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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: June 2015

11 - The war in the West, 1939–1940

from Part II - Campaigns


In the eighteenth century, the British developed a grand strategy that was designed to minimize their weaknesses and play to their strengths. France signed an armistice, with the result that the foundation of British military strategy, the assumption that the French army would at least be strong enough to hold the Germans in the west, had collapsed. In the second half of the year British gained allies whose combined military strength, when it was fully mobilized, meant that the defeat of the Axis Powers would only be a matter of time. Tensions between British and American military strategists about the future course of the war first emerged in April 1942. In November 1943, the War Office had earmarked a dozen divisions for OVERLORD. The British effort in the war against Japan focused on the Burma front and the defence of India. British military strategy reflected the strategic culture that its policy-makers had developed since the eighteenth century.