The Ypres Salient - CWGC

Opponents of Haig (both contemporary and post-war) have cited the impossible conditions of the battle area following the onset of the near continual rain from 4 A column of lorries and horse-drawn vehicles moves along the Menin Road towards eveningOctober, and the exhausted state of many of the designated attack and support units, as clear evidence of the impracticability of proceeding with offensive operations into the early winter. But, according to his defenders, the Commander-in-Chief was compelled to persist by acutely felt responsibilities: the understanding (based on intelligence supplied to him) that the enemy was reeling and possibly on the verge of withdrawal and that ‘one last push’ might have profound effects; and of the need to distract German forces to the very utmost in order to deflect enemy attention from the still weak (though recovering) French Army.

This responsibility towards his allies had wider, external implications: the German Supreme Command was to be allowed no let up to arrange the transportation to France of the Divisions freed following the collapse of the Russian armies, nor to supply reinforcements to the Austrian forces in connection with the Italian advance across the Carso. These grand strategic considerations have in turn been interpreted by Haig's detractors as mere self justifying fantasies overlying an unimaginative obstinacy and willingness to sacrifice lives for personal pride and little military purpose. The debate continues.


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