British Second Army and Coalition Warfare in Flanders in the Hundred Days, 1918

by Dennis Williams

Institution: University of Birmingham
Year: 2016
Keywords: D501 World War I
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2085685
Full text PDF: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/6795/


During the Hundred Days, British Second Army fought a successful (War) (of) (Liberation) alongside French and Belgian forces in the (Groupe) (d’Armées) (des) (Flandres) (GAF). The Army’s achievements, deployed within a coalition army group under foreign command, have been overlooked in histories of the final year of the war Although their initial role was to secure the flank of the Belgian Army for the (Liberation) (Offensive), General Plumer’s troops fought and won two major battles, the (breakthrough) at (Ypres) (1918) and the (breakout) following (Courtrai). Second Army’s performance led to it being appointed the strike force for the GAF, assisting allied forces to clear the coast and liberate occupied Belgium. Plumer’s methodological leadership of combined arms operations enabled this weakest of Haig’s armies to overcome stubborn enemy resistance. An unseen consequence was the major dispute between Haig and Foch, involving British and French governments, over the return of Second Army to Haig’s command. The strategic German withdrawal, aided by the Flanders terrain and notorious weather, forced the final advance to follow a (staccato) rhythm. While the British troops exploited successfully their advantages in firepower through ‘fire and movement’ tactics, fighting this modern warfare came at the cost of heavy casualties.