BJMH – Vol. 1, No. 1 (2014)

British Journal for Military History

Vol. 1, No. 1 (2014)


Gary Sheffield, ‘A Once in a Century Opportunity? Some Personal Reflections on the Centenary of the First World War’

In this article Gary Sheffield sets out his opinions on the current commemoration plans and media responses to the centenary of the First World War. He argues that the British government and media are letting slip a golden opportunity to challenge popular perceptions of the conflict. This piece builds upon the author’s speech delivered at the Richard Holmes Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the BCMH, King’s College London, and the National Army Museum, Chelsea. It was delivered at King’s College London on 13 March 2014.

Ian F. W. Beckett, ‘The Annual Confidential Report and Promotion in the Late Victorian Army’

The annual confidential report offers insights into both the manner of promotion in the late Victorian Army and the personalities of some of its key figures. This article looks in depth at the form, function and usage of the Annual Confidential Report, arguing that it was a flawed system which hampered the ability of Lord Roberts and Viscount Wolseley to promote the best officers to high command.

Spencer Jones, ‘‘Shooting Power’: A Study of the Effectiveness of Boer and British Rifle Fire, 1899–1914’

The effectiveness of Boer rifle fire had a significant legacy on the development of British musketry standards. This would prompt improvements in training which would allow the infantry of the British Expeditionary Force to cause disproportionate casualties to their German adversaries in 1914. This paper charts the success of the Boer methods and explains how the British adapted to the increase in infantry rifle fire.

Richard S. Grayson, 'Ireland’s New Memory of the First World War: Forgotten Aspects of the Battle of Messines, June 1917’

The narrative of the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) divisions fighting side-by-side at Messines in June 1917 plays a major and valuable role in cross community reconciliation on the island of Ireland. However, there is no sustained historical analysis of precisely who (in terms of geographic origin) was serving in the two divisions by June 1917. This article does that, concluding that around one-third of the men in each division had no Irish connection. This opens up the prospect of nuancing the Messines narrative so that it might play a part in British-Irish reconciliation.

Brian Holden Reid, ‘The Legacy of Liddell Hart: The Contrasting Responses of Michael Howard and André Beaufre’

This article establishes how the careers and strategic ideas of Sir Michael Howard and General André Beaufre have been influenced by their friendship with one of Britain’s most significant intellectuals of the twentieth century, Sir Basil Liddell Hart. The article traces the relationships between Howard, Beaufre and Hart while outlining the evolution of the ‘indirect approach’ in the nuclear age. It was through the work of these two friends of Liddell Hart who evolved and developed his ideas for a new age and a new strategic-political context.

Alan Drumm, ‘Divided Loyalties: The Effect the Boer War and its Aftermath had on how Irish Nationalists interpreted the Irish Soldier Serving in the British Army’

The Boer War proved to be hugely important in the evolution of Irish Nationalism. The conflict would bring about the reunion of constitutional Nationalists under John Redmond and grant advanced Nationalists the opportunity to express their militant politics. This paper will detail how both groups responded to the war in South Africa by examining their interpretations of British military recruiting in Ireland and that of the Irish soldier. The article will conclude by finding that the British military largely viewed Irish Nationalism negatively as a result.

Book Reviews

Catastrophe: Europe goes to War 1914 by Max Hastings, reviewed by Johnathan Boff

Wars, Pestilence and the Surgeon’s Blade: The Evolution of British Military Medicine and Surgery During the Nineteenth Century by Thomas Scotland and Steven Heys, reviewed by Jane Bowden-Dan

An Englishman at War. The Wartime Diaries of Stanley Christopherson, DSO, MC, TD by James Holland (ed.), reviewed by Robin Brodhurst

When the Tiger Fought the Thistle. The Tragedy of Colonel William Baillie of the Madras Army by Alan Tritton, reviewed by Bruce Collins

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe by Anne Applebaum, reviewed by Timothy C. Dowling

Information at Sea: Shipboard Command and Control in the U.S. Navy, From Mobile Bay to Okinawa by Timothy S. Wolters, reviewed by Marcus Faulkner

War, Clausewitz and the Trinity by Thomas Waldman, reviewed by Jan Willem Honig

The Royal Engineers at Chatham 1750-2012 by Peter Kendall and Ramparts of Empire: The Fortifications of Sir William Jervois Royal Engineer, 1821-1897 by Timothy Crick, reviewed by Andrew Lambert

The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War by Halik Kochanski, reviewed by Simon Niziol

Animals and War: Confronting the Military-Animal Industrial Complex by Anthony J. Nocella II, Colin Salter, and Judy K.C. Bentley (eds.), reviewed by Kimberly Brice O’Donnell

Haig's Intelligence: GHQ and the German Army 1916-1918 by Jim Beach, reviewed by Jack Sheldon

Defender of Canada: Sir George Prevost and the War of 1812 by John Grodzinski, reviewed by Ian Stafford

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