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AndyHollinger

Haldane

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AndyHollinger

As an attempt to increase my rank since I seem to be posting only in the "Utterly Off topic" I was wondering just what the general opinion of RB Haldane is today among Britons.

I did my undergraduate thesis on this man and thought his reforms very well thought-out and accomplished. While his "pro-German" background threw him from the cabinet when Asquith was dumped, I think he is fairly responsible for the admirable state of the BA at the outbreak of the war.

What is British opinion, today?

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Will O'Brien

I think Haldane did a good job in re-organising the militia, yeomanry & volunteer units into the Territorial Army, although I am unsure whether this was particularly popular at the time. I also think he was an able Politician (certainly too able for Lloyd-Georges comfort) & my guess it was this that was really the reason for his exclusion after the Asquith government fell. Easy to use the 'Pro-German' background card to ease him out.....I think it was more of a liking of the German style of precision & organisation rather than a real 'Pro-German' attitude that Haldane had.

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armourersergeant

I have just purchased as a xmas pressie for myself the two volume set of Haldanes life by Major-General Sir Fredrick Maurice, he of 1918 and lloyd-George fame, so when i have read it i may have a better idea of him and his overall achievments.

But I would perhaps answer this question by saying ....How well would the expeditionary army have done in 1914 without his reforms in place?......Also I believe he was not able to do all that he wished to do.

I have got the books as i am of the opinion he is greatly underated in history and that his contributions are greater than percived by many. I have also wondered why he never went up wards to higher things?

If he fell foul of L-G then this could explain why Maurice wrote the bio as these two had come to blows aswell. I have also got for Xmas the book by Nancy Maurice about her father and the newspaper article he wrote denouncing L-G's lies of the forces totals in france, can't wait for 25th to come.

Arm.

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AndrewThornton

I think Haldane did a good job in spite of the political and financial constraints he was saddled with. Ian Beckett concluded that when the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act was passed on 2nd August 1907, Haldane was, ‘forced to settle for the lowest denominator of practical political attainment rather than the grander design’. Historians of the subject generally agree that political and economic pressures, in particular with regard to the Territorial Force, compromised Haldane’s concept of the force as part of a ‘real national army’, and that his overall scheme was ambitious and unrealistic in the first place. However, I doubt whether the Volunteer Force as it was constituted pre 1908 would have been of much use if it still existed in 1914. Similarly, his efforts in creating the British Expeditionary Force and the efficient way it was mobilised are mostly down to him.

There are several books that mention Haldane's reforms, but these are a couple of specific ones that might be of interest:

M. Howard, Lord Haldane and the Territorial Army, (London, 1967)

E.M. Spiers, Haldane: An Army Reformer (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1980)

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AndyHollinger

I did my undergraduate thesis on Haldane. He is quite the guy but seems to be a politician who tried to get what the soldiers wanted...

In an answer to why he never went farther ... well, he was quite left even by the standards of the time ... was the first Labor LC ... and, of course, was in the closet but indeed seems to be quite gay.

I think he would not have existed well in a LG type government as he was really a Victorian at heart ...

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Ste

Andy,

I have rarely - if ever - read a negative opinion about Haldane. In particular, he stands out from the crowd because he had an absolutely first class intellect.

Correlli Barnett, in Britain and her Army:

...all-round personal talents far exceeding those of his predecessors...trained in philosophy at the University of Edinburgh...and Göttingen...remarkable capacity for intensive and continuous work, and for 'gutting' the essentials swiftly and accurately from complicated briefs. 

It was more owing to Haldane thanany other single person that new teaching universities...were at last being created...His table, cellar and cigar box were renowned, and his social world included many of the interlocking circles that made up the British ruling class.  He was deft at handling men and human situations.

Impressive, by any standards.

His reforms, and the creation of the Territorial Force were remarkable. They integreation of the old Milita and Volunteer system into a system compatible with the Regulars proved invaluable in the long, bloody months of 1914 and 15, before the New Armies could take the field. Without his reforms, it is doubtful Britain could have lasted the course.

The reforms were impressive for their application of practical politics as much as sound military and administrative sense, as the armed forces were not of the highest priority for the Liberal government to which he belonged. That he satisfied politicians and soldiers alike is to his great credit as a politician.

Unfortunately, Haldane has been all but forgotten to collective memory here. Few but historians and students are aware of him and his great legacy.

Andy, I would be very interested to see your undergraduate thesis. Would this be ok?

Regards,

Ste

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AndyHollinger

I will try to find it ... It's been since 1973... my Masters, The British Army 1716-1746 is at the Army Museum in London ...

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Will O'Brien
His reforms, and the creation of the Territorial Force were remarkable. They integreation of the old Milita and Volunteer system into a system compatible with the Regulars proved invaluable in the long, bloody months of 1914 and 15, before the New Armies could take the field. Without his reforms, it is doubtful Britain could have lasted the course.

Excellent point Ste................Given this, Haldane played one of the most important rolls of the war................6 years before it started.

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