IIS'CMa: REVIEW HtOSIKM RELEASE IN FUU. .
A coHcct'on ol articles on the historical, operational, doclrinat. and theoretical aspects ol intelhgence.
All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those of
ihe authors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations
IN FLANDERS FIELDS. By Leon WoifJ. (New York:S..
This readable new book about the Third Battle ofknown asought by thetbe Germans In the late summer and autumn ofa good sample of that now popular form of literature,story.ormer Air Force publicchose his subject well, for few campaigns Inhare been so often damned as disastrous.aspect of the British command's conduct of thisbeen more criticized than Its GHQ IntelligenceWolff faithfully repeats much of the criticism,of bis
Certainly one of the reasons why the battle was fought, though by no means tbe only or the meet important reason, was the glowing pictureossible early victory painted by Sir Douglas Haig's Intelligence chief, Brigadier General John Charteris. Halg himselfogged optimist, and he liked to
have optimists about him. Cbarterls,orrespondent of The Times in Vienna, had served with Halg in India, at Aider-shot, and at all of Haig's wartime comniands. In effect, he was Public Relations Officer, Chief Censor, and GHQ Morale Officer, as well as Chief of Intelligence, and he seemsto have confused his various duties. He was convinced that the Somme battles6 had done the Germans great damage, that the food shortage in Germany was becoming acute, and that revolutionary tendencies were emergingn7 heeport with the "fair deduction that,ontinuance of circumstances as they stand at present andontinuation of tbe effort of the Allies, then Germany may well be forced toeace on our terms before the end of theaig himself repeated this In substance to the cabinet: assuming that fightingat the same intensity, he said, the Germans would be at the end of their manpower In sir months.
In retrospect this certainly seems optimistic, for byussia had ceased fighting and Italy and Franceweakened, while Germany was bringing moretoe Western Front. Haig's and Charteris'emorandum7 from theMilitary Intelligence in. afacdonough.that Germany was still strong and Russiarecommended remaining on the defensive untilarrived. This memorandum, addressed to theinfluenced its opinion of Haig's and Charteris'serious criticism of GHQ developed in thebecame, not surprisingly, the first target- Hefactarget ever since. David Lloyd George, tnquoted by Wolff, spoke of "more stuff fromnd Wolff himself deprecates "thehand of General Johnart and Winston Churchill have also attackedand one is left with the Impression that he was littlethan a -
onclusion would be, tohrase from the other side of the hill, ettoaa uehertrieben. If we look at his diary and the full text of bis report, we see that Charteris got bis basic Information from thesources of militarytoterrogatione; captured letters, records and
paybooks; orcrt publications; and agents. His InterpreUUon ol the eflect of the Somme battles has since been documented by German writers. His June estimate of the number of Oer-man divisions In theas, if anything, one to three divisions high. He foresaw the danger of bad weather. He had captured orders Indicating that German field rations were being reducedhird and captured letters revealing the food shortage tnhortage since amply confirmed In German sources. Perhaps most Important, he had an agent report that German casualties in the spring battles In the West up until June had. The German official study1 put losses for April through June, ofere killed or missing. Although this tally Includes June, in which there were probably at0 casualties, the discrepancy with Charteris' report Is offset by the fact that the official figures do not Include those lightly wounded who were not evacuated out of the corps area;hould be added to the net figure. makingo the beginning of June.
Thus Charteris does not seem to nave been so far off In his picture of the German situation inis rosythat Germany would be exhausted at the end of the year was probably influenced by recent events In the Battle of Messlnea, where the greatest explosion of mines in military historyune demoralized tbe Oerman defenders. It should also be remembered that he was counting on aeffort by the French which did not materialize. But he did not grasp the danger and tbe significanceussian collapse, whichonth earlier Macdonough, from his broader perspective in London, had seen more clearly In making his soberer estimate of the German power to resist Perhaps we may claim Macdonough's clearer view as another proof of the advantages of centralising Intelligence estimates.'
The Third Battle of Ypres began onuly, and from this tjvn* on Charteris seems to have made more errors. Heat one point that all the German divisions in one sector had been on the front line and had therefore been mangled, when actually some had still not been engaged For some mysterious reason, he (not Just Half, aa Lloyd Oeorge and Wolff state) revised his estimate of Oerman divisions In the West downward to MS. now placingore on the Eastern
Front. Four divisions actually had been sent east in June, but in July eight were moved west from the east, so that theIn France and Belgium was now greater, not smaller. Charterls also reported that) class of Oerman conscripts was entering theistake he had to correct later.
It might be pointed out in Charteris' defense that other intelligence chiefs have erred on the side of optimism and Hved it down. Some readers may recall that3 the Supreme Allied Command devoted considerable effort towhat to do In the eventudden Germant Is natural, unless tbe enemy is practicing deception, tohim; no news is good news, bu* it may not be true news. The real trouble in Charteris' case was that hisof Halg made his judgment suspect, both in London and in the armies.
Halg told the War Secretary, Lord Derby, that he always discounted Charteris' optimism, but this does not seem to have been true, and Halg always erred on the optimistic sideOnecember, after the Oerman counterattack at Cambrai, Derby gaveonth to get rid of Charteris. Halg regretfully replaced him, writing at this time to bis wife, "It is nowear since Derby and the War Office have set their faces against poornd later, "He seemsort of Dreyfus in the eyes of our War Officeut when Charteris suggested that the attacks on him represented efforts to attack Halg, Halg did notto rebuke him; Charteris was told that the commander himself was the only one responsible for his decisions, and that they had been based on other information besides that furnished by GHQ Intelligence.
A reader who Is familiar .with mtelllgence will find Wolffs book scanty on details, not only In regard to Charteris but also on matters such as the Oerman failure to exploit tbe French nrutlnles. Wolff, of course, has written.on the battlehole, not just on Its mtelllgence aspects. The truth Is that his book isarm-up of the polemical campaign of theof an eastern
Thm code-mint RANKIN ni oard for the planned pamrl operation tn case of abrupt German withdrawal
principally Lloyd George and Churchill, against thehis Is not the place for details, but It should be pointed out that they comparing non-comparable casualty figures, hare made Passchendaele appear morethan It actually was. Wolff adopts Churchill's data without checking into Churchill's source and falls to compare the available unit casualty reports, which show, whenthat the battle losses on both sides were In, with the Oerman losses perhaps slightly higher than the British. As often In such polemics, the denunciations by Lloyd George and Churchill were really attempts to conceal or justify weak spots in their ownGeorge's failure to supply manpower8 and Churchill's Dardanelles fiasco The records of Halg and Charteris were far from spotless, and there were some sound arguments for an eastern strategy; but sound arguments were not the only ones used. It Is sobering for us to realize that no part of the denigration was more effect!Te than the exaggerated charges levelled at GHQ'a Intelligence; anorganizationood target.Original document.