On 27 September, the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War will launch KCBH member Dr David Morgan-Owen’s The Fear of Invasion: Strategy, Politics, and British War Planning, 1880-1914.
Britain’s entry into the First World War and the subsequent decision to send her Army to fight on the continent remains one of the most controversial topics of her modern history. How and why the Army was committed to the battlefields of Europe—where it would suffer such terrible losses over the next four years— and whether Britain might have fought the War in a different way are questions that continue to provoke debate over a century later. The Fear of Invasion tells the story of how Britain entered the First World War with the strategy it did, and reveals how this approach came about. It charts how the British government’s capacity to co-ordinate the activities of the Army and Navy into a coherent ‘grand’ strategy fluctuated between 1880 and 1914, with insidious effects for the nation’s preparedness during the July Crisis. It does so by focusing on the key issue which acted as a nexus between the activities of the two services and which, in the absence of a willingness to consider how to fight a major war, came to act as the de-facto determinant of British strategy. That issue was the defence of the British Isles against invasion: the area of policy where the roles of the two services overlapped most directly and most obviously, and the one aspect of strategy which politicians were prepared to pronounce meaningfully upon prior to 1914.
David G. Morgan-Owen is an historian of war and lecturer in Defence Studies at King’s College London. He was previously a Visiting Research Fellow at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, and an Associate of the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies at the University of Exeter, where he gained his PhD in 2013. Dr. Morgan-Owen has published on British strategy before and during the First World War in the English Historical Review, War in History, Journal of Strategic Studies, and the International History Review.
This event is free to attend but registration is required here.