British Generalship during the Great War

The British Army and the Great War - HI860
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Introduction British Generalship during the Great War: The Military Career of Sir Henry Horne (–) (Routledge Studies in First World War History). Simon Robbins has written a thorough biography of Sir Henry Horne. Horne is the last of the significant British army commanders on the.

Overview This module will examine a number of aspects concerning the British army during the Great War. Allied to this, there will be a consideration of manpower policy during the Great War, in particular there will be some discussion given to the propaganda elements involved in the voluntary recruiting campaigns of and the British experience of conscription in Attention will also be given to the discipline and morale of the British army, which was the only European army of the Great War not to suffer from major problems in this area.

Students will be invited to explore the full aspects of discipline and morale and will consider why the wartime executions of soldiers have come to dominate the historiography.

Other topics, such as the the experience of women in the British army, the British army on the home front, logistics and officer selection will also be discussed in detail. University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described.

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However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. The Third Battle of Ypres, or Passchendaele, as it is so regularly called, has become ingrained in the British cultural memory of the Great War. Whether Wyndham Lewis was truly blessed with foresight, or whether he invented it for his memoir is almost immaterial, for Passchendaele had already become synonymous with suffering and heavily tinged with associations of futility and meaningless slaughter.

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With the 50th anniversary of the First World War in the early s, interest was reawakened in the study and interpretation of the conflict. More Details Officer training prior to included combat arm specific training for example, that pertaining to infantry or cavalry personnel , technical courses for the artillery and the engineers, and generalized staff training. The Acting High Commissioner to Britain, the Honourable George Perley, a figure who would later champion consideration of professional skills in general officer nominations, also became involved. Regional representation was also considered important, exemplified by the composition of the first contingent. In collaboration with.

Almost from the moment the war ended the battle was thrown open to scrutiny. Revising his wartime part-work on the conflict in , John Buchan lavished praise on the endurance of the British and Imperial forces in the Third Battle of Ypres, but at the same time implied that the campaign had achieved very little.

British Generalship during the Great War

In the British official history volume on the battle was published. The result of much behind-the-scenes wrangling, the final version steered a middle line refusing to apportion outright blame to Haig or his subordinate commander, Hubert Gough, for the conduct of the battle.

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Ten years later Leon Wolff produced his wonderfully readable, In Flanders Fields , turning the story into a haunting Greek tragedy in which incompetence, vanity and a dreadful sense of inescapable fate infused the well-worked prose. Building on this strong emotive line, Lyn Macdonald provided a similarly powerful evocation in her book, They Called It Passchendaele.

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Driven by vivid eye-witness accounts, the reader was left in no doubt that the battle quickly degenerated into a mess literally sucking the life out of young, brave men. However, it has been extremely hard to rehabilitate Third Ypres entirely for no explanation can provide a truly satisfactory justification for the battle as conceived, conducted, nor of its outcomes.

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Haig seemed to have high expectations of breakthrough: none occurred and it is difficult to determine whether it was ever a likely possibility; deeming it efficient attrition also means stretching definitions; finding evidence of tactical superiority on the ground is undermined by matching evolutions in German military procedures. Thus, explaining away Third Ypres is tricky. This leaves the question of blame and whether anyone should be held to account.

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Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson in their study, Passchendaele: the untold story , suggest that Lloyd George and the British government ultimately were culpable for not exerting civilian authority over the generals firmly enough when serious doubts began to emerge. As Taylor himself argued, blaming the generals alone was too simple a judgement.