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Tuesday, 14 November 2017


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"incredibly the two men hit it off instantly and their trust in each other was total. When did that ever happen in military history?"

Montgomery and himself ?

Right, Pte. Morris, you're on a charge!

MacArthur and himself, who incidentally referred to himself in the third person!

Patton and his mirror?

Hear, hear.

Marlborough is on the revered list of "commanders who never lost a battle" ...

By George and all the Saints, we could do with some quality like that across "public service" right now, eh?



I don't think MacArthur would have made a good prez, but he was a good viceroy (over Japan).

General Slim?

General Slim?

Field Marshall Sir William Slim. An example of a good general in a bad place who still went on to win. His book "Defeat into Victory" is worth reading.

His openness about the retreat from Burma and then the re-taking of same is commendable.

Yes, AussieD, I remember (just) years ago reading a book about Slim's campaign in Burma and he stands out to me as Britain's best fighting General of WWII. Even so, he was at a lower level of responsibility than Marlborough in his day who had to operate at the level of grand strategy and politics.

My understanding is that Marlborough engineered the French into concentrating their forces in the wrong places weakening the centre. Also he planned with Prince Eugene that he (Eugene) should attack the French left wing so as to also draw forces away from the centre. In fact waited for Eugene to be in position before he commenced the battle. Once the centre was weak enough exploited it and won the day. Sure French incompetence helped but it was magnified by Marlborough knowing Tallard was incompetent and used it to his advantage.

Entirely right, 'Epi', he was a master of the art of manoeuvre and a first-rate fighter of battles. What a pity we didn't have him around during WWI!

David - not sure it would have made a whole lot of difference. For most of that war we were fighting in impossible ground trying to recapture well fortified positions on raised ground.

When somebody with a bit more imagination tried to break the stalemate it resulted in Gallipoli.

But I absolutely intend to read up about Corporal John (was that substantive like our host?) who I agree must have been one of our finest ever warlords. Thanks for the pointer.

This was posted by my friend Richard but, alas, in the wrong thread, so I have reproduced it here, where it belongs.

Digressing to the battle of Blenheim itself... An old poem (1798) that still packs a punch.

After Blenheim

It was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar’s work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun,
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round,
Which he beside the rivulet
In playing there had found;
He came to ask what he had found,
That was so large, and smooth, and round.
Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
Who stood expectant by;
And then the old man shook his head,
And, with a natural sigh —
“‘Tis some poor fellow’s skull,” said he,
“Who fell in the great victory.
“I find them in the garden,
For there’s many here about;
And often when I go to plough,
The ploughshare turns them out.
For many thousand men,” said he,
“Were slain in that great victory.”
“Now tell us what ’twas all about,”
Young Peterkin, he cries;
And little Wilhelmine looks up
With wonder-waiting eyes;
“Now tell us all about the war,
And what they fought each other for.”
“It was the English,” Kaspar cried,
“Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other for,
I could not well make out;
But everybody said,” quoth he,
“That ’twas a famous victory.
“My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream hard by;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
And he was forced to fly;
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.
“With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then,
And new-born baby died;
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.
“They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won;
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.
“Great praise the Duke of Marlbro’ won,
And our good Prince Eugene.”
“Why, ’twas a very wicked thing!”
Said little Wilhelmine.
“Nay… nay… my little girl,” quoth he,
“It was a famous victory.
“And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win.”
“But what good came of it at last?”
Quoth little Peterkin.
“Why that I cannot tell,” said he,
“But ’twas a famous victory.”

Robert Southey

I take your point, Cuffers, because until the tank was moderately effective, and until 'Col. Blimp' worked out how to use it properly, then defence had it over offense. But perhaps we should have remained on the defensive and put even greater efforts into allowing the navy to gradually starve the Germans into surrender.

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