Written by Julian Daggett.
General Allenby, as Basil Liddell Hart observed, was something of an enigma. In the public eye he became both a great and popular First World War general. His war, however, did not start well. The official historian, James Edmonds, held that his career in France was one of ‘gross stupidity’. Allenby was a cavalry officer; at the outbreak of the war he commanded the Cavalry Division and – by late 1915 – Third Army. He also commanded a fearsome reputation, being known as ‘the Bull’ – a rough, headstrong general who just butted forward in a blind sort of fashion. The initial, tactically impressive, triumph of Third Army at The Battle of Arras (1917) almost changed Allenby’s reputation on the Western Front. But the triumph was short-lived; the fighting soon turned into the familiar attritional grind and Allenby reverted to type. Three of his divisional commanders broke ranks and complained to Haig about Allenby’s murderous orders. In June 1917 Allenby was recalled to Britain.