Britain and The Great War



  • Your thoughts?


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Don’t know enough Worsham, but would like to say we would have stayed out.
    Looked like it was an Eastern European thing and of no concern to us, until Belgium was invaded. Then it was too close to home to ignore it.


  • 2017 2016 2015 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Germany could not win in France without taking the Low Countries even if UK would stay out.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    I can’t recall the details, but Peter Perla’s book The Art of Wargaming decribes a professional wargaming exercise conducted by the British army a few years (about five or ten, I think) before WWI.  The scenario included a German violation of Belgian neutrality and a British expeditionary force being sent to the Continent.  The exercise apparently revealed that Britain had an inadequate military transportation capacity to deal with such a situation in a satisfactory amount of time.  Perla speculates that the British officer who played the role of Britain in the wargame must subsequently have experienced a disconcerting sense of deja vu in 1914 when he saw a very similar scenario being played out in real life.



  • One must wonder had Moltke the Younger not deverted forces to the Battle of Lorraine and to East Prussia and kept true to Count Schlieffen plan, how would the war have played out.

    “Let the Last Man on the right brush the Channel with his sleeve.”


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @ABWorsham:

    Schlieffen strongly spoke that for his plan to work, “that the sleve of the furtherest man on the right flank must brush the sands of the English Channel.”

    Allegedly his dying words were “Above all, keep the right wing strong.”  Moltke the Elder would probably had seen the point, but Moltke the Younger wasn’t exactly of the same caliber as his dad.


  • Customizer

    Belgium was a pretext, Britain had already promised Russia and France support. R & F would not have gone to war without this assurance.

    Read this:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-History-Secret-Origins-First/dp/1780576307/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406918936&sr=8-1&keywords=hidden+history

    Or, perhaps it was simply all about oil & the railways:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BRSEGw1NsU

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9oRiUr3XIo



  • @CWO:

    I can’t recall the details, but Peter Perla’s book The Art of Wargaming decribes a professional wargaming exercise conducted by the British army a few years (about five or ten, I think) before WWI.  The scenario included a German violation of Belgian neutrality and a British expeditionary force being sent to the Continent.  The exercise apparently revealed that Britain had an inadequate military transportation capacity to deal with such a situation in a satisfactory amount of time.  Perla speculates that the British officer who played the role of Britain in the wargame must subsequently have experienced a disconcerting sense of deja vu in 1914 when he saw a very similar scenario being played out in real life.

    The Officer was Henry Wilson, a future Field Marshal and Director of Military Operations. He was capable of looking at a map, and thus saw that clearly the Germans would come through Belgium (though he, like the entire French High Command, assumed it would just be through the Ardennes instead of the whole on flanking attempt that it was).

    After the initial Moroccan Crisis and increasing tensions with Germany, Wilson was probably THE key figure in organizing Anglo-French military cooperation. Wilson eventually had plans to move the entire BEF (all six divisions, plus the cav) to France and be fully ready for combat by no latter than M-15 (the Germans expected them on M-12). The organization was essentially flawless, however political dithering and fears of German invasion eventually screwed it all up and we had the 4 divisions plus the cavalry moved over that we all know about.

    As to the question: Britain was not going to sit back and let Germany assume hegemony over the continent, just like she hadn’t let France assume hegemony over the continent 100 years earlier. The Liberals would dither, and it could take awhile, but with men such as Churchill in charge of their military, Britain was going to war.

    Also, MANY people don’t seem to know, that regardless of the government, the British military and foreign offices took war with Germany as a matter of fact, to the point where they had a treaty with the French (kept secret from the government) that the Royal Navy would assume responsibility over the entire French Atlantic coast in the event of war with Germany, allowing the French to concentrate their fleet in the Med. Lord Grey had the wonderful task of informing Parliament that they were duty bound to guard the French coast from any German excursion. Needless to say the liberals took it well  😄


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