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HEADQUARTERS STAFF WORK, Issue 15703, 18 January 1915
HEADQUARTERS STAFF WORK
THE "TASK OF SIB JOHN FRENCH. PBCSCE (FWAMBTHE FIELD. [By the Military Correspondent of 'The Times.'] Sis John French and his corps cc-z.-manders usually inhabit comfortable quarters, at- all events when the army is upon the march. There are good and large house?, in town and, country, in Northern France, spacious, warmed, well lit. and admirably circumstanced for purposes for which they were certainly not intended. Many of 'the owners are away fighting. The "billeting laws of France enable full rase to be made of accommodation by troops, and, even if this were nob the case, the people of Northern France have received our troops like their own sons, and their kindness to all ranks, their hospitality, and their thonghtfulness have been a most agreeable feature of the war. The Field-marshal lives with his personal gtaff in a small mess. His various staffs and departments form separata messes, and inhabit other quarters in the vicinity. There is tha mess of Sir Archi- ! bald Murray, Chief of the General Staff, ! of the Adjutant-general, the Quartermas* ! ter-general, the General Staff, the French j Mission, and the liaison officers, and so on. The work is laborious, and som<* officers in each branch are on duty at ail hours of the day and night. Each head oi department makes his report at fixed hours, and news from the front frequently er.tails consultations. Sir John's personal staff are very hard worked, like the rest, and do their best to look after theii chief and to save him all needless worrv, H i* better that a. Chief of Staff should not live in the same mess as the Co/ji-mander-Jn-Chief in a war of this character. Reports from the front poor in—there are some 2.5C0 messages a day—and unless a commander can eat and sleep in relative peace, he will soon be worn out. Reports from the front come, therefore, to the Chief of Staff, who sifts them, and only presents tha most important to Sir Jolin. In the same way, other heads of departments deal with "their own work, and do not trouble the Commander unnecessarily. Even so. the work of the Field-marshal is continuous, and when lie is not at work at home he motors round, visits his lieutenants, inspects troops, and often _addresses them, and inquires closely intc the situation of all corps and services in his command. He not only receives ths ordinary reports every night, but also those, of the liaison officers, one of whom is attached to each army corps, and. comes back at night with his report. There are also British liaison officers with General .Toffre, and with French and Belgian forces' operating in the neighborhood. By these means, and by the activity of his other staffs, the Commander is kept fully informed. Whether all persons at home and abroad spare the Field-marshal as much as they might is an open question. If Sir John were to set himself to answer all the private letters eent to him, he and his staff would be unable to do anvthing else all day. Private correspondents seem to have absolutely no regard for the time of busy men. Similarly, when the Army is fighting for its life, and the Chiefs time is fully occupied, the wires which join General Headquarters with London are often a great curse. We can very easily wear out the strongest man unless we'put ourselves in his place, and remember that unless his whole time can he given up to the command of his troops the operations ot the Army must suffer. Wo cannot, distract the attention of a Commander in Sir John's position for 10 minutes without prejudice to the operations.
Tho Prince of Wales has at last oh tained the dearest, wish of his heart, and is present with the Army. He has_ won golden opinions. The personality of tho sdisrht and almost fragile-looking Princa was but little known to the Army tin til he joined it, and now that it is becoming; known it is a revelation. He is among the keenest and hardest soldiers in the Army. Ho -walks sis miles before break-. f.ist even - morning, drives his own car, aiid spends every moment of the -working dav in acquainting himself with tho situation of the troops and services of tho Army. Although, nominally attached to Sir John's Staff, he is not chained there. He is attached in turn to army corps, divisional and brigade headquarters, and is undergoing an education which no books can ever give him. Only kbt week he occupied a fitting cradle for a. prince—a house rocking and shaking day and night, under the constant detonations of the bombardment —and he has visited the trenches, including those of the Indian army. It will be diflicult to keep him out "of the firing line. <>[ his Grenadiers, and a, more zealous and indefatigable voung officer does not serve with the King's troops. He has a quiet, confident dignity which is most attractive, and his character and intelligence arouse the enthusiasm of all who meet Jiirn. It was not exactly the expression of a couitier. but it was the expression of a truth, when an ojd soldier looked wistfully after him «nti muuored half to himself : "That's a— — good boy !''
HEADQUARTERS STAFF WORK, Issue 15703, 18 January 1915
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