Douglas Haig Fellowship Lecture: The Tank in World War One – Did Haig Help or Hinder its Development?

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A lecture by Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Vesey-Holt, Royal Tank Regiment, commemorating the life of Field Marshal Earl Haig of Bemersyde and the forces he commanded.

Major General J.F.C. Fuller, Chief of Staff of the Tank Corps from 1916 to mid-1918 and a key player in its successes, wrote in his memoirs: “though the Germans gave us a lot of trouble, Sir Douglas Haig and his phenomenally unimaginative General Staff gave us infinitely more”.

In his lecture, Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Vesey-Holt examined this startling statement by looking at Haig’s and General Headquarters’ role in relation to the expansion of the Tank Corps, allocation of manpower, the production of tanks, and particularly the formulation of doctrine. He will compare their role to that of the French and German leadership, with respect to the expansion of their tank organisations.

Speaker’s Biography

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret’d) Geoffrey Vesey-Holt MBE RTR, is a graduate of Durham University and of the French Staff College. After regimental service, he served on three major Armoured Fighting Vehicle weapons procurement programmes, including Challenger 2. He supported the Army’s and Regiment’s First World War commemorations and is writing two volumes of the history of the Tank Corps.

The webinar was moderated by Professor Gary Sheffield, Professor of War Studies, University of Wolverhampton.

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