How very disappointing to see this sort of commentary being posted on a respected website such as the Australian War Memorial. It almost seems like we are back in the 1960’s with “Oh! What A lovely War” and Alan Clark’s “The Donkeys” being the model for “historical” analysis.
At Saturday’s day school at the Centre For First World War Studies on the Somme 95 years one – both John Bourne & Bob Bushaway comprehensively demolished (again) the “lions led by donkeys” view of the Somme – long lines of untrained Kitchener volunteers walking slowly shoulder to shoulder and carrying 70 lb packs into No Man’s Land and accomplishing nothing.
At the end of his first lecture, John did remark on the recent publication “To End all Wars” by Adam Hochschild and last week’s Matthew Parris article in The Times – and wonder whether his academic work throughout his career had actually accomplished anything – if this was still the persistent view of the Great War held in the public imagination.
To now find the AWM repeating the same mantra is very depressing, particularly as it follows on from the recent National Army Museum’s reference to “Butcher” Haig as part of its Britain’s Greatest General “competition.” The NAM’s tacit acceptance of this unsubstantiated (unless you are Alan Clark) sobriquet has now been used to justify its promulgation by that academic powerhouse Wikipedia.
I referred to this ongoing debate in my earlier post “Who are we preaching to?” – how sad to see it spread to supposedly respectable institutions as the AWM and the NAM. I have posted a comment on the AWM blog but it is “awaiting moderation” – I wonder if it will see the light of day?