Thomas, Alun Miles (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This is a study of the British 8th Infantry Division on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918. It is set in the context of the dominant historiography of the last thirty years – that the BEF’s experiences on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918 were subject to a ‘learning curve’, that it learnt in a progressive fashion how to fight a skilled enemy. This process meant that the organisation was more effective by its end. The questions asked about operational effectiveness are informed by this debate. It also seeks to illuminate and carry the debate forward by an examination of the Division at various phases of its wartime experiences. The study utilises official documentation, including war diaries and after –action reports, the private papers of individuals who served with the Division and correspondence with the Official Historian. The study suggests that 8th Division underwent a learning process, progressively improving. However, this process was not constant being affected by casualties, terrain, changes in personnel and command style and the tasks faced. The study argues that by the end of the war, 8th Division, using devolved initiative, was able to employ the sophisticated use of all arms to overcome the enemy.
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