Virtual reality tour shows AMAZING memorial to fallen soldiers

The WWI museum that never was: Incredible VR tour takes you through a memorial to fallen soldiers that was planned in 1918 but never built

  • In 1918 the British government had commissioned select pieces of art to sit inside a Hall of Remembrance
  • The project was forgotten even though several works of art had already been commissioned especially for it
  • The Imperial War Museum has used virtual reality to allow everyone to navigate the Remembrance Hall in 3D
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Modern technology has allowed a museum to create a virtual Hall of Remembrance.

In 1918, the British government had commissioned select pieces of art to sit inside an ambitious Hall of Remembrance.

The initial plan was to create a bespoke gallery full of remembrance and commemoration, but the project was forgotten. 

The Imperial War Museum (IWM) has now recreated the hall so everyone can enjoy the works of art.

The virtual reality tour starts off at the entrance of the Imperial War Museum in London, which has grand marble pillars and subtle lighting. The exhibition is especially timely as 2014 to 2018 marks the centenary of the First World War

This work of art is one of the first you will see on the tour, the piece is called ‘The Gassed Sargent’ and was painted by John Singer. In the painting you can see many soldiers on the floor while a line of others marches on, visible in the background are other soldiers who seem as though they are pulling on rope 

This painting is called ‘The Battle of Ypes, Cameron’ by David Young. The picture shows a deserted battlefield which is muddy and filled with water. The Battle of Ypres (and the numerous battles that surrounded this Flanders town) has become linked forever with World War One

Several works of art had been commissioned before the original plans were abandoned and some existing pieces were donated, which were the pieces that made the foundation of the museum. 

The technology allows anyone to walk the halls using an interface that’s very similar to Google Street View, allowing you to navigate in 3D as you browse.

The proposed architect Charles Holden, was prominent in his field and known for the modernity of his designs. He had an interest in integrating sculpture into architectural elements,but the ambitious plan for a memorial gallery to the war dead was never realised.

The entire project ran out of time and funds and the Imperial War Museum became the custodian of the remaining collection of paintings and sculpture.  

Some of Britain’s most talented and influential artists of the First World War period produced large oil paintings for the Hall of Remembrance that never was

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How did World War One start? The shooting of Austro-Hungarian Archduke and the bloody campaign that followed

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, pictured, was assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with his Serbian wife Sophie on June 28, 1914

In the event, which is widely accepted to have sparked the outbreak of World War One, Archduke Franz Ferdinand – the nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph and heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire – was shot dead.

He was assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with his Serbian wife, Sophie, on June 28, 1914. 

Eventually killed by 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, the couple had earlier that day been attacked by another man who threw a grenade at their car.

Archduke Ferdinand was shot in the neck, while his wife was hit in the abdomen. The assassination is believed to have started a domino effect which led to the break out of World War One a month later.

Princip and others wanted Bosnia to become part of Serbia.  Austria-Hungary, like many in countries around the world, blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the question of Slav nationalism once and for all. 

As Russia supported Serbia, an Austro-Hungarian declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention–which would likely involve Russia’s ally, France, and possibly Britain as well. 

On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed. Within a week, Russia, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Serbia had lined up against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and World War One had begun. 

Artillery units of Austria-Hungary began to rain down shells on Belgrade, the Serbian capital – the very first shots of World War One.

That attack was to start a chain reaction that, within weeks, embroiled all of the world’s great powers into a global war which mobilised more than 70 million military personnel. The Great War – as it was soon to be known – was the first military conflict to be fought on an industrial scale.

But the technological advances that led to increases in the lethality of weapons were not matched by changes in strategy, with both sides resorting to practically suicidal human wave attacks.

Although much of the warfare took place in Europe, battle was soon joined across the planet via the colonies of the European imperial powers.

By 1918, the powers of Central Europe were exhausted by fighting. A final last-ditch offensive along the Western Front by Germany was successfully repelled and, as U.S. forces began to enter the trenches, the Allies staged a series of successful advances, forcing the enemy to surrender on November 11.  

One of the pieces includes a painting of the Battle of Ypes, Cameron by David Young.

Along with the Battle of the Somme, the battles at Ypres and Passchendaele have gone down in history and will be forever linked to World War One. 

The town had been the centre of battles due to its strategic position, but the sheer devastation of the town and the surrounding countryside seemed to perfectly summarise the futility of battles fought in World War One.

The artworks haven’t been displayed in the same place, together, since 1920 said IWM curator Alex Walton.

Menin Road, by Nash Paul. A devastated battlefield pocked with rain-filled shell-holes, flooded trenches and shattered trees lit by unearthly beams of light from an apocalyptic sky. Two figures pick their way along a tree-lined road, the road punctuated by shell-holes and lined by tree stumps

Oppy Wood, 1917 Evening’ the picture was by artist Nash John. There is a wood of shattered trees littered with corrugated iron and planks at ground level. The sky stretches above in varying shades of blue with a spectacular cloud formation framing a clear space towards the top of the composition

Matthew Martin, Managing Director at Immersive Studios, who build the virtual memorial said: “We’re very proud to be able to help IWM bring the Hall of Remembrance to life.

He continued “The developments in immersive technology make it possible to recreate and experience digital spaces as if you’re physically there.” It allows visitors to explore the artwork in their own time – providing a fitting and poignant memorial to the First World War.”

The exhibition is especially timely as 2014 to 2018 marks the centenary of the First World War.

All you’ll need to look around is a reasonably modern web browser. You can take the tour on the Imperial War Museum website now.


On April 6, 1917, the United States joined the First World War by sending troops, money and supplies overseas. It was already three years into the war that started on July 28, 1914.

The US had tried to stayed out of the conflict before that, but continued to trade with Britain. Germany damaged or sunk American trade ships going between the US and Britain, despite the fact that the US was neutral. 

By February 1915, Germany declared war against all ships that came into the war zone around Britain. In March of that year a German cruiser sank a private American vessel, though the country apologised and said it was a mistake.

Things got worse in May 1915 when the British ocean liner Lusitania was torpedoed, killing 1,198 passengers of the total 1,959. Of those killed, 128 passengers were American. 

The US demanded compensation and called for Germany to stop attacking passenger and merchant ships, which they agreed to until they sunk an Italian liner in November, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans.

By 1917, Germany formally resumed their unrestricted warfare on all ships within the war zone and one of their U-boats sunk an American liner. The US broke diplomatic ties with Germany hours after. The US Congress and President Woodrow Wilson had enough.

In February 1917, Congress passed a bill to prepare the American military for war and in March, Germany sunk four American merchant ships.

President Wilson called for a declaration of war against Germany to Congress on April 2, 1917, and four days later they granted his request. The first US soldiers arrived in France for training on June 26. 

There were 14,000 infantry troops and the arrival of fresh troops marked a turning point in the war for the benefit of the Allies. By the summer of 1918 about a million troops had arrived in France, half of whom would go on to see the front lines of battle.

Back in the US, Americans rallied together to help the Allies win the war by gathering food supplies, munitions and money, and enlisting soldiers. At first there was some confusion and disorganisation, that included a coal shortage and cargo delays because of traffic jams in the rail yards and a lack of strong leadership.

President Wilson got hold of the situation by early 1918 and the country worked together to help win the war. The US Food Administration taught Americans to economize on food and start victory gardens in their backyards to grow food for soldiers. Patriotism and support for the war became an important part of American culture.

Though the US was only involved for 20 months, by the end of the war on November 11, 1918, a total of 116,516 American soldiers died, 53,402 of those were killed in combat. 204,002 were wounded.

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