Great Britain is really
only a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland, but it is of course, the largest part. Great Britain
itself is an island off the northwest coast of Europe and is
comprised of three countries united into one kingdom. Those three
countries are: England, Scotland, and Wales.
For many centuries,
these three nations, along with Ireland, waged war against each
other. Eventually, the English defeated the Scots and the Welsh
(and the Irish), and a series of Acts of Union were passed that
eventually resulted in what would later be known as the United
Kingdom. In 1535, England and Wales were united as one kingdom,
and in 1707,
the Act of Union
brought Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain.
This page presents a
listing, with some details, of many of the wars of Great Britain
(including separate English and Scottish wars) from early history
to the present.
The Hundred Years'
War (1337-1453)-The Hundred Years' War was actually a series
of wars between England and France which lasted 116 years. Most
historians break this conflict into four distinct wars.
Wars of the Roses
(1455-1485)-- A series of civil wars in which two royal houses
(families) fought for control of England. The House of Lancaster
(Tudor family) defeated the House of York.
English Civil War
(1641–1651)-- Actually three related civil conflicts
between the English Parliament and its supporters against the
Royalist followers of King Charles I and King Charles II. The war
resulted in the temporary overthrow of the English
War of the Quadruple
Alliance (1718–1720) - Pitted Britan, the Holy Roman
Empire, France, the Dutch Republic, and Savoy against Spain
War of the Austrian
Succession (1742–1748) - Great Britain, Austria and
Holland warred against France and Prussia.
George's War (1744–1748) ---The North American portion
of this war, fought between Britain and France in their
Seven Years' War
(1756–1763) - Great Britain and Prussia fought against
Austria, France, Russia, Sweden, and Spain.
Indian War (1754–1763) -The North American portion of
this war, fought between Britain and France in their American
colonies. The French and Indian War ended in a total victory
for the British and their American colonists. The British
victory though, set the stage for the American Revolution a few
War of the First
Coalition (1792-1798)-Britain, Austria, Prussia, Spain,
Russia, Sardinia and Holland combined to fight Revolutionary
France. Russia left the Coalition in 1794 to deal with troubles in
Poland. French victories forced Holland, also known then as the
Batavian Republic, to leave the Coalition in 1795. Prussia and
Spain made peace with France in 1795 and Austria signed the Treaty
of Campo-Formio in 1798, surrendering the Austrian Netherlands
(now Belgium) to France.
War of the Second
Coalition (1798-1801)-Britain, Austria, Russia, Portugal,
Naples and the Ottoman Empire combined to fight Revolutionary
France. Spain later joined France against Portugal. This alliance
against France formed to counter French moves in Italy; formation
of the Roman, Ligurian, Cisalpine and Helvetic Republics in
Switzerland and Italy, and the deposition of Papal rule in Rome.
Naples was conquered by the French in early 1799 and declared to
be the new Parthenopean Republic. Napoleon Bonaparte invaded
Turkish Egypt and won the Battle of the Pyramids, continuing his
march into what is now Israel and Lebanon. British Admiral Horatio
Nelson wiped out the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile in
1798. Due to French victories on land against both Turkish and
British troops, the Ottoman Empire made peace with France at the
Convention of El-Arish in 1800.
(1803-1814)--While other European nations waged war and then
sued for peace against Napoleonic France, Britain was in a
continual state of war against France from 1803 through the first
defeat of Napoleon in 1814.
(1807-1814)-This war began with the French Invasions of
Portugal and Spain, and also included Great Britain, who sent
forces to help the Portuguese and Spanish drive out the French.
From the British perspective, the Peninsular War was a part of the
long-running war between Britain and France from 1803 to
The Chesepeake Affair
(June 22, 1807)--Naval battle between USS Chesapeake
and HMS Leopard
Little Belt Affair
(May 16, 1811)--Naval battle between USS President and
HMS Little Belt
War of 1812
(1812-1814)--2nd war between the United States and Great
War of the Seventh
Coalition (1815)-After Napoleon's return to France from exile,
Britain, Russia, Prussia, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands and a
number of smaller German states combined to fight Napoleon and
France. The allies defeated Napoleon once and for all at the
Battle of Waterloo.
First Opium War
Crimean War (1853–1856)--Britain,
France, and Sardinia joined together to aid the Ottoman Empire,
which was under attack by Russia.
Second Opium War
War (1878–1880)--War between Britain and
First Boer War
(1880–1881) --British forces battled Dutch-descended
Boers in southern Africa.
The Second Boer War
(1899-1902)--Britain vs. The Boer Republics (Orange Free State
and Transvaal) in what is now South Africa.
Somali "Mad Mullah"
Jihad (1899-1905)--Somali tribesmen led by religious leader
Muhammad ibn Abd Allah Hasan waged a desert guerrilla war against
Britain, Italy and Ethiopia. Following repeated defeats by the
Somalis, the colonial powers offered him territory in Italian
Somaliland in exchange for peace. He resumed his war in 1908 and
harassed the occupiers of his country until 1920.
The Boxer Rebellion
(1899-1900)-- The Chinese secret religious and nationalistic
Society of the Righteous Harmonious Fists (Boxers), initiated a
rebellion against both foreign colonizers, missionaries and their
own government in 1899. By 1900, the Chinese government had
co-opted the rebels and directed their violent fury entirely upon
the foreign presence in China. The Boxers, aided by Chinese
Imperial troops, besieged the diplomatic legations (embassies) of
the Western powers and Japan, sparking a truly international
response. A retaliatory relief expedition composed of troops from:
the United State, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy,
Austria-Hungary, Russia and Japan invaded China and captured the
capital of Peking (now called Beijing).
World War One
(1914-1918)--The first "official" world war was originally
known as "The Great War," and also as "The World War."
War--Britain, along with the United States, France, and Japan,
intervened unsuccessfully in the civil war in Russia that brought
the Communists to power.
(1919–1921)--Resulted in the formation of the Irish Free
State, and the division of Ireland, with the six northern counties
(Ulster), chosing to remain a part of the United
War of 1941 (April 18, 1941 to May 30, 1941)--The
Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941, also known as the Rashid Ali Coup, was
a relatively small, but very significant part of the Second
World War. Since the ending of the British Mandate and the
advent of full Iraqi independence in 1932, Britain retained a
great deal of military influence in Iraq, despite lingering
opposition from many Arab nationalists. One of these
nationalists, Rashid Ali, seized power in Baghdad and refused
British requests to allow British military forces to enter
Iraq. Britain at this time was fighting German and Italian
forces in North Africa and were preparing to invade Vichy
French-held Syria. (The Vichy French were working with the
Germans and British and Free French forces needed to secure the
region). Believing promises of German support, Rashid Ali
ordered his forces to attack British bases in western Iraq and
to oppose the landing of British forces at the southern city of
Basra. German support appeared in the form of a small number of
Luftwaffe fighter planes, and the British forces quickly
defeated the Iraqi military.
(1945-1990)--Britain, along with the United States and other
Western nations, formed the backbone of anti-Communist resistance
in the Cold War.
Greek Civil War
(1944-1947)--British forces became involved in the early
stages of the Greek Civil War when they liberated Greece from
German occupation toward the end of 1944. As the Germans withdrew,
competing Greek factions fought for control. The British sided
with the re-established Greek government against the Communist
rebels. Due to financial pressures and their own need to recover
from World War Two, Britain announced a withdrawal of forces in
1947. The Greek Civil War continued until 1949, with the United
States taking over the role of protector for the government.
British combat involvement primarily took place in 1944 and 1945.
The Greek Civil War continued until the Greek government defeated
the rebels in 1949.
(1950-1953)--Britain contributed significant military forces
to the United Nations cause.
Anglo-Egyptian War of
1951-1952 (1951-1952)--Egyptian guerrillas, aided by the
governement carried out a campaign against British forces
stationed at the Suez Canal and agains other symbols of Britain
and the West. On January 25, 1952, British troops retaliated
against Egypt by attacking an Egyptian police station, killing 50
and wounding 100. The conflict ended with a change in the Egyptian
government and the eventual withdrawal of British troops. This
conflict led to Britain's involvment in the 1956
Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1956. (see
Mau Mau Insurgency in
War of 1956--(1956)--Britain
and France invaded Egypt (in conjunction with Israel), in an
ill-planned attempt to take control of the Suez Canal from
Muscat and Oman
Intervention (1957-1959)--British troops aide the goverment of
Muscat and Oman (now known simply as Oman), against rebels.
British troops withdrew after a successful campaign.
(1958)--Britain airlifted troops to Jordan in response to a
request for aid from the Jordanian king. King Hussein felt
threatened by the recent union of Syria and Egypt, as well as the
violent revolution in Iraq in which the Iraq king, a member of
Hussein's family, was brutally murdered. After the situation
calmed down, British troops left Jordan.
confrontation (1962–1966) --
Ugandan Army Mutiny
(1964)--The army of Uganda, which had recently become
independent of Britain, mutinied against the government of
President Milton Obote in January of 1964. Unable to control the
situation, Obote called for help from British forces who put down
(1964-1967) --South Yemeni rebels waged guerrilla warfare
against British colonial rule.
in Northern Ireland
(1969-1998)--Low-level assymetric warfare (largely urban
guerrilla warfare, with some rural combat) in which British
military forces campaigned against the Irish Republican Army
(IRA). The conflict ended via a political settlement in
Falkland Islands War
(1982)-The military dictatorship in Argentina mistakenly
believed that Britain, led by Prime Minister Margaret "Iron Lady"
Thatcher, would not wage a war over the tiny Falkland Islands in
the South Atlantic. When the Argentines invaded the British-owned
and British-inhabited Falkland Islands in April of 1982, the
British responded by sending the Royal Navy and other military
units to liberate the islands from the Argentine invaders. The
British defeated the Argentines and liberated the islands. As a
direct result of the disasterous war with Britain, the Argentine
dictatorship fell and was replaced by a democracy.
was one of the major Western allies to resist Iraq's invasion of
The Bosnian War
(1995–1996) --NATO operation to protect Bosnia from
Bosnian Serb rebels and regular Serbian military
The Kosovo War
(1999) --NATO operation to protect Kosovar Muslims from
Serbian militias and regular Serbian military forces.
joined with the United States and other allies to oust the Taliban
and al-Qaida from power in Afghanistan in the wake of al-Qaida's
September 11 attacks on the United States.
War on Terror(2001-Present)--Britain
and many other nations around the world are engaged in military,
political, economic, and diplomatic efforts to combat Islamic
Militancy in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
International Airport attack (June 30, 2007)--Two Islamic
Militants drove a vehicle filled with propane canisters through
the entrance to Glasgow International Airport in Scotland. Five
people were injured, and one of the militants died of burns and
Bombings(July 7, 2005)--Islamic militants exploded
bombs in the London subway system and on a double-decker bus in
reaction to Britain's involvment in the Iraq War. The bombings
claimed 52 victims, and caused nearly 700 casualties. The four
suicide bombers also died.
Bombings(July 21, 2005)--Islamic militants exploded
four bombs in London, and a fifth bomb failed to explode
properly. No casualties.
(2003-2009)--Britain, along with the U.S., Australia, and
Poland, invaded Iraq to drive out the regime of dictator
forces ended their participation in the war in Iraq on April 30,
(2011)-The UK joined with other NATO nations and pro-Western
Sunni Arab nations to aid Libyan rebels overthrow Libyan dictator
Islamic State War
(2014-Present)--In response to the threat posed by
the Islamic State (in Iraq and Syria, among other locations),
the British Parliament on September 26, 2014 voted to begin Royal
Air Force airstrikes against the Islamic State (AKA ISIL or ISIS)
in northern Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government. British
airstrikes on ISIS in Syria began after the December 2, 2015
Parliament vote to begin operations in that country. British
allies in this ongoing war include the United States, France, and
multiple other coalition nations.