British Expeditionary Force

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The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) is primarily the first seven Divisions sent to France at the outset of the First World War and forming the "Contemptible Little Army." The "Expeditionary Force" was the term officially adopted some time before the war for the British contingent normally available for services overseas in the event of a European War, its normal strength being fixed at three divisions. It replaced the original term for the contingent, "The Striking Force," and in the war was applied to overseas contingents everywhere, for example: Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, depeding on location.[1]

See also Old Contemptibles.

Chronological events[edit]

These chronological events form part of our "On this Day" project with abridged listings of historical actions and events in simple date order. We need your help to expand and improve upon this content.
Primary source: Chronology of the War.[2]


Glossary of terms and customs[edit]

This page forms part of our glossary of words and phrases of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain during the Great War, which also includes: technicalities, trench slang, expressions in everyday use, nicknames, sobriquets, the titles and origins of British and Commonwealth Regiments, and warfare in general. Please feel free to help expand and improve this content.
Browse other terms: ContentsA B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

References / notes[edit]

  1. Edward Fraser and John Gibbons (1925). Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases. Routledge, London p.12.
  2. Events primarily sourced from, but not limited to: Lord Edward Gleichen (1918–1920). Chronology of the War. Volumes I, II & III. Constable & Company, London. (Copyright expired) Less frequently used sources are referenced separately.