Introduction: Transforming War, 1914-1918


  • William Philpott, Prof Kings College London, UK
  • Jonathan Boff, Dr University of Birmigham, UK



This introduction to five case studies of military adaptation between 1914 and 1918 reviews how warfare was transformed in the First World War. It examines the experience of the three major western front protagonists – France, Germany and Britain – positing that, having different military cultures, each army adapted differently but that for all the pace of change was rapid and the outcomes appropriate to meet the tactical and operational challenges of the modern industrialised battlefield. It links the historical study of military adaptation between 1914 and 1918 to more recent theoretical explanations of how armed forces innovate in response to changes in warfare. It suggests that these theories have only limited applicability to the circumstances of intensive combat that defined the First World War battlefield.