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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/24/2017 7:31:23 AM
Comparing the Field Marshals and one Army commander of each war. Montgomery was a showman who "ran off at the mouth"-causing American distrust; whereas Haig was taciturn and almost unobstrusive at times-neither were good with the rank and file.Both had an unshakeable belief in themselves and were immune to criticism and carried on regardless of it-because "they were right".

General Miles Dempsey was blessed with an active and incisive mind, a phenomenal memory and a unique skill in reading maps and I would rank him General Herbert Plumer who had a similar eye for detail-both were professional infantry soldiers-Plumer turned the offer of CIGS to remain at the front; and see the war out on the Western Front.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/24/2017 8:47:31 AM
Plumer is remembered as an outstandingly good army commander from WW1.

What is not so widely known is that he came within a gnat's eyelash of being sacked by Haig in the earlier part of 1916 : he had not been sufficiently vigilant in the maintenance of defences in his sector.

Haig let him off with a final warning, and sent him a first rate chief of staff ( Harington ).

A couple of years later, Haig lost patience when he heard people enthusing about Plumer, and blurted out You would never have heard of him if I hadn't sent him Harington !

I think this anecdote is worth citing, because it reveals aspects of Haig's generalship that are not generally acknowledged....his surveillance of, and support of, those deputy commanders who were to receive so much credit.

It also demonstrates that Haig - renowned for being a lacklustre character - could, on occasions, let fly and use a sharp tongue.

On another occasion, Haig was visited by the then PM Herbert Asquith.

Haig nicknamed him " Squiffy ", on account of his fondness for the booze.

Haig's family provenance - legendary distillers of whisky - endowed him with a knowledge of drink and how to use it properly. He plied Joffre with superb brandy and won him over in difficult meetings.

On the occasion of Asquith's visit, the PM enjoyed the brandy so much that he kept suggestively offering his glass in the hope of a refill ; a gesture that Haig failed to acknowledge.

When Philip Sassoon, Haig's secretary, commented on this, Haig remarked dryly if Squiffy hasn't got the guts to ask me directly for another glass of brandy, than he's not bloody well fit to be Prime Minister !

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/24/2017 10:50:51 AM
When Haig,a cavalryman- was given command of the BEF-he had doubts about those in Army Command that he had not appointed-one was the "Old Man" -Plumer,an Infantryman; and thought to get rid of him-so he was given "a rocket" about his defences- to which he added "Shape Up or Ship Out"-that in my eyes makes him an elitist and a bully-no gentleman he.

He did not get on with Allenby-a cavalryman and so he promoted him to full general and sent him home from where he was given command of the Middle East theatre of operations and was very successful.Replaced by Byng another cavalryman

His final line was Horne RHA- 1st Army,Plumer Infantry- 2nd Army,Byng cavalryman- 3rd Army ,Rawlinson cavalryman- 4th Army and Gough cavalryman- 5th Army. Gough took the blame for the failure of 5th Army in the German Spring Offensive
but Haig knew that this formation would not be strong enough to hold the Germans

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

MikeMeech
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/24/2017 12:09:21 PM

Quote:
When Haig,a cavalryman- was given command of the BEF-he had doubts about those in Army Command that he had not appointed-one was the "Old Man" -Plumer,an Infantryman; and thought to get rid of him-so he was given "a rocket" about his defences- to which he added "Shape Up or Ship Out"-that in my eyes makes him an elitist and a bully-no gentleman he.

He did not get on with Allenby-a cavalryman and so he promoted him to full general and sent him home from where he was given command of the Middle East theatre of operations and was very successful.Replaced by Byng another cavalryman

His final line was Horne RHA- 1st Army,Plumer Infantry- 2nd Army,Byng cavalryman- 3rd Army ,Rawlinson cavalryman- 4th Army and Gough cavalryman- 5th Army. Gough took the blame for the failure of 5th Army in the German Spring Offensive
but Haig knew that this formation would not be strong enough to hold the Germans

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Hi

I think you will find that Rawlinson was an Infantryman, commissioned into the KRRC and later transferred to the Coldstream Guards. Byng had started his career in the 7th Battalion KRRC but transferred to the 10th Hussars. Horne was commissioned into the Royal Artillery after Woolwich and then transferred into the RHA. From 1906 he was mainly in Royal Artillery posts. Gough of course commanded mounted infantry in the South African campaign.

Mike

MikeMeech
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/24/2017 12:28:43 PM
Hi

The Allenby story is rather complicated as in part he was undermined by three of his divisional commanders, Major Generals Wilkinson (50th), de Lisle (29th) and Robertson (17th), apparently with the tacit support of Corps level command, directly 'complaining' to GHQ about Allenby's 'tactics'. This appears to have been about undertaking isolated operations which had exposed their men to flanking fire resulting in 'large' casualties. It appears to have had some effect as Haig halted operations for a week. (Source, 'Haig's Generals' ed. Beckett & Corvi, page 27, this is Chapter 1 on Edmund Allenby by Matthew Hughes. Allenby was successful in Palestine, this may have been in part due to the different fighting conditions. Some historians have suggested that Gough may have been more of a 'success' during the 100 days style of warfare as it aligned more with his 'tactical abilities and methods', but we will never know.

Mike

George
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/24/2017 12:40:17 PM
Arthur Currie had no time for Hubert Gough as he felt that the losses experienced by the Canadians on the Somme were due to inadequate planning by Gough.

When Haig wanted Currie to take Passchendaele, one of the promises that Currie extracted was that his Corps would not have serve under Gough.

Haig was taken aback but agreed with the request.

The story that the British troops were led by donkeys is unfair but it is true that the Canadians at least, had a preference for British generals.

And that stems from experiences early on in the war.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/24/2017 12:58:46 PM
Thanks Mike re.General Rawlinson-he was Infantry of course-that'll learn me not to judge a General by his "jodhpurs and spurred boots".

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/24/2017 2:32:58 PM
George am I right in saying that the CEC sustained 24,000 casualties from September to mid October, but were they under Byng or Gough ???

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/24/2017 3:05:24 PM
Those 24,000 Canadian casualties of the Somme in 1916 were very closely matched by those of the Australians . New Zealand casualties were in the order of 8,000 ; the South Africans took 3,500 and then there was the destruction of the Newfoundlanders on the first day : but even with these awful experiences , the fact remains that the UK contingents took eighty five per cent of the entire British Empire casualties of the battle.

I intend to assess how far the Somme compares with Third Ypres and other battles, in respect of the preponderance or otherwise of UK casualties vis a vis those of the Dominion contingents.

This was a touchy subject at the time, and remains so today.

Haig alluded to it several times in his diary.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/24/2017 7:13:18 PM

Quote:
George am I right in saying that the CEC sustained 24,000 casualties from September to mid October, but were they under Byng or Gough ???

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Byng was the Corps commander at St. Eloi and Mt. Sorrel so he would have been Corps commander on the Somme.

You are referring to 1916 aren't you Jim.

I would note the Gough, newly installed as CO of 5th Army also ran afoul of the ANZAC Corps.

He wanted to toss them into an attack on Pozieres on July 19,.1916, on 24 hours notice.

ANZAC HQ had not even arrived on the front. There had been no preparation.

It was a British officer named Walker, CO of the 1st Aus. Div. who fought with Gough over sending the ANZAC's in with insufficient artillery and from a direction in which other British units had failed.

Gough eventually claimed that he ordered the change in direction of the attack but it was Walker who told him that that is what should happen.

So the attack on Pozieres was delayed until July 22 and the ANZAC's did well, thanks to more artillery and a chance to plan the attack.

Walker wrote harshly in 1928 in reference to Gough's mismanagement:


Quote:
"the very worst exhibition of Army commandship that occurred during the whole campaign, though God knows the 5th Army [as Reserve Army was later designated] was a tragedy throughout"
. (source: Revolvy.com)


Gough was considered an aggressive commander but not one who planned well.


He was quick to take credit if an attack went well but even quicker to point fingers or suggest a lack of moral fibre in his troops, including the Canadians in a couple of cases.


Phil Andrade
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/25/2017 2:24:38 AM
At the very moment that Gough was proposing to order the Australian attack at Pozieres, the worst twenty four hours in the history of the Australian people were about to commence in Artois, in a diversionary attack at Fromelles. I had not included the Australian casualties there when I mentioned how their Somme losses rivalled those of Canada.

This action at Fromelles was - and still is - especially resented by Australia.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/25/2017 3:23:07 AM

Quote:
Some historians have suggested that Gough may have been more of a 'success' during the 100 days style of warfare as it aligned more with his 'tactical abilities and methods', but we will never know.
Mike

I confess I did not see much skill in his "defence" of 5th Army's liner in the German Spring Offensive.Do you think Gough would nave been more of a success in the Last Hundred Days.?????Where would he fit in-in Haig's line up ???


Regards

Jim
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MikeMeech
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/25/2017 3:53:41 PM

Quote:

Quote:
Some historians have suggested that Gough may have been more of a 'success' during the 100 days style of warfare as it aligned more with his 'tactical abilities and methods', but we will never know.
Mike

I confess I did not see much skill in his "defence" of 5th Army's liner in the German Spring Offensive.Do you think Gough would nave been more of a success in the Last Hundred Days.?????Where would he fit in-in Haig's line up ???


Regards

Jim

--anemone

Hi

A fair few historians appear to believe that he was not totally to blame for the defence during the German Spring Offensive when the 5th Army. They believe he should have been sacked in 1917 instead. However, in the circumstances of taking over a 'large' part of the French line and not having enough troops to man it or enough time to complete the new defence system then being hit by overwhelming artillery fire followed up by overwhelming numbers of German infantry in the mist, then he was less to blame.

The 100 Days use of Gough is that he was seen as a 'Thruster' and 'risk' taker, during the 100 Days risks were taken in the advanced which would have got commanders sacked during 1917, this was to keep the offensive moving. In many actions there was not the time for long detailed planning, in fact in many cases less than 24 hours, it meant many orders were delivered 'verbally' rather than being written. 'Set piece battles' became less the norm, command and planning for engagements became more 'Divisional' than 'Corps' let alone Army.
As I mentioned previously we will never know if Gough would or would not have been more successful at the 100 Days 'style' of warfare because he was 'gone'.

Mike

Phil Andrade
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 3:17:20 AM
Normally pretty disdainful of Wikipedia, I have to say that the wiki article on Hubert Gough is one of the best online renditions I've ever read.

Gough is truly what we British would describe as a "Marmite " character.

There seems to be about him the smell of a Patton, a Mangin or a Phil Sheridan.

He certainly shares Irish provenance with the last mentioned.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 3:32:04 AM
5th Army had 26 miles of line to defend with ten Divisions,shortage of time and manpower to prepare properly in depth. Outlined in his book 'The Fifth Army',Gough said that the cavalry forces were spread too widely. The tendency was for men to bunch together and this left gaps.This of course was down to individual commanders.

When Haig visited Gough's HQ- he told Gough that he had no more men to give him-he knew Gough had a mammoth task in rendering his defences fit for purpose but told him "To do his best with what he had"

Regards

Jim
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Phil Andrade
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 4:22:54 AM
And so poor old (young, actually) " Goughie" was the scapegoat, and went from hero to zero: with " Daddy " Plumer it was the other way round.

You have to wonder how far the machinations of British generals in this war were predicated on protecting their own reputations...not a syndrome unique to armies, but one that has catastrophic ramifications for the lives of unknown thousands of men.

Regards Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 6:05:49 AM
You certainly "hit that on with a straight bat Phil". When the French were clamouring for Gough's head; Haig could well have been looking ahead for ways to end this war- and this being paramount -poor old Goughie "walked".

He was raised to GCB by Geo.V sometime after the war as a consolation.5th Army's Retreat had sucked the Germans into a ruddy great salient- that was of no use to them; and had failed in their mission to take Amiens

Regards

Jim
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George
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 6:48:01 AM
Gentlemen, the comments from his British peers would indicate that Gough was not well respected by some.

He seems to have butted heads with a number of people of equal and lesser rank. Is it all attributable to professional jealousy?

I have mentioned before that Arthur Currie did not trust Gough's troop management and felt that men got killed under his command because of lack of preparation and planning.

With Gough it seems that did not always understand the importance of artillery and was for too long, a proponent of the cavalry to charge into the breach.

Was Gough a micromanager who would not consider the opinions and ideas of his corps commanders?

I concede that Gough had as much to learn about tactics in this new type of warfare as anyone else.

Is there evidence that he did learn and was able to implement the new tactics developed by the British and Commonwealth and the French?

Or were the reservations that the Dominion troops had about him, still valid, up until he was moved?

I think that he had lost the confidence of the men that he commanded. Fair or unfair?


Cheers,

George



Phil Andrade
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 7:03:49 AM
He antagonised staff officers.

He was a thruster.

I suspect that he had a good rapport with his soldiers.

My father in law, born in the years after the Great War, was christened " Hubert". He always wondered why. I believe his dad had served in the ranks - as a private - of the 5th Army.

A tentative suggestion, I confess: but if the enlisted men chose to name their sons after their army commander, there is the prospect that the general was highly thought of in the ranks.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 7:43:37 AM

Quote:
There is good evidence to show that Gough had grave concerns of the ground he had to cover, with less men, worse prepared defences and more line than 3rd Army under Sir Julian Byng.

Concerns he had voiced but that seem to have been ignored. The conduct of Gough in these few trying days bears well, he did not panic, his men whilst admittedly withdrawing did so with guts and determination.

His dismissal from command was seen by many who made up 5th Army as an insult not just to their commander but to the rank and file, who had fought gallantly.
The Life of General Gough/

My own personal opinion is that he did his best with the forces at his disposal; and I thought his Evacuation of the Rosierres pocket was brilliant-making the useless salient even bigger- to the exhaustion of the German attackers.However I do accept the Canadian view- that he did not know when to stop.

regards

Jim
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George
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 8:06:17 AM
Phil has indicated that Gough was popular with a segment of the men who served under him.

But I also read that the requests for transfer by the lowest of private soldiers from Gough's 5th Army was very high. And the numbers were significantly high enough to catch the attention of Haig.

Is this just a case of wanting to sack a general and then building the case for it?

Or was there a case to be made for the general demoralization of the 5th Army because of Gough's command decisions?

I realize that we are discussing one general here. The discussion was to be more about generalship in the British forces, in general.

So I don't think that my concerns or the concerns expressed by the Canadians and Australians for the command capabilities of Hubert Gough suggest that all generalship was flawed.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 8:27:42 AM
[Quote]But I also read that the requests for transfer by the lowest of private soldiers from Gough's 5th Army was very high. And the numbers were significantly high enough to catch the attention of Haig
[/Quote].George

George-Geewhizz!-where on earth did you find the aforementioned quote ???-Was this pre or post the Kaisersclacht in March 1918.???I am well aware that Dominion troops would bot fight under him and that would be a clincher for Haig.

Regards

Jim
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Phil Andrade
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 8:39:11 AM
Plodders or thrusters, Herberts or Huberts , Plumers or Goughs, you can almost hear Tommy Atkins moaning "...They're all the bleeding same, Mate! "

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 8:44:47 AM
About says it all Phil-the PBI were notorious grousers.

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 9:39:55 AM
General Horace Smith-Dorrien was sacked by Sir John French because he did not like Smith-Dorrien- despite his heroics during the retreat from Mons (he basically stopped the German army and saved the BEF) Despite all of this- the "odious" (IMO) French undermined him,side-lined and criticised him

Finally he sacked him for ceasing to make French's fruitless attacks at Ypres- despite French allowing his replacement do what Smith-Dorrien had wanted to do! A sad end to a glorious career!I wonder how he would have fared under Haig.

NB.I think this bad feeling started when French approached Snith- Dorrien for a loan to get him out of "delicate situation" re. one of French's paramours-SD being a devout Christian refused him-however Haig bailed French out.Quite a ball of wax was thus created!!!

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 11:13:12 AM

Quote:
[Quote]But I also read that the requests for transfer by the lowest of private soldiers from Gough's 5th Army was very high. And the numbers were significantly high enough to catch the attention of Haig
[/Quote].George

George-Geewhizz!-where on earth did you find the aforementioned quote ???-Was this pre or post the Kaisersclacht in March 1918.???I am well aware that Dominion troops would bot fight under him and that would be a clincher for Haig.

Regards

Jim
--anemone




It's from a Gary Sheffield quote. I don't have the exact words. Perhaps from "Command and Control".


The following is a very interesting lecture given by Gary Sheffield at Oxford University.

He titled his lecture: "Victorious Donkeys? British Generals and Generalship of the First World War Revisited"

[Read More]

Some great comments on how the British army of 1914 was never intended to fight a war on the scale of the Great War.

Solid support for Haig. Criticism of the governments of the UK for not spending enough money to create an army capable of more than it was.

Nothing specific to Gough or any other army commanders.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 12:44:07 PM
Whatever be the truth about men wanting to leave 5th Army-the fact remains that Haig was prepared for 5th Army to make measured withdrawals; but perhaps not telling the French- in such a way as to use up the energy put into the attack.Withdrawal was therefore a legitimate army manoeuvre to draw the enemy on to you; but leave them punching air.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil Andrade
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 4:42:47 PM
George,

Are you convinced by Garry Sheffield's rendition?

I find myself wobbling a bit.

On reflection, I put my vote with the Sheffield school....but I'm never sufficiently comfortable. I reckon British people still invest their perceptions of 1914 -18 wth a lot of emotion: do Canadians view WW1 with a greater degree of equanimity?

The disparity in the loss of life in the two world wars was less marked in the case of the Dominions than it was for the UK.

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/26/2017 8:21:19 PM
Phil, I don't know enough about Haig. Sheffield is considered an expert and he does not seem to feel that Haig was the dull witted fool that some contend.

I was surprised to hear his views that traditionally, the British army has been beggared by governments that felt that the RN was all that was needed to defend the country.

I knew that the British army was small in numbers but the word has always been that they were consummate professionals. Sheffield didn't deny that but he did say that this was an army that was ill prepared and trained for the type of warfare that was encountered.

And when those men were killed, the volunteer new army was even farther behind in preparation for war.

I had not considered that they were learning on the job and a tough job it was. Sheffield contrasted that with the bulk of Britain's WW2 army which was able to train to higher level of efficiency at home before heading into combat.

The Canadian experience was shocking and not just for the troops.

But the deaths of 64-66 K from a population of less than 8 million did give pause for citizens and soldiers to wonder whether it was worth it.

Post war, there was a growing peace movement and a sentiment in some quarters that Canada should not participate in something like this again.

And of course we had the problem in Québec with the Conscription Crisis. Safe to say that the French-Canadians comprising 25% of the population had no time for this war anyway.
When conscription came in there were riots and 4 people were killed.

Quebec has a monument to those killed in the Easter Riots of 1917.

EDIT: Québec Printemps 1918. (Quebec Spring 1918). That's what some Quebeckers remember of the Great War.



The Great War does not resonate with Québec except as a time to remember the oppression of conscription thrust upon them by the English speaking majority. They have no time for a "British war".

That doesn't mean that the veterans weren't proud of their accomplishments and many were impatient for the Vimy Ridge Memorial to be finished in France. That didn't happen until 1936.

Shortly, the second war was upon Canada and the Great War faded into the background.

But you know, there was no official history of the Canadian Corps completed in the years immediately following the war. It was as though it was not a time to remember with any pleasure. The attempt to write one resulted in a single volume that was supposed to be an 8 volume work.

Nicholson's Official History of the Canadian Army, 1914-1919 wasn't published until 1962.


Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/27/2017 2:47:04 AM

Quote:
Haig was no technophobe and he encouraged the development of advanced weaponry such as tanks, machine guns and aircraft. He, like Rawlinson and a host of other commanders at all levels in the BEF, "learned from experience".

The result was that by 1918 the British army was second to none in its modernity and military ability. It was led by men who, if not military geniuses, were at least thoroughly competent commanders. The victory in 1918 was the payoff. The 'lions led by donkeys' tag should be dismissed for what it is - a misleading caricature.
Gary Sheffield

NB.I have no real argument with the above- other than it is a tad trite-I do not believe it was EXACTLY as Sheffield states


Quote:
Years later after the war- voices began to be raised against the tactics employed during the conflict. Some of the most vigorous statements were made by David Lloyd George.

Writing in 1938 the former Prime Minister aggressively planted the blame for the destructiveness of the conflict on his General’s ‘narrow, selfish and unimaginative strategy and…the ghastly butchery of vain and insane offensives’.

However, in blaming his own High Command, Lloyd George neatly shifted the responsibility for the conflict from Britain’s political class who had brought Britain into the war and overseen it.
National Arhives

NB.Lloyd George was very much an arch enemy of Haig and his Armies.Cutting reinforcements- just as the Germans were about to commence the Kaiserschlacht- was stupid and dangerous in the extreme

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/27/2017 3:23:26 AM
Aftermath of the Great War


Quote:
In contrast to the improved life expectancy of working-class men who had been old enough to evade war service, servicemen and servicewomen returning from the front-lines were physically devastated. Writing in 1917 about Brighton, pacifist Caroline Playne admitted to being full of "sickness and horror" at the "sights of hundreds of men on crutches going about in groups."

More than 41,000 men had their limbs amputated during the war; 272,000 suffered injuries in the legs or arms that did not require amputation; 60,500 were wounded in the head or eyes; and 89,000 sustained other serious damage to their bodies.

The home front eventually welcomed back men and women whose war service abroad had left scars, both visible and invisible, which were often difficult to speak about. As Vera Brittain put it in her memoir, Testament of Youth (1933), the war had erected a "barrier of indescribable experience between men and the women they loved". Brittain's brother, fiancée and two close male friends were killed in the war, but she rightly observed that "the war kills other things besides physical life". Phyllis Kelly, who mourned the death of her beloved Eric, would have agreed.
Prof.Joanna Burke

NB.The above brings back those memories -as a child of the 1930's I saw the widows and the limbless in my little township-a constant reminder that my forebear didn't make it back and was never found.Sad memories.

Regards

Jim







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Jim Cameron
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/27/2017 1:12:17 PM

Quote:
George,

Are you convinced by Garry Sheffield's rendition?

I find myself wobbling a bit.

On reflection, I put my vote with the Sheffield school....but I'm never sufficiently comfortable. I reckon British people still invest their perceptions of 1914 -18 wth a lot of emotion: do Canadians view WW1 with a greater degree of equanimity?

The disparity in the loss of life in the two world wars was less marked in the case of the Dominions than it was for the UK.

Regards , Phil
--Phil Andrade


Haig continues to suffer from much the same handicap as Montgomery, Douglas MacArthur, or, George B. McClellan. All had the misfortune of being presented to History largely by their detractors. Not that all of them didn't manage to provide their critics with a good deal of ammunition, much of it by virtue of their own rather prickly personalities. None of them generate much sympathy.

In Haig's case, he suffered the additional misfortune to hold command for an extended period of time, in a situation where casualties were guaranteed to be high, and results, meagre. When you rack up hundreds of thousands of losses for a few miles of mud, there's no way your reputation isn't going to suffer. And the very fact he proved all but immune to being replaced meant that he would accumulate frustrated, and, unfortunately for him, often eloquent, enemies.




---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

George
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/27/2017 1:39:08 PM
I just noticed that I had not linked the Gary Sheffield lecture properly.

So I fixed it in the original post and have included it again below.

As he is considered an excellent scholar with respect to Haig, the generals and the war, I thought that he may have some interesting insights. And he did.

[Read More]

Phil andrade
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/28/2017 5:24:15 AM
George,
Your original link worked well enough for me to listen to it on my iPhone in our caravan.

Thanks.

I always enjoy listening to Garry Sheffield.

Dealing with Haig is still a poisoned chalice....you're damned one way or another.

Sheffield used to espouse the argument that perceptions of Haig's generalship should be recalibrated by reflecting on the suggestion that British infantry casualties in Normandy and NW Europe 1944-45 rivalled or exceeded those of the Somme and Passchendaele, if the analysis is conducted on a proportionate basis.

This argument has now been discredited ...and I hope I won't be thought of as vain if I declare that I was the guy who led the charge against it.

It's gratifying to see that Garry did not resort to it in this lecture.

One thing especially is lacking in his rendition of British Generalship in the Great War : he needs to cite what the Germans thought of it.

Regards , Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

MikeMeech
UK
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/28/2017 6:47:02 AM

Quote:
George,
Your original link worked well enough for me to listen to it on my iPhone in our caravan.

Thanks.

I always enjoy listening to Garry Sheffield.

Dealing with Haig is still a poisoned chalice....you're damned one way or another.

Sheffield used to espouse the argument that perceptions of Haig's generalship should be recalibrated by reflecting on the suggestion that British infantry casualties in Normandy and NW Europe 1944-45 rivalled or exceeded those of the Somme and Passchendaele, if the analysis is conducted on a proportionate basis.

This argument has now been discredited ...and I hope I won't be thought of as vain if I declare that I was the guy who led the charge against it.

It's gratifying to see that Garry did not resort to it in this lecture.

One thing especially is lacking in his rendition of British Generalship in the Great War : he needs to cite what the Germans thought of it.

Regards , Phil


--Phil andrade


Hi

According to 'Colossal Cracks' by Stephen Ashley Hart, which is about the 21st Army Group in Northwest Europe, page 47, between 6 June 1944 and 8 December 1944 there were 109,396 casualties in the Group.

For WW1 the casualties of the First, Third and Fourth Armies between 8th August and 26th September 1918 were 8,642 Officers and 181,334 ORs. (OH Vol. 4 1918 pages 516-517).
Between 27th September and 12th November 1918 the total casualties for the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Armies plus the Cavalry Corps were 3,944 Officers and 106,477 ORs, infantry and cavalry. So a total of 12,586 Officers and 287,811 ORs. Although there would have been casualties of other arms and support troops as well.

In both WW2 and WW2 these were both advances to victory. it is of course quite difficult to really compare but in WW1 the 'British' had a much bigger force in the field than in the Battle of Normandy. In many ways the casualties in WW2 were 'worse' as the UK and Canada had a severe shortage of Infantry to replace the casualties.

Mike

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/28/2017 6:58:55 AM
Yes the Battle of Normandy was particularly costly in WW2. It is gratifying to see that some historians have re-examined the claims that the British and Canadians and others were moving too slowly and cautiously.

To Mike's point, the lack of reinforcements for British and Commonwealth troops was also evident during the Italian campaign.

But is the purpose of casualty comparisons really a worthy attempt to compare the deadliness of the types of combat faced? There should be other criteria for assessment as well though beyond my expertise.

Or do we accept that lessons learned in the Great War were applied successfully in the second?

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/28/2017 9:03:24 AM
Some lessons from WW1 were applied or grew from them. Bigger and better armaments ie Aircraft for strategical(bombing) and tactical warfare (strafing),B Echelons attached to all tank units to follow up with all supplies and maintenance,larger calibre guns on tanks and some better armour.Anti tank weaponry.The introduction of AGRA's for major bombardments,small calibre automatic weapons,better communications between the Rear and the Sharp End. Airborne assaults by parachute.Apologies for the pot pourri.

NB.An Army Group Royal Artillery (AGRA) was a British Commonwealth military formation type during the Second World War and shortly thereafter, generally assigned to Army corps. An AGRA was mainly composed of medium artillery regiments but heavy regiments and field regiments were also used. They were moved at need from corps to corps within an army.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/28/2017 12:56:00 PM
George,

But is the purpose of casualty comparisons really a worthy attempt to compare the deadliness of the types of combat faced ?

This is where the historiography kicks in : the reputation of the Great War being so notorious that some historians have argued for a more sober assessment.

It's no coincidence that this school of historians tends to be pro Haig.

It reached its apogee with Gordon Corrigan, who was determined to demonstrate that the casualties among the troops at the sharp end in Normandy were even higher than they had been on the Somme. This became a kind of trope, and I was dismayed to see it being used by Garry Sheffield . The facts do not bear it out.

The pro Haig school will insist that - grievous though British casualties were in the Great War - they were no more than what might be expected from warfare of such sustained intensity against a first class foe ; that previous wars, and WW2, gave ample evidence that this was bound to be the case.

To a degree, this is incontestable ....but there is still something stupefyingly awful in the dimensions of slaughter 1914-18 : it was truly transcendental.

Regards , Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

MikeMeech
UK
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Posts: 303

Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/28/2017 2:53:31 PM

Quote:
George,

But is the purpose of casualty comparisons really a worthy attempt to compare the deadliness of the types of combat faced ?

This is where the historiography kicks in : the reputation of the Great War being so notorious that some historians have argued for a more sober assessment.

It's no coincidence that this school of historians tends to be pro Haig.

It reached its apogee with Gordon Corrigan, who was determined to demonstrate that the casualties among the troops at the sharp end in Normandy were even higher than they had been on the Somme. This became a kind of trope, and I was dismayed to see it being used by Garry Sheffield . The facts do not bear it out.

The pro Haig school will insist that - grievous though British casualties were in the Great War - they were no more than what might be expected from warfare of such sustained intensity against a first class foe ; that previous wars, and WW2, gave ample evidence that this was bound to be the case.

To a degree, this is incontestable ....but there is still something stupefyingly awful in the dimensions of slaughter 1914-18 : it was truly transcendental.

Regards , Phil


--Phil andrade

Hi

However, while it was less 'bloody' in military deaths during WW2 for Britain, France (although they were defeated and occupied) and Italy (again surrendered then their country was fought through) it was not for the USA, Germany and Soviet Union (Russia in WW1). So while WW1 may have been 'stupefying awful in the dimensions of slaughter' for the UK, WW2 was rather worse in that measure for others. The UK was 'lucky' in that respect in WW2 but that war was even more awful than WW1 for many.

Mike

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 5/28/2017 3:22:36 PM
Hello Mike,

For the USA, their AEF didn't have sufficient time in combat to experience what the other nations had.

Some of our American posters have noted that in the history of their country, the first war takes a back seat to the second world war.

The Russians experienced heavy casualties in WW1 and even heavier in WW2. So I understand that the Great Patriotic war would resonate with the Soviet Union/Russia more than in WW1.

But I was surprised to see your inclusion of the Germany as one country that would see WW2 as more horrific than WW1. Is that because of the terrible civilian casualties that Germany did not experience in WW1?


Cheers,

George

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