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Remembered Today:

Friction between Generals?


DMcNay
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I've heard various tales of how Patton and Montgomery in WW2 disliked each other intensly, and I was interested in knowing if there were any Generals in the Great War who just didn't get on?

I know that French disliked Smith-Dorrien, and obviously French and Haig later on had their differences.

What was the cause of the disagreement between S-D and French? Did it originate pre-war?

And was there anyone else who just didn't get on?

Any Generals use their memoirs to settle a few scores?

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Smith-Dorrien took over the Cavalry Training from French pre WW1 and changed the Cavalry Training to Mounted Infantry style.

This and the fact that SD was an infantryman did not endear him to French.

I am sure that others will be able to add to this.

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What was the cause of the disagreement between S-D and French? Did it originate pre-war?

I think S-D took over at Aldershot (around 1909?) from French and immediately started to modernise the thinking, practice and tactical awareness of the army and prepare it for potential warfare. An example was dismounting the cavalry and having them perform musketry practice. I think within two years the cavalry went from amongst the worst marksmen in the army to becoming extremely competent shots. This didnt sit too well with Sir John French and ruined his nice little riding circles and sabre charges that the cavalry had been performing under his Command. He thought such things as firing rifles was beneath the cavalry and he never forgave S-D. An interesting aside is that I understand the SMLE was originally designed for use with the cavalry.

Regards,

Jon S

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I was interested in knowing if there were any Generals in the Great War who just didn't get on?

.........................

Two fairly recent books have a bit to say on this. " Directing Operations", Andy Simpson. " Command and Control on the Western Front", Sheffield & Todman (Eds). Just about every biography, autobiography I have read has a pop at somebody. Haig claimed to have 'degummed' 100 brigadiers in the course of the war. How many would have been a simple case of dislike?

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Tim Travers' book 'The Killing Ground' has a chapter on the writing of 'The Official History' and there is a lot of backstabbing and bickering between generals.

I don't have it to hand, but seem to recall friction between Gough and Haig over the Third Ypres campaign.

Didn't Birdwood and Hamilton have falling outs at Gallipoli too?

In fact, I'm sure all the generals had a pop at Haig now and again!

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Very sotto voce though. :ph34r:

Indeed. That is until Gough's reputation risked being tarnished in 'The Official History', Haig was dead and buried, and then everyone started sharpening the knives. Gough claiming - rightly or wrongly - that Haig had never made it completely clear what he was supposed to do during the Third Ypres campaign.

Besides, I'm sure GHQ was a hot bed of intrigue, back-stabbing and friction. May well be a case of who WASN'T there friction between!

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I've heard various tales of how Patton and Montgomery in WW2 disliked each other intensly, and I was interested in knowing if there were any Generals in the Great War who just didn't get on?

I know that French disliked Smith-Dorrien, and obviously French and Haig later on had their differences.

What was the cause of the disagreement between S-D and French? Did it originate pre-war?

And was there anyone else who just didn't get on?

Any Generals use their memoirs to settle a few scores?

I tend to think that ARMOURERSERGEANT is the guy to contact on this subject, he seems to me to be

highly knowledgeable on this area of study of Generals and interplay between them.

For my money, he's your guy!!

Cheers,

Ivan.

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Bless ya heart Ivan, a referal!!

Wilson and Robertson did not like each other, ironic when you consider what happened to Wully!

Allenby and Haig were cool

J Gough and Forestier-Walker were not friends, which may not have help the BEF in the early part of the war (both were BGGS I and II corps during the retreat) Haig was not overly keen on FW either, both had been at staff school together, FW was friendly with Allenby which no doubt did not help.

As mentioned French and Smith-Dorrien had no love lost.

and there is plenty more.

As mentioned Travers has a good bit to say about this, though be cautious to some of his conclusions, IMO, though fundemently I happen to agree with him in this area.

Be cautious of the difference of a dislike, as in Smith-Dorrien and French that had an impact on the conduct of the war and Degumming and sending home men who were not fit to command, whilst Haig did send men home, and whilst some of this may have been personel it was more often the correct choice on professional grounds.

regards

Arm

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I don't have it to hand, but seem to recall friction between Gough and Haig over the Third Ypres campaign.

I seem to think that both Gough and Plumer advised cancellation of the Ypres offensive, but were over ruled by Haig. This I do not interpret as bad feeling but professional disagreement. later I beleive Gough in his biography made this a bit more than it perhaps was at the time. Again this is my opinion. Gough during the war was very beholden to Haig and his patronage.

regards

Arm

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Any Generals use their memoirs to settle a few scores?

French used his book to get at Smith-Dorrien, and poor old SD could not reply as he was still 'under orders' so he produce a defence and circulated it amongst friends!!

In general this area in my reading is not 'the done thing old boy' it would not sit too well with the reader to see one Gneral taking a pop at another. However I stand to be corrected.

Arm

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The classic example I can think of is Pavel Rennenkampf and Alexander Samsonov, commanders of the Russian First and Second Armies, respectively. Both armies were to cooperate together in their invasion of East Prussia at the outbreak of the war.

Samsonov had criticised Rennenkampf's performance in Manuchuria during the 1904-1905 war. It is often said that both men hated each other.

Makes you wonder what brain-trust put them at opposite ends of a converging operation.

Paul

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The classic example I can think of is Pavel Rennenkampf and Alexander Samsonov, commanders of the Russian First and Second Armies, respectively. Both armies were to cooperate together in their invasion of East Prussia at the outbreak of the war.

Samsonov had criticised Rennenkampf's performance in Manuchuria during the 1904-1905 war. It is often said that both men hated each other.

Makes you wonder what brain-trust put them at opposite ends of a converging operation.

Paul

That's interesting, Paul. Any idea as to how much this contributed to Tannenberg?

cheers Martin B

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That's interesting, Paul. Any idea as to how much this contributed to Tannenberg?

cheers Martin B

Hello Martin,

I've read speculation, but honestly I don't think anyone has proof that their relations contributed to the disaster. I think their front commander was more to blame.

Paul

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...........................

In general this area in my reading is not 'the done thing old boy' it would not sit too well with the reader to see one Gneral taking a pop at another. However I stand to be corrected.

Arm

I think it was Spears who referred to the relations between Sir John and General Lanrezac. " Icily polite and punctiliously correct ". A form of politeness which would have misled no one.

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Bless ya heart Ivan, a referral!

Arm, my friend, credit where credit is due, you have taught me an unfathomable amount about this subject,

and I bow to your grasp of what is after all a tricky subject!

Just reading a few of your posts illustrated this to me, and I continue to observe with interest.

Keep up the good work mate, and as I know you are not the sort to blow your own trumpet I thought I'd do it for you!! LOL

Cheers,

Ivan.

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I think it was Spears who referred to the relations between Sir John and General Lanrezac. " Icily polite and punctiliously correct ". A form of politeness which would have misled no one.

Ah well thats ok, someone implying animosity amongst others, a little whispering is allowed, not giving his own comments or thoughts but anothers

regards

Arm

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and as I know you are not the sort to blow your own trumpet I thought I'd do it for you!! LOL

Cheers,

Ivan.

Ivan,

Get those last twenty six posts done and I will stand you a drink upstairs in Skindles. We'll find a quiet corner away from that rabble headed by Broomers, upstart that he is.

regards

Arm

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Another set of strong dislikes was between the German Chief of General Staff, Erich Falkenhayn, and the "dynamic duo," of Hindenburg and Ludendorff. This friction seems to have real consequences beyond just not talking to each other in the executive bathroom. Falkenhayn, jealous of the fame of the two withheld troops at various times from the Eastern Front. He even engineered the break-up of the two, and this was only reversed after a direct appeal to the Kaiser. Talk about school-girl antics!

Paul

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Ivan,

Get those last twenty six posts done and I will stand you a drink upstairs in Skindles. We'll find a quiet corner away from that rabble headed by Broomers, upstart that he is.

regards

Arm

I'll keep you to that my friend!

Take care,

Ivan. (20 now!)

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