Allan Mallinson from The Times reviewed new books on the wider aspects of the Great War. We were delighted that G.H.Q. was selected as one of the 6 books.
Sir Frank Fox’s G.H.Q., first published in 1920 and now reissued in a limited edition by his great-grandson, Charles Goodson- Wickes (Beaumont Fox, £25), is an absorbing study of Haig’s chateau-HQ at Montreuil-sur-Mer. Fox — a journalist and temporary soldier — paints a vivid picture of the comprehensive complexity of the British Expeditionary Force, with organisational diagrams, statistics and vignettes of day-to-day life.
The BEF, or more correctly in the later stages of the war the British Armies in France, was the largest organisation the country has ever maintained abroad — more than two million men. Montreuil-sur-Mer began to look as much like a colonial administration as an operational headquarters, with directors of agricultural production (Brigadier-General the Earl of Radnor) and forestry (Brigadier-General Lord Lovat), controllers of labour, of salvage and of canteens, subordinate directors of docks, of inland water transport, of roads, and of light railways. The list goes on, testimony to the industrialisation of the war and the sheer scale of Haig’s purview. For these and other reasons, on taking over as C-in-C at the end of 1915 he had moved GHQ back from Saint-Omer to Montreuil, almost on the Channel coast, placing him 70 miles and more behind the front line.
Fox writes: “It was the job of General Headquarters to try to see the war as a whole.” In fact. Haig found it difficult to see strategically beyond the Western Front or the tactical reality of the war in the trenches. Fox’s fascinating book explains a lot.”
The scan of the article is below and the link to the website here (summary only available to non-subscribers of The Times):
Six of the best First World War reads
You can also download the PDF of the article here: Six of the best First World War reads