British infantry battalion commanders in the First World War

Hodgkinson, Peter Eric (2014). British infantry battalion commanders in the First World War. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The evolution of infantry battalion commanders in the First World War progressed from a pre-war system based mainly on promotion by seniority to one largely based on merit. It remained a weighted process, however, favouring the professional officer, particularly during the first two years, and biased against the Territorial. The quality of the pre-war officer appears higher than has been estimated.

Average command lasted 8.5 months. Eleven per cent of COs were killed, ten per cent promoted, and 18 per cent invalided. The army practised quality control, removing 38 per cent from command, although reduction in removals as the war progressed indicates a refinement of quality. The army committed itself to professional development, teaching technical aspects of the CO role, as well as command and leadership.

Citizens of 1914 with no previous military experience rose to command, this progress taking on average three years. Despite the social opening-up of the officer corps, these men tended to be from the professional class. By The Hundred Days, infantry battalion commanders were a mix of professional soldiers, pre-war auxiliaries and citizens - younger, fitter and richly experienced; many being quick thinkers, self-assured, and endowed with great personal courage and well-developed tactical ability.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain


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