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Ex Libris
C. K. OGDEN




THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



THE FIRST WORLD WAR



THE
FIRST WORLD WAR

1914-1918



PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

OF

LIEUT.-GOL. G. A COURT REPINGTON

G. M. G.

COMMANDER OF THE ORDER OF LEOPOLD
OFFICER OF THE LEGION OF HONOUR

VOLUME I



THIRD IMPRESSION



LONDON
CONSTABLE AND COMPANY LTD

1920



Printed in Great Britain



S^<f



K:iff



PREFACE

These records of my personal experiences during the war
are a contribution towards the elucidation of the truth so
far as I was able to ascertain it at the time, and will, I
hope, enable many to understand better the events of these
memorable years. A certain amount has been omitted on
the recommendation of eminent counsel, and some names
have also been left out, but for the rest the entries in my
diary have been left substantially as they were written, and
are a faithful record of my impressions during this extra-
ordinary and eventful epoch.

My grateful thanks are due to some most kind friends
for reading the proofs and giving me much valuable
advice ; to Lady Maude for allowing me to use her late
husband's letters to me ; and to the writers of other
letters for giving me permission to publish them.



CONTENTS OF VOL. I

CHAPTER I
OUR MILITARY UNDERSTANDING WITH FRANCE, 1906-14

PAGES

Russia's defeat in 1904-5 — Danger of a Grerman attack on France —
Discussions with the French Military Attach^ — Sir Edward
Grey's view — Opinions of Admiral Sir John Fisher, Lord Esher,
Sir George Clarke, and General Grierson — Unofficial submission
of questions to the French Government and their replies — The
French plan of concentration — Differences of opinion on strate-
gical questions — Meeting of Sir Edward Grey and Mr. Haldane —
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's attitude — Official relations
opened between the French and British General Staffs — The
French Press divulges the truth — Co-operation of the two
Staffs, 1906-14 1-16

CHAPTER II

THE FIRST YEAR, AUGUST 1914-SEPTEMBER 1915

The outbreak of war — Divisions within the Cabinet — Mobilisation
delayed — The violation of Belgium unites the whole country —
Lord Kitchener's appointment as Secretary of State for War —
His plans of organisation and view of the general situation,
August 15 — My views of the military situation on the eve of war
— The Expeditionary Force leaves for France — Disclosure of
the German concentration, August 12 — Early defeats of the
Allies and the retreat from Mons — The Marne victory —
F.M. Lord Roberts's last offer of his services — My first visit
to the Army in France — Life at Sir John French's G.H.Q. — Visits
to the French and Belgian fronts — General Foch at Cassel — He
asks me an interesting question — French and English languages
— The King and Queen of the Belgians — The question of the
shells — Reiterated demands for shells — War Office promises
not kept — The situation on May 9, 1915— Heavy casualties in
British attacks — The 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade at Fromelles
— My telegram of May 12 — The Dardanelles drain on the muni-



viii THE FIRST WORLD WAR

PAGES

tions in France — Sir John French informed that he can expect
no more reinforcements for a considerable time — A disquieting
situation — Captain Stanley Wilson, M.P., and Mr. Bonar Law —
Proposed action by the Unionist Leader — Mr. Lloyd George's
action — Censoring of my telegram in France— My paper expos-
ing the facts — Reconstruction of the Government — The Coali-
tion Ministry — Creation of the Ministry of Munitions — Lord
Kitchener stops my visits to Sir John French — Injudicious article
in the Daily Mail — The Russian campaign — The Dardanelles —
Recruiting difficulties — Suppression of my articles — Public
service of Lord Derby at this time 17-44



CHAPTER III

THE OUTLOOK, AUTUMN 1915

Mr. Lloyd George's views of the situation, Sept. 29, 1915 — IMr.
Churchill on the Dardanelles and naval matters — Sir William
Robertson on the situation in France and the attack at Loos —
The Salonika Expedition — Opposition of French and British
Staffs — The first Zeppelin raid on London — ^Mr. Lloyd George's
views, Oct. 18 — CViticisms of the Battle of Loos — Dissatisfaction
with the Government — Ignorance of the people concerning
events — General Joffre and Lord Bertie in London — The New
Armies at Salisbury — Sir Archibald Murray on the conduct of
the war — Lord Kitchener goes to the Eastern Mediterranean,
Nov. 1915 — Sir Arthur Markham's views — Sir Arthur Lee at
the Munitions Ministry — Lord Derby and Recruiting — Mr.
ChurchiU joins up — Russia's day, Nov. 18 — The Dardanelles
and Salonika — General Townshend in trouble after Ctesiphon
— Lord Curzon on his colleagues 45-72

CHAPTER IV

SALONIKA AND THE DARDANELLES

A visit to Wilton — General Joffre and Salonika — General Du Cane
at the Ministry of Munitions — A tale from the East — Mr. Wash-
burn on the Russian Armies — The Dardanelles and Salonika —
Divergent views — Dispute about the Battle of Loos — The
evacuation of the Dardanelles — Sir Ian Hamilton's views — Sir
John Simon's attack on the Times — The defence of Egypt —
Lord Derby on Recruiting — Reasons for General Townshend's
advance after Kut — F.M. Sir John French replaced by Sir



CONTENTS ix

PAGE

Douglas Haig — Mr. Asquith's reasons — The Dutch mails — Trans-
port losses in the Mediterranean — A visit to Hackwood — Lord
Curzon of Kedleston on Salonika decisions — A conversation
with the Queen of the Belgians — Withdrawal of troops from
France for Salonika — A speech to the Northern Association of
Unionist Agents — Success of the evacuation of GaUipoli and
Anzac — German strength in E. Africa — Lord Kitchener opposes
General Staff plans — Rasputin — Russian munitions — Trade
or Victory ? — More reasons for Sir John French's recall — Allied
and German Armies in France — Home Defence Forces — A New
Year's party 73-98

CHAPTER V

THE OUTLOOK FOR 1916

Lord Kitchener and Sir William Robertson — The deficit in our
Army strengths — General Robertson's plans — Derby recruiting
estimates — The Compulsion Bill introduced — GaUipoli finally
evacuated without loss — Sir Ralph Paget and Mr. O'Beirne on
Balkan politics — Sir Ian Hamilton on the Dardanelles — Visit
to SunninghiU Park — Home Defence chaos — M. Coleyn on
German numbers and British strategy — Lord Derby on recruit-
ing — German losses — Sir W. Robertson's views of events —
Sir F. E. Smith's arrest in France — Russia's rifle strength . 99-122

CHAPTER VI

EQUALITY OF ALLIED AND GERMAN STRENGTHS

Colonel House — M. Wolkoff on Russia — Lord French at White-
hall — Aerial defence — ^The Indian Corps in France — A visit to
Barley Thorpe — Mr. Balfour on Mesopotamia and naval affairs
— Joffre, Robertson, and Salonika — Weaknesses of the Derby
system — ^The reserved occupations — Mr. Wollcott's visits to
Belgium, Poland, and German Headquarters — His views on
the situation — Lord French and Home Defence — Inaccurate
figures given to him by Lord Kitchener — The defence of Egypt
— ^Mr. WoUcott on German finance — Mr. Frank Simonds on
propaganda — Commandant Bertier de Sauvigny's views of
events — Work of the Tribunals — Mr. Lloyd George's views on
recruiting, German casualties, munition workers, and muni-
tions — Sir Arthur Paget on his visit to Russia — Allied and
German forces in March 1916 — Practical equality of strengths
— Cost of the war — Mr. Lloyd George's orders for guns — Our
loans to our Allies 123-150



THE FIRST WORLD WAR



CHAPTER VII
A VISIT TO THE FRENCH FRONT, MARCH AND APRIL 1916

PAR KB

The struggle over Salonika — Our strength in France — Visit to
Chantilly — Views of Generals de Castelnau and Pell6 — System
of work at the French G.Q.G. — By motor Paris to Souilly —
Situation at Verdun — Visit to the battlefield — French confidence
that they can hold Verdun — General P6tain's views — His use
of artillery — ^The 2™^ Bureau, 2™^ Arm6e — German divisions
used — German prisoners — Visit to General Gouraud — The
French trenches described — The French 5™^ Arm6e Headquarters
— Their views of the situation — Visit to Greneral Joffre — His
views on artillery, British strengths, Salonika, black troops,
and French losses — Visit to the French War Minister — Conversa-
tions with M. Briand and M. Berthelot — A version of the Con-
stantinople affair — A visit to La Panne — Belgian strengths 151-177



CHAPTER VIII

RECRUITING AND SUBMARINE TROUBLES

Lord French's Commanders and troops — General Robertson's diffi-
culties about men — Verdun silences French demands for
Salonika — Sir Mark Sykes's visit to Tiflis — Mr. Balfour on the
naval situation — The submarine depredations — ^Mr. Bonar Law
unconvinced about the need for a Military Service Act — ^A crisis
in recruiting — Mr. Churchill on events — Turkish distribution —
Stories of the late Lord Salisbury — A visit to Beaconsfield —
General Robertson on recruiting and oversea campaigns — A
visit to Hartsbourne Manor — Sir F. E. Smith's views — Italian
defeat in the Trentino — Sir W. Robertson on the situation —
Necessity for us to attack in France — Commodore Sueter on past
naval policy — The R.N. Air Service — The Jutland Battle — Lord
Kitchener drowned .- 178-213



CHAPTER IX

A TOUR IN ITALY, JUNE 1916

The Salonika offensive temporarily abandoned — Preparations for
our attack in France — Havre — Colonel Driant and General Joffre
— Lord Esher's Mission — M. Berthelot on the last London



CONTENTS xi

Conference — Verdun losses — Views at Chantilly — Journey to
Italy — Venice in war time — Italian strengths and dispositions
— Udine — Italian and Austrian forces — Russian plans — General
Diaz — A visit to the Isonzo and Carso fronts — General Porro —
The Camia front — A mountain fight — Audience with the King of
Italy — The General StafiE Bureaus — Bulgarian and Turkish dis-
positions — Aquileia — Visit to the Trentino front — General
Pecori Giraldi — A talk with Greneral Cadorna — The adminis-
trative services at Treviso — Colonel Enkel's views — The Cadore
front — Italian Alpini — General di Robilant's views — The
Asiago battlefield — News of our Somme attack — Return to
Paris 214-251



CHAPTER X

THE SOMME BATTLE, JULY 1916

Lieut. Pemot on the situation — Discussion on Rumanian affairs at
the Rumanian Legation — M. Millerand — Chantilly again —
General de Castelnau's opinions — Our objects in the Somme
battle — Journey to Amiens — Brig. -General Charteris's views —
General Sir Henry Rawlinson — A visit to the battlefield — A
conversation with General Foch — His use of artillery — Visit to
the captured German position round Dompierre — Visit to
Beauquesne, Sir Douglas Haig's Headquarters — Visits to
Generals Hunter- Weston, Snow, and Hubert Gough — General
Allenby at St. Pol — Sir Charles Monro at Choques — Sir Herbert
Plumer at Cassel — Views of various officers . . . 252-273



CHAPTER XI

MR. LLOYD GEORGE AS WAR SECRETARY

Mr. Lloyd George War Secretary — Sir William Robertson's opinions
on the military situation — A Warren House party — Some Irish
stories — A luncheon with Mr. Lloyd George — His opinions and
plans — No victory till 1918 — The disabled soldiers and the
Statutory Commission — Sir Nevil Macready and the reinforce-
ment of our Armies — Vast numbers of exempted men of military
age — A visit to FulweU Park— Lord French's dissatisfaction
with the authorities — Scene at Headquarters in London during
a ZeppeUn raid — Sir W. Robertson on the Somme battle, the
Channel Tunnel, and Portuguese assistance — The Indian PoUce
and Lord Curzon of Kedleston's reforms — Lord Wimbome on



xii THE FIRST WORLD WAR

PA0E3

recruiting in Ireland — A luncheon for King Manuel — General
Geddea on recruiting — General Alderson and the Canadians
— Mr. Beck on America ...... 274—304



CHAPTER XII

RUMANIA TAKES THE FIELD, AUGUST 1916

A visit to Sandbeck Park — Imminence of Rumania's action —
General Maurice on the military position- — A story about the
Channel Tunnel — An American opinion of President Wilson —
The German Fleet out — Mr. Balfour imitates Drake — Our
Admirals and the Channel Tunnel — Allied and enemy divisions
on various fronts — A visit to Watlington Park— The Dutch
Minister's views — Lieut. Pemot on the situation — Rumania enters
the war — Sir Charles Monro, C.-in-C. in India — His plans —
Hindenburg succeeds Falkenhayn — Colonel Olivant on Meso-
potamia — Gteneral Maurice on Salonika and the Rumanian
plans — Mr. Lloyd Gteorge displeased with our strategy in France
— General Robertson's views — Chances that Hindenburg will
attack Rumania — Formality of Royal circles — Sir W. Robert-
son on the Somme battle, Rumanian strategy, and Salonika —
Indian Army affairs — Recruiting difficulties . . . 305-331

CHAPTER XIII
FRANCE, SALONIKA, AND MAN-POWER, AUTUMN 1916

General Geddes on our Man-Power troubles — Mr. Asquith on
German power — Lieut. Robinson's destruction of a German
dirigible — Lord Wimborne on recruiting in Ireland — A visit to
Wilton — The Kaiser's cedar broken— Proposed changes on the L.
of C. in France — The transport of ammunition — A talk about the
Tanks — Mr. Churchill as artist — Queen Am61ie on Portugal —
Losses of the Guards on Sept. 15 — Mr. McKenna on the finance of
the war and Mr. Lloyd George's character — General Robertson on
the strategy of the war — Plans for reinforcements — Gteneral Call-
well on the Russian Army of the Caucasus — Sir Herbert MUes on
Gibraltar in war time — German submarines ofl the American
coast — Our effectives at Salonika — French request for more
troops at Salonika — Differences in the War Committee — Lord
Northcliffe supports the soldiers' view — A temporary truce
arranged — Details of our Man-Power situation — Brig.-General
Bingham on shell expenditure on the Somme — Gteneral Geddes
on the causes of our Man-Power difficulties . . . 332-366



CONTENTS xiii

CHAPTER XIV

MR. LLOYD GEORGE AND THE MILITARY MOLOCH

Some Observer articles — Lord Northcliffe and Lord French —
Germany's new divisions — Mr. Lloyd George on the situation —
He wishes ' to knock out the Turks ' — His opinions on some
soldiers — Two books still worth reading— The Military Moloch
— Tales of the authorship of my Observer articles — General
Robertson on Rumania, the Somme, Home Defence, and the
Balkans — G<>neral Geddes on Army wastage — M. NabokoS on
the Russian situation — An article on ' The Lost Legions ' —
Lord Tullibardine on Egjrpt — A coming Conference in Paris —
The Rumanian campaign — Our losses — Our numbers in different
theatres of war — -The German reserves — Our inability to raise fresh
divisions — Lieut. Pernot on events — The question of convoy 367-390



CHAPTER XV

MR. LLOYD GEORGE PRIME MINISTER, DECEMBER 1916

The November Conferences in France — The old strategy to be con-
tinued — General Robertson on the Cabinet and the Press — Mr.
Balfour on naval affairs — Admiral JeUicoe First Sea Lord —
Admiral Beatty gets the Grand Fleet — No change in naval
strategy — Mr. Balfour's answers to criticisms of the Admiralty —
The Q.M.G.'s difficulties — Captain Paget on the orders of the
cavalry for July 1 — Count Benckendorff on Russian politics — The
Rumanian defeats — Depression in London — Brig.-General Yarde-
Buller on the French strengths and 1916 casualties— The political
crisis of Dec. 1 — Mr. Lloyd George Prime Minister — Course of
events in Rumania described by General Robertson — The first
War Council of the new Government — General Joffre in diffi-
culties — ^The Kaiser offers to negotiate for peace — General
Nivelle replaces General Joffre — The Italian Day at the Ritz —
Mr. Harry Cust on the war — A German raider loose in the Ocean
— The Duke of Connaught on the new French attack drill — Sir
Ernest Cassel thinks that we shall outstay the Gtermans — The
Kaiser%^ offer refused — The strain of Salonika — The raider and
submarines hold up our drafts for the East — ^The Dutch Minister
on Holland's attitude 391-416



xiv THE FIRST WORLD WAR

CHAPTER XVI

THE QUESTION OF JAPANESE CO-OPERATION
JANUARY 1917

PAGES

General Robertson, Salonika, and the War Cabinet — A victory while
you wait — The new military decrees in France — Transport losses
in the Mediterranean — Generals Haldane and Hull on our troops
in France — The Kaiser tells his Army that he will impose peace
with the sword — Our position respecting drafts — The Daily
Mail helps about Salonika — Lord Northcliffe opens fire — A
talk with Lord Derby — He promises to support Robertson —
M. Briand faUs to stampede us into more Salonika foUies —
Joy among the anti-Salonikans — A dinner at the Dutch Legation
— The question of Japanese co-operation — A talk with General
Inagaki — Sir James WiUcocks's early history — Count Bencken-
dorfE's death — Stories of MensdorfE and Lichnowsky — The
German raider busy — I make a speech to the Unionist Agents —
Mr. Balfour and Lord Robert Cecil on the freedom of the seas —
The Russians to be consulted respecting Japanese co-operation —
Mr. McKenna describes the German Peace Terms — M. NabokofE
on Japanese aid — General Dessino's views — General de la
Panouse on changes in France — Captain Norton's account of the
loss of the Lawreniic ....... 417-447

CHAPTER XVII
MR. LLOYD GEORGE AND MAN-POWER, 1917

The Grerman submarine threat — America breaks off relations
with Germany — General Robertson on the French railways —
The first Dardanelles Report — Lord Wimborne and Irish
politics — The Household Cavalry battalion — A proposed
Irish settlement — ^The men demanded by the Army Council
not forthcoming — Mr. Lloyd George's views — His criticisms
of the Admiralty — His attitude regarding men for the Army —
A difference of opinion — His views on Ireland and the Wim-
borne scheme — A quaint story of Lord Northcliffe — F.M. Sir D.
Haig's assurances to French journalists — An indictment of the
Allies from Greece — The proposed plan for unity of command
on the Western front — Lord Derby on Man-Power — Lord
French's Home Defence cripples — General Inagaki on Japanese
co-operation — My speech to the Unionist War Committee at the
House of Commons — ^My letter to the Prime Minister about
Man-Power — ^Mr. Balfour thinks the price for Japanese co-opera-
tion is too stiff 448-477



CONTENTS XV



CHAPTER XVIII

MR. LLOYD GEORGE REVIEWS THE SITUATION
MARCH 1917

PAGES

speech by Sir Edward Carson on the submarines — ^The first
Dardanelles Report out — It creates amazement — ^The port of
Southampton — Our wheat and flour supplies — General Maurice
on the situation — General YermolofE's views — General Geddes on
Man-Power — A talk with M. Albert Thomas — General Lyautey
resigns — General Lawson's combing-out work in France —
General Robertson on the Calais Agreement — His opinion of
Greneral NiveUe — Lord French on the German voluntary retire-
ment — Princess Clementine on journalists — A letter from Sir
Archibald Murray from Egypt — The Scottish OflSce on the Army
— ^The Russian Revolution — Lord Jellicoe and the War StafE —
Lord Milner and the Russian Revolution — Mr. BaKour's views
— Rumours of raids and invasions — My telephone keeps on
ringing — A visit to the Russian Embassy — ^M. WolkofE's amusing
repartee — German and British figures of submarine sinkings —
The Haig-Nivelle trouble — A luncheon for the Prime Minister
and the Russians — Mr. Lloyd George's severity — Our food
supplies — The Prime Minister's doubts about German reserves
and invasion — His views on the general situation — Our ration
strengths — Greneral Robertson on Italy and Russia . . 478-604



CHAPTER XIX

OPENING OF THE 1917 CAMPAIGN IN FRANCE

Explanation of forces at home — Our need of drafts — Every Depart-
ment against the Army — Commander Grenfell harangues the
Baltic Fleet — I address the 1900 Club on Man-Power and the War
— General Geddes supports me — M. Sevastopoido on Russian
a£Eairs — General Count de Jonghe on the coming attack — The
American Women's Hospital — A letter from Sir Archibald
Murray on his operations round Gaza — Success of the British
attack of April 9 round Arras — General Robertson on the
Russians — A talk with Greneral Smuts — ^My objections to the
Flanders operation — Smuts on German E. and S.-W. Africa —
His ideas about the Teutonic race — ^A visit to Brentwood —
Dispositions of our Southern Army in England — Miss Wilmot's
gardens — Lord Derby's requests to me — Greneral NiveUe takes
the German first-line trenches in Champagne . . 505-51!

VOL. I. 6



xvi THE FIRST WORLD WAR

CHAPTER XX
ARRAS AND CHAMPAGNE, APRIL 1917

PAGKS

Journey to the British front in Prance — Montreuil — Order of
Battle of our Armies in France — Distribution of the German
Armies — With Rawlinson's 4th Army — The devastated area —
The question of guns and fuses — Visits to Gtenerals Du Cane and
Pulteney — German booby traps — Visit to Generals Gough and
Birdwood — The 5th Army Trench Mortar School — Visit to
General Allenby at Bryas — State of his 3rd Army — We visit the
battlefield — ^Feat of arms of the 3rd Army on April 9 — Bad
condition of our horses — Plan of attack for April 23 — General
Allenby comes with me round his gas laboratory, survey com-
pany, and signal service — Description of these services — ^Visit to
Greneral Home's H.Q. 1st Army — A visit to Vimy Ridge — Pine
view from Hill 145 — ^A call on General Byng — His capture of
German guns and their use — Opening of the attack of April 23
— ^The mechanism of the command at General Allenby's Head-
quarters — Visit to G.H.Q. at Bavincourt — Talks with Generals
Kiggell and Sir Douglas Haig — Grerman divisions, the new series
— Greneral Trenchard and the R.F.C. Headquarters at St. Andr6
— Trenchard's opinions — Major Cornwall's views of the German
forces — Arrival in Paris — A talk with M. Painlev6, the new
French War Minister — Motor to Chalons — Meet Generals P6tain
and NiveUe — I give General P6tain my views at his request — He
describes what happened before Nivelle's attack — A discussion of
the present position — General P^tain at work — Studies of his
Staff — A reconnaissance of Moron viUers — General P6tain's plans
— ^M. Citroen's Munition Works — Renault's factory — A visit to
General NiveUe at Compifegne — His explanatory note on his
battle of April 16 — General Foch unemployed — I visit him at
Senlis — His views — French G.Q.G.'s estimate of present and
future German strengths — A lunch with M. Loucheiir — Another
talk with Sir D. Haig and General P6tain — A successful Con-
ference — Admirals JeUicoe and Sims on the submarine war 519-562

CHAPTER XXI

THE AMERICAN PROGRAMME

General Murray's situation — Our horses — A recruiting talk with
General Geddcs — Where the 3^ million men of military age
in civil life now are — Austrian and Italian strengths on Italian
front — The Italian Isonzo oiiensive of May 12 — Mr. Lloyd



CONTENTS xvii

PAOBS

George suggests a defensive in the West — Low Country warfare
— Lord Bumham and the Calais Conference — I address the Man-
chester Chamber of Commerce — A northern business audience —
Some plain speaking — Foch says that la grande guerre estfinie —
Lord Hardinge of Penshurst on Riissia — Plumer's victory at
the Messines Ridge, June 7 — Admiral Hall at the Admiralty —
Sir John Cowans's advice for the Americans — Allenby replaces
Murray in Egypt — Sir Edward Carson on naval afiairs — The
present nulitary position in France — Lord Crewe's opinion of Lord
Kitchener — General Tom Bridges on his mission to the United
States — Probable course of American arrivals — ^Lieut. Pemot



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