World War I Timeline


28th June – Emperor Franz Ferdinand assassinated in Sarajevo
4th August – Britain declares war on Germany
Click to see the diary of Gallery Director James Milner, recording the outbreak of the First World War. (NPG9/1/2/1 © National Portrait Gallery, London)
16th November – Gallery Director Charles Holmes and 17 male staff members are sworn in as Special Constables to protect the Gallery and its collections
6th December – Special Constable Squads are instructed in fire-drills by a Mr Bartlett from the British Museum


19th January – First German zeppelin attacks on Yarmouth, Britain
1st November – Gallery closes to the public 'to protect against German aerial attack'
20th December – Gallery buildings are occupied by the Separation Allowances Department, which was in charge of payments for soldiers' families.
Click to see a letter thanking the Gallery for the loan of its buildings for wartime use by the government. (NPG66/5/1/1 © National Portrait Gallery, London)


20th January – Assistant Director James Milner reports that the Gallery’s lighting is too visible, especially from the roofs, and needs to be masked
27th January – conscription introduced in Britain
26th September – Director Charles Holmes is appointed Director of the National Gallery, and Assistant James Donald Milner is promoted to Director of the National Portrait Gallery
28th November – First German aeroplanes attack London 


28th - 30th September – 372 soldiers and civilians from a YMCA take refuge from bombing in the Gallery's basement
Click to see a memorandum from the Police informing the Gallery that an air raid is expected. (NPG66/5/2/8 © National Portrait Gallery, London)


14th January – 507 portraits taken by train to National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth
Click to see a telegram noting that portraits have arrived safely at the National Library of Wales. (NPG66/5/2/5 © National Portrait Gallery, London)
11th November – Germany signs an armistice with the allies


28th June – Treaty of Versailles signed
18th October – Separation Allowances Department move out of the Gallery building
25th October – An exhibition of 40 portraits from the National Portrait Gallery's collection is shown at the National Gallery for returning servicemen


31st March – Staff cease to act as Special Constables and return to their normal duties
6th April – Rooms 1-12 on top floor and landing are re-opened to the public
20th July – East wing re-opened meaning that the entire Gallery is now open to the public.
Click to see an extract from the Gallery's 1919-1920 annual report announcing the re-opening of the Gallery. (NPG10/65 © National Portrait Gallery, London)

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