The Western Front: Lions Led by Donkeys?
西线:笨驴领导雄狮?

(节选自《英语世界》2014年第7期)

The scale of human devastation during World War One has often been blamed on incompetent leadership. Dr Gary Sheffield offers an alternative view.
一直以来,人们常把一战的大规模人员伤亡归咎于领军无方,加里•谢菲尔德博士却提出了不同的观点。

文/加里•谢菲尔德博士  译/王虹 刘迎
By Dr Gary Sheffield

2014-7封面.jpg


The generals
一战将领

Douglas Haig was “brilliant to the top of his Army boots”. David Lloyd George’s view sums up the attitude of many people generals of World War One. They were, supposedly, “donkeys”: moustachioed incompetents who sent the “lions” of the Poor Bloody Infantry to their deaths in futile battles. Many popular books, films and television programmes echo this belief. The casualty list – one million British Empire dead – and the bloody stalemate of the Western Front seem to add credence to this version of events. But there is another interpretation.
戴维•劳埃德•乔治曾说,道格拉斯•黑格的“智商不过他的军靴那么高”,这一观点代表了很多人对黑格及其他一战英军将领的看法。人们认为他们是留着两撇胡子的“笨驴”,使得步兵团不幸的“雄狮”在无谓的战斗中死去。许多畅销书、热门电影和电视节目都赞同这种观点。英帝国的百万伤亡人数,西线的血腥对峙,似乎使这一观点更加可信。但是,还有与之不同的诠释。

One undeniable fact is that Britain and its allies, not Germany, won the First World War. Moreover, Haig’s army played the leading role in defeating the German forces in the crucial battles of 1918. In terms of the numbers of German divisions engaged, the numbers of prisoners and guns captured, the importance of the stakes and the toughness of the enemy, the 1918 “Hundred Days” campaign rates as the greatest series of victories in British history.
不可否认的是,赢得第一次世界大战的是英国及其协约国伙伴,而非德国。此外,黑格率领的陆军在 1918年的决定性战役中,对击败德军起到了主导作用。无论是从德军参战师的数量、战俘及缴获枪支的数量,还是从其利害攸关和敌军的凶残来看,1918年的“百日战役”都堪称英国历史上取得的一系列最伟大的胜利之一。

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Haig and the Allies
黑格及协约国

From 1915 to 1918 the BEF learned, in the hardest possible way, how to fight a modern high-intensity war against an extremely tough oppo¬nent. Before 1914, the British army had been primarily a colonial police force, small but efficient. By 1916 it had expanded enormously, taking in a mass of inexperienced civilian volunteers. Later still, it relied on conscripts. Either way, it was a citizen army rather than a professional force.
1915年到 1918年间,面对极其强大的对手,英国远征军以最惨烈的方式学会了如何打现代高强度战争。1914年以前,英国军队主要是殖民地警察部队,规模小但效率高。到 1916年,通过征募大量没有作战经验的平民志愿者,英军大规模扩充。后来,英军一直依赖征兵。总之,英军是民兵而非职业军人。

The generals, used to handling small-scale forces in colonial warfare, had just as much to learn about a type of war for which they were almost en¬tirely unprepared. It is not surprising that in the course of its apprenticeship the BEF had a number of bloody setbacks. What was extraordinary was that, despite this unpromising beginning, by 1918 this army of bank clerks and shop assistants, businessmen and miners should have emerged as a for¬midable fighting force.
英军将领惯于率领小规模军队参与殖民地战事,他们面对这样的战争几乎毫无准备,同样有很多东西要学。因此,处于“学徒期”的英国远征军遭受一些重创不足为奇。尽管这种开局让人看不到希望,但到1918年,这支由银行职员、售货员、商人和矿工组成的军队竟已成为令人敬畏的军事力量,着实令人称奇。

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Techniques and strategies
技术和战略

In 1914–17 the defensive had a temporary dominance over the offensive. A combination of “high tech” weapons (quick-firing artillery and machine guns) and “low tech” defences (trenches and barbed wire) made the attacker’s job formidably difficult. Communications were poor. Armies were too big and dispersed to be commanded by a general in per¬son, as Wellington had at Waterloo a century before, and radio was in its infancy. Even if the infantry and artil¬lery did manage to punch a hole in the enemy position, generals lacked a fast-moving force to exploit the situ¬ation, to get among the enemy and turn a retreat into a rout.
1914年到 1917年,防守暂时优先于进攻。速射火炮和机枪等“高技术”武器与战壕和带刺铁丝网等“低技术”防御共用,使得进攻十分艰难。通信技术落后。将领难以亲自指挥如此庞大而分散的军队,无法像一个世纪前惠灵顿公爵在滑铁卢战役中所做的那样,无线电技术当时尚处于发展初期。即使步兵和炮兵成功突袭敌军地盘,将领们也没有可用的快速反应部队趁势深入敌军,使其由撤退变为溃逃。

In previous wars, horsed cav¬alry had performed such a role, but cavalry were generally of little use in the trenches of the Western Front. In World War Two, armoured ve¬hicles were used for this purpose, but the tanks of Great War vintage were simply not up to the job. With com¬manders mute and an instrument of exploitation lacking, World War One generals were faced with a tactical di¬lemma unique in military history.
在过去的战争中,骑兵曾发挥过上述作用,但在西线堑壕战中,他们几乎派不上用场。二战时装甲车可用于这一目的,但一战时期的坦克还远远做不到。指挥官的命令传达不出去,又缺乏可用的工具 ,一战时的将领们所面临的种种战术困境在军事史上实属罕见。

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(译者单位:天津师范大学)

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