The Journal of Slavic Military Studies just published Chris Murray’s, our beloved Associate Editor’s, latest academic paper: “A Gap in the Literature: The Evolution of Britain’s Second World War Yugoslav Policies”, which is a summary of his PhD thesis at King’s College London.


The decision processes behind the formation of Britain’s wartime policies represented the intersection of multiple, sometimes competing variables, from political to military and from immediate to long-term. There remain unanswered questions that arise from these competitions and contradictions within the British government’s, oftentimes multi-track policies, which hold far-reaching implications for understanding events. Britain’s policies of support for resistance movements in occupied Yugoslavia during the Second World War serve as a striking example. The historical understanding of how British policy developed concerning Yugoslavia, its motivations, objectives, and how these were defined and prioritized by the individuals and agencies involved with these processes, represents a small but deeply contentious corner of Second World War literature, wherein much remains unresolved. This article, based on doctoral research carried out at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London, analyses the forces that shaped British policy concerning Yugoslavia in the light of what Graham Allison has called ‘the essence of decision.’ That is, by looking to the British government as a policy arena and examining the ‘official mind(s)’ of the policy community in that context, highlighting the multiple overlapping forces, both internal and external, that interacted in shaping the evolution of British policy. By resurveying various British archives, it has been possible to resolve many longstanding historiographical disputes, as well as present new alternative approaches to viewing British policy development concerning Yugoslavia. Those findings, presented here, suggest a view of Britain’s Yugoslav policy that was far more reactive and constrained than previously presented. The reality of the British government, its policy development, and its chosen course is far more chaotic and disjointed than the ‘all behind you, Winston’ myth, and when viewed with this appreciation present British policy development as less sensation, but far more remarkable.

Featured Image: UK National Archives – Kew, Wikimedia Commons, 2024

By Chris Murray

Chris is the Assistant Editor at DefenceReport and Senior Analyst. He holds a PhD is Defence Studies from King’s College London, an MA in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada, as well as both an Ba in Anthropology and an HBa in History from Lakehead University. He specialises in irregular conflicts, guerrilla insurgencies, and asymmetrical warfare. His areas of focus include the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe, but are primarily aimed at the Balkans. Chris is an Associate Member of the of The Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies at King's College London, a Member of the Second World War Research Group at King’s College London, as well as an Associate of King’s College London. Chris has formally served as a defence and foreign policy advisor in the Canadian House of Commons to the office of a Member of Parliament. [email protected]