The Size And Strength Of The British Army

See historical data on the size of the British Army regular and reserve forces.


This section lists the size of the British Army since 1710.

Each table indicates both the size of the Regular Army and the quantity of Reserve Soldiers.

Please Note: Some data sets may be missing for certain decades due to multiple sources with inconsistent data.

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British Army Size During The 1700’s

Overall the size of the British Military from 1710 to 1790 was an average size of 54,444 soldiers.

YearRegularReserveTotal
171070,000N/A70,000
172020,000N/A20,000
173020,000N/A20,000
174055,000N/A55,000
175027,000N/A27,000
176087,000N/A87,000
177048,000N/A48,000
178079,000N/A79,000
179084,000N/A84,000

The size of the British Army during the 1700’s was the smallest in 1720 and 1730.

In 1760, the size of the British Army consisted of 87,000 soldiers – the highest amount of active soldiers during the whole of the 18th century.


British Army Size During The 1800’s

Overall the size of the British Military from 1800 to 1890 was an average size of 168,100 soldiers.

YearRegularReserveTotal
1800163,000N/A163,000
1810226,000N/A226,000
1820130,000N/A130,000
1830106,000N/A106,000
1840130,000N/A130,000
1850151,000N/A151,000
1860215,000N/A215,000
1870185,000N/A185,000
1880165,000N/A165,000
1890210,000N/A210,000

During the 19th century, the 1830’s saw the smallest intake of soldiers with the lowest amount being 106,000 active soldiers.

Looking at the data, the British Army was at it’s strongest around 1810.


British Army Size During The 1900’s

Overall the size of the British Military from 1900 to 1990 was an average size of 704,714 soldiers.

YearRegularReserveTotal
1900Data MissingN/AData Missing
1918275,000N/A275,000
1920Data MissingN/AData Missing
1930Data MissingN/AData Missing
19403,120,000Included In Regular3,120,000
1950364,00083,000447,000
1960258,000120,000387,000
1970176,00080,000256,000
1980159,00063,000222,000
1990153,00073,000226,000

There doesn’t seem to be consistent or reliable data for 1900 to 1930.

The average size of the British Army during the 20th century is higher than any other century mainly due to WW1 and WW2.

During the 1900’s – we saw the birth of the reserve force which greatly increased the size and strength of the British Army.


British Army Size During The 2000’s

Overall the size of the British Military from 2000 to 2020 was an average size of 129,500 soldiers.

YearRegularReserveTotal
2000110,00045,000155,000
2010113,00029,000142,000
201583,36029,603112,000
202080,04029,790109,000

So far the 21st Century has seen the size of the British Army drastically reduce.

The total amount of regular soldiers as of 2020 is just over 80,000 soldiers – this is just 7,000 less soldiers compared to 1760.

There is much debate as to the need for a larger army during these modern times and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

Comment down below!

The Size Of The British Army

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