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SIR HENRY WILSON.

A SOLDIER'S' APPRECIATION

The name 01 M.r fhal Foch is on e\eijoncs Jipb, but tlioio is another name which the Fioncli Maishal would be tne lnvt to eoup'e lvitii liib own, tJipt of ten Hem:/ \Vil»on, and ughtly so, toi ii he Jia-cl noi stojd by Ah Lloyd Geoige s M<"ie in the houi of our supieme dangei ALai-hal Uoch would not lia\c been. Geneia'msimo This is not geneially undeistood, bit it ought to be, toi v it was the 2ally of: the British sokhei to the Biitibh statesman which sa\ed Em one ]i cv ,Hemj Wilson had joined the ni»]>Tai>-political cabal against Mr Llojd Geoige, the Pume JVlmistei would ha\e gone the way or Mr A^quith befoie him, the "Westemeis-" would ha\e muddled along with, their patchwoik <-t)ategy, and instead of winning the i\a/ wo should have lost it.

There were too occasions—November, 1917, and March, 1918—when the fate of ,tne war hung in the balance. On both occasions Mr Lloyd George came to the front, and Sir Henry Wil T son with him. Take November, 1917. One of General 'Cadoma's armies had suffered a serious defeat, so serious that, Italy was in danger of being knocked out of the war, with all the consequences which would have followed so untoward an "event. The Prime Minister saw the danger, and so did Sir Henry Wilson. Without an hour's delay • they went to Rapallo,, and the Versailles Council was the result.. ; Sir William Robertson, Chief of the Generall Staff, remained at home. He had his Western spectacles on his eyes, and-could not take them off. A man' of high character^ and application^ /he Kad not the 'gift of imagination', necessary for an. Imperial strategist. While 'Mr Lloyd' George .-'was; ; thinking;' of Italy, Sir William Robertson {was looking at Flanders. Interdependence? It wasl nonsense to talk about it. There was no such word in. they. Camberley curriculum. Clausewitz never mentioned it. What is Italy to Great Britain? Let ; the? Italians look to their front, and we to ours.

1 Mr Lloyd George and' ,Sir Henry. Wilson both knew better".. ' From that day the statesman, and soldier went arm-in-arm together along the path.to victory. Sir William Robertson would have nothing to say to the Versailles Council; nor would his subordinates.. He and they opposed its, creation, not openly, for the sake of our French allies, but secretly and covertly. When discussion was at its highest an officer of the High Command at Home, who has since left the army, told the writer of this article that the Versailles Council was nothing more than a "clearing house for politicians, and that in the view of the General Staff it was of no military consequence one way or the other." The dislike to the Council spread to the army in the.field, and readied its climax when sinister efforts were made,'through/a section of the London press 1, to upset the arrangement which the Prime Minister was working with all 'his might to bring about. The intrigue failed as it deserved to do, and is only referred to. here as indicating the obstructive spirit which was then prevalent among officers of the High. Command, and which, if it had not been crushed underfoot, would have endangered the continuity of the 1 Alliance. /

Sir Henry Wilson held aloof from this cabal. He would have no tiling to' . say to the intrigues of disgusted, polif ticians and the appointed soldiers and sailors. Gifted''with brain, he /is,; also gifted with other qualities of mind and ; character which gave him'strength to live down, the opposition,..'; to his appointment when it 1 was first, made at a," time of extreme national peril. Tact, , respect for constitutional rule,'.siibmis-^,.. sion to superior direction, loyalty to those both above and below—those are the salient attributes of success for soldiers as well as statesmen .'who are charged with authority over others, and it is these characteristics whicii Sir Henry Wilson, has shown himself to possess in: a very high degree, ''In all truth," he recently wrote to a friend, "I have done nothing to win the war. This is the modest opinion of those be-' hind the scenes who know what he has don© to re-establish friendly working relatioins between .soldiers and politicians, and by this means enable effort to be wholly concentrated on winning the war instead of being diverted into channels of personal dispute between rival competitors for power. , Soldiers cannot too clearly understand that they are the servants, not the masters, of the State. Their business at all times', and under all circumstances, isxto support the Government of the day. If the Government goes •wrong it is no'part of their duty to put it right. The Constitution provides a i remedy for political wrongdoing, buKit is not a military one. The Order-in-Council of January 27, 191G, making Sir William Robertson independent of the' War Cabinet,,was a mistake, and the source of all the troubles last May. After the return to Constitutional methods, and the appointment of Sir H. Wilson as Chief of the General Staff, the conduct of the war was mprkedby perfect co-ordination between the civil authorities, vrho v.ere charged with its direction, and the military authorities, who wore rharaed with its ovpeutio". We ovfp this to Sir Horivv W^son. quite as much «■? to iho Prime Minister, find in tW hour of vir+orv we ou^ht r>ot to forpH, it.—"London Observer."

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19190402.2.32

Bibliographic details

SIR HENRY WILSON., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9575, 2 April 1919

Word Count
902

SIR HENRY WILSON. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9575, 2 April 1919

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