The Science of War: Back to First Principles

By Brian Holden Reid | Go to book overview

1

THE LESSONS OF THE 1920s AND MODERN EXPERIENCE

Brigadier C.F. Drewry

In an exchange of correspondence with Field Marshal Sir William Robertson in the Morning Post in 1924 the CIGS, Field Marshal Lord Cavan, replied:

Our great and threatening danger is that the Public see the necessity for a strong Air Force because they don't want to be bombed, and a strong Navy to escort food and necessities of life to their shores, because they don't want to be starved, but they don't realise at all that neither Air Force nor Navy can operate without the protection of the Army. Consequently Governments are tempted to treat us as the unpopular sister, and we have to fight hard all the time.

Thus was born the epithet of the 'Cinderella Service' for the 1920s Army which was to remain deprived of resources and popular support until called upon in the following decade to prepare for the least expected contingency of major war on the continent of Europe.

To draw too close an analogy between the circumstances of the 1920s and the prospects for the 1990s would be to risk unduly straining credulity. We are not now suffering the aftermath of a World War which had cut down a whole generation and had left its survivors imbued with a keen sense of pacifism. Potential threats have not yet completely disappeared from the continent of Europe. Nor are we faced with the task of economic reconstruction in the face of rampant inflation and financial depression. Imperial policing is no longer a drain on our military resources. Yet in other respects there are illuminat-

-12-

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