From the start of the First World War casualties were far higher than had been anticipated. The losses required rapid replacement in order to maintain operational effectiveness, but the provision of manpower and the drafting processes would require consideration and refinement throughout the war.
Using original sources, this work examines the provision and management of Other Rank replacements for British Infantry battalions on the Western Front. It is predominantly pitched at the management level, but the subject requires exploration of the political context and the impact on battalions of political and managerial decisions. The provision of new sources of manpower with the coming of conscription and the introduction of National Service are considered, and the suggestion that the Government actively withheld reinforcements in 1918 is reviewed.
The initial influx of volunteers had created a much larger Army than had previously existed. The maintenance of its battalions consequently required the creation of new draft-finding units and successive changes to be made to the drafting and reinforcement processes. It has previously been assumed that these changes and the introduction of conscription destroyed the cohesion of regiments by causing replacements to be drafted with no concern for the traditional recruiting areas of the battalions to which they were sent. Detailed analysis of individual fatalities sustained by battalions belonging to Regiments recruited from the English/Welsh Marches of Western Command shows, however, that the majority of men in these battalions in late 1918 had been drawn from the Regiments' parent Home Command.
Alison Hine gained a BA degree in English and French at the University of Strathclyde, during which time she joined the Officers Training Corps, gaining a TA commission in 1972. She was subsequently commissioned into the Regular Army in 1974, serving initially in the Women's Royal Army Corps and subsequently in the Adjutant General's Corps. She held a variety of appointments, both regimental and staff, serving in various parts of the UK and in Hong Kong. As a graduate of the Joint Services Defence College she also served in both single and tri-Service appointments in the Ministry of Defence. Following early retirement in 2002 in the rank of Colonel, Alison completed a part-time MA degree in Military Studies at Chester College and started working as a freelance battlefield tour guide, taking tours to the Western Front. She became an Accredited Guide (Badge No 36) of the Guild of Battlefield Guides in 2007. Transferring to the University of Birmingham, Alison continued her research and gained a PhD in 2015 for her examination of the management of Infantry replacements for battalions on the Western Front. Her previous military experience helped to inform her research - and her understanding of the terminology! Alison is a member of the Western Front Association, the Battlefields Trust and the Guild of Battlefield Guides. She lives with her husband in Shropshire where they walk their dog and keep bees in their spare time.