Britain's Great War - Sir Douglas Haig???

Discussion in 'Films, Music, TV & All Things Artsy' started by Parade_Ho, Feb 19, 2014.

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  1. Dear All,

    I've been watching Jeremy Paxman's programme on Monday nights and this week, 17 Feb, a question of identity arose.

    If you've recorded this - or go on to i Player - around the 17:57 timing mark, there is reference to Sir Douglas Haig and at that point a photo of a senior officer is shown. I don't think it is Haig at all, I did half wonder about it being Sir John French, but on reflection I don't think it is. A poster on the BBC PoV website thought it might have been Field Marshal Birdwood, but then even they had doubts about their choice. Do any WW1 experts have a view as to the identity of the individual ? Thanks.
  2. Did he bear any resemblance to a donkey?
  3. Don't start stereotyping Finks, Lions led by Donkeys is a myth in many cases.
  4. Haig was a man doing an impossible job in impossible circumstances, I honestly feel history has been unduly harsh to him.
  5. I am talking about the high command, not the subaltern who led his men over the top armed only with a service revolver, they have my utmost respect.
    • Like Like x 1

  6. You are quite right, there was indeed an error made. The photo shown in the BBC programme was that of Sir Charles Carmichael Monro and not Haig.
    Well spotted!

  7. Many thanks SP !
  8. Good article.

    Whilst there were Generals stuck in there ways and unable or unwilling to accept change (reminds me of some on here) and caused un-necessary losses (Gallipoli and Sir Ian Hamilton for instance, wrong man for the job) many in the High Command were quick to grasp the changing environment. Don't forget the war lasted for 4 years and massive technological advancements were made at a mind boggling rate.
  9. That would be why they sent thousands to their deaths in order to gain a few yards of mud and signed the death warrants of men suffering from shell shock. It looks like we will just have to agree to disagree.
  10. But who was sending them? Generals or politicians?
  11. It would seem so Finks, you would seem not to grasp the reason for the First battle of the Somme, and it was as big a shock to generals as to the troops, most of the British artillery shells never went off, which is why the German defences were intact, and which is why standards in manufacture were brought about which became Defstans.

    But it's pointless debating it with you, you have you're opinion, I prefer to read the historical facts.
  12. How come what you read is 'fact' and what finks reads (I assume he reads to formulate his opinion) is not?
  13. Or watches. Blackadder. Blackadder is the historical truth.
  14. It isn't, but that's sort of my point.

    I don't know how many primary sources Wrecker has researched to confirm his 'facts', but if his sources are purely 'history' books, which can only be an individual's interpretation of the sources that they have used, then Blackadder is a viable counter-argument.

    Richard III was a bastard because Shakespeare said so. Richard III's death heralded the start of the Tudor dynasty. Shakespeare lived during Tudor times and would have had to be mental (until his head went [if the history books are anything to go by - see what I did there?]) to have described him in any other way.

    The First World War was 'glorious' at the time (so we are told), then with post WWII liberalism the 'Lions led by...' naughtiness started by all those homosexual commies became accepted by many, but now the tides have turned and this theory is being disputed by the neo-conservatism of the naughties and onwards.

    History and 'fact' are uncomfortable bedfellows.

    Edit: Sorry, all the gibberish about Richard III was to emphasise my point about how history can be, and often is, twisted to suit the needs of the writer.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014

  15. Oh look general our shells are duds and the hun's machine guns are still capable of putting down scything fire on our men; no matter Darling send our brave boys over the top anyway'. Twats!

    Posted from the Navy Net mobile app (Android / iOS)
  16. I see Guzzler's point and I'm not going to put a long list of the books I've read on the subject, which, incidentally, cover both sides of the argument and none of which involve wikipedia or Max Hastings, it's just the blanket "Lions led by Donkeys" rhetoric followed by one liners that I find irksome.

    Yes, there was wholesale slaughter on scale never seen before, yes Generals of all armies made terrible mistakes in the beginning as no-one had fought an industrial war before. Finks has kind of confirmed my thoughts by his previous post which hardly contributes to any debate and Guzzler bringing in a left wing/right wing slant is fairly predictable TBH.

    As to Guzzler's point about the books I've read, what's the alternative..regard every history book as bullshit and ignore the past?
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  17. Ageing_Gracefully

    Ageing_Gracefully War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    The trouble with this thread is that people are imposing the mores of today on events of 100 years ago.

    The 'lions led by donkeys' was invented by one of the derided historians, Clarke; this viewpoint was seized on in the swinging 60 s when it was posited by the left who saw it as a good way to undermine all views on WW1. This viewpoint has been universally trashed in the past decade, notably by Corrigan.

    Don't forget that Haig was revered by the men who served under him and tens of thousands turned out for his funeral.
    • Like Like x 4
  18. Seadog

    Seadog War Hero Moderator

    During the war more than 200 generals were killed, wounded or captured. I bet that didn't happen in their chateaus miles behind their front lines. There is more good stuff in that article.

    Like all wars, WW1 was fought with the doctrine and technology available at the time. Massed ranks of archers were the machine gunners of their day. The result of a face to face charge of lines of armed men may have been decided by whose archers got the most, most accurate rounds down from the greatest distance. Little changed over centuries.

    Some of those who ridicule Haig just don't like the officer class of any era.
    • Like Like x 3
  19. This could go on ad infinitum but if my source is correct in 1917 Haig gave the order for a cavalry charge at Arras involving the Household Cavalry. The charge was against heavy machine gun fire and barbed wire; our cavalry were slaughtered by the German defenders. As this was not early on in the war it would appear that Haig had not learnt the lesson that a cavalry charge against modern weapons would be suicidal.

    Seadog, you seem to be obsessive in your belief that some service men hate the officer class. Have you considered the possibly that the men would only look upon them with disdain if they were utter tools, tools that do crop up now and again in all ranks.

    I do wonder if you had a bad experience during your service? I do hope not as you come across as being a jolly good chap.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014

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