Slog or Swan: British Army Effectiveness in Operation Veritable

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The debate on British Army effectiveness focuses on a culmination in the Northwest Europe campaign, but most studies centre on operations in 1944 and on top-down assessment of armies and corps. The thesis presents an assessment of Operation Veritable (8th February to 10th March 1945) using a “nearly-bottom-up” approach based on cross referencing unit war diaries and communication logs to map the flow of battles then apply a version of root cause analysis to identify the factors that had the greatest impact on tactical success and failure. By linking the most important factors in tactical level battles the thesis uncovers limitations in the core narrative of Operation Veritable and in the British Army effectiveness debate. The thesis identifies weaknesses in British planning, use of artillery, tactical logistics, command systems, and inter-arm cooperation that undermined the ability to conduct manoeuvre warfare. Rather than a problem based in culture, morale, or competence, this is presented as a more tangible, and correctable, matter of force design. British formations were too centralized and too heavy to transition between operational phases smoothly and this placed unnecessarily heavy demands on soldiers.
Date of Award1 Oct 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorGreg Kennedy (Supervisor) & Christina Goulter (Supervisor)

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