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A Brief History of the British Armed Forces

The British Armed Forces are made up of the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. They are the government sponsored defence units for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and it is their job to protect Britain and its overseas territories and Crown Dependencies and to assist with international peacekeeping. They are managed by the Defence Council which is headed up by the Secretary of State for Defence. The head of the British Armed Forces is actually The Queen and it is to her that all members swear allegiance.

The British Armed Forces were formed on 1st May 1707 when the armed forces of England and Scotland merged. This meant that the army and the navy of both countries became one. They were controlled from London. This came about because of the Acts of Union – parliamentary acts in both countries which put into effect the terms of the 1706 Treaty of Union. The union brought together the two countries who were sharing the same Monarch since King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne from Queen Elizabeth I.

From the late 17th century, the British Forces were deployed in America, Europe and Scotland and as the British Empire expanded they also moved into the West Indies, North America and India. The first real world war though was the Seven Years’ War (1755-1763) where Britain’s main enemy was France. The battles were fought on both land and sea. They also took part in the American War of Independence (1775-1783) and the Napoleonic Wars, and in later years the Crimean War, Boer War and the First World War.

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