Gary D. Sheffield is an English academic and military historian.He publishes on the conduct of British Army operations in World War I, and contributes to print and broadcast media on the subject.
Sheffield is a proponent of the "revisionist school" of thought with regard to the conduct of military operations on the Western Front by the British Army during the First World War.
In 2001 he published a First World War revisionist book, Forgotten Victory: The First World War, Myths & Realities. The British literary academic Frank McLynn, in a book review in The Independent , said Sheffield was a " single-minded Right-wing ideologist" who had "tied himself in illogical knots" to "rescue (Douglas) Haig from the justifiable charge of being an incompetent butcher" and "launder" his reputation in an "eccentric and cocksure work" that was "an insult to the memory of the soldiers who had died in droves under his command on the Western Front."
In 2013 he was appointed professor of War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton.In 2011 he published his second book on Field Marshal the Earl Douglas Haig, The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army (Aurum Press, 2011). Reviewing the book in The Daily Telegraph the historian Nigel Jones commented on its 'solid scholarship and admirable advocacy', yet added that (with reference to Sheffield's thesis that the extremely high casualties of the British Army can be partly explained by Haig's understandable lack of experience in such matters in the years 1914 to 1917): 'the nagging thought remains: what a terrible shame it was that Haig's progress along his learning curve had to be greased by such deep floods of blood.'
Sheffield is a member of the Advisory Board of the Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Visiting Professor at the Humanities Research Institute of the University of Buckingham, member of the academic Advisory Panel of the National Army Museum and a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust.
The Western Front was the main theatre of war during the First World War. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne. Following the Race to the Sea, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France, which changed little except during early 1917 and in 1918.
The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. The battle was intended to hasten a victory for the Allies and was the largest battle of the war's Western Front. More than three million men fought in the battle and one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, was a senior officer of the British Army. During the First World War, he commanded the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the Western Front from late 1915 until the end of the war. He was commander during the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras, the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), the German Spring Offensive, and the final Hundred Days Offensive.
The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was the British Army sent to the Western Front during the First World War. Planning for a British Expeditionary Force began with the Haldane reforms of the British Army carried out by the Secretary of State for War Richard Haldane following the Second Boer War (1899–1902).
Ferdinand Foch was a French general and military theorist who served as the Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War. An aggressive, even reckless commander at the First Marne, Flanders, and Artois campaigns of 1914–1916, Foch became the Allied Commander-in-Chief in late March 1918 in the face of the all-out German spring offensive, which pushed the Allies back using fresh soldiers and new tactics that trenches could not contain. He successfully coordinated the French, British and American efforts into a coherent whole, deftly handling his strategic reserves. He stopped the German offensive and launched a war-winning counterattack. In November 1918, Marshal Foch accepted the German cessation of hostilities and was present at the armistice of 11 November 1918.
General Henry Seymour Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson,, known as Sir Henry Rawlinson, 2nd Baronet between 1895 and 1919, was a senior British Army officer in the First World War who commanded the Fourth Army of the British Expeditionary Force at the battles of the Somme (1916) and Amiens (1918) as well as the breaking of the Hindenburg Line (1918). He commanded the Indian Army from 1920 to 1925.
The Reserve Army was a field army of the British Army and part of the British Expeditionary Force during the First World War. On 1 April 1916, Lieutenant-General Sir Hubert Gough was moved from the command of I Corps and took over the Reserve Corps, which in June before the Battle of the Somme, was expanded and renamed Reserve Army. The army fought on the northern flank of the Fourth Army during the battle and became the Fifth Army on 30 October.
The Battle of Arras was a British offensive on the Western Front during World War I. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British troops attacked German defences near the French city of Arras on the Western Front. The British achieved the longest advance since trench warfare had begun, surpassing the record set by the French Sixth Army on 1 July 1916. The British advance slowed in the next few days and the German defence recovered. The battle became a costly stalemate for both sides and by the end of the battle, the British Third and First Army had suffered about 160,000 casualties and the German 6th Army about 125,000.
Sir John Edmond Gough, was an early 20th century British Army General, and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Robert Georges Nivelle was a French artillery officer who served in the Boxer Rebellion, and the First World War. Nivelle was a very capable commander and organizer of field artillery at the regimental and divisional levels. In May 1916, he succeeded Philippe Pétain as commander of the French Second Army in the Battle of Verdun, leading counter-offensives that rolled back the German forces in late 1916. During these actions he and General Charles Mangin were already accused of wasting French lives.
"Lions led by donkeys" is a phrase popularly used to describe the British infantry of the First World War and to blame the generals who led them. The contention is that the brave soldiers (lions) were sent to their deaths by incompetent and indifferent leaders (donkeys). The phrase was the source of the title of one of the most scathing examinations of British First World War generals, The Donkeys—a study of Western Front offensives—by politician and writer of military histories Alan Clark. The book typified the mainstream First World War history of the 1960s, was vetted by Basil Liddell Hart, and helped to form a popular view of the First World War in the decades that followed. However, the work's viewpoint of incompetent military leaders was never accepted by some mainstream historians, and both the book and its viewpoint have been criticised.
The Second Battle of the Somme of 1918 was fought during the First World War on the Western Front from late August to early September, in the basin of the River Somme. It was part of a series of successful counter-offensives in response to the German Spring Offensive, after a pause for redeployment and supply.
John Alfred Terraine was an English military historian, and a TV screenwriter. He is best known as the lead screenwriter for the landmark 1960s BBC-TV documentary The Great War, about the First World War, and for his defence of British General Douglas Haig – who commanded the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front from late 1915 until the end of the war – against charges that he was "The Butcher of the Somme".
General Sir Frederick Ivor Maxse, was a senior British Army officer who fought during the First World War, best known for his innovative and effective training methods.
General Sir Walter Pipon Braithwaite, was a British Army officer who held senior commands during the First World War. After being dismissed from his position as Chief of Staff for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, he received some acclaim as a competent divisional commander on the Western Front. After the war, he was commissioned to produce a report analysing the performance of British staff officers during the conflict.
Brian James Bond is a British military historian and professor emeritus of military history at King's College London.
The Fifth Battle of Ypres, also called the Advance of Flanders and the Battle of the Peaks of Flanders is an informal name used to identify a series of battles in northern France and southern Belgium from late September to October 1918.
Operation Alberich was the code name of a German military operation in France during the First World War. Two salients had been formed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 between Arras and Saint-Quentin and from Saint-Quentin to Noyon. Alberich was planned as a strategic withdrawal to new positions on the shorter and more easily defended Hindenburg Line. General Erich Ludendorff was reluctant to order the withdrawal and hesitated until the last moment.
The Battle of Courtrai was one of a series of offensives in northern France and southern Belgium that took place in late September and October 1918.
This article is about the role of Douglas Haig in 1918. In 1918, during the final year of the First World War, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig was Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the Western Front. Haig commanded the BEF in the defeat of the German Army's Spring Offensives, the Allied victory at Amiens in August, and the Hundred Days Offensive, which led to the war-ending armistice in November 1918.