Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

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Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Zinegata »

I think the question is rather self-explanatory. Can Haig really take credit for the victory during the Hundred Days Offensive in 1918, and thus wash away all of the disasters of the previous years such as the Somme?

I keep seeing articles defending Haig that revolve almost entirely around his "performance" in 1918. Yet while the British army did capture more troops and guns than the French or Americans - these statistics seem to be rather misleading.

Wasn't the German army already at the brink of moral collapse by 1918 anyway? The failed offensives (with the British suffering the worse of it - particularly Haig's favorite subourdinate Gough), the blockade, and the growing urest at home all seem to be the reason why the Germans surrendered in droves during the Hundred Days Offensive - not because of Haig's brillance or the fighting prowess of the British army.

Also, doesn't this disprove the thesis that Haig is a "Great Captain" - on the level of Wellington and Marlborough - that some historians still insist he is?

What does the historical evidence favor now?
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Sea Skimmer »

The Germans collapsed because of relentless attrition; it’s about the last you could expect out of a victory. Especially considering the heavy losses countering the Michel Offensive. A lot of that can be directly attributed to command failures to ensure the BEF as a whole was properly dug in. Haig can’t be blamed for all the problems of his tenure in command, but he should never have lasted so long.

I think the only reason he did was a fear that any change in leadership would have raised too many political and social problems with the level of casualties already sustained. Keeping Haig was an assertion that everything lost was justified and required. Not the wisest move maybe, but the scope and intensity of the war was completely without precedent. It was killing people like a plague on the world, and then a plagued showed up too. By the end of 1917 British government confidence in Haig was so low that over 300,000 men were withheld in the British isle, specifically to force him to attack with reduced numbers. That's not much endorsement even if operations prior to PASSCHENDAELE showed a little promise.

A lot had changed in late 1917 and 1918; all armies had become better able to attack without suffering a catastrophic lack of live bodies. Tanks sure helped by crushing wire, but
the changes in infantry and artillery doctrine and equipment made more difference in many cases. In basic terms the infantry got a lot more heavily armed with mortars, grenade launchers and machine guns, as well as smarter to exploit them, while the artillery become so heavily armed on the allied side it was able to stockpile thousands of actual unscrewed guns as a reserve. On top of all this American reinforcements were constantly taking up a larger and larger segment of the allied line after initially fighting in direct support of French armies.

Meanwhile in 1918 German starvation was becoming a serious problem, a short lived manpower advantage on the western front evaporated before the Michel Offensive was finishing spectacularly failing, and insufficient resources existed to create yet another withdrawal line behind the Hindenburg line. Part of that was starvation related as well; Germany couldn’t afford to feed huge masses of POWs to do the required manual labor.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Zinegata »

How about the Hundred Days Offensive though? Did Haig really deserve credit for the fact that the Britsh captured more Germans and guns than the French and Americans?

Or should credit rightly go to his subordinates - such as Plumer, Monash, and Curie - who now had freer reign with idiots like Gough already sacked?

Or is this "victory" really just the Brits getting lucky enough to bag more Germans who were no longer willing to fight in te first place?

Because again, I see a lot of literature defending Haig (just check Wikipedia), which I find have a ridiculous premise - that he was a good commander because he bagged more surrendering Germans in 1918. And that this someho washes away his previous mistakes.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by ShadowDragon8685 »

Is it possible, just maybe, that the choice is not binary; one can adulate and exhult his performance in 1918 whilst stating without reservation that his performance prior to 1918 had been dismal?

Sounds to me like the guy fucked up royal early on, then smarted up and learnt from his past failures, got some heavier gear, better tactics and better supporting armor, and cleaned house.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Zinegata »

It doesn't need to be binary. But the central question remains: Should he have even gotten credit for the Hundred Days? Or does the credit belong to his subordinates? Or does the credit belong to the fact that the Germans were just too tired to fight on and the Brits were just lucky to bag more prisoners?
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant »

I think the OP question is essentially meaningless. It's basically about reputation, and at this point in the public mind Field- Marshal Haig's reputation is essentially irredeemable. Regardless of the facts on the field. Blame him for everything and allow him none of the credit is SOP.

The historical figure I absolutely despise as a result of all of this is Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, who hated Haig and wanted rid of him but could not get him sacked despite being his boss; because no-one else at senior command level in the British Army was willing to take the job under such conditions- of relieving a man who would have so obviously been backstabbed by the civilian authorities, and of becoming responsible for the Western Front.

The grim optimist Haig, who appears to have believed that it would be absolutely terrible but that the British would win through in the end, was as right a man for the job- from 1915 onwards- as could be found or was willing to come forward.

A large part of his strategy was not of his own making; as a junior partner in an Alliance, he had to conform and react to- in many ways, cover for- French moves or lack of them. The Somme happened where it did because of Verdun; Passchendaele rumbled on long after it was obviously futile because of the need to reach higher, dryer ground operationally, but strategically because of the need to draw the Germans off and give the shattered French army a chance to rebuild.

The then PM did his best- well obviously not, he was the sodding Prime Minister- to deprive Haig of anything he might need to go on further offensive after 1917, forgetting or choosing not to know that the BEF was chronically short of labour force- a year behind German developments as it admittedly was, there were simply not enough available spades to go round to build the trench systems that were recommended and required on paper. Armies need men to defend, too.

Lloyd George also at one point attempted to have the British Expeditionary Force placed under French command. Considering that at this point the French were exhausted- post Nivelle offensive, and there is a man who does not have the reputation he deserves- and thought it was time for their allies to do some more of the bleeding, this cannot be thought of as wise.

And in the last analysis, WWI wasn't that much worse demographically than the active phases of the Napoleonic Wards, or the English Civil War or the American Civil War, or the Thirty Years' War; it was simply that the public on all the home fronts had the reports and the pictures and could start to understand how terrible it was.

No, the end result was not worth the price in blood that was paid for it- but soldiers don't make peace treaties. That would fall to the civilian authorities- and oops, Lloyd George again. Basically, he used Haig very successfully as a scapegoat for his own cockups. He had his faults and failings as a general, and they can certainly be discussed and analysed, but Lloyd George managed to push all the blame for his own deceitful and cack-handed grand strategic conduct of the war onto the man in the field.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Simon_Jester »

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:Lloyd George also at one point attempted to have the British Expeditionary Force placed under French command. Considering that at this point the French were exhausted- post Nivelle offensive, and there is a man who does not have the reputation he deserves- and thought it was time for their allies to do some more of the bleeding, this cannot be thought of as wise.
What, Nivelle?

Well, my impression going by the offensive named for him is that he was a puff-headed loon who chose to seek massive PR for an attack that depended on achieving tactical surpise- which speaks volumes about his judgement. Utterly unfit for the position he was handed.

Are you telling me I'm right, or wrong, to think so?
And in the last analysis, WWI wasn't that much worse demographically than the active phases of the Napoleonic Wards, or the English Civil War or the American Civil War, or the Thirty Years' War; it was simply that the public on all the home fronts had the reports and the pictures and could start to understand how terrible it was.
Also that it took four years- the Napoleonic and English Civil War at least stretched out over a larger fraction of a generation. The American Civil War, well, you have a point there. In that case, I think part of the reason is that a disproportionate share of the bleeding was done by the Confederates: they wound up fielding a proportionately larger fraction of their population, taking roughly equal battlefield casualties and roughly the same proportion of noncombat attritional deaths as the US military.

So you saw a war that left a bigger impression on the South than it did on the North... and even there, the cultural aftereffects wound up overwhelming the demographic catastrophe. The abolition of slavery wound up being more memorable than the war dead. Though the two intertwined in the mind of Southern whites to a disturbing extent- the Ku Klux Klan's habit of dressing up in white sheets and hoods originated in part because some of them took it into their heads to pretend to be the ghosts of Confederate war dead.
No, the end result was not worth the price in blood that was paid for it- but soldiers don't make peace treaties. That would fall to the civilian authorities- and oops, Lloyd George again. Basically, he used Haig very successfully as a scapegoat for his own cockups. He had his faults and failings as a general, and they can certainly be discussed and analysed, but Lloyd George managed to push all the blame for his own deceitful and cack-handed grand strategic conduct of the war onto the man in the field.
So, how would you assess Haig in the absence of that? You've identified that he was a scapegoat; that should clear the field to judge his performance on his own merits, or at least take a rough first shot at it.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant »

Yes, Nivelle was a dangerous idiot; but he was a persuasive one, and he did achieve the positive function of repairing the French army from Verdun and from their share of the Somme into a state capable of that attack- and if he had stopped there, he would have done good.

He then proceeded to throw everything he had achieved away and make things far worse by his eponymous offensive, that brought the French army to the verge of collapse that the British and Russian armies had to cover for. So yes, utterly unfit. Wilson (british liaison officer at French GHQ) was almost as bad, mind you.


The conduct of Passchendaele is the most serious charge that can be levelled against Haig, and that is where it happened- by choosing to stage the offensive where he did and in the sequence he did, he is blamable, but whether it was not a reasonable thing to do to attempt to clear the Flanders coast and eliminate the U-boat bases the Admiralty believed (wrongly) were there, well it was reasonable on the basis of the evidence available. Not on what could and should have been known.

He was horrifyingly unlucky in the weather- the wettest winter in Flanders for a hundred years; but to the extent that a man makes his own luck he was culpable, partly in choosing an optimist for a staff met. officer, and a mendacious optimist for a chief intelligence officer.

Also, in switching responsibility for the main attack from the cautious, methodical Plumer to the thruster Gough, that cost time and good weather there was not nearly enough of. One thing that comes up again and again is how much Haig actually disliked the trenches; instead of actual dedicated attritional warfare, pure killing operations and wait for the economic blockade to do it's work, he kept trying for tactical victories.

Under the continual drain of blood and treasure of the First World War, it is hard not to sympathise with his desire to get it over with; but it manifested itself in too many planned breakthrough operations, too many gambles for strategic results that turned out to be too far out of reach. Gough was better suited to what he wanted to happen; Plumer better to the actual conditions.

Haig's other most culpable flaw is simply that; with one glaring exception (Sir John French), he was loyal to his colleagues and defended his subordinates to a degree in excess of their worth. His chief intelligence officer for one. Gough was dismissed in 1918 due to pressure from the Cabinet, in the wake of what was actually (to me) a creditable performance at holding his Army together and slowing the Germans down during the Kaiserschlacht; he coped with very difficult circumstances very well, and his dismissal at that time was unfair- but he should have got the boot the year earlier.

There is no such thing as a speech by Haig; he was one of the most inarticulate men ever to hold British public office, although he did express himself more clearly in writing and, strangely, in spoken French. There is some suspicion over his papers- they appear to have been quite heavily edited- but they show him as being a more intelligent man, more alert to possibilities, than his reputation allows.

His dour optimism may have caused him to chase fading opportunities, but point out a general who did not- and his nerve never broke. Whether, humanly, it should have is arguable, but professionally he did do and try to do his best for his Army, which did include cooperating with allies when the moment was ripe to do so.

What he did was hold the British Army together and shape it as it grew, painfully, learning as it went, in to the force that deserved better than climate and politics made possible in 1917 and eventually won in 1918.

Two new arms of service- air force and armour- came into use, and one- artillery- was transformed beyond recognition, on his watch. Not the mark of a man slow to innovate.

All of these men, Plumer, Monash, Currie, who are held up as potential alternative commanders BEF-how much indication is there that any of them actually wanted the job? He had the confidence of the Army as C-in-C Western Front- including his potential successors- even if not of the politicians.

He is certainly not spotless, but he does deserve better than the reputation he actually has.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Artemas »

Remnant covered most of the reasons, but i'll add just a couple of small things:

Monash and Currie were the national commanders of the Australian and Canadian Corps, respectively, and as such would never have been chosen for command. But I think Zinegata's point was whether they deserved the credit during the Hundred Days instead of Haig.

Also, Lloyd George's memoirs were extremely damaging to Haig's reputation, as he basically blamed him for everything that went wrong during the war. All of the academic papers i've seen that defend Haig do not do so to elevate him to the status of "Great Captain", but instead to dismiss the myth that he was an incompetent. Europe was stuck with a war that no-one really knew how to fight, and Haig was certainly worse than some commanders in adapting, but better than most others. The chronic and systemic lack of standardized training and conscription mechanisms meant that Britain (and the other Anglo countries) had great difficulty training new soldiers very well or timely. The Somme was the lowest point in terms of personnel quality, and it would not be surprising if one blamed the lack of a British conscription programme for 100,000 casualties. Officer training mirrored this, with a distinct lack of men trained for the level of command they excercised. Haig was one of a few men who had both experience and training in commanding large formations, and so the pool of suitable commanders was quite small.

In addition, Haig was a cavalry officer, and so was inclined to be a manoeuverist. He would have been at home during the Second World War, but a attritional defensive war was not something he (or most European commanders) wanted to fight. As Remnant pointed out, he continually tried breakouts when they were perhaps not warranted. The French did so as well.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Big Phil »

Artemas wrote:In addition, Haig was a cavalry officer, and so was inclined to be a manoeuverist. He would have been at home during the Second World War, but a attritional defensive war was not something he (or most European commanders) wanted to fight. As Remnant pointed out, he continually tried breakouts when they were perhaps not warranted. The French did so as well.
In this regard, it wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that Montgomery (regarded as the "best" British General of the Second World War) might have been more at home during the First World War, while Haig might have done better during the Second.

The absence of any sort of standardized training, however, is often overlooked in these sorts of discussions. The reality is that before 1917 or so, the British had an army that was pretty much good only for liquoring up and sending in the general direction of the enemy. They weren't trained in combined arms tactics (which didn't exist yet), small unit tactics (which came later), nor did they receive effective combat training. If what you have is an armed, drunken mob that can't shoot straight, sending waves of them at an opponent you expect to be obliterated by artillery, in order to poke them with knives, isn't such a bad idea. I know I'm exaggerating somewhat, but the standard of training in the First World War, and the tactics available to the commanders early on, were atrocious, and to my knowledge, Haig wasn't responsible for the basic training of soldiers who came to his army.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Simon_Jester »

I'm pretty sure that your analysis has false implications about the quality of the early-war BEF, the long-service troops who were used up in 1914. Kitchener's Army had such problems, but even there... well, I'm going to wait for others to comment on the state of training, and whether the kind of description you're giving works even as exaggeration.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Big Phil »

I should have clarified - I was mostly referring to the New Army and to a lesser extent the Territorial Divisions. The regular army's training was recognized as the best in the world at the time.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Zinegata »

Firstly, I'm still not seeing ANY analysis focusing on Haig on the Hundred Days. We don't have to rethread how he fucked up the Somme or Third Ypres.

The question, again, is this:

Can he take credit for the Hundred Days Offensive, wherein the British Army captured more prisoners than the French or Americans - or was this just the Brits rounding up Germans who don't want to fight anymore?

Also, now that it's been brought up - Were the innovations in artillery and tactics truly attributable to Haig? I'd like to point out that many credit either Currie or Plumer as the one who actually developed tactics such as "bite and hold". Other armies under Haig's command - such as Gough's - generally had worse artillery preparations. Clearly, if Haig was responsible for these "reforms" - they had not been equally distributed throughout the BEF.

Because it's one thing to "let my subordinates try out new tactics", and an entirely different thing to "take credit for the development of better artillery control and use of tanks". The former seems undisputable. But given that not every army under Haig deployed its artillery as competently, a real case can be made that Haig never really helped these improvements along. He was just not stupid enough to actually interfere in their development too.

Finally, the argument that "Plumer, Currie, and Monash didn't want to replace Haig" is irrelevant. The opportunity never came up in the first place. That Haig got his job by ratting out Field Marshal French just demonstrates he's good at scheming, not that he'd be a good overall commander of the BEF. If Haig was sacked, somebody would have replaced him.

----

Also, re: Haig as "The Great Captain", from the wiki:
One of Haig's defenders was the military historian John Terraine, who published a biography of Haig (The Educated Soldier) in 1963, in Haig was portrayed as a "Great Captain" of the calibre of the Duke of Marlborough or the Duke of Wellington. Terraine, taking his cue from Haig's "Final Despatch" of 1918, also argued that Haig pursued the only possible strategy given the situation the armies were in; that of attrition which wore down the German army and delivered the coup de grâce of 1918. Gary Sheffield stated that although Terraine's arguments about Haig have been much attacked over forty years, Terraine's thesis "has yet to be demolished".[14]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Haig

And online articles still parrot this view.

http://net.lib.byu.edu/estu/wwi/comment/haig1.html
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by thejester »

The comparison with Marlborough and Wellington is a bit devious, IIRC. Terraine quotes Churchill as saying something along the lines of 'he was the best of an ordinary bunch' and then follows up with 'but he had guided a British Army to victory against a continental opponent - a feat only completed by two others, Marlborough and Wellington'. That's off memory, but captures the slight whiff of word association present in the comparison rather than coherent argument.

Haig should 'take credit' because he was the commander of the BEF, the same basic reason he should take the blame (such as it is) for Passchendaele and the Somme. The obsession with Haig's reputation distorts the study of 1918 IMO - the Hundred Days was undoubtedley a great feat of British ( :roll: ) arms but in trying to build it up to defend him I suspect the reasons for German defeat are obscured and the French contribution is downplayed.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant »

What do you think the logical end of attritional warfare is, if not an enemy who doesn't want to fight any more? The end of WWI did not occur in isolation from the conduct of the rest of the war.

Picture a dirty, nasty, dangerous job, oh, say mining. You sweat and suffer and take risks all day, all week- all of four long years- and then at the end you get paid, which is the point. The hundred days were the desired end and pay-off of the bloody years that had gone before.

Besides, if you dismiss- both in the sense of ignoring and of condemning- his previous record, how are you supposed to have a baseline from which to judge?


As far as innovations go, he was a commander in chief. To claim that he was fully and personally responsible for any of them is to misunderstand the role, and you'll note that I said "on his watch". The C-in-C's job there was to sponsor and support, and point the right people at any particular job that needed doing; no surprise, or shouldn't be, that some generated more ideas than others. For an analogy that fits, I think, they were the inventors and he was the investor backing them.

No great surprise either that in the staff system or improvisation thereof of the BEF- and shortage of well trained staff officers was almost as big a problem as shortage of troops- not every idea did or was circulated equally, or was given equal time or training priority in any given formation, some subordinates insisted on going their own way.

As was the case in every army. Whether the British Army did relatively better or worse should be the issue, and even as uneven as it was, the BEF showed nothing like the German virtual fissioning of the army into assault and second-line troops. Granted the finre record of the Canadian and ANZAC corps, most of the home islands' divisions were only a few percentage points behind- in some cases ahead- in the proportion of attacks carried out successfully.

Cart and horse there on that last part. The opportunity to replace him never came up for a reason- and good at scheming? You've been reading Denis Winter, haven't you? If he had been that good at plots and plans he wouldn't have his reputation so comprehensively blackened by Lloyd George.

French was on his way out anyway; there was another man who should have got the job- General Sir James Grierson, who had commanded I Corps as initially deployed, and had comprehensively handed Haig his head in the army manoeuvres of 1912; but he had died of a heart attack before the shooting started. Grierson was replaced by Smith-Dorrien, who was at least capable but who French, a volatile man, took dramatically against, and it was French's scheming against Smith-Dorrien, a fine officer, which comprehensively blackened his own reputation and rendered him liable for the boot. This, incidentally, is as nothing compared to what was going on in the French high command at the time.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

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Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:What do you think the logical end of attritional warfare is, if not an enemy who doesn't want to fight any more? The end of WWI did not occur in isolation from the conduct of the rest of the war.
This assumes that the evaporation of German morale was solely down to 'attritional warfare' and not, say, starvation or the collapse of the home front.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Zinegata »

Whatever John French did to "blacken his own reputation" was irrelevant. I've already said this. John French was not around during the Hundred Days.

That you continue to persist in parroting apologist talking points makes me believe it's entirely useless to keep listening to you altogether. And that you're whining me about using the word "schemer" for a person who did in fact scheme against his superior makes me question your intellectual honesty.

The fact remains: Haig went directly to the King to recommend French's dismissal. Going over your superior's head very much counts as scheming, especially when by all accounts he recommended himself to replace French.

That French continued to blacken his own reputation has absolutely no bearing on what Haig did. Haig could have chosen to remain silent, watched French get sacked, and taken the job. He did not.

Again, just because you're good at office politics doesn't mean you're qualified to be head of BEF. That he "kept his job" is also irrelevant, because a major reason why he wasn't sacked was because they (the Army and the government) doctored the intelligence reports - presenting the Somme and Third Ypres as great victories when they were, in fact, bungled at best. Ninety years down the line, we know better than the British public of 1916 of what really happened at the Somme.

So for the final time, leave your "But he was so good at keeping his job!" arguments at the door and focus on the Hundred Days - and the primary factors often cited for the British Army's success there (which is Germans wanting to give up, Allied Battlefield Innovations, and Haig having good subordinates).

-----

Secondly - while the C-in-C is not responsible for coming up with every good idea, it's his job to make sure it's disseminated through the entire army.

Plumer and Currie weren't commanding small units of men. The "bite and hold" tactics probably didn't come from either of them originally even. It probably came from their Division, Brigade, or Battalion commanders. But they made sure that when they were presented these ideas, they correctly evaluated that it was a good idea and made sure their whole unit made use of it.

That Haig was unable to spread these innovations throughout all of his armies indicates a serious failing on his level. Having a shortage of staff officers does not excuse him. Corps and Armies need staff officers too, but Currie and Plumer got the job done within their own outfits. Why wasn't Haig able to get other armies - like Gough's - up to snuff?

Moreover, comparing this to the German situation is, again, utterly irrelevant. The German army fissioned into first class and second class divisions out of choice. They had limited resources. So they decided to make a bunch of divisions capable of offensive action for critical fronts, and second-line formation to defend quieter sectors.

Pretending that very real gaps in the capability of some British formations despite having largely equal resources is comparable to the Germans deliberately rationing out resources to first and second line troops is frankly dishonest.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant »

Well, if all you want is to be told what you want to hear...

something said twice doesn't make any more sense the second time, either. And you brought that up, so why should I treat it as if you had a free shot? Accuse the man, and then declare the defence not relevant because it's outside the time period you want to focus on?

Devious...yes, to a degree, but to a degree which is inseparable from the art of generalship. Not to the extent of being the snake you- and Denis Winter- take him for. Well connected and congenial to those in high places, certainly, but a Wilson he was not.

Why this demand for an almost cripplingly narrow focus, incidentally? Is this an essay question or something- are you trying to get your homework done for you?

You're spouting a narrative here, and objecting to the fact that I don't buy into it; that you believe that to be sufficient grounds for ad hominem speaks for itself.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Zinegata »

Remnant->

Accusing me of putting a Wall of Ignorance is all well and good, but only if it actually holds any water.

I did not bring up Haig's political machinations. You did. In fact, your first post was entirely about how mean Lloyd George was to Haig and how you find debates about his reputation "pointless".

Did you miss every word in the thread title after "vindicated"? Really, you have said almost NOTHING about the Hundred Days battle, or of the state of the British army by that point.

You just keep prattling on about how mean Llyod George and post-war authors are to Haig. Again: Irrelevant. As Simon Jester said: You can judge him based on his own merits without any of the political crap.

Again, what I want is this:

I am already well aware of Haig's performance in other battles - such as the Somme and Third Ypres. In fact I have specifically said that I don't want to discuss it anymore either.

But material on the Hundred Days is scarce. And I read accounts claiming that Haig was a "Great Captain" because of his performance during the Hundred Days.

Hence, I want to hear the evidence that shows that Haig did something particularly brillant in that offensive that is attributable to him. I want to know what he actually did during the Hundred Days to deserve credit for it beside "being the BEF commander".

Did he truly institute reforms and tactical innovations prior to the battle that were vital to winning the battle (which was after all a watershed of combined arms)? Or was this purely the initiative of his subordinates? I allowed this tangent because the state of the BEF in 1918 is a major factor in the Hundred Days victory.

Did the Germans have any fight left? Were they simply surrendering and the Brits got a bigger bag?

This was not supposed to be an easy question. This was a very specific question with no easy online sources. This was an SD.net History Forum level question.

----

Also...

I only beat you on the head with the fact that Haig was scheming because you keep linking me to David Winter - whose works I've never read - because even fucking Wikipedia says that Haig did, in fact, go to the King and ratted out French, making you a certifiable liar when you say Haig did not "scheme".

Moreover, your prattling obsession with defending Haig's reputation during periods of the war outside of the Hundred Days - which I'm not interested in - frankly smacks of blatant thread derailing. I'm not asking for anyone to apologize for Haig.

I am asking if he actually did any good during the Hundred Days.

If you don't have any answer besides stock apologist answers that are again NOT related to the Hundred Days - but instead whine about Lloyd George, John French, or David White - I'm not interested.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Simon_Jester »

There's a huge problem with your approach, though, Zinegata. You started out with:

"I think the question is rather self-explanatory. Can Haig really take credit for the victory during the Hundred Days Offensive in 1918, and thus wash away all of the disasters of the previous years such as the Somme?"

And I underlined the second clause there for a reason; you can't entirely separate it from the first one.

You are taking, as a starting assumption, the premise that Haig is in fact responsible for those disasters, and thus that his reputation needs to be 'saved' by a victory in 1918 from the disasters of 1916-17. Moreover, the way you chose to word the question hinges on that of Haig's reputation as a general as much as on his performance: it may be a question about his performance, but it is stated as "does his performance act to restore his reputation?"

If you're really interested exclusively in the Hundred Days and Haig's involvement in that, you shouldn't have brought up the BEF's earlier failures at all. It's reasonable for you to complain that people aren't answering the question you want. But it's not reasonable for you to complain that they revolt against what they see as a loaded question.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Sea Skimmer »

Zinegata what you personally want everyone to say is irrelevant and feel free to fuck off if you don’t like it, people are trying to discuss the question you actually asked. That question cannot be answered by only talking about the last 100 days of the war. The fact that you can’t understand that and are persistently trying to destroy what could have been a good thread just shows you’re an idiot. It’s not a wall of ignorance at all, its just straight ignorance and stupidity.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Zinegata »

Simon_Jester wrote:If you're really interested exclusively in the Hundred Days and Haig's involvement in that, you shouldn't have brought up the BEF's earlier failures at all.
Why do you think I stopped mentioning it at all when people discuss ONLY the second part?

I keep asking people for some particular info about the Hundred Days, and whenever I do people call me an idiot, a thread derailer (despite the fact that I am just repeating/clarifying my original question) and then go off on yet another tangent that's not related specifically to the Hundred Days.
Zinegata what you personally want everyone to say is irrelevant and feel free to fuck off if you don’t like it, people are trying to discuss the question you actually asked.
My question is not "Can Haig be excused for his performance at the Somme/Third Ypres". I've read enough to know the answers on both sides, and I'm not interested in yet another rehash.

Again, reead the second half of the question. Still NO talk about the Hundred Days Offensive at ALL except for a tangential discussion about the quality of BEF troopers ( a valid tangent. Do you see me shooting it down?).

So if people are going to derail this thread by insisting that this thread is about defending Haig from the disasters at the Somme/Third Ypres, I'm just gonna make a new thread that makes no mention of ANY battle prior to 1918 and leave you folks here to go on in circles about how pitiful/how idiotic Haig is for what happened at the Somme.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Sea Skimmer »

Of course no one is fucking talking about what you want when you constantly try to make people change the fucking flow with your stupidity and claiming to know all the answers when it looks more like you couldn't tell a tank from a trench let alone why any of it mattered. We could have fucking gotten to what you wanted in a logical process, but you apparently know everything already anyway. :roll:
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Simon_Jester »

thejester wrote:
Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:What do you think the logical end of attritional warfare is, if not an enemy who doesn't want to fight any more? The end of WWI did not occur in isolation from the conduct of the rest of the war.
This assumes that the evaporation of German morale was solely down to 'attritional warfare' and not, say, starvation or the collapse of the home front.
I'd chalk it up to a mix of factors. On the one hand, the home front situation was a disaster... on the other hand, the strain of providing for constant attritional warfare that soaked up resources and manpower on the Western Front can't have helped.

Hard for me to say; I don't know the relevant economic statistics.
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Re: Was Haig Vindicated by the Hundred Days in 1918?

Post by Artemas »

Simon_Jester wrote:
thejester wrote:
Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:What do you think the logical end of attritional warfare is, if not an enemy who doesn't want to fight any more? The end of WWI did not occur in isolation from the conduct of the rest of the war.
This assumes that the evaporation of German morale was solely down to 'attritional warfare' and not, say, starvation or the collapse of the home front.
I'd chalk it up to a mix of factors. On the one hand, the home front situation was a disaster... on the other hand, the strain of providing for constant attritional warfare that soaked up resources and manpower on the Western Front can't have helped.

Hard for me to say; I don't know the relevant economic statistics.
Also assuming that attritional warfare and the indirect blockade of Germany, and the economic and political actions to hasten Germany's collapse, are not interlinked. The entire purpose of attritional warfare (to the British) was to avoid any British manpower wastage, and wait for Germany to starve. The major offensives launched were largely the result of political (namely allied) considerations. The British, while not wanting to bleed for either the French or Russians, felt it necesary to stave off pressure just enough so that they avoided collapse.
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