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Kitchener's Distrust of the TF


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Hello

Does anyone have a definitive reference recording Kitchener's views on the Territorial Force? I am looking for a direct quote from a speech by Kitchener or something that he put in writing or a record of an official meeting.

It is a well know fact that Kitchener abandoned Haldane' plans to use the TF as the foundation stones for the expansion of the Army. I am trying to locate any hard evidence of exactly what Kitchener said - either in private or in War Office minutes for example. What exactly did he say about the TF and what were his reasons for not using them for building the New Armies. I think I understand his reasosn, I am simply looking for his exact words.

Thanks in advance.

MG

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The reason, as far as I am aware, is that he observed the poor performance of French Territorials in 1870

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In Kitchener's Lost Boys by John Oakes (about underage soldiers in the GW) he goes back to Kitchener's experiences in SA and the poor recruits sent out in the later drafts of the Imperial Yeomanry. While no primary sources are cited, he does refer to a book by Peter Simkins called Kitcherner's Army, The Raising of hte New Armies 1914-1916. It might be worth having a look at that if only for the fact that Peter Simkins will most likely have sources for a lot of IWM documents that might assist.

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The reason, as far as I am aware, is that he observed the poor performance of French Territorials in 1870

That was my understanding too, but did he ever put this in writing? and did he ever cite this as a reason for not using the TF in 1914? and if so, is this in writing or just reported speech. I guess someone may have relayed Kitchener's thoughts in their own memoirs. I have scoured Hankey's memoirs as I thought if anyone would know, it would be him, but alas....

In Kitchener's Lost Boys by John Oakes (about underage soldiers in the GW) he goes back to Kitchener's experiences in SA and the poor recruits sent out in the later drafts of the Imperial Yeomanry. While no primary sources are cited, he does refer to a book by Peter Simkins called Kitcherner's Army, The Raising of hte New Armies 1914-1916. It might be worth having a look at that if only for the fact that Peter Simkins will most likely have sources for a lot of IWM documents that might assist.

I have the book and cant yet find the exact reference. No quote.

The answer, if there is one to be found, might be found at TNA Kitchener Papers

Mike

Sadly not digitised. I was hoping someone might know what was in these papers that might help save me a trip and hours at TNA.

All good leads and thoughts. Thank you.... MG

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No. The previously mentioned Peter Simkins book Kitcherner's Army, The Raising of hte New Armies 1914-1916.

I thought it probably wasn't but just in case - it seems to be an interesting read anyway.

Craig

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Martin

Ian Beckett, 'The Territorial Force', in Beckett and Simpson, A Nation in Arms, p.131: 'On the morning he took over the War Office, Kitchener told Sir Charles Harris that "he could take no account of anything but regular soldiers"'. At the time he knew nothing about the Home Army.

Mike

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No. The previously mentioned Peter Simkins book Kitcherner's Army, The Raising of hte New Armies 1914-1916.

Thanks bmac

Simkins quotes a host of sources - all people repeating snippets of conversations they had with Kitchener as the fragments of evidence - Churchill, Sir George Arthur, Haig (diary), Lloyd George (perhaps an unreliable witness given his post war diatribe), Grey (quoting "Town Clerk's Army"), Violet Asquith, Sir Charles Harris (War Office). There is a long quote from his (Kitchener's) speech in the House of Commons on page 42.

The challenge with all of the above - meticulously researched and end-noted I might add - is that they are all reported speech and the HoC speech is after the fact.

I am seeking documented evidence by way of a minute or a latter where Kitchener writes down his reasons. I assume the War Office had meetings that were minuted - although Hankey says the Cabinet Meetings descended into a shambles with many decisions being unrecorded (but that's another story).

Thanks for the pointer bmac. Sadly I am no closer to finding the tangible (rather than intangible) evidence of his reasons.

Re-reading Simkin I see he points out that Kitchener asks for TF volunteers for overseas service on 9th Aug and Lord Esher observed as early as 13th August that Kitchener realised he would have to use the TF while the New Armies were being trained. Simkins also point out Lloyd George's duplicity on this issue. So, if Lord Esher is to be believed, Kitchener knew before the BEF had deployed that he would have to use the TF overseas (in France) before the New Army was ready. By end of 1914 some 16% of the BEF infantry units in France and Flanders were TF - 19 battalions and enough to man at least one Division (and more) yet Kitchener still chose to embed them with the regulars.

Edit: If my sources are correct the first TF division to hit the front line in France as the 46th Div in Feb 1915. The first Kitchener Divs in France did not arrive until May (9th (Scottish) Div and 14th (Light) Div) and June (12th (Eatsern) Div), some 9 months after volunteering. Thi has always puzzled me. In the meantime a number of TF Divisions had deployd to France: 46th, 47th, 48th, 49th, 50th, 51st (possibly) before the New Army Div s had arrived. There were twice as many TF Divisions as New Army Divisions in France in June 1915.

Slightly related to the OP question - why did Kitchener wait to deploy the first six New Army Divisions. In theory they should have been ready at the end of Feb - six months after joining up. I suspect the answer will be some limiting factor such as arms and ammunition rather than their limited training. If anyone has thoughts on this too they would be welcome. Doubtless Simkins has the answer.

My Own theory is that the New Armies were not ready after six months and it took longer to train them.

MG

P.S. as an aside, Simkins book is an outstanding contribution to the understanding of the Great War. A brilliant book in my view.

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Martin

Ian Beckett, 'The Territorial Force', in Beckett and Simpson, A Nation in Arms, p.131: 'On the morning he took over the War Office, Kitchener told Sir Charles Harris that "he could take no account of anything but regular soldiers"'. At the time he knew nothing about the Home Army.

Mike

Thanks - again it is reported speech. The same quote is in Simkins' book. The original is a letter from Sir Charles to the Times dated 28th Aug 1928.

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Thanks - again it is reported speech. The same quote is in Simkins' book. The original is a letter from Sir Charles to the Times dated 28th Aug 1928.

Yes but Simkins goes on to state:

"Nevertheless, it would be a gross oversimplification to ascribe Kitchener's decision mearly on pejudice and ignorance."

As we have seen many times with the history of WW1 the use of individual quotes without any context can cause problems. Simkins uses pages 38-46 on this matter. Kitchener also had to take into account the Home Service of the TF, so they had to volunteer to go overseas and also the matter that many still thought in 1914 they the TF would be needed for Home Defence including in Kitchener's own mind (page 42 in Simkins).

Also page 46 Simkins states;

"The statistical evidence alone gives the lie to criticisms that Kitchener neglected the Territorial Force. In fact he was able to weld the Force into a national army without dislocating it or totally destroying its original character."

If you want to have an good overview of this period of recruiting you will need to read 'Kitchener's Army'

Mike

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There is some mention of this in "The Life of Lord Kitchener" Vol 3, which is available as a google e book for just over £6 -00p or free on the internet archive site. According to this, Kitchener wanted to keep the TF divisions at home and as a complete force because of the perceived danger of a German invasion. That said, it does appear to be a "friendly"work.

TR

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According to this, Kitchener wanted to keep the TF divisions at home and as a complete force because of the perceived danger of a German invasion.

It would be interesting to know if this was Kitchener's way of trying to keep the T.F. out of the way of what he was doing by insisting they be retained only for home defence (which, of course, strictly speaking was their purpose)

Craig

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I don't think it was Craig, there was a genuine fear, even before the war, of invasion, that is why the mobilisation stations for many TF Divisions, mapped out prior to the war, were in the east / south eastern counties. Kitchener had no involvement in any of this pre-war planning as far as I'm aware, having been in India.

Martin has come up with a very good point I believe,. Much is said about Kitchener in this regard, but where is the written evidence? Even respected historians don't seem able to provide anything concrete.

TR

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I've glanced at my copies of K.W.Mitchinson's books England's Last Hope. The Territorial Force 1908-14 and Defending Albion. Britain's Home Army 1908-19 and given his very thorough academic research, found nothing except a mention of Pete Simkins' book as a source of further details on K's attitude, Viscount Grey's memoirs, and a reference to K's speech on 2 June 1916.

Clive

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Yes but Simkins goes on to state:

"Nevertheless, it would be a gross oversimplification to ascribe Kitchener's decision mearly on pejudice and ignorance."

As we have seen many times with the history of WW1 the use of individual quotes without any context can cause problems. Simkins uses pages 38-46 on this matter. Kitchener also had to take into account the Home Service of the TF, so they had to volunteer to go overseas and also the matter that many still thought in 1914 they the TF would be needed for Home Defence including in Kitchener's own mind (page 42 in Simkins).

Also page 46 Simkins states;

"The statistical evidence alone gives the lie to criticisms that Kitchener neglected the Territorial Force. In fact he was able to weld the Force into a national army without dislocating it or totally destroying its original character."

If you want to have an good overview of this period of recruiting you will need to read 'Kitchener's Army'

Mike

I am not explaining my aims very well. For that I apologise...

I have read Simkins' book (and Beckett's and Williams' * and Germains' ** and Mitchinson) it is clear that there were a multitude of possible reasons. My question is not about those possible reasons. It is trying to find out what he actually said to the Govt/War Office when he made his decision. Did he simply make an autocratic decision without explaining it (a possibility) or was the decision made/confirmed in a meeting? and if so is there a record of it? and if there is a record what did he give as the official reasons -all of the above, or was he more diplomatic?

Lord Grey, quoted in Germains strongly suggests Kitchener's proposal was discussed in a Cabinet meeting. Grey thought the war would be over before a million men volunteered but suggested everyone should agree with Kitchener regardless. I would be interested in seeing the minutes of those meetings if they are indeed in the public domain.

I have little doubt that privately he may have said all the things attributed to him by the witnesses listed above on earlier posts, but what was the official line? If he was alive today what would his answer be to the question: "Why did you choose to build a New Army as a separate entity to the Territorial Force?"

* "Raising and Training the New Armies" by Basil Williams pub 1918

"The Kitchener Armies: The Story of a National Achievement" by Victor Wallace Germains

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I've glanced at my copies of K.W.Mitchinson's books England's Last Hope. The Territorial Force 1908-14 and Defending Albion. Britain's Home Army 1908-19 and given his very thorough academic research, found nothing except a mention of Pete Simkins' book as a source of further details on K's attitude, Viscount Grey's memoirs, and a reference to K's speech on 2 June 1916.

Clive

Clive - thankyou. I have explored all these with the excepetion of Grey's memoirs.

If anyone has Grey's memoirs I would be grateful for any pointers on what he had to say on the matter. Everything I have read on Churchill indicates he was extremely critical of Kitchener's plans.

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There is some mention of this in "The Life of Lord Kitchener" Vol 3, which is available as a google e book for just over £6 -00p or free on the internet archive site. According to this, Kitchener wanted to keep the TF divisions at home and as a complete force because of the perceived danger of a German invasion. That said, it does appear to be a "friendly"work.

TR

There is evidence that Kitchener was not even comfortable with the TF in the Home Defence role. He kept Regular Divisions back for this very reason, only deploying them when F&F deteriorated rapidly.

While many authors credit Kitchener with his foresight that the War would last years and require millions of men, he was not a lone genius in that regard. Many in the Army had the same view and it was more widespread that most publications would have us believe.Personally I think he is given too much credit in this regard. I simply think he underestimated the casualty rates and the impact of modern technology and industrial warfare. I think he believed he had six months. Casualty rates were nearly six times higher than expected if the planning estimates for replacements in the Field Service manuals are to be believed (80% in 12 months for the Infantry) and the New Armies which should have been ready in Feb 1915 were not deployed until May 1915, suggesting they were not ready.

I think his plan was overtaken by events and he was forced by circumstances to use the TF. MG

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Martin has come up with a very good point I believe,. Much is said about Kitchener in this regard, but where is the written evidence? Even respected historians don't seem able to provide anything concrete.

An interesting article here - http://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000324%2f19140815%2f003 - in which a communique from Kitchener states

post-51028-0-07285400-1399653998_thumb.j

This is one of the very few reference I can find

Craig

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This extract is taken from a speech Lord Kitchener made in the House of Lords on the 25th August 1914 and is reprinted in full in "The Lord Kitchener Memorial Book".

"While other countries engaged in this war have,under a system of compulsory service,brought their full resources of men into the field,we,under our national system,have not done so,and can therefore point to a vast reserve drawn from the resources both of the Mother Country and of British Dominions across the seas.The response which has already been made by the great Dominions abundantly proves that we do not look in vain to these sources of military strength,and while India,Canada,Australia,and New Zealand are all sending us powerful contingents,in this country the Territorials are replying with loyalty to the stern call of duty,which has come to them with such exceptional force.Over seventy battalions have,with fine patriotism,already volunteered for service abroad,and when trained and organised in the larger formations will be able to take their places in the line.The 100,000 recruits for which,in the first place,it has been thought necessary to call have been already practically secured.This force will be trained and organised in divisions similar to those which are serving on the Continent.Behind those we have our Reserves.The Special Reserve and the National Reserve have each their own part to play in the organisation of our national defence"

From a speech he made in the House of Lords on 17 September 1914.Again taken from the Book I have referred to.

"The Territorial Force is making great strides in efficiency,and will before many months be ready to take a share in the campaign.The force is proving its military value to the Empire by the willing subordination of personal feelings to the public good in acceptance of whatever duty may be assigned to it in any portion of the Empire.A Division has already left for Egypt,a Brigade for Malta,and a Garrison for Gibraltar.The soldier-like qualities envinced by the Force are an assurance to the Government that they may count to the full upon its readiness to play its part wherever the exigencies of the military situation may demand.Nor must I omit to refer to the assistance which we will receive from the Division of the gallant Royal Marines and Bluejackets now being organised by my right hon.friend the First Lord of the Admiralty.Their presence in the field will be very welcome,for their fighting qualities are well known."

George

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Did the County associations make it difficult for the new armies to be rasied. I'm reffering to the overall set up of the CA in regards to the TF not just the overseas pledge. Given the constraints the CA placed on expansion, it was just by passed to make a new army. So Kitchener may not of said anything of distrust just decided the easyist way was to start from scatch?

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I have seen it said that Kitchener wanted full control of the War Office and wanted the minimum of 'interference' so that part of his decision was that the T.F. had too much input from county associations to make it easy for him however I've also seen it said that Kitchener realised the invasion was a possibility and didn't want to load the T.F. with too much in the way of new responsibilities whilst home defence was a necessity.

I would suspect that there's no simple answer and it lies somewhere in the middle.

Craig

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