British General Staff: Reform and Innovation by David French, Brian Holden Reid

By David French, Brian Holden Reid

The essays that contain this assortment study the improvement and impression of the British normal employees from the past due Victorian interval until eventually the eve of worldwide warfare II. They hint the adjustments within the employees that prompted British army process and next operations at the battlefield.

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The new service did not enjoy a smooth start. Trenchard appointed Chief of the Air Staff. Before the RAF formally came into being, Trenchard quarrelled with the Secretary of State, Lord Rothermere, and resigned. Sykes, settled at his desk than the VicePresident of the Air Council (Sir David Henderson) departed ‘on the grounds that he felt he would be unable to work with the new Chief of the Air Staff’, and Rothermere left office ‘for personal reasons’. Sykes and Rothermere’s successor, Lord Weir, were acutely aware of danger ahead for their infant prodigy once hostilities ceased and, therefore, were essentially inward-looking and protective.

Wolseley submitted a memorandum to Salisbury and addressed the Lords at length on 4 March 1901. He claimed that further serious erosion of the C-in-C’s powers beyond those laid down in 1870 (when the political supremacy of the Secretary of State had been established) took place through an Order in Council of 21 November 1895. Wolseley had given the new arrangement ‘a fair trial of five years’, but it had clearly produced ‘military weakness and…is likely to become a positive danger in times of war…a Minister… however able and conscientious, can of necessity have at best but a surface acquaintance with things mili-tary’.

It had, though, established a valuable principle of cooperation and need to co-ordinate the work of the two services in the cause of the wider national interest. Recognising the importance of imperial defence, in 1879 Hicks Beach persuaded his predecessor as Colonial Secretary (the Earl of Carnarvon) to head a Royal Commission tasked with studying the defence of trade routes and the colonies. Surviving the change of government in 1880, it sat for three years, came to no innovative conclusions and did not review the question of interservice co-operation.

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