Deficiencies in Preparation: August 1914

  • William James Philpott
Part of the Studies in Military and Strategic History book series (SMSH)


When Great Britain went to war in August 1914 her political and military leaders had little conception of the struggle which would ensue. Not least they failed adequately to appreciate the novel set of political and military circumstances in which the war would be fought, which only became clear during four years of attritional warfare on the western front. The signing of the Entente Cordiale with France in 1904 had revolutionised Britain’s diplomatic and military policy, yet the readjustment of attitudes and values amongst Britain’s political and military leaders was far from complete when the decision was taken to despatch the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to the continent in August 1914. Ten years were barely enough to prepare the British army for war, and certainly not long enough to prepare Great Britain for a lengthy war in alliance with her traditional rival, France. While steps had been taken to provide France with military support against Germany since 1905, vital questions of strategic deployment and military coordination remained unresolved when war broke out, a consequence of deficiencies and disagreements in the joint planning process. These deficiencies had to be hurriedly addressed in August 1914, and the solutions found were inadequate for a lengthy coalition campaign. The stage was set for a war of attrition between the allies as each struggled for military authority and strategic control on their common front.


Military Intervention Military Leader General Staff Military Strategy British Army 
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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© William James Philpott 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • William James Philpott
    • 1
  1. 1.London Guildhall UniversityUK

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