16th December 1915
Gallery Solace - The Great War 1914-1918
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16th December 1915






In todays Daily Telegraph:The major news today was the appointment of General Sir Douglas Haig to replace Sir John French as British commander in France and Flanders. It had become clear that French was not the man to lead his men to victory on the Western Front, and it was necessary to replace him. The initial campaign at Mons had shocked him and made him doubt the prospects of success, compounded by the losses suffered by the Regular Army in the early months which he took badly. He had poor relationships with his Generals and by late 1915 was loth to cooperate with his French Allies. His behaviour at Loos, in particular his handling of the reserves and the errors he made about them in his official despatch alienated Haig, who opened a whispering campaign against French which found backing in London, and his fate was sealed. Not that the War Office announcement conveyed on page 9 gave any hint of this, “over sixteen months of severe and incessant strain, Field–Marshal Sir John French has most ably commanded our Armies in France and Flanders, and he has now, at his own request, relinquished his command” it proclaimed. French had been allowed to resign rather than be forcibly replaced, but it was a diplomatic nicety camouflaging the reality of the situation. Nevertheless he was rewarded for his efforts to an extent by being made a Viscount and Commander-in-Chief of the troops stationed in the United Kingdom. Also in today’s paper - France gives figures as to the number of people arrested for espionage in the country since the war began, and the fate of those whose cases have been concluded – page 7 - The Editor of the New Statesman responds to David Lloyd George’s letter the previous day with one of his own on page 8 - The Allies’ retreat from Serbia into Greece is complete. G. J. Stevens in Salonika claims it was achieved with slight losses, and any Bulgarian or German claims otherwise are a “deliberate tissue of lies” – page 9. - “Lord Derby made an important statement in the House of Lords yesterday on the results of the great recruiting campaign” says a report on page 9. Remarkably, he is able to do this despite being “unable to give any figures” about it - The British encounter a “hostile Arab force” in Western Egypt, says a report on page 9 - Six days after the first report of the medical profession’s concern over army call-ups, the matter is returned to in a letter and article on pages 9 and 10 - More of German plots in the US on page 11, including a plan to use bombs made from thermos bottles to blow up Allied shipping, thwarted by the man involved being a double agent - Not quite sure what the pictures of the “Campaign in Mesopotamia” on page 12 actually have to do with it apart from being in the vicinity of it


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