British Government and High Command 1914–18


Map Code: Ax00173

In 1914, The Prime Minister H.H. Asquith created a committee to oversee the war effort. By 1916, it was perceived as ‘vacillating’ and lacking an effective command structure. David Lloyd George who replaced Asquith in 1916, tried to create a more effective chain of command. He put together the first war cabinet, the nerve centre of the command chain, and deliberately kept its numbers small, so its ministers could make decisions quickly. The King did not play an active role and the Prime Minister was a permanent cabinet member. Except for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, its members were ministers without portfolio whose job was to oversee the different tiers and to review plans for military offensives. The command chain consisted of several sub-committees, whose roles ranged from overseeing food production to ship building. In 1917 the Imperial war cabinet was added to coordinate the colonial war contribution.

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