most everywhere else in the Empire, largely because of the hands-off policies of the four emperors preceding Nicholas II. That idiot truly screwed everything he touched.

        • Largely true, but the Russification of e.g. Estonia and Latvia predated him. They weren’t especially rebellious either.

  21. It almost makes me want to weep; the travesties against Human history being committed there. Ours is a family history, a tapestry sewn with the sweat, tears, blood, and sadness of our fore-bearers. That same tapestry holds as much brightness, too, sewn with the hope, kindness, love, and heroism that they all shared. Removing even the tiniest patch takes away meaning from all the rest of it. It teaches us. About ourselves and each other. The message fades, though, when we alter and ignore it. How are we supposed to know where the bright spots came from if we’ve cut out and bleached the dark ones? How are we supposed to learn from our mistakes, and leave this place better than we found it?

    We must always remember where it all came from, because if we don’t know where we’ve been, we’ll never be able to figure out just where in the Hell we’re going.

    • 100% !!!! On a smaller scale I have a bunch of barely not yet antique guns that my ancestors used to help them in their journey from east to west USA. The stories are lost unfortunately but still they are pieces of history to cherish not spurn. Still working on my brother who will “not have a gun in his house” even if it be a beautiful derringer mounted in a display case and harmless. Sad.

  22. I saw a show recently that had a countdown of the top 100 world-changing inventions of all time. The wheel was number one, of course, but the absurd thing is that “The Gun” wasn’t on the list, in any form. CDs are great and all, but they didn’t change the world the same way that guns did. The world would have managed to get from cassette tapes to digital music without the CD. But so many millions have been and continue to be killed by firearms, so many wars lost and won because of firearms… whether you love or hate firearms they’re arguably in the top 10. But they weren’t on the list at all.

    How have we [society, not you and I] been so brainwashed that guns are so truly evil that we need to pretend they don’t exist?

    This story about the museum feels the same as that television show.

    But pretending they don’t exist doesn’t change the fact that they do.

    • Um, CDs are digital music; not downloaded, but digital. That’s where the paranoia got huge, rather than the low grumbling about tape.

      But it the idea. Not on the list at all, eh? Didn’t see that programme; likely won’t…

      • I know CDs are digital, that was my point. We can have digital music without the CD, the CD wasn’t a prerequisite to digital music. I was looking to point out a trivial example of things that have had far, far less of an impact on the world than a gun, but there were dozens of other examples.

        My point still is this… The antis want to blame firearms for the evil that exists in the world, evil that would exist with or without guns. They want to pretend that evil couldn’t exist without guns, so maybe if they don’t acknowledge guns’ influence on the world then all the evil will melt away….

    • I’m not familiar with that list, but you did not say “that changed the world for the better”, just “changed the world”. You would think the antis would place the gun at number 2, which is where I would put it.

    • I think that show was apart of a mini series, because they had another one on the 101 weapons that changed the world.

  23. DG Dillman and B
    I hate to put a fly in your ointment guys, but, The ships were the Rodney, and the Nelson (sister ships).
    They were the the only British ships with 16″, yes, 16″ guns. I could hardly believe myself. I looked it up.

  24. Nick,
    I been waiting for over two hours now, and you haven’t told me: Did you steal the turret from those 15 inchers?

  25. “I was speaking to an English colleague not too long ago and when I confirmed that I owned a firearm they started visibly shaking — a reaction that I’ve seen before, sadly. ”


    I mean really for real?

    I think you must be pulling our legs cause this can’t happen.

    Can it?

    • Agreed. Don’t find this believable. Even if it is true, that’s not typical of most of the Brits I’ve met.

      And I grew up in a Commonwealth country – can still speak with a British accent if I choose.

      As far as European cultures go, Brits are pretty close to us in many ways. Ever-stoic; and certainly not the type to tremble over someone owning guns. They’d probably crack a dry joke.

      • Track the Arthur Dent progression. The TV series version was an unflappable aloof badass who could quip his way out of a problem with the best of them. Case in point he talked the guy tearing down his house into laying down in the mud for him. I like to think he represented the British ideal at the time. The movie version was a whiny little metrosexual beta male. He probably represent the ideal now. Sad.

    • Gloomhound,

      I can only speak for myself, but as a Brit visiting the US last year my host mentioned in passing that he routinely carried a concealed firearm.

      I didn’t start shaking, or run away screaming, or have a fit of the vapours, and neither did any of my countrymen… but we did have an interesting conversation about the relative merits of various calibres (he was a hardcore .45 fan and his CCW was a Colt Defender: I’d be more inclined to Glock from familiarity and 9mm for the larger magazine, maybe a 19 or a 26 depending on exactly how I intended to carry). We went on to discus options for turning some live rounds into neat groups and empty cases, although on that occasion time and logistics were against us.

      Sadly, there almost certainly are a slack handful of British folk so hoplophobic that the mere mention of the word “gun” sends them into shock (though don’t you get some of those in the US as well?) but they’re few and far between – though probably annoyingly memorable.

  26. Same in Australia. The Powerhouse Museum used to have a collection of firearms including those used by the Australian Military. Of particular note was a display on the design and production of the Owen submachine gun.

    These displays are now noted by their absence.

    The only decent small arms display nowadays is the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum which is several hours drive west of Sydney. But I’ve heard it is a great museum and I’m looking forward to taking my son there at some time.

  27. The museum of the foot guards (really small, you look around a bit to find it, but it’s not far from the foot guards’ chapel and barracks) used to have all kinds of rifles on display from the entire history of those regiments.

    I wonder if they’re gone too.

  28. That’s a bit spooky, really. I remember how a Royal was taken to task for teaching his offspring to shoot. The Royals Know, and they Understand. The Queen has come out against civilian disarmament on several occasions, but of course cannot prevent or reverse it.

    Pity Parliament doesn’t get it, and that while the British Constitution is protected from the Royals, it’s not protected from Parliament.

    As to their educational system, once the Mormon Wars or the lead up to Li’l Big Horn are properly covered in our schools, then can we point fingers.

    And Finand…? The one place too tough for the Russians? I find it downright frightening that they’d ever let the memory fade.

    ‘Course, they did ally with Hitler – thanks to Stalin – who “needed” the Karrelian Isthmus, thanks to Hitler… A lot of countries on the wrong side of that little fracas would rather forget – save Germany, of course, with their own version of “never again.”

    But the Imperial War Museum…? British rifle tactics? Nothing…?

    Gonna go read me some Kipling, just to get the taste of a gun-less war museum outta my mouth.

    Ugh! Yuck! Bleah!

  29. It’s England. The only reason they can afford to be so pathetically disarmed is that if they ever got attacked they know we’ll always be there to rescue them. The reason we’ll always be there to rescue them is that our citizens alone are better armed than any other countries military.

  30. They used to have guns there… my Grandparents lived right around the corner, so I went there often as a kid. I was always playing in Bedlam Park – the area that the war museum sits within.

  31. “Heck, I’ve written more than one history paper dissecting the mentality of a nation based solely on how their ammunition was packaged. Firearms are as important as any airplane, tank or bomb, but the Imperial War Museum doesn’t seem to want anything to do with them.”

    I would like to see these.

  32. Brits and guns…as Yul Brenner said “Is a puzzlement”.

    Just ran across this which is interesting. Its a photo treatment of “Inventories of war: soldiers’ kit from 1066 to 2014”

    Also this month marks 98 years since the greatest machine gun barrage in history. A million rounds fired from 10 machine guns in 12 hours. It happened at the Battle of High Wood. Brits fighting Germans. 75 acres of hell on Earth. Google it.

  33. That sort of thing is here too. I was over at the Ellicott City B&O museum with my family some time ago, where they have a bunch of stuff related to the Civil War. The woman giving the tour has happy to talk in detail about the different rooms until we got upstairs. She wouldn’t even open her mouth. The first room we walked into was full of Civil War eras longguns. And they were gorgeous. I asked her for a little more details (not that I needed them) but she wasn’t exactly willing to talk about them.

  34. Interesting. I was in London last year, and while I didn’t have time for the museum scene (this trip was a long layover between other destinations), I did have an interesting conversation about guns with a local in a member’s only cocktail club (I was visiting a friend who was a member). No visible shaking, and in fact she thought it was a shame that firearms freedom is totally foreign there.

    On a previous trip I admired the arsenal at the Tower of London. Perhaps they were replicas, but the walls were covered in artful displays like a wheel formed of pistols and columns encircled by rifles. Last year that part of the Tower was closed down for renovations. No word on whether that included pitching the firearms into the Thames. 😉

    I suppose if you go looking for supporting evidence for a preconceived notion (i.e., everyone in England is terrified of firearms) you’ll certainly find it. That didn’t match my experience, however. For what it’s worth.

  35. That’s just pathetic. There’s an art museum in Huntington WV that had, and probably still has, a large exhibit of artistic firearms dating back to even matchlock muskets. Each one has exquisite engravings and/or inlays. Sad that an art museum would have more firearms than a War museum does. The very least those wack jobs could have done was buy replicas.

    • Hey, as of 6-7 years ago, the Doge’s Palace in Venice had a huge amount of ancient arms, including crossbows which were also matchlocks! And in one storage area (ie not pointed out or deliberately on display), I saw what clearly was some manner of a test several hundred years ago, a breastplate with a lead ball shaped dent in it. I was amazed.

  36. The arms collection is in Leeds at the IWM (Royal Armory Museum) museum there. Hampton Court has a large room with firearms displayed around the entire wall area, must be hundreds there. The Royal Army museum in Chelsea has many on display, and the Warrior in Portsmith must have several hundred pistols and rifles displayed in their racks on the ship. Been to London many times and seen hundreds of firearms displayed in the museums around the city. Lots more in the museums scattered around the country. You just did not look in the right place. England is full of museums with different missions to the public. When last in the IWM in south London there were many firearms being displayed but I understand the museum has been completely overhauled and displays changed for the 100 anniversary of WWI. There are after all five IWMs around the country.
    At Bletchley Park I had a long conversation with one of the guides about his gun collection and the surrender of it some years back. No fear of guns, just lament over the loss.
    It is the sad fact that Americans all think they have the answers to all the questions even when they do not understand the makeup of the country they are visiting. All of Europe is different from the US in many basic ways that take some time to begin to understand. That is why we are known as the Ugly Americans. When visiting a foreign country it is best to be quiet and learn.

  37. “I was speaking to an English colleague not too long ago and when I confirmed that I owned a firearm they started visibly shaking”

    By “colleague” do you mean fellow “gun nerd” or a fellow “competitive shooter”? Why would they be put off by your owning guns?

    The IWM in London is heavily focused on artifacts relevant to the Word Wars. In those wars small arms were not terribly innovative or decisive, especially not as compared to the importance of the emergence of armor, airpower and modern communications.

    I think you’re reading too much into this.

    • I’d be interested in what Nick thinks is the reason these people are struck with fear and quake at the mention of his firearms ownership. Do they think he is about to pull out a pistol and shoot them dead simply because he is a gun owner? (“Those gun nuts, you can’t ask them the time of day without risking getting shot!”) What do such people think of people who hunt or participate in commonplace shooting sports like skeet? Even the royals shoot (and with silencers, to boot!) Shooting in the UK may be mostly popular among the upper-class, but in neighboring Norway rifle hunting is highly popular in the general population. I can understand fear at coming face-to-face with a gun, but fear at coming face-to-face with a gun owner? That’s insane. Such a person likely has emotional problems beyond hoplophobia. I’d recommend psychological help, and when ready perhaps a vacation among friendly eskimo subsistence hunters (who live by their rifles), some fun guided range trips with friends, maybe even a visit to a welcoming and “well-regulated” militia meet.

  38. I visited the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester about a month ago. I saw plenty of firearms there. From memory, I saw at least three Luger P08 pistols, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Webley revolver, a collection of some of the various Sten submachine gun variants, a British Arisaka rifle (purchased from the Japanese around the beginning of World War I), and a .303 British cartridge and hand grenade on display. I think I also saw a SMLE, and I saw a sculpture of an alligator made out of decommissioned AKs and and ammunition belts as well as some knives and bayonets. Of course, I would have been happy to see more weaponry, but I don’t feel that small arms were underrepresented considering the amount of uniforms and other personal equipment that was on display (not that much). The museum’s focus was not just on displaying a collection of militaria and weaponry, it had a focus on making the experience of people who lived through such events relatable, with many personal stories and recorded experiences, and I thought that was commendable. I thought it was a good museum and I’m surprised to hear it’s brother museum in London has such a regrettable omission.

    That’s not to say that the museums in the UK do not reveal a hoplophobic bias. At the Kelvingrove museum in Glasgow there is a very nice large display case of swords, arranged around wire sculptures of swordsmen demonstrating historical fighting stances of the various kinds of swords represented. But it bothered me that the description of the dress swords (rapiers and smallswords) included a statement expressing the idea that “Because gentlemen were always armed, minor quarrels often became fatal bloodbaths.” I’m paraphrasing the sentence from memory, but it was very similar. I was displeased that it was considered permissible to make such a claim, that even the most civilized of people are just a weapon within arm’s reach away from murder at the slightest provocation, without even providing any evidence for such an argument. In the mentality of the museum, ready civilian access to weapons leading to immoral violence and frequent murder is self-evident. It was not acknowledged that other factors play a much larger and far more relevant role at the root of violent crime.

  39. This past July my wife and I had occasion to be in Kansas City, MO and visited an outstanding museum there: the National 1st World War Museum. It’s been recently restaged and was an incredible 4-hour experience. You enter through massive bronze doors and then pass over a glass bridge under which are 9,000 poppy plants, each representing 1,000 soldiers killed in WWI. The museum covers the entire war from 1914 through 1918 and included tons of static displays, interactive screens, videos, and views into recreations of trench warefare at it’s worst. And Yes, it was loaded with rifles, pistols, cannons, and even included a little French tank. I highly recommend it as an experience not to be missed if you have the chance.

  40. You must have missed a whole wing or level of the museum. I was there in 2011 and there was a huge area with dioramas of real firearms throughout the years including modern MG’s and SMG’s. Basically it was me walking around and saying “have that, have that,…want that”. I doubt they scrapped whole wings of historical artifacts in the last 3 years. This article is factually untrue and inciting people for nothing.

      • The Imperial War Museum has just opened after a major renovation. It has been many years since have been there. They had lots of unique artifacts of history and it would surprise me there were no firearms present.

  41. Were you at the right museum? I was last there in 2011 and they seemed to have no shortage of them. It’s not the NRA museum or Springfield but it sure seemed well (small) armed enough. Maybe it’s a new thing? They still have loads of them in The Tower and the adjacent Fusilier Museum as of this spring.

  42. imperial war museum used to have many rifles, handguns, swords, rpg and so on. Maybe you missed the entrance to the galleries…. (in this case I have many images available for you to check)

  43. I lived in England for 10 years and your article touched a nerve so I shared it on Facebook.

    All my British friends and relations immediately started posting pictures from a recent outing (today, in fact) at the IWM in Lambeth (a borough of London)…
    Her comment: “Ruth Isabel Wright I do not know where these people went but today when Isaac and I were at IWM there were guns and plenty of them – just inside cases.”

    “Ruth Isabel Wright just one of the displays Isaac took a photo of. There were loads of vehicles, and bombs too, so not at all sanitised as the rubbish article implies.”

    Also, a friend posted a photo from the IWM in Duxford (Cambridgeshire) featuring a German Stg .44
    His comment: “Paul Thomas Gardner I understand that they have just revamped the IWM Lambeth (pictured) and I guess they left out firearms. Perhaps it’s because it’s in London? Fortunately IWM Duxford has displays including mannequins with firearms and there is even a display where you can handle a deactivated Thompson. It is chained to the display but you can pick it up etc. Nonetheless, GB is fast headed for ‘1984’.”

    So…I guess you just weren’t looking in the right place?

  44. If you want to see guns you need to visit the War Museum in Belgium. It is one of the best collection of historic and modern guns I have ever seen in my life. Pistols, long guns, artillery… You name it. It goes from their earliest to most modern. Not to mention tanks, naval, aircraft, etc.

    That said, one of my Brussels colleagues was shocked when she say my computer wallpaper of my son shooting a BB gun at Cub Scout day camp. He was 8 at the time. I explained to her it was only a BB gun but apparently even that is verboten for a child over there.

    That was when she also confessed the dark secret that she’d never shot a gun, but had always wanted to go shooting. Unfortunately, I scheduling didn’t work out for me, but others in the office were able to take her. Things were a bit rushed but she did have fun. I still owe her a trip to my range, though. 🙂

  45. I was there in 2005 and there were tons of guns, I know because I have photos of all of them. Also the museum of the Army in Paris is chock full of guns. I’m not sure where you get your info.

  46. What’s the source for this? A quick search of the IWM collections database on their websites shows hundreds of firearms from various conflicts and many countries listed in their collections. That doesn’t mean they’re being exhibited, but would seem to indicate that the museum at least still possesses them.

    I’ve been to many museums and castles in England over the years and have seen countless firearms. It’s part of why I like going.

  47. Um I was just there 2 weeks ago and there are entire displays with guns on the 2nd and 3rd floor, and the new WW1 display has plenty of guns, including a really cool MG with iron bars coming out of it simulating its field of fire. There are plenty of old russian guns, the spy exhibit has all kinds of guns from WW1/2 up to the 80s and 90s.

    The coolest display they have actually is a whole case with clubs, grenades, knives and guns all set in cool metal holders all in a diagonal.

    If I was to estimate, I would say that I saw 200+ firearms throughout my day there. And yes it was the exact same museum, you can’t miss the guns out front. So again, what freaking Imperial War Museum did you go to?

  48. Apparently either too proud, couldn’t be assed or too loaded with preconceived notions to go ask a docent or to speak to a curator.


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