Machinations In The British High Command I THE GREAT WAR Week 180

Machinations In The British High Command I THE GREAT WAR Week 180

1917 has come to an end. It was a year of
almost unimaginable events to people just a couple years ago. Not one, but two TWO Russian
revolutions. The war to end all wars growing even larger as the United States joined the
fray. Battles on unheard of scales like Passchendaele and Arras. A mutiny in the French army. Stormtroop
tactics at Caporetto. Hundreds of tanks taking the field in France. Ever more and ever better
planes taking to the skies. It went on and on, hundreds of thousands of the dead month
after month and now… it’s 1918. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week was Christmas, and the British celebrated
it in newly taken Jerusalem. The Austrians were unable to take Venice before heavy winter
snows arrived. Russia and the Central Powers began peace negotiations, Russia having left
the war several weeks ago. But Russia itself was far from at peace, as fighting broke out
with the Ukrainians, and Russian territories declared independence. A bloody civil war
loomed ahead. Okay, that was a little dramatic, and not
entirely true, for that civil war had already begun in the south. On New Year’s Eve, the Soviet Red Army occupied
Kharkov. Many former officers in the Russian army have now joined General Alexei Kaledin,
the leader of the Don Cossacks, to fight the Red Army. Anti-Bolshevik forces were also
being formed by Lavr Kornilov in the Kuban region and Mikhail Alexeev at Novocherkassk. The Bolsheviks were still consolidating Russia
and sorting out who, when, and where they would have to fight to retain control. On
the 29th they seized the banks, while on January 4th they recognized Finnish independence.
As for the peace negotiations between the Bolsheviks and the Central Powers, this week
the Germans announced that their occupation of Poland, Courland, Lithuania, and Estonia
were indispensable parts of any of peace. On January 2nd, the Soviet Central Committee
met and denounced those terms. And in the west, Russia’s withdrawal from
the war certainly posed new dangers for the Allies, but one thing it did not really affect
was the USA’s cautious policy. On New Year’s Day, America’s General John
J. Pershing opposed – successfully – an urgent request from British Prime Minister David
Lloyd George for any and all surplus troops to be sent over immediately to Europe to be
incorporated with the French and British armies. The request was because Lloyd George feared
the possibility that Germans were soon to launch a knockout punch before a trained American
army could get to the lines. As we saw last week, this was in fact the Germans’ plan. As for their own plans, the Allied Supreme
War Council had decided there would be no major offensives of theirs in 1918, and Winston
Churchill wrote this week (Gilbert), “Thank God our offensives are at an end. Let them
traipse across the crater fields. Let them rejoice in the occasional capture of placeless
names and sterile ridges.” But how was the situation at home for, say,
France and Britain? Well, things may have been less terrible there
than in Germany or Austria-Hungary since they had access to American supplies and all, but
even though there was no desperate deprivation, there was weariness with the war and the endless
heartbreak it brought. The governments suppressed this harshly, but there was weariness with
them too, and everyday life grew darker and darker. In many ways, they were no longer
even really democracies – I mean, citizens not in favor of the war did not have a whole
lot of liberty to air their views, and basically all information available to the public was
propaganda. French losses had passed three million by
now and in 1917 they were taking some 40,000 casualties per month (World Undone), and how
could they replace them? Philippe Petain estimated that he would need 1.02 million new troops
on the Western Front in 1918. As it turned out he would never get three quarters of that.
His army had mostly recovered from the mutinies early in the year, had fought off countless
German attacks over the summer, and had itself been successful at Malmaison and Verdun, but
new Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and Ferdinand Foch, his advisor, had little regard
for Petain and his cautious approach. There’s a good section about Britain in
“A World Undone”. “With its larger population, its global empire from which to draw manpower,
and “only” two million casualties since the start of the war, Britain should have
been in a better position than France. But in fact it was not, at least in the view of
its commanders. The problem was not, strictly speaking, a shortage of soldiers… Some 450,000
fit and ready combat troops were being held at home at Lloyd George’s insistence, and
only labor units that were neither armed nor trained for battle were allowed to cross the
channel. (Commander Sir Douglas) Haig was so short of replacements that he reduced the
number of battalions per brigade from four to three to avoid having to dissolve whole
divisions.” Interesting that Lloyd George is requesting
American troops at the same time he’s holding his own back. We’ve mentioned before the
deep issues between Haig and Lloyd George. Lloyd George wanted to dismiss Haig, but was
stuck with him, but he could try to control him by getting rid of his supporters. The
first of these to go was Brigadier General John Charteris, Haig’s Chief of Intelligence.
He was not trained in military intel and is sometimes blamed for Haig’s errors, and
he certainly made those of his own; three days before the big German counterattack at
Cambrai a month ago he told Haig that the Germans were very thin on that front. Anyhow,
he was let go on December 14th. Haig’s Quartermaster General R. C. Maxwell was gone two days later.
Now, on New Year’s Day, Lord Derby, the Minister for War, told Haig that Lloyd George
wanted to get rid of Army Chief of Staff Wully Robertson and replace him with Henry Wilson.
Derby did say that he opposed this, but he himself wanted to get rid of Launcelot Kiggell
– awesome name – as Haig’s Chief of Staff. Haig would reluctantly agree to this and Kiggell
would be gone January 12th. So you can see that there are some serious divisions within
the British High Command and they had no unity. But the one thing they did have was stuff.
Endless stuff. The American cornucopia of stuff was vomiting forth across the Atlantic,
but even British arms production itself was growing. By now a quarter million tons of
shells were being shipped across the channel every month, and that was less than a third
of all the stuff arriving at the BEF bases in Northern France. The longer Germany waited
to deliver its “knock out blow”, the tougher the job was going to be. There was fighting in the field this week,
though, on the Italian Front. At the end of last week, the Austrian bridges
on the Zenson bend of the Piave River were destroyed, and now, on New Year’s Eve, the
Austrians were forced to abandon their bridgehead. On New Year’s Day, they were forced out
of the entire region. They did bomb such cities this week as Treviso, Veneto, and Padua. In the Middle East, the British continued
their advance from Jerusalem, and here’s an odd side note I haven’t really had anywhere
else to throw in. It’s from Martin Gilbert’s “The First World War”. On that front,
General Edmund Allenby, the British Commander, got a fighting spider whose jaws could sever
a scorpion’s tail – he named it Hindenburg. And the first week of the year ends. The British
in the Middle East and the Italians in Italy advancing; the Bolsheviks consolidating power
as their enemies consolidate their forces, and political machinations in the British
High Command. And peace talks and proposals between Russia and the Central Powers. You know, though at least people were meeting
to talk about a sort of peace, in reality, 1917 came to an end absolutely without the
prospect of peace in Europe. The ceasefire on the Eastern Front turned out to be the
prelude to an immediate and bloody civil war. And the Bolsheviks weren’t happy with the
emerging peace terms at Brest-Litovsk. Behind the lines, those nations whose food imports
were hurt by blockade had it worse and worse. In Constantinople alone, some 10,000 people
had starved to death in 1917; in Germany a quarter of a million people had died from
hunger related causes that year, directly attributable to the naval blockade; there
were food strikes and riots in the Habsburg Empire in Vienna and Budapest that reached
the point where seven army divisions were recalled from the front to keep the peace,
and were now there permanently to prevent street violence. The Europe that had settled in for the winter
looked like a dying civilization. Before the war, Russia had seemed to many like it had
the brightest future of the great empires. Now it lay in ruins and the Tsar and his family
were prisoners. A potential democratic government was gone and Lenin and the Bolsheviks were
consolidating the wreckage. The people had no security, no stability, and life was worth
basically nothing. That’s what faced the people of Russia as the New Year rolled in.
Happy New Year. If you want to learn more about the Turnip
Winter in Germany, you can click right here for our episodes about that. Our Patreon supporter of the year is Dean
Bibby – thank you Dean, you helped us making this show what it is today. Don’t forget
to subscribe, see you next time.

100 Replies to “Machinations In The British High Command I THE GREAT WAR Week 180”

  1. "in germany a quarter of a million people had died from hunger related causes that year, directly atributable to the naval blockade…." brace yourself. british empire apologist fanboys are coming.

  2. it may have taken a very long time for Americans to repay their debt to the French. it was high time, that Americans stepped in, to help the French, toward the end of the year. France has a long time history of allying with the underdogs, but this time, it was on the same side as the British, instead of against England…. quite a difference of stipulations, i would say. this was common, across nations, to, inside a larger scale of control, to ally to one or another side, that may, or may not be in their best interest.

  3. The war was indeed very bad and getting worse each week but even worse disaster than the war erupted today 100 years ago

    The Flu

  4. It sounds like Hindenburg was a type of sun spider.

    There's a comment to baffle those who haven't watched the video yet.

  5. Are you going to do a special on Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British army?  I have a load of research ready to send you, aka a proto script.

  6. The last year has come 🙁 Very sad about the inevitable end of this series.

    I hope for something special on November 11 followed by a new series 😀

  7. And at the turn of 2018, the Americans have moved into Jerusalem and declared it the capitol, much to the displeasure of the German High Command.

  8. Only German generals like august Von mackenson , Eric Von falkenheyn were smarter , intelligent , creative , proper decision making and proper analysis in the whole war ,,, on the other hand Philip pettaine was only capable and Douglas Haig of Britain and Luigi cadorna were useless generals they were unable see modern warfare and cannot understand it . All of Russian generals were useless except ALEKSEY BRUSILOV .

  9. No ally offences this year? Looks like either the Central Powers are winning or it's going to be another year of war.

  10. For a who did what in WW1 since we are on the Rise Russian Revolution, can you guys do Georgy Zhukov (more known for WW2 command) curious to see what he did in the Great War.

  11. a Question for TGW what roll did the Eiffel tower play in the Great war? I heard that since it was the tallest building at the time that the military saved it from destruction by using it for radio signals. stay Awesome Great War Team!!!

  12. suggestions for your biography episodes. winnie the pooh bear owner harry colebourne and the real life james bond, William Stephenson.

  13. Soviets recognized Finnish independence. Unfortunately Finnish Civil War starts in 3 weeks. Total tragedy for a new nation. Brother against brother , father against son. Reds was to blame of course but 5700 reds were killed in battle , 10000 executed after the war and 12500 died in POW camps. That's not the way to start a nation by the winning whites side either. Finland remained very divided until WW2 partly even after that. My family,relatives etc seems to be on the left side of the political spectrum to even this day,personally i don't give a s**t about politics.

  14. The photo of Germans using Guns Portee in WW1 — interesting I always thought it was a British WW2 innovation.

  15. Why didn't the British militarize the colonies more ? With potentially hundreds of millions of adults to draw from in British India alone, they could bring in many more troops from their own colonies if they needed manpower.

  16. Can't wait for 21st of March for 100yrs since Kaiserschlacht. But being an Australian, July 4th and August 8th will be the episodes I look forward too the most.

  17. Thanks to your show, we discover that for the first time in History, starvation hit simultaneously several countries and other war related territories and in some cases, famine reached a level of a real bloodless massacre for the peoples who suffered from them like in the Kermanshah & Hamadan provinces in Persia seen in "The Hush Hush Army – The Adventures of Dunsterforce Part 1"

  18. I am always taken aback by the quality of your youtube channel, which I follow since the beginning. Will you, perhaps, make something similar with the second war? Perhaps begining next year?

  19. Indy you're only getting better at articulating yourself. I look forward to this year as well as other projects you undertake!

  20. Has the channel already covered various snipers from the Great War? If not, could something along the lines of the best snipers from WW1 be covered in an episode of Out of The Trenches? Thanks for any response, keep up the outstanding work.

  21. Indy, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if you have, but I have to ask: you ever read Ring of Steel? By Alexander Watson? I'm currently on the 5th chapter and I just feel like I have to recommend it to someone. Anyone. No better place to do it than here, I thought.

  22. "The American cornucopia of stuff was vomiting forth across the Atlantic" This has got one of the top ten things Indy has said in the series. You guys are the best.

  23. When will we see more of beautiful Austria-Hungary and her background explored? They are often passed over in most histories.

  24. Hi thanks for the viedeo its brilliant and intéressant 😉 But dont forget to say that in the battle of the marne 1914 some french from the fith army with the british went into the gap… not only the british. Youre videos are the best

  25. The British finally resorted to the default war strategy: Hide in their island and keep a strong navy to prevent any landings to avoid having to fight directly, then beg the United States, Britain's historic boyfriend to please come save them. But hey, at least the British never stopped fighting like the French do whenever they have to fight the Germans.

  26. Maybe it was asked before, but are you going to continue the show after the Great War is over? Such as would you consider doing similar videos on what happened a hundred years ago each week in the interwar period (and on)?

  27. What was motivating US soldiers to come to Europe and die in the trenches? Were those guys total imbeciles?

  28. Launcelot Kiggel is actually my Great-Great-Uncle. My family had men on all levels of the military during WW1. From the rank and file soldiers, to the men making the mistakes that cost them so much.

  29. Say what you will about the Soviet Union and what the Bolsheviks will come to do, but right now they don't look all that bad from a modern progressive outlook. They've given independence to Finland, brought their country out of one of the worst wars of all time (albeit, starting a civil war in the process), and made policies for Gender equality, as well as making improvements for the conditions of the workers. They have a policy of condemnation of Imperialism.

    I think the Bolsheviks are an object lesson about this kind of thinking taken way too far though, and an a fair warning that modern peoples must keep their eyes on Democracy and individual freedom, both of which became forfeit in the later Soviet Union.

  30. At 5:00….the photograph is of the infamous training centre at Etaples known as The Bullring, wher men keen to fight had the spirit knocked out of them, it was here that the british mutiny was born….you mentioned "The Monocld Mutineer" in the execution vid, i recomend you find the 4 part series by yorkshire television, i think….it was THE best series ever made about WW1 by far, the film depiction of the books description of the execution of the soldier in shock, is gut wrenching.

  31. I even have a recipe for a turnip carrot and cabbage soup from my great-grandmother from the German side of my family. They manage to survive quite well by utilising steep mountainous parts in the Hartz region to firstly hide their own food by planting it on unusual places and secondly make stealing it as difficult as possible. They even had a few kg of potatoes. Not much. But it helped. The soup is plain and easy to make, but it was a delicious treat for me, my siblings and friends when we went camping. And if we wanted to be all fancy, we would either throw a chicken in their or even roast a rabbit. It's kinda like Ikameshi, Soljanka or Chilli con Carne… Actually a meal of hardship and despair, can mean something totally different to a future generation. Anyhow. Is anyone fond about the recipe?

  32. France and Germany have always fought. France should have surrendered instead of having the uk and usa bail them out. If you charge machine guns in bright uniforms,in formations and with sabers then yeah you should be conquered

  33. I’m just catching up guys. I’m filled with suspense over whether the Germans will win or not. No spoilers please.

  34. "A deadly civil war was about to begin.
    Well, that was a bit overdramatic, and not entirely true:
    It had already begun."

  35. What is Flo doing behind Haig at 5:22? Spying on Haig and Joffre or something??

    Didn't know you guys could time travel…

    Later! OL J R

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