Historians often criticise the commanders of World War One, labelling them incompetent and reckless with the lives of their troops. This feeling has also leaked into the public sphere; the same nation that mourned the death of Field Marshall Haig in 1928 now regularly argues that soldiers were “lions led by donkeys”.
However, it is fair to say that the role of a military commander in World War One was not for the faint hearted. It required experienced military leaders to rapidly adapt to new techniques and challenges, while protecting both their soldiers and their reputation.
For the most part, commanders had come from upper class, cavalry backgrounds that rendered them entirely unprepared for the modern warfare that presented itself during the war, including modern infantry weapons and trench warfare. This also meant they were constantly forced to juggle their beliefs in their tried-and-tested techniques with the will of the people and the pressure of those pushing modern weapons.
As such, there were many military commanders who exited the war as villains rather than heroes, blamed for the loss of lives or failure in battle. However, there are still some military commanders who continue to command the respect of those with military knowledge in one way or another, even if time has generally had a negative effect on their legacy.
Click on the links below to find out more about some of the most notable military commanders during World War One:
|Great Britain||France||Germany||United States||Russia|
|Douglas Haig||Ferdiand Foch||Paul von Hindenburg||John Pershing||Alexander Samsonov|
|David Beatty||Joseph Joffre||Erich Luderndorff|
|John Jellicoe||Philippe Petain||Erich von Falkenhayn|
|Jackie Fisher||Robert Nivelle|
"Military Commanders of World War One". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.