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You are Haig. How do you win the war faster?

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  • You are Haig. How do you win the war faster?

    Haig has come in for a lot of stick over the years about the performance of the BEF under his command. So what should he have done? Starting from his appointment as commander of the BEF in December 1915 with everything else being as it was in real life what decisions would you have made that could have led to a significantly faster victory. By faster I mean forcing the Germans to accept armistice terms similar to what they accepted in November 1918 but at least six months earlier. Assumption is that if the Germans are forced to sue for peace their Central Power Allies would collapse as well. Need to bare in mind what Haig could and could not control.
    "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

  • #2
    I’m not really sure he could have done much differently. What must always be remembered is how modern that war was. 50 years earlier it was grape shot and muskets, by 1916 it was machine guns, aircraft, poison gas, tanks, TNT and men in their millions.
    I don’t think any general was equipped to fight a land war on such a scale. It took until late 1917 before any of them got a handle on the new world, and even then it was still as bloody as the previous years. Haig was just one of the many.
    Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

    That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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    • #3
      The only thing I can think of is to replace many of the Light Field Guns with Medium and Heavy Howitzers. Introduce tracked vehicles earlier will also help. Create a professional Staff instead of an old boys club (friends, relatives and proteges).

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
        The only thing I can think of is to replace many of the Light Field Guns with Medium and Heavy Howitzers. Introduce tracked vehicles earlier will also help. Create a professional Staff instead of an old boys club (friends, relatives and proteges).

        Pruitt
        He would have to request the change in artillery production which would take time but presumably could be done. He was already pushing tanks. As for staff there wasn't anyone else at first and he did ultimately promote his own choices as army commanders, receocognised and gave influence to the likes of Currie and Monash.
        "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Rojik View Post
          I’m not really sure he could have done much differently. What must always be remembered is how modern that war was. 50 years earlier it was grape shot and muskets, by 1916 it was machine guns, aircraft, poison gas, tanks, TNT and men in their millions.
          I don’t think any general was equipped to fight a land war on such a scale. It took until late 1917 before any of them got a handle on the new world, and even then it was still as bloody as the previous years. Haig was just one of the many.
          When he took over in December 1915 he had already had over a year of trench warfare.
          "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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          • #6
            All allied Commanders were on a steep learning curve and the combination of hard-won experience- combined arms operations,improved logistics, better communications etc - didn't really all fall into place until mid-1918. In retrospect it's easy to suggest that Haig and Co could have better ,but they were confronted with situations totally outside their experience. As far as British commanders were concerned, they had been trained to regard the Battle of Waterloo as a significant example. But on the Somme on 1st.July ,1916, they were confronted with the equivalent of six Battles of Waterloo in a row:- and they were facing defeat on four of them.
            "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
            Samuel Johnson.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Surrey View Post

              When he took over in December 1915 he had already had over a year of trench warfare.
              Well yes, but so did others, and not much was going on their either.

              What is often forgotten is that between Verdun and the March offensives of 1918, is that the allies were hitting a stone wall that was getting stronger and smarter with each allied attack.
              Yes mistakes were made, and some bloody ones at that, but nobody had a better plan until more modern weapons came along and the proper doctrine to use them was developed. And that was just a matter of time, not genius.
              I can’t think of any moments of real genuine genius in that war. The ones I can think of were more to the opposite side not paying attention rather than anything else, and even if there were local gotcha! moments it was situation normal a week later.
              WW1 was a bloody horrible slaughter house. It was Europe in a mass suicide pact. Maybe the Somme was a bad place to fight a battle- but that was political more than anything. Passchendaele was a disaster, but it was as bad for the Germans as it was for the Empire.
              So yeah even with 100 years of hindsight, I’m not sure what else could have been done differently
              Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

              That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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              • #8
                The only possible way I could think of that Haig could shorten the war is if he somehow persuades Lloyd George to release some of those hundreds of thousands of troops who were in the UK in good time to meet the German Spring Offensive of 1918.
                Of course Lloyd George was deliberately starving the army of manpower because he thought Haig was being too wasteful with his men's lives - which he probably was.
                So a better planned opening of the Somme Offensive - there were less guns per mile on the attacking front than there were at Loos a year earlier - and halting the operation earlier, a shorter Third Ypres and perhaps a stronger, better supported Cambrai might have convinced LG that Haig knew how to win not too wastefully?

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                • #9
                  One possibility is the British send a large army to Russia with the intent of knocking Austria-Hungary out of the war. The British had the means to do it. By reinforcing the Russians and holding fast in France the British avoid the bloodbath of West Front offensives that go nowhere.

                  If possible, the British should have also done more to keep the Ottomans out of the war. That too reduces peripheral issues to more manageable terms.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                    One possibility is the British send a large army to Russia with the intent of knocking Austria-Hungary out of the war. The British had the means to do it. By reinforcing the Russians and holding fast in France the British avoid the bloodbath of West Front offensives that go nowhere.

                    If possible, the British should have also done more to keep the Ottomans out of the war. That too reduces peripheral issues to more manageable terms.
                    Probably would have struggled to do more than one major intervention at a time. Could not have sent an army against the Ottomans and support the Russians. Plus getting troops to Russia means sailing them to Murmansk. Also that sort of strategy would be outside of Haig's remit I think.
                    "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gooner View Post
                      The only possible way I could think of that Haig could shorten the war is if he somehow persuades Lloyd George to release some of those hundreds of thousands of troops who were in the UK in good time to meet the German Spring Offensive of 1918.
                      Of course Lloyd George was deliberately starving the army of manpower because he thought Haig was being too wasteful with his men's lives - which he probably was.
                      So a better planned opening of the Somme Offensive - there were less guns per mile on the attacking front than there were at Loos a year earlier - and halting the operation earlier, a shorter Third Ypres and perhaps a stronger, better supported Cambrai might have convinced LG that Haig knew how to win not too wastefully?
                      First is interesting. Having hundreds of thousands more British troops in France in March 1918 could have stopped the German offensive much sooner and enabled an earlier counter attack.
                      As to the Somme perhaps a more concentrated effort would be an earlier use of 'bit and hold' tactics?
                      "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Surrey View Post

                        Probably would have struggled to do more than one major intervention at a time. Could not have sent an army against the Ottomans and support the Russians. Plus getting troops to Russia means sailing them to Murmansk. Also that sort of strategy would be outside of Haig's remit I think.
                        To keep the Ottomans out of the war, the British could have given them the ships they paid for rather than holding them and letting the Germans get the jump on things by handing them the Göben. Politics and some properly applied economic grease would have likely done the trick.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                          To keep the Ottomans out of the war, the British could have given them the ships they paid for rather than holding them and letting the Germans get the jump on things by handing them the Göben. Politics and some properly applied economic grease would have likely done the trick.
                          Ottomans were always going to join Central Powers once Geoben got to Constantinople.
                          "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                            To keep the Ottomans out of the war, the British could have given them the ships they paid for rather than holding them and letting the Germans get the jump on things by handing them the Göben. Politics and some properly applied economic grease would have likely done the trick.
                            Yes and no. It was the Germans that were training the ottoman army (with the British training the navy), and the Young Turks were a mixed bag of reprobates not unlike the Nazis. They were hurting from the loss of the Balkans, and angry over real or imagined slights. There was much the central powers could offer and very little the allies could - at best neutrality, but that would have taken some deft diplomatic foot work, and with Russia and her designs on Constantinople in play in 1914 then even neutrality was a pipe dream.

                            As for Haig... not much really. I could give a 20/20 hindsight answer but what we know and learnt were paid for in the blood of millions. What is oft forgotten is how modern the war was to those fighting it. Machine guns, barbed wire, aircraft, TNT, etc were not just new to warfare, it was completely different to everything war gamed and studied by the generals.

                            Also politics and alliances meant that generals everywhere needed to attack even if it was not ideal.
                            Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

                            That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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