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Title: An anatomy of British adaptation on the Western Front : British Third Army and the battles of the Scarpe, April - June 1917
Author: Newton, Christopher
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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One aspect of the First World War that still requires detailed study is the Battle of Arras, 1917. The aim of the study is to answer the central question: 'how efficiently did the different components of the British Third Army learn and adapt to the changing conditions on the Western Front during April-June 1917?' The thesis makes the following contributions. Firstly, it examines an understudied battle and phase of the war. Secondly, it proposes a framework for analysis that breaks the concept of 'learning' into its component parts: application, adaptation, filtering, transmission, and memory. Thirdly, it sheds light on the British Expeditionary Force's learning process from the end of the Somme through to Third Ypres and Cambrai, and during the Battle of Arras in particular. It applies the analysis in other 'learning curve' studies of the British Expeditionary Force to the Battle of Arras. The thesis argues that the Battles of the Scarpe (Third Army's component of the battle) represented an important staging post in the BEF's learning process, although this learning was uneven and complex. There was an overall improvement in tactics, but there was also a degree of variation and divergence in learning as well. Fourthly, the study seeks to explain this complexity. Third Army's mixed fortunes on the Scarpe were due to inconsistencies within its learning organisation. The nature of the learning was shaped by the influence of experiential, organisational, cultural, and individual factors. Doctrine and enduring cultural beliefs provided some converging pressure on Third Army learning, but differing experiences, unit sub-cultures, and individuals led to divergence and complexity in learning.
Supervisor: Philpott, William James ; Lloyd, Nicholas Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available