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British Army

The British Army is the land armed forces of the United Kingdom.

In contrast to the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force the British Army does not include royal in its title, because of its roots as a collection of disparate units.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Famous members of the British Army
3 Notable units of the British Army, past and present
4 Structure of the British Army
5 Captains-General of the British Army, 1660-1809
6 Commanders-in-Chief of the Forces, 1672-1904
7 Chiefs of the General Staff, 1904-1908
8 Chiefs of the Imperial General Staff, 1908-1964
9 Chiefs of the General Staff, 1964-present
10 See also
11 External links


The Founding of the Army

The British Army did not exist as a separate entity before the Act of Union of 1707 which united English and Scotland, but its origins date back to the aftermath of the English Civil War. Before the Civil War, the army was raised as required by the King, who would warrant gentlemen to raise companies, this being a direct throwback to the feudal concept of fief where a lord had to raise a certain quota of knights, men at arms and yeomanry. The only difference up to this point in time being that raising companies without a warrant could be considered treasonable (whereas feudal lords could raise their fief to fight each other).

After the Civil War, parliament assumed control of the Army, and standing companies based on Cromwellss New Model Army formed the concept of the first regiments. Cromwell's companies did not yet assume the unique names that came later to be associated with British Army Regiments, instead they would name their companies after psalms or biblical phrases, or were often identified with the gentleman (typically with the rank of colonel) who had raised the company, eg Monck's Regiment of Foot. This particular unit is notable because after the end of the Civil War it was barracked in London, and was involved in defending parliment when it voted for the restoration; this unit is now known as the Coldstream Guards.

With the Restoration of Charles II the concept of standing regiments found favour with the King. As well as retaining some existing loyal standing units, he raised his own, one of the first being the First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards, nowadays shortened to Grenadier Guards. On Jan 26th 1661 Charles II issued the warrant that officially founded the British Army.

The oldest surviving regiment in the British Army is the Honourable Artillery Company (given a royal charter in 1537), now a Territorial Army unit. It is not considered the most senior, however, because it fought on the side of Parliament in the Civil War and so didn't have unbroken service to the crown. This honour instead goes to the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers, which was founded in 1539. The oldest surviving regular unit is the Royal Scots, founded in 1633.

The Monarch is head of the Armed Forces and is the only person who can declare war and peace, though these powers are exercised today only on the advice of responsible Ministers. The Bill of Rights of 1689 purports to prevent a standing army in peacetime.

That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law.

No such prohibition applies to the Royal Navy. Parliamentary consent is currently given by the Army and Air Force Acts of 1955 and annual Continuation Orders passed by Parliament.

The Army in the 18th and 19th centuries

The Army and the First World War

The Army and the Second World War

For the foundation and exploits of the Commandos, see British Commandos. See Also British military history of World War II

Modern British Army

In the aftermath of WWII, the Army concentrated most of its combat firepower in Germany. For the first time in its history, it maintained the bulk of its forces in continental Europe in peacetime, after they ceased being an army of occupation. The British Army of the Rhine was formed to control British formations in West Germany. It varied in size during its lifetime, but for a good proportion of the time, it consisted of four divisions, with about 55,000 men in total. Another unusual feature of the formation was that it had a British corps headquarters permenantly established in peacetime as a manoeuvre formation. This was I Corps. Usually in peacetime there are not enough British formations in one place to merit this level of headquarters being established.

The BAOR lasted until 1993, when it was disbanded as part of the Options for Change defence cuts. The Army has not completely pulled out of Germany. 1st Armoured Division is still based in the country.

Since 1962, when the last period of conscription (National Service) ended, the army has been a wholly professional force of volunteers. About one quarter of the Army is provided by the part-time members of the Territorial Army.

The standard issue individual weapon is the SA80, with the variant LSW providing extra firepower.


Famous members of the British Army

Notable units of the British Army, past and present

Land units of the British Armed Forces which are not part of the British Army include;

Structure of the British Army

Structure of the British Army.

Captains-General of the British Army, 1660-1809

Commanders-in-Chief of the Forces, 1672-1904

Chiefs of the General Staff, 1904-1908

Chiefs of the Imperial General Staff, 1908-1964

Chiefs of the General Staff, 1964-present

See also

External links

The British Army in the Great War