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‘The Campaign of the Mud’: Third Ypres 1917

  • Andrew Suttie

Abstract

Lloyd George’s chapters on the Third Battle of Ypres1 or Passchendaele are the centrepiece of his indictment of the British generals of the Great War, in particular Haig and Robertson.2 Passchendaele for Lloyd George was one of the greatest follies of the war, and the importance he placed on these chapters may be gauged by the fact that they were published for greater impact as a separate pamphlet. They contain the most bitter and passionate denunciation of Haig and his strategy to be found in the War Memoirs.

Keywords

Prime Minister Belgian Coast Military Adviser British Army German Army 
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Notes

  1. 4.
    David French, ‘Who Knew What and When? The French Army Mutinies and the British Decision to Launch the Third Battle of Ypres’, in Lawrence Freedman, Paul Hayes and Robert O’Neill (eds), War, Strategy and International Politics: Essays in Honour of Sir Michael Howard (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 153.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Thomas Jones, Lloyd George (London: Oxford University Press, 1951), p. 120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson, Passchendaele: The Untold Story (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1996), p. xiii.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Military Operations 1917, I, Appendices, Nivelle to Haig, p. 21 December 1917, p. 6, Appendix 2; David French, Strategy of the Lloyd George Coalition 1914–1918 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), p. 54; David R. Woodward, Lloyd George and the Generals (Newark: University of Nebraska Press, 1983), p. 137.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    John Terraine, The Road to Passchendaele: The Flanders Offensive of 1917: A Study in Inevitability (London: Leo Cooper, 1977), pp. 17–18.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    William J. Philpott, Anglo-French Relations and Strategy on the Western Front 1914–18 (London: Macmillan, 1996), p. 130. Haig wrote that he regarded the Flanders operation agreed on ‘at a Conference at the War Office as long ago as the 23 November, 1916’; Robert Blake (ed.), The Private Papers of Douglas Haig 1914–1919 (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1952), p. 245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 22.
    John Turner, ‘Lloyd George, the War Cabinet and High Politics’, in Peter H. l.iddle (ed.), Passchendaele in Perspective: The Third Battle of Ypres (London: Leo Cooper, 1997), p. 18.Google Scholar
  8. 23.
    John Termine, Douglas Haig: The Educated Soldier (London: Hutchinson, 1963), pp. 319–20.Google Scholar
  9. 49.
    Brian Bond, ‘Soldiers and Statesmen: British Civil-Military Relations in 1917’, Military Affairs, October 1968, p. 65.Google Scholar
  10. 57.
    On Austria’s peace overtures in 1917, see French, Strategy of the Lloyd George Coalition, pp. 103–109 and David Stevenson, The First World War and International Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 139–48.Google Scholar
  11. 67.
    S.W. Roskill, ‘The U-Boat Campaign of 1917 and Third Ypres’, Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, 616, November 1959, pp. 440–42. An attempt was made in April 1918 to neutralise the port of Bruges by blocking the canal exits at Ostend and Zeebrugge, but it ended in failure: ‘At no time was the movement of smaller U-boats in and out of Bruges affected’; Wilson, Myriad Faces, p. 632.Google Scholar
  12. 84.
    C.E. Callwell (ed.), Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson: His Life and Diaries, 2 vols (London: Cassell, 1927), I, p. 355.Google Scholar
  13. 94.
    John Charteris, At GHQ (London: Cassell, 1931), pp. 240–41.Google Scholar
  14. 105.
    J.H. Boraston (ed.), Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatches (December 1915–April 1919) (London: Dent, 1919), pp. 116–17. My emphasis. Edmonds notes that Haig was ‘Well informed of the miserable conditions at the front’; Military Operations 1917, II, p. 378.Google Scholar
  15. 114.
    C.à.C. Repington, The First World War 1914–1918, 2 vols (London: Constable, 1920), II, p. 99, 14 October 1917;Google Scholar
  16. see also Sir John Davidson, Haig: Master of the Field (London: Peter Nevill, 1953), p. 66.Google Scholar
  17. 116.
    General Sir Hubert Gough, The Fifth Army (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1931), p. 205; and the same author’s Soldiering On (London: Arthur Barker, 1954), p. 142; also Anthony Farrar-Hockley, Goughie (London: Hart-Davis, MacGibbon, 1975), p. 224.Google Scholar
  18. 117.
    Esher journal, quoted in Peter Fraser, Lord Esher: A Political Biography (London: Hart-Davis, MacGibbon, 1973), p. 367.Google Scholar
  19. 127.
    J.E. Edmonds, Military Operations France and Belgium 1916, I (London: Macmillan, 1932), pp. 496–97.Google Scholar
  20. 132.
    M.J. Williams, ‘Thirty Per Cent: A Study in Casualty Statistics’, Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, February 1964, pp. 51–55; and ‘Treatment of the British Losses on the Somme in the British Official History: “Military Operations France and Belgium 1916”’, Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, February 1966, pp. 69–74.Google Scholar
  21. 133.
    Sir William Robertson, Soldiers and Statesmen, 2 vols (London: Cassell, 1926), II, p. 299; War Office, Statistics of the Military Effort, pp. 263–64, 326.Google Scholar
  22. 147.
    For a different view see John Grigg, Lloyd George: War Leader 1916–1918 (London: Allen Lane/Penguin, 2002), pp. 274–81.Google Scholar

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© Andrew Suttie 2005

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  • Andrew Suttie

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