Allenby, a Study in Greatness: The Biography of Field-Marshal Viscount Allenby of Megiddo and Felixstowe, G.C.B., G.C.M.G

By Archibald Wavell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
CORPS AND ARMY COMMANDER (May 1915-June 1917)

I
THE FIFTH CORPS (May-October 1915)

THE spring of 1915 -- and, indeed, the whole of that year -- was a period of disappointment and disillusion for the British people and the British Army. Having checked the first great German onslaught in 1914, and having lived through a winter of discomfort and inaction, they looked forward to driving the Germans out of France as soon as the weather permitted large-scale operations. The French were confident; the enemy, who had counted on a speedy victory, must surely be disheartened; and the great Russian masses would be irresistible when they got on the move. The initial success of the attack at Neuve Chapelle on March 10 seemed to show that the enemy lines could be broken if the lessons learned in that attack were applied. But that day was almost the last of success; thereafter it was a year of triumph for the enemy and of defeat, almost of disaster, for the Allies. The two great French efforts to pierce the German line failed with heavy loss; the Russian hosts, far from invading Germany, were driven back many marches into their own territory; the attempt to force the Dardanelles, which might have shortened the War by two years, met the failure that irresolute strategy deserves and usually receives; the Italian decision to join the Allies brought little advantage; and at the end of a gloomy year Serbia was overrun. The British army in France had close on 300,000 casualties, and lost on balance more ground than it gained. It was not yet ready for a great effort, and was

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