Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, December 28, 2017

"Mostest with the Leastest" in the Great War

Maude: Forgotten Victor of Mesopotamia

One measure of distinguished generalship is the ability to find victory despite limited resources. As Bedford Forrest might have put it, "Doing the mostest with the leastest." An example from the First World War is British Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Stanley Maude, successor to defeated and subsequently disgraced General Charles Townshend in the Mesopotamian theater. Maude was appointed by Imperial General Staff Chief William Robertson, who thought he could be depended upon to hold the line and not request reinforcements from the Western Front. 

Maude, however, worked with what he had, carefully rebuilding his limited forces, outmaneuvering more than outfighting his German-commanded Turkish opponents—eventually regaining the strategic initiative. He recaptured Kut in February 1917 and took Baghdad less than a month later. His successes continued, but he was fatally struck down by cholera the same year in November. A year later, his successor, General William Marshall, accepted the Turkish surrender at Mosul. 


  1. What a fascinating story.
    Has anyone done a compilation of WWI's greatest captains?

  2. Sir Frederick Maude was certainly a highly capable General and it is unfortunate that he is one of those people who is remembered more for the manner of his death than for what he achieved. Fortunately his successor Sir William Marshall was also competent and successful.
    The German general appointed by Enver Pasha to lead the Turkish forces in Mesopotamia, General Kolmar, Freiherr von der Goltz, died of Typhus in Baghdad in March 1916.