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This Month in History

David Lloyd George

Significant developments in the First World War
December 1916
There were significant developments in the management of the First World War this month. In Britain, Herbert Asquith, the Prime Minister resigned, believing his colleagues would entreaty him to return as the most reasonable leader of the country’s war effort. But he was outmanoeuvred by the energetic David Lloyd George, who advocated a more determined prosecution of the war – ‘a fight to the finish, [with] a knockout blow’. In France, there were also demands for change after an equally disappointing summer of military operations, and the optimistic General Nivelle became the French Commander in Chief on the Western Front. As the weather brought to an end the offensives in Europe, the British ‘Egyptian Expeditionary Force’ pushed into the Sinai and captured El Arish while the Australian and New Zealand Division mounted a brilliant mobile manoeuvre to secure Magdhaba. These efforts placed the British forces on the cusp of pushing into Palestine. Nevertheless, the greatest achievement was General Sir Stanley Maude’s offensive at Kut in Mesopotamia. Applying the methods of the Western Front, his forces on the Tigris broke the Ottoman army and opened the way to Baghdad.

- Robert Johnson

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