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Self-indulgent twaddle

April 25 2011 at 6:09 PM
Michael Dorosh 

Response to Caribou Hill, Gallipoli 1915

Websites that do nothing but wring hands and point fingers absent-mindedly really don't do much of a service to anyone.

I found this passage one of the more offensive ones from that site, with regards to one of the British film-makers (who, it should be pointed out, also risked life and limb to produce motion picture coverage of the war for consumption back home):

"He included no sequences of British staff officers scratching their heads and shrugging their shoulders ...
as this might have forced the Empire's politicians to question the negligent waste of its volunteer soldiers."

The Battle of the Somme may surely be characterized as waste, but negligent?

I don't see anything on that page that suggests what, exactly, the British Army was supposed to have done otherwise, with a largely untrained military of Pals battalions with little training or experience, and the pressing need to attack somewhere in some strength, immediately, to relieve the pressure on the French who had been bleeding at Verdun for months.

As it was, some divisions on July 1st made it to their objectives with little loss. The ones that fared best did ignore Haig's tactical instructions - but nevertheless, what choice did Haig and his subordinate commanders have to keep tactical control of an army of mail clerks, college students, and miners?

A tough job that I have yet to see a realistic alternative provided for. It is tragic that 20,000 men died that day. But even at Vimy, considered a victory, casualty rates were catastrophic by modern standards. The First World War was like that.

The war was in Britain's national interest; it was also in Newfoundland's interest to participate and unfortunately, those brave men on July 1st paid the price. Wringing of hands now doesn't change that. Calling it murder only dishonours their memory, and more, sullies reputations of men that deserve better after the fact. The British Army did the best with what it had, and those cruel lessons of 1916 created a war winning machine in the field in 1918.

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