Now that this blog has become my online home, so to speak, I thought I’d include a link to my History Honors Thesis from Brandeis University. This is the longest thing I’ve ever written, and even though it’s been a while since I graduated now, I’m still proud of it. For my topic, I chose to look at the actions of British military observers who accompanied the Imperial Japanese Army during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-195. For those unaware, this used to be a common practice. Neutral nations would send teams of officers to observe armies at war, gathering information for their next conflict. The reports of these specific observers is of particular interest. Less than a decade later, the First World War erupted, and Britain plunged into the breach. It would soon transpire that most of the conclusions derived from the 1904-1905 conflict were disastrously wrong. British officers had watched the rapid Japanese advance across Korea and Manchuria and concluded that even facing armies equipped with rapid-fire artillery, barbed wire, machine-guns, and bolt-action rifles, a policy of aggressive frontal assault could still be effective. At the Somme and Gallipoli and Passchendaele they would learn the costs of their mistakes.
This is well-understood history. What I wanted to look at was: Why? Why did the British come to such egregiously incorrect conclusions? And how were the Japanese able to achieve offensive victory in the East when the British proved incapable of repeating their success in the West?
If this sounds interesting, you can read more about it below!