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30 August 2019
This lecture will be held on Friday 30 August 2019 at the Royal Air Force Museum, London
In the third of the RAF Museum’s 2019 Legacy of the First World War Lunchtime Lectures series, James Halstead will explore how the Egyptian Expeditionary Force adopted Western Front command structures and techniques to develop a combined arms system by examining the battles of Third Gaza and Megiddo.
The Egyptian Expeditionary Force, during the fighting in Palestine, 1917–18, adopted a Western Front style command structure that effectively integrated air power at the tactical and strategic level. However, the RFC/RAF’s combined arms role has been severely overlooked within the literature. Most studies tend to focus upon the army, or air force, as separate institutions and often adopt many of the biases of these services, most obviously, in the respective official histories by Cyril Falls and H.A. Jones.
This paper will study combined arms system in Palestine drawing equally on army and air force sources and will argue the EEF adopted Western Front command structures and techniques which efficiently integrated air power at the tactical and strategic level. Air power provided intelligence to Corps and Army HQs which allowed them to control the tempo of EEF operations while ground attack operations developed to become capable of significantly hindering Ottoman tempo and command and control arrangements.
This paper will begin with background on air power’s general development in Palestine, the challenges faced by the EEF and Allenby’s influence in importing systems and techniques of command from the western front. Having established the difficulties faced by the EEF and its air power in Palestine it will conclude with two case studies of the battles of Third Gaza and Megiddo. These case studies will explore how these combined arms systems adapted and developed to suit the conditions of the battle and the needs of the EEF. The paper will conclude by looking at the legacy of Palestine, studying the abandonment of combined arms doctrine in the inter-war period, and will briefly touch upon its rediscovery in the Western Desert campaign of the Second World War.
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