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Steady The Buffs!A Regiment, a Region, and the Great War$
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Mark Connelly

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278602

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278602.001.0001

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Shock, 1914

Shock, 1914

(p.40) 2 Shock, 1914
Steady The Buffs!


Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the Buffs' experiences in 1914. The battalion spent much time in desperate defences which appeared to both prove and disprove tenets of pre-war practice. German assaults had been covered by artillery and machine gun fire, but were executed with little guile or field craft. Dense packs of attacking troops had fallen easy victim to the collective firepower of the battalion. It could easily be concluded that German assaults failed due to a combination of poor fire and movement and a lack of desire to close fully and effectively with the enemy. Weight of defensive fire had certainly hampered the Buffs, as had a lack of sufficiently heavy supporting artillery fire. Historians have spent much time debating whether the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) should have swapped paradigms at this point from the human-centred to the technological-centred. However, analysis of the Buffs' 1914 experiences implies that the BEF actually required a combination of these paradigms. Infantrymen needed to be highly trained, motivated, and led by men with an eye for ground and opportunity, but these elements then had to be slid into a wider framework of technological and logistical excellence and flexibility. Over the next three years, battalions of the Buffs played a part in every uphill exhausting slog and every exhilarating downhill sprint experienced by the BEF as it created this war-winning blend.

Keywords:   battalions, pre-war practice, the Buffs, British Expeditionary Force

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