Monday, May 30, 2011

The Douglas Haig Fellowship

I found this site during my research for an article I’m producing called ‘The British High Command in WW1’.  The Douglas Haig Fellowship is hosted on the ‘Scots at War Trust’ website, and its stated aim is:

[To] . . . encourage further study of Lord Haig's generalship and that of his subordinate commanders, by promoting the objective investigation of command and control of the British Army during the First World War.

At face value the site appears to be yet another website dedicated to the rehabilitation of Douglas Haig’s reputation; the content of which is likely to be weak and lacking depth.......... However, a closer look at the contributors reveals a significant number of the more recent ‘Revisionist Historians’:  John Terraine, Brian Bond, Peter Simkins, Gary Sheffield, John Bourne and Correlli Barnett.  John Terraine as I mentioned in a previous blog entry ‘stood practically alone’, during the 1960’s in his defence of Haig, whereas the others entered the arena more recently.  What you have on this site is an evolution in the revisionist thought played out in a series of lectures (Haig Fellows' Addresses).

For me the lecture that resonated the most was John Bourne’s ‘Haig’s Army’.  The articulation of his ‘light bulb moment’ (The British were fighting uphill.) matched mine.  In addition the notion of ‘. . . massive de-skilling of the army at all levels.’ provided me with a frame with which to comprehend what could be achieved by 1916 (In a previous post I stated ‘I find it hard to accept that there wasn’t more that could have been done before 1916.).  Whether you agree with the revisionist theories or not the lectures are a ‘must read’ for anyone seriously trying to understand the enigma of the First World War.

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