TOC – War in History, Vol. 19, No. 3

Here is the latest table of contents from the recent edition of War in History.


David H. Caldwell, ‘Scottish Spearmen, 1298–1314: An Answer to Cavalry’

In 1298, in a departure from past practice, the Scots under William Wallace fought and lost at Falkirk with large units of spearmen. King Robert Bruce adopted this tactic in 1307. He was successful largely owing to the attention he paid to the selection and training of his men, to the arms and armour they employed, and to the choice and preparation of the field of battle. The Scottish armies of the period may have been larger than allowed by recent historians.

Brian N. Hall, ‘The British Army and Wireless Communication, 1896–1918’

The First World War is often identified as a great industrial and technological struggle. However, in the course of explaining the Allied victory in 1918, scholarly opinion is divided over the extent to which the British army made the most effective use of the technology available to it. While much of the debate has centred on the more ‘lethal’ technologies, such as aeroplanes, tanks, and poison gas, very little analysis has been made of the interaction between British commanders and communications technology. This article seeks to redress this imbalance by assessing the extent to which British commanders embraced the latest communication device of the period – wireless – and whether they harnessed its full military potential.

Geoff Sloan, ‘Haldane’s Mackindergarten: A Radical Experiment in British Military Education?’

This article investigates the origins, development, and impact of a unique experiment in British military education. It began in 1907 as part of the radical post-Boer War reforms of the British army, and ended in 1932, a victim of the May committee’s financial austerity programme that was forced on the War Office. ‘The Class for the Administrative Training of Army Officers’ was run by the London School of Economics on behalf of the War Office. Its students consisted primarily, but not exclusively, of army logistics officers. It was a synthesis of the ideas and praxis of two men: Richard Haldane, then secretary of state for war, and the polymath Sir Halford Mackinder, then director of the LSE. It delivered a syllabus of officer education that was embedded in a number of ‘special ideas’. The first of these argued that the army existed to produce power, used both to maintain peace and in war to achieve victory. The second was a focus on the power of efficiency, interpreted as an outcome of both empirical knowledge and imagination. Both these ‘special ideas’ linked the course to one of the core functions of strategy, identifying the most suitable means to achieve set objectives. The course represented a synthesis between the practical utility of information and the general principles underlying these special ideas. Despite its radical approach the course passed the hard litmus test of military education. It covered a diverse number of subjects in a relatively short period of time, while ensuring that a single objective was met.

Andrekos Varnava, ‘British Military Intelligence in Cyprus during the Great War

This article explores the impact of civil-military relations and an unreliable – even disloyal – local population upon intelligence-gathering and counter-espionage in Cyprus, and therefore adds to the existing literature on British Near and Middle East military intelligence during the First World War. Drawing upon archives in Britain and Cyprus, and a range of published primary sources, a fresh contribution to First World War intelligence studies is offered through a focus on British counter-espionage efforts in Cyprus after 1916. The article covers Anglo-French intelligence cooperation on the Syrian and Cilician coast, the wartime loyalties of Cypriots and their value as spies, and insights into Ottoman and German human intelligence activity in the region. The primary focus is on the civil-military relations between the Cyprus colonial government and the military intelligence officers. It is argued that Cyprus acquired some importance as a post for intelligence-gathering and especially counter-espionage, but the problems derived from inadequate civil-military relations, disloyal Cypriot subjects, and the island’s status as a backwater hindered its development as a valuable asset in the Near and Middle East theatre.

James P. Levy, ‘Royal Navy Fleet Tactics on the Eve of the Second World War’

The Royal Navy’s 1939 ‘Fighting Instructions’ provide a unique and underutilized window onto British naval doctrine in the World War II era. A comparison with US and Japanese pre-war tactical/operational thinking clarifies and illuminates the ideas and issues faced by naval officers in the interwar period. Additionally, this line of inquiry foregrounds the question of how we assess naval tactical schemes.

Review Article

Bruno Colson, ‘Clausewitz on Waterloo’

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