History of the Great War

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Map showing the Western Front 1914–1918

The History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Committee of Imperial Defence is a series of 109 volumes, covering the British war effort during the First World War. The title is abbreviated to the History of the Great War or the British Official History. It was produced by the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence, from 1915 to 1949 and from 1919 was Directed by Brigadier-General Sir James Edmonds, who wrote many of the army volumes and influenced the choice of historians for the navy, air force, medical and veterinary volumes. Work had begun on the series in 1915 and in 1920, the first volumes of Naval Operations and Seaborne Trade were published. The first "army" publication, Military Operations: France and Belgium 1914 part I and a separate map case were published in 1922 and the final volume, The Occupation of Constantinople was published in 2010.

The History of the Great War Military Operations volumes, were originally intended as a technical history for military staff. Single-volume popular histories of military operations and naval operations written by civilian writers, were to be produced for the general public but Sir John Fortescue was dismissed for slow work on the military volume and his draft not published. Edmonds preferred to appoint half-pay and retired officers, who were cheaper than civilian writers and wrote that occasionally the "War House" foisted elderly officers on him, because they were not going to be promoted or offered employment but was afraid to tell them so".

In the 1987 introduction to Operations in Persia 1914–1919, G. M. Bayliss wrote that the guides issued by Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO) were incomplete. "Sectional List number 60" of 1976 omitted the Gallipoli volumes but contained The Blockade of the Central Empires (1937), that had been Confidential and retained "For Official Use Only" until 1961. The twelve volume History of the Ministry of Munitions, the Occupation of the Rhineland (1929) and Operations in Persia 1914–1919 (1929) were listed.


British official history[edit]

In 1906, official histories were being written by three departments at the War Office and one by the Admiralty. Lord Esher (Reginald Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher) chairman of the Committee of Imperial Defence, suggested that a subcommittee be established as the Historical Section, to centralise the collection of army and navy archives, as a repository of the lessons of war for strategists. Esher thought that the lessons of the South African War (11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902) could not be shown unless the naval, military and political aspects of the war were treated as one. In January 1907 the subcommittee was established with Sir George Clarke as chairman, charged with the completion of an official history of the Boer War. The original account was begun by Colonel G. F. R. Henderson (1854–1903), before ill-health forced him to retire. Before he died, Henderson had completed a narrative up to the beginning of the war but it was withheld from publication. The later version (History of the war in South Africa 1899–1902, four volumes, 1906–1910) by Major-General John Frederick Maurice reached publication but had needed a large number of assistants, that increased the price of the book; it was favourably received but had poor sales.[1]

Histories of the Great War[edit]

The Historical Section was busy on a history of the Russo-Japanese War (8 February 1904 – 5 September 1905) in August 1914 but work was suspended on the outbreak of the First World War. The section began to collect material being returned from France and Lieutenant-Colonel E. Y. Daniel was appointed as a full-time secretary.[a] Experience of writing the history of the South African War, showed that delay made the task impossible if the collection of material for the work did not begin at once and in May 1915, Captain C. T. Atkinson was sent to France to collect unit diaries. Atkinson reported that the diaries were inadequate, because of the difficulty of writing them during events like the Great Retreat of 1914, when few were kept and that these had big gaps. Although the diaries would not show why events occurred, Atkinson recommended that they should be indexed and grouped by unit, subject and chronology and that later they could be scrutinised, to identify discrepancies caused by the organisation of the material.[2]

A formal decision to write an official history was not taken until a Cabinet meeting on 26 August 1915, when Maurice Hankey (1 April 1877 – 26 January 1963) the Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence and of the War Council, advocated a series of histories to provide

...a popular and authoritative guide for the general reader; for the purposes of professional reference and education [and to provide] an antidote to the usual unofficial histories which besides being generally inaccurate, habitually attribute all naval and military failures to the ineptitude of the Government.

— Hankey[2]

The Secretary of State for War, Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener (24 June 1850 – 5 June 1916) wanted work to begin on a popular history in one volume, so that it would be ready to publish soon after the end of the war. This would maintain public interest in the main series and put the case of the government at the same time as accounts by participants and popular authors. The Treasury objected over the cost of an official history series but Hankey considered that it would be a work of education and reference, not a commercial proposition and that if scientific works were judged only on commercial criteria, research would end.[3]

The Treasury gave way and agreed to finance an official history series and popular single-volume works written by civilian authors to ensure public appeal, Sir Julian Corbett (12 November 1854 – 21 September 1922) was appointed to write the naval volume and Sir John Fortescue (28 December 1859 – 22 October 1933) was chosen for the army volume. Work on the military histories was slow and in 1917, Daniel reported that Atkinson and an assistant had examined only 160 of 1,100 unit diaries and that Fortescue had only got as far as November 1914. The war precluded a big increase in manpower and for the Fortescue volume to be adequate, Daniel reported that confidential staff correspondence would be needed. With the huge increase in the size of the British army, it would only be practical to use some unit diaries and that care would be needed to avoid skewing the selection. In March 1919, Winston Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) received a pre-publication copy of the naval popular history and objected to certain passages. Churchill wanted official records to be published with the volume, for the public to judge for themselves. Hankey claimed that Churchill's objections made the publication of an official history series questionable, since they would inevitably reflect on leaders, many of whom remained in public life.[4]

Hankey wrote that an official history should not be written, because it would attract parliamentary and public criticism, the length of time taken to publish would mean that each volume would be examined and that the history would be produced at a loss. The experience of producing the naval volume also showed that each volume would

...run the gauntlet of departmental criticism which [was] apt to emasculate the work and deprive it of half its interest.

— Hankey[5]

but that these arguments were not enough to cancel the project, given the benefits of publication, since little was known of the early stages of the war, the public had a right to benefit from the state monopoly on official information, in a readable manner. An official history would also serve to educate professional officers, that mattered more than cost and that criticism was unavoidable. Publication would refute unofficial histories, that blamed the government or individual officers and for this, the histories could not evade controversy or be inoffensive to individual sensibilities. The Cabinet agreed for publication to continue, subject to vetting by the War Office and the Cabinet, with the proviso that the decision might be reversed if the Corbett volume was badly received; the volume was published in 1920, to extremely good press reviews.[5] Work on the military histories in 1919, was hampered by paucity of resources and bad management, until Brigadier-General J. E. Edmonds (25 December 1861 – 2 August 1956), who had joined the Historical Section in February 1919, was appointed Director on 1 April. Edmonds found documents in uncatalogued bundles on the floor, from which historians had abstracted items and not replaced them.[6]

The Fortescue volume was to have covered the war but he wrote so slowly, that it was decided to end his volume at May 1915 and only cover France.[b] Edmonds also came to doubt the quality of the work, judging Fortescue to be ignorant of the workings of a contemporary army, apparently being 200 years behind the times; Fortescue had excluded dates and times and used obsolete terms. Fortescue agreed to revise his draft but then took no notice, his second draft being confused, containing nothing about the general situation and hardly referring to the Germans. Senior officers were ridiculed, the government blamed for not stopping the war and the French effort was "slurred over in less than one typewritten page". Edmonds blamed Fortescue for lacking interest, lethargy and ignoring the records made available, bungling the chance to write an exciting story of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), by delivering a patchwork of unit diaries. At the end of the year, Edmonds decided to rewrite the work because of Fortescue's prevarication and "grossly inaccurate and misleading" writing; Fortescue was sacked and Edmonds wanted him to be made to repay his salary. After the unfortunate experience with Fortescue, Edmonds decided that an account must be enhanced by statements, private records of officers and German material, to counter "garbled" accounts by the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle and John Buchan. Soundings with publishers and authors convinced Edmonds that a work based on dispatches would fail to engage the public and that an educational work needed a foundation on which to base teaching, conclusions similar to Hankey's that a work must be readable enough for the public to buy, be an educational work for the military student and rebut the inaccurate commercial accounts of civilian authors.[8]



The cost of producing the official history was raised in the Commons on 13 June 1922, when it was proposed to farm out the work to private enterprise. Some MPs claimed to have heard nothing of the history, despite five volumes having been published to a very good press. Daniel was called before the President of the Board of Education, H. A. L. Fisher and pointed out that working on the history would never pay a living wage and that for educational reasons the government must foot the bill, because of the exceptional value of the work. He calculated that the cost of the work from 1916 to 1922 was about £42,000, the military histories costing £16,800 and the naval works £11,800, while the annual cost of producing Hansard was £44,000. Daniel also showed that the cost of the war from 3 August 1914 to 31 March 1920, was £11,196,927,000 or £3,500 per minute, a vast cost against which, the price of making the experience available for education, was about four minutes of war expenditure per year for the Historical Section. The next meeting of the Historical Section subcommittee on 31 July 1922 endorsed the continuation of the project.[9]

Finance remained the dominant influence on the production of the volumes, rather than literary or academic concerns on the work of the Historical Section and the subcommittee met six times in 1923 and on 9 August, Hankey managed to obtain a permanent Cabinet Subcommittee of Control of the Official Histories to meet annually, chaired by the President of the Board of Education (there were twelve between 1924 and 1946) with representatives from the Treasury, War Office, Admiralty, Air Ministry and the Secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence. Daniel and Edmonds usually attended and official historians and members of the Colonial and India offices were present for particular discussions. Where the committee failed to agree, ultimate authority resided in the Cabinet. Edmonds submitted an annual report and other historians added summaries of their work, progress towards publication, staff and personnel and publications of foreign Official Histories. Meetings considered cost and the progress of publication, the number of volumes and their scope and size. On a few occasions the committee made a ruling on content after complaints by a department, an example occurring in 1928, when the War Office strenuously objected to some of the content of the first Gallipoli volume by C. F. Aspinall-Oglander.[10]

The provision of funds determined the speed of publication, size and number of volumes and the choice of author, Edmonds preferring to employ officers on half-pay or retired on £500 per year, about half the price of a civilian author. Officers were usually willing to work longer hours and do unpaid work. The Treasury even managed to obtain the removal of Lieutenant-General Launcelot Kiggell (Chief of General Staff for the British Armies in France under Haig, from late 1915 to early 1918) from the first 1918 volume, for reasons of cost. In 1923, the volume had been intended to be prepared out of sequence, because of the importance of the failure of the German Spring Offensive (21 March – 18 July) but by 1926, Kiggell had failed to prepare even a draft narrative for circulation to participants and thought that it would take another four years. At the Committee for Control meeting in January 1926, the Treasury recommended Kiggell's removal and Edmonds agreed, calling his work lacking in colour and atmosphere.[11]


The price of the early volumes was set at 21s and 21s for accompanying map cases but this was considered too costly for professional officers, and in 1923 the price was cut to 12s 6d but this left no surplus for advertising and no incentive for booksellers to display them prominently and led to publishers setting a maximum number of pages per volume, a constraint that led the Committee for Control in 1924 to advise a price increase to 15s. In March 1933, Edmonds showed copies of French, German and Austrian histories to show their "elaborate and voluminous" nature. The comprehensive nature of the project was also determined by finance and proposals by government departments from 1922 to 1939 for histories beyond the Western Front. In 1931, the War Office asked for a volume on the East African Campaign because of the different circumstances of the campaign, that offered lessons but the Treasury refused and suggested that the Colonial Office might pay, as it had for the West African volume and the volume was eventually published in 1941 with Colonial Office money. At the same meeting the Foreign Office asked for a volume on the Blockade of Germany at their cost because of the lessons and its use in conferences in international law; by being rated Confidential it could be written frankly. despite several volumes being financed by interested departments, Edmonds retained supervision and maintained the same editorial constraints as the other volumes.[12]

A greater constraint caused by financial parsimony was in the organisation of the Historical Section and the speed of publication. Premises, visits to battlefields and the number of historians and administrators were all limited and Edmonds threatened to resign in 1922 if denied more help. Along with Daniel and Edmonds the section had only three or four full-time officers, who had to write the volumes, prepare them for publication, maintain the library, study POW records and foreign official and non-official publications in the native language and provide help for the War Office, War Graves Commission, Staff College, educational establishments and government departments. The section had about 2,000 visitors a year to the cramped offices in Cavendish Square (until moving to the Audit Office in 1922). By 1924, Edmonds had five administrators and eight writers, when the French and German equivalents had about 130 each and the British staff were underpaid, A. F. Becke being refused an increase from £500 per annum. Edmonds got the money instead, from £560 to £800 per annum and then £1,000 in 1924, when he was writing most of the histories, managing the section and working a seven-day-week for three months, then taking ten days off for much of the 29 years of the project. A 1927 proposal for Cyril Falls (2 March 1888 – 23 April 1971) to visit Mesopotamia for £200 was vetoed by the Treasury but £50 was allowed for Aspinall-Oglander to visit Gallipoli.[13]

Official documents[edit]

The British had fielded the largest land army in its history and by 1924 it had generated more than 25 million documents, that Edmonds thought would take nine years to sort. When he took up his duties, Edmonds found the papers in heaps in the floor, apparently summarily sacked the Chief Clerk for refusing to climb a ladder to retrieve a bundle and complained that his predecessor C. T. Atkinson had let historians plunder the packets of documents and not return items; it had taken until June 1923 to catalogue the records. The first draft of a volume was prepared by a "narrator", who sorted, read and analysed the documents. The result was revised by the "historian" who added comments and a conclusion. The draft was then sent to participants down to battalion commanders, senior military officers, politicians and government departments. The draft for 1916 Part I (including the First Day on the Somme) was sent to 1,000 officers who sent 1,470 replies by 1931; comments on the first chapter created a pile five feet high and Edmonds complained that his staff was insufficient, considering that he had briefed them that all names, initials, ranks and numbers had to be checked and then cross-checked with the French and German accounts. The small number of staff slowed production and in 1922, Edmonds had calculated that it would take twenty years to write ten volumes, a feat that the French had achieved in three years. It took 21 years (excluding 1939–1945) to produce 14 Western Front volumes and 15 more on subsidiary operations.[14]


While finance determined the speed of the writing of volumes, Edmonds as Director had the greater influence on the literary and academic integrity of the work.[15] In the first volume published in 1922, Edmonds wrote in the preface that "no deviation from the truth nor misrepresentation will be found in the official histories on which my name appeared". Edmonds' claim had been challenged ever since, leading to a common assumption that the work is vapid at best and at worst fraudulent, being partial, misleading and an exculpatory account of the military establishment. In 1934, Liddell Hart questioned the integrity of the writers, calling 1918 Part I "patriotic" and "parochial". Norman Brook, one of the official historians claimed in 1945, that Edmonds could not be trusted to revise the Somme volume (1916 Part I) because he had succumbed to the temptation to interpolate his views into the work. In 1976, John Keegan (15 May 1934 – 2 August 2012) wrote

...the compilers of the British Official History of the First World War have achieved the remarkable feat of writing an exhaustive account of one of the world's greatest tragedies without any display of emotion at all.

— Keegan[16]

In 1985, David French wrote that Edmonds has a "private purpose to conceal the truth about the high command in France from the lay public" and that Edmonds had become concerned to refute claims by politicians that Haig was responsible for wasting lives on futile offensives. Edmonds' subjects were heroes beyond criticism and Tim Travers also wrote that Edmonds eschewed direct criticism of senior officers, was obliged to Haig and protected his reputation, rigged facts and drew false conclusions in the volumes on the Somme (1916 Part I), Passchendaele (1917 Part II) and 1918 Part I.[17] In 1996, Paddy Griffith (4 February 1947 – 25 June 2010), called it an encyclopaedic work, transparently individualistic in tone, lucidly organised, wide in scope and by far the best book on the Western Front. Griffith called the quantity of writing on the Great War "prodigious" and that despite Edmonds being unstable, insecure and never having held a field appointment, he was conscientious, intelligent and rarely allowed his devious and opinionated nature to distort his work on the official history.[18]


Persia, 1914–1919[edit]

Map of Iran (Persia)

In October 1920, the Government of India provided money for a record of the Indian contribution to the world war and chose Brigadier-General F. J. Moberly (15 September 1867 – 6 April 1952) as the historian to write the official account of the Mesopotamian Campaign (6 November 1914 – 14 November 1918). Moberly published the account in four volumes from 1923–1927 and in 1926, the Government of India requested an additional volume for the Persian Campaign (December 1914 – 30 October 1918). The work was nearly finished in September 1927, when the Government of India had doubts about publication on political grounds, because it would be dangerous to disclose intrigues with Iranian governments and individuals. The most helpful Iranian factions would come badly out of a volume that denigrated their assistance and "...the less we bring Afghanistan into the narrative the better for us". Sir Denys Bray of the Foreign and Political Department (Army Headquarters, India) supported the "excellent written" history but wanted it lodged in the Confidential records.[c] Stephen Gaslee of the Foreign Office wrote to Daniel in October 1927, about his concern that the government of the Soviet Union (USSR) might publish information from the Russian Empire on Iran.[19]

Gaslee felt that Soviet disclosures might put the British government at a disadvantage, if a censored version of British involvement in Iran had been published; instead he preferred a comprehensive history kept Confidential. General George Macaulay Kirkpatrick (Chief of the General Staff [India] from 1916 to 1920), took the view that discussion of the Seistan Strategy might upset Iranian sensibilities. Sir Percy Cox (20 November 1864 – 20 February 1937) who had been Chief Political Officer of Indian Expeditionary Force D, told Moberly that it was a fine piece of work, free from bias. Moberly wrote to Cox that avoiding controversy would render the volume valueless, making it impossible to justify British involvement in Iran to the public. Moberly referred to sensitivity over the "corrupt and self-interested attitude" of most Iranian politicians during the war and British fears of unrest in Afghanistan. Cox agreed that a bowdlerized account would be worthless and that Moberly should write without fear or favour, if necessary securing a commercial publisher, should the Government of India try to limit its circulation. At a meeting of the Committee on Official Histories on 9 March 1928, the volume was limited For Official Use Only and since this would increase the cost of the volume, His Majesty's Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO) agreed to pay for it.[19]

Moberly finished the work in May 1928 and in September, after the Foreign Office and the Government of India had approved the text, Lord Peel, the Secretary of State for India, insisted that the politics of the military operations described be removed and the last three chapters re-written, because even in a volume restricted "For Official Use Only", the disclosure of secrets was most objectionable. Moberly wrote that if officers were to benefit from the experience of wartime events in Iran, the exceptional nature of political factors in Iran and neighbouring countries could not be ignored. Moberly wrote that he understood the need for care in writing the history and that the chapters had been vetted informally by the Foreign Office and approved by Cox, who as an expert in the field, was well qualified to balance secrecy with the needs of army students. At a meeting of the Committee on Official Histories on 26 March 1929, it was ruled that the volume would be marked Confidential in Britain and Secret in India. Edmonds had objected to the Confidential label since it would be withheld from young officers but was overruled. A limited edition of 500 unexpurgated copies was printed by HMSO in late 1929, with 150 being marked Secret and sent to the Government of India. In March 1930, copies of the Confidential volume were supplied to the Imperial War Museum (IWM) library and others in February 1933, then HMSO destroyed the last 300 unbound copies; in 1987 the IWM published a facsimile copy of the volume at £24 net.[19]

Rhineland, 1918–1929[edit]

The occupation zones (Rhineland and Ruhr) 1919–1930. green (Saar): League of Nations (France), blue: France, brown: <<link:0>>, yellow: Belgium, blue/yellow (Ruhr): France/Belgium

Edmonds proposed a volume on the occupation in the Rhine Province by British Army on the Rhine (BAOR) in 1930, to counter a recent German version but the Treasury refused to pay.[20] Edmonds hoped that the War Office would find the money, began to collect information from former commanders and staffs of the BAOR and ensured the storage of BAOR records. By 1939, poor offices, lack of promotions and government parsimony, led him to complain that the official history, a national memorial, was being neglected. When Daniel retired in late 1939, Edmonds took on the duties of Secretary as well as Director and on 15 November, the Historical Section was evacuated to St. Anne's on Sea, Lancashire and thence to the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth in April 1942. In February, the Committee for the Control of Official Histories decided to let Edmonds write the volume. R. A. Butler, President of the Board of Education, said that the volume would be useful as a historical background for the Armistice and disarmament terms to be imposed on Germany. In 1987, Bayliss wrote that utility was the main criterion but that it also kept Edmonds busy, having been passed over for the writing of the official histories of the Second World War. Edmonds was pleased because he saw it as the final volume of his Western Front campaign history.[21]

Edmonds felt qualified to write the volume, having visited the Rhineland during the occupation, having gained specialist knowledge of the law of military government working with Professor L. F. L. Oppenheim (30 March 1858 – 7 October 1919) in 1912 on The Laws and Usages of War and being on good terms with many of the senior officers involved. Edmonds was hampered by a 1942 air raid, that burnt many of the records stored at Walworth. At Aberystwyth Edmonds was isolated from the libraries of London and short of researchers. Requests for help from the Director of the Imperial War Museum had little effect, since the books had been moved to Barnstaple in Devon and because coverage of the occupation and inter-war period was sparse, owing to the usual lack of money. Edmonds was able to glean plenty of details and gossip from senior officers in the occupation, General Charles Fergusson (17 January 1865 – 20 February 1951), the military governor of Cologne admitting that he disliked Field Marshal William Robertson (29 January 1860 – 12 February 1933) and that the enmity had led him to resign, despite being on good terms with General Herbert Plumer (13 March 1857 – 16 July 1932). Major-General Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd, Chief of Staff of the BAOR, criticised Robertson for being too fussy, Fergusson for pro-German sympathies and told Plumer that Fergusson was too much of a gentleman for the job. Plumer had asked if it were possible to be too much of a gentleman and later, Massingberd wished he had said

yes you can when fighting against animals like the Boche and the Japs....You have to fight him as if he was a man eating Tiger or hunting Bull Elephant".

— Massingberd[21]

Due to the hostilities, Edmonds was unable to correspond and exchange material with German researchers and was allowed only one galley proof and one page proof. In October 1943, Edmonds complained that speed and economy mattered more than respect for military history. Edmonds hoped that the volume would have educational use, in the event that Britain would again occupy foreign lands and that

...the quick change of the German attitude from one of humble subservience to pre-war arrogance, and the call for the strictest economy regardless of the military situation may be said to be the keynotes of the story of the occupation.

— Edmonds[21]

Edmonds struggled to produce an impartial history of the occupation and draft copies sent to the War Office and Foreign Office, led Brigadier W. L. van Cutsen for the War Office to complain that the volume should have been more broadly written, that administrative and other details were excessively dwelt on but he found the chapter on the operations of the British Upper Silesia Force helpful. Far worse criticism came from the Foreign Office on 3 January 1944, the text being called often misleading and incomplete, without the inclusion of much controversial material. It was suggested that the value of the volume would be enhanced by the reduction of political references to mere facts and dates. Examples included a desire to describe the murder of Kurt von Schleicher (7 April 1882 – 30 June 1934) "in the purge of 30 June 1934" rather than "by Hitler" in Edmonds' draft. Unemployment pay should never be referred to as a "dole" as this implied that British men had enlisted in the pre-1914 army to avoid starvation and Lloyd George (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) might resent being portrayed as "less well-disposed" to Germany, than Bonar Law (16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923). More examples were quoted and ended on Edmonds' description of the Locarno Treaties (5–16 October 1925), with "...it is most improper for an official historian to describe a treaty concluded by His Majesty's Government as 'verbiage'".[21]

Edmonds retorted that he would ignore the criticisms as they were "trifling or silly", except for a request to cut a comment that Viscount D'Abernon, Ambassador to Germany (1920–1925) was pro-German. Edmonds pointed out that the views were his, not officially endorsed and that the official history should not be determined by the War Office, Admiralty or Foreign Office. The volume had been based on official documents and he stood by it. The source of the criticism was Charles Webster (25 July 1886 – August 1961), who had written memoranda analysing the Armistice and military occupation, ready for the anticipated re-occupation of Germany. Edmonds was most critical of one of the documents and wrote to Webster defending Haig. Obstacles were placed between him and his detractors, with the intention of protecting his feelings, because the Foreign Office harboured another detractor, Llewellyn Woodward (1890–1971), who called the book episodic, the chronology was slurred and that the narrative of the controversy over provisioning the occupied territories was misleading. Criticism of civilian authorities lacked evidence and was "dogmatic and prejudiced". Woodward was less critical than Webster and asked him to spare Edmonds' feelings but Webster found the book lacking in analytical rigour and refused to devote more time to it and R. A. Butler, Chairman of the Committee on the Control of Official Histories, got the job of rejecting the book for publication. In July 1944, over Edmonds' objections, it was decided to print a hundred copies For Official Use Only but only after many Foreign Office demands had been conceded, including cuts to the preface.[21]

Work on the volume had begun in 1930, resumed in September 1942 and was completed in draft in July 1943. Ready to print in May 1944, they order came on 31 July for a limited edition by HMSO, because the small print run made it impossible for Macmillan to realise a profit. Edmonds later tried to have the small issue made publicly available but in November 1947, HMSO was ordered to destroy the type of the book. The volume remained unseen, until the loosening of the Thirty-year rule allowed the public to view the surviving copies. The failings of the volume raised questions as to the suitability of Edmonds continuing as Director of the Historical Section for the rest of the series but given that it was beyond his normal area of expertise, he was allowed to carry on and produced a short account of the Occupation of Constantinople, saw the remaining volumes on the Western Front through to publication and retired in July 1949, just before the publication of the final volume Military Operations: Italy, 1915–1919 (1949), ending thirty years' work. Edmonds was somewhat chagrined when the War Office ordered 800 copies of Assize of Arms (1946) by Brigadier-General J. H. Morgan (20 March 1876 – 8 April 1955), that he called far more outspoken on the occupation.[d]

1917 Part II[edit]


Map showing advances on the Ypres front, 31 July –10 November 1917.

In the second volume of Military Operations France and Belgium, 1917 (1917 Part II) Edmonds, wrote that Field Marshal Douglas Haig (19 June 1861 – 29 January 1928), the Commander-in-Chief of the BEF from December 1915 to the end of the war and General Hubert Gough (12 August 1870 – 18 March 1963) the Fifth Army commander (30 October 1916 – 27 March 1918), were at cross purposes before and during the early part of the Third Battle of Ypres (31 July – 10 November 1917). Edmonds described meetings between Gough and his corps commanders on 6 and 16 June, at which deeper objectives than those of the GHQ 1917 plan were decided and that an extra objective was added, to be attempted at the discretion of divisional commanders. This fourth objective (red line) was beyond the range of most of the Fifth Army field artillery, so all heavy artillery was to be on call to put a defensive barrage beyond advanced posts along it. An advance to the red line was to be attempted only against weak opposition.[22]

Brigadier-General J. H. Davidson, head of the Operations Branch at General Headquarters, questioned the Fifth Army plan in a memorandum of 26 June, recommending that the objectives be less ambitious and that the provision for an advance of 5,000 yards (4,600 m) to the red line be abandoned.[23] A Fifth Army order of 27 June, summarized a meeting of Gough and the corps commanders the previous day and laid down the green line as the main objective, that required an advance of 1,000 yards (910 m) in the south, 3,500 yards (3,200 m) in the centre and 2,500 yards (2,300 m) in the north, at the junction with the French First Army (General François Anthoine). Patrols were to be sent forward to probe the German defences and occupy vacant ground but it was more important to avoid a ragged front line.[24] In reply to Davidson, Gough wrote that the green line should be attempted and that opportunities to take ground up to the red line "without much opposition". should be taken.[25]

On 28 June, Haig discussed the Davidson memo at a meeting with Gough and General Plumer (commander of the Second Army on the right of the Fifth Army) and emphasised the importance of the Gheluvelt plateau.[26] Edmonds wrote that the Fifth Army plan did not conform to Haig's requirement that the main battle would be fought for the plateau. Gough had spread the Fifth Army divisions evenly along the front, when he could have increased the size of II Corps (Lieutenant-General Claud Jacob), opposite the plateau. In a footnote, Edmonds described Fifth Army intelligence summaries in July, that stressed the strength of the German defences on the plateau, that the Germans were building more defences there than on the rest of the front and that the assembly areas of the German Eingreif divisions (specialist counter-attack divisions) were behind the plateau and the Broodseinde–Passchendaele ridge. The summaries predicted that the Germans would try to hold the plateau, even if driven back across the Steenbeek further north.[27]

The description of the misunderstanding between Haig and Gough is contradicted by an account on the following pages, of a visit made on 27 June by Haig to the headquarters of II Corps. Jacob asked that his southern flank be extended to allow an attack on the Bassevillebeek Spur (Tower Hamlets) beyond the Bassevillebeek Stream, to deny the German army a jumping-off place, for counter-attacks against the right flank of the corps. Haig emphasised the importance of the capture of the plateau and arranged with the Fifth Army headquarters "at once", for II Corps to take command of the 24th Division (Major-General Major-General Louis Bols) to the south, that was the northernmost division of the Second Army. The Fifth Army–Second Army boundary was moved south on 4 July, to the Klein Zillebeke–Zandvoorde road. In a footnote Edmonds described the transfer of the artillery of the 23rd Division (Major-General J. M. Babington), the 24th Division artillery, thirteen medium (60-pdr gun), 25 heavy (fifteen 6-inch gun, five 8-inch and five 9.2-inch howitzer batteries from the Second Army to II Corps.[28]

Edmonds recorded 226 heavy and medium guns, 526 heavy and medium howitzers, 1,098 field guns and 324 field howitzers, a total of 2,174 artillery pieces in the Fifth Army or 2,299 pieces "on the Fifth Army front".[29] In footnotes, Edmonds added that II Corps had an "extra division", three heavy counter-battery and three heavy bombardment double groups; (a single group had 4–6 siege, heavy or medium batteries) while each of the three British corps to the north had two heavy counter-battery double groups and three heavy bombardment single groups. The II Corps divisions had eight or nine field artillery brigades each, rather than the six in the divisions of the other corps.[29][e] II Corps had (43 percent) of the Fifth Army artillery and had five divisions, with 3 13 being engaged on 31 July, compared to four divisions with two engaged, in each of the other corps. The green line for II Corps varied, from a depth of 1,000 yards (910 m) on the southern flank at Klein Zillibeke, to 2,500 yards (2,300 m) on the northern flank, along the Ypres–Roulers railway; the green line from the southern flank of XIX Corps to the northern flank of XIV Corps required an advance of 3,500–2,500 yards (3,200–2,300 m).[31] An advance of 5,000 yards (4,600 m) to the red line was not fundamental to the plan and discretion to attempt it was left with the divisional commanders, based on the extent of local German resistance, which conformed to the manual SS 135.[32] Had the German defence collapsed and the red line been reached, the German Flandern I, II and III lines would have been east of the new front line, except for 1-mile (1.6 km) of Flandern I south of Broodseinde.[33][f]


In The Killing Ground.... (1987), Tim Travers wrote that on the planning and conduct of the Battle of Pilckem Ridge (31 July – 2 August) and the Battle of Langemarck described in 1917 Part II, the volume reflected three controversies.[35] Travers wrote that Gough believed that Haig had ordered him to plan a breakthrough offensive, particularly at the meeting on 28 June, yet a few days later, Haig changed his mind and wanted a step-by-step attack. Travers wrote that it was illogical to give the principal command of a step-by-step attack to a "thruster" like Gough, when Plumer had a reputation for thoroughness. Travers wrote that Haig wavered in his thinking about what he wanted but left Gough under the impression that he was to plan a breakthrough attack.[36]

Travers wrote that Haig had emphasised the importance of the Gheluvelt plateau, particularly at the meeting of 28 June and that on 30 June, Haig had written "Capture the Passchendaele–Staden Ridge", on his copy of the Fifth Army plan. The importance of the Gheluvelt plateau is also found in GHQ orders of 5 July and Fifth Army orders on 8 July. Travers wrote that the Fifth Army failed to give adequate emphasis to this and that a structural obstacle constrained the army, since the southern edge of the Gheluvelt plateau was inside the Second Army boundary. Travers concluded that Haig and GHQ chose the time, place and strategy of the campaign and that Gough and the Fifth Army staff decided the tactics.[37] Travers called Wynne's first draft of 1917 Part II (1943) as "anti-Haig", the second draft (1944) as "anti-Gough" and the third draft (1945) as "anti-Haig and anti-Gough". Edmonds's fourth draft (published 1948) was "pro-Haig and anti-Gough" and Wynne declined to be named as an author. Travers wrote that Edmonds was willing to accept criticism and made amendments for interested parties, to whom drafts were circulated but became increasingly protective of Haig's reputation and noticeably autocratic towards the other historians.[38]

Travers described a leadership vacuum in the BEF caused by delegation, that was "scandalous" and that Edmonds failed to stress this. Gough had attempted a breakthrough offensive, conforming to the decisions laid down by Haig, was at fault for overlooking the importance of the Gheluvelt plateau and for ignoring a suggestion by the XIV Corps commander (Lieutenant-General R. L. Cavan), to add weight to the attack there.[39] Travers wrote that 1917 Part II omitted a request made by Gough in August for a conference, to discuss a remedy for the lack of weight being brought against the Gheluvelt plateau, a matter that Haig and the staff at GHQ should have settled long before the attack commenced, along with the awkward placement of the Second Army-Fifth Army boundary. In the published version of 1917 Part II, most of the blame for the decisions on the type of offensive, the width and direction of attacks and responsibility for planning was put on Gough and the Fifth Army staff, rather than on Haig and GHQ for selecting the Ypres Salient at all.[40]


In 2003, Green described the writing of 1917 Part II by Wynne and the circulation of the first draft to participants. Gough found the first draft highly objectionable and since so many other participants in the battle had died, his views were given considerable attention by Edmonds, during Wynne's absence on war work in 1943. Gough held that the draft exaggerated his intention to break through the German defences at Ypres. Gough described the meeting of 28 June 1917 by Haig, Gough and Plumer, as evidence of Haig's understanding and acceptance of the Fifth Army plan. Gough noted that General Headquarters had caused a road to be built and kept clear for the use of cavalry and that Haig had rejected Rawlinson and Plumer's plans as too limited. Gough stressed that his plan was not limited by specific objectives, which had hampered attacks at Loos and Gallipoli in 1915 and the Somme in 1916. Wynne had referred to the Davidson memo of 26 June but Gough pointed out that reserves were available close by, to exploit advantages that emerged, rather than the first attacking troops were to advance indefinitely.[41]

Green wrote that Edmonds told Wynne to include the points made by Gough but that Wynne objected, because Davidson had related how Haig revised his views after a 25 June meeting with the Cabinet in London and wrote "wear down the enemy but have an objective" on the Fifth Army plan. Wynne claimed that Gough had misunderstood Haig's intentions and that was the source of Gough's objections to the draft; Edmonds supported Wynne but later changed his mind.[42] Green wrote that Haig had intended Gough to conduct a breakthrough attempt and that Edmonds had included this in the draft, as well as describing the changes in Haig's outlook during 1917, as the prospect of significant French support varied. Gough had added the red line to meet Haig's requirements but overlooked the importance of the Gheluvelt plateau, spreading his forces equally across the attack front. Green noted that Prior and Wilson had found this in their 1998 study and that in 2001 Simpson noted Prior and Wilson's emphasis on artillery and lack of analysis of infantry operations.[43] Green also wrote that Edmonds referred to the continuity of Haig's optimism about the possibility of a deep advance on 4 August, 21 September and in early October, long after the likelihood had ended.[44]

Edmonds changed the draft in Gough's favour, by showing that the weather in August was unusually wet, with extracts from a French study Le Climat de La France (Bigourdan) that contradicted the 1929 of Haig's Chief Intelligence Officer Brigadier-General J. Charteris (1915–1918).[45][46] Edmonds wrote that the worst of the weather was from 12 October − 10 November, yet vividly described the wet and muddy conditions in August and their morale-sapping effect on British troops.[47] Wynne had written extensively on the difficulties of the French Army after the Nivelle offensive and its effect on British strategy but Edmonds cut much of this.[48] Edmonds left much of the remainder of Wynne's draft, despite Gough's objection that it implied that Haig had abrogated his authority, by delegating so much to Gough and not imposing changes, to allay his doubts about the Fifth Army plan for the Gheluvelt plateau.[49] Edmonds noted the persistence with which Haig pursued objectives and that he advocated attacks regardless of their geographical progress, to keep pressure on the German army.[48]

Green related an estrangement between Wynne and Edmonds, over Edmonds' willingness to accept Gough's objections. Edmonds sent Wynne to meet Gough, that led to a substantial change in his point of view. Wynne revised the draft to remove much of the blame from Gough, writing that Haig bore principal responsibility for the Fifth Army plan in the third (1945) draft. Edmonds then found this draft objectionable and quarrelled with Wynne, who declined to be named as an author. Green wrote that Edmonds and Wynne had changed their views about Gough and made the narrative of his role in the events of 1917 much more accurate, it being noticeably less defensive of Haig. Wynne's conclusion had been that the strategy of retaining the initiative to protect the French Army had worked and that the tactical intention to clear the Belgian coast had failed, due to an underestimation of German resilience and the mistaken attempt at a breakthrough.[50]

Earlier plans had been for short steps and an emphasis on the Gheluvelt plateau. Haig was responsible for accepting Gough's plan for 31 July, despite his cautious reminder to Gough on 6 July, giving the Passchendaele–Staden ridge and the Belgian coast as geographical objectives. Wynne removed these details from his draft but concluded that the GHQ 1917 plan might have been as successful as the Battle of Messines (7–14 June). Edmonds had also accepted the logic of an offensive in Flanders but not that of appointing Gough; if Haig had wanted a step-by-step attack he was wrong to have superseded Plumer. Green showed that Edmonds acknowledged the constraints affecting Haig but that he had wanted a breakthrough attack, chose Gough who known as a "thruster" and encouraged his optimism; Haig had kept any misgivings to himself.[50]

Green referred to Travers and wrote that he had taken the same view as Edmonds, on the questions of the intended breakthrough and the importance of the Gheluvelt plateau. Edmonds had written that Haig had accepted Gough's wishes and Green wrote that this did not mean that Gough was aware of Haig's doubts. Edmonds thought that Haig wanted a decisive success and the capture of distant objectives on the first day, despite doubts that he withheld. Travers had written that the Edmonds draft was wrong, yet had formed the same conclusions as Edmonds. Travers had criticised the published draft, for failing to record that Haig had not resolved disagreements and problems among his subordinates, long before the offensive began; Green wrote that Edmonds had made the same criticism. Green wrote that judging the drafts of the volume "pro-" or "anti-" Haig or Gough was facile and led to inconsistent conclusions. If the published draft was "anti-" Gough that it was surprising that he had called it a great improvement.[51]

Green compared the volume with later studies and wrote that the narrative did not support an explanation of the delay from 7 June – 31 July, being caused by a need to divert the Germans from the French army. Haig had decided on 7 May to begin the Messines operation in early June and had not been informed of the state of the French army until 2 June. Edmonds had written that the attack on Messines Ridge began on 7 June, because of the difficulty of mounting three simultaneous attacks at Ypres. Edmonds ascribed the apparent delay from 7 June – 31 July, to Haig's decision to give principal responsibility to Gough.[52] Wynne had claimed that Edmonds failed to reveal the superiority of German tactics but in 1998, Prior and Wilson had shown that British tactics had evolved in 1917, although their application was inconsistent. Edmonds had demonstrated that the attack on Messines ridge was a step-by-step advance for 1–2 miles (1.6–3.2 km). The plan incorporated progressive elements like those used at Arras on 9 April, particularly emphases on counter-battery fire and a carefully controlled creeping barrage.[53]

The Second Army had 2,266 guns and howitzers, that fired 144,000 long tons (146,000 t) of ammunition, 2 12 times more than that available for the First Day on the Somme (1 July 1916), to counter the deep German defence zones and Eingreif divisions.[53] Strong points were destroyed, wire was cut and German artillery suppressed. Three layers of creeping barrage 700 yards (640 m) deep preceded the infantry, who had been trained in the pillbox fighting methods used at Vimy Ridge. The infantry were followed by mopping-up parties, who captured by-passed German positions. Use of such techniques had been possible, because the artillery had become more accurate. The gunners also had more ammunition to use and had been able to suppress German defences as the British advanced; objectives had been limited to the range of the artillery and had led to a great victory. Prior and Wilson wrote that these methods were not used on 31 July, because Haig had overruled Rawlinson, Plumer and Davidson; Gough overreached and left the British infantry vulnerable to German counter-attacks. Edmonds had written that on 31 July, excessive demands had been placed on the artillery, that had spread its fire too thin.[53]

Green wrote that at the end of August, Haig had turned to Plumer and bite-and-hold methods, that Edmonds called this a radical revision. The greatest weight of artillery-fire possible, was to be massed against the Gheluvelt plateau, for a succession of strictly limited attacks. Plumer planned four steps at six-day intervals, to give time to move artillery and supplies forward. The steps were limited to a depth of 1,500 yards (1,400 m) and a large increase in medium and heavy artillery was to be used to smash pillboxes and to add to the counter-battery effort. The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (20–26 September) had double the number of guns on half the depth of attack, making four times the weight of shell compared to 31 July. Infantry tactics also emphasised systematic consolidation of all captured ground and strong-points. With the new battle drill and unprecedented artillery support, the attack was a great success. Green noted that Prior and Wilson described Menin Road as a triumph of reduced expectations and that Passchendaele Ridge was still 4,500 yards (4,100 m) away. Haig had then insisted on preparations for a breakthrough after the successes of the Battle of Polygon Wood (26–27 September) and the Battle of Broodseinde (4 October) but inadequate artillery preparation led to the failures at the Battle of Poelcappelle (9 October) and the First Battle of Passchendaele (12 October).[54]

Green concluded that the publication of 1917 Part II in 1948, had much to awaken controversy, particularly the contrast between flawed tactics and the methods used with success earlier in 1917. Green wrote that the volume mostly accorded with modern writing and contained little bias regarding Haig. Edmonds had referred to the external constraints of lack of manpower and the state of the French Army, yet his narrative had made the military errors manifest; Haig's desire for a breakthrough had led to a failure to relate strategy to tactics. Haig had failed to communicate with Plumer and Gough and had prolonged the offensive beyond the period of good weather that ended in early October. Green concluded that Edmonds had produced a work of lasting authority, in a series of substantial historical, military and literary value. Green wrote that later scholars who have accused Edmonds of bias, have had to acknowledge that his assessments and conclusions are largely accurate.[55]

History of the Great War[edit]

The war on land[edit]

  • History of the Great War based on Official Documents by Direction of the Committee of Imperial Defence.[g]
  • The Occupation of Constantinople 1918–1923 (draft provisional history 1944), Brigadier-General J. E. Edmonds, 2010
  • Military Operations: East Africa
  • Military Operations: Egypt and Palestine
    • Volume I: From the Outbreak of war with Germany to June 1917, accompanying map case, G. Macmunn, Captain C. Falls, 1928[56]
    • Volume II: From June 1917 to the End of the War, accompanying map case, Part I, G. Macmunn, Captain C. Falls, 1930, Part II, G. Macmunn, Captain C. Falls, 1930[56]
  • Military Operations: France and Belgium, 1914
    • Volume I: Mons, the Retreat to the Seine, the Marne and the Aisne, August – October 1914, accompanying map case, Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds, 1922 (2nd edition 1925, 3rd rev. edition, 1934)[57]
    • Volume II: Antwerp, La Bassée, Armentières, Messines and Ypres, October – November 1914, accompanying map case, Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds, 1925[58]
  • Military Operations: France and Belgium, 1915
    • Volume I: Winter 1914–15: Battle of Neuve Chapelle: Battles of Ypres, accompanying map case, Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds and Captain G. C. Wynne, 1927[56]
    • Volume II: Battles of Aubers Ridge, Festubert, and Loos, accompanying map case, Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds, 1928[56]
  • Military Operations: France and Belgium, 1916
    • Volume I: Sir Douglas Haig's Command to the 1st July: Battle of the Somme, accompanying appendices volume and map case, Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds, 1932[56]
    • Volume II: 2 July 1916 to the End of the Battles of the Somme, accompanying appendices and maps volume, Captain W. Miles, 1938[56]
  • Military Operations: France and Belgium, 1917
    • Volume I: The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line and the Battles of Arras, accompanying appendices volume, Captain C. Falls, 1940[56]
    • Volume II: Messines and third Ypres (Passchendaele), Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds, 1948[56]
    • Volume III: The Battle of Cambrai, Captain W. Miles, 1948[56]
  • Military Operations: France and Belgium, 1918
    • Volume I: The German March Offensive and its Preliminaries, accompanying appendices volume and map case, Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds, 1935[56]
    • Volume II: March–April: Continuation of the German Offensives, accompanying map case, Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds, 1937[56]
    • Volume III: May–July: The German Diversion Offensives and the First Allied Counter-Offensive, Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds, 1939[56]
    • Volume IV: 8 August – 26 September: The Franco-British Offensive, Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds, 1947[56]
    • Volume V: 26 September – 11 November: The Advance to Victory, Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds and Lieutenant-Colonel R. Maxwell-Hyslop, 1947[56]
  • Military Operations: Gallipoli
    • Volume I: Inception of the Campaign to May 1915, accompanying maps and appendices volume, Brigadier-General C. F. Aspinall-Oglander, 1929[56]
    • Volume II: May 1915 to the Evacuation, accompanying maps and appendices volume, Brigadier-General C. F. Aspinall-Oglander, 1932[56]
  • Military Operations: Italy, 1915–1919, Brigadier-General Sir J. E. Edmonds and H. R. Davies, 1949[56]
  • Military Operations: Macedonia
    • Volume I: From the Outbreak of War to the Spring of 1917, accompanying map case, Captain C. Falls, 1933[56]
    • Volume II: From the Spring of 1917 to the End of the War, accompanying map case, Captain C. Falls, 1935[56]
  • Military Operations: Mesopotamia, Compiled at the Request of the Government of India, under the Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence
    • Volume I: Outbreak of Hostilities: Campaign in Lower Mesopotamia, Brigadier-General F. J. Moberly, 1923[56]
    • Volume II: April 1916: The Attempt on Baghdad, the Battle of Ctesiphon, the Siege and the Fall of Kut-al-Amara, Brigadier-General F. J. Moberly, 1924[56]
    • Volume III: April 1917: The Capture and Consolidation of Baghdad, Brigadier-General F. J. Moberly, 1926[56]
    • Volume IV: The Campaign in Upper Mesopotamia, 1917–18, North-West Persia and the Caspian, 1918, Brigadier-General F. J. Moberly, 1927[56]
  • Operations in Persia 1914–1919, (Confidential, 1929) Brigadier-General F. J. Moberly, 1987[56]
  • The Occupation of the Rhineland 1918–1929, (Confidential, 1944) Brigadier-General J. E. Edmonds, 1987[56]
  • Military Operations: Togoland and the Cameroons, 1914–1916 Compiled by Arrangement with the Colonial Office, under the Direction of the Committee of Imperial Defence, Brigadier-General F. J. Moberly, 1931[56]

Related volumes

  • Order of Battle of Divisions
    • Volume I: The Regular British Divisions Major A. F. Becke, 1935[56]
    • Volume IIa: The Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and the 1st-Line Territorial Force Divisions (42–56), Major A. F. Becke, 1936[56]
    • Volume IIb: The 2nd-Line Territorial Force Divisions (57th–69th) with the Home Service Divisions (71st–73rd) and 74th and 75th, Major A. F. Becke, 1937[56]
    • Volume IIIa: New Army Divisions (9–26), Major A. F. Becke, 1938[56]
    • Volume IIIb: New Army Divisions (30–41) and 63rd (R.N.) Division, Major A. F. Becke, 1945[56]
    • Volume IV: The Army Council, G.H.Q.s, Armies and Corps, 1914–1918, Major A. F. Becke, 1945[56]
  • Principal Events, 1914–1918, H. T. Skinner and H. FitzM. Stacke, 1922[59][h]
  • Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire During the Great War 1914–1920, War Office, 1922[60]
  • Transportation on the Western Front, 1914–1918, accompanying map case, Colonel A. M. Henniker, 1937[56]

The war in the air[edit]

  • The War in the Air, Being the story of the Part played in the Great War by the Royal Air Force

(* 1939: indicates republication by Clarendon Press 1939, ** 1969: indicates republication by Hamish Hamilton 1969, • year: shows republication by the Imperial War Museum Department of Printed Books and the Battery Press and •• 2002: is the republication by the Imperial War Museum Department of Printed Books and the Naval and Military Press.)[61]

    • Volume I, W. A. Raleigh, 1922 (* 1939, ** 1969, • 1998, •• 2002)[62]
    • Volume II, H. A. Jones, 1928 (** 1969, • 1999, •• 2002)[63]
    • Volume III, accompanying map case, H. A. Jones, 1931 (• 1998, •• 2002)[64]
    • Volume IV, H. A. Jones, 1934 (• 1998, •• 2002)[65]
    • Volume V, accompanying map case, H. A. Jones, 1935 (• 1998, •• 2002)[66]
    • Volume VI, H. A. Jones, 1937 (• 2003, •• 2002)[67]
    • Appendices, H. A. Jones, 1937 (• 2003, •• 2002)[68]

The war at sea[edit]

  • Naval Operations
    • Volume I, accompanying map case, J. S. Corbett, 1920 (2nd edition, 1938)[69]
    • Volume II, accompanying map case, J. S. Corbett, 1921 (2nd edition, 1929)[70]
    • Volume III, J. S. Corbett, 1923 (revised edition, 1940)[71]
    • Volume IV, accompanying map case, H. J. Newbolt, 1928[72]
    • Volume V, accompanying map case, H. J. Newbolt, 1931
  • The Merchant Navy
    • Volume I, A. Hurd, 1921[73]
    • Volume II, A. Hurd, 1924[74]
    • Volume III, A. Hurd, 1929
  • Seaborne Trade
    • Volume I: The Cruiser Period, accompanying map case, C. E. Fayle, 1920[75]
    • Volume II: From the Opening of the Submarine Campaign to the Appointment of the Shipping Controller, C. E. Fayle, 1923
    • Volume III: The Period of Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, C. E. Fayle, 1924
  • A History of the Blockade of Germany and the Countries Associated with her in the Great War, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey, 1914–1918, (confidential, 1937) A. C. Bell, 1961

Ministry of Munitions[edit]

  • History of the Ministry of Munitions
    • Volume I: Industrial Mobilisation 1914–15, 1922
    • Volume II: General Organisation of Munitions Supply, 1921
    • Volume III: Finance and Contracts, 1920
    • Volume IV: The Supply and Control of Labour 1915–16
    • Volume V: Wages and Welfare, 1921
    • Volume VI: Man Power and Dilution, 1922
    • Volume VII: The Control of Materials, 1922
    • Volume VIII: Control of Industrial Capacity and Equipment, 1922
    • Volume IX: Review of Munitions Supply, 1922
    • Volume X: The Supply of Munitions, 1922
    • Volume XI: The Supply of Munitions
    • Volume XII: The Supply of Munitions, 1921

All marked "Confidential" and "For Official Use Only"

Medical and veterinary[edit]

  • General History
    • Volume I: Medical Services in the United Kingdom; in British Garrisons Overseas and During Operations against Tsingtau, in Togoland, the Cameroons and South-West Africa, Sir W. G. Macpherson, 1921[76]
    • Volume II: The Medical Services on the Western Front and during the Operations in France and Belgium in 1914 and 1915, Sir W. G. Macpherson, 1923[77]
    • Volume III: Medical Services during the Operations on the Western Front in 1916, 1917 and 1918; in Italy and in Egypt and Palestine, Sir W. G. Macpherson, 1924[78]
    • Volume IV: Medical Services During the Operations on the Gallipoli Peninsula; in Macedonia; in Mesopotamia and North-West Persia; in East Africa; in the Aden Protectorate and in North Russia. Ambulance Transport during the War, Sir W. G. Macpherson and T. J. Mitchell, 1924[79]
  • Casualties and Medical Statistics of the Great War, T. J. Mitchell and G. M. Smith, 1931
  • Pathology, edited by Sir W. G. Macpherson, W. M. Leishman and S. L. Cummins, 1923[80]
  • Diseases of the War
    • Volume I, edited by Major-General Sir W. G. Mcapherson, Major-General Sir W. P. Herringham, Colonel T. R. Elliott and Lieutenant-Colonel A. Balfour, 1922[81]
    • Volume II: Including the Medical Aspects of Aviation and Gas Warfare and Gas Poisoning in Tanks and Mines, edited by Major-General Sir W. G. Mcapherson, Major-General Sir W. P. Herringham, Colonel T. R. Elliott and Lieutenant-Colonel A. Balfour, 1923[82]
  • Hygiene of the War
    • Volume I, edited by Sir W. G. Macpherson, 1923
    • Volume II, edited by Sir W. G. Macpherson, 1923
  • Surgery of the War
    • Volume I, edited by Sir W. G. Macpherson, Sir A. A. Bowlby, Sir Cuthbert Wallace and Sir Crisp English, 1922[83]
    • Volume II, edited by Sir W. G. Macpherson, Sir A. A. Bowlby, Sir Cuthbert Wallace and Sir Crisp English, 1922[84]
  • Veterinary Services, edited by Sir L. J. Blenkinsop and J. W. Rainey, 1925

Additional volumes[edit]

  • A Short History of the RAF: Air Publication 125, Air Ministry, Air Historical Branch, 1920 (2nd edition 1929, revised edition, 1936)
  • The Official Names of the Battles and Other Engagements Fought by the Military Forces of the British Empire during the Great War, 1914–1919 and the Third Afghan War, 1919: Report of the Battles Nomenclature Committee as approved by the Army Council, 1922
  • Eastern Siberia, 1920
  • The Evacuation of Northern Russia, 1919, 1920[85][i]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daniel retired in 1939, at the age of 74.[2]
  2. ^ Captain G. S. Gordon had been employed in January to cover events to December 1915 and to add the Dardanelles campaign but had disappeared to Gallipoli in June and written nothing.[7]
  3. ^ The highest category of confidentiality was Secret, that limited circulation of material to individuals and army officers who had a need to know. Confidential writing could be seen by commissioned officers and some NCOs and For Official Use Only items could be seen but bought or communicated to the press or persons not employed by the government.[19]
  4. ^ Edmonds was also affronted at the publicity for The British War Economy (1949) by Hancock and Gowing compared to the penny-pinching of the Official History of the Great War.[21]
  5. ^ In The 18th Division in the Great War (1922), G. H. F. Nichols included an anecdote that II Corps had 1,000 guns and that each division in II Corps had twelve brigades of field artillery.[30]
  6. ^ In the Capture of Westhoek (10 August), II Corps was required to reach the black line of 31 July, an advance of 400–900 yards (370–820 m) and at the Battle of Langemarck (16–18 August), the Fifth Army was to advance 1,500 yards (1,400 m).[34]
  7. ^ Details of the Military Operations volumes are taken from the Introduction written by G. M. Bayliss, the Keeper of the Imperial War Museum Department of Printed Books, for each of the facsimile volumes published by Battery Press in association with the Imperial War Museum Department of Printed Books, that contain four un-numbered pages, listing each volume in the series.[56]
  8. ^ Major Skinner, DSO was an officer with 29th Punjabis, Captain Stacke was holder of the Military Cross and an officer in the Worcester Regiment
  9. ^ A Blue Book presented to Parliament by the War Office.


  1. ^ Green 2003, pp. 5–6.
  2. ^ a b c Green 2003, p. 6.
  3. ^ Green 2003, pp. 6–7.
  4. ^ Green 2003, pp. 7–8.
  5. ^ a b Green 2003, p. 8.
  6. ^ Green 2003, pp. 6–7, 9.
  7. ^ Green 2003, p. 9.
  8. ^ Green 2003, pp. 9–11.
  9. ^ Green 2003, pp. 11–12.
  10. ^ Green 2003, pp. 12–13.
  11. ^ Green 2003, p. 14.
  12. ^ Green 2003, pp. 14–15.
  13. ^ Green 2003, p. 16.
  14. ^ Green 2003, pp. 16–18.
  15. ^ Green 2003, p. 18.
  16. ^ Green 2003, p. 44.
  17. ^ Green 2003, pp. 44–45.
  18. ^ Griffith 1996, pp. 258–259.
  19. ^ a b c d Moberly 1987.
  20. ^ Green 2003, p. 15.
  21. ^ a b c d e f Edmonds 1987.
  22. ^ Edmonds 1948, pp. 127–128.
  23. ^ Edmonds 1948, pp. 128, 431–432, App XV.
  24. ^ Edmonds 1948, pp. 431–432.
  25. ^ Edmonds 1948, pp. 129, 440–442.
  26. ^ Edmonds 1948, pp. 129–130.
  27. ^ Edmonds 1948, p. 130.
  28. ^ Edmonds 1948, pp. 131–132.
  29. ^ a b Edmonds 1948, pp. 135–136.
  30. ^ Nichols 1922, p. 204.
  31. ^ Edmonds 1948, pp. 153, 433–436, map 10.
  32. ^ Corkerry 2001, pp. 28–29.
  33. ^ Edmonds 1948, p. 127, maps 10, 12, 15.
  34. ^ Edmonds 1948, pp. 180, 186, 190, App XVII, maps 17–19.
  35. ^ Travers 1987, pp. 203–209.
  36. ^ Travers 1987, p. 205.
  37. ^ Travers 1987, p. 206.
  38. ^ Travers 1987, p. 215.
  39. ^ Travers 1987, p. 216.
  40. ^ Travers 1987, p. 217.
  41. ^ Green 2003, pp. 168–169.
  42. ^ Green 2003, p. 170.
  43. ^ Simpson 2001, p. 113.
  44. ^ Green 2003, pp. 171–175.
  45. ^ Edmonds 1948, pp. 211–212.
  46. ^ Charteris 1929, pp. 272–273.
  47. ^ Green 2003, p. 178.
  48. ^ a b Green 2003, p. 182.
  49. ^ Travers 1987, p. 177.
  50. ^ a b Green 2003, pp. 183–186.
  51. ^ Green 2003, pp. 186–188.
  52. ^ Green 2003, pp. 188–189.
  53. ^ a b c Green 2003, p. 190.
  54. ^ Green 2003, pp. 191–193.
  55. ^ Green 2003, p. 207.
  56. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj Moberly 1995.
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]