Academic journal article Military Review

Allenby and British Strategy in the Middle East, 1917-1919

Academic journal article Military Review

Allenby and British Strategy in the Middle East, 1917-1919

Article excerpt

ALLENBY AND BRITISH STRATEGY IN THE MIDDLE EAST, 1917-1919, Matthew Hughes, Frank Cass Publishers, Portland, OR, 1999, 224 pages. $57.50.

The Palestine Campaign of World War I is a footnote in most histories. Yet, the actions and decisions made from 1914 to 1920 set the stage for today's unrest in the Middle East. British Field Marshal Sir Edmund Allenby's military campaign of 1917-1918 and his army's occupation of the area from 1918 to 1920 established British presence in the region.

In the introduction of Allenby and British Strategy in the Middle East, Matthew Hughes states that "what is required is an examination of Allenby, the EEF [Egyptian Expeditionary Force] and their role in British strategy in the Middle East at a pivotal junction for Britain and the Middle East." Yet halfway through the book, I was questioning Hughes' focus. His discussion of Allenby was clearly secondary to the formulation of British foreign policy under Prime Minister Lloyd George.

The first part of the book examines Allenby's military operations while commanding the EEF; the second focuses on the British military occupation of Palestine and Syria. Having accepted the traditional view that Allenby was one of the better commanders to emerge from World War I, I was surprised by the Allenby that Hughes presents.

Hughes describes Allenby as being more capable than the commander he replaced as EEF commander, then makes a case that Allenby mismanaged the planning for the November 1917 Beersheba battle (Third Gaza) and the tactical handling of the Commonwealth Forces. …

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