Thursday, 16 August 2018

Is Field Marshal Haig Under Pressure?

Friday 16th August 1918

Rumour has it that Marechal Foch, now supreme commander of all allied armies, spoke with Field Marshal Haig yesterday and demanded that he continue the attack with the British and Imperial and the American troops under his command. As we noted in yesterday's piece there are good reasons why the attack has ended. This is not to say that no more offensive action is anticipated. There is a note of expectancy in the army that we may, finally, be on the verge of a very significant advance. This has been encouraged by the fact that large numbers of the enemy have surrendered during the cause of the assault, a thing which has rarely happened before. Add to this the fact that there has been no counter-attack, in fact, the enemy has made a retrograde movement, and this again is unusual. Putting these two facts together there is good reason to believe that our enemy is at last nearing the end of his rope.

The field marshal is understood to have refused to continue the attack at this time. Perhaps he cited the fact that any further attacks risk throwing away lives to no good purpose on a prepared enemy. Perhaps he listed the various reasons which we discussed yesterday - the need to consolidate the ground taken, bring up supplies, bring up reserves, bring up the guns, re-register the guns and so on. Perhaps he stated that he will attack, but only at the time and in the place of his choosing. Of course rumour is very rarely reliable(1)

(1) Foch did indeed demand a further attack and Haig did, indeed, refuse.

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