‘All Pretty Well Fed Up and Worn Out’? Morale, Combat Motivation, and the ‘Marshall Effect’ in VIII Corps at Gallipoli

  • Gary Sheffield University of Wolverhampton, UK

Abstract

This article explores the morale of the troops of British VIII Corps on Gallipoli in 1915-16, using Anthony King’s recent work on combat motivation in infantry platoons as a tool of analysis. King, partially rehabilitating the controversial work of S.L.A. Marshall, argues that left to themselves, the citizen armies of the early twentieth century tended to passivity. Officers resorted to a range of strategies to overcome this ‘Marshall Effect’, including appeals to patriotism and masculinity, mass tactics, and heroic leadership. It is contended that King’s model works well when applied to this case study – such methods were indeed employed by officers of VIII Corps - but the jury is out on its wider applicability, pending detailed case studies of other campaigns. As this article demonstrates, the morale of the troops of VIII Corps was severely tested throughout the Gallipoli campaign, as a rash of short-lived ‘panics’ demonstrated. There was a distinct downturn in August 1915, which was marked by an increase in rates of sickness and self-inflicted wounds, and a ‘strike’, when a sub-unit simply refused to carry out an attack. Despite this, there was no general and permanent breakdown of morale, in the sense of unwillingness to obey the orders of higher command. VIII Corps’ morale was characterised by stoicism and resilience in the face of adverse conditions.

Published
2019-07-10
Section
Articles