Abyssinia Crisis, 1935

Invasion of Abyssinia (later known as Ethiopia) by Italian forces in October 1935. Abyssinia lay between two existing Italian colonies, Eritrea and Somaliland, and was rich in mineral reserves. It was also a member of the League of Nations, but the League failed to respond adequately when appealed to for help by the Abyssinian emperor, Haile Selassie. Abyssinia was rapidly conquered by Mussolini’s army and became part of the Italian East African Empire.


Abdication Crisis, 1936

Constitutional crisis caused by King Edward VIII’s decision to marry the twice-divorced American, Wallis Simpson, despite the Government’s refusal to accept her. Rather than give Mrs Simpson up, the King abdicated, becoming the Duke of Windsor, and was succeeded on the throne by his younger brother, as King George VI.


Acland, Sir Richard Acland (1906-1990)

British politician and benefactor.

Elected as Liberal MP for Barnstaple from 1935, later Labour MP for Gravesend. Founder member of the Common Wealth Party in 1942 and advocate of social reform.



Department of the Government administering the Royal Navy.


Allenby, Field Marshal 1st Lord Allenby (1861-1936), earlier General Sir Edmund Allenby

Commander of British forces in the successful Middle East campaign in the First World War, capturing Jerusalem and Damascus and decisively defeating the Turks at Megiddo.

Prior to the First World War, Allenby had served with the Inniskilling Dragoons in several African campaigns, 1884-1902, then commanding the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, 1902-1905, the 4th Cavalry Brigade to 1910 and becoming Inspector of Cavalry, 1910-1914. When war broke out, he commanded the cavalry in 1914, and the Fifth Army Corps, 1915, leading the Third Army, 1915-1917. During the Middle East campaign he served as Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 1917-1919 and also throughout the Palestine Campaign (during which he was made Field-Marshal and Viscount). After the war he continued in the Middle East as High Commissioner for Egypt, 1919-1925.


Agadir Crisis, 1911

The second of the Moroccan crises (see Moroccan crisis, 1905) leading to the outbreak of World War I. The Germans sent the gunboat “Panther” to the Moroccan port of Agadir, claiming that the French had ignored the terms of the Algeciras Conference. This provoked a major war scare in Britain until the Germans agreed to leave Morocco to the French in return for rights in the Congo.


Anglo-French Entente, 1904

Also known as the Entente Cordiale. An agreement between Britain and France settling colonial disputes, particularly over spheres of influence in Africa. It was not a military alliance, although British support of France in the following ten years in effect made it one.


Anglo-German Naval Agreement, 1935

Agreement signed on 18 June 1935, fixing the size in tonnage of the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) as 35 percent the size of the Royal Navy, beyond the limits set by the Treaty of Versailles.


Anschluss, 1938

Union between Austria and Germany in March 1938. In February 1938 Hitler had met the Austrian Chancellor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, in order to demand concessions for the Austrian Nazi Party. Schuschnigg refused and was replaced by Arthur Seyss-Inquart, leader of the Austrian Nazis. On 13th March, Seyss-Inquart invited German forces to occupy Austria (now renamed Ostmark) and proclaimed the Anschluss.



Abbreviation for Australia New Zealand Army Corps.



Chief legal officer in England.



Those seats in the House of Commons occupied by ordinary members of Parliament who do not hold ministerial office within the Government or are not spokesmen for the opposition.


Baldwin, 1st Lord Baldwin of Bewdley (1867-1947), earlier Stanley Baldwin

British politician. Prime Minister 1923-1924, 1924-1929 and 1935-1937.

Elected as Conservative MP for Bewdley in 1908. Served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1917-1921), President of the Board of Trade (1921-1922) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1922-1923), before becoming Prime Minister for much of the 1920’s and again in 1935 in the National Government.


Balfour, 1st Lord Balfour (1848-1930), earlier Arthur Balfour

British politician. Prime Minister 1902 – 1905.

Elected as Conservative MP for Hertford in 1874. Served as President of the Local Government Board (1885-1886), Secretary for Scotland with seat in Cabinet (1886-1887), Chief Secretary for Ireland (1887-1891), and Leader of the House of Commons during some of Lord Salisbury’s governments. He was leader of the Opposition (1892-1895), and Prime Minister (1902-1905). He served in the National Government as First Lord of the Admiralty (1915-1916), taking over from Winston Churchill, and was Foreign Secretary (1916-1919), and President of the Council (1919-1922 and 1925-1929).



Area centred around the Balkan Peninsula, comprising Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, as well as smaller Greek and Serb states. The scene of intense competition between the Great Powers, made worse by nationalism in the Balkan states.


Battle Cruiser

A type of warship which combined heavy armament with high speed, though at the expense of armour, which rendered battle cruisers highly vulnerable to dreadnoughts. Battle cruisers suffered badly at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.


Beaverbrook, 1st Lord Beaverbrook (1879-1964), earlier William Maxwell “Max” Aitken

Canadian-British press baron and politician.

Created the Canadian War Records Office in London (1917); owner of the Daily Express and Evening Standard; Conservative MP for Ashton-under-Lyne (1910-1916); first Minister of Information (1918); Minister for Aircraft Production (1940-1941); Minister of State (1941); Minister of Supply (1941-1942); Lord Privy Seal (1943-1945).


Admiral of the Fleet 1st Lord Beatty (1871-1936), earlier Admiral Sir David Beatty.

Naval Secretary to Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1912, then Commander of the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron 1912 – 1916.

An able and ambitious naval officer, who entered the Navy in 1884, rising to Admiral of the Fleet by 1919. Beatty enjoyed the support of Winston Churchill, who in 1913 put him in charge of the battle cruiser squadron of the Grand Fleet. Beatty’s squadron was the first to find the German High Seas fleet off Jutland in 1916, but he engaged it instead of waiting for the main fleet under Jellicoe. Although Beatty was probably responsible for the disappointing British performance at Jutland he emerged with most of the credit, and shortly afterwards replaced Jellicoe as commander of the Grand Fleet.


Admiral 1st Lord Beresford (1846-1919), earlier Admiral Lord Charles Beresford.

Commander of the Mediterranean Fleet 1905 – 1907 and of the Channel Fleet 1907 – 1909. Rival of Fisher, and as an MP was a frequent critic of Churchill’s naval policy.

Entered Navy in 1859 and rose to Admiral by 1906. He was a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty in 1886, resigning in 1888 over the strength of the Fleet. Conservative MP 1874-1880; 1885-1889; 1897-1900; 1902; 1910-1916. Retired from the Navy in 1911.


Boer WarWar in South Africa (1899 – 1902)

Between the British based at their Cape colony and the Boer Republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. The Boers were Dutch-speaking communities who wanted to remain independent of the British Empire.


Law, Rt. Hon. Andrew Bonar Law (1858-1923)

British politician. Prime Minister 1922 – 1923.

Elected as a Unionist MP for Glasgow in 1900. Served as the leader of the Conservative and Unionist opposition in the House of Commons (1911-1915), before becoming Secretary of State for the Colonies in the National Government (1915-1916). Served as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1916-1918), and as Lord Privy Seal (1919-1921), and was a member of Lloyd George’s War Cabinet (1916-1918). Served as Prime Minister (1922-1923).


Bracken, 1st Lord Bracken (1901-1958), earlier Brendan Bracken

British politician and close friend of Winston Churchill.

Elected as Conservative MP for North Paddington in 1929. Parliamentary Private Secretary to Churchill (1940-1941), then Minister of Information (1941-1945) and First Lord of the Admiralty (1945).


Brest-Litovsk, Treaty of

Peace treaty between Germany and Bolshevik Russia signed on 3rd March 1918. Russia surrendered huge areas, including the Ukraine, the Caucasus, Finland and the Baltic States, and pulled out of the war.


British Expeditionary Force (BEF)

That part of the British army which was made available for operations on the Continent of Europe. The term was used throughout the First World War and until Dunkirk in the Second.



The committee of senior Government Ministers responsible for controlling overall policy.


Cabinet Minister

Senior Government Minister who attends the Cabinet. Junior Ministers do not attend.


Cabinet Secretary

Senior British civil servant, with responsibility for administering and co-ordinating Cabinet policy.


Cambon, Paul Cambon (1843-1924)

French Ambassador to Britain, 1898-1920.

Private Secretary to Jules Ferry; Secretary of Prefecture, Alpes-Maritimes, and Bouches-du-Rhône; Prefect of the Aube; Prefect of the Doubs; Prefect of the Nord; Minister Plenipotentiary; Resident-General to Tunis; Ambassador at Madrid and at Constantinople.


Carden, Admiral Sir Sackville Hamilton Carden (1857-1930)

British naval commander at the Dardanelles, February – March 1915.

Entered Royal Navy in 1870, rising to become a Captain in 1899, a Rear-Admiral in 1908, and a Vice-Admiral in 1914. Commanded the Naval Forces at the Dardanelles until March 1915, when replaced by Rear-Admiral John de Robeck.



Technically a service-man or -woman becomes a casualty when he or she is rendered unfit for service, even if only temporarily. As a rough rule-of-thumb casualty figures can usually be divided into a third (lightly) wounded, a third maimed, and a third killed.


Cecil, Lord Robert Cecil (1864-1958), later Lord Cecil of Chelwood

British politician and peace campaigner.

Third son of the Conservative Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury. Private secretary to his father (1886-1888); elected as Conservative MP for East Marylebone (1906-1910); worked for the Red Cross during the First World War; Assistant Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1918); Minister of Blockade (1916-1918); adviser on League of Nations issues to Britain’s delegation at the Paris peace conference (1919); President, League of Nations Union (1923-1945); Lord Privy Seal (1923-1924), then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1924-1927) while also minister responsible for League affairs; awarded Nobel Peace Prize for 1937.


Chamberlain, Arthur Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940)

British politician. Prime Minister 1937-1940.

Lord Mayor of Birmingham, 1915-1916, then served as Director-General of National Service during the First World War (1916-1917). Elected as Conservative MP for Ladywood, Birmingham in 1918, becoming a minister in 1922 as Postmaster-General. Served as Paymaster-General (1923), Minister of Health (1923, then again 1924-1929 and 1931) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1923-1924 and 1931-1937). Became Prime Minister in 1938, resigning in 1940.


Chanak Crisis, 1922

British and French troops stationed near Chanak (later called Canakkale) to guard the neutral area of the Dardanelles were threatened with attack in September 1922 by Turkish forces. Initially British ministers threatened to declare war against Turkey, but France separately withdrew its troops and Britain and France eventually agreed to negotiate an armistice with the Turks. The incident led to a loss of confidence in Lloyd George‘s leadership and his resignation as Prime Minister.


Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Officially a member of the Government representing the Crown as Duke of Lancaster, but generally a junior Cabinet minister employed in non-departmental work.


Chancellor of the Exchequer

Cabinet Minister in charge of the Treasury, with responsibility for the nation’s finances.


Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874 – 1965)

British soldier, author and politician.
Prime Minister 1940 – 1945, 1951 – 1955.

Eldest son of Lord Randolph Churchill. Served as a cavalry officer and war correspondent in Cuba, India, the Sudan and South Africa. Elected as Conservative MP for Borough of Oldham in 1900. Joined the Liberal Party in 1904, subsequently serving as MP for Manchester North-West (1906-1908) and Dundee (1908-1922). Entered the cabinet as President of the Board of Trade (1908 -1910), and subsequently served as Home Secretary (1910-1911), First Lord of the Admiralty (1911-1915), and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1915). He resigned from the government and briefly commanded a battalion on the Western Front in 1916. Brought back into the National Government by Lloyd George and served as Minister of Munitions (1917-1919), Secretary of State for War (1919-1921), and Secretary of State for Colonies (1921-1922). Lost seat in Dundee in 1922, and elected Independent MP for Epping in 1924. Rejoined Conservative Party and served as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1924-1929). Spent 1930’s on backbenches, but brought back into cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty on outbreak of Second World War (1939-1940). Served as Prime Minister and Minister of Defence (1940-1945). Lost general election of 1945 and served as Leader of the Opposition (1945-1951). Served as Prime Minister for second term (1951-1955). Author of numerous books and articles.

Married Clementine Hozier (1908). Father of five children.


Colonel Blimp

Originally an Evening Standard cartoon from the 1930’s, expressing various pompous and reactionary opinions. Described by his creator, the cartoonist David Low, as “a symbol of stupidity”.



A nation that is part of an Empire.


Commander-in-Chief, India

Title of officer commanding British and Empire troops in India.


Committee of Imperial Defence

Government committee of senior Ministers with responsibility for policy relating to the protection of the British Empire.



Now Istanbul, capital city of Turkey, located at the entrance to the Black Sea.


Cooper, Alfred Duff Cooper (1890-1954), later 1st Lord Norwich

British politician.

Elected Conservative MP for Oldham (1924). Secretary of State for War (1935-1937); First Lord of the Admiralty (1937-1938); Minister of Information (1940-1941); Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster (1941-1943); Representative of HM Government with French Committee of National Liberation (1943-1944); Ambassador to France (1944-1947).



Narrow straits of water at the north end of the Aegean Sea held in 1915 by Turkey and controlling access to Constantinople and the Black Sea.

Map of the Dardanelles, 1906

Committee of Imperial Defence map used for planning a possible joint Naval and Military attack on the Dardanelles, 1906. Reference: Fisher Papers, FISR 5/38 (Crown copyright.)


De Robeck, Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Michael de Robeck (1862-1928)

British naval commander at the Dardanelles, from March 1915.

Entered Royal Navy in 1875, rising to become a Captain in 1902, and a Rear-Admiral in 1911. Replaced Vice-Admiral Sackville Carden as Commander of Naval Forces at the Dardanelles in March 1915. Served as Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet (1919-1922), and Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet (1922-1924), then as High Commissioner to Constantinople until death in 1928.



A nation, usually a former colony, which is self-governing but which retains the British monarch as Head of State.



The revolutionary new battleship launched in 1906, which combined speed with weight of armament and heavy guns. Based on Italian designs, HMS Dreadnought effectively rendered all other warships obsolete. The heavy warships manufactured over the following ten years were also known as dreadnoughts.



The term given to those in the First World War who stressed the importance of fronts other than the Western Front, believing that the war could be won more cheaply by defeating Germany’s allies, such as Turkey, on distant fronts like the Dardanelles or Palestine.


Eden, Robert Anthony Eden (1897-1977), later 1st Lord Avon

British politician. Prime Minister 1955-57.

Served in the First World War, winning the Military Cross. Elected as Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington in 1923, becoming a minister as Lord Privy Seal (1934-1935). Minister without Portfolio for League of Nations Affairs (1935), then Foreign Secretary (1935-1938) and Minister for Dominion Affairs (1939-1940). Secretary of State for War (1940) then Foreign Secretary (1940-1945), under Winston Churchill. Foreign Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister under Churchill, again (1951-1955). Finally replaced Churchill as Prime Minister (1955-1957), resigning after the Suez Crisis.


Esher, 2nd Lord Esher (1852-1930), earlier Reginald Brett

Deputy Governor of Windsor Castle 1902-28 (Governor from 1928 until his death); permanent member of Committee of Imperial Defence (the ministerial committee responsible for policy on the defence of the Empire), and close friend of King Edward VII and King George V.


Fisher, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher (1841-1920), earlier John (“Jackie”) Fisher

Most senior British Admiral (First Sea Lord) during First World War, until resignation over the Dardanelles campaign in May 1915.

Entered Royal Navy in 1854, rising to become a Rear-Admiral in 1890. Held a succession of senior positions before becoming First Sea Lord (1904-1910). Retired, but brought back as First Sea Lord by Winston Churchill in 1914. Quarrelled with Churchill over the Dardanelles operation and resigned in May 1915.


First Lord of the Admiralty

Cabinet Minister in charge of the Admiralty, and with responsibility for the Royal Navy.


First Sea Lord

Most senior Admiral of the Royal Navy.


Foch, Marshal Ferdinand (1851-1929)

French general, appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces in March 1918. Foch co-ordinated the successful Allied recovery after the German spring offensive of that month.


Foreign Secretary

Cabinet Minister in charge of the Foreign Office, and with responsibility for foreign affairs.


French, Field Marshal 1st Lord French, formerly General Sir John French and later 1st Lord Ypres

Commander of the British Expeditionary Force (part of the Army available for service in Europe) in 1914.

French joined the army in 1874, later serving with particular distinction as a cavalry general in the Boer War. He then became commander of the 1st Army Corps, 1901-1907 and Chief of Imperial General Staff (responsible for co-ordinating the armed forces of Britain and the Empire) 1911-1914, and Inspector-General of the Forces, 1907-1911 and 1914. On the outbreak of war he served as Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Forces in France, 1914-1915, and oversaw the fighting retreat the BEF had to make after the Battle of Mons in 1914. He was replaced by Sir Douglas Haig in December 1915, which he resented bitterly, and returned home as Commander-in-Chief of the troops stationed in the United Kingdom, 1915-1918. After the war he was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, 1918-1921.


Gallipoli Peninsula

Peninsula jutting out into the Aegean Sea at the entrance to the Dardanelles Straits. In 1915 it was controlled by Turkey.


Gandhi, Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948)

Known as “Mahatma” (Great Soul). Leader of the Indian nationalist movement against British rule in India through the use of non-violent protest and mass civil disobedience (Satyagraha).

Worked as a barrister in South Africa for 17 years then led Passive Resistance Campaign on behalf of Indian settlers in 1908; returned to India, 1915. Started Satyagraha movement in 1918 and non-co-operation campaign in 1920; became leader of the Indian National Congress in 1921; interned May 1930, then released in January 1931; interned again in 1932, went on a series of fasts while in jail for better treatment of untouchables; started individual civil disobedience and was again imprisoned and released on declaring a fast, 1933; retired from active leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1934; led the Quit India campaign against the British during the war, refusing to support the war effort unless India was granted independence; arrested in 1942 but released in 1944 because of failing health; strongly opposed to the partition of India and Pakistan; was assassinated in 1948.


General Staff

Akin to a “ministry” or “civil service” in charge of a nation’s army or armed forces. The idea of a professional General Staff was pioneered in Imperial Germany in the nineteenth century. Highly educated officers drew up detailed plans for any military contingency, including all associated engineering, transport, timetabling, industrial, communications, logistical and medical requirements.


General Strike, 1926

The General Strike lasted from 3 May to 12 May 1926. It was called by the General Council of the Trades Union Congress “in defence of miners’ wages and hours” after mine-owners extended the seven-hour working day and announced district wage-agreements and wage cuts of between 10 and 25 percent. The TUC called out their members in the key industries, including railway and transport workers, dockers, printers, builders, iron and steel workers in an unsuccessful attempt to force the Government to support them, but abandoned the General Strike after nine days. The miners continued to strike for several more months but eventually had to accept the new conditions.


Gold Standard

The gold standard is a monetary system in which the value of a currency is defined in terms of gold. In 1925 Winston Churchill fixed at 4.80 dollars to the pound, a high rate that is now argued to have been damaging to British industry, as the pound became too strong for British exports, and general interest rates were also forced up.


Gordon-Walker, Patrick, Lord Gordon-Walker (1907-1980)

British politician, journalist and author.

History Tutor, Christ Church College, Oxford (1931-1940); worked for BBC European Service (1940-1944) and was Assistant German Service Director, working from Radio Luxembourg (1945) and sending broadcasts from the Nazi concentration camp at Belsen; elected as Labour MP for Smethwick in 1945; Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (1950-1951); Foreign Secretary (1964-1965); Minister without Portfolio (1967); Secretary of State for Education and Science (1967-1968); Member, European Parliament (1975-1976).


Gough, Sir Hubert (1870-1963)

Much-criticised commander of the British Fifth Army on the Somme in 1918. His heavily under-strength forces broke before the German spring offensive in March 1918.

Joining the 16th Lancers in 1889, Gough served with distinction in the Boer War, 1899-1902. Between 1904 and 1906 he taught as a Professor in the Army’s Staff College, returning to command with the 16th Lancers, 1907-1911. From 1914 Gough took command of the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, being promoted to the 2nd Cavalry Division and 7th Division, 1915, the First Army Corps in 1916 and the Fifth Army, 1916-1918. Gough led the Fifth Army at the battles of Pozières, Thiepval and Beaumont-Hamel, and in operations on the Ancre, Langemark, and St Quentin. After the war he headed the Allied Mission to the Baltic in 1919, retiring in 1922.


Government of India Act, July 1935

Final Indian constitution prior to independence. Among the act’s provisions, India was divided into eleven provinces, each under an appointed governor and with an elected legislature. The provincial governments were to have broad powers to operate independently and direct elections were introduced.


Haig, 1st Lord, formerly Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig (1861-1928)

Controversial Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (part of the Army available for service in Europe) 1915-1918.

Haig saw the Western Front as the only front that mattered, but he has been blamed for the heavy British casualties on the Somme (1916) and at Passchendaele (1917). Although presented to the public as a hero figure, Haig had serious disagreements with Lloyd George’s War Cabinet (the group responsible for overall strategy and policy in time of war) and blamed them for the weak state of the British army at the time of the German spring offensive in March 1918.

Haig joined the 7th Hussars in 1885, serving in the Soudan, 1898 and in the Boer War. Between 1901 and 1903 he commanded the 17th Lancers, moving on to be Inspector-General of Cavalry in India, 1903-1906. Between 1906 and 1907, he served as Director of Military Training, then Director of Staff Duties at Army Headquarters, 1907-1909, Chief of Staff, India, 1909-1912 and General Officer Commanding, Aldershot, 1912-1914 (being made first General and then Field-Marshal in 1914, for distinguished service). In the First World War, he commanded the First Army, 1914-1915, stepping up to Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Forces in France and Flanders, 1915-1919. After the war Haig stayed on briefly as Field-Marshal Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in Britain, 1919-1920, before retiring to devote his time to the work of the British Legion.


Hamilton, General Sir Ian Hamilton (1853-1947)

Commanded Allied troops at Gallipoli during the First World War until October 1915.

Entered army in 1873. Saw action in numerous theatres and rose to become Colonel in 1891. Promoted to Lieutenant-General during Boer War, and held succession of senior commands, culminating in General Officer Commanding in Chief Mediterranean (1910-1915). Promoted to full General in 1914, and commanded Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at the Dardanelles until October 1915.


Hankey, 1st Lord Hankey (1877 – 1963), earlier Maurice Hankey

Senior civil servant.

Served in Royal Marines and Naval Intelligence. Appointed Assistant Secretary (1908), and then Secretary to Committee of Imperial Defence (1912-1938). He was also Secretary to the War Cabinet (1916), Imperial War Cabinet (1917-1918), and Cabinet (1919-1938). He was Minister without Portfolio in War Cabinet (1939-1940), Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1940-1941), and Paymaster General (1941-1942).


High Commissioner to Constantinople

Title of diplomat representing Britain in Turkey.


Hindenburg Line

German defences completed in April 1917, running from Arras to the River Aisne. The Hindenburg Line consisted of an outer network covered by multiple machine-gun nests, backed up by two heavily fortified systems beyond.


Hitler, Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)

German leader during Second World War.

Volunteer in German Army, 1914, winning the Iron Cross. Became Leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (the Nazi Party) in 1921; was imprisoned for leading an uprising against the Government in 1923, but was released after just over one year. Appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933 then Head of the German State (Führer) in 1934. Pursued an aggressive foreign policy, withdrawing from the League of Nations, then forcing Austria to declare a union (Anschluss) with Germany in March 1938. Germany then took over the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia (the Sudetenland), after promising Britain and France in the Munich Agreement of September 1938 that this would be the last of Germany’s territorial demands in Europe. Confident that the other European powers would do anything to preserve peace, Hitler then invaded Poland in 1939, triggering the Second World War. At the end of the war in 1945, Hitler committed suicide as the Soviet forces overran Berlin.


Hogg, Quintin Hogg (1907-2001), later Lord Hailsham

British lawyer and politician.

President of the Oxford Union, 1929. Elected Conservative MP for Oxford City, 1938; First Lord of the Admiralty (1956-1957); Minister of Education (1957); Leader of the House of Lords (1960-1963); Lord Privy Seal (1959-1960); Lord President of the Council (1957-1959 and 1960-1964); Minister for Science and Technology (1959-1964); Minister with special responsibility for: Sport (1962-1964); dealing with unemployment in the North-East (1963-1964); higher education (1963-1964); Secretary of State for Education and Science (April-October 1964); Lord Chancellor (1970-1974 and 1979-1987).


Home Secretary

Cabinet Minister in charge of the Home Office, and with responsibility for law and order, immigration and other domestic issues in England and Wales.


Hundred Days, the

During the advance to victory, Haig’s armies took 188,000 prisoners and 2,840 guns, as against 196,000 prisoners and 3,775 guns taken by the French, American and Belgian armies.


Imperial General Staff

The General Staff which co-ordinated the military efforts of Britain and her dominions and colonies.


Imperial General Staff, Chief of the (CIGS)

The General in charge of the Imperial General Staff. The CIGS was an influential figure in political decision-making in wartime or when an external threat was perceived in peacetime.


Government of India Act, July 1935

Final Indian constitution prior to independence. Among the act’s provisions, India was divided into eleven provinces, each under an appointed governor and with an elected legislature. The provincial governments were to have broad powers to operate independently and direct elections were introduced.


Inskip, Sir Thomas Inskip (1876-1947), later 1st Lord Caldecote

British lawyer and politician.

Served in the Admiralty Naval Intelligence Division (1915-1918); Head of Naval Law Branch (1918); Admiralty Representative on War Crimes Committee (1918-1919); elected as Conservative MP for Central Bristol, 1918; Solicitor-General (1922-1928, and 1931-1932); Attorney-General (1928-1929 and 1932-1936); Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence (1936-1939); Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (1939 and 1940); Lord Chancellor (1939-1940); Leader of the House of Lords (1940); Lord Chief Justice (1940-1946).


Admiral of the Fleet 1st Lord Jellicoe (1859-1935), earlier Sir John Jellicoe.

British commander at the Battle of Jutland.

Jellicoe entered the Navy in 1872, commanding the Atlantic Fleet from 1910 – 1911 and the Second Division Home Fleet 1911 – 1912. He was chosen by “Jacky” Fisher to command the British Grand Fleet in 1914. After Jutland he was First Sea Lord, but was removed by Lloyd George in 1917. In 1919 he became Admiral of the Fleet, and he served as Governor-General of New Zealand 1920 – 1924.


Joffre, Marshal Joseph (1852-1931)

French General. He commanded the French forces in their successful 1914 stand at the Battle of the Marne, and oversaw the early stages of the Battle of Verdun.

Joffre joined the French Army as a 2nd Lieutenant during the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1871. Thereafter he served as: Lieutenant 1872; Captain, 1876; Major, 1889; Lieutenant-Colonel 1894; Colonel 1897; Brigadier, 1901; General of Division, 1905; served China; organised defences of Formosa (later Taiwan); commanded a battery during siege of Paris. By 1914 he was Chief of the French General Staff and served as Commander-in-Chief of the French armies, 1915-1917.


Jutland, Battle of, 1916

The main naval battle of World War, between the British Grand Fleet under Admiral Jellicoe and the German High Seas Fleet under Admiral Scheer. British losses were heavier than German: the British lost three battle cruisers, three cruisers and eight destroyers; the Germans lost one battleship, one battle cruiser, four cruisers and five destroyers. However, the Germans could not afford to repeat such a rate of loss, and remained in harbour for the rest of the war, so the battle is usually regarded as a British victory.


Kaiser Battle

The name given by the Germans to the Spring Offensive launched in March 1918.


Kitchener, Field Marshal 1st Lord Kitchener of Khartoum (1850-1916)

Secretary of State for War (in charge of the War Office, and with responsibility for the army and military issues) from August 1914.

Entering the Royal Engineers in 1871, Horatio Herbert Kitchener rose to become one of the Empire’s most famous soldiers. He was made Commander-in-Chief of the Army in Egypt from 1892-1898 (defeating the Dervishes in the battle of Omdurman, and also meeting Winston Churchill, who was fighting as a junior officer), and took on this role again in South Africa, 1900-1902 and in India, 1902-1909. He then became Consul-General in Egypt from 1911-1914, returning as Secretary of State for War from the outbreak of the First World War until his death by drowning in June 1916.


Leader of the House of Commons

MP responsible for initiating business in Parliament and charged with representing the Government in the House of Commons when the Prime Minister is a member of the House of Lords.


Leader of the House of Lords

Position held by a Cabinet minister, with responsibility for Government business in the House of Lords.


Leader of the Opposition

Normally the leader of the second largest party in the House of Commons, with responsibility for opposing the Government.


League of Nations

International organization founded at the end of the First World War to promote disarmament, settle disputes between countries through diplomacy, and improve world welfare. Without forces of its own, the League depended on the European powers to enforce its resolutions.

The League was ultimately a failure, proving unable to prevent aggression by Italy and Germany in the 1930s, and was replaced by the United Nations after the Second World War.


Lindemann, 1st Lord Cherwell (1886-1957), earlier Frederick Lindemann

Physicist and scientific adviser to Winston Churchill.

Joined the RAF’s Physical Laboratory at Farnborough in 1915, developing a theory of recovery from an aircraft spin and learning to fly in order to test his theory on himself. Appointed Professor of Experimental Philosophy at Oxford, in 1919 (and again, 1953-1956), and acted as scientific adviser to Churchill during the 1930’s. Became Churchill’s personal assistant from 1940 and also served as Paymaster-General from 1942-1945 and 1951-1953; advocate of the strategy of area bombing German cities during the war.


Lindsay, Alexander Lindsay (1879-1952), later Lord Lindsay of Birker


President of the Oxford Union (1902). Served in the First World War, and in 1914 contributed to the series of pamphlets Why we are at War, on the importance of upholding international law; Professor of Moral Philosophy, Glasgow University (1922-1924); Master of Balliol College, Oxford (1924-1949); Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University (1935-1938); Principal of University College of North Staffordshire (1949-1952).


Lloyd, 1st Lord Lloyd (1879-1941), earlier George Lloyd

British politician.

Elected as Conservative MP for West Staffordshire in 1910; Governor of Bombay (1918-1923); High Commissioner for Egypt and the Sudan (1925-1929); President of Navy League (1930); Secretary of State for the Colonies (1940-1941); Leader of the House of Lords (1941).


1st Lord Lloyd George of Dwyfor (1863-1945), earlier David Lloyd George

British politician. Prime Minister during the second half of the First World War and at the Paris Peace Conference.

Elected Liberal MP for Carnarvon in 1890. Served as President of the Board of Trade (1905-1908), Chancellor of the Exchequer (1908-1915), Minister of Munitions (1915-1916), Secretary of State for War (1916), and Prime Minister (1916-1922).


The Locarno Treaties

Seven treaties negotiated at Locarno, Switzerland in October 1925 and ratified in December, in which the European powers (chiefly Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Belgium) made mutual non-aggression treaties, also promising to assist in defending one another from attack. Germany signed further agreements with France, Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia, referring disputes to a tribunal or to the Permanent Court of International Justice. France also signed treaties with Poland and Czechoslovakia, promising mutual aid in case of aggression from Germany.


Lord Chancellor

Officer of the Crown and member of the Cabinet, with responsibility for the running of the courts. Until the Constitutional Reform Act of 2005 was also the presiding officer of the House of Lords, and head of the judiciary in England and Wales.


Lord Chief Justice

Head of the judiciary in England and Wales, since the Constitutional Reform Act of 2005; prior to that was the second-highest judge of the English and Welsh courts, after the Lord Chancellor and head of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court.


Lord President of the Council

Cabinet Minister with responsibility for heading meetings of the Privy Council (honorary body of advisors to the Crown); generally a position held by the Leader of the House of Lords or Leader of the House of Commons.


Lord Privy Seal

A historic office filled by a Cabinet Minister without responsibility for a particular department.


Reginald McKenna (1863-1943)

Liberal politician, Churchill’s predecessor as First Lord of the Admiralty from 1908 – 1911.

McKenna did most of the preparatory work as First Lord of the Admiralty for the naval estimates presented by Churchill in 1912.


MacDonald, James Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937)

British politician. Leader of the Labour Party and first Labour Prime Minister.

Elected as MP for Leicester, 1906. Leader of the Labour Party, 1911-1914 and from 1922. Became Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, January-November 1924 and was re-elected Prime Minister, 1929-1935; Lord President of the Council, 1935-1937.


Maginness, Edmund John Maginness (1857-1938)

Naval constructor

Constructor at Naval Dockyard, Chatham, 1902-1905; Naval Dockyard, Portsmouth, 1905-1912; Chief Constructor, Naval Dockyard, Pembroke Dock, 1912-1915; Constructive Manager, Naval Dockyard, Chatham, 1915-1918; built revolutionary battleship HMS Dreadnought; Deputy Director of Dockyards at the Admiralty.


Marmora, Sea of: Sea of Marmara.

The area of water between the Dardanelles Straits and the entrance to the Black Sea at Istanbul [Constantinople].


Minister for Co-ordination of Defence

Cabinet Minister responsible for overseeing the rearmament of Britain’s defences. The post was established in 1936 and wound up in April 1940.


Minister of Defence

Cabinet Minister with responsibility for defence.


Minister of Information

Ministerial post which was created during the First World War and again in the Second World War, to head propaganda operations of the Ministry of Information.


Minister of Munitions

Minister with responsibility for the production of weapons and military supplies.


Minister without Portfolio

A Government Minister, often a member of the Cabinet, without responsibility for a particular department.


Minister of State

Junior minister, appointed to assist specific senior ministers or secretaries of state.


Minister of Supply

Minister with responsibility for co-ordinating the supply of equipment to the armed forces; the position was created in 1939 and wound up in 1959.


Monro, General Sir Charles Monro (1860-1929)

Commanded Allied forces at the Dardanelles and on the Gallipoli Peninsula during the First World War, October 1915 – January 1916.

Entered army in 1879. Saw action on Indian frontier and in Boer War, rising to become a Lieutenant-General in 1915. Took over as Commander-in-Chief Dardanelles in October 1915 and supervised the evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula. Served as Commander-in-Chief India (1916-1920), becoming full General in 1917. Served as Governor and Commander-in-Chief Gibraltar (1923-1928).


Moroccan Crisis, 1905

In 1905 Kaiser Wilhelm II visited the Moroccan port of Tangier and denounced French influence in Morocco. The move was probably designed to test the strength of the Anglo-French entente. The visit provoked an international crisis, which was resolved in France’s favour at the Algeciras Conference, 1906.


Morton, Major Sir Desmond Morton (1891-1971)

Personal Assistant to Winston Churchill, 1940-1946.

Aide to Field Marshal Haig in 1917, winning the Military Cross, Croix de Guerre and Médaille d’honneur; seconded to the Foreign Office in 1919 as head of the Secret Intelligence Service’s Section V, working on counter-Bolshevism; Director of the Industrial Intelligence Centre, Committee of Imperial Defence (1930-1939); Principal Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Economic Warfare (1939); Personal Assistant to Prime Minister (1940-1946); Vice-Chairman of UN Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East (1949); lent by Treasury to Ministry of Civil Aviation (1950); retired (1953).


Munich Agreement, 1938

Agreement signed at a conference in Munich, Germany, between the major European powers in September 1938. Czechoslovakia was divided between Germany, Poland and Hungary, following Germany’s claim to the German-speaking Sudetenland, close to its own border. Czechoslovakia was not invited to take part in the conference.


Mussolini, Benito Mussolini (1883-1945)

Fascist dictator of Italy and close ally of Hitler.

Worked as a journalist from 1904, becoming editor of the newspaper Avanti. Mussolini was initially a member of the Socialist Party but resigned his membership in 1915 due to the party’s support for the Allies in the First World War. He was wounded during the war and returned to Italy as editor of the right-wing Il Popolo d’Italia, helping to form the Fascist Party. In 1922 he was appointed prime minister, leading a fascist-nationalist coalition; left-wing parties were suppressed in 1924 and in 1929 Italy became a one-party state with Mussolini as supreme leader (Il Duce). In 1935 Italy extended its African colonies by invading Abyssinia (later Ethiopia), despite sanctions imposed by the League of Nations; in 1936 Mussolini signed the Rome-Berlin Axis, following this with the Pact of Steel in 1939. Italy declared war on the Allies in 1940, but suffered serious reverses both in Greece and against the British in North Africa. Following the fall of Sicily to the Allies in 1943 Mussolini was dismissed from office and arrested, but was rescued on Hitler’s orders and set up a new fascist regime in German-occupied northern Italy. As Allied forces advanced in 1945 he and his mistress attempted to escape into Switzerland but were captured by Italian partisans and shot. Mussolini’s body was hung upside down in Milan for public viewing.


National Government

A Government with Ministers drawn from all the major political parties, normally formed in time of war or national emergency.


A naval expert, usually a serving or a former naval officer, appointed to an ambassador’s staff, who can advise the ambassador about naval matters and policy in the host country.


A series of laws brought before the Reichstag by the German navy minister, Admiral von Tirpitz, which authorised massive expansion in the German navy.


There were two navy leagues, one German and one British. They were pressure groups calling for naval expansion in the years before the First World War. The British league campaigned for eight dreadnoughts with the slogan “We want eight, and we won’t wait!”


Nazi-Soviet Pact, 1939

Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, signed on 28 August 1939, with each promising to remain neutral if the other became involved in a war.


Night of the Long Knives, 1934

Purge carried out by Hitler between June 30 and July 2, 1934, in which at least 85 people were executed and more than 1000 arrested. Those killed were chiefly members of the Nazi Party’s own Sturmabteilung (Storm Battalion, or SA), which Hitler saw as a threat to his own power, but Hitler also took the opportunity to remove critics of his regime and settle old scores.


Nivelle, General Robert (1856-1924)

French General.

Nivelle replaced Marshal Joffre as French Commander-in-Chief in December 1916 and aroused enormous enthusiasm for his plan for a massive Allied offensive in the spring of 1917. In the event the Nivelle Offensive was a disaster, and provoked serious mutinies in the French army. Nivelle was replaced by Pétain.


Nivelle Offensive, 1917

A major offensive against the Germans launched by General Nivelle along the Chemin des Dames in April 1917. Although the charming and charismatic Nivelle had aroused enormous expectations, the attack was a fiasco.


Northcliffe, 1st Lord, formerly Alfred Harmsworth (1865-1922)

British press baron, owner of the Times and founder of the Daily Mail.

Northcliffe had founded the Daily Mail in 1896 and became chief proprietor of the Times in 1908. During the First World War he acted as Chairman of the British War Mission to the USA in 1917, of the British War Mission, 1917-1918, and also as Director of Propaganda in Enemy Countries, 1918. Although erratic and unpredictable, Northcliffe was an influential supporter of Field Marshal Haig against his critics in Lloyd George’s War Cabinet (the group responsible for overall strategy and policy in time of war).


Oxford and Asquith, 1st Lord (1852-1928), earlier Herbert Asquith

British politician. Prime Minister 1908 – 1916.

Elected as Liberal MP for East Fife in 1886. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1905-1908), and as Prime Minister (1908-1916).


Pact of Steel, 1939

Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, signed on 22 May 1939. Under the terms of the pact, Germany and Italy agreed to come to each other’s aid if war was declared, and to work together in military and wartime production. The pact also ensured that neither was able to make peace without the agreement of the other.



Village in Flanders, the centre of the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. The British bombardment destroyed the local drainage system which, combined with heavy rain, turned the battlefield into a quagmire. The “Battle of the Mud” became one of the most notorious examples of the failure of Field Marshal Haig’s strategy of frontal assault against heavily defended German positions.


Paymaster General

The Government Minister in the Treasury with the responsibility for payments to the civil service and armed forces.


Peace Ballot, 1935

National ballot organized by the League of Nations Union, on the public’s attitude to the League of Nations, disarmament and collective security.


Pétain, Marshal Henri-Philippe (1856-1951)

French General.

Pétain oversaw the successful defence of Verdun and was appointed French Commander-in-Chief after the failure of the Nivelle Offensive in 1917. After the German spring offensive of March 1918 Pétain saw his priority as the defence of Paris, even at the risk of breaking contact with his allies. In 1940 he was called on to lead a government which would negotiate an armistice with the invading Germans, and he served as Head of State in the collaborationist Vichy regime. He was arrested in 1945 and condemned to death, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he died in prison on the Ile d’Yeu.

Pétain’s First World War service included: Commandant of the 33rd infantry regiment at Arras and the 4th Brigade at St Omer, 1914; Brigadier-General August 1914 (Charleroi); commanded the 6th Division of Infantry (Marne), the 33rd Army Corps, 20 October 1914; stormed Carency, May 1915; took command of the 2nd Army, June 1915; in charge of operations in front of Verdun, February-May 1916; commanded a group of Armies, May 1916; Commander-in-Chief, May 1917. After the war he became Inspector-General of the French Army, 1922-1931, then Secretary of War, France, 1934 and French Ambassador to Spain, 1939-1940. In 1940 Pétain became Minister of State and Vice-President of the Council, as well as Chief of the French State (1940-1944) and Prime Minister of France (1940-1942).


Popular Front

A term borrowed from Spanish politics to signify a broad coalition of leftist political groups, ranging from moderate liberals to extreme communists and anarchists. The term came into disrepute in Britain during the Spanish Civil War and the Conservatives therefore used it to tarnish A D Lindsay’s anti-appeasement coalition in the 1938 Oxford by-election.



Minister in charge of the postal service (abolished as an office in 1969).


President of the Board of Trade

Cabinet Minister in charge of the Department of Trade, and with responsibility for issues affecting trade.


Prime Minister

The principal Minister of the Government, with responsibility for chairing the Cabinet.



The German parliament.

Its building in Berlin was a symbol of parliamentary government in Germany, so that its destruction by fire in 1933 was a major psychological shock.


Reoccupation of the Rhineland, 1936

In March 1936 Adolf Hitler sent German forces into the Rhineland, the border area between Germany and France. This had been declared a demilitarized zone under the Treaty of Versailles, and Hitler’s generals advised him against the move, as it might lead to war with France. However, France would not take action without British support and the British refused to go to war over the incident, declaring that “Germany was only marching into its own back yard.”


Robertson, Field Marshal Sir William (1860-1933)

British General. Chief of Staff in France, 1915, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1915-1918 (responsible for co-ordinating the armed forces of Britain and the Empire).

Robertson was a convinced “westerner” (concentrating on the Western Front) and a strong supporter of Field Marshal Haig. It was Robertson who took the decision to pull out of the disastrous Dardanelles campaign. Robertson was out-manoeuvred by his political opponents, and replaced in February 1918 by Sir Henry Wilson.

Robertson began his military career as a private in the ranks in 1877, achieving promotion to officer rank as a Lieutenant in the 3rd Dragoon Guards, 1888. Thereafter he served as: a staff officer in Intelligence in India and South Africa; as Assistant Director of Military Operations, War Office, 1901-1907; on the General Staff, Aldershot, 1907-1910; as Commandant of the Staff College, 1910-1913; Director of Military Training at War Office, 1913-1914. Robertson began the First World War as Quartermaster-General (head of the department which provides soldiers’ quarters) of the British Expeditionary Force (part of the Army available for service in Europe) in 1914, before becoming Chief of General Staff in 1915 (renamed as Chief of Imperial General Staff, 1915-1918). After a brief spell as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command, he returned home to act as Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Britain, 1918-1919, then Commander-in-Chief, British Army on the Rhine, 1919-1920. Robertson was finally promoted to Field-Marshal, 1920, and is still the only man to rise to this rank from that of private.


Rome-Berlin Axis, 1936

Treaty of friendship signed between Italy and Germany on October 25, 1936.


Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945)

President of the United States, 1933-1945.

Member of Senate State of New York (1910-1913); Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1913-1920); in charge of inspections of US Naval Forces in European Waters (1918), and of demobilisation in Europe (1919); Governor of the State of New York (1929-1933); Nominated for Vice-President of the United States by Democratic Party (1920); Democratic nominee for President of the United States (1932). Roosevelt (also known as “FDR”) won four presidential elections in a row and is the only American president to have served more than two terms.


Rothermere, 1st Lord Rothermere (1868-1940), earlier Sir Harold Harmsworth

Press baron.

Joint founder with his brother Alfred Harmsworth of the Daily Mail (1896) and Daily Mirror (1903) and co-owner of Associated Newspapers. Air Minister (1917-1918); founder of the United Empire Party with Lord Beaverbrook in 1929; supporter of the British Union of Fascists and of Neville Chamberlain‘s policy of appeasement towards Germany.


Russo Japanese War, 1904

The war began as a dispute over control of Port Arthur in Korea, and developed into a major naval humiliation for Russia, especially after the crushing Japanese victory in the Battle of Tsushima.



An outward bulge in a line of military attack or defence.


Secretary of State for Air

Cabinet Minister in charge of the Air Ministry, and with responsibility for the Royal Air Force.


Secretary of State for the Colonies

Cabinet Minister in charge of the Colonial Office, and with responsibility for issues affecting Britain’s relations with her colonies and dominions.


Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations

Cabinet Minister responsible for dealing with members of the Commonwealth, Britain’s former colonies. Merged with the position of Foreign Secretary in 1968.


Secretary of State for War

Cabinet Minister in charge of the War Office, and with responsibility for the army and military issues.



Crown law officer below the Attorney-General.


Somme, Battle of

A major British offensive against the German front line launched on 1st July, 1916. Enormous hopes were built up before the assault, which was to involve large numbers of those who had responded to Lord Kitchener’s famous appeal for volunteers. In the event, the attack was a disaster: German machine guns caused 60,000 British casualties on the first day alone, and the battle, which had been expected to last a matter of days, dragged on until the autumn. British gains were minimal, and even the use of tanks failed to break through the German lines. The battle has become a symbol of the failures of British generalship in the First World War.


Spanish Civil War

Devastating civil war between the right-wing Spanish Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco, and supported by Nazi Germany, Italy and Portugal, and the Republican Government forces, supported by the Soviet Union and Mexico. The war lasted from July 1936 to April 1939, increasing tensions throughout Europe, and featuring terrible atrocities on both sides. It ended in victory for the Nationalists, and a dictatorship which was to last until Franco’s death in 1975.


Spring Offensive

A massive, and initially very successful, German attack on the Allied lines. It was launched by General Ludendorff on 21st March 1918 against Sir Hubert Gough’s depleted Fifth Army on the old Somme battlefield. The Germans broke through the British lines and moved into open countryside behind the British trenches. For a time the British and French position was critical, but the Germans did not have the reserves to carry through their advances, and Allied resistance was stiffening as more American reinforcements began to arrive. The offensive was finally reversed in a major Allied counter-attack in August 1918.


Suez Crisis, 1956

Attack on Egypt by Britain, France, and Israel in October 1956, following Egypt’s decision to nationalize the Suez canal after the withdrawal of an offer by Britain and America to fund the building of the Aswan Dam. Although militarily successful, Britain and France were forced to withdraw after financial and political pressure from the United States and United Nations.


Swinton, 1st Lord Swinton (1884-1972), earlier Philip Lloyd-Greame and then Philip Cunliffe-Lister

British politician.

Elected Conservative MP for Hendon Division of Middlesex (1918); President of the Board of Trade (1922-1923, 1924-1929 and in 1931); Secretary of State for the Colonies (1931-1935); Secretary of State for Air (1935-1938); Cabinet Minister Resident in West Africa (1942-1944); Minister for Civil Aviation (1944-1945); Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Minister of Materials (1951-1952); Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (December 1952-April 1955); Deputy Leader of the House of Lords (1951-1955).



Taxes on particular classes of imports or exports.



Island off the coast of the Netherlands.



Island off the coast of the Netherlands.


Thatcher, Margaret Hilda Thatcher (b.1925), Baroness Thatcher

British politician and first woman Prime Minister.

Elected Conservative MP for Finchley (1959). Entered the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Education and Science (1970-74), then became Leader of the Conservative Party in 1975. Prime Minister (1979-90).


Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (1849-1930)

Head of the German navy.

German naval secretary from 1898, von Tirpitz persuaded both Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Reichstag to support his Navy Laws, which built up the small German High Seas fleet into a fleet capable of challenging Britain’s hitherto undisputed naval supremacy.


Tizard, Professor Sir Henry Tizard (1885-1959)

Physical chemist, aeronautics expert and champion of the development of radar.

Joined Royal Flying Corps (1915); Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Controller of Experiments and Research, Royal Air Force (1918-1919); Permanent Secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (1927-1929); Chairman, Aeronautical Research Committee (1933-1943); Chairman, Advisory Council on Scientific Policy and Defence Research Policy Committee (1946-1952); Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence (1948-1952).



Government department with responsibility for finance.


Treaty of Versailles, 1919

Peace treaty signed in 1919 which officially ended the First World War, after six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference. Some of the treaty’s main points required Germany to accept responsibility for causing the war, to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions and to pay large financial reparations to the Allies. This caused lasting resentment in Germany, right up until the Second World War, and the treaty was widely ignored by the mid-1930’s.



Muslim country with capital at Istanbul. Formerly the heart of the great Ottoman Empire, created by the Ottoman Turks. Istanbul was formerly called Constantinople.


Two Power Standard

The British naval policy adopted in 1889 whereby the Royal Navy was to be maintained at a size at least equal to those of the next two largest fleets combined. At the time these were supposed to be fleets of France and Russia, but the policy was a major driving force behind Britain’s reaction to German naval expansion in the years before 1914 (see TirpitzNavy LeagueNavy Laws). The policy was abandoned by Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1912.



i.e. Conservative. The Conservative Party was also known as the Unionist Party to stress its support for the Union with Northern Ireland.


Verdun, Battle of

One of the major battles of the First World War. It began in February 1916 with a German attack on the French fortifications around the town of Verdun, and degenerated over the next nine months into a bitter trench battle which drained the French army of men. It was this battle which first brought General Pétain to national prominence.


Wall Street Crash, 1929

Devastating financial crash on the Wall Street stock market in New York in October 1929, which had a major impact on the American and world economy.


War Cabinet

Small group of senior Ministers and military chiefs responsible for overall strategy and policy in time of war.


Western Front

The battlefront in the First World War which, from late 1914, ran in a single line of trenches from the Belgian coast to the Swiss frontier. The British Expeditionary Force (part of the Army available for service in Europe) occupied the Belgian and northern French part of the front. The Western Front was characterised by static trench warfare, in contrast with the Eastern Front, where there was much more movement.



Those political and particularly military figures who, in the First World War, advocated concentrating all Allied efforts on the Western Front, even to the point of ignoring other fronts altogether. Trying to evict the Germans from the huge tract of northern France which they occupied in 1914 was a political as well as military imperative for the French, and Britain, as the junior ally, was obliged to support them. Major “westerners” included Field Marshal Haig and Sir William Robertson. They were opposed by “easterners”, including Lloyd George and Churchill.


Wigram, Ralph Wigram (1890-1936)

Foreign Office official who helped provide Winston Churchill with information on German rearmament.

3rd Secretary, Foreign Office (1919); 2nd Secretary (1920); 1st Secretary, British Embassy, Paris (1924-1933); Counsellor and head of the Foreign Office Central Department (1934).


Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941)

German Emperor (Kaiser) from 1888 – 1918.

Wilhelm had a strong love-hate relationship with Britain, epitomised by his difficult relations with his British relatives (he was first cousin to Britain’s King George V). After sacking the German Chancellor, Prince Otto von Bismarck in 1890 he was increasingly taken up with ambitious policies to push Germany to international prominence and especially to challenge the position of Great Britain. He supported the Boers in the Boer War and challenged the French and British in the Moroccan crisis, 1905 and again in the Agadir crisis, 1911. He enthusiastically supported Tirpitz’s policy of naval expansion, though he adopted a more moderate tone when the war crisis of 1914 actually struck. He was not an inspiring war leader, and his reputation suffered badly from Germany’s defeat in 1918, when he was forced to abdicate and flee to exile in Holland. Although German nationalists after 1918 often regretted the loss of the monarchy, neither they nor the Nazis particularly wanted him back, and he died in exile in Holland in 1941.


Wilson, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Arthur Knyvet Wilson (1842-1921)

First Sea Lord (most senior Admiral of the Royal Navy), 1909-1912.

Like his contemporary Admiral Fisher, Wilson was brought back to the Admiralty during the First World War after a career which had begun in the Victorian era. His service included: Captain 1880; Rear-Admiral 1895; Vice-Admiral 1901; served Crimean War, 1854; Chinese War, 1865; Egyptian Campaign, 1882; Soudan Campaign, 1884; Aide de Camp to the Queen, 1892-1895; a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty and Comptroller of the Navy, 1897-1901; commanded Channel Squadron, 1901-1903; Commander-in-Chief of Home and Channel Fleets, 1903-1907; Admiral of the Fleet, 1907. Returned to the Admiralty without any formal post, October 1914-June 1918.


Wilson, Field Marshal Sir Henry (1864-1922)

British General. Director of Military Operations, 1910-14.

Wilson was a keen advocate of working closely with the French, and although he sympathised with the “westerner” point of view (concentrating on the Western Front), he was much more prepared than Sir Douglas Haig and Sir William Robertson to work alongside Lloyd George and the War Cabinet (the group responsible for overall strategy and policy in time of war).

Wilson entered the Army in 1884, serving in Burma and (with particular distinction), South Africa, in the Boer War. He acted as Assistant Director Staff Duties, War Office, 1904-1906 and Commandant Staff College, 1907-1910. From 1910-1914 he served as Director of Military Operations at Army Headquarters and also as Assistant Chief of General Staff to Field Marshal French, 1914. He acted as Liaison Officer with the French forces, and was a British Military Representative at Versailles, in 1917. In February 1918 he replaced Robertson as Chief of the Imperial General Staff (responsible for co-ordinating the armed forces of Britain and the Empire). In 1922 he was assassinated by the IRA.


Wilson, Woodrow (1856-1924)

American politician, President 1913-1919.

Wilson began his career practising law, but gave this up for academic life as a Professor of History and Political Economy at Bryn Mawr College, 1885-1888, Wesleyan University, 1888-1890, then as Professor of Jurisprudence and Politics, Princeton University, 1890-1910 (he was President of the University, 1902-1910). In 1911, taking another new turn, he was elected Democratic Governor of New Jersey. He became President in 1913 and was re-elected in 1916 on the promise to keep the USA out of the First World War. In 1917, however, provoked by German U-boat attacks on American shipping and by German anti-American intrigues in Mexico, he persuaded Congress (the legislative body of the USA) to declare war on Germany. He issued his famous Fourteen Points as a basis for a peace settlement in January 1918, and it was in the expectation that the peace settlement would follow this framework that the Germans finally asked for an armistice in November of that year. Wilson hoped that the Paris Peace settlement, including the Treaty of Versailles, which he helped to negotiate in 1919, would be based upon national self-determination, but he was unable to impose his will on his allies, and the settlement was much harsher on Germany and her allies than Wilson had intended or expected. He placed great hope in the idea of a League of Nations to settle international disputes peacefully, but he had underestimated the extent of opposition to the idea in the USA, where Congress voted not to ratify the Treaty and therefore not to join the League. Wilson’s efforts to drum up popular support for the League broke his health, and he died an invalid in 1924.


Wood, Sir Kingsley Wood (1881-1943)

British politician.

Elected as Conservative MP for Woolwich West in 1918. Held positions in the Ministry of Health (1919-1929) and Board of Education (1931); Postmaster-General (1931-1935); Minister of Health (1935-1938); Secretary of State for Air (1938-1940); Lord Privy Seal (April-May 1940); Chancellor of the Exchequer (1940-1943).



Belgian town, the centre of three major battles in the First World War, including the appalling slaughter of Passchendaele, and of fighting during the German spring offensive in 1918. The British trench line in front of Ypres formed a large salient or bulge extending into the German lines, which meant that British troops could be fired on from three sides, making it one of the most dangerous parts of the British sector of the Western Front. Affectionately nicknamed “Wipers” by British troops, Ypres remained in British hands throughout the war.