‘An army of brigadiers’ British brigade commanders at the Battle of Arras 1917

Harvey, Trevor Gordon (2016). ‘An army of brigadiers’ British brigade commanders at the Battle of Arras 1917. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Infantry brigades have been described as the ‘building blocks’ of the British army. Despite this, their role and that of their commanding brigadier-generals have been labelled as being concerned primarily with the provision of ‘training and administration’. The conventional criteria used to evaluate the performance of brigades and their commanders, however, has been their battlefield performance. This study challenges these orthodoxies.

The Battle of Arras 1917 was the first offensive action which provided the British army with an opportunity to implement the lessons derived from its experience drawn from the Battle of the Somme. A cohort of one hundred and sixteen brigadier-generals commanded cavalry and infantry brigades involved in the battle. Collectively they are the subject of analysis. Five of these brigadier-generals, their battalion commanders and principal staff officers, are the subject of case studies over the period mid-October 1916 until mid-May 1917.

These studies reveal a number of threads, in addition to battlefield performance, that are argued to be essential elements in understanding the role and functions of brigadier-generals. Their most significant contribution was to ensure, despite the unglamorous treadmill of building and rebuilding their brigades, that they retained the capacity and capability of their brigades for battle.

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
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/6503


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