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recruits for one infantry regiment of the line. The Guard,
the cavalry, and the artillery, as well as the Rifle Regiment

284 The Great War

and Rifle Brigade, were recruited at large. The Guard
was not employed on foreign service in time of peace,
which made a shorter color service possible. The infantry
of the Guard had a large reserve as a result of the short
service (three years) with the colors.

The earHer history of the Militia has already been briefly
outlined. In 1757 that force was reorganized on the system
of balloting, and much inconvenience resulted in recruiting
for the Regular Army through the substitution for persons
drawn for the militia of men hired to take their places
who would otherwise have entered the army. The system
of balloting for the militia has not been abolished, although
the last ballot held was in 1810. In aid of the ballot, volun-
tary enlistment was authorized, at first individually and later
whole companies were organized. After the peace follow-
ing the overthrow of Napoleon the militia was neglected;
annual training was abandoned and only the permanent staff
was retained. In 1852 an Act was passed which provided
for the militia by voluntary enlistment, a system that was
continued until 1908, when, under the Territorial and Re-
serve Forces Act, the units of the militia were converted
into units of the Special Reserve, save twenty-three battal-
ions which were disbanded. This reserve is divided into
Sections, A and B ; the former is limited to 4,000 men, lia-
ble to serve anywhere when war is being prepared for or is
in progress; the latter includes all other men in this branch,
and they may also be required to serve anywhere, but can
be employed permanently only after royal proclamation in
the event of imminent national danger or of great emer-
gency. The Special Reserve was fixed at 87,000 men, who
engaged for six years and received five months' training the
first year ; thereafter they were to be called out each year
for a training period of fifteen days. They could, after
the expiration of their terms of service and until they were

British Regular Arniv : C'oklstriaiii (iiiards in field uniform.

IntiTinr ot a British aiiiliulancf train.

The Armies of the British Empire 285

thirty years old, reengage for periods of four years. The
infantry was trained with the reserve battalions of the
Regular Army, and the artillery with the reserve field
artillery, which consisted of six reserve brigades of two
batteries each.

Other volunteer forces were raised for defense at the
time of Napoleon's threatened invasion. Volunteer and
Yeomanry regiments were authorized in 1802, and in 1804
an act consolidated the existing enactments as to volunteers.
Of these forces, the Volunteers fell rapidly away after the
peace in 1815 and almost ceased to exist till 1859, when
the force was revived and became very active, many new
corps being formed, chiefly of rifles, but also of artillery,
light horse, and engineers. In 1908 this force was affiliated
with the Territorial forces. The Yeomanry served under
the law of 1804 until 1901 when it was placed on a footing
similar to that of the militia. It had already been enacted,
in 1888, that this force could be called upon whenever the
militia was embodied, and it also was subjected to military
law when engaged in military service. In 1908, the Yeo-
manry was also merged in the Territorial forces.

The Territorial Army was divided into fourteen infantry
divisions and fourteen cavalry brigades and was to number
315,000 men. The enlistment period was four years and
reenlistments were for the same period, up to forty years
of age. It could not be used outside the United Kingdom
unless it volunteered for such service. What the actual
numbers of this army were is not a matter of great import-
ance. It had very little real training and its arms were not
of the latest type; but it would answer the purpose of a
home guard so long as the British Navy controlled the sea
and there was no need for such a force.

At the close of the South African war a three-year color
service with nine years in the reserve was adopted for the

286 The Great War

whole army for the purpose of creating an adequate re-
serve, but the conditions of the Indian service made this
impracticable. The Indian service required fairly mature
and, at least, partially trained men. The conditions were
that a man should not be under twenty years old and have
had one year's training, and he should still have not less
than four years' color service when called to India. It was
thought that a sufficient number of men would voluntarily
extend their service to meet the demands. This hope was,
however, not realized, and to make up the deficiency it be-
came necessary to adopt a nine-year color service with
three years in the reserve. Finally, the former plan of seven
years' color service and five years in the reserve was re-
adopted. The Expeditionary Force numbered about 4,200
officers and 125,000 men, divided into six infantry divi-
sions, one cavalry division, and two brigades of cavalry
unattached. With the army and line of communications
troops it had a ration strength of about 170,000 men and
70,000 horses.

The officers of the Regular Army were appointed from
the Cadet Corps. The Corps at the Royal Military Acad-
emy at Woolwich trained officers for the engineers and the
artillery, while the Royal Military College at Sandhurst
furnished the officers for the cavalry and infantry. Officers
were also appointed from civil life, being taken from the
universities after a period of training in the Officers' Train-
ing Corps, and subject to examination. In addition, appoint-
ments were made from the Royal Military Colleges of
some of the colonies. There were also a number of service
schools for the higher training of officers. The Staff Col-
lege for the training of captains and lieutenants was at
Camberley. The course was for one year, with a second
year's course for General Staff training. The Engineer
School at Chatham and the Artillery School at Woolwich

The Armies of the British Empire 287

were for the special training of officers of the engineers
and artillery. There were Schools of Fire for the artillery,
infantry, and cavalry, for the training of officers and non-
commissioned officers as instructors. The Riding School
for the training of riding instructors was at Netheravon and
the Central Flying School was at Salisbury Plain. The
Schools of Instruction for the Signal Corps and Train were
at Aldershot. The School of Application for Military Sur-
geons and Veterinary Surgeons completes the list of the
most important service schools.

The king, as Commander-in-Chief, commanded the
army through the medium of the War Office, which was
presided over by the secretary of state for war. The army
was operated, administered, supplied, armed, and equipped
by means of the Army Staff, which was divided into four
principal groups: the General Staff operated the army; the
Adjutant-General's Department dealt with the /ยป^;-j-o;?;/f/ and
administration ; the Quartermaster's Department j-///)/>//>^ the
army; and the Ordnance T)e-p'irt\\\en\. furnished the armament.

The Expeditionary Force was all of the British army
which was immediately available for overseas service, unless
it were found practicable to withdraw the imperial troops
in part from some of the colonies and even these would
hardly be immediately available. This force was organized
into a field army. The army commander had a staff of
some 55 officers. The headquarters included more than
200 non-commissioned officers and men, with a corres-
ponding number of riding and draft horses.

The cavalry division, commanded by a major-general,
who had a staff of 26 officers, consisted of 4 brigades of 3
regiments each; 4 batteries of horse artillery of 6 guns each,
a field squadron of engineers, a signal squadron, and a cav-
alry field ambulance. Each brigade consisted of 3 regi-
ments and a section of signal troops. The regiment was of

288 The Great War

3 squadrons of 130 sabers each, and 1 platoon, or section,
of 2 machine-guns. The total strength was about 475 offi-
cers, 9,300 men, 24 field guns, 12 machine-guns, 10,000
animals, riding, draft, and pack, and 700 wagons.

The infantry division, commanded by a major-general,
who had also a staff of 26 officers, consisted of 3 infantry
brigades, each of 4 battalions; 9 batteries of field artillery
and a battery of howitzers, each of 6 guns; a battery of 7
heavy field guns; 1 squadron of cavalry; 2 field companies
of engineers; 1 signal company; 3 field ambulances; the
divisional train and the divisional ammunition column. The
total strength was about 590 officers, 18,000 men, 6,000
horses, 76 field guns and howitzers, and more than 1,100

There were attached to the Army Headquarters the
Army Troops, including 2 cavalry brigades and 1 cavalry
regiment not otherwise assigned, 6 battalions of infantry, 6
telegraph companies, 3 squadrons of the Royal Flying
Corps, 2 bridge trains, 1 army transport and supply column,
2 field hospitals, automobile and motor trucks.

To the foregoing should be added the Line of Communi-
cations Troops designed to maintain and guard the line of
communications of the field army. These include special
service troops such as railroad, post and telegraph, supply
and sanitary, remount, as well as infantry and machine-
guns. The allotment to the field army was about 1,100
officers, 15,000 men, 6,000 horses, and 1,000 wagons. This
gives the complete field army a strength of about 5,600
officers, 150,000 men, 70,000 horses, 456 guns and howitzers,
172 machine-guns, and 9,000 wagons.

The infantry was armed with the .30 caliber Lee-Enfield
repeating rifle with bayonet, which was carried by all en-
listed men, including non-commissioned officers. The
soldier carried 150 cartridges. The battalion ammunition

British warship with starting platform for aeroplane.

,V T,tS~j|

British aviation camp.

The Armies of the British Empire 289

wagons carried 100 rounds per man, and the brigade and
divisional ammunition columns each carried 100 rounds
per man, making a total of 450 rounds per man. The
battalion machine-gim section carried with the 2 machine-
guns 3,500 rounds of amnmnition. The battalion ammu-
nition column carried 16,000 rounds for the machine-guns,
and the divisional ammunition colunm could be further
drawn on for 30,000 rounds. Each man carried a small
intrenching tool; each company carried a supply of hand-
axes, axes, knives, and a cross-cut saw. The battalion train
carried a full supply of picks and shovels on pack animals.
Each man carried a first-aid packet and two men in each
company were trained as litter-bearers. The field uniform
was of grey-green color. Cartridge belt and belt suspenders
were of webbing and of the same color. In marching order
the infantry carried fifty-eight pounds.

The cavalry was armed with the Lee-Enfield rifle with
bayonet, carried on the saddle, and a light straight sword
also carried on the saddle. The ammunition supply corre-
sponded to that of the infantry. Some regiments had the
lance, but it was not probable that it would be used, except
for parade. Each squadron had four men equipped for
pioneer service and one pack animal loaded with explosive
cartridges for demolition work.

The field artillery had a 3.3-inch quick-firing rifle, and
the horse artillery a 3-inch quick-firer. Both were pro-
vided with steel shields for the protection of the cannoneers,
and each piece was provided with two extra ammunition
caissons. All officers and enlisted men carried pistols.
Officers and non-commissioned officers carried also the

The Flying Corps consisted of a selection of dirigibles,
and seven aeroplane sections. The latter had not all been
formed at the end of 1913. The dirigibles, three or four

290 The Great War

in number, were small as compared with continental air-
ships. The personnel of the Flying Corps was trained at
the Salisbury Plain Aviation School.

This is an army of trained, professional soldiers, ready
for service in any part of the world. The reorganization
after the South African War seems to have made it an
almost ideal force developed to meet the needs of a great
colonial empire. No other country possessed such an
army. Perhaps no other country needed such a force, but
Great Britain needed it, and she had paid dearly for not
having such an army. It was, however, not an army of
national defense. The largest and best strictly professional
army in the world, it would, standing alone, exercise little
influence in a struggle with the great national armies of the
continent. There were indications that Great Britain ex-
pected to have to abandon her policy of non-interference
in continental wars. In her foreign policy she had pre-
pared for such an emergency, but the government at home
had not kept pace with her diplomacy. She was not pre-
pared for a great European conflict.

All armies to-day are national in character, but the British
army, as it existed in July, 1914, had not developed as a
result of any broad poHcy of national defense. It had been
created piecemeal to meet immediate needs in the colonies
and other possessions. It was strictly professional in char-
acter, the service being purely voluntary. Such an army
has always given a good account of itself; it meets as no
other kind of an army can, the needs of a colonial empire,
but it is expensive and, of necessity, relatively small. Its
excellence is dependent on a long service with the colors,
which of itself precludes the creation of a trained reserve.
A large reserve is required to replace the inevitable casual-
ties of the peace units of the Standing Army in war, to
say nothing of the creation of the new units required to

The Armies of the British Empire 291

prosecute a war of any magnitude, and the replacing of
casualties in these units.

The military strenj^th of Great Britain is not to be meas-
ured by the area of the United Kingdom, which is about
equal to tliat of New Mexico, nor by the fact that she gov-
erns one-fifth of the earth's surface and one in every five of
the inhabitants of the world. Colonies may be a support,
but they are generally a weakness to a country in war.
Without her great navy controlling the seas the British
Empire could not exist; her colonies would fall an easy
prey to the sea power of her enemies. The ultimate mili-
tary strength of a nation is made up of all able-bodied males
of an age suitable to bear arms, say between eighteen and
sixty. The immediate military strength is determined by
the number of soldiers with the colors and in the trained
reserves, organized, armed, and equipped. It may be safely
stated that untrained men cannot be drafted, mobilized,
trained, armed, and equipped ready to take the field against
a worthy enemy in much less than one year. Arms, ammu-
nition, and equipment are very important considerations.
A country maintaining only a small army will probably
have as much difficulty in equipping and arming her raw
levies as in training and organizing them. If she is re-
stricted to home markets the difficulty becomes much
greater. Artillery is constantly assuming a more important
place in the battle line. It takes much time to produce
field guns and the ammunition for them. The 6 infantry
divisions and 1 ca/alry division of the Expeditionary Force
had 470 field guns to say nothing of the artillery of the field
army. These are quick-firing guns, able to fire 10 or more
shots per minute, or nearly 300,000 shots in an hour. The
quick-firer has been developed at great expense, the old
guns being again and again replaced by an improved model;
all to no purpose, if the ammunition is not available, and it

292 The Great War

will not be, if it is not held in reserve in time of peace. The
Expeditionary Force required about 75,000,000 rounds to
go into battle, with no general reserve. Provision had been
made for mobilizing the Expeditionary Field Army at full
strength in animals, about 70,000 riding, draft, and pack.
Our own experience in the Civil War showed that horses
often had to be replaced many times in a year. To main-
tain an army in the field is no small task ; that of creating a
new army after the outbreak of war can only be accom-
plished by a country that by its isolation, the protection of
its fleets, or the support of its better-prepared allies, enjoys
immunity from invasion. The modern army works at high
power; the days of summer campaigns and winter quarters
are long past; the individual soldier must work at severe
tension. To do this he must be well cared for; he must
have suitable clothing and an excellent quality of food at
regular intervals. He will make marches that Napoleon's
armies never equalled, but he should be accompanied by
travelling kitchens serving hot soup when he halts for rest.
Such things are not to be had at a moment's notice ; they
must be provided in time of peace.

There is no shortage of men in the British Empire; the
United Kingdom has a population greater than that of
France; besides which there is abundant raw material in
men and animals in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and
South Africa. No other country has so large a leisure class
as Great Britain; nowhere else is there to be found so much
wealth and so much sport. Outside the Regular Army,
among the well-to-do classes, the British Islands must con-
tain one million men who could easily give sufficient time
to military training to become seasoned soldiers. They are
seasoned sportsmen, but they are unwilling to take the
training necessary to fit them for the position of responsi-
bility which they would, without doubt, seek when war

Canadians at bayonet practice.

British marines at heliograph practice.

The Armies of the British Empire 293

was upon them. There is no lack, of patriotism, but the
average Briton is accustomed to have his battles fought for
him by a most excellent professional army far away from
his own shores. The South African War, it seems, should
have brought the lesson home. Many of the leading men
of Great Britain, in the army and out of it, saw and urged
the needs of the empire, but the great majority of Britons
are too well satisfied with the model on which the
world's greatest empire has been built and feel too secure
in an imdisputed control of the sea to wish to impose upon
themselves the burden of "compulsory service." It is diffi-
cult to understand why the English-speaking people, so
ready to take up arms in defense of their individual rights,
and so ready to respond to the call to arms at any sacrifice
when war is upon them, are still unwilling in time of peace
to resort to the only means of making their war strength
effective. Is it because a long period of pioneering with-
out meeting any organized resistance has blinded them to
the strength of the modern nations in arms, or has a long
and unexampled prosperity sapped their vitality and ren-
dered them unfit to maintain the world position which
they now occupy ? The needed reforms will not originate
in the older civilization without bitter lessons. Australia
and New Zealand, because of their exposed situations and
their proximity to an ambitious and aggressive modern
power, have, in spite of race traditions, recognized the only
means of securing the uninterrupted development of their
national aspirations.

Canada and Australia could be depended on to offer men
and money, but money was not needed and the men were not
soldiers. They were neither trained, armed, nor equipped,
save forces too small to justify even a naval convoy. There
would be volunteers who, after perhaps one year, could be
used. In South Africa there were many veterans, and

294 The Great War

veteran leaders of the revolution undertook, in 1912, the
formation of a national army, but it was not probable that
such an army would be available for service outside the
newly constituted South African Union. From British
India, with her 300,000,000 people, a part of the regular
garrison of 75,000 might be withdrawn, and possibly a small
proportion of the 160,000 native troops might be used else-
where in case of war. Both conditions depended on the
loyalty of India. In case of war, therefore. Great Britain
would have immediate need for a large army, but she had
only the Expeditionary Force, certainly the most inade-
quate, and possibly the most excellent army in Europe.

Map of France, showing how the country is divided into districts for tlic jnirposes of command,
administration, and recruiting of the army


The French Army

Napoleon's great nrmy. Degenerated military slate in 1870. Universal
service, 1872. Frontier defenses: coast, eastern, central, and southern.
State of fortifications in 1914. Universal compulsory service law of 1913:
classification of conscripts; volunteers; the colonial service; recruiting
districts; remount service; officers of the active and reserve forces.
Home and .'\frican establishments. First and second lines on war basis.
Infantry arms and equipment. Care of the wounded. Organization and
training of the infantry Cavalry organization and equipment. The
French cavalry officer. Sauniur School of Equitation. Artillery equip-
ment and strength. Supplementary equipment. Technical troops. En-
gineers and Train. The Flying Corps. The Gendarmerie. Forest and
Customs forces. Peace and war strength. Chief command The General
Staff. A defensive force.

The armies that, under Napoleon, marched repeatedly
into Italy and Austria, tried to cripple Great Britain, occu-
pied Prussia, imposed rulers on Spain and Sweden and the
smaller states of Europe, were not so much armies of
France as of the incomparable leader who created them.
The coalitions which threatened France made it possible
for Napoleon to convert the brutal violence of the Revo-
lution into the splendid energy of the troops with which
he conquered the supporters of the monarchy and the
enemies of the revolutionary movement.

Decimated on the retreat from Moscow, these wonderful
armies suffered their first crushing defeat in the Battle of the
Nations at Leipsic, and were finally destroyed at Waterloo.

That the remnants of that once invincible force should
disintegrate completely with the disappearance of Napoleon
was inevitable. France, likewise, deprived of his dominating


296 The Great War

personality and iron government, weakened and impover-
ished by his wars, was prostrate. Old discontents and revo-
lutionary ideals once more held dominion,. The individual
and his rights were exalted. The state and its organized
support were despised, and the army, as its strong arm, grew
in disfavor.

Voluntary service failed to fill the ranks of a modest
military establishment, and conscription had to be resorted
to. But large classes of the better elements were exempt,
and the vicious principle of substitution further degraded
the army until by 1870 more than fifty per cent of the
men in the ranks were substitutes who placed least value
on their services Although the officers represented the
best families of France, they could accomplish little when
the army was denied the support, moral and material, that
the men responsible for national defense have a right to
expect from the people The result was stagnation in all
grades. All effort towards progress was stifled and the
proud title of "A Soldier of France" remained only a tradi-
tion. Such were the conditions at the outbreak of the
Franco-Prussian War in 1870.

In the short campaign of 1870-1871 the French field
armies were captured or destroyed and Paris was invested.
The conqueror dictated terms from Versailles. It was the
inevitable result. The penalty was great, but if it suf-
ficed to revive the national spirit it was none too great a
price to pay.

There were immediate indications of the power of
recuperation left in the people. The apparently crushing
war indemnity was paid off in two years and France at
once set about to prepare for national defense with a liberal
and resolute hand.

In 1872 the principle of universal service was incorporated
into law, but it was at first very defective. Large classes

The French Army 297

were exempt from the operation of the law and a tax of
1,500 francs was accepted in lieu of service. It was not
until 1899 that a three-year service with the colors was
imposed on all alike.

In addition to developing a national army an extensive

Online LibraryGeorge Henry AllenThe Great war .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 24 of 40)