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Class Year

2014

Abstract

World War One brought dramatic changes to the officer corps of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) fighting on the Western Front. The heavy casualties sustained meant that mass mobilization at home had to take place in order to replace combat losses. As a result, the previously small, but professional British army was forced to transition into a large citizen-soldier army. This new force required not just new officers, but an entirely new leadership model. The formation and exercise of this new style of leadership is examined through the letters of Major John Hugh Chevalier Peirs, executive officer and later commander of the 8th Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment who served on the Western Front from 1915-1918. Major Peirs’ letters highlight the emergence of this new breed of leadership within Kitchener’s New Army and make clear why its emergence was so important to the overall morale and success of the BEF.

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