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LLoyd George

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I have been reading Robin Neilland's book about the Generals during WW1 and one of the points my attention was drawn to was Lloyd George and the French pushing for this post of a Supreme Commander, which Haig finally allowed in 1918, and to which it would appear worked quite well.

1. Was there any precedence prior to this of British forces being placed under the command of a foreign General?

2. Have there been any other instances since the above of the British being placed under the command of a non British command for the duration of a conflict before the Gulf war in 1991?

I was also intrigued by the amount of interference in Military matters by Lloyd George. Is this normal for a Prime Minister and would Tony Blair have that much sway if we go to war with Iraq?

Thank you for indulging me.

Kind regards


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Top of the (dozy) head: weren't British troops under the overall command of Eisenhower after D-Day? And under MacArthur in the Korean War via the U.N.?

Bernard Lewis

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I was also intrigued by the amount of interference in Military matters by Lloyd George. Is this normal for a Prime Minister


This is a fairly broad topic and open to various interpretations, for what its worth, here's mine.

As a whole, the twentieth century was a struggle by the political (elected/accountable) wing for control of the country's military. In 1914-1915 FM Kitchener was Secretary of State for War. Today it is just not believable that the Minister of Defence would not be a civilian and a member

of the House of Commons. Attlee had Mountbatten in his cabinet in 1949/50 and I think that was probably the last time that we shall see such a thing.

Sometimes the pendulum swings too far. It is probably fair to say that FM Alan Brooke spent a great deal of WW II trying to keep Churchill from interfering too much, too directly in military affairs.

FM Festing was CIGS from 1958 and he had a good line on political interference; asked whether he preferred working under a Labour or a Conservative government he replied

"Definitely under Labour, for under Labour the Minister of Defence will be an ex-lance corporal who knows nothing and knows he knows nothing, and will be prepared to accept military advice, whereas in a Conservative Government the Minister of Defence will probably be an ex-Major from some pretty ineffectual Yeomanry Regiment and thinks he knows it all."

("Festing-Field Marshal: A Study of Front Line Frankie" by Lyall Wilkes)


Michael D.R.

Edited by michaeldr
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I think you meant to refer to Kitchener rather than Haig, but the point is well made.

I think L.G felt in retrospect that he probably did not interfere enough!

As for the whole concept of politicians "interfering", in the democracies it is for elected governments to decide to initiate war (whether their electorates want it or not !). They , therefore , have a continuing responsibility for the duration.

As they had responsibility for the provision of massive economic resources and similarly enormous numbers of their electorate to allow the continued prosecution of the war that they initiated, I think the politicians were quite within their rights to "interfere".

Churchill fancied himself as a great commander and interfered in the war at a "micro-management "level and I think Brooke did a magnificent job to restrain him whilst recognising Churchill's vital position as an inspiration and talisman to his country.

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Yes, for Haig read Kitchener

Many thanks for your polite correction

(Now for a bit of retro editing)

Thanks again

Michael D.R.

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Jonathan Saunders

This will no doubt be controversial but there is a certain irony in that Haig, who advertised himself as a soldier of merit who abhored the intereference of politicians, was in fact a great political animal himself, hence his ability to engineer his own promotion to C-inC Western Front.

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