Portal:British Army

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The British Army

Flag of the British Army (1938-present).svg

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

The modern British Army traces back to 1707, with an antecedent in the English Army that was created during the Restoration in 1660. The term British Army was adopted in 1707 after the Acts of Union between England and Scotland. Although all members of the British Army are expected to swear (or affirm) 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; hence the reason it is not called the "Royal Army". Therefore, Parliament approves the army by passing an Armed Forces Act at least once every five years. The army is administered by the Ministry of Defence and 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, often as part of an expeditionary force, a coalition force or part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation. Read more...

Selected article

The Battle of Waterloo by William Sadler
The Battle of Waterloo, fought on Sunday 18 June 1815, was Napoleon Bonaparte's last battle. His defeat put a final end to his rule as Emperor of the French. Waterloo also marked the end of the period known as the Hundred Days, which began in March 1815 after Napoleon's return from Elba, where he had been exiled after his defeats at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 and the campaigns of 1814 in France.

After Napoleon returned to power, many states which had previously resisted his rule formed the Seventh Coalition and began to mobilise armies to oppose him. The first two armies to assemble, close to the French north eastern border, were a Prussian army under the command of Gebhard von Blücher and an Anglo-allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington. Napoleon chose to attack them in the hope of destroying them before they, with other members of the Seventh Coalition (who were not such an immediate threat), could join in a coordinated invasion of France. The campaign consisted of four major battles - Quatre Bras (16 June), Ligny (16 June), Waterloo (18 June), and Wavre (18 June-19 June) - with Waterloo proving decisive.

It rained heavily overnight on 17 June, so Napoleon delayed giving battle until noon on 18 June to allow the ground to dry out. Wellington's army positioned across the Brussels road on the Mont St Jean escarpment withstood repeated attacks by the French until in the evening they counter-attacked and drove the French from the field. Simultaneously the Prussians — arriving in force — broke through Napoleon's right flank adding their weight to the attack. Losses were heavy on all sides.

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Selected biography

Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener
Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC (24 June 1850 – 5 June 1916) was an Irish-born British Field Marshal, diplomat and statesman popularly referred to as Lord Kitchener.

At the outset of World War I, the Prime Minister, H. H. Asquith, quickly had Lord Kitchener appointed Secretary of State for War; Asquith had been filling the job himself as a stopgap following the resignation of Colonel Seeley over the Curragh Mutiny earlier in 1914, and Kitchener was by chance briefly in Britain on leave when war was declared. Against cabinet opinion, Kitchener correctly predicted a long war that would last at least three years, require huge new armies to defeat Germany, and suffer huge casualties before the end would come. Smelling blood in the wind, Kitchener stated that the conflict would plumb the depths of manpower "to the last million."

A massive recruitment campaign began, which soon featured a distinctive poster of himself, taken from a magazine front cover. It may have encouraged large numbers of volunteers and has proven to be one of the most enduring images of the war, having been copied and parodied many times since.

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Selected unit

Cap Badge of the Intelligence Corps
The Intelligence Corps (also known as Int Corps) is one of the corps of the British Army. It is responsible for gathering, analysing and disseminating military intelligence and also for counter-intelligence and security.

Although the first proposals to create one came in 1905, the first Intelligence Corps was formed in 1914 and originally included only officers and their servants. The unit was rapidly run down after the First World War and was finally disbanded in 1929. On 19 July 1940 a new Intelligence Corps was created by Army Order 112 and has existed since that time. On 1 February 1985 the corps was officially declared an 'Arm' (combat support) instead of a 'Service' (rear support).

Intelligence Corps personnel wear a distinctive cypress green beret with a cap badge consisting of a union rose (a red rose with a white centre) between two laurel branches and surmounted by a crown. Their motto is Manui Dat Cognitio Vires (Knowledge gives strength to the arm). The Corps' quick march is The Rose & Laurel while its slow march is Purcell's Trumpet Tune & Ayre.

Their headquarters, formerly at Maresfield, East Sussex and then Templer Barracks at Ashford, Kent, moved in 1997 to the former Royal Air Force station at Chicksands in Bedfordshire along with the Joint Intelligence Training Group (JITG) and the Intelligence Corps Museum. The Director Intelligence Corps is a Brigadier.

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Selected equipment

Challenger II.jpg
The FV4034 Challenger 2 is the main battle tank (MBT) currently in service with the armies of the United Kingdom and Oman. Built by the British company Vickers Defence Systems (now part of BAE Systems Land & Armaments). The manufacturer advertises it as the world's most reliable main battle tank. As of January 2008, two Challenger 2s have been damaged and one destroyed (by a friendly fire engagement with another Challenger 2) in combat.

Challenger 2 is an extensive redesign from Challenger 1, the MBT from which it was developed. It uses the basic hull and automotive parts of its predecessor but all else is new. Fewer than 5% of components are interchangeable.

Challenger 2 has now replaced Challenger 1 in service with the British Army and is also used by the Royal Army of Oman. The UK placed orders for 127 Challenger 2 tanks in 1991 and an additional 259 in 1994. Oman ordered 18 of the tanks in 1993 and a further 20 in November 1997. Challenger 2 entered service with the British Army in 1998, with the last delivered in 2002. It is expected to remain in service until 2035. Deliveries for Oman were completed in 2001. Challenger 2 has seen operational service in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq (2003–present). During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, this was the only tank operating in the Gulf that did not suffer a single loss to enemy fire. In one engagement a Challenger took 14 hits from rocket-propelled grenades and from one Milan anti tank missile. The tank had to disengage for repairs and was back in action within six hours.

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Old War Office Building, Whitehall, London
Credit: ChrisO
Old War Office Building, Whitehall, London The War Office was a former department of the British Government, responsible for the administration of the British Army between the 17th century and 1963, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence. The name "War Office" is also often given to the former home of the department, the Old War Office Building on Horse Guards Avenue, London.


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