Fifth Army (United Kingdom)

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Fifth Army
LtGenHubert de la Poer Gough.jpg
Lieutenant General Hubert de la Poer Gough
Active 1916–1918
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Army
Role Operations on the Western Front, 1916–1918
Size Varied
Engagements First World War
Sir Hubert Gough

The Fifth Army was a field army of the British Army during World War I that formed part of the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918. The army originated as the Reserve Corps during the preparations for the British part of the Somme Offensive of 1916, was renamed Reserve Army when it was expanded and became the Fifth Army in October 1916.


The Fifth Army was created on 30 October 1916, by renaming the Reserve Army (General Hubert Gough).[1] It participated in the Battle of the Ancre, which became the final British effort in the Battle of the Somme.[2]

In 1917, the Fifth Army was involved in the Battle of Arras and then the Third Battle of Ypres. The following year, the Fifth Army took over a stretch of front-line previously occupied by the French south of the River Somme and on 21 March, bore the brunt of the opening phase of the German Spring Offensive, known as Operation Michael.[3] The failure of the Fifth Army to withstand the German advance led to Gough's dismissal and the disbanding of the army. In April and May 1918, the Fifth Army was nominally commanded by General William Peyton,[4] but when it was reformed as an army some months later, its command was given to General William Birdwood; it saw little action in the remainder of the war.[citation needed]

Although the Fifth Army was blamed for failing to hold the German advance, it was later "triumphantly vindicated"[5]



  1. ^ James 1990, p. 10.
  2. ^ James 1990, p. 14.
  3. ^ James 1990, pp. 17–19, 21–24, 26–27.
  4. ^ "William Eliot Peyton". Centre for First World War Studies. Retrieved 19 January 2008. 
  5. ^ HMSO 1944, p. 102.


  • James, E. A. (1990) [1924]. A Record of the Battles and Engagements of the British Armies in France and Flanders 1914–1918 (London Stamp Exchange ed.). Aldershot: Gale & Polden. ISBN 0-948130-18-0. 
  • The Eighth Army, September 1941 to January 1943: Prepared for the War Office by the Ministry of Information. London: HMSO. 1944. OCLC 461008574. 

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