26 SEPTEMBER 1998, Page 32

LETTERS Haig's achievement

Sir: I too am one of the 'dwindling genera- tion' whose fathers served in the Kaiser's war (mine was an NCO and WO in an infantry battalion), but I write to protest against the ill-founded and unwarranted abuse that continues to be heaped on Field Marshal Haig (Letters, 12 September).

My father was on the Western Front for over three years and kept a diary in which there was no criticism of nor expression of contempt for Haig, despite the casualties suffered in his battalion, nor did he ever express himself verbally along those lines — an attitude shared widely among his gen- eration who fought.

The letter contains the startling state- ment that . . nothing he achieved justified for Britain the losses he inflicted on her. . . . ' Not even final victory over a demoralised German army? Haig's achieve- ment in leading the largest army Britain has ever assembled in one theatre of war to complete victory is dismissed as not worth the losses involved. If any one man above all others brought victory about, it was Haig. It was Haig who realised that victory could be won in 1918 while others, politi- cians and generals, were thinking in terms of another great offensive in 1919. Without Haig the war might well have lasted anoth- er year. Even Lloyd George, no Haig-lover, who had tried in vain to find an acceptable replacement for him, was gracious enough to refer to the final series of victories of 1918 as 'the greatest chapter in our military history'. Foch, referring to the final 100 days, wrote, 'Never at any time in history has the British Army achieved greater results in attack.'

As for comments about Haig's failure to see for himself the conditions in which his men fought, and those 'gentle trots' from Montreuil said to be (by whom, one won- ders?) 'his closest examination of the bat- tlefields', they surely display that tunnel vision against which I am protesting: one that accepts as fact anything said or written about Haig just so long as it is detrimental to him, personally or professionally. Shades of Oh What a Lovely War! and Blackadder Goes Forth!

T.A. Cave

86 Findon Road, Worthing, W. Sussex