Sir Francis Dent and the First World War

Historian article

By Christopher Phillips, published 30th July 2014

Not your typical soldier, not your typical service

The term ‘citizen soldier' evokes a particularly powerful image in Britain. The poignant histories of the ‘Pals' Battalions' cast a familiar, often tragic shadow over the popular memory of the First World War. Raised according to geographical and occupational connections, names such as the ‘Glasgow Tramways', ‘Grimsby Chums' and many others continue to resonate as the centenary of the war approaches. Their sacrifice, honoured upon memorials up and down the country and remembered each year on Armistice Day, remain a prominent symbol of Britain's first experience of ‘total' war.

There was, however, another ‘citizen army' raised during the First World War; one which did not request physical fitness as a prerequisite, and one which has not been the subject of commemoration over the past 100 years. This ‘army' gave to the nation not brawn, but brain; expertise and experience rather than energy and enthusiasm. Despite their advancing years, large numbers of British managers and technical specialists made a hugely important contribution to the war effort.

They kept the British troops on the front line equipped with the myriad goods and supplies required for the conduct of an industrial war. Without such items, provided in colossal quantities, the forces concentrated in France and Flanders, Salonika, Palestine and elsewhere could not have fought the First World War...

This resource is FREE for Student HA Members.

Non HA Members can get instant access for £2.49

Add to Basket Join the HA