Esher Report

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The Esher Report of 1904, chaired by Lord Esher, recommended radical reform of the British Army, such as the creation of an Army Council, a General Staff and the abolition of the office of Commander-in-Chief of the Forces and the creation of a Chief of the General Staff, laid down the character of the Army which has endured.


The Second Boer War of 1899-1902 exposed weakness and inefficiency in the British Army and demonstrated how isolated Britain was from the rest of the world. The war had only been won by leaving Britain defenceless on land. In 1900 Imperial Germany began to build a battlefleet and due to industrial growth had already overtaken Britain's economic lead in Europe.The Elgin Commission had already advocated some changes in administration. Under Hugh Oakeley Arnold-Forster at the War Office the Report of the War Office (Reconstitution) Committee was set up to look into reform of the Army. It was chaired by Lord Esher, who had been a member of the Elgin Commission, and had two other members; Admiral Sir John Fisher (former Second Sea Lord and Navy reformer), and Colonel Sir George Clarke. The Esher Report was published successively in February and March 1904.

The Committee and its Recommendations

The Committee took evidence in private and its Report was in three parts. It analysed the complex arrangements and inefficiencies of the Army administration and the three essential recommendations of the Report were:

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