He commanded the 2nd Army in the Ypres Salient between 1915 and 1917.
Once given the command of the Second Army, he withdrew what he could in terms of men and equipment from the Salient as such and based himself and his men in and around the immediate vicinity of Ypres. However, by pulling back he had left the elevated Messines Ridge for the Germans and this ridge gave them a major advantage over Plumer.
Plumer was the principal planner behind the highly successful attack on Messines Ridge in June 1917.
Henry Rawlinson – Image taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/
The supporters of the Generals Some modern writers such as John Terraine, Paddy Griffith, Peter Simkins claim:
That improvements in the British army made by the Generals have been overlooked
The British army in the beginning was small and colonial
Germany’s army was over 30 times bigger than the British army.
Britain had to fight against the strongest army in the world.
Haig allowed his generals on the ground to make decisions.
British leadership grew in strength and fighting ability, an example of this being their ability to take over from the French after Verdun as Germany’s deadliest enemy.
The allies knew they couldn’t remain defensive forever as it was politically unsound and it would allow the German troops to transfer to the eastern front and take Russia out of the war.
Gary Sheffield military historian thinks the battle of the Battle of the Somme turned the British troops into a ‘hard-bitten and effective force’
GENERALS OF OTHER NATIONS Erich von Falkenhayn,
Von Falkenhayn – Image taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/
alkenhayn was German Chief of Staff from 1914 to 1916.
He planned the German attack on the fortress system around Verdun in 1916.
Verdun was to be a battle of attrition where Falkenhayn believed France would be ‘bled white.’ He had calculated that the French would not give up Verdun as beyond it lay the plains of Champagne and Paris.
In 1917 he replaced General Robert Nivelle as commander-in-chief of the French army.
Pétain restored discipline after a series of mutinies by explaining his intentions to the soldiers personally and improving their living conditions.
In November 1918, he was made a marshal of France.
Grand Duke Nikolai
Grand Duke Nikolai (1856-1929) was Commander in Chief of the Russian army during the first year of the First World War.
The Grand Duke was the uncle of Tsar Nicholas.
He was appointed to command of the army with the onset of war in August 1914 - the Tsar having been persuaded to abandon the idea of leading his forces into battle.
Grand Duke Nikolai – Image taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/
he Grand Duke had little control over Russian forces due to the army's appalling system of communications.
There were early successes in East Prussia but they were short-lived; the combined force of Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff defeated Russian forces at Tannenberg (where army commander Samsonov committed suicide rather than face the Tsar in defeat).
Under his command Russian forces also did poorly against Austro-Hungarian forces.
By May 1915 Russian forces were pushed out of Poland, suffering huge casualties.
The Grand Duke was removed from his role and replaced by the Tsar himself.
Field Marshal Luigi Cadorna
Luigi Cadorna (1850–1928) was the Chief of Staff of the Italian army.
Luigi Cadorna – Image taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/
hen Italy entered the war in May 1915 on the side of the Entente, the Italian army was made up of 875,000 men, but only 120 modern artillery pieces.
In 1915 Cadorna ordered four offensives against the Austro-Hungarians at the Isonzo River. All four attacks failed, and resulted in some 250,000 Italian casualties with little gained.
Between 1915 and 1917 there were eleven battles on the Isonzo and the Italians lost all of them.
During the war he fired 217 officers; during the Battle of Caporetto he ordered the execution of officers whose units retreated.