British Generals in the Great War Essay examples

British Generals in the Great War Essay examples

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British Generals in the Great War

Ever since the first world war the quote 'lions led by donkeys' has
been used to describe the British army, and refers to the brave troops
as 'lions' that are being led by stupid 'donkey' generals. It came
about as much of the public and soldiers opinions stated that the
generals were incompetents who led their men to the death regardless
of whether the battle they were fighting was a lost cause. The quote
originated from the German troops, who respectfully commented on the
British soldiers' bravery and upon how their lives where so carelessly
wasted by their 'idiot' generals; many modern books, films and tv
shows, for example hilarious 'Blackadder Goes Forth', still echo this
belief. Is this however a just assessment of the British generals of
World War 1?

This portrait of moronic, heartless generals was rather popular and
actually stemmed from many very real facts. Evidently, the main reason
for these opinions is the alarmingly great number of casualties that
each battle produced; the worst such example would be the Battle of
the Somme that had raged from the 1st of July 1916, when over 19 000
British soldiers were killed and around 57 000 were wounded during the
first day alone. Soon battles became referred to as 'slaughter' rather
than fighting, and it seemed to many that the generals' strategy was
to simply outkill the enemy - this was based on reality, the generals'
view was that as the Germans had less men it did not matter if the
Allies lost more, eventually they would still prevail. The long list
of fatalities alarmed public and soldiers alike - but what appeared
even more shocking was ...

... middle of paper ...

the generals were indeed responsible for a portion of that loss they
ultimately achieved their goal by winning the war - therefore, they
musn't have been complete 'donkeys'. It is wrong that these men were
reffered to as beasts - if not for them, if not for leaders, there
would have been no strategy at all and the entire conflict would
surely have been won by the Germans. In order to fight effectively
there must be strategy, for there to be strategy there must be order,
for there to be order there must be leadership; whoever the leaders
are must be able to make difficult decisions and choices of literally
life and death. Mistakes cannot be avoided, but they are important to
learn from and to better the strategies from. The soldiers of the
First World War were indeed lions; but their generals were far from

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