British Generalship during the Great War by Simon Robbins

By Simon Robbins

Following the occupation of 1 fairly unknown First global warfare common, Lord Horne, this ebook provides to the starting to be literature that demanding situations long-held assumptions that the 1st global struggle was once a mindless massacre carried out through unimaginative and incompetent generals. as an alternative it demonstrates that males like Horne constructed new strategies and methods to accommodate the unconventional difficulties of trench struggle and in so doing seeks to re-establish identical to the British generals and clarify the explanations for the mess ups of 1915-16 and the successes of 1917-18 and the way this extraordinary switch in functionality used to be completed by way of a far maligned staff of senior officials. Horne's vital occupation and noteworthy personality sheds mild not just at the significant battles within which he was once concerned; the development of the warfare; his relationships together with his employees and different senior officials; the radical difficulties of trench battle; the assimilation of recent guns, strategies and coaching equipment; and the problems posed by means of the German defences, but additionally at the attitudes and professionalism of a senior British commander serving at the Western entrance. Horne's occupation therefore offers a automobile for learning the functionality of the British military within the first zone of the 20th Century. It additionally offers a major perception into the attitudes, ethos and professionalism of the officer corps which led that military to victory at the Western entrance, exposing not just its flaws but additionally its many strengths. This learn hence offers a judgment not just on Horne as a character, innovator and common of significant significance but additionally on his contemporaries who served with the British Armies in South Africa and France in the course of an period which observed a revolution in army affairs giving start to a contemporary sort of conflict which nonetheless prevails to today.

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95 Horne to his wife, 1 October 1917, Horne Papers, IWM. 96 Horne to his wife, 31 December 1917 and 1 January 1918, Horne Papers, IWM. 97 Horne to his wife, 30 April 1918, Horne Papers, IWM. 98 Horne to his wife, 6 July 1916, Horne Papers, IWM. 99 Following his service with the RHA Horne was friends with many cavalrymen such as Allenby (who was Inspector-General of the Cavalry at the same time as Horne had been Inspector-General of the Artillery prior to the war)100 of whom Horne told his wife “I always like him, although everyone does not”,101 believing that “he has a kind heart under his rough manner”;102 Field-Marshal Viscount Byng, an “old friend”;103 Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Briggs, who used to command the 1st Cavalry Brigade at Aldershot and was “an old friend” from South Africa, who was “always” liked by Horne as “a very good man”;104 General Sir Hubert Gough, of whom Horne noted “I like him, I always have liked him, and he likes me I think, and we get on very well together”, and “he is very keen, very energetic and is getting on well”;105 General Sir Herbert Lawrence, “a very good man” and “a very sound, clever man”, whom Horne “knew well in S Africa” on French’s staff at Colesberg and commanding the 16th Lancers,106 and “an old friend of mine” who had commanded a division under Horne in Egypt in 1916 and in the First Army in 1917;107 and Major-General John Vaughan, who often came to lunch or stay and held a similar interest in hunting and was “always cheery & nice”,108 whom he knew through his service after the Boer War.

133 122 Field-Marshal Sir William Robertson to Field-Marshal Earl Haig, 4 January 1916, Robertson Papers 1/22/8, LHCMA. L. Ellington to Major-General Sir Frederick Maurice, [1918], Maurice Papers 4/4/2/14, LHCMA. C. Fuller to his father, 20 June 1916, Fuller Papers IV/3/196, LHCMA. 125 Field-Marshal Sir William Robertson to Lieutenant-General Sir Launcelot Kiggell, 9 August 1917, Kiggell Papers IV/9, LHCMA; Brigadier Sir Edward Beddington, Memoirs, pp. 81–2, Beddington Papers, LHCMA. 126 General Sir Walter Kirke to his wife, 10 September 1914, Kirke Papers, IWM.

Charlton, Charlton, p. 29. 53 Horne’s Address at the Laying of the Memorial Stone of the Harrow School War Memorial by the Archbishop of Canterbury on Founder’s Day, 6 October 1921, Horne Papers 165/13, IWM. 54 The Harrovian, 26 October 1929, p. 119; quoted by Don Farr, The Silent General, pp. 25–6. 55 Horne to his wife, 17 April 1917, Horne Papers, IWM. 56 Stephen Roskill, Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty, p. 21. 57 Horne to his wife, 26 January and 12 August 1915, Horne Papers, IWM. 60 Horne was known mainly before September 1916 “by reputation only as an Horse Artillery General, who had established a reputation as a tireless fighting leader, trusted by his men”,61 and during his career “he had one standard only, the standard of the Royal Artillery – the highest”.

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