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One hundred years ago this month Winston Churchill resigned from the Asquith cabinet to serve with the British army in France while remaining as a member of parliament. He was not unique in serving both as a soldier and M.P. During the First World War 264 members of parliament served in the military, which accounted “for some 40 per cent of the membership of the House of Commons.” Matthew Johnson (Durham University) considers the impact on civil-military relations of this “unprecedented” and “remarkable political development” in his article, “Leading from the Front: The ‘Service Members’ in Parliament, the Armed Forces, and British Politics during the Great War” published in the English Historical Review (June 2015). Johnson writes that as First Lord of the Admiralty at the outset of the conflict Churchill was a “particularly generous patron of MPs seeking commissions” and quotes Josiah Wedgwood’s observation that Churchill “showered” commissions on members of parliament until the army “in sheer self-defence” did the same. The article also refers to Churchill’s army service during the war and Asquith’s veto of his promotion to brigade commander. The English Historical Review web site is here.

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