The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve personnel; the modern British Army traces back to 1707, with an antecedent in the English Army, created during the Restoration in 1660. The term British Army was adopted in 1707 after the Acts of Union between Scotland. Although all members of the British Army are expected to swear allegiance to Elizabeth II as their commander-in-chief, the Bill of Rights of 1689 requires parliamentary consent for the Crown to maintain a peacetime standing army. Therefore, Parliament approves the army by passing an Armed Forces Act at least once every five years; the army is commanded by the Chief of the General Staff. The British Army has seen action in major wars between the world's great powers, including the Seven Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War and the First and Second World Wars.
Britain's victories in these decisive wars allowed it to influence world events and establish itself as one of the world's leading military and economic powers. Since the end of the Cold War, the British Army has been deployed to a number of conflict zones as part of an expeditionary force, a coalition force or part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation; until the English Civil War, England never had a standing army with professional officers and careerist corporals and sergeants. It relied on militia organized by local officials, or private forces mobilized by the nobility, or on hired mercenaries from Europe. From the Middle Ages until the English Civil War, when a foreign expeditionary force was needed, such as the one that Henry V of England took to France and that fought at the Battle of Agincourt, the army, a professional one, was raised for the duration of the expedition. During the English Civil War, the members of the Long Parliament realised that the use of county militia organised into regional associations commanded by local members of parliament, while more than able to hold their own in the regions which Parliamentarians controlled, were unlikely to win the war.
So Parliament initiated two actions. The Self-denying Ordinance, with the notable exception of Oliver Cromwell, forbade members of parliament from serving as officers in the Parliamentary armies; this created a distinction between the civilians in Parliament, who tended to be Presbyterian and conciliatory to the Royalists in nature, a corps of professional officers, who tended to Independent politics, to whom they reported. The second action was legislation for the creation of a Parliamentary-funded army, commanded by Lord General Thomas Fairfax, which became known as the New Model Army. While this proved to be a war winning formula, the New Model Army, being organized and politically active, went on to dominate the politics of the Interregnum and by 1660 was disliked; the New Model Army was paid off and disbanded at the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. For many decades the excesses of the New Model Army under the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell was a horror story and the Whig element recoiled from allowing a standing army.
The militia acts of 1661 and 1662 prevented local authorities from calling up militia and oppressing their own local opponents. Calling up the militia was possible only if the king and local elites agreed to do so. Charles II and his Cavalier supporters favoured a new army under royal control; the first English Army regiments, including elements of the disbanded New Model Army, were formed between November 1660 and January 1661 and became a standing military force for Britain. The Royal Scots and Irish Armies were financed by the parliaments of Ireland. Parliamentary control was established by the Bill of Rights 1689 and Claim of Right Act 1689, although the monarch continued to influence aspects of army administration until at least the end of the nineteenth century. After the Restoration Charles II pulled together four regiments of infantry and cavalry, calling them his guards, at a cost of £122,000 from his general budget; this became the foundation of the permanent English Army. By 1685 it had grown to 7,500 soldiers in marching regiments, 1,400 men permanently stationed in garrisons.
A rebellion in 1685 allowed James II to raise the forces to 20,000 men. There were 37,000 in 1678. After William and Mary's accession to the throne England involved itself in the War of the Grand Alliance to prevent a French invasion restoring James II. In 1689, William III expanded the army to 74,000, to 94,000 in 1694. Parliament was nervous, reduced the cadre to 7000 in 1697. Scotland and Ireland had theoretically separate military establishments, but they were unofficially merged with the English force. By the time of the 1707 Acts of Union, many regiments of the English and Scottish armies were combined under one operational command and stationed in the Netherlands for the War of the Spanish Succession. Although all the regiments were now part of the new British military establishment, they remained under the old operational-command structure and retained much of the institutional ethos and traditions of the standing armies created shortly after the restoration of the monarchy 47 years earlier.
The order of seniority of the most-senior British Army line regiments is based on that of the English army
The War Office was a Department of the British Government responsible for the administration of the British Army between 1857 and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence. It was equivalent to the Admiralty, responsible for the Royal Navy, the Air Ministry, which oversaw the Royal Air Force; the name "War Office" is given to the former home of the department, the War Office building, located at the junction of Horse Guards Avenue and Whitehall in central London. Prior to 1855'War Office' signified the office of the Secretary at War. In the 17th and 18th centuries a number of independent offices and individuals were responsible for various aspects of Army administration; the most important were the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, the Secretary at War and the twin Secretaries of State. Others who performed specialist functions were the controller of army accounts, the Army Medical Board, the Commissariat Department, the Board of General Officers, the Judge Advocate General of the Armed Forces, the Commissary General of Muster, the Paymaster General of the forces and the Home Office.
The term War Department was used for the separate office of the Secretary of State for War. The War Office developed from the Council of War, an ad hoc grouping of the King and his senior military commanders which managed the Kingdom of England's frequent wars and campaigns; the management of the War Office was directed by the Secretary at War, whose role had originated during the reign of King Charles II as the secretary to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. In the latter part of the 17th century the office of Commander-in-Chief was vacant for several lengths of time, which left the Secretary at War answering directly to the Sovereign; the department of the Secretary at War was referred to as the'Warr Office' from as early as 1694. After Blathwayt's retirement in 1704 Secretary at War became a political office. In political terms it was a minor government job which dealt with the minutiae of administration rather than grand strategy; the Secretary, a member of the House of Commons presented the House with the Army Estimates and spoke on other military matters as required.
In symbolic terms he was seen as signifying parliamentary control over the Army. Issues of strategic policy during wartime were managed by the Southern Departments. From 1704 to 1855, the job of Secretary remained occupied by a minister of the second rank. Many of his responsibilities were transferred to the Secretary of State for War after the creation of that more senior post during 1794. In February 1855 the new Secretary of State for War was additionally commissioned as Secretary at War, thus giving the Secretary of State oversight of the War Office in addition to his own Department; the same procedure was followed for each of his successors, until the office of Secretary at War was abolished altogether in 1863). During 1855 the Board of Ordnance was abolished as a result of its perceived poor performance during the Crimean War; this powerful independent body, dating from the 15th century, had been directed by the Master-General of the Ordnance a senior military officer, a member of the Cabinet.
The disastrous campaigns of the Crimean War resulted in the consolidation of all administrative duties during 1855 as subordinate to the Secretary of State for War, a Cabinet job. He was not, however responsible for the Army; this was reduced in theory by the reforms introduced by Edward Cardwell during 1870, which subordinated the Commander-in-Chief to the Secretary for War. In practice, however, a huge amount of influence was retained by the exceedingly conservative Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge, who had the job between 1856 and 1895, his resistance to reform caused military efficiency to lag well behind that of Britain's rivals, a problem which became obvious during the Second Boer War. The situation was only remedied during 1904 when the job of Commander-in-Chief was abolished and replaced with that of the Chief of the General Staff, replaced by the job of Chief of the Imperial General Staff during 1908. An Army Council was created with a format similar to that of the Board of Admiralty, directed by the Secretary of State for War, an Imperial General Staff was established to coordinate Army administration.
The creation of the Army Council was recommended by the War Office Committee, formally appointed by Letters Patent dated 8 February 1904 and by Royal Warrant dated
Field marshal (United Kingdom)
Field Marshal has been the highest rank in the British Army since 1736. A five-star rank with NATO code OF-10, it is equivalent to an Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy or a Marshal of the Royal Air Force in the Royal Air Force. A Field Marshal's insignia consists of two crossed batons surrounded by yellow leaves below St Edward's Crown. Like Marshals of the RAF and Admirals of the Fleet, Field Marshals traditionally remain officers for life, though on half-pay when not in an appointment; the rank has been used sporadically throughout its history and was vacant during parts of the 18th and 19th centuries. After the Second World War, it became standard practice to appoint the Chief of the Imperial General Staff to the rank on his last day in the post. Army officers occupying the post of Chief of the Defence Staff, the professional head of all the British Armed Forces, were promoted to the rank upon their appointment. In total, 141 men have held the rank of field marshal; the majority led careers in the British Army or the British Indian Army, rising through the ranks to become a field marshal.
Some members of the British Royal Family—most Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Charles, Prince of Wales—were promoted to the rank after shorter periods of service. Three British monarchs—George V, Edward VIII, George VI— assumed the rank on their accessions to the throne, while Edward VII was a field marshal, two British consorts—Albert, Prince Consort and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh—were appointed by their respective queens. Other ceremonial appointments were made as diplomatic gestures. Twelve foreign monarchs held the honour, though three were stripped of it when their countries became enemies of Britain and her allies in the two world wars. Awarded the rank were one Frenchman and one Australian, honoured for their contributions to World War I and World War II and one foreign statesman. A report commissioned by the Ministry of Defence in 1995 made a number of recommendations for financial savings in the armed forces' budget, one of, the abolition of the five-star ranks. Part of the rationale was that these ranks were disproportionate to the size of the forces commanded by these officers and that none of the United Kingdom's close allies, such as the United States, used such ranks.
The recommendation was not taken up in full, but the practice of promoting service chiefs to five-star ranks was stopped and the ranks are now reserved for special circumstances. Sir Peter Inge was, in the last active officer to be promoted to the rank. Inge relinquished the post of Chief of the Defence Staff in 1997 and his successor, Sir Charles Guthrie, was the first officer not to be promoted upon appointment as CDS; the most recent promotions to field marshal came in 2012, eighteen years after the moratorium on routine promotions to the rank, when Queen Elizabeth II promoted Prince Charles, her son and heir apparent, to the five-star ranks in all three services, in recognition of support provided for her in her capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces. At the same time, who relinquished the post of CDS and retired from active service in 2001, was promoted to honorary field marshal. In June 2014 former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Walker of Aldringham was promoted to honorary field marshal.
Although the rank of field marshal is not used in the Royal Marines, the insignia is used on the uniform of the Captain General, the ceremonial head of the corps. The rank insignia of a field marshal in the British Army comprises two crossed batons in a wreath of oak leaves, with a crown above. In some other countries under the sphere of British influence, an adapted version of the insignia is used for field marshals with the crown being replaced with an alternative cultural or national emblem. On appointment, British field marshals are awarded a gold-tipped baton which they may carry on formal occasions; the vast majority of officers to hold the rank of field marshal were professional soldiers in the British Army, though eleven served as officers in the British Indian Army. At least fifty-seven field marshals were wounded in battle earlier in their careers, of whom 24 were wounded more than once, eight had been prisoners of war. Fifteen future field marshals were present at the Battle of Vitoria, where the Duke of Wellington earned the rank, ten others served under Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo.
However, only thirty-eight held independent commands in the field, just twelve served as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces or Chief of the Imperial General Staff during a major war. Four field marshals—Sir Evelyn Wood, Sir George White, Earl Roberts, Lord Gort—had received the Victoria Cross, the United Kingdom's highest and most prestigious award for gallantry "in the face of the enemy". Wood, a famously injury-prone officer, was awarded the VC for two actions in 1858 in which he first attacked a group of rebels in India and rescued an informant from another group of rebels. White, a cavalry officer, led two charges on enemy guns in Afghanistan in 1879, while Gort, of the Grenadier Guards, commanded a series of attacks while wounded during the First World War in 1918. Roberts received his VC for actions during the Indian Mutiny. Wellington, 44 at the time of his promotion, was the youngest non-royal officer to earn the ra
John Dalrymple, 2nd Earl of Stair
Field Marshal John Dalrymple, 2nd Earl of Stair was a Scottish soldier and diplomat. He served in the Nine Years' War and the War of the Spanish Succession and, after a period as British Ambassador in Paris, became a military commander at the Battle of Dettingen during the War of the Austrian Succession. Born the son of John Dalrymple, 2nd Viscount Stair and Elizabeth Dalrymple, Dalrymple accidentally killed his brother in a shooting accident in April 1682 and thereafter spent most of his early life in the Netherlands where he studied at Leiden University, he joined up as a volunteer for the Nine Years' War with the Earl of Angus's Regiment and fought at the Battle of Steenkerque in August 1692. At Steenkerque he rallied his regiment several times. In 1695 he became Master of Stair, he was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the 3rd Foot Guards on 12 May 1702 and fought with the Duke of Marlborough during the War of the Spanish Succession at the Battle of Peer in August 1702 and the Battle of Venlo in September 1702.
At Venlo he saved the life of the Prince of Hesse-Kassel. He became Viscount Dalrymple in 1703. In January 1706 he was appointed colonel of the Earl of Angus's Regiment, he commanded a brigade at the Battle of Ramillies in May 1706 and, having been promoted to brigadier general on 1 June 1706, became colonel of the Grey Dragoons on 24 August 1706. He became 2nd Earl of Stair in January 1707 when his father died and that year he was elected as one of sixteen Scottish representative peers in the newly formed Parliament of Great Britain, he commanded a brigade at the Battle of Oudenarde in July 1708, the Siege of Lille in Autumn 1708 and having been promoted to major general on 1 January 1709, at the Battle of Malplaquet in September 1709. In Winter 1709 the Duke of Marlborough sent him on a diplomatic mission to Augustus II of Poland, he returned in time to take part in the Siege of Douai in April 1710. Promoted to lieutenant general on 1 June 1710, he fought at the Siege of Bouchain in August 1711.
He was appointed a Knight of the Thistle that year. He was sent to Flanders to join the military campaign there in April 1712 and became colonel of the Black Dragoons on 9 April 1714; when King George I ascended to the throne in August 1714, Dalrymple was sent as an envoy to the Court of France at Versailles. He was temporarily recalled on 20 November 1714 to take up the appointment of Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in Scotland. According to the Duc de Saint-Simon, Stair established friendly relations with Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, Regent to the young King Louis XV, paving the way for the Triple Alliance. During his time in Paris, Stair's spies thwarted various "intrigues" by the Jacobites. Stair retired from his position as ambassador in Paris in June 1720. In 1729, he became Vice Admiral of Scotland, but lost the position on 5 May 1733 because of his opposition to the Excise Bill of 1733 promoted by Prime Minister Robert Walpole, he was promoted to full general, on the basis of seniority, on 27 October 1735 and found time to lay out the gardens at Castle Kennedy in the 1730s.
On 20 March 1742, after Walpole had fallen from office, Dalrymple was promoted to field marshal. On 17 April 1742 he was made Governor of Minorca and on 20 April 1742 took command of the "Pragmatic Army" sent to act with Hanoverian and Austrian forces in support of the Pragmatic Sanction to appoint Maria Theresa to the position of Empress of Austria, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in South Britain on 28 February 1743 and colonel of the Black Dragoons again on 30 April 1743 and led the allies to victory at the Battle of Dettingen in June 1743. He retired from command of the army in Flanders at his own request on account of his advancing years in September 1743 and retired as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces to make way for General Wade in 1745. On 4 June 1745 he became colonel of the Grey Dragoons and on 14 June 1746 he became General of the Marine Forces, his favourite residence was Newliston near Kirkliston in Linlithgowshire, where he laid out gardens in the French style.
He died on 9 May 1747 at Queensberry House in Edinburgh and was buried in the family vault at Kirkliston. In March 1708 he married Lady Eleanor Primrose Campbell, daughter of James Campbell, 2nd Earl of Loudoun, they had no children. Sir Walter Scott's story My Aunt Margaret's Mirror is believed to have been based on efforts made by the Earl of Stair to get Lady Eleanor Primrose Campbell to marry him. Stair wanted his earldom to pass to his nephew John Dalrymple. Heathcote, Tony; the British Field Marshals 1736-1997. Pen & Sword Books Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-696-5. Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon on the Times of Louis XIV and the Regency. Translated and abridged by Katharine Prescott Wormeley. Boston: Hardy, Pratt. 1902. Graham, John. Annals and correspondence of the viscount and the first and second earls of Stair. W. Blackwood and Sons. "Archival material relating to John Dalrymple, 2nd Earl of Stair". UK National Archives
Secretary at War
The Secretary at War was a political position in the English and British government, with some responsibility over the administration and organization of the Army, but not over military policy. The Secretary at War ran the War Office. After 1794 it was a cabinet-level position, although it was considered of subordinate rank to the Secretaries of State; the position was combined with that of Secretary of State for War in 1854 and abolished in 1863. Notable holders of the position include Robert Walpole, the Hon. Henry Pelham, Henry Fox, Lord Palmerston and Lord Macaulay
Chief of the General Staff (United Kingdom)
Chief of the General Staff has been the title of the professional head of the British Army since 1964. The CGS is a member of both the Chiefs of the Army Board. Prior to 1964 the title was Chief of the Imperial General Staff. Since 1959, the post has been subordinate to the Chief of the Defence Staff, the post held by the professional head of the British Armed Forces; the current Chief of the General Staff is General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith – having succeeded his predecessor, General Sir Nick Carter in June 2018. The title was used for five years between the demise of the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in 1904 and the introduction of Chief of the Imperial General Staff in 1909; the post was held by General Sir Neville Lyttelton and by Field Marshal Sir William Nicholson. Throughout the existence of the post the Chief of the General Staff has been the First Military Member of the Army Board; the Chief was responsible for commanding the entire British Army. During the Second World War, General Brooke focused on grand strategy, his relationships, through the Combined Chiefs of Staff with his American counterparts.
He was responsible for the appointment and evaluation of senior commanders, allocation of manpower and equipment, the organization of tactical air forces in support of land operations of field commanders. Brooke vigorously allocated responsibilities to his deputies, despite the traditional historical distrust that had existed between the military and the political side of the War Office, he got along quite well with his counterpart, the Secretary of State for War, first David Margesson and Sir James Grigg. Chief of the Defence Staff First Sea Lord / Chief of the Naval Staff Chief of the Air Staff Deputy Chief of the General Staff