papalagi (papalagi) wrote,

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 ноя 1874 - 24 янв 1965) Part III 1916–1918 (1923-31)

To All Who Endured



To the War Cabinet.

March 5, 1918.


Further, the limits of what can be effected by gun power have been coming very clearly into view. We see that after a certain point it tends to defeat its own purposes as an offensive weapon, for the ground is so ploughed up by the necessary artillery preparation that it is impossible for troops to advance over it. It is a very practical and pregnant question at the moment whether artillery has not been overdone, and whether in the disposition of our resources for 1919 both personnel and material should not be liberated from artillery for other forms of warfare. I will return to this later.

I therefore return to the fundamental question. If you cannot starve out your enemy, if you cannot bear him down by numbers or blast him from your path with artillery, how are you going to win?

Again, it is clear that our policy of blockade on which the Navy have hitherto relied can no longer be counted upon to produce decisive results now that the Germans have got enormous portions of Russia at their disposal. Indeed we are likely during the period under survey to suffer nearly as much inconvenience and political instability through lack of supplies as are our enemies.

Again, if either side possessed the power to drop not five tons but five hundred tons of bombs each night on the cities and manufacturing establishments of its opponent, the result would be decisive.

Thus we may contemplate (a) relieving the want of man-power in the infantry, especially on defensive sectors of the front, by great increases of machine guns, automatic rifles, and the like; or (b) putting most of the cavalry into tanks or other mechanical vehicles; or (c) drawing upon the artillery and the material which supplies it, as far as may be needed, to raise chemical warfare to its proper proportionate position in our organization.

Incomparably the most effective method of discharging gas is by liberating it from cylinders to form a gas cloud when the wind is favourable. In no other way can results on the largest scale be achieved. Although for some time we and the Germans have relied instead upon firing gas shells from guns or mortars, there is no doubt that the original method in spite of its difficulty and danger is by far the most formidable. It is undoubtedly possible if the wind is favourable to discharge gas over a wide front which, if the discharge is sufficiently prolonged or intense, will render all existing masks ineffectual. The supreme fact is that the wind is at least six times, and some say nine times, as favourable to us as it is to the enemy. We are mad not to avail ourselves of this overwhelming advantage. But with our present pitifully small gas service of perhaps 6,000 or 7,000 men we are only trifling with the problem.

The resources are available, the knowledge is available, the time is available, the result is certain: nothing is lacking except the will. We have never been able to get out of the rut of traditional and conventional methods. We have never been able to plan on a sufficiently large scale, long in advance, and with the necessary force and authority to drive the policy through. We have instead only carried out a series of costly experiments each of which has shown us the chance we have lost and exposed our thought to the enemy.

There is one other aspect of the problem to which I referred in my paper of the 21st October last, namely the scale and intensity of a decisive conflict. War between equals in power is not an affair which can be carried to a result merely by quasi business and administrative processes flowing smoothly out month after month and year after year. It should be a succession of climaxes on which everything is staked, toward which everything tends, and from which permanent decisions are obtained. These climaxes have usually been called battles. A battle means that the whole resources on either side that can be brought to bear are during the course of a single episode concentrated upon the enemy. There has not been a battle in this war since the battle of the Marne of which this could be said.

And thus the war in the West has dwindled down to siege operations on a gigantic scale which however bloody and prolonged cannot yield a decisive result. Thus, when a great battle is raging on the British front, six or eight British divisions are fighting desperately, half a dozen others are waiting to sustain them, the rest of the front is calm; twenty British divisions are remaining quietly in their trenches doing their daily routine, another twenty are training behind the lines; 20,000 men are at school, 10,000 are playing football, 100,000 are on leave. It is the same with the enemy.

The idea of ending the war by “killing Germans” is a delusion. You have got to kill or totally incapacitate at least 700,000 Germans in every year, i.e., a number equal to the annual increment, before the slightest progress is made towards wearing down their manhood. And it takes at least one man's life to kill a German. We have to be, in short, merely exchanging lives, and exchanging lives upon a scale at once more frightful than anything that has been witnessed before in the world, and too modest to produce a decision.



There was altogether lacking that supreme combination of the King-Warrior-Statesman which is apparent in the persons of the great conquerors of history.

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