chapter  2
British Strategy and the Palestine Campaign in 1917
Pages 20

In his War Memoirs, published in the 1930s, Lloyd George recalled how before Allenby left for Egypt to assume command of the EEF in June 1917:

I told him in the presence of Sir William Robertson that he was to ask us for such reinforcements and supplies as he found necessary, and we would do our best to provide them. 'If you do not ask it will be your fault. If you do ask and do not get what you need it will be ours.' I said the Cabinet expected 'Jerusalem before Christmas'. 1

The emphatic tone of Lloyd George's memoirs is deceptive. Lloyd George and his military advisers were unable to agree on overall war strategy and the Prime Minister's plans for the Palestine campaign therefore failed to form part of a comprehensive, unanimous British and Entente strategy. As Allenby took charge of the EEF, there was a civil-military struggle in London that reflected a lack of focus when it came to British strategy. Had strategy been agreed upon, Allenby's role would have been one of implementation of political and military policy decided and supported from London. In fact, civil-military relations in 1917, as Allenby sailed for Egypt, were tense and acrimonious, and got worse, not better, as the year unfolded. The struggle between Lloyd George and Robertson, the CIGS and the military's senior representative liaising with the politicians and civil servants, highlighted these differences.2 The origin of the dispute lay in Lloyd George's wish for alternatives to the attritional grind of the Western Front. Robertson and the 'generals' preferred to concentrate all efforts on the war in France, arguing that it was here that the war would be won or lost. This conflict in London impeded Allenby in his task in Palestine as the political and military strategists were unable to agree on the objectives of the campaign.