Volume 5

The Military Correspondence of Field Marshal Sir William Robertson, 1915-1918

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Field Marshal Sir William Robertson, Britainís first field marshal to advance from the ranks, served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff from December 1915 to February 1918. Both his powers and responsibilities were without precedent in British military annals. Given virtual autonomy within the War Office, he served as the supreme strategic advisor to the government during the planning and execution of the controversial Somme and Passchendaele offensives, battles the scale and violence of which were unparalleled in British history. Other British theatres in the global conflict, especially the Balkans and Palestine, and relations with Britain's allies also commanded his close attention.

Particular care has been devoted to Robertsonís private and secret communications with political leaders, the King, newspaper proprietors and editors, and his fellow senior officers. Robertsonís numerous communications with Haig, which constitute a substantial part of this correspondence, are very revealing of his relationship with the Commander-in-Chief of the BEF. The letters and telegrams in this volume are enlightening also on the often bitter conflicts between the civil and military authorities over manpower questions, the co-ordination of Allied military planning, and British grand strategy. 

Roughly sixty per cent of the documents in this volume are from the Robertson Papers deposited in the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London. Other manuscript collections searched for Robertson's correspondence include the papers of Haig, Asquith, Curzon, Milner, Archibald Murray, George V, Lloyd George, Henry Wilson, Northcliffe and Gwynne.