Army Council (1904)


The Army Council was the supreme administering body of the British Army from its creation in 1904 until it was reconstituted as the Army Board in 1964.

Army Council
Flag of the Army Council
Agency overview
Preceding agency
Superseding agency
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
HeadquartersWhitehall, London
Parent agencyWar Office



The disastrous campaigns of the Crimean War led to the consolidation of all administrative duties in 1855 under the Secretary of State for War, a Cabinet post. That office was not, however, solely responsible for the Army; the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) held a virtually equal level of responsibility. This was reduced in theory by the 1870 reforms introduced by Edward Cardwell, which subordinated the C-in-C to the Secretary for War. In practice, however, a huge amount of influence was retained by the exceedingly conservative C-in-C Field Marshal Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge, who held the post between 1856–1895. His resistance to reform caused military efficiency to lag well behind Britain's rivals, a problem which became painfully obvious during the Second Boer War.

The situation was only remedied in 1904 when the post of Commander-in-Chief was abolished and replaced with that of the Chief of the General Staff. An Army Council was created along similar lines to the Board of Admiralty, chaired by the Secretary of State for War, and an Imperial General Staff was established to coordinate Army administration.[1] All branches of the Army were directed to be subordinated to the Army Council, which was designated as the "supreme administering body" of the Army.[2]

In 1964 the Army Council was reconstituted as the Army Board.[3]

Principal members of the council




The Permanent Under-Secretary of State for War served as Secretary of the Army Council. A number of other office holders were members of the Army Council for brief periods including the Director General of the Territorial Army and the Director General of Munitions Production.

See also



  1. ^ Creation of the Army Council was recommended by the War Office (Reconstitution) Committee, and formally appointed by Letters Patent dated 8 February 1904 and by Royal Warrant dated 12 February 1904 (Clark 1904, p. 442).
  2. ^ Clark 1904, p. 442.
  3. ^ Holmes 2011, pp. 22–23.


  • Clark, Andrew (20 February 1904), "The Army Council and Military Medical Administration", The British Medical Journal, 1 (2251): 442, JSTOR 20279611
  • Holmes, Richard (2011), Soldiers: Army Lives and Loyalties from Redcoats to Dusty Warriors, UK: Harper Collins, pp. 22–23, ISBN 9780007457724