vrijdag 17 maart 2017

Sir Ian Hamilton -- 17 maart 1915

Sir Ian Hamilton (1853-1947) was een Britse marine-officier, vooral bekend vanwege "for commanding the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force during the Gallipoli Campaign". Hij schreef daarover in zijn Gallipoli Diary.

 17th March, 1915. H.M.S. "Phaeton." At sea. Last night we raced past Corfu — my birthplace — at thirty knots an hour. My first baby breath was drawn from these thyme scented breezes. This crimson in the Eastern sky, these waves of liquid opal are natal, vital.

Thirty miles an hour through Paradise! Since the 16th January, 1853, we have learnt to go the pace and as a result the world shrinks; the horizons close in upon us; the spacious days are gone!

Thoughts of my Mother, who died when I was but three. Thoughts of her refusal as she lay dying — gasping in mortal pain — her refusal to touch an opiate, because the Minister, Norman Macleod, had told her she so might dim the clearness of her spiritual insight — of her thoughts ascending heavenwards. What pluck — what grit — what faith — what an example to a soldier.

Exquisite, exquisite air; sea like an undulating carpet of blue velvet outspread for Aphrodite. Have been in the Aegean since dawn. At noon passed a cruiser taking back Admiral Carden invalided to Malta. One week ago the thunder of his guns shook the firm foundations of the world. Now a sheer hulk lies poor old Carden. Vanitas vanitatum.

Have got into touch with my staff. They are all General Staff: no Administrative Staff. The Adjutant-General-to-be (I don't know him) and the Chief Medico (I don't know who he is to be) could not get ready in time to come off with us, and the Q.M.G., too, was undecided when I left. There are nine of the General Staff. I like the looks of them. Quite characteristic of K., though, that barring Braithwaite, not one of the associates he has told off to work hand in glove with me in this enterprise should ever have served with me before.

Only two sorts of Commanders-in-Chief could possibly find time to scribble like this on their way to take up an enterprise in many ways unprecedented—a German and a Britisher. The first, because every possible contingency would have been worked out for him beforehand; the second, because he has nothing—literally nothing—in his portfolio except a blank cheque signed with those grand yet simple words—John Bull. The German General is the product of an organising nation. The British General is the product of an improvising nation. Each army would be better commanded by the other army's General. Sounds fantastic but is true.

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