The Cabinet Papers banner

Inter-war conferences and rearmament issues

The inter-war period

During the inter-war period Britain was involved in a war against the Soviet government in Russia, and at the Peace Conference in Paris the Turkish government objected to Greek gains in Asia Minor. Turkey later re-conquered many of these territories and came close to fighting the British over the control of the Bosporus.

Washington naval conference

The Washington Conference of 1921-1922 set ratios for the number of capital ships of the major powers. For the first time it was agreed that the British Royal Navy and the US Navy have the same number of battleships and battle cruisers.

London naval conferences

Until the early 1930s Anglo-American naval tension continued to simmer. Inter-service rivalry between the Royal Navy and the new Royal Air Force was also acute until the Royal Navy regained control of seaborne aircraft. Despite further major naval conferences in London (in 1930 and 1935-1936), it only became clear in 1936 that limiting naval power through caps on ship numbers, tonnage and weapon types was not achieving its aims.

Rearmament programmes

Having dropped out of the 1935-1936 London negotiations, Japan, along with Germany and Italy, embarked on major increases in defence spending. In 1936 the British rearmament programme began in earnest with increases in budgets. The weapons and equipment developed were to form the backbone of British military capability during the first three years of the Second World War.