22 APRIL 2000, Page 26

Such dear victories

From Mr Philip Warner Sir: Mr Clive Wright (Letters, 15 April) inquires by what criteria the Somme and Passchendaele were judged victories.

The Somme removed the Germans from prepared positions and prevented them from advancing and completing the con- quest of France: they had no doubt it was a British victory. Passchendaele removed the threat to Ypres and diverted the Germans from knowing that the mutiny in the French army had left the way to Paris open. British casualties did not exceed the Ger- mans'. Even though the Germans did not record their casualties as conscientiously as the British did, their losses were greater. However, whether your casualties are greater or less than your opponent's in a major battle is irrelevant if your objective is secured. Russian casualties at Stalingrad were enormous, but no one questions that it was a Russian victory. Lloyd George did not question the fact that Haig won victo- ries; he only commented on their cost.

Philip Warner

The Athenaeum, London SW1