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Learning to Fight

Book description

Learning, innovation and adaptation are not concepts that we necessarily associate with the British army of the First World War. Yet the need to learn from mistakes, to exploit new opportunities and to adapt to complex situations are enduring and timeless. This revealing work is the first institutional examination of the army's process for learning during the First World War. Drawing on organisational learning and management theories, Aimée Fox critiques existing approaches to military learning in wartime. Focused around a series of case studies, the book ranges across multiple operational theatres and positions the army within a broader context in terms of its relationships with allies and civilians to reveal that learning was more complex and thoroughgoing than initially thought. It grapples with the army's failings and shortcomings, explores its successes and acknowledges the inherent difficulties of learning in a desperate and lethally competitive environment.

Reviews

‘Sheds new light on the extent to which the British army in the First World War was a learning organisation. Essential reading for anyone involved or interested in the transformation of today`s armed forces to meet new circumstances and future threats.'

Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely - author of Anatomy of a Campaign: The British Fiasco in Norway, 1940

'Adapting to changing complex environments, rather than seeking to control them, will be fundamental.' So said UK Defence’s Future Force Concept in 2017. Dr Fox’s timely, well researched, thought provoking and thoroughly readable book helps remind us that the future imperative for Armed Forces to be able to learn, adapt and change, both tactically and institutionally, quicker than an adversary are far from being just twenty-first century concerns. One hundred years ago the same imperative existed. This book helps unpack how the British Army of the First World War went about turning words - innovation, adaptability, agility and learning - into deeds, both tactically and institutionally. As we commemorate the end of the First World War in 2018, Dr Fox’s book is a timely reminder that history has an important role in helping us with our Future Force design and its ethos.'

Major General ‘Mitch’ Mitchell - Director, UK Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre

'Aimée Fox’s analyses of innovation in the First World War advance our understanding of that critical time period, but she goes much further, offering critical lessons for today’s military leaders as well. Learning to Fight is that rare book that can speak equally well to both the past and the present.'

Michael S. Neiberg - author of Path to War: How the First World War Created Modern America

'Adaptation is predicated upon learning from what was once 'entirely unknown'. Learning to Fight offers a deep dive into how the British Army and its colonial partners measured up to that task in the first World War … This is the latest contribution to a deepening pool of scholarship into military change, and the book offers a unique framework for the study of wartime adaptation … this is a well-executed book that dissipates mythology and discovers insights about the British military of a century ago … Learning to Fight will appeal to students of World War I, and is recommended for scholars interested in military sociology, military learning, and combat effectiveness.'

Frank Hoffman Source: The Strategy Bridge

'… a superb contribution to the literature of military innovation … This book is highly recommended for those interested in military innovation in general and in the institutional adaption of the British Army in the First World War in particular.'

Benjamin Tuck Source: Defense & Security Analysis

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Contents

I
AWM 1

Pre-Federation and Commonwealth Records

AWM 4

Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914–1918

AWM 25

Written records, 1914–1918 war

AWM 27

Classified files

AWM 252

Records arranged according to AWM Library subject classification, 1914–1918

AWM 255

Written records, 1914–1918 war, second series

CAB 18

Committee of Imperial Defence: Miscellaneous Reports and Papers, 1875–191

CAB 24

War Cabinet and Cabinet: Memoranda, 1915–1939

CAB 25

Supreme War Council: Papers and Minutes, 1917–1919

CAB 37

Cabinet Office: Copies of Cabinet Papers, 1880–1916

CAB 45

Official War Histories Correspondence and Papers

DSIR 10

National Physical Laboratory: Registered Files

FO 371

General Correspondence from 1906 to 1966

MT 23

Admiralty, Transport Department: Correspondence and Papers

MUN 4

Records of the Central Registry

MUN 5

Munitions Council: Historical Records Branch

NATS 1

Ministry of National Service: Records

RAIL 1014

Great Western Railway Collection

WO 27

Adjutant-General and Army Council: Inspection Returns, 1750–1914

WO 32

Registered Files (General Series)

WO 33

Reports, Memoranda, and Papers (O and A Series)

WO 95

First World War and Army of Occupation War Diaries

WO 106

Directorate of Military Operations and Military Intelligence: Correspondence and Papers

WO 107

Quartermaster-General's Department: Correspondence and Papers

WO 114

Adjutant-General's Department: Strength Returns of the Army

WO 123

Army Circulars, Memoranda, Orders, and Regulations, 1711–1992

WO 142

Ministry of Munitions, Trench Warfare, and Chemical Warfare Departments: Reports and Papers

WO 158

Military Headquarters: Correspondence and Papers, First World War

WO 161

Miscellaneous Unregistered Papers, First World War

WO 162

Adjutant-General's Department: Papers

WO 163

War Office Council, later War Office Consultative Council, Army Council, Army Board and Their Various Committees: Minutes and Papers, 1806–1980

WO 181

Directorate of Military Survey and Predecessors: Papers

WO 256

Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, Western Front: Diaries

WO 279

Confidential Print

WO 293

Army Council: Instructions

ZLIB 21

Minutes of Proceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers

ZPER 9

Railway Gazette International: Periodicals

MD 2818

Memorandum on Army Training during the Individual Training Period, 1912–1913

II
  • Papers of Brigadier-General R. M. Anderson, PR83/020

  • Papers of C. E. W. Bean, AWM38 3DRL/606

  • Papers of Field Marshal Lord Birdwood, 3DRL/3376

  • Papers of General Sir H. Chauvel, PR00535

  • Papers of Brigadier H. E. Elliott, 2DRL/0513

  • Papers of A. E. Forbes, PR03583

  • Papers of Lance-Corporal H. Gibson, PR03311

  • Papers of General Sir A. Godley, 3DRL/2233

  • Papers of Henry Gullett, AWM40/69

  • Papers of Lieutenant G. L. Makin, 1DRL/0473

  • Papers of General Sir J. Monash, 3DRL/2316

  • Papers of Lance-Corporal F. O'Brien, PR83/26

  • Papers of Senator Sir G. F. Pearce, 3DRL/2222

  • Papers of General Sir C. B. B. White, 3DRL/1400

  • Papers of Field Marshal Lord Birdwood, MSS Eur D686

  • Papers of General Sir Charles Bonham-Carter

  • Papers of Lord Rawlinson

  • Papers of Field Marshal Lord Chetwode, PP/MCR/C1

  • Papers of Brigadier-General E. Craig-Brown, Con Shelf 1/4

  • Papers of Major-General G. P. Dawnay, 69/21/1

  • Papers of Lieutenant-General A. N. Floyer-Acland, 12635

  • Papers of M. S. Fox, 76/49/1

  • Papers of Lieutenant-Colonel V. M. Fergusson, PP/MCR/111

  • Papers of Major-General Sir S. W. Hare, 09/86/1

  • Papers of Lieutenant-Colonel H. H. Hemming, PP/MCR/155

  • Papers of Major W. R. Kermack, PP/MCR/214

  • Papers of Major-General Sir A. L. Lynden-Bell, 90/1/1

  • Papers of General Sir F. I. Maxse, PP/MCR/C42 and 69/53/13

  • Papers of Brigadier-General R. Micklem, 87-8/1

  • Papers of General Sir A. Murray, 79-48/2-3

  • Papers of Major T. C. Owtram, 83/17/1

  • Report on ‘The Provision of Personnel for Military Railways in the War of 1914–1918’, OC 4277

  • Papers of Field Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke

  • Papers of Field Marshal Viscount Allenby

  • Papers of General Sir W. H. Bartholomew

  • Papers of General Sir J. T. Burnett-Stuart

  • Papers of Brigadier-General T. Capper

  • Papers of Brigadier-General F. A. S. Clarke

  • Papers of Lieutenant-Colonel H. Darlington

  • Papers of Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds

  • Papers of Major-General Sir C. H. Foulkes

  • Papers of Major-General J. F. C. Fuller

  • Papers of General Sir A. Godley

  • Papers of General Sir I. S. M. Hamilton

  • Papers of Brigadier-General P. Howell

  • Papers of Sergeant C. F. Jones

  • Papers of Lieutenant-General Sir L. E. Kiggell

  • Papers of General Sir W. M. St G. Kirke

  • Papers of Captain Sir B. H. Liddell Hart

  • Papers of Field Marshal Sir A. A. Montgomery-Massingberd

  • Papers of General Sir R. O'Connor

  • Papers of Field Marshal Sir W. R. Robertson

  • Papers of General Sir J. S. M. Shea

  • Papers of Major W. G. Wallace

  • Papers of Sir J. F. Evetts, Liddle/WW1/GS/0533

  • Papers of Major-General Sir C. Rosenthal, MSS 2739

  • Papers of Sir William Guy Granet, MSS.191

  • Papers of Brigadier-General H. O. Mance, PRO 30/66/9

  • Papers of Captain N. E. Drury, 7607-69

  • Papers of Captain R. S. Hawker, 1988-09-86

  • Papers of Sir G. Macauley, 8008-72

  • Papers of Colonel R. Macleod, 8112-9

  • Papers of Lord Rawlinson, 5201-22-18

  • Papers of Royal Munster Fusiliers, 7603-69-1

  • Papers of Lieutenant-Colonel A. Weston Jarvis, 1999-03-43

  • Papers of General Sir C. B. B. White, MS 5172

  • Papers of General Sir J. Monash, MS 1884

  • Papers of Colonel H. M. Farmar

  • Papers of Lieutenant-General Sir H. C. C. Uniacke, MD 1160

  • Papers of General Sir W. Gillman, MD 1161

  • Papers of Major-General Sir H. H. Tudor, MD 1167

I
British Parliamentary Papers, 1905 (Cd.2252). Order in Council defining the duties of the Inspector-General of the Forces
British Parliamentary Papers, 1907 (Cd.3696), Army. Report of the Advisory Board, London School of Economics, on the first course at the London School of Economics, January–July 1907
British Parliamentary Papers, 1910 (Cd.5213), Army. Report of the Advisory Board, London School of Economics, on the fourth course at the London School of Economics, October 1909–March 1910
II
Civil Services and Revenue Departs Estimates, 1913–14, House of Commons debate, 29 May 1913, Hansard, vol. 53 c457
Men, Skilled, House of Commons debate, 8 November 1916, Hansard, vol. 87 c177
Enlistment, Voluntary (Skilled Men), House of Commons debate, 13 May 1918, Hansard, vol. 106 c52W
III
Bean, C. E. W., Anzac to Amiens (Canberra, ACT: Australian War Memorial, 1983 [1946])
Bean, C. E. W. The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918: The Story of ANZAC from the Outbreak of War to the End of the First Phase of the Gallipoli Campaign, May 4, 1915, I (12 vols, Sydney, NSW: Angus and Robertson, 1941)
Bean, C. E. W. The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918: The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1916, III (12 vols, Sydney, NSW: Angus and Robertson, 1941)
Knibbs, G. H., Official Yearbook of the Commonwealth of Australia 1901–1911 No. 5 (Melbourne, VIC: McCarron, Bird, 1912)
Knibbs, G. H. Official Yearbook of the Commonwealth of Australia 1901–1912 No. 6 (Melbourne, VIC: McCarron, Bird, 1913)
Wise, S. F., Canadian Airmen and the First World War: The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force (Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 1980)
de la Guerre, Ministère, Les Armées Françaises dans la Grande Guerre, 6/1 Annex Vol I (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1932)
Service Géographique de l'Armée, Rapport sur les Travaux Exécutés du 1er Aout 1914 au 31 Decembre 1919: Historique du Service Géographique de l'Armée pendant la Guerre (Paris: Imprimerie du Service Geoographique de l'Armée, 1936)
Reichsarchiv, , Der Weltkrieg 1914 bis 1918: Die Kriegführung an der Westfront im Jahre 1918, XIV (14 vols, Berlin: E. S. Mittler & Sohn, 1944)
Edmonds, J. E., History of the Great War: Military Operations, France and Belgium 1918, V (London: HMSO, 1947)
Egyptian Expeditionary Force General Headquarters, Action of 6th Mounted Brigade at El Mughar (Cairo: Government Press, 1918)
Falls, C. F., History of the Great War: Military Operations, Egypt and Palestine (2 vols, London: HMSO, 1930)
Falls, C. F. History of the Great War: Military Operations, Macedonia (2 vols, London: HMSO, 1933)
Fourth Army Headquarters, Attack on Zenith Trench, 1916
General Headquarters, SS109 Training of Divisions for Offensive Action, 1916
General Headquarters SS152 Instructions for the Training of the British Armies in France, 1917
General Headquarters SS177 Instructions on Wiring, 1917
General Headquarters SS191 Inter-communication in the Field, 1917
General Staff, Field Service Regulations, Part I: Operations (London: HMSO, 1909)
General Staff Field Service Regulations, Part 2: Administration (London: HMSO, 1909)
Ministry of Defence, Transforming the British Army: An Update – July 2013 (London: Ministry of Defence, 2013)
Ministry of Defence Advantage through Innovation: The Defence Innovation Initiative (London: Ministry of Defence, 2016)
Office, War, Combined Training (Provisional) (London: HMSO, 1902)
Office, War Infantry Training (London: HMSO, 1905)
Office, War Manual of Military Law (London: HMSO, 1907)
Office, War Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War 1914–1920 (London: HMSO, 1922)
Adjutant-General's Office, The Personnel System of the United States Army, I (2 vols, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1919)
Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review 2014 (Washington, DC: US Department of Defense, 2014)
IV
Addison, G. H., The Work of the Royal Engineers in the European War, 1914–19: The Organization of Engineer Intelligence and Information (reprint, Uckfield: Naval and Military Press, 2006 [1926])
Badcock, G. E., A History of the Transport Services of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 1916–1917–1918 (London: Hugh Rees, 1925)
Baring, M., Flying Corps Headquarters 1914–1918 (London: William Blackwood, 1968)
Beadon, R. H., R.A.S.C.: History of Supply and Transport in the British Army, II (2 vols, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1931)
Birdwood, W. R., Khaki and Gown: An Autobiography (London: Ward, Lock, 1941)
Boraston, J. H. (ed.), Sir Douglas Haig's Despatches (December 1915–April 1919) (London: J. M. Dent, 1919)
Buchan, J., Francis and Riversdale Grenfell: A Memoir (London: Thomas Nelson, 1920)
Callwell, C., and Headlam, J., History of the Royal Artillery from the Indian Mutiny to the Great War (Woolwich: Royal Artillery Institute, 1931)
Champion de Crespigny, C., Forty Years of a Sportsman's Life (London: Mills and Boon, 1910)
Dudley Ward, C. H., The 74th (Yeomanry) Division in Syria and France (London: John Murray, 1922)
Fay, S., The War Office at War (London: Hutchinson, 1937)
Foulkes, C. H., Gas! The Story of The Special Brigade (London: William Blackwood, 1934)
Greenhalgh, E. (ed.), Liaison: General Pierre des Vallières at British General Headquarters (Stroud: The History Press, 2016)
Halpern, P. G. (ed.), The Keyes Papers: Selections from the Private and Official Correspondence of Admiral of the Fleet Baron Keyes of Zeebrugge, Vol. 1, 1914–1918 (London: Navy Records Society, 1972)
Hesketh-Prichard, H. V., Sniping in France 1914–18 (London: Hutchinson, 1920)
Hughes, M. (ed.), Allenby in Palestine (Stroud: Sutton, 2004)
Institution of Royal Engineers, History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, V (London: Longman's, 1952)
Institution of Royal Engineers History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, VI (London: Longman's, 1952)
Institution of Royal Engineers The Work of the Royal Engineers in the European War, 1914–19: Egypt and Palestine – Water-Supply (Chatham: W&J Mackay, 1921)
Lawrence, T. E., Seven Pillars of Wisdom (reprint, London: Book Club Associates, 1974 [1922])
Lloyd George, D., War Memoirs, II (2 vols, London: Odhams Press, 1938 [1936])
Luxford, J. H., With the Machine Gunners in France and Palestine (London: Whitcombe and Tombes, 1923)
Lyttelton, N., Eighty Years: Soldiering, Politics, Games (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1927)
Marshall, W. R., Memories of Four Fronts (London: Ernest Benn, 1929)
Morrison, F. L., The Fifth Battalion, Highland Light Infantry in the War 1914–1918 (Glasgow: MacLehose, Jackson, 1921)
Murray, A. J., Sir Archibald Murray's Despatches June 1916 – June 1917 (London: J. M. Dent, 1920)
Ogilvie, D. D., The Fife and Forfar Yeomanry 1914–1919 (London: John Murray, 1921)
Priestley, R. E., The Work of the Royal Engineers in the European War, 1914–19: The Signal Service (France) (reprint, Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2006 [1921])
Robertson, W. R., From Private to Field Marshal (London: Constable, 1921)
Robinson, P. (ed.), The Letters of Major General Price Davies VC, CB, CMG, DSO (Stroud: The History Press, 2013)
Sandilands, H. R., The 23rd Division 1914–1919 (London: William Blackwood, 1925)
Syk, A. (ed.), The Military Papers of Lieutenant-General Frederick Stanley Maude, 1914–1917 (Stroud: The History Press, 2012)
Townsend, C. E. C., All Rank and No File: A History of the Engineer and Railway Staff Corps RE, 1865–1965 (London: The Engineer and Railway Staff Corps, RE [TAVR], 1969)
Young, M., Army Service Corps 1902–1918 (Barnsley: Leo Cooper, 2000)
V
  • Country Life

  • London Gazette

  • The New Statesman

  • New York Times

  • The Spectator

  • The Times

  • The Western Mail

I
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