September 25, 1917 - British Political and Military Leaders Meet in Boulougne to Discuss Strategy; Continue Ypres Offensive or Send Reinforcements to Italy
Pictured - A British howitzer crew in Italy. British and French troops went to strengthen the Italian lines. On the other side German soldiers joined the Austro-Hungarians in preparation of a strong offensive.
“Easterners” vs “Westerners” clashed again as Britain’s leaders argued over their strategy for the rest of 1917. Prime Minister Lloyd George visited the Fifth Army in Ypres and made no secret that he wanted to abandon the offensive in Belgium, telling Chief of the Imperial Staff William “Wully” Robertson that supporting Haig was “backing the wrong horse.”
Lloyd George was particularly angry because Italian Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna had just written to say Italy needed reinforcements or it could not make any more offensives. After the paltry gains and bloody combat of the Tenth Isonzo Battle, Cadorna asked for British and French troops and guns. Lloyd George wanted to send them, Robertson had to stop an even more ambitious plan to strip Haig of ten divisions and make a landing in Turkey.
Haig on the other hand was furious at the Prime Minister’s political meddling. He claimed that the German divisions at Ypres were “broken,” and that enemy prisoners were so weak and scrawny that the whole German army must be about to buckle from starvation. Lloyd George for his part no longer believed a word coming from BEF headquarters in France. He would have liked to sack Haig, but realized it would look very bad to Parliament and the public. Haig continued his battle, which he meant to escalate again on September 26 with an attack on Polygon Wood.