IMFC | PublicLectures

Duty, Honour & Izzat

Public Lecture 1
The Indian Army and the Great War:
The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) that went across to France and Belgium in 1914 was said at the time, and since, to be the best trained, the best equipped and the best led body of troops ever to leave England’s shores. While that may be true it was pitifully small – four infantry and one cavalry divisions, as compared to sixty infantry and ten cavalry divisions produced by the French. If the British were to play any meaningful part in the war on land the BEF would have to be reinforced and expanded. In time the Territorial Force, the New Armies and the Dominions would contribute to that, but not yet. In 1914 the only source of trained professional support was the Indian Army, almost as big as the British Army and all volunteer. This lecture will explain the composition of the Indian army, how it was raised, trained, officered and equipped. The lecture will detail the arrival of two Indian infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade on the Western Front in September 1914, just in time to plug the gaps for the First Battle of Ypres, and effectively saving the BEF. It will cover the experience of the Indian army on the Western Front but also in Mesopotamia and Gallipoli.

Public Lecture 2
The Empire and the Commonwealth at War:
This lecture will describe the lead up to the outbreak of war covering the position of the main participants (Russia, France, Germany, Austro-Hungary and British Empire) with emphasis on Canada when discussing the British position. It will explain the causes of the War, detail the legal position of The British Empire (when the king declared war the whole empire was automatically at war. This changed before WW2 when dominions could decide whether to participate or not – all did). Was it a necessary war? Did Britain have to get involved? The emphasis in this lecture will be on social history but will also explain the defence posture of each of the nations of the British Empire. The lecture will define the Canadian contribution as expanded to a corps of four divisions on the Western Front, and look at how they were raised and trained.