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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/1/2017 3:55:39 PM
You've summed it up pretty well, Mr C.

That huge bulge in the Western Front invited attention at the shoulders....but those shoulders were themselves horrifically strong defensive positions.

Jim A., yes...the Aubers and Festurbert attacks were British supporting attacks in Artois, as was the Loos offensive. A dreadful testimony to British determination to play her part in coalition warfare.

I really need to wriggle a bit with Haig. I can't make up my mind.

In the Somme fighting, he determined to exploit the advantage in the southern sector of his offensive, attacking northwards and eastwards from where he had effected a lodgement. He was really trying to make a kind of flanking attack here ; Joffre was furious, and insisted that Haig press on in the northern sector, attacking frontally where he had been catastrophically repulsed on the opening day.

Sheldon thinks that Joffre was right.

Baffling.

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

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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Posts: 687

Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/1/2017 5:03:14 PM
Support success, not failure.
---------------
Jim Cameron

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 2:21:56 AM
The episode I allude to in the Somme fighting is significant as an indicator of how Haig conducted himself as a coalition commander who was yet accountable to his national government .

I don't have Haig's diary to hand, so I hope I'm getting this right.

Apparently, Joffre , in a state of some agitation, insisted that Haig abandon his proposal to attack from the southern lodgement , and ordered him to persist in attacking along the northern sector at the Thiepval Spur.

Haig - according to his diary - calmly remonstrated that, while he was intending to conform with Entente strategy, he was ultimately responsible to the British government, and would not be taking " orders" from the French. He did this in a firm but most gracious manner, and - in an almost condescending way - describes how Joffre, flushed and inarticulate , conceded the point and agreed to the British general's proposal.

The poor man can hardly read a map ! was Haig's comment on Joffre's comportment in this heated and crucial encounter.

I reckon this is a crucial piece of narrative for different reasons.

It throws light on how Haig perceived his ally, his role as a coalition warrior, and his determination to stand firm as a British commander accountable principally to his national government. He clearly saw himself as Joffre's superior in terms of martial bearing and tactical prowess. How far ought we to trust Haig's account ?

The ensuing fighting brought British gains in the Bazentin sector and helped redress the one sided nature of the repulse suffered along the Thiepval Spur to the north.

Sheldon, however, sees this as Haig letting the Germans off the hook.

Editing : my supposition is that Sheldon sees Joffre as the " big picture " guy, aware of the need to keep Anglo French forces from diverging, thinking about the Russians in their Brusilov endeavour, and the Italians struggling in the Trentino ; while Haig is seeing the hill directly in front of him.

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: 6/2/2017 4:17:00 AM
I have to admit here that the BEF in 1915 were seriously hampered by a lack of artillery and reliable ammunition for same; which was a main reason for the failure at Aubers Ridge and Festubert-two battles that I came down heavily on-due in the main- to the failure of the artillery to break the enemy defences.This came to light as the Shell Scandal as reported below :-

Festubert

Quote:
The British bombardment opens with a total of 433 guns and howitzers firing on a 5000 yard front. The 36 six-inch howitzers would fire on the enemy breastwork parapet, to blow gaps through which the infantry could pour; the 54 4.5-inch would hit the German support lines, as would a portion of the field guns.

The majority of the 210 eighteen-pounder field guns aimed at the German wire, firing shrapnel which was known to be an ineffective weapon for this task – but there was no High Explosive available.

The bombardment was observed in detail: even early on there were reports of a high proportion of dud shells failing to explode – especially the howitzers. Firing day and night, more than 101,000 shells were fired.
The Long Long Trail


Quote:
On 15 May 1915 an article appeared in The Times, written by military correspondent Colonel Repington and based on information given to him by an exasperated Commander-in-Chief, Sir John French. The latter also sent copies of all correspondence between him and the Government on the question of the supply of ammunition to David Lloyd George, Arthur Balfour and Bonar Law, MP’s.

The scandal that broke as the public read that Tommies were losing their lives unnecessarily as a result of the shortages proved to be the downfall of the Liberal Government under Asquith. The formation of a Coalition Government and the appointment of Lloyd George as first Minister of Munitions was an important step towards ultimate victory.
The long,Long Trail

Regards

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

MikeMeech
UK
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Posts: 322

Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 5:56:47 AM

Quote:
I have to admit here that the BEF in 1915 were seriously hampered by a lack of artillery and reliable ammunition for same; which was a main reason for the failure at Aubers Ridge and Festubert-two battles that I came down heavily on-due in the main- to the failure of the artillery to break the enemy defences.This came to light as the Shell Scandal as reported below :-

Festubert

Quote:
The British bombardment opens with a total of 433 guns and howitzers firing on a 5000 yard front. The 36 six-inch howitzers would fire on the enemy breastwork parapet, to blow gaps through which the infantry could pour; the 54 4.5-inch would hit the German support lines, as would a portion of the field guns.

The majority of the 210 eighteen-pounder field guns aimed at the German wire, firing shrapnel which was known to be an ineffective weapon for this task – but there was no High Explosive available.

The bombardment was observed in detail: even early on there were reports of a high proportion of dud shells failing to explode – especially the howitzers. Firing day and night, more than 101,000 shells were fired.
The Long Long Trail


Quote:
On 15 May 1915 an article appeared in The Times, written by military correspondent Colonel Repington and based on information given to him by an exasperated Commander-in-Chief, Sir John French. The latter also sent copies of all correspondence between him and the Government on the question of the supply of ammunition to David Lloyd George, Arthur Balfour and Bonar Law, MP’s.

The scandal that broke as the public read that Tommies were losing their lives unnecessarily as a result of the shortages proved to be the downfall of the Liberal Government under Asquith. The formation of a Coalition Government and the appointment of Lloyd George as first Minister of Munitions was an important step towards ultimate victory.
The long,Long Trail

Regards

Jim
--anemone

Hi

The quote that "firing shrapnel which was known to be an ineffective weapon for this task" is totally untrue for 1915 as many sources point out.
'British Artillery on the Western Front in the First World War' by Sanders Marble, page 72, points out that in trials of wire-cutting abilities in January 1915: "..., shrapnel performed better than HE in these tests."
'History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery Western Front 1914-18' by General Sir Martin Farndale, page 86, mentions that: "Experiments showed that 18-pounders firing shrapnel were very effective in cutting wire and could do it in thirty-five minutes if the fire was really accurate."
'The Evolution of Victory', by Andy Simpson, page 35, reference Aubers Ridge: "Furthermore, the Germans had learned from Neuve Chapelle. They had appreciated the effectiveness of shrapnel against barbed wire, and so placed much of the latter in trenches, which the 18-pounders, with there flat trajectory, were unable to reach except in the case of a direct hit."
'Battle Tactics of the Western front', by Paddy Griffith, page 139-140 discusses the problem:

"Shrapnel was also found to be the best available means of cutting barbed wire, which was often a sine qua non for infantry attacks. The importance of this factor had already been fully understood during the winter of 1914-15, but the evolution of reliable wire-cutting techniques came only slowly. Tests were made with machine guns, but they were unsatisfactory. More heroic solutions such as Bangalore torpedoes or hand-held wire-cutters could sometimes work, but only for as long as the enemy was prevented from shooting the men using them. Before 1917, moreover, the fuses available on HE shells delayed detonation for too long to cut wire effectively, so the projectile buried itself in the earth and force of its explosion was channelled directly upwards. That left only artillery shrapnel or trench-mortar bombs. Both of these could cut the wire well enough, although progress always still had to be constantly monitored by personal reconnaissance, which might prove dangerous and, perhaps more importantly, time-consuming - thereby sacrificing the element of surprise. Even then it might not be totally successful."

You cannot 'condemn' Generals for using their best available means, at the time, to undertake their mission. Later better means became available, the 106 Fuse and tanks, but they were not available in 1915. When they came available the Generals used them.

Mike

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 7:03:19 AM
Many thanks Mike for your most interesting post- pointing out the merits of shrapnel fire against barbed wire.However the website "The Long Long Trail"is usually "fairly reliable" in its views; and this has set me wondering as to whether their statement was "tinged" by the very real dilemma at that time- of "dud shells during an action" and I mean all shells-of course I am only guessing; but I hope you can see where I am coming from.In the long run however I must accept your overwhelming evidence.

I hasten to add that I do not "condemn Generals for using their best available means,at the time; to undertake a mission" but I do condemn them for wasting lives- when all hope of attaining an objective has disappeared.This practice went on for far too long IMHO.

Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 8:30:33 AM
In my mind's eye I see the high explosive shells of 1915 simply lifting the barbed wire up into the air, only to have it crashing down to earth again, intact and randomly as obstructive as ever.

The attack at Aubers was assisted by the detonation of a mine in one sector...it seems that very device available was being used.

The Germans , apparently, were easily available to repulse the attacks that day, although they were badly shaken up by the mine explosion which wiped out the best part of a hundred men.

There was little quarter given ...I've even read one account by a British officer who claimed that the Germans petrol bombed british wounded who were trapped in the wire.

Whenever mines are used, it seems, the ensuing close quarters combat is especially vicious : think of the Petersburg Mine at the end of July 1864.

Soldiers are reduced to a frenzy of rage when their comrades are buried alive or blown high sky by an explosion from beneath.

The use of the word murderous is perhaps over used when it comes to battlefield histories : this time it's all too apt.

It would be instructive to read how this horrible affair impinged on the mind set of the British High Command.

At the same time as this battle took place, the British and Dominion troops, along with a significant French contingent , were struggling in equally horrific fighting at Gallipoli ; and all the while the clamour for more and heavier shells was unremitting from both theatres of operations.

To be a British general in 1915 was to be given a draught from a very poisoned chalice.

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: 6/2/2017 8:56:06 AM
Resolution of the Shell Shortage


Quote:
Following the creation of the Ministry of Munitions under Lloyd George, new munitions factories began to be built across the country for the mass production of munitions.

The construction of these factories took time and in order to ensure that there was no delay in the production of munitions to deal with the Shell Crisis, the Government turned to railway companies to manufacture materials of war.

Railway companies were well placed to manufacture munitions and other war materials, with their large locomotive and carriage works and skilled labourers, and by the end of 1915 the railway companies were producing between 1,000 and 5,000 6-inch. H.E. Shells per week.

As well as the components for a number of different types of shell, the Railway companies - under the direction of the Railway Executive Committee's Railway War Manufactures Sub-Committee - produced mountings for larger artillery, water-tank carts, miners’ trucks, heavy-capacity wagons, machinery for howitzer carriages, armoured trains and ambulances.
Wikipedia

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 9:01:03 AM
A few comments of your own, please , my old china ?

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: 6/2/2017 9:18:40 AM
I have been to do just that; but the creation of a new Government function; was not something that I was au fait with-hence the C & P.I was hoping to see whether there was a discernible improvement in quantity and quality of shells supplied. Mike -where are you !!??

PS. Truth to tell-I am almost blind in my left eye- following an eye injection two days ago.However will try harder

Regards

Jim
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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: 6/2/2017 9:57:11 AM
Now you make me feel like a complete shit, Jim. I just get a bit twitchy when I see a wiki paste without you making your own observations ....

There is something of a story to be told about DLG and his work at the Ministry of Munitions ; the fact that he was followed in this role by his protege WSC makes the thing particularly pertinent .

It's especially significant that both these politicians were visceral critics of the British High Command in France and Flanders : Lloyd George the more vituperative, while Churchill tempered his criticisms with a deal of something which - if not sympathy - at least had the attributes of good grace.

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: 6/2/2017 10:42:28 AM
One thing that struck me about the Shell Shortage- was in some way paradoxical.The Generals knew they were fighting an artillery war-so when they got an exorbitant number of shell failures-the length of a bombardment was extended to compensate- thus exacerbating the actual problem.Fortunately they did not realise this; and they complained to the "frocks"-who did manage to get the problem under control.

Regards

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

MikeMeech
UK
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Posts: 322

Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 1:03:58 PM

Quote:
I have been to do just that; but the creation of a new Government function; was not something that I was au fait with-hence the C & P.I was hoping to see whether there was a discernible improvement in quantity and quality of shells supplied. Mike -where are you !!??

PS. Truth to tell-I am almost blind in my left eye- following an eye injection two days ago.However will try harder

Regards

Jim
--anemone

Hi

'Shell Shortage' is a rather simple term for a rather more complicated problem. The problems are covered in 'The Official History of the Ministry of Munitions, Volume X' in rather a lot of detail. A rather shorter piece on the '1915' problem can be found in the OH 1915 Volume 1, pages 55-58. Basically there was more of a Fuze shortage than a shell shortage. The shell's fuze being rather more complicated to manufacture than the shell, for example page 55 has the statement that: "By the end of May (1915) less than half the contract delivery of No.80 fuze for the 18-pdr. had been made (870,000 instead of 1,770,000), and those for other natures of gun were equally behindhand." This difficulty persisted as in August 1916 there were still "25 million 18-pdr. shell lying in stock awaiting fuzes."(page 56).
Shell production had increased for example, sticking to the 18-pdr., shells July 1914 production was 3,000 rounds per month. January 1915 it was 93,000 per month, April 1915 it was 225,000 per month. However, on the frontline the reality was that in February 1915 CinC BEF limited expenditure of 18-pdr. shell to 10 rounds per gun per day, 4.5-inch Howitzers to 8. In April 1915 it was reduced to 3 rounds for both weapons.
Page 57 has the comment that in May 1915 "What the BEF lacked was heavy guns firing HE shell not HE for field artillery which can accomplish little against material objects. There were at the time in France 1,263 field guns and howitzers but only, as before stated, 105 heavy guns and howitzers."
There were other problems with shells of course due to the large orders that had been contracted to manufacturers at home and abroad, during 1915 there were particular problems in US manufactured shells whose 'thin driving bands' made them even less dependable.
Most of the bulk of the orders that were contracted to those manufacturers were not received until later in 1915. The strain on the munition supply was "increased by the opening of naval and military operations against the Dardanelles." (page 57).
The problems of military and industrial expansion during 1915 are obvious, there was also a problem of organizing labour (page 57), this is one of the main roles for the Ministry of Munitions to try to solve. It is also stated (page 57) that if all the shell contracts had been 'delivered' then at the end of May 1915 there would have been "not 10 but 45 rounds a day for the 18-pdr., and 288 heavy guns and howitzers instead of 105."

Britain was not the only country with 'shell problems' as at this stage of 1915 the French were having some severe problems with their 75s, with a lot of 'premature' explosions when the barrels got hot during rapid fire, with bad consequences for the artillerymen.

Mike

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 1:20:01 PM
AS usual Mike-you mine of information-you have done us proud again-I stand astonished at the amount of data you have at your disposal-hence "Mike-where are you!!??".

I take it that new government initiative got this problem sorted out eventually- to the satisfaction of the British Army. Again-My sincere thanks.

Best Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 3:11:43 PM
The shell scandal also hit Canada where contracts were awarded through patronage.

There was an accusation of a scandal surrounding fuzes.

The Canadian Shell Committee butted heads with the British who had placed the orders of course.

Investigation proved that a small group of favoured business people were making excess profit.

That Shell Committee was replaced by the Imperial Munitions Board which was British but with a Canadian, Joseph Flavelle at its head.

Flavelle was in charge of all war related production including shells.

The IMB eventually expanded shell production to include casings, fuzes and propellants and all made in Canada.

By 1917, 1/3 of British shells were manufactured in Canada.

Cheers,

George


George
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 3:11:57 PM
d

MikeMeech
UK
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Posts: 322

Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 5:01:01 PM

Quote:
The shell scandal also hit Canada where contracts were awarded through patronage.

There was an accusation of a scandal surrounding fuzes.

The Canadian Shell Committee butted heads with the British who had placed the orders of course.

Investigation proved that a small group of favoured business people were making excess profit.

That Shell Committee was replaced by the Imperial Munitions Board which was British but with a Canadian, Joseph Flavelle at its head.

Flavelle was in charge of all war related production including shells.

The IMB eventually expanded shell production to include casings, fuzes and propellants and all made in Canada.

By 1917, 1/3 of British shells were manufactured in Canada.

Cheers,

George


--George

Hi

According to OH of MoM, Volume X, Part V, page 72, the total number of filled and completed rounds of ammunition completed in a little over 4 years was more than 196,000,000 from factories at home and another 21,000,000 from Canada and the United States.
The figures for production during 1917 for all types of complete shells (pages 78-79) were:
1st Quarter: Home - 21,028,300, Abroad - 1,565,500.
2nd: - 20,812,600, - 3,110,900.
3rd: - 18,335,700, - 4,788,800.
4th: - 16,072,100, - 1,962,800.

Mike

Jim Cameron
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 6:44:26 PM
In the case of the U.S., as I understand it is was found to be more efficient to ship raw materials or components, and allow the Allies to complete final production. Especially once their factories were fully ramped up and had achieved satisfactory quality control.
---------------
Jim Cameron

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George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/2/2017 8:26:41 PM
Mike's numbers on munitions don't match those from the Canadian Dept. of External Affairs or the information published by the Canadian war museum.

The War Museum says that 1/3 of all shells were coming from Canada by the end of the war.

The Information Branch of the Dept. of External Affairs in a 1921 publication confirmed that 65 plus million shells were produced in Canada.

The document was called, "Canada's Part in the Great War".

Canada's contribution to the Imperial War effort did not consist only of shells.

The tonnage shipped on Canadian ships and others was massive and included munitions and foodstuffs.

Many items were donated to Britain including millions of tons of wheat and fresh fruit.

As well Canada produced blankets for the French and Italians and other articles of clothing.

I tried to copy and paste the relevant sections but it would not work so here is the whole document.

Scroll down to page 22 to see the quantity of shells, fuzes, and chemicals of all kinds that were produced here.

[Read More]

Lastly, from the Imperial War Cabinet report on production in 1917:


Quote:

Canada's contribution for the last year (1917) has been striking. 15 per cent of the total expenditure of the Ministry of Munitions in the last 6 months of the year was incurred in that country.
She has manufactured nearly every type of shell including the 18 pounder to the 9.2 inch.
In the case of the 18 pounder, no less than 55% of shrapnel shells in the last 6 months came from Canada, and most of these were complete shells that went directly to France.
Canada also contributed 42% of the total 4.5 inch shells, 27% of the 6 inch shells, 20% of the 60 pounder H.E. shells, 15% of the 8 inch, and 16% of the 9.2 inch.


The article is worth a read. The production levels for a country of fewer than 8 million people were astounding especially when we consider the pre-war production levels.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/3/2017 8:26:22 AM
The Haig/French Relationship

IIRC-The immediate aftermath of the Battle of Loos revealed a rather questionable side to Haig’s character. Haig- it would seem- conspired towards the removal of General French,in order for him- to get his position.

Although there is evidence to suggest Haig was active ‘behind the scenes’as it were, He was not alone in his criticism of French. The criticism of French was not exclusively the result of the fiasco at Loos.

French had shown signs of temperamental instability; and that he was increasingly out of his depth in the conduct of a war- that was never within his scope of comprehension.

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: 6/3/2017 9:37:23 AM
If memory serves me, Haig had mentioned French's unsuitability for high command right back at the start of the war ; this suggests that there had been an authentic and consistent theme in Haig's conduct, rather than a conspiratorial development that took place after Loos.

Haig did, of course, have " the ear of the King", in so far as his wife was Lady in Waiting to Queen Mary.

French subsequently took against Haig : he stated his view that the Flanders strategy espoused by DH in the summer of 1917 was not the best way forward.

This might indicate that French bore a grudge.

He was a temperamental man, with a penchant for slow horses and fast women : it's widely known that Haig came to his rescue financially.

I would hazard a suggestion here, based on general impression rather than depth of knowledge : for all the shenanigans among the British High Command, and the attendant political tensions, those among the Germans were more pernicious.

There was a robustness and flexibility in British society that carried it through without the trauma that affected continental powers. This probably seems a complacent judgement, and I would hate to understate the difficulties and real sense of peril that British leaders - both civilian and military - had to contend with.

Did Haig presume too much on this quality in his quest for victory ; or did he achieve that success because he was correct in his discernment of the timbre of this British characteristic ?

He often expressed a profound confidence in the innate superiority of Britain and the Empire, which, along with his religious conviction, kept his resolve intact.

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: 6/3/2017 10:20:32 AM
Agreed Phil- but surely the result at Loos was the final "catalyst"for Haig to make his last surreptitious moves- to unseat French and seize the reins.???

Regards

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

MikeMeech
UK
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/3/2017 10:37:00 AM

Quote:
If memory serves me, Haig had mentioned French's unsuitability for high command right back at the start of the war ; this suggests that there had been an authentic and consistent theme in Haig's conduct, rather than a conspiratorial development that took place after Loos.

Haig did, of course, have " the ear of the King", in so far as his wife was Lady in Waiting to Queen Mary.

French subsequently took against Haig : he stated his view that the Flanders strategy espoused by DH in the summer of 1917 was not the best way forward.

This might indicate that French bore a grudge.

He was a temperamental man, with a penchant for slow horses and fast women : it's widely known that Haig came to his rescue financially.

I would hazard a suggestion here, based on general impression rather than depth of knowledge : for all the shenanigans among the British High Command, and the attendant political tensions, those among the Germans were more pernicious.

There was a robustness and flexibility in British society that carried it through without the trauma that affected continental powers. This probably seems a complacent judgement, and I would hate to understate the difficulties and real sense of peril that British leaders - both civilian and military - had to contend with.

Did Haig presume too much on this quality in his quest for victory ; or did he achieve that success because he was correct in his discernment of the timbre of this British characteristic ?

He often expressed a profound confidence in the innate superiority of Britain and the Empire, which, along with his religious conviction, kept his resolve intact.

Regards , Phil
--Phil andrade

Hi

Haig was not the only person who had the 'the ear of the King' and not just through his wife. The King had asked Haig for his views on French and was in regular correspondence, the King had also asked Smith-Dorrien to keep him informed about II Corps. French was already in correspondence as were other senior officers throughout the war. King George V was very well informed of what was going on it was not down to having a wife as a 'Lady in Waiting' the system was much more direct. (see page 192 of 'Haig's Generals' ed. Beckett & Corvi, for instance).

Mike

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/3/2017 10:57:16 AM
Let us "cut to the chase" here-who did cause French's fall from grace-The King,the Prime Minster,the CIGS; or the man himself-I believe he "fell on his sword" finally.

So I guess it was not the Who but What; and that was his inept handling of the Battle of Loos, along with his "consent "to fight this battle on such "unfavourable ground".

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: 6/3/2017 11:53:31 AM
Lots of talk about Haig. What role did Kitchener play in French's removal?


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

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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/3/2017 12:56:18 PM
It was Kitchener and not French who sanctioned the Battle of Loos-he aspiring to be Western Front Supremo- thus undermining French who was against Loos; but forced to agree-thus he was "framed"A pretty dirty piece of work IMO.However his popularity was on the wane and this did not help.

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Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: British Army Generalship in the Great War of 1914/18
Posted on: 6/3/2017 3:24:26 PM
Kitchener was also an advocate of the Dardanelles campaign.

Incidentally, we'll be in Puglia, southern Italy , on Monday for a week : the reason I'm saying this is because one of the local townships down there is called Gallipoli .

Now what is the provenance of that name ?

We shall probably be visiting the place, along with Lecce, Otranto and Bari, but rest assured that I'll be thinking about MHO, and reflecting on the Gallipoli campaign .

A much touted film about Churchill is about to hit the screens next week ; it deals with his anguish over the launching of Operation Overlord, and much of his distress emanates from memories of his espousal of the Dardanelles foray a generation earlier.

Haig described the Dardanelles campaign as a " sink"....posh army parlance for a latrine ?

How might he have viewed it if he had been selected to command there ?

Editing the morning after : the reason for my last question.....Haig was bound to obey the orders of the British government. I wonder how far he regarded his theatre of operations as a fiefdom which needed to be protected from the demands of other British commanders in other fronts. It was a stark thing to contemplate, when the moment the shell scandal was developing at home, as a result of the dismal Artois offensives in the early summer of 1915, the British commander at Gallipoli was also crying out for more shells.....not loud enough, according to some. Hamilton was too much of a " gentleman " to press the point with sufficient vigour, apparently. The competing demands of the different theatres must have engendered a this front first ! clamour.

Did Haig's disdain for the Dardanelles emanate from a genuine conviction that the only way to win was to try conclusions with the main enemy on the main front ; or was he motivated by a narrower fixation on what he was trying to do in France and Flanders ?

Regards , Phil
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"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: 6/4/2017 5:05:56 AM
Maj.Gen.Horne was given command of the 2nd Division. In May 1915, Horne's division participated in the first British night attack of the war, distinguishing itself at the Battle of Festubert; the attack however faltered, partly because the artillery ran out of ammunition. This started the so called Shell Scandal

The media launched vicious attacks on the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener;however the blame was eventually laid on General French who had leaked the information to the press-he was forced to resign after the lamentable Battle f Loos.

Horne went on to become GOC British 1st Army- which he commanded with distinction to the war's end.

Regards

Jim
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