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Biography

Alexander Pickering is a PhD candidate in the War Studies Department, School of Security Studies. 

He is examining the evolving relationship between the British and French admiralties and how they coordinated the higher direction of the war effort at sea in the years 1914-1918.

He holds an MA (Distinction) in the History of War from King’s College London. His MA thesis reexamined the relationship between Sir John Fisher and the Committee of Imperial Defence (CID), 1903-1910. He also holds a BA (1st class-honours) in History with Politics from Oxford Brookes University.

His undergraduate thesis examined British Imperial Defence and Admiralty-Dominion relations in the years leading up to the First World War.

Research

Thesis title: 'A Naval Entente? Anglo-French Naval Relations, 1914-1918'

This PhD project aims to broaden our understanding of the evolving relationship between the British and French admiralties and how they coordinated the higher direction of the war effort at sea. Though Russia and Italy possessed important naval assets, the Royal Navy and the Marine Nationale represented the bulk of allied naval power.

The thesis will begin by focusing on the attempts by the admiralties to clear the sea-lanes of the Central Powers’ forces and trade, securing command of the seas. Beyond this immediate challenge, it is not altogether clear what both the admiralties wanted to achieve. Britain and France were the heart of global empires, which gave the admiralties multiple theatre options to conduct amphibious operations, and numerous occasions to disagree on the conduct of the war. By late 1914, there was increasing pressure from within the admiralties and their respective governments for naval power to take a more offensive course of action to defeat the central powers. Yet after the Dardanelles/Gallipoli debacle, there appears to be a significant gap in the historiography on how the two admiralties reacted and how they intended to move forward. It remains unclear whether there was an agreement on how to utilise sea power, and if there were disagreements, how this affected the coordination of the war at sea.

PhD supervision

  • Primary Supervisor: Professor William Philpott