Document No. 952
Office of the Adjutant General
Washington, August 22, 1919
The following report of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig
on the "Features of the War" is published for the information
of all concerned.
By Order of the Secretary of War:
PEYTON C. MARCH
General, Chief of Staff
The Adjutant General.
Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig on the "Features of the War."
[From the Fourth supplement to The London Gazette of Tuesday, Apr. 8, 1919.]
[We are departing, in this instance from our usual practice of publishing extracts from dispatches only in this supplement to Royal Engineers Journal and reproduce below Part II of Sir Douglas Haig's final dispatch, since it furnishes a general review of the whole war.---EDITOR, R. E. Journal
(10) In this. my final dispatch, I think it desirable to comment briefly upon certain general features which concern the whole series of operations carried out under my command. I am urged thereto by the conviction that neither the course of the war itself nor the military lessons to be drawn therefrom can properly, be comprehended, unless the long succession of battles commenced on the Somme in 1916 and ended in November of last year on the Sambre are viewed as forming part of one great and continuous engagement.
To direct attention to any single phase of that stupendous and incessant struggle and seek in it the explanation of our success, to the exclusion or neglect of other phases possibly less striking in their immediate or obvious consequences is, in my opinion, to risk the formation of unsound doctrines regarding the character and requirements of modern war.
If the operations of the past four and a half years are regarded as a single continuous campaign, there can be recognized in them the same general features and the same necessary stages which between forces of approximately equal strength have marked all the conclusive battles of history. There is in the first instance the preliminary stage of the campaign in which the opposing forces seek to deploy and maneuver for position, endeavoring while doing so to gain some early advantage which might be pushed home to quick decision. This phase came to an end in the present war with the creation of continuous trench lines from the Swiss frontier to the sea.
Battle having been joined, there follows the period of real struggle in which the main forces of the two belligerent armies are pitted against each other in close and costly combat. Each commander seeks to wear down the power of resistance of his opponent and to pin him to his position, while preserving or accumulating in his own hands a powerful reserve force with which he can maneuver, and when signs, of the enemy becoming morally and physically weakened are observed, deliver the decisive attack. The greatest possible pressure against the enemy's whole front must be maintained, especially when the crisis of the battle approaches. Then every man, horse, and gun is required to cooperate, so as to complete the enemy's overthrow and exploit success.
In the stage of the wearing out struggle, losses will necessarily be heavy on both sides, for in it the price of victory is paid. If the opposing forces are approximately equal in numbers, in courage, in morale, and in equipment, there is no way of avoiding payment of the price or of eliminating this phase of the struggle.
In former battles this stage of the conflict has rarely lasted more than a few days, and has often been completed in a few hours. When armies of millions are engaged, with the. resources of great Empires behind them, it will inevitably be long. It will include violent crises of fighting which, when viewed separately and apart from the general perspective, will appear individually as great indecisive battles. To this stage belong the great engagements of 1916 and 1917 which wore down the strength of the German armies.
Finally, whether from the superior fighting ability and leadership of one of the belligerents, as the result of greater resources or tenacity, or by reason of higher morale, or from a combination of all these causes, the time will come when the other side will begin to weaken and the climax of the battle is reached. Then the commander of the weaker side must choose whether he will break off the engagement, if he can, while there is yet time, or stake on a supreme effort what reserves remain to him. The launching and destruction of Napoleon's last reserves at Waterloo was a matter of minutes. In this World War the great sortie of the beleaguered German armies commenced on March 21, 1918, and lasted for four months, yet it represents a corresponding stage in a single colossal battle.
The breaking down of such a supreme effort will be the signal for the commander of the successful side to develop his greatest strength and seek to turn to immediate account the loss in material and morale which their failure must inevitably produce among his opponent's troops. In a battle joined and decided in the course of a few days or hours, there is no risk that the lay observer will seek to distinguish the culminating operations by which victory is seized and exploited from the preceding stages by which it has been made possible and determined. If the whole operations of the present war are regarded in correct perspective, the victories of the summer and autumn of 1918 will be seen to be as directly dependent upon the two years of stubborn fighting that preceded them.
(11) If the causes which determined the length of the recent contest are examined in the light of the accepted principles of war, it will be seen that the duration of the struggle was governed by and bore a direct relation to certain definite factors which are enumerated below.
In the first place, we were unprepared for war, or at any rate for a war of such magnitude. We were deficient in both trained men and military material, and, what was more important, had no machinery ready by which either men or material could be produced in anything approaching the requisite quantities. The consequences were twofold. Firstly, the necessary machinery had to be improvised hurriedly, and improvisation is never economical and seldom satisfactory. In this case the high-water mark of our fighting strength in infantry was only reached after two and a half years of conflict, by which time heavy casualties had already been incurred. In consequence, the full man power of the Empire was never developed in the field at any period of the war.
As regards material, it was not until midsummer, 1916. that the artillery situation became even approximately adequate to the conduct of major operations. Throughout the Somme Battle the expenditure of artillery ammunition had to be watched with the greatest care. During the battles of 1917 ammunition was plentiful, but the gun situation was a source of constant anxiety. Only in 1918 was it possible to conduct artillery operations independently of any limiting consideration other than that of transport.
The second consequence of our unpreparedness was that our armies were unable to intervene either at the outset of the war or until nearly two years had elapsed, in sufficient strength adequately to assist our Allies. The enemy was able to gain a notable initial advantage by establishing himself in Belgium and northern France, and throughout the early stages of the war was free to concentrate in undue proportion of his effectives against France and Russia. The excessive burden thrown upon the gallant Army of France during this period caused them losses, the effect of which has been felt all through the war and directly influenced its length. Just as at no time were we as an Empire able to put our own full strength into the field, so at no time were the Allies as a whole able completely to develop and obtain the full effect from their greatly superior man power. What might have been the effect of British intervention on a larger scale in the earlier stages of the war is shown by what was actually achieved by our original expeditionary force.
It is interesting to note that in previous campaigns the side which has been fully prepared for war has almost invariably gained a rapid and complete success over its less well prepared opponent. In 1866 and 1870, Austria, and then France, were overwhelmed at the outset by means of superior preparation. The initial advantages derived therefrom were followed up by such vigorous and ruthless action, regardless of loss, that there was no time to recover from the first stunning blows. The German plan of campaign in the present war was undoubtedly based on similar principles. The margin by which the German onrush in 1914 was stemmed was so narrow and the subsequent struggle so severe that the word "miraculous" is hardly too strong a term to describe the recovery and ultimate victory of the Allies.
A further cause adversely influencing the duration of the war on the western front during its later stages, and one following indirectly from that just stated, was the situation in other theaters. The military strength of Russia broke down in 1917 at a critical period, when, had she been able to carry out her military engagements, the war might have been shortened by a year. At a later date, the military situation in Italy in the autumn of 1917 necessitated the transfer of five British divisions from France to Italy, at a time when their presence in France might have had far-reaching effects.
Thirdly, the Allies were handicapped in their. task and the war thereby lengthened by the inherent difficulties always associated with the combined action of armies of separate nationalities differing in speech and temperament, and, not least important, in military organization, equipment, and supply.
Finally, as indicated in the opening paragraph of this part of my dispatch, the huge numbers of men engaged on either side, whereby a continuous battle front was rapidly established from Switzerland to the sea, outflanking was made, impossible and maneuver very difficult, necessitated the delivery of frontal attacks. This factor, combined with the strength of the defensive under modern conditions, rendered a protracted wearing out battle unavoidable before the enemy's power of resistance could be overcome. So long as the opposing forces are at the outset approximately equal in numbers and morale and there are no flanks to turn, a long struggle for supremacy is inevitable.
(12) Obviously the greater the length of a war the higher is likely to be the number of casualties incurred in it on either side. The same causes therefore, which served to protract the recent struggle are largely responsible for the extent of our casualties. There can be no question that to our general unpreparedness must be attributed the loss of many thousands of brave men whose sacrifice we deeply deplore, while we regard their splendid gallantry and self-devotion with unstinted admiration and gratitude.
Given, however, the. military situation existing in August, 1914, our total losses in the war have been no larger than were to be expected. Neither do they compare unfavorably with those of any other of the belligerent nations, so far as figures are available, from which comparison can be made. The total British casualties in all theaters of war, killed, wounded, missing, and prisoners, including native troops, are approximately three millions (3,076,388). Of this total some two and a half millions (2,568,834) were incurred on the western front. The total French losses, killed, missing, and prisoners, but exclusive of wounded, have been given officially as approximately 1,831,000. If an estimate for wounded is added, the total can scarcely be less than 4,800,000, and of this total it is fair to assume that over four millions were incurred on the western front. The published figures for Italy. killed and wounded only, exclusive of prisoners, amount to 1,400,060, of which practically the whole were incurred in the western theater of war.
Figures have also been published for Germany and Austria. The total German casualties, killed, wounded, missing, and prisoners, are given at approximately six and a half millions (6,485,000), of which the vastly greater proportion must have been incurred on the western front, where the bulk of the German forces were. concentrated and the hardest fighting took place. In view of the. fact, however. that the number of German prisoners is definitely known to be considerably understated, these figures must be accepted with reserve. The losses of Austria-Hungary in killed, missing, and prisoners are given as approximately two and three-quarter millions (2,772,000). An estimate of wounded would give a total of over four and a half millions.
The extent of our casualties, like the duration of the war. was dependent on certain definite factors which can be stated shortly.
In the first place, the military situation compelled us, particularly during the first portion of the war to make great efforts before we bad developed our full strength in the field or properly equipped and trained our armies. These efforts were wasteful of men, but in the circumstances they could not be avoided. The only alternative was to do nothing and see our French Allies overwhelmed by the enemy's superior numbers.
During the second half of the war, and that part embracing the critical and costly period of the wearing out battle, the losses previously suffered by our Allies laid upon the British Armies in France an increasing share in the burden of attack. From the opening of the Somme Battle in 1916 to the termination of hostilities the British armies were subjected to a strain of the utmost severity which never ceased, and consequently had little or no opportunity for the rest and training they so greatly needed.
In addition to these particular considerations, certain general factors peculiar to modern war made for the inflation of losses. The great strength of modern field defenses and the power and precision of modern weapons, the multiplication of machine guns, trench mortars, and artillery of all natures, the employment of gas, and the rapid development of the aeroplane as a formidable agent of destruction against both men and material, all combined to increase the price to be paid for victory.
If only for these reasons, no comparisons can usefully be made between the relative losses incurred in this war and any previous war. There is, however, the further consideration that the issues involved in this stupendous struggle were far greater than those concerned in any other war in recent history. Our existence as an Empire and civilization itself, as it is understood by the free western nations, were at stake. Men fought as they have never fought before in masses.
Despite our own particular handicaps and the foregoing general considerations, it is satisfactory to note that, as the result of the courage and determination of our troops, and the high level of leadership generally maintained, our losses even in attack over the whole period of the battle compare favorably with those inflicted on our opponents. The. approximate total of our battle casualties in all arms, and including overseas troops, from the commencement of the Somme Battle in 1916 to the conclusion of the armistice is 2,140,000. The calculation of German losses is obviously a matter of great difficulty. It is estimated, however, that the number of casualties inflicted on the enemy by British troops during the above period exceeds two and a half millions. It is of interest, moreover, in the light of the paragraph next following, that more than half the total casualties incurred by us in the fighting of 1918 were occasioned during the five months, March-July, when our armies were on the defensive.
(13) Closely connected with the question of casualties is that of the relative values of attack and defense. It is a view often expressed that the attack is more expensive than defense. This is only a half statement of the truth. Unquestionably, unsuccessful attack is generally more expensive than defense, particularly if the attack is pressed home with courage and resolution. On the other hand, attack so pressed home, if skillfully conducted, is rarely unsuccessful, whereas in its later stages especially, unsuccessful defense is far more costly than attack.
Moreover, the object of all war is victory, and a purely defensive attitude can never bring about a successful decision, either in a battle or in a campaign. The idea that a war can be won by standing on the defensive and waiting for the enemy to attack is a dangerous fallacy, which owes its inception to the desire to evade the price of victory. It is an axiom that decisive success in battle can be gained only by a vigorous offensive. The principle here stated has long been recognized as being fundamental and is based on the universal teaching of military history in all ages. The course of the present war has proved it to be correct.
To pass for a moment from the general to the particular, and consider in the light of the present war the facts upon which this axiom is based.
A defensive role sooner or later brings about a distinct lowering of the morale of the troops, who imagine that the enemy must be the better man, or at least more numerous, better equipped with and better served by artillery or other mechanical aids to victory. Once the mass of the defending infantry become possessed of such ideas, as lost the battle is as good. An army fighting on enemy soil, especially if its standard of discipline is high, may maintain a successful defense for a protracted period, in the hope that victory may be gained elsewhere or that the enemy may tire or weaken in his resolution and accept a compromise. The resistance of the German Armies was undoubtedly prolonged in this fashion, but in the end the persistence of our troops had its natural effect.
Further, a defensive policy involves the loss of the initiative, with all the consequent disadvantages to the defender. The enemy is able to choose at his own convenience the time and place of his attacks. Not being influenced himself by the threat of attack from his opponent, he can afford to take risks, and by greatly weakening his front in some places can concentrate an overwhelming force elsewhere with which to attack. The defender, on the other hand, becomes almost entirely ignorant of the dispositions and plans of his opponent, who is thus in a position to effect a surprise. This was clearly exemplified during the fighting of 1918. As long as the enemy was attacking, he obtained fairly full information regarding our dispositions. Captured documents show that, as soon as he was thrown once more on the defensive and the initiative returned to the Allies, he was kept in comparative ignorance of our plans and dispositions. The consequence was that the Allies were able to effect many surprises, both strategic and tactical.
As a further effect of the loss of the initiative and ignorance of his opponent's intentions, the defender finds it difficult to avoid a certain dispersal of his forces. Though for a variety of reasons, including the fact that we had lately been on the offensive, we were by no means entirely ignorant of the enemy's intentions in the spring of 1918, the unavoidable uncertainty resulting from a temporary loss of the initiative did have the effect of preventing a complete concentration of our reserves behind the point of the enemy's attack.
An additional reason, peculiar to the circumstances of the present war, which in itself compelled me to refuse to adopt a purely defensive attitude, so long as any other was open to me, is to be found in the geographical position of our armies. For reasons stated by me in my dispatch of July 20, 1918, we could not afford to give much ground on any part of our front. The experience of the war has shown that if the defense is to be maintained successfully, even for a limited time, it must be flexible.
(14) If the views set out by me in the preceding paragraphs are accepted, it will be recognized that the war did not follow any unprecedented course, and that its end was neither sudden nor should it have been unexpected. The rapid collapse of Germany's military powers in the latter half of 1918 was the logical outcome of the fighting of the previous two years. It would not have taken place but for that period of ceaseless attrition which used up the reserves of the German Armies while the constant and growing pressure of the blockade sapped with more deadly insistence from year to year at the strength and resolution of the German people. It is in the great battles of 1916 and 1917 that we have to seek for the secret of our victory in 1918.
Doubtless, the end might have come sooner had we been able to develop the military resources of our Empire more rapidly and with a higher degree of concentration. or had not the defection of Russia in 1917 given our enemies a new lease of life.
So far as the military situation is concerned, in spite of the great accession of strength which Germany received as the result of the defection of Russia, the battles of 1916 and 1917 had so far weakened her armies that the effort they made in 1918 was insufficient to secure victory. Moreover, the effect of the battles of 1916 and 1917 was not confined to loss of German man power. The moral effects of those battles were enormous, both in the. German Army and in Germany. By their means our soldiers established over the German soldier a moral superiority which they held in an ever-increasing degree until the end of the war, even in the difficult days of March and April, 1918.
(15) From time to time as the war of position dragged on and the enemy's trench systems remained unbroken, while questions of man power and the shortage of shipping: became acute, the wisdom or necessity of maintaining any large force of mounted men was freely discussed. In the light of the full experience of the war the decision to preserve the cavalry corps has been completely justified. It has been proved that cavalry, whether used for shock effect under suitable conditions or as mobile infantry, have still an indispensable part to play in modern war. Moreover, it can not safely be assumed that in all future wars the flanks of the opposing forces will rest on neutral States or impassable obstacles. Whenever such a condition does not obtain, opportunities for the use of cavalry must arise frequently.
Throughout the great retirement in 1914 our cavalry covered the retirement and protected the flanks of our columns against the onrush of the enemy, and on frequent occasions prevented our infantry from being overrun by the enemy's cavalry. Later in the same year at Ypres their mobility multiplied their value as a reserve, enabling them rapidly to reinforce threatened portions of our line.
During the critical period of position warfare, when the trial of strength between the opposing forces took place, the absence of room to maneuver made the importance of cavalry less apparent. Even under such conditions, however. valuable results may be expected from the employment of a strong force of cavalry when, after there has been severe fighting on one or more fronts, a surprise attack is made on another front. Such an occasion arose in the operations before Cambrai at the close of 1917, when the cavalry were of the greatest service, while throughout the whole period of trench fighting they constituted an important mobile reserve.
At a later date, when circumstances found us operating once more in comparatively open country, cavalry proved themselves of value in their true role. During the German offensive in March, 1918, the superior mobility of cavalry fully justified their existence. At the commencement of the battle cavalry were used under the fifth army over wide fronts. So great, indeed, became the need for mounted men that certain units which had but recently been dismounted were hurriedly provided with horses and did splendid service. Frequently, when it was impossible to move forward other troops in time, our mounted troops were able to fill gaps in our line and restore the situation. The absence of hostile cavalry at this period was a marked feature of the battle. Had the German command had at their disposal even two or three well-trained cavalry divisions, a wedge might have been driven between the French and British Armies. Their presence could not have failed to have added greatly to the difficulties of our task.
In the actions already referred to east of Amiens, the cavalry were again able to demonstrate the great advantage which their power of rapid concentration gives them in a surprise attack. Operating in close concert with both armored cars and infantry, they pushed ahead of the latter and by anticipating the arrival of German reserves assisted materially in our success. In the battle of October 8 they were responsible for saving the Cambrai-Le Cateau-St. Quentin Railway from complete destruction. Finally, during the culminating operations of the war when the German Armies were falling back in disorganized masses a new situation arose which demanded the use of mounted troops. Then our cavalry, pressing hard upon the enemy's heels, hastened his retreat and threw him into worse confusion. At such a time the moral effect of cavalry is overwhelming and is in itself a sufficient reason for the retention of that arm.
On the morning of the armistice, two British cavalry divisions were on the march east of the Scheldt, and before the orders to stop reached them they had already gained a line 10 miles in front of our infantry outposts. There is no doubt that, had the advance of the cavalry been allowed to continue, the enemy's disorganized retreat would have been turned into a rout.
(16) A remarkable feature of the present war has been the number and variety of mechanical contrivances to which it has given birth or has brought to a higher state of perfection.
Besides the great increase in mobility made possible by the development of motor transport, heavy artillery, trench mortars, machine guns, aeroplanes, tanks, gas, and barbed wire have in their several spheres of action played very prominent parts in operations, and as a whole have given a greater driving power to war. The belligerent possessing a preponderance of such mechanical contrivances has found himself in a very favorable position as compared with his less well provided opponent. The general superiority of the Allies in this direction during the concluding stages of the recent struggle undoubtedly contributed powerfully to their success. In this respect the army owes a great debt to science and to the distinguished scientific men who placed their learning, and skill at the disposal of their country.
It should never be forgotten, however, that weapons of this character are incapable of effective independent action. They do not in themselves possess the power to obtain a decision, their real function being to assist the infantry to get to grips with their opponents. To place in them a reliance out of proportion to their real utility, to imagine, for example, that tanks, and aeroplanes can take the place of infantry and artillery, would be to do a disservice to those who have the future of these new weapons most at heart by robbing them of the power to use them to their best effect.
Every mechanical device so far produced is dependent for its most effective upon the closest possible association with other arms, and in particular with infantry and artillery. Aeroplanes must rely upon infantry to prevent the enemy from overrunning their aerodromes, and, despite their increasing range. and versatility of action, are clearly incapable in themselves of bringing about a decision. Tanks require the closest artillery support to enable them to reach their objectives without falling victims to the enemy's artillery, and are dependent upon the infantry to hold the position they have won.
As an instance of the interdependence of artillery and tanks. we may take the actions fought east of Amiens on August 8, 1918, and following days. A very large number of tanks were employed in these operations, and they carried out their tasks in the most brilliant manner. Yet a scrutiny of the artillery ammunition returns for this period discloses the fact that in no action of similar dimensions had the expenditure of ammunition been so great.
Immense as the influence of mechanical devices may be, they can not by themselves decide a campaign. Their true role is that of assisting the infantryman, which they have done in a most admirable manner. They can not replace him. Only by the rifle and bayonet of the infantryman can the decisive victory be won.
(17) This war has given no new principles; but the different mechanical appliances above mentioned---and in particular the rapid improvement and multiplication of aeroplanes, the use of immense numbers of machine guns and Lewis guns, the employment of vast quantities of barbed wire as effective obstacles, the enormous expansion of artillery, and the provision of great masses of motor transport---have introduced new problems of considerable complexity concerning the effective cooperation of the different arms and services. Much thought has had to be bestowed upon determining how new devices could be combined in the best manner with the machinery already working.
The development of the air service is a matter of general knowledge, and figures showing something of the work done by our airmen were included in my last dispatch. The combining of their operations with those of the other arms, and particularly of the artillery, has been the subject of constant study and experiment, giving results of the very highest value. As regards machine guns, from a proportion of 1 gun to approximately 500 infantrymen in 1914, our establishment of machine guns and Lewis guns had risen at the end of 1918 to 1 machine gun or Lewis gun to approximately 20 infantrymen. This great expansion was necessarily accompanied by a modification of training and methods both for attack and defense, and resulted ultimately in the establishment of the machine-gun corps under an inspector general.
During the same period, the growth of our artillery was even more remarkable, its numbers and power increasing out of all proportion to the experience of previous wars. The 486 pieces of light and medium artillery with which we took the field in August, 1914, were represented at the date of the armistice by 6,437 guns and howitzers of all natures, including pieces of the heaviest caliber.
This vast increase so profoundly influenced the employment of artillery and was accompanied by so intimate an association with other arms and services that it merits special comment.
In the first place, big changes were required in artillery organization, as well as important decisions concerning the proportions in which the different natures of artillery and artillery ammunition should be manufactured. These changes and decisions were made during 1916, and resulted in the existing artillery organization of the British armies in France.
In order to gain the elasticity essential to the quick concentration of guns at the decisive point, to enable the best use to be made of them, and to facilitate ammunition supply and fire control, artillery commanders, acting under army and corps commanders, were introduced, and staffs provided for them. This enabled the large concentrations of guns required for our offensives to be quickly absorbed and efficiently directed. The proportions required of guns to howitzers and of the lighter to the heavier natures were determined by certain factors, namely the problem of siting in the comparatively limited areas available the great numbers of pieces required for an offensive; the "lives" of the different types of guns and howitzers, that is the number of rounds which can be fired from them before they become unserviceable from wear, and questions of relative accuracy and fire effect upon particular kinds of targets.
The results attained by the organization established in 1916 is in itself strong evidence of the soundness of the principles upon which it was based. It made possible a high degree of elasticity, and by the full and successful exploitation of all the means placed it its disposal by science and experience, insured that the continuous artillery battle which began on the Somme should culminate,. as it did, in the defeat of the enemy's guns.
The great development of air photography, sound ranging, flash spotting, air-burst ranging, and aerial observation brought counterbattery work and harassing fire both by day and night to a high state of perfection. Special progress was made in the art of engaging moving targets with fire controlled by observation from aeroplanes and balloons. The work of the field survey sections in the location of hostile battery positions by resection and the employment of accurate maps was brought into extended use. In combination with the work of the calibration sections in the accurate calibration of guns and by careful calculation of corrections of range required to compensate for weather conditions it became possible to a large extent to dispense with registration, whereby the chance of effecting surprise was greatly increased. In the operations east of Amiens on August 8, 1918, in which over 2,000 guns were employed, practically the whole of the batteries concentrated for the purpose of the attack opened fire for the first time, on the actual morning of the assault.
The use of smoke shell for covering the advance of our infantry and masking the enemy's positions was introduced and employed with increasing frequency and effect. New forms of gas shell were made available, and their combination with the infantry attack carefully studied. The invention of a new fuze known as "106," which was first used in the Battle of Arras, 1917, enabled wire entanglements to be easily and quickly destroyed, and so modified our methods of attacking organized positions. By bursting the shell the instant it touched the ground and before it had become buried, the destructive effect of the explosion was greatly increased. It became possible to cut wire with a far less expenditure of time and ammunition, and the factor of surprise was given a larger part in operations.
Great attention was paid to the training of personnel, and in particular the Chapperton Down Artillery School, Salisbury Plain, was formed for training artillery brigade commanders and battery commanders, while artillery schools in France were organized for the training of subalterns and noncommissioned officers.
A short examination of our principal attacks will give a good idea of the increasing importance of artillery. On the first day of the Somme Battle of 1916 the number of artillery personnel engaged was equal to about half the infantry strength of the attacking divisions. On this one, day a total of nearly 13,000 tons of artillery ammunition was fired by us on the western front. Our attacks at Arras and Messines, on April 9 and June 7, 1917, saw the total expenditure of artillery ammunition nearly doubled on the first days of those battles, while the proportion of artillery personnel to infantry steadily grew.
During the period following the opening of the Somme Battle, the predominance of our artillery over that of the enemy gradually increased, till at the time of the Arras Battle it bad reached a maximum. In the course of the summer and autumn of 1917, however, the enemy constantly reinforced his artillery on our front, being enabled to do so owing to the relaxation of pressure elsewhere.
The Battle of Ypres in the autumn of 1917 was one of intense struggle for artillery supremacy. By dint of reducing his artillery strength on other parts of the western front, and by bringing guns from the east, the enemy definitely challenged the predominance of our artillery. In this battle, therefore, the proportion of our artillery to infantry strength was particularly large. In the opening attack on July 31 our artillery personnel amounted to over 80 per cent of the infantry engaged in the principal attack on our front, and our total expenditure of artillery ammunition on this day exceeded 23,000 tons. During the succeeding weeks the battle of the rival artilleries became ever more violent. On the two days, September 20 and 21, about 42,000 tons of artillery ammunition were expended by us, and in the successful attack of October 4, which gave us the main ridge about Broodseinde, our artillery personnel amounted to 85 per cent of the infantry engaged in the assault.
During the winter of 1917-18 the enemy so greatly added to his artillery strength by batteries brought from the Russian front that in his spring offensive he was able temporarily to effect a definite local artillery superiority. This state of affairs was short-lived. Even before the breakdown of the German offensive, our guns had regained the upper hand. In the battles later in the year the superiority of our batteries once more grew rapidly, until the. defeat of the German artillery became an accomplished fact. From the commencement of our offensive in August, 1918, to the conclusion of the armistice, some 700,000 tons, of artillery ammunition were expended by the British armies on the western front. For the fortnight from August 21 to September 3 our average daily expenditure exceeded 11,000 tons, while for the three days of crucial battle on the 27th, 28th, and 29th of September nearly 65,000 tons of ammunition were fired by our artillery.
The tremendous growth of our artillery strength above described followed inevitably from the character of the wearing out battle upon which we were engaged. The restricted opportunities for maneuver and the necessity for frontal attacks made the employment of great masses of artillery essential.
The massing of the guns alone, however, could not have secured success without the closest possible combination between our batteries and the infantry they were called upon to support, as well as with the other arms. The expansion was accompanied, therefore, by a constant endeavor to improve the knowledge of all ranks of both artillery and infantry and the air service concerning the work and possibilities of the other arms.
An intelligent understanding of "the other man's job" is the first essential of successful cooperation. To obtain the best results from the vast and complex machine composing a modern army, deep study of work other than one's own is necessary for all arms. For this study much time is needed, as well as much practical application of the principles evolved, and for reasons already explained, opportunity sufficient for adequate training could not be found. None the less, the best possible use was made of such opportunities as offered, and much was in fact accomplished.
(18) As a natural corollary to the general increase of our forces, the signal service, required alike for the proper coordination of supply and for the direction and control of the battle, has grown almost out of recognition. From an original establishment of under 2,400 officers and men, trained and equipped chiefly for mobile warfare, at the end of 1918 the personnel of the signal service had risen to 42,000, fully equipped with all the, latest devices of modern science to act efficiently under all conditions as the nervous system to the whole vast organism of our army.
The commencement of trench warfare and the greater use of artillery led to a rapid development of the signal system, which, as fresh units were introduced, became more and more elaborate. At the same time, the increase in the power and range of artillery made the maintenance of communications constantly more difficult. Many miles of deep trenches were dug in which cables containing 50 to 100 circuits were buried to gain protection from shell fire. The use of wireless communication gradually became more widely spread and finally constituted part of the signal establishment of all formations down to divisions. To provide all alternative method of communication with front-line troops, in 1915 carrier pigeons were introduced and a special branch of the signal service was formed controlling ultimately some 20,000 birds. In 1917 a messenger-dog service was started for similar purposes and did good work on a number of occasions.
The expansion of the work of the signal service in the more forward areas was accompanied by a similar development on the lines of communication, at general headquarters, armies, and corps. Construction and railway companies were formed and about 1,500 miles of main telegraph and telephone routes constructed in the lines of communication area alone, in addition to many miles in army areas. Provision had to be. made for communication with London, Paris, and Marseille, as well as between the different allied headquarters. On the advance of our forces to the Rhine telephone communication was established between general headquarters at Montreuil and Cologne. Signal communication entailing the putting up of many thousands of miles of wire was provided also for the control of railway traffic, while to supplement electric communication generally a dispatch rider letter service was maintained by motor cyclists.
The amount of signal traffic dealt with became very great, and on the lines of communication alone more than 23,000 telegrams have been transmitted in 24 hours. Similarly, at general headquarters as many as 9,000 telegrams have been dealt with in 24 hours, besides 3,400 letters carried by dispatch riders; and army headquarters has handled 10,000 telegrams and 5,000 letters in the same space of time, and a corps, 4,500 telegrams and 3,000 letters. In addition to telegrams and letters, there has been at all times it great volume of telephone traffic.
Something of the extent of the constructional work required, in particular to meet the constant changes of the battle line and the movement of headquarters, can be gathered from the fact that as many as 6,500 miles of field cable have been issued in a single week. The average weekly issue of such cable for the whole of 1918 was approximately 3,300 miles.
(19) The immense expansion of the army, from 6 to over 60 infantry divisions, combined with the constant multiplication of auxiliary arms, called inevitably for a large increase in the size and scope of the services concerned in the supply and maintenance of our fighting forces.
As the army grew and became more complicated the total feeding strength of our forces in France rose until it approached a total of 2,700,000 men. The vastness of the figures involved in providing for their needs will be realized from the following examples. For the maintenance of a single division for one day, nearly 200 tons dead weight of supplies and stores are needed, representing a shipping tonnage of nearly 450 tons. In an army of 2,700,000 men, the addition of 1 ounce to each man's daily ration,, involves the carrying of an extra 75 tons of goods.
To cope with so great a growth, the number of existing directorates had gradually to be added to or their duties extended, with a corresponding increase in demands for personnel. The supervision of ports was intrusted to the directorate of docks, which controlled special companies for the transshipping of stores. By the end of November, 1918, the number of individual landings in France at, the various ports managed by us exceeded ten and one-half million persons. During the 11 months, January to November, 1918, the tonnage landed at these ports averaged some, 175,000 per week.
To the directorate of transport, originally concerned with the administration of horse vehicles and pack animals, fell the further duty of exploiting mechanical road traction. Despite the employment of over 46,700 vehicles, including over 30,000 lorries, the number of horses and mules rose greatly, reaching a figure exceeding 400,000. The replacement, training, and distribution of these animals was the duty of directorate of remounts. The directorate of veterinary services reduced losses and prevented the spread of disease, while the inspector of horse feeding, and economies insured that the utmost value was obtained from the forage and grain consumed.
To meet the requirements of mechanical and horse traffic, the upkeep or construction of a maximum of some 4,500 miles of roadway was intrusted to the directorate of roads. Some idea of the work involved may be obtained from the fact that for ordinary upkeep alone, 100 tons of road material are required per fortnight for the maintenance of I mile of road. Under this directorate were organized a number of road construction companies, together with quarry companies to supply the necessary metal. In the month of October, 1918, over 85,000 tons of road material were conveyed weekly by motor transport alone, involving a petrol mileage of over 14,000,000 weekly. The total output of stone front the commencement of 1918 to the date of the armistice amounted to some 3,500.000 tons.
For the working of the existing railways and for the construction or repair of many miles of track both normal and narrow gauge, railway troops of every description, operating companies, construction companies., survey and reconnaissance companies,. engine-crew companies, workshop companies, wagon-erecting companies, and light railway forward companies had to be provided. Under the directorate of railway traffic, the directorate of construction and the directorate of light railways, these and other technical troops during 1918 built or reconstructed 2,340 miles of broad-gauge and 1,348 miles of narrow-gauge railway. Throughout the, whole period of their operation they guaranteed the smooth and efficient working of the railway system. In the six months, May to October, 1918, a weekly average of 1,800 trains were run for British Army traffic, carrying a weekly average load of approximately 400,000 tons, while a further 130,000 tons were carried weekly by our light railways. The number of locomotives imported to deal with this traffic rose from 62 in 1916 to over 1,200 by the end of 1918, while the number of trucks rose from 3,840 to 52,600.
The inland water transport section were organized under a separate directorate for the working in France and Flanders of the canal and cross-channel barge traffic. On inland waterways alone an average of 56,000 tons of material were carried during 1918, the extent of waterways worked by us at the date of the armistice being some 465 miles.
The wonderful development of all methods of transportation had an important influence upon the course of events. No war been fought with such ample means of quick transportation as were available during the recent struggle. Despite the huge increase in the size of armies, it was possible to effect great concentrations of troops with a speed which, having regard to the numbers of men and bulk of material moved, has never before been equaled. Strategic and tactical mobility has been the guiding principle of our transportation arrangements; but this was itself at all times vitally affected by questions of supply and by the necessity of providing for the evacuation and replacement on a vast scale of the sick and wounded.
The successful coordination and economic use of all the various kinds of transportation requires most systematic management, based on deep thought and previous experience. So great was the work entailed in the handling of the vast quantities of which some few examples are given above, so complex did the machinery of transport become and so important was it that the highest state of efficiency should be maintained, that in the autumn of 1916 I was forced to adopt an entirely new system for running our lines of communication. The appointment of inspector general of communications was abolished, and the services previously directed by that officer were brought under the immediate control of the adjutant general, the quartermaster general, and the director general of transportation. The last mentioned was a new office created with a separate staff composed for the greater part of civilian experts to deal specifically with transportation questions. At the same time, the command and administration of the troops on the lines of communication were vested in a "general officer commanding the lines of communication area."
The huge bulk of the supplies to be handled was due not merely to the size of our army. It arose also from the introduction of new weapons and methods of war, and from the establishment of a higher standard of comfort for the troops. The incessant demands of the fighting forces for munitions were supplied by the directorate of ordnance services, combined with a great expansion of ordnance workshops; while the directorate of engineering stores provided on a vast scale the materials required for the construction of trench defenses and kindred purposes. For the comfort and well-being of the troops, the directorate of supplies stored and distributed in sound condition fresh food, to take the place as far as possible of tinned rations. Through the agency of an inspectorate of messing and economies, regular schools of cookery gave instruction to nearly 25,000 cooks, and careful measures were taken for the recovery of kitchen byproducts. In August, 1918, over 860,000 pounds of dripping were received from armies and consigned to England, while the cash value of the by-products disposed of from all sources has exceeded £60,000 in a single month. Provision was made for baths, and a new inspectorate supervised the running of army laundries on up-to-date lines.
The expeditionary force canteens made it possible to obtain additional comforts close up to the front. During 1918, the value of the weekly sales in the different canteens averaged eight and one-half million francs. These canteens were valuably supplemented by the various voluntary institutions ministering to the comfort and recreation of our troops, such as the Y. M. C. A., the Church Army, the Scottish Churches Huts, the Salvation Army, the Soldiers' Christian Association, the Catholic Women's League, and Club Huts, the United Army and the British and Navy Board, the Wesleyan Soldiers' Institute, and the British Soldiers' Institute. In many cases these organizations carried on their work almost in the actual fighting line, and did much to maintain the high morale of our armies. To permit the troops to avail themselves of the opportunities so offered, methods devised by the paymaster in chief enabled soldiers to obtain money anywhere in the field. Parcels and letters from home have been delivered by the army postal service with remarkable regularity.
As the effects of the enemy submarine warfare began to be felt and the shortage of shipping became more and more acute, so it became increasingly necessary for the army in France to be self-supporting. To meet this emergency vast hospitals and convalescent depots capable of accommodating over 22,000 men were erected west of the Seine at Trouville. Additional general hospitals with accommodation for over 7,000 patients were established in the neighborhood of Boulogne. Etaples, and elsewhere. Between January 1916, and November, 1918, the total capacity of hospitals and convalescent depots in France grew from under 44,000 to over 157,000 persons.
Great installations were set up for the manufacture of gun parts and articles of like nature, for the repair of damaged material as well as for the utilization of the vast quantities of articles of all kinds collected from the battlefields by the organization working under the direction of the controller of salvage. The forestry directorate, controlling over 70 Canadian and other forestry companies, worked forests all over France, in the northwest, central and southwest departments, the Vosges, Jura, and Bordeaux country. As the result of its work our armies were made practically independent of oversea imported timber. The directorate of agricultural production organized farm and garden enterprises for the local supply of vegetables, harvested the crops abandoned by the enemy in his retreat, and commenced the reclamation of the devastated area.
At the same time a great saving of shipping was effected by the speeding up of the work at the docks. The average tonnage discharged per hour in port rose from 12 1/2 tons in January, 1917, to 34 1/2 tons in July, 1918; while the average number of days lost by ships awaiting berth at the ports fell from some 90 ship days per week at the beginning of 1917 to about 9 ship days per week in 1918.
For the accommodation of so wide a range of services, installations of all kinds, hutments, factories, workshops, storage for ammunition, clothing, meat and petrol, power houses and pumping stations, camps and hospitals, had to be planned and constructed by the directorate of works. Our business relations with the French, the obtaining of sites and buildings, called for the establishment of a directorate of hirings and requisitions; while my financial adviser in France assisted in the adjustment of financial questions connected with the use of French railways and harbors, the exploitation of French forests and similar matters. The safeguarding from fire of the great number of buildings erected or taken over by us and of the masses of accumulated stores was intrusted to a definite staff under the supervision of a fire expert.
The creation and maintenance of the great organization briefly outlined above made big demands upon our available supply of personnel. Though these demands so far as possible were met, under the supervision of the controller of labor, by imported labor or prisoners of war. It was not practicable at any time to supply more than a proportion of our needs in this manner. Many fit men who might otherwise have reinforced the fighting line had also to be employed, especially during the earlier stages of the war.
As, however, our organization arrived at a greater state of completion and its working became smooth, so it began to be possible to withdraw considerable numbers of fit men from the rearward services. In many cases it was possible, where replacement was necessary, to fill the places of the fit men so withdrawn by women or unfit men. In this way, when the man-power situation became acute a considerable saving was effected. During the great British attacks of 1918, of a total male feeding strength of a little over two and one-quarter millions, one and one-half millions were in front of railhead. Even so, as has been found to be the case in the armies of all other belligerents, so in our army the number of fit men employed in the rearward services has at all times been large, and necessarily so.
It is hardly too much to assert that, however seemingly extravagant in men and money, no system of supply except the most perfect should ever be contemplated. To give a single example, unless our supply services bad been fully efficient the great advance carried out by our armies during the autumn of last year could not have been achieved.
Wars may be won or lost by the standard of health and morale of the opposing forces. Morale depends to a very large extent upon the feeding and general well-being of the troops. Badly supplied troops will invariably be low in morale, and an army ravaged by disease ceases to be a fighting force. The feeding and health of the fighting forces are dependent upon the rearward services, and so it may be argued that with the rearward services rests victory or defeat. In our case we can justly say that our supply system has been developed into one of the most perfect in the world.
(20) The preceding paragraph illustrates the demands which the conduct of operations made on the staff and directorates controlled by the quartermaster general. The parallel development of the adjutant general's branch, while concerned with matters less patent to the casual observer, has been no less remarkable. The problem of insuring the supply of reinforcements at the times and places at which they will be required to replace casualties is present in all warfare, and is difficult in any circumstances. In operations conducted on the scale reached in this war it is exceedingly intricate. The successful solution of this problem alone entitles the adjutant general and his staff to the greatest credit. It has formed, however, but a small part of their work.
Owing to the impossibility of foretelling what claims would be made on man power by industry or by other theaters of war, it was necessary to prepare elaborate forecasts of the personnel likely to be required at various dates, and to work out in advance the best manner of utilizing reinforcements in the event of their being available in greater or less numbers. We were faced with an unexpected contraction in man power in the winter of 1917 and an unexpected expansion in the summer of 1918. Both these developments were encountered with a success which could only have been attained by the greatest forethought and application on the part of the staff concerned.
To reduce to cadre a depleted division, to fill it, up when men be came available, to break up a battalion and redistribute its personnel, to comb out a certain number of fit men from the rearward services, all sound simple operations. In reality each requires immense amount of sympathetic treatment and clerical labor, the extent of the work involved being instanced by the fact that in the month of April, 1918, over 200,000 reinforcements were sent up to the fighting forces. The carrying out of measures of this nature was made more difficult by the continual formation of new types of. unit to meet new requirements. It was necessary to find the personnel for those units with the least possible dislocation elsewhere, and with an eye to the most advantageous employment of the individual in regard to his medical category and special qualifications. The following figures will give some indication of the magnitude of the task. The adjutant general's office at the base has prepared over 8,000,000 records containing the military history of individual soldiers in France, and has received and dispatched over 22,000,000 letters.
Whatever the quality of the troops. a just and efficient administration of military law is an indispensable adjunct to a high standard of discipline. I gratefully acknowledge the care with which officers of the adjutant general's branch in all formations have insured the observation of every safeguard which our law provides against injustice. They have seen to it that every plea which an accused or convicted soldier wishes to bring forward is heard, and that commanders are advised as to the suitability of sentences. I take this opportunity of recording my satisfaction at the success which has attended the operation of the suspension of sentences. The number of men under suspended sentence who by good conduct and gallant service in the field have earned remission of their sentence has been most encouraging.
Closely related to the administration of military law is the work of the military police under the provost marshal and of the military prisons in the field. In the battle zone, where frequently they had to do duty in exposed positions under heavy fire and suffered severe casualties, the military police solved an important part of the problem of traffic control, by preventing the unavoidable congestion of troops and transport on roads in the vicinity of active operations from degenerating into confusion. In back areas their vigilance and zeal have largely contributed to the good relations maintained between our troops and the civilian population.
Although the number of soldiers undergoing sentences of imprisonment in France has at no time amounted to one per thousand, the size of the army has necessitated a considerable expansion of the military prisons in the field. The director of military prisons, his governors and warders have sought, not retribution, but to build up the self -discipline of the prisoner. They have been rewarded by seeing a large percentage of the men committed to their charge subsequently recover their characters as good soldiers.
Under the general control of the adjutant general, the base stationery depot, which went to France in 1914 with a personnel of 10, has expanded into the directorate of army printing and stationery services, employing over 60 officers and 850 other ranks. In addition to the printing and distribution of orders and instructions, it undertook the reproduction on a vast scale, of aerial and other photographs, the number of which grew from 25,000 in 1916 to two and a quarter million in 1918. Other examples of administrative success are the prisoners of war section and the directorate of graves registration and inquiries.
Of the care taken for the physical and moral welfare of the troops I can not speak too highly.
In the former domain, the achievements of the director general of medical services and his subordinates have been so fully recorded by me in previous dispatches that they need no further emphasis. It is sufficient to say that, in spite of the numbers dealt with, there has been no war in which the resources of science have been utilized so generously and successfully for the prevention of disease, or for the quick evacuation and careful tending of the sick and wounded.
In the latter sphere, the devoted efforts of the army chaplains of all denominations have contributed incalculably to the building up of the indomitable spirit of the army. As the result of their teaching, all ranks came to know and more fully understand the great and noble objects for which they were fighting.
Under the immediate direction of the adjutant general in matters concerning military administration, the principal chaplain for members of all churches except the Church of England, and the deputy chaplain general for members of the Church of England administer to the greatest harmony a very complete joint organization. Provided with a definite establishment for armies, corps, and divisions, as well as for the principal base ports, base camps, hospitals, and certain other units, they insure that the benefit of religion is brought within the reach of every soldier.
In all the senior offices of this joint organization down to divisions the principal chaplain and deputy chaplain general have each their representatives, the appointments to those offices in the principal chaplain's section being apportioned between the different churches, Protestant and Roman Catholic, in proportion to the numbers of their following in the army as a whole. This organization has worked for the common good in a manner wholly admirable and with a most noteworthy absence of friction. It has undoubtedly been much assisted, both in its internal economy and in its relations with commanders and troops, by being at all times in direct touch with the adjutant general's branch.
No survey of the features of the war would be complete without some reference to the part played by women serving with the British Armies in France. Grouped also under the adjutant general's branch of the general staff, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, the Nursing Sisters of the Canadian Army Medical Corps, and of the Australian, New Zealand, South African, and Territorial Force Nursing Services and the British Red Cross Society have maintained and embellished a fine tradition of loyalty and efficiency. Those services have been reinforced by members of Voluntary Aid Detachments from the British Isles, the Oversea Dominions, and the United States of America, who have vied with their professional sisters in cheerfully enduring fatigue in times of stress and gallantly facing danger and death.
Women in the British Red Cross Society and other organizations have driven ambulances throughout the war, undeterred by discomfort and hardship. Women have ministered to the comfort of the troops in huts and canteens. Finally, Queen Mary's Auxiliary Army Corps, recruited on a wider basis, responded with enthusiasm to the call for drafts, and by the aid they gave to our declining man power contributed materially to the success of our arms.
(21) The experience gained in this war alone, without the study and practice of lessons learned from other campaigns, could not have sufficed to meet the ever-changing tactics which have characterized the fighting. There was required also the sound basis of military knowledge supplied by our training manuals and staff colleges.
The principles of command, staff work, and organization elaborated before the war have stood the test imposed upon them and are sound. The militarily educated officer has counted for much, and the good work done by our staff colleges during the past 30 years has had an important influence upon the successful issue of the war. In solving tile various strategic and tactical problems with which we have been faced, in determining principles of training and handling of troops and in the control and elaboration of army organization generally, the knowledge acquired by previous study and application has been invaluable. Added to this have been the efficiency and smoothness of working resulting from standardization of principles, assisted in many cases by the previous personal acquaintance at the staff college of those called upon to work together in the field.
The course of the war has brought out very clearly the value of an efficient and well-trained high command, in which I include not merely commanders of higher formations, but their staffs also.
This has been the first time in our history that commanders have had to be provided for such large forces. Before the war, no one of our generals had commanded even an army corps such as has been used as a subsidiary formation in the battles of the last few years. In consequence, commanders have been faced with problems very different to those presented by the small units with which they had been accustomed to train in peace. That they exercised their commands with such success as most of them did shows, I venture to think, that their prior training was based on sound principles and conducted on practical lines.
Similarly as regards the staff, the magnitude of our operations introduced a situation for which no precedent existed. The staff colleges had only produced a reserve of staff officers adequate to the needs of our Army on a peace footing, and for the mobilization of the expeditionary force of six divisions. Consequently, on the expansion of the Army during the war many officers had to be recruited for staff appointments ---from good regular officers chiefly, but also from officers of our new armies---and trained for the new duties required of them. Though numbers of excellent staff officers were provided in this way, it was found as a general rule that the relative efficiency in staff duties of men who had passed through the staff colleges, as compared with men who had not had that advantage, was unquestionably greater.
Good staff work is an essential to success in all wars, and particularly in a struggle of such magnitude as that through which we had just passed. No small part of the difficulty of achieving it lies in the possibility that officers on the staff of higher formations may get. out of touch with the fighting forces, and so lose sense of proportion and become impractical. Every endeavor was made to avoid this by maintaining a constant interchange of such officers with others from. the front, so that all might keep abreast with the latest ideas and experience both in the fighting line and elsewhere. In pursuance of this principle, in addition to 18 officers from army or corps staffs and other officers from the intelligence corps or general list, there were brought in during the period of my command some 50 officers direct from active duty with divisions or smaller units to hold for longer or shorter periods appointments in the general staff branch at general headquarters.
It may be accepted as a general rule that previous organizations should be upset as little as possible in war. As each war has certain special conditions, so some modification of existing ideas and practices will be necessary, but if our principles are sound these will be few and unimportant. In the present war new organizations and establishments for dealing with the demands of both the fighting and the rearward services have been brought into being continually, and added to or absorbed by our existing organization and establishment.
The constant birth of new ideas has demanded the exercise of the greatest care, not only to insure that no device or suggestion of real value should be overlooked or discouraged, but also to regulate the enthusiasm of the specialist and prevent each new development assuming dimensions out of proportion to its real value. As the result of our own experience and that of the French during the fighting of 1915, all kinds of trench weapons were invented, bombs, bomb throwers, mortars, and even such instruments as trench daggers. In those days the opinion was freely expressed that the war would be finished in the trenches and every effort was made to win victories in the trenches themselves. In consequence, rifle shooting was forgotten and was fast becoming a lost art. Similarly as regards artillery, the idea of dominating and defeating the hostile artillery before proceeding to the infantry attack was considered in impossibility.
Then followed the experience of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, which showed that the principles of our prewar training were as sound as ever. That autumn a revival of old methods was inaugurated. Musketry shooting was everywhere carried out, and bayonet-fighting was taught as the really certain way of gaining supremacy in hand-to-hand fighting. At the same time, as pointed out in paragraph 17 above, the greatest care was devoted to artillery shooting, as well as to the training of all arms for open fighting. The events of the next two years fully confirmed the lessons drawn from the Battle of the Somme. In short, the longer the war has lasted the more emphatically has it been realized that our original organization and training were based on correct principles. The danger of altering them too much, to deal with some temporary phase, has been greater than the risk of adjusting them too little.
(22) Some idea of the extent of the organization built up during the war for the training of our armies can be gathered from a survey of the different schools actually established.
In the armies important schools were maintained for the instruction of officers and noncommissioned officers of infantry and artillery in their several duties, for training in scouting, observation and sniping, in the use of trench mortars, in signaling, musketry, and bayonet fighting, antigas precautions, mining. and defense against tanks. The different corps controlled a similar series of schools. Added to these were the special schools of the cavalry corps,. including a school of equitation; the tank corps mechanical school, and the different courses instituted and managed by divisions, which were largely attended whenever the battle situation permitted.
Other schools under the direct supervision of general headquarters provided instruction in the machine gun, Lewis gun and light mortar, in anticraft gunnery, in observation for artillery, in sound ranging and flash spotting, wireless. bridging and other engineering duties, in firing and bombing from aeroplanes, and in physical and recreational training. At the base depots big training and reinforcement camps were set up for infantry, artillery, cavalry. engineers, machine gunners, cyclists, tank corps, signal and gas personnel. Further, a regular succession of staff officers and otters were sent home to take part in the various schools and courses established in England.
In the course of the past year it was found desirable to make provision for the more thorough coordination of effort among these various schools, and also for assisting commanders, especially during battle periods, in the training and instruction of such troops as might from time to time be in reserve. For this purpose an inspectorate of training was established. Training and organization must always go hand in hand; for while tactical considerations dictate the. organization of units and methods of training, upon sound tactical organization and training depend the development and effective employment of good tactics.
In the early spring of 1918 the foundations were laid of an educational scheme which might give officers and men throughout the army an opportunity to prepare themselves for their return to civil life. Delayed in its application by the German offensive and the crowded events of the summer and autumn of that year. since the conclusion of the armistice the scheme has been developed with most excellent results under the general direction of the training subsection of my general staff branch, and generously supported in every possible way by the educational department at home. Divided into a general and a technical side every effort has been made both to give opportunities for the improvement of general knowledge and to enable trained men to "get their hands in" before returning to civil life. In this way between 400,000 and 500,000 persons have been brought under instruction, while the number of attendances at lectures has approached a million in the course of a month.
(23) The feature of the war which to the historian may well appear the most noteworthy is the creation of our new armies.
To have built up successfully in the very midst of war a great new army on a more than continental scale, capable of beating the best troops of the strongest military nation of prewar days, is an achievement of which the whole Empire may be proud. The total of over 327,000 German prisoners captured by us on the western front is in striking contrast to the force of six divisions, comprising some 80,000 fighting men all told, with which we entered the war. That we should have been able to accomplish this stupendous task is due partly to the loyalty and devotion of our Allies and to the splendid work of the Royal Navy, but mainly to the wonderful spirit of the British race in all parts of the world.
Discipline has never had such a vindication in any war as in the present one, and it is their discipline which most distinguishes our new armies from all similarly created armies of the past. At the outset the lack of deep-seated and instinctive discipline placed our new troops at a disadvantage compared with the methodically trained enemy. This disadvantage, however, was overcome, and during the last two years the discipline of all ranks of our new armies, from whatever part of the Empire they have come, was excellent. Born from a widespread and intelligent appreciation of the magnitude of the issues at stake and a firm belief in the justice of our cause, it drew strength and permanence from a common-sense recognition of what discipline really means---from a general realization that true discipline demands as much from officers as from men, and that without mutual trust, understanding, and confidence on the part of all ranks the highest form of discipline is impossible.
Drawn from every sphere of life, from every profession, department, and industry of the British Empire, and thrust suddenly into a totally new situation full of unknown difficulties, all ranks have devoted their lives and energies to the service of their country in the whole-hearted manner which the magnitude of the issues warranted. The policy of putting complete trust in subordinate commanders and of allowing them a free hand in the choice of means to attain their object has proved most successful. Young officers, whatever their previous education may have been, have learned their duties with enthusiasm and speed, and have accepted their responsibilities unflinchingly.
Our universities and public schools throughout the Empire have proved once more, as they have proved time and again in the past, that in the formation of character, which is the root of discipline, they have no rivals. Not that universities and public schools enjoy a. monopoly of the qualities which make good officers. The life of the' British Empire generally has proved sound under the severest tests, and while giving men whom it is an honor for any officer to command, has furnished officers of the highest standard from all ranks of society and all quarters of the world.
Promotion has been entirely by merit, and the highest appointments were open to the humblest provided he had the necessary qualifications of character, skill, and knowledge. Many instances could be quoted of men who from civil or relatively humble occupations have risen to important commands. A schoolmaster, a lawyer, a taxicab driver, and an ex-sergeant-major have commanded brigades; one editor has commanded a division, and another held successfully the position of senior staff officer to a regular division; the undercook of a Cambridge college, a clerk to the metropolitan water board, an insurance clerk, an architect's assistant, and a police inspector became efficient general staff officers; a mess sergeant, a railway signalman, a coal miner, a market gardener, an assistant secretary to a haberdasher's company, a quartermaster-sergeant, and many private soldiers have risen to command battalions, clerks have commanded batteries; a schoolmaster, a collier, the son of a blacksmith, an iron molder, an instructor in tailoring, an assistant gas engineer, a grocer's assistant, as well as policemen, clerks, and privates, have commanded companies or acted as adjutants.
As a body. and with few exceptions, new officers have understood that the care of their men must be their first consideration, that their men's comfort and well-being should at all times come before their own, that without this they can not expect to win the affection, confidence, loyalty, and obedience of those they are privileged to command, or to draw the best from them. Moreover, they have known how to profit by the experience of others, and in common with their men they have turned willingly to the members of the old regular army for instruction and guidance in all branches of their new way of life.
On their part, officers, noncommissioned officers, and men of the old regular army have risen to the demands made upon them in a, manner equally marvelous. Their leaven has pervaded the whole of the mighty force which in four and one-half years of war has, gathered from all parts of the world round the small, highly trained army with which we entered the war. The general absence of jealousy and the readiness to learn, which in the field has markedly characterized all ranks of our new armies, is proof both of the quality of our old army and of the soundness of our prewar training. If further proof were needed, it is found in the wonderful conduct and achievements of our armies, new and old, and in the general pride with which they are universally regarded.
In the earlier stages of the war the regular army was called on to provide instructors and cadres round which the new armies could be formed. All that was best in the old regular army, its discipline, based on force of character, leadership, and mutual respect, its traditions, and the spirit that never knows defeat have been the foundations on which the new armies have been built up. Heavy demands were necessarily made upon our establishment of trained regular officers, most regrettably depleted by the heavy sacrifices of the early days of the war. The way in which such demands have been met by those who survived those days has justified our belief in them.
Neither have the officers of the new armies, whether drawn from the British Isles or the Dominions, risen with less spirit and success to the needs of the occasion. The great expansion of the army, and the length of the war, necessitated an ever-increasing demand being made on them for filling responsible positions, in command, staff, and administrative appointments. The call has been met most efficiently. The longer the war continued, the greater became the part played in it by the new armies of the Empire.