I’m currently reading (and admiring) C.R. Benstead’s 1930 novel, Retreat, whose central figure is a chaplain attached to an artillery unit in the Fifth Army during the momentous German assault of March-April 1918.
The novel graphically describes the efforts of the over-extended unit to hold their position as the Germans relentlessly advanced.
But a detail is puzzling me. Can anyone identify the politician described with such scorn in this extract from Chapter Three?
Who can it be? The suggestion that the politician was to blame for the plight of the Army suggests Lloyd George – but did he say that the Army ran away? If so, was it at the time, or in his memoirs?
What is clear is that the slur was still hugely resented twelve years after the event.
Benstead was himself an artillery officer. His novel is centred on an Anglican chaplain who is woefully ill-equipped for the challenges of his role. His fear and panic is contrasted with the steadfastness of the soldiers who are tasked with organising a retreat that will not actually lose the war.