Haig - Master of the Field, Major General Sir John Davidson

Haig - Master of the Field, Major General Sir John Davidson

Major General Sir John Davidson served as Field Marshall Haig's Director of Operations from 1916 until the end of the First World War, and was thus at the heart of events during some of most controversial battles on the Western Front.

Haig emerged from the war with a great reputation, but this faded over the years as his victories were forgotten and the memory of the high cost of the battles on the Western Front came to dominate. Davidson published this book in 1953 in an attempt to restore his old boss's reputation.

The main thrust of Davidson's argument is that Haig was always limited by the nature of coalition warfare. In particular he had to be aware of the poor state of the French army after the mutinies of 1917. This helps to explain the mud bath at Passchendaele, an attack made at a time when Haig was desperate to draw German attention away from the weak French front. Davidson also looks as Haig's difficult relationship with Lloyd George, and the impact that had on the British army during 1918.

Davidson presents a very good case for Haig, although on occasions he rather overstates his case, seldom admitting to even a minor mistake. This is a very useful volume for anyone interested in the Western Front. Davidson's position close to Haig meant that he was aware of most of what was going on, while the lengthy gap between the end of the war and publication meant that he was willing to discuss previously secret material. 

I - Events leading up to the crisis in 1917
II - Conditions of the Allied Armies - French, Russian and Italian - in 1917
III - Operations in Northern Flanders, Passchendaele, First Phase - 31st July to 31st August
IV - Operations in Northern Flanders, Passchendaele, Second Phase - 1st September to 7th October
V - Operations in Northern Flanders, Passchendaele, Third Phase - 7th October to 13th November
VI - Organisation and Preparation to meet German Offensive 1918
VII - The German Offensives of 21st March and 9th April 1918
VIII - British Offensive 8th August to Armistice 11th November 1918
IX - Comments
X - Review

Author: Major General Sir John Davidson
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 158
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2010 edition of 1953 original

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