Ambrosia and Ulcers: Douglas Haig and the British Army’s Logistical Development during the Great War

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A lecture by Rob Thompson, military historian, commemorating the life of Field Marshal Earl Haig of Bemersyde and the forces he commanded.

The Great War was the world’s first ‘industrialised war’ or as JFC Fuller characterised it, ‘a war between two great supply systems - a war between the Midlands and the Ruhr’. If the national task was production, the task of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was to organise and apply these industrial fruits against the enemy to gain victory.

The primary tool for shaping Britain’s colossal industrial potential to the business of war was the BEF supply chain, which defined the nature, course and development of Western Front operations. In his lecture, Rob will attempt to establish the primacy of logistics during the Great War. He will chart the BEF’s logistical development in order to analyse its effectiveness and assess its influence on operational thought, practice and execution.

Speaker Biography

Rob Thompson is a military historian specialising in Great War operational development, artillery, logistics, administration and engineering. His published work includes: ‘Mud, Blood and Wood: BEF Operational and Combat Logistic-Engineering during the Battle of Third Ypres, 1917, in P. Doyle & M.R. Bennett (eds), Fields of Battle (Kluwer, 2002); ‘Delivering the Goods - Operation Landovery Castle: A Logistical and Administrative Analysis of Canadian Corps Preparations for the Battle of Amiens 8 - 11 August, 1918’ in G.D. Sheffield and P. Gray (eds) Changing War: The British Army, the Hundred Days Campaign and the Birth of the Royal Air Force, 1918 (Bloomsbury, 2013). Rob has also published numerous articles for organisations, ranging from the Western Front Association to the Chartered Institute for Logistics. He sits on the Anglo-French ‘GHQ Project’ Comité Scientifique as a historical advisor. Forthcoming publications include chapters examining logistics and engineering at Gallipoli (Helion and Company) and a unique book to be published in association with the Operations and Supply Chain Management Group at CASS Business School.

Wreath-Laying Ceremony

The audience are invited to attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the mounted memorial to Field Marshal Earl Haig at 1400 in Whitehall.

This event is open to all RUSI members. To become a member, please click here.

Refreshments will be served from 1215.

To attend this event, please register online using the "Book your place" button above. If you have any queries please contact Sophie Lau, at or call +44 (0)20 7747 2600.

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