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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Military/History Related Hobbies > Alternate Timelines

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Alternate Timelines The plausible "what if's" of military history.

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  #61  
Old 01 Sep 17, 18:58
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Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
A warmonger is someone who actively foments war. Cato the Elder ("Carthage delenda est") being an early example. This is quite different from someone who realises the probability of war and advocates being prepared for it and not yielding to threats. Churchill falls into this latter category. Whilst the outbreak of war in 1939 can have come as a surprise to very few in Britain this had not been the case in 1914. However a number of members of the Imperial General Staff and a handful of cabinet ministers who were aware of the Anglo French military conversation had been aware of the possibility, even the probability of war with Germany for some years. Churchill was amongst this number and as First Lord of the Admiralty had been trying to prepare the Royal Navy. However despite this he still thought that the Kaiser (with whom he was on good personal terms)could be talked round into abandoning the naval arms race and was prepared to travel to Germany to attempt this and was only stopped from doing so by a direct prohibition by Asquith. Not the actions of a warmonger
In the 1930s Churchill recognised that Hitler could not be talked round and that appeasement was the wrong policy. Britain should be preparing for war. This is not the same as actively seeking to foment one.

In the event whilst a British rearmament programme was underway by 1939 active planning was not. Whilst in 1914 the BEF's mobilisation and deployment to France (including the move towards Mons) followed a detailed plan agreed before 1913 and the general arrangements for cooperation with the French had likewise been in place for some time the assembly and deployment of the BEF in 1939 was largely a matter of last minute planning and hasty improvisation. Nor was there a clear idea of what they were to do when they got there or a good set of mechanisms for working with the French. Whereas plans had been agreed with Canada and Australia on mobilising their forces in the event of war well before 1914 (and even one for the Indian Army) there was nothing similar in 1939, indeed the British government could not be absolutely sure as to how they would respond, if at all.

Whereas the British Army in 1914 had some idea of how they might fight a war in Europe in 1914 and had even practiced a fighting retreat in the face of a numerically superior army (as they did in reality after Mons) in the exercises of 1913; the BEF of 1939/40 more or less had to make it up as they went along. Whether any of this would have been otherwise had Churchill been in government in the pre war years is an interesting matter for conjecture
Quite so. Therefore to label Churchill as a "Warmonger" in a vaguely derogatory manner is quite incorrect.
I wonder about the state of the BEF in 1914 though- drifting away from the topic for a moment- Sir John French's leadership was very suspect and it could be argued that British Generalship, and therefore the performance of the army as a whole, was not entirely competent until 1918. after suffering three years of painful experience.
Perhaps the same could be said of British forces in WW2.Until mid-1942 it was quite gloomy overall, whereas after the date-again after painful experience- it was excellent.
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  #62  
Old 02 Sep 17, 06:00
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Originally Posted by BELGRAVE View Post
Quite so. Therefore to label Churchill as a "Warmonger" in a vaguely derogatory manner is quite incorrect.
I wonder about the state of the BEF in 1914 though- drifting away from the topic for a moment- Sir John French's leadership was very suspect and it could be argued that British Generalship, and therefore the performance of the army as a whole, was not entirely competent until 1918. after suffering three years of painful experience.
Perhaps the same could be said of British forces in WW2.Until mid-1942 it was quite gloomy overall, whereas after the date-again after painful experience- it was excellent.
If one reads David Owen's The Hidden Perspective: The Military Conversations in conjunction with General Sir Henry Wilson's diary it is possible to see how well the BEF was prepared. Spencer Jones "From Boer War to World War" points out that the training and tactics of the BEF was well suited to the type of fighting encountered in the first couple of months. It was simply too small. This is reinforced by accounts from German officers facing them for example The Advance from Mons 1914: The Experiences of a German Infantry Officer by Walter Bloem published in 1915 which indicate the high professionalism of the BEF and how the German army had underestimated this. However once the front stabilised and trench warfare began then new approaches, techniques and tactics were needed and the considerable casualties that the BEF had already suffered had already diluted the original expertise.

There is no evidence that a similar degree of preparation existed in 1939
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  #63  
Old 02 Sep 17, 20:47
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If one reads David Owen's The Hidden Perspective: The Military Conversations in conjunction with General Sir Henry Wilson's diary it is possible to see how well the BEF was prepared. Spencer Jones "From Boer War to World War" points out that the training and tactics of the BEF was well suited to the type of fighting encountered in the first couple of months. It was simply too small. This is reinforced by accounts from German officers facing them for example The Advance from Mons 1914: The Experiences of a German Infantry Officer by Walter Bloem published in 1915 which indicate the high professionalism of the BEF and how the German army had underestimated this. However once the front stabilised and trench warfare began then new approaches, techniques and tactics were needed and the considerable casualties that the BEF had already suffered had already diluted the original expertise.

There is no evidence that a similar degree of preparation existed in 1939
I agree totally, with the proviso that command at the highest level in WW1 was lacking. Sir John French was quite suspect, and a cohort of similar Generals ,Stopford, Hunter-Weston, Haking (ask any Australian) were just not up to the task of combatting a first class European enemy.Haig,himself had to climb a steep learning curve.
As for WW2, I found Gen.Sir David Fraser's"And We Shall Shock Them",The British Army in the Second World War an interesting source.
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  #64  
Old 03 Sep 17, 04:29
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Hunter Bunter was a classic example of rewarding good performance by promotion to a level past the man's level of competence. Reading the full edition of Allanbrooke's diaries it's clear that he was ruthless and assiduous in taking the opposite course weeding out unsuitable commanders. Nobody got the benefit of the doubt. The big problem in both world wars was the incredibly rapid expansion in the army creating a need for many more senior commanders who had to be appointed from officers with no real track record on which to judge them. In some respects getting kicked out of Europe in 1940 was a benefit as it gave Allanbrooke breathing space to evaluate new commanders.
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  #65  
Old 03 Sep 17, 20:31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
Hunter Bunter was a classic example of rewarding good performance by promotion to a level past the man's level of competence. Reading the full edition of Allanbrooke's diaries it's clear that he was ruthless and assiduous in taking the opposite course weeding out unsuitable commanders. Nobody got the benefit of the doubt. The big problem in both world wars was the incredibly rapid expansion in the army creating a need for many more senior commanders who had to be appointed from officers with no real track record on which to judge them. In some respects getting kicked out of Europe in 1940 was a benefit as it gave Allanbrooke breathing space to evaluate new commanders.
Absolutely, the "Peter Principle"always seemed to prevail in both World Wars.
I suppose it's one of the penalties a free,peace-loving democracy always has to pay.
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  #66  
Old 06 Sep 17, 07:53
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Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
Hunter Bunter was a classic example of rewarding good performance by promotion to a level past the man's level of competence. Reading the full edition of Allanbrooke's diaries it's clear that he was ruthless and assiduous in taking the opposite course weeding out unsuitable commanders. Nobody got the benefit of the doubt. The big problem in both world wars was the incredibly rapid expansion in the army creating a need for many more senior commanders who had to be appointed from officers with no real track record on which to judge them. In some respects getting kicked out of Europe in 1940 was a benefit as it gave Allanbrooke breathing space to evaluate new commanders.
Ritchie?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Ritchie

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He is most notable during the Second World War for commanding the Eighth Army in the North African Campaign until being dismissed in June 1942. Returning to England and demoted, he later commanded the 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division and led XII Corps in the campaign in Northwest Europe from June 1944 until May 1945, later going on to have a successful postwar career.
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  #67  
Old 06 Sep 17, 13:29
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Exactly the point AB's diaries and notes show that he did not believe that Ritchie had the experience to command the 8th Army and had been pushed up far too fast largely because of his good performance in France. He believed that he would make a good divisional commander and after gaining experience (and confidence) in this position might make a good corps commander but he might not be "a big enough man" to command an army. AB blamed Auchinleck for putting Ritchie in a position that he did not have the experience to fill rather than blaming Ritchie for not performing.
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  #68  
Old 11 Sep 17, 15:09
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Let's also not forget the French, Belgian and Dutch troops that escaped with BEF and made their way to Britain.
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