Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source2
Extracts from the minutes of a meeting in 1911 of the Imperial Defence Committee setting out British Army preparations for war
(Catalogue ref: CAB 38/19)
  • This source is a small extract from a long document (over 18 pages) that records the discussions of a meeting of the Imperial Defence Committee in 1911.
  • The meeting included the Prime Minister and the other leading politicians in the government: Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and Sir Edward Grey.
  • The meeting also involved all Britain's leading military officials. This extract shows comments by General H Wilson, Director of Military Operations. He was responsible for the movement and command of British forces in France if there was a war.
  • At the time of the meeting, the situation in Europe was tense but stable. Britain, Russia and France belonged to an alliance called the Triple Entente. France and Russia were committed to helping each other if war broke out, but Britain was not committed.
  • Germany and Austria-Hungary were also committed to helping each other if war broke out.
  • In 1911, relations between the great powers in Europe were reasonably good. There had been no major clashes since 1908. Despite this stability, this document shows that Britain was making plans in case the situation got worse.
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