Armies of the Great War: The British Army and the First World War

Armies of the Great War: The British Army and the First World WarThe British Army and the First World War by Ian F.W. Beckett, Timothy Bowman, Mark Connelly
ISBN: 052118374X
Published by Cambridge University Press on May 30, 2017
Genres: Reference
Pages: 482

This volume was a collaborative effort of three professors at the University of Kent. Unlike the other volumes of this series reviewed in this issue, this one has no statistical tables; unfortunate since there are anecdotal numbers presented throughout the narrative.

It assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the British Army between 1914 and 1918, and discusses debates about the adequacy of British generalship and the so-called “learning curve” in the development of combat operations. Their conclusion is that despite limitations of initiative and innovation among the British high command, the British Army succeeded in developing effective combined arms warfare necessary for achieving victory in 1918.

The Western Front receives the lion’s share of attention with British Army operations “throughout the rest of the world” relegated to 26 pages. The index has “BEF, See British Expeditionary Force” but there is no such listing which means any pages where the BEF’s changing organization, such as the increase in machine-guns per battalion and decrease in battalions per division are lost (or nonexistent).

Reviewed by Dana Lombardy, publisher of WWOI