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Reinforcement Policy and Practice in the British and Dominion Forces during the First World War

Davies, Thomas E. (2023) Reinforcement Policy and Practice in the British and Dominion Forces during the First World War. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.102079) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:102079)

Language: English

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Manpower has become a crucial theme within the historiography of the First World War in Britain and the former Dominions. Beginning with the social turn in history from the 1960's, historians in Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand have considered many aspects of manpower, including the procurement, composition and strategic distribution of men between 1914 and 1918. The recruitment and expansion of civilian armies, including the advent of conscription in most parts of the British Empire, has dominated this trend, which represented the growing desire to understand the societal impact of war. Yet, national reinforcement policies, as part of the broader imperial war effort, has received insubstantial attention. This is surprising when considering its importance in continuing the strategy of attrition, which was adopted by the Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, from 1916. It was critical to sustaining the imperial army throughout extensive campaigns and, without one, frontline units would have collapsed under the weight of their own casualties. Therefore, this thesis will explore the creation and development of reinforcement policy and practice for the British and Dominion forces between 1914 and 1918. It will consider how Britain and, to some extent, the Dominions, principally Australia, Canada and New Zealand, responded to industrial warfare and attempted to sustain their armed forces throughout a war of attrition. It will consider how they, as well as the British-led imperial army, created and developed reinforcement systems that stretched back to each nation. It will assess its ability to produce trained reinforcements in a timely manner, as well as how the medical system worked in unison to 'recycle' wounded veterans back into the frontline. By framing this research within a comparative framework, the thesis shall examine how British authorities created their own reinforcement policy and attempted to guide and develop this in each Dominion. It will show how the Dominions attempted to weigh imperial desire against their national priorities and, through joint and individualised policies, yielded very different results. Overall, it will demonstrate that the creation of reinforcement policy in the First World War was far from smooth. Its success was erratic and far from efficient, which led to varying levels of hardship within the imperial army. Though some, such as the Canadian Expeditionary Force, were able to offset this with careful manpower management, others, such as the British Expeditionary Force, were pushed to the brink of collapse by 1918.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Bowman, Timothy
Thesis advisor: Connelly, Mark L.
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.102079
Uncontrolled keywords: First World War; Great War; British Army; Imperial Army; British Empire; Dominions; Manpower Reinforcements; Reinforcement Policy; Civil-Military Relations; Training; Recruitment; Conscription; Medical History; 20th Century Military History; Australia; Canada; New Zealand
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I (1914-1918)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2023 09:07 UTC
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2023 11:35 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Davies, Thomas E..

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