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Forging the Grand Alliance: The British and American Armies, 1917-1941 with Dr. Tyler Bamford

On June 8, 1917, American General John J. Pershing arrived in the British port of Liverpool amid great fanfare. His arrival in the vanguard of the American Expeditionary Forces marked the first time that American soldiers had set foot in Europe as belligerents. Although the American combat experience in World War I was brief, the time that the American and British armies spent as associate powers laid the groundwork for a mutually beneficial defense relationship in the interwar period. Both nations’ leaders grew frustrated with each other following the Armistice and the Treaty of Versailles, however, officers in both armies drew upon their positive wartime experiences to ensure that their forces viewed each other as prospective allies should a future global conflict arise. In the two decades after World War I, personal contacts initiated by individual officers and information exchanges between these two armies improved relations and encouraged cooperation in a number of areas. The resulting cordiality among the majority of the officers in both armies manifested itself in their socializing, personal diaries, war plans, reports, and professional publications. Long before President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill took steps toward forming the Anglo-American alliance during World War II, their nations’ armies laid the military foundation for the special relationship through their own defense diplomacy.

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