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The Contemporary Image of the Junior British Officer


What did it take to be a good junior officer in the First World War?

This month, Chris, Angus and Jessica speak to Charles Fair about the development of junior officer training in the war. Along the way we discuss the significance of the Territorial Force, which schools had officer training corps and the definition of a ‘temporary gentleman’.


Blackadder Goes Forth (1983)
Charles Fair, ‘From OTC to OCB: The Professionalisation of the Selection and Training of Junior Temporary Officers During the Great War’ in Spencer Jones (ed) 1917: The Darkest Year: The British Army on the Western Front 1917, pp.78-109 
Dan Todman, The Great War: Myth and Memory (2007)
Dorothy L. Sayers, Murder Must Advertise (1933)
Gary Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches: Officer-Man Relations, Morale and Discipline in the British Army in the Era of the First World War (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000)
Henry Ogle and Michael Glover (ed), The Fateful Battle Line: The Great War Journals and Sketches of Captain Henry Ogle MC (1993)
H. F. Maltby, A Temporary Gentleman (1920)
Ian Isherwood, Remembering the Great War: Writing and Publishing the Experiences of World War I (2017)
John Bourne, ‘British Generals in the First World War’ in Gary Sheffield (ed), Leadership and Command: The Anglo-American Military Experience since 1861, (London: Brassey’s, 1997) pp. 93-116

John Bourne, ‘The BEF’s Generals on 29 September 1918: An Empirical Portrait with Some British and Australian Comparisons’ in Peter Dennis and Jeffrey Gray (eds), Defining Victory 1918, (Canberra: Army History Unit, Dept of Defence, 1999), pp.96-113.
Martin Petter, (1994). ‘Temporary Gentlemen’ in the aftermath of the Great War: Rank, status and the ex-officer problem. The Historical Journal, 37(1), 127-152. doi:10.1017/S0018246X00014734
Michael Roper, The Secret Battle: Emotional Survival in the Great War (2009)
Paul Harris, The Men Who Planned the War: A Study of the Staff of the British Army on the Western Front, 1914-1918 (2015)
Peter Simkins,‘ ‘Building Blocks’: Aspects of Command and Control at Brigade level in the BEF’s Offensive Operations, 1916-–1918’ in Gary Sheffield and Dan Todman (eds), Command and Control on the Western Front: The British Army’s Experience 1914-18, (Staplehurst: Spellmount, 2004)
R.C. Sherrif, Journey’s End (1928)
Reginald Hill, The Wood Beyond (1995)
Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That (1929)
Royal Military College Sandhurst, ‘Syllabus of the Course of Instruction (For Three-Term Course)’, 1912
Siegfried Sassoon, The Memoirs of George Sherston (1928-1936)
Tim Halstead, ‘ “A Ragged Business”: Officer Training Corps, Public Schools and the Recruitment of the Junior Officer Corps of 1916’ in Spencer Jones (ed) At All Costs: The British Army on the Western Front 1916, pp. 414-429. Also see his forthcoming More Than Victims of Horace: Public Schools 1914-1918 (Helion, 2022)

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