Caption: 'Wully' Robertson and Marshal Foch, with their respective staffs. Cologne, 1917 (Courtesy: IWM Q 7630)
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About this online talk: William 'Wully' Robertson was the creator of the modern position of Chief of the Imperial General Staff. The only man in history t rise from private to field marshal, he imposed a strategy on a reluctant Cabinet and then resolutely defended it against all comers. That strategy ended the chaos of 1915 and focused all conceivable energy on the Western Front as the only place to defeat Germany. But was he really just Haig’s ‘man of business’, in London because the commander of the BEF preferred to be surrounded by gentlemen in France, and tasked with merely acting as a buffer to protect Haig’s freedom of action. Also Haig was fully aware that Robertson favoured a more cautious operational method than he did. Of course the answer to the question could be 'both'.
About the speaker: Ross has a BA in History (from a long time ago) and a more recently acquired MA in First World War Studies. He was inspired to study the war when as an eleven-year-old boy he sat and watched all 26 parts of the BBC’s 1964 documentary. He specialises in the strategic management of the war – on both sides of the wire. His lectures on Schlieffen and his plan and on Robertson’s contribution to the war are central to this. He also has an interest in sometimes ignored battles– hence, with the planning of them particularly in mind, he lectures on Cambrai and Neuve Chapelle.