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Alan Lines

Lions led by donkeys?

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AndyHollinger
Historians

Finally a quote from a Haig thread I'll remember for the rest of my days ...

Thank you.

err (hand up and waving) ... Chris ... is not this thread cause enough for a seperate forum section called "Haig - Donkey, Brilliant, doing his job or muddling through" It would be the only section with its threads already listed (FAQ) and answers would be again supplied to relieve those of us advancing in years from nasty typing. (FGA) (Frequently given answers) ....

Yet, as a moth to a flame I see above me some of the forum greats ... I simply sit at their feet and follow in their wake ...

oh yes ... the RN could have lost the war in an afternoon, but not won it ... a "Colonial" Russia might have defeated the blockade ...

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Jonathan Saunders
True. But the Royal Navy could not have won without British military victory on the continent. Furthermore if Haig's huge army had been defeated in France and Flanders, chances are that morale on the Home Front might have taken a dsisastrous blow. Moreover victorious in Europe the Germans would have held the strategic initiative while the British would not have had the land forces neccessary to take the fight to the enemy, although she would have been protected against German invasion.

Although I have now descended well and truly into the realm of the hypothetical.

Jon

But Britain would have remained undefeated - there would have been a negotiated peace between Germany and Britain. German victory on land may have given them the upper hand in determining peace terms but lets not forget by early 1916 the successful Royal Navy blockade was having a profound effect on the German Home Front and by end of 1918 or early 1919 Germany would have been desperate to conclude peace terms and have the blockade lifted.

There are all sorts of other considerations that could be brought into the debate but IMHO it remains it was virtually impossible for Haig and the British army to defeat Germany without the Royal Navy.

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PhilB
Historians

Ah, but pure historians, rather like the knights seeking the Holy Grail, for a higher cause. Not sullied by the need to find a new angle to exploit or pre-programmed by our upbringing to take the side of the underdog or the powerful. Members of the Forum Round Table. Sans peur et sans rapproche. Am I getting carried away? :) Phil B

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armourersergeant
But it is reasonable to conclude the Royal Navy would have remained undefeated even if Haig had been defeated in F&F, whereas it is disputable that Haig could have "won" without the successful Royal Navy blockade.

So Haig retreats to Britian and France falls to the Germans. The navy has to try and contain a nation that now has access to far more ocean and then re/increases its fleet. America considers her options and decides to stay away.

1921.. Britian is invaded and the Government of LG falls........Oh wake up its a dream! Or would it have been.

I think we have to accept that one needs the other.

regards

Arm

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armourersergeant

QUOTE (Phil_B @ Aug 22 2006, 01:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ah, but pure historians, rather like the knights seeking the Holy Grail, for a higher cause. Not sullied by the need to find a new angle to exploit or pre-programmed by our upbringing to take the side of the underdog or the powerful. Members of the Forum Round Table. Sans peur et sans rapproche. Am I getting carried away? :) Phil B

It is neigh on impossible to be totally unbiased, knights of the forum round table, now thats a title to behold. I try to keep an open mind, yet it is difficult not to be led to your angle.

regards

Sir Armalot.

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Muerrisch

"The Lions led by donkeys 'quote'. does get me mad.

My considered response is:

We started with the smallest army of the lot and had to create a set of new ones. The Germans and the French had larger and better train forces in 1914.

The UK and Empire forces had the smallest number of casualties out of the main participants.

We were always out-numbered.

We always had the low ground.

We always supported the French - no matter what.

We were the source of more innovation than all the other particpants combined.

We never mutinied.

We always learnt from mistakes and got better.

By 1918 we were the best army in the field.

We Won.

If that is leadership by donkeys, what were the French and Germans led by?

Sadly, just accepting that in terrible circumstances our generals and politicians did a great job (not perfect but great), does not sell newspapers.

Gunner Bailey"

"With three exceptions, I disagree strongly with everything you say and wonder how much of it can be reasonably justified. However, time is short and I have enough only to address your comments about selling newspapers at present. Sadly, the stenographers (Gibbs et al) in France/Belgium were essentially puppets to Haig's often-flawed agenda. They were neither journalists, nor propagandists. They fell in to the No Man's Land in between and this is reflected in their work. Censorship is understandable in times of war, but the question remains as to when it should start and finish. By his own admission, Haig flunky Gibbs self-censored his work and had cosy little arrangements (usually informally) with some Brass. He wasn't trying to tell the truth, only further his own career. When the rumblings of discontent were heard after the war, Gibbs quickly changed camp and trotted out more popularist tripe. You might say he closed the stable door after the horse had bolted.

Andy M"

Grumpy writes thus:

How much of can be reasonably justified?

Lets see.

smallest army, yes

smallest casualties, yes

out numbered, not at all sure

low ground, usually

innovation, certainly

mutinies: certainly not on scale of French

mistakes, well, not always, but as a nett process, yes

best army, probably

winning: beyond dispute.

Yes, I agree.

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Jonathan Saunders
So Haig retreats to Britian and France falls to the Germans. The navy has to try and contain a nation that now has access to far more ocean and then re/increases its fleet. America considers her options and decides to stay away.

1921.. Britian is invaded and the Government of LG falls........Oh wake up its a dream! Or would it have been.

I think we have to accept that one needs the other.

regards

Arm

So you think Germany would have been ready and willing to go to war again in 1921? I'll also go back to my long held belief that USA would not have allowed a dominant Germany in Europe - it would have been too much of a threat to America's own power base as the leading industrial and economic power. At worst I think the USA would have ensured the Royal Navy stayed ahead in terms of resource.

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John_Hartley

QUOTE (Phil_B @ Aug 22 2006, 01:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Am I getting carried away?

No. I think you perfectly develop my single word answer. :)

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John_Hartley
We were the source of more innovation than all the other particpants combined.

With the obvious exceptions of gas; fighting aircraft, long-range terror bombing & assault tactics

John

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armourersergeant
So you think Germany would have been ready and willing to go to war again in 1921? I'll also go back to my long held belief that USA would not have allowed a dominant Germany in Europe - it would have been too much of a threat to America's own power base as the leading industrial and economic power. At worst I think the USA would have ensured the Royal Navy stayed ahead in terms of resource.

Why not Jon. They would have felt they had won the war on the western front, if france had refused to surrender would they have taken them? What would have happened if they had breeched the line in 1918 and made it to the sea. I confess to not knowing the German stance on when they would have sued for peace if they would have done atal when they were winning!

Its all conjecture I agree but you may be right the USA may have at the least supplied us with weapons. But Germany would have had most of europe one way or another and a good base to grow and expanded army. They could have taken their time to re-equip.

I did not envisage them going to war again in 1921, though this was a tongue in cheek story, as I had not envisaged them having accepted or demanded a surrender. They just sat on thier winnings and strengthened. The fleets could have been built and left from southern france and probably Italy to stop fleets getting across to the USA and then perhaps we would ahve seen how good the U-Boats could be?

Of course all of this depends on when you assume Haig loses the fight, but if you assume 1918, if somehow before 1918, unlikely i know, but if they did then the USA army would have had no time to land anywhere in force in europe, accept England perhaps and thus would have had to rely on there Navy. Again I do not know how strong their Navy was?

I had not considered any of this until know, so perhaps some of what I have written is done of the bat, but as usual I have just let my mind run away with its self.

regards

Arm

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Take on me
But Britain would have remained undefeated - there would have been a negotiated peace between Germany and Britain. German victory on land may have given them the upper hand in determining peace terms but lets not forget by early 1916 the successful Royal Navy blockade was having a profound effect on the German Home Front and by end of 1918 or early 1919 Germany would have been desperate to conclude peace terms and have the blockade lifted.

There are all sorts of other considerations that could be brought into the debate but IMHO it remains it was virtually impossible for Haig and the British army to defeat Germany without the Royal Navy.

If Britain had withdrawn from the continent, defeated, and negotiated a peace with Germany then there would have been no point in waging war in the first place. Belgium and France would have been occupied and Germany would have become the dominant power in Europe. Furthermore I do not think that the British would have continued to blockade Germany with the Germans in possession of every port from Brest to Hamburg, all the way back round to Marseilles.

It is true that the blockade had a major effect on the Germans, there is no point in denying the truth. However I do not think that Germany would have surrendered without the defeat of her armies. Furthermore the German reolution only began after the Germans began to suffer defeats on the Western Front. Haig, Foch and Pershing taught the German High Command that it was absolutely hopeless in 1918. But they a were not the only factor. People often underestimate how bad the situation for Germany was in late 1918. As well as the Army on the Western Front being unable to hold any positions and the blockade producing revolutionary fervour, Germany's Southern border was exposed by the collapse of Austro Hungary to Allied thrusts from Italy and the Balkens, all of her Allies had collapsed and American resources ade it very clear that the war was finished.

Jon

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6th Shropshires

Hi Jonathan

Can I say first that I am not out to knock the Navy by my following conments and can I say that I am not up to speed on the Navy, so please feel free to correct me.

But I was under the impression that the Navy was not up to the mark during the Great War, our gunnery at any rate, it was not as good as in Nelson's day, and it was only the fact that the Kaiser did want to risk losing his beloved fleet, ordering them to stay put after Jutland, that left the Navy in peace.

Also on Arm's point, if the Army had been defeated, then Germany would not have had to start a second war but carry on the first. But I do not think they would have invaded Britain itself, but they would have made things hard for us thats for sure.

Annette

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AndyMacdonald

Grumpy,

My view stands, and you've just proved my point. The objectional words in the first post were 'always' and 'never', which are too strong and make said argument (most arguments, indeed) impossible to justify. And, as I said, there were three points that I didn't take issue with.

Andy M

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Alan Lines

I had no intention in stirring up the old arguement (which I have as always found fascinating, this thread being no exception) because I know how much it seems to upset some members. I was just wondering really if members thought that people's beliefs are ever likely to be changed. It was provoked by the extensive media coverage of recent days regarding the other subject that also seems to upset a lot of us. Surely it was the first time that a National newspaper has referred to that particular group of 306 men as lions led by donkeys and used their plight to illustrate the incompetence of Haig et al? It appears to me that at a time when interest in WW1 is greater than it may have been for a long time the old belief is more popular than ever.

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Jonathan Saunders
Why not Jon.

Even before the Micahel offensive the German Home Front was in tatters. Lets say the Michael offensive succeeds in causing the British to withdraw back to Blighty thus meaning Fance have all but lost the war. There is a negotiated peace with Germany having favourable terms. They still have to rebuild their Home Front - they have still lost somewhere between 3m and 4m men.

The Allies "won" the war and I would think it took several years for our Home Front to return to something like normality - and our Home Front had not self destructed like the German Home Front (thanks in no small part to being supplied by the USA). Thats why I dont think Germany would have been in a position to commence another war in 1921. There is also the cost of rebuilding the internal infrastructure - there wouldnt be any reparation from Britain, France was close to being bankrupt. How about American investment? Money talks and all of a sudden the investment from America "controls" Germany - which I think is almost what happened until USA decided to go isolationist (but i am not clear on this as I havent looked at Germany duringthe 1920s for years).

Apologies to Alan for going a little way off track.

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Jonathan Saunders
Furthermore I do not think that the British would have continued to blockade Germany with the Germans in possession of every port from Brest to Hamburg, all the way back round to Marseilles.

We might be talking at cross purposes. As soon as the British have left France the war is virtually over and all that needs to be settled are the peace terms. Germany would not want the war prolonged in any way because they need to address their Home Front, therefore the Germans are eager to conclude a peace. There is no longer any reason for Britian to continue any form of hostilities. The US are still in the background but Germany would want to forge a new relationship with the US and re-establish trading links (imports) of important foodstuffs and raw materials. The US is the key but they have close links to Britain - so the new status quo is the US and by defaut Britain, and Germany, trying to get on with each other in a new economic relationship.

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Jonathan Saunders
Hi Jonathan

Can I say first that I am not out to knock the Navy by my following conments and can I say that I am not up to speed on the Navy, so please feel free to correct me.

But I was under the impression that the Navy was not up to the mark during the Great War, our gunnery at any rate, it was not as good as in Nelson's day, and it was only the fact that the Kaiser did want to risk losing his beloved fleet, ordering them to stay put after Jutland, that left the Navy in peace.

I totally agree with you - please see my very brief comment on the recent JUTLAND thread. Our gunnery and more importantly our cordite storage was not as good as we had assumed. Complacency existed, however it wasnt Jellicoe that "ran" away at JUTAND. The Royal Navy were up for a fight and I think if it had been a contest of standing toe to toe and trading punches until the last man stood, then the Royal Navy would have been still standing at the end. My opinion only, so not worth much :(

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PhilB
It is neigh on impossible to be totally unbiased, knights of the forum round table, now thats a title to behold. regards

Sir Armalot.

I hear that one KFRT, who shall be nameless, was recently de-spurred for referring to his meat cleaver as "Excalibur"! Phil B

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John_Hartley

QUOTE (Phil_B @ Aug 22 2006, 08:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I hear that one KFRT, who shall be nameless, was recently de-spurred for referring to his meat cleaver as "Excalibur"! Phil B

Whereas mine is always known as the "Sword of Damocles".

John

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Take on me
We might be talking at cross purposes...

All very interesting. I promise to reply when I have more time.

Regards,

Jon :)

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Jonathan Saunders
All very interesting. I promise to reply when I have more time.

Regards,

Jon :)

Jon,

I am struggling with time too and now is not really the time for me to get into a full debate on this. I would be interested to read your reply and perhaps we can take up the cudgel on this another day.

Regards,

Jon S

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Gunner Bailey
Grumpy writes thus:

How much of can be reasonably justified?

Lets see.

smallest army, yes

smallest casualties, yes

out numbered, not at all sure

low ground, usually

innovation, certainly

mutinies: certainly not on scale of French

mistakes, well, not always, but as a nett process, yes

best army, probably

winning: beyond dispute.

Yes, I agree.

Many thanks. I hope I see with a clear vision.

To me the facts speak for themselves. We are masters of war by being forced to learn, to innovate and to respond. We are the best amateurs in the world. The Germans always have a fail proof plan that lasts a while, or until they meet the UK face to face.

No British general ever intended to be a butcher or a bungler. They did their best and won through. The spirit of our soldiers was magnificent. Moaning about the generals (the government, your boss, the weather) is part of the British way. But we get on and 'do it'. Better than anyone else. It's so easy to throw slander at dead generals. I wonder how many of their detractors would last 5 minutes in a face to face debate with them.

Gunner Bailey

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FAAAEd
The war was won by nations of which naval and land forces combined to victory. The navy could not have won without Haig and the army and vise versa.

Arm

Many seem to quickly forget the role that the RN played in ensuring most troopships, and evacuation and hospital ships, managed a safe passage not only across the English Channel but in other waters too.

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spike10764

QUOTE (Phil_B @ Aug 22 2006, 10:05 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don`t like this polarization into Lions led by donkeys or whatever the opposite is. I`m in the moderate camp - Lions sometimes led by donkeys, sometimes by skilled commanders. There must be more like me. What do we call ourselves to distinguish us from the extremists? :( Phil B

Open minded :rolleyes:

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Justin Moretti

If the Navy had had to take the Army off at Dunkirk in WW1, they would at least have had the comfort of safer ground to be put back on. There is also the point of the Americans who actually were IN Europe at the time. If the BEF had looked like being truly beaten, I think Pershing would have pulled his finger out and weighed into the fight a lot earlier than he did. How much difference that would have made I am unsure. But remember that while there is this German spearhead moving for the Channel coast, its left flank is vulnerable while its right flank is dealing with a very stubborn enemy who has a reputation for standing his ground.

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