General Von Arnim's Report

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

General Von Armin's Report is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Times on 11 october 1916.

General Von Armin's Report

The Times (11 october 1916)



Sir, — We have good reason to congratulate ourselves upon my opinions expressed in the intercepted report of General von Armin, upon the British infantry, the British artillery, and the British aircraft. As these views were formed at the end of July they are probably held even more strongly after our victories of August and September. It seems to me, however, that the most suggestive point about the Prussian general's remarks has received less attention than it deserves. This consists in the general tendency to substitute British for German methods, showing that as in commercial and marine matters, so even in that military art which was his special study, the German is by nature a copyist rather than a creator. He creates only when he descends into those regions where he is safe from competition. It is very heartening to our nation and very complimentary to those who order our military affairs to find that one single report should touch upon so many details in which we are admitted to be in front.

To take examples - in one part of the report he recommends the British boot and puttee, in another he holds the British care of the rifle up for imitation, in another he pleads for the light machine-guns with which we have long been provided, in another he recommends the cultivation of individual self-reliance, which has always been the British theory as opposed to blind discipline, in another the doubling of telephone lines, in yet another he recommends helmets, which have long been used by our soldiers, but have not yet reached the German infantry, as all who have seen the Somme pictures can testify.

It is exceedingly gratifying to find upon his own admission that we have out-thought our enemy as well as out-fought him. The fresh chapter opened in warfare by the tanks will furnish an even clearer illustration of the fact. We may be sure from our experience in other departments of life that the Germans will at once copy - and copy very well. It is for us to use the time while they are occupying to make our new models, and so always be ahead. Above all, it is for us to add to our advantages those protective devices, whether shields or armour, which seem to me to be the most vital problem of all. To say that we can protect our soldiers' heads but cannot protect their chests is an impossible position.

Yours faithfully,

Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex.