“Lions led by Donkeys.”
How accurate an assessment is this of the British Army on the Western Front in the First World War?
Written by Alan Clark a politician in the 1960s this quotation describes the leadership of the British Military and their strategies used in the Great War. It suggests that soldiers fighting in the World War were brave and courageous as he refers to them as lions. In comparison their leaders, the generals were mindless and stupid like donkeys. By holding these characteristics many believe generals exposed hundreds of thousands of British soldiers to their death. The term concentrates specially on the efforts of Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig Commander-in- Chief of the British Army on the Western Front from 1915 through to 1918. Haig was given the responsibility of breaking stalemate and hopefully bringing an end to the war. He was later given the name ‘The Butcher of the Somme’ because of the vast amount of British soldiers that died in his presence. Many assume he deserves his bad reputation but there is also evidence to explain his tactics and other generals like him. Generals were uncaring and withdrawn. They lived a surprisingly luxurious life as the war went on. They were nicely housed miles from where the frontline lay and fed so they were never left with an empty stomach. In the trenches soldiers were faced with horrible conditions on the frontline with a lack of good food and the threat of diseases due to the decaying bodies of fellow men and big sized rats hungry to feed. They were never safe and would have to live in the fear of being gassed or shelled. The generals rarely fought or even visited the frontline but instead were sleeping ‘in a cosy bed in a quiet country chateau and dined on the best food available’ wrote Gerard De Groot in a biography of Haig. With this it appears that generals were fighting a more comfortable war than the men in the trenches giving them an uncaring attitude. They did not experience the full...
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