Book Civilian Specialists at War: Britain's Transport Experts and the First World War

Discussion in 'Resources' started by AJC, 30 April 2020.

  1. AJC

    AJC Western Thunderer


    A gleaning from my other life and the day job which might be of interest to some of you, especially those with an eye on the First World War. Not just @Yorkshire Dave or @Overseer, but you were who I thought of first. Yes this is an academic book which normally means a big ticket price, but in this case, the e-version is Open Access and thanks to the good offices of the Royal Historical Society* that means it is free to read online (paperback and hardback versions are available).

    Of particular interest perhaps is the role of the railways in the early war mobilisation and the SE&CR in operating the port of Boulogne. Here's the link:

    Civilian Specialists at War: Britain's Transport Experts and the First World War | Humanities Digital Library

    And here's the blurb:

    The war of 1914–18 was the first great conflict to be fought between highly industrial societies able to manufacture and transport immense quantities of goods to the field of battle. In Civilian Specialists at War, Christopher Phillips examines the manner in which Britain’s industrial society influenced the character and conduct of industrial warfare. This book analyses the multiple connections between the military, the government and the senior executives of some of pre-war Britain’s largest companies. It illustrates the British army’s evolving response to the First World War and the role to be played by non-military expertise in the prosecution of such a conflict.

    This study demonstrates that pre-existing professional relationships between the army, the government and private enterprise were exploited throughout the conflict. It details how civilian technologies facilitated the prosecution of war on an unprecedented scale, while showing how British experts were constrained by the political and military demands of coalition warfare. Civilian Specialists at War reveals that Britain’s transport experts were a key component in the country’s conduct of the First World War.



    * I have to declare an interest here, I'm a Fellow of the RHistS and work for them in a very minor capacity alongside the day job.
    Last edited: 30 April 2020
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  2. Overseer

    Overseer Western Thunderer

    Adam, thanks for letting us know about the book, it looks like interesting reading and it is not a topic that has had much published to provide background to the surviving photos. It will be interesting to read how they translated experience operating the Midland main line into dealing with things like this -
    Images from The Australian War Memorial, well worth a browse.
  3. AJC

    AJC Western Thunderer

    A pleasure, Fraser. Knowing full well how long researching and writing a book as detailed and complex as this is, and having gone to the trouble of making the content freely available, it's only right that people who are genuinely interested in the subject get to hear about it. As an aside, there are some more detailed and personal insights into military railway operation accidents available here: War Archives - Railway Work, Life & Death.

    The project that's the blog for is something I've posted about here before, too: Website - Historic Railway Accidents Database

  4. SimonT

    SimonT Western Thunderer

    Thank you Adam for pointing this out. It's on the way down onto my Ipad.
    One could write an interesting paper comparing the situation in 1914 and the situation now! Work out which one of the modern politicians is Churchill!
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  5. AJC

    AJC Western Thunderer

    Believe me, people will be! Probably undergrads, maybe one of the MRes essays I have to mark this weekend might?!

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  6. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    Thanks for the link to this publication Adam.

    I've already started reading the downloaded version on my PC.
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  7. It's a big thank you from me too for the book - also reading it.

    An added bonus is that it appears the author is a lecturer at Aberystwyth University!

    Crimson Rambler
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