2015 Oil on Italian Linen 182x182cm
The First World War has been described as the world’s first modern war, with the mechanization of fighting, industrialisation of supply and the complete mobilization and subordination of all resources.
It is ironic then that these efficiencies did not extend to the leadership selection, which until the Second World War was still entrenched in criteria begun in the middle ages - whereby military leaders were chosen not as an acknowledgement of any particular experience, aptitude or skill, but awarded as a consequence of aristocratic birthright.
Accountability for ineptitude was forgiven as the lives lost were considered expendable. Had the leader’s own lives been similarly accountable it can only be speculated that this war and so many before it might have been shorter - or not fought at all.
But as Ted Matthews, one of the last survivors of the Gallipoli landings, ruefully noted “Politicians make wars. They don’t go to them.”