Bolshevising the Army? Lord Gorell and Army Education, 1918-1920

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On 15 June 1920 a Royal Warrant was issued stating that the monarch ‘deem[ed] it expedient to authorize the formation of a Corps to be entitled “Army Educational Corps”’.1 Histories of army education usually present this as the culmination of the efforts of a pioneering individual, Ronald Barnes, Third Lord Gorell. In these narratives he overcomes various bureaucratic barriers to provide the army with a modern, liberal education for its rank and file, only for his Army Educational Corps (AEC) to be hobbled by a conservative and hostile military establishment. Gorell summed up this interpretation when he described in his memoirs how the opposition to his work had been led by the Adjutant-General who ‘publicly accused me of “bolshevising the Army”’.2 Although this article does not challenge the fundamental centrality of Gorell to the establishment of the AEC, it will suggest that his contribution was not wholly positive and that the significance of reactionary opposition to his work has been overplayed. Ninety years on, the foundation myth of
army education perhaps needs a more balanced view of its hero.
Original languageEnglish
Article number354
Pages (from-to)170-198
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of the Society for Army Historical Research
Issue number354
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010


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