When Great Britain and its dominions declared war on Germany in August 1914, they were faced with the formidable challenge of transforming masses of untrained citizen-soldiers at home and abroad into competent, coordinated fighting divisions.
The Empire on the Western Front focuses on the development of two units, Britain’s 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division and the Canadian 4th Division, to show how the British Expeditionary Force rose to this challenge. Geoffrey Jackson follows their development, from their respective geneses through to the end of the war, and all aspects of the division-building process – from leadership and training to discipline and morale. What influence did the senior leadership and the fighting doctrine that shaped training have on the divisions’ performance in France? How did internal operations and the divisions’ role within the larger corps and armies influence their effectiveness in battle? Did the division-building process differ in Britain and the dominions?
In answering these questions, The Empire on the Western Front examines army formation and operations at the divisional level and ultimately calls into question existing accounts that emphasize the differences between the imperial and dominion armies.
This book will appeal to those interested in the development and operations of the dominion armies and the British Expeditionary Force during the Great War.
Geoffrey Jackson is to be congratulated for his efforts. The Empire on the Western Front is recommended reading for anyone interested in Great War history.
The Empire on the Western Front is one of only a few studies of the divisional level of command during the First World War. It is an invaluable resource for understanding differences between British and Canadian experiences – one that should prompt both debate and further research in this area.
1 Raising and Training the Divisions
Part 1: Forging Fighting Forces
2 The 4th and the 62nd Divisions: First Months in Line
3 The 62nd Division: Second Bullecourt and Aftermath
4 The 4th Division: Road to Vimy
5 The 4th Division: Lens and Passchendaele
6 The 62nd Division: Road to Bourlon
Part 2: The Final Year
7 The 62nd Division: Training and Fighting
8 The 62nd Division: The Hundred Days
9 The 4th Division in 1918: Towards the Hundred Days
Conclusion: Producing Combat-Capable BEF Divisions in Wartime
Appendix: Orders of Battle for 62nd and 4th Divisions
Notes; Bibliography; Index
Capturing Hill 70
Canada’s Forgotten Battle of the First World War
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