Who is the politician?

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?

benstead
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.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Posted December 28, 2016 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    The politician, undoubtedly, will be David Lloyd George. This writer appears to subscribe to the notion that the Prime Minister deliberately starved Haig of troops, thereby allowing the Germans to break through in early 1918. The whole episode is so shot through with passion and partisanship that the truth can be very difficult to establish. What can be said is that Haig intended to renew his offensive in Flanders in the spring of 1918, Lloyd George was resolved to prevent him from doing anything of the kind, and that the British Army, in certain sectors of the front, was therefore understrength. What British military apologists neglect to mention, however, is that German local preponderance in numbers was no greater than the corresponding Allied preponderance on the Western Front in 1915, and that the Germans’ initial success in 1918 – in stark contrast to the abysmal Allied failures of 1915 – was due to superior planning, organisation and tactical nous. The numbers, in themselves, meant very little.

  2. Jonasthan Lighter
    Posted January 18, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I concur in your estimation of Benstead’s novel, which I read long ago.

    It was reprinted a few years back, as one of a Great War series, by the University of South Carolina Press. The Introduction is by Hugh Cecil.

  3. Jonathan Lighter
    Posted January 18, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I concur in your estimation of Benstead’s novel, which I read long ago.

    It was reprinted a few years back, as one of a Great War series, by the University of South Carolina Press. The Introduction is by Hugh Cecil.


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