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  1. ITV Report

WW1: Behind the key figures of Britain's war campaign

There were a number of key individuals whose contributions to the First World War, or Great War, are still remembered today.

Here is a who's who of the people who helped Britain win the war:

  • Field Marshal Lord Kitchener of Khartoum (1850-1916)
Lord Kitchener graced the famous 'Britons wants you' poster campaign for recruitment. Credit: Topham/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

Lord Kitchener was a successful and greatly-admired colonial warrior, having spent almost all his service in various outposts of the British Empire.

When Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, Lord Kitchener was appointed Secretary of State for War.

Not a politician by trade, he refused to delegate and ignored his army advisers and was seen as arrogant and dictatorial.

Yet he was one of the few statesmen who, in the summer of 1914, realised the war would be a long one - estimating it would last at least three years.

It was Lord Kitchener who masterminded the recruitment of the so-called "citizen army" Britain would need to win the war, including the Pals' Battalions of men who joined up together, fought together and died together.

Lord Kitchener drowned on June 5, 1916, when the vessel he was in hit a mine.

  • Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig (1861-1928)
Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig was hailed a hero at the end of the Great War, but known as a 'butcher' by the 1960s. Credit: REUTERS/Collection Odette Carrez

Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig is the most controversial figure of the Great War. He was hailed a hero at the end of the war, but was seen as a "butcher" by the time the 1960s came round.

He was reviled as the archetypal callous general who knew and cared nothing of the suffering his men underwent on the frontline.

At the beginning of 1916, Sir Douglas was Commander-in-Chief of British forces in France and Flanders, which comprised more than 4.5 million men by the war's end.

Scholars often agree that while Sir Douglas made mistakes during the campaign, in 1918 he was responsible for the greatest victory in the history of the British Army.

It seems that, contrary to popular belief, he did care deeply about his men - at the end of the First World War he established the British Legion and the Earl Haig Fund, better known as the Poppy Appeal, in aid of ex-servicemen and their families.

  • Field Marshal Sir John French (1852-1925)
Field Marshal Sir John French was the first commander-in-chief of the British Expeditionary Force Credit: Topham/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

Field Marshal Sir John French was the first Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) the army sent to France and Flanders at the outbreak of war.

A cavalry officer, he was deemed to be a courageous man but ill-suited to the demands of modern industrialised warfare.

At odds with Lord Kitchener for most of 1915, Sir John was sacked at the end of the year following failed and costly offensives, particularly the Battle of Loos in September.

After his return to Britain he became the 1st Earl of Ypres and Sir Douglas Haig took over his role.

  • Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928)
Henry Herbert Asquith was Prime Minister during the outbreak of the Great War. Credit: PA/PA Archive

Liberal politician Henry Herbert Asquith had been Prime Minister for six successful years by the time the Great War began.

His refined manner frustrated many of his his colleagues, both politicians and soldiers, some of referred to Asquith as "Squiff" due to his fondness for a tipple.

As the fighting on the Western Front became deadlocked in the trenches of France and Flanders, Asquith was forced to establish a Coalition Government.

His premiership has been criticised for delays in turning Britain's industrial might to a wartime footing.

Asquith was deposed as Prime Minister in December 1916 and succeeded by fellow Liberal politician, and political nemesis, David Lloyd George.

  • David Lloyd George (1863-1945)
David Lloyd George was known as the Welsh Wizard for his political trickery. Credit: PA/PA Wire

Referred to as the Welsh Wizard for his political trickery after the war, Lloyd George was a wily operator during it.

In August 1914 he was Chancellor, and on the establishment of the Coalition Government in May the following year he became Munitions Minister.

Lloyd George's dynamism and self-confidence shook the lethargy out of Britain's war production infrastructure, transforming it into a powerhouse capable of winning the war.

After Lord Kitchener died, Lloyd George took over the War Office and then succeeded Asquith as Prime Minister in December.

Lloyd George urged the military to find an alternative to the policy of attritional warfare on the Western Front - wearing down the enemy until they yield.

He was, with Churchill, a prime mover in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

In the 1930s Lloyd George's six-volume memoirs began the "blame game" over the Great War, labelling the generals as the villains.

  • Field Marshal Sir William Robertson (1860-1933)
General Sir William Robertson was the only man to rise from private soldier to the army's highest rank of Field Marshal. Credit: PA/PA Wire

Sir William "Wully" Robertson was the only man in the British Army to rise through the ranks from private soldier to the army's highest rank, field marshal

Unlike many senior figures in the army, Sir William was not privately educated. He was the son of the local postmaster in the Lincolnshire village of Welbourn.

Sir William's first job was as a footman and when he joined the army, his mother was so appalled she told him she would "rather see him dead than in a red coat".

As chief of the imperial general staff, Sir William was the British Government's principal military adviser from 1916 until early in 1918, during which the costly battles of the Somme and Passchendaele, also know as Third Ypres, took place.

Sir William and Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, convinced that the only way to win the war was against Germany on the Western Front, regularly clashed with David Lloyd George over policy.

He was eventually removed from his post in early 1918 after the terrible losses at Passchendaele.

  • Winston Churchill: (1864-1965)
Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. Credit: PA/PA Archive

Winston Churchill was 37 years old when he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911.

His political brilliance and over-arching ambition won him both friends and enemies in equal number.

He was a principal architect of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, a scheme to aid Britain's ally Russia via the Black Sea.

The exercise was a disaster, claiming high casualties and diverting much-needed resources from the Western Front.

Churchill took the brunt of the blame, lost his seat in Cabinet and went to the trenches to command a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers in the Ypres Salient.

He returned to Government in 1917 and spent the rest of the war as Minister of Munitions before his eventual rise through the ranks to Prime Minister.

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