Sir Henry Wilson - Diary entry for 5th August

Diaries of the Director of Military Operations for the British Army

Published: 5 August 1914

On the 5th WIlson wrote:

"Asquith said he had summoned the great soldiers at the earliest possible moment. Then a lot of platitudes on the situation and strategy generally. Sir John stated what he had arranged to do; he said that probably Maubeuge was no longer available for concentration and then plumped for going at once and deciding later where to go to - but then he dragged in the ridiculous proposal of going to Antwerp.

Churchill said the Dover Straits now completely sealed. Jimmy Grierson spoke up for decisive numbers at the decisive point. Sir John urged we should go over at once, and decide destinations later. I mentioned the flexibility of French railway system for switching. Haig asked questions and this led to our discussing strategy like idiots.

Johnnie Hamilton plumped for going to Amiens as soon as possible. Then desultory strategy (some thinking that Liege was in Holland) and idiocy. Lord Kitchener plumped for Amiens, but wanted to get in closer touch with French; suggested that they should send over an officer.

Sir John urged we should order the transports for all 6 divisions at once.

Question then arose what strength the E.F.  should be. Winston in favour of sending 6 divisions, as naval situation most favourable owing to our having had time to prepare. Lord Bobs  agreed. Decision was taken that we should prepare at once for all 6 divisions. Lord Kitchener said one division should be ordered from India to Egypt. All agreed. Slight discussion on Colonial and Ulster contingents, but no decisions reached.

An historic meeting of men, mostly entirely ignorant of their subject."

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