A Pause to Prepare and Finalise Book Two in the Hidden History Series

We have decided to pause our current series of blogs which takes our Hidden History of the First World War up to the end of 1916 to find the requisite time for the publication of book 2. This second publication will cover all of the major topics included so far in these posts.

In addition we will consider the fabrications, lies and deliberate obfuscations which still surround key elements of that terrible conflict as it spiralled like a whirlwind across the world before the shocking, inhumane tactics which obligated Germany to accept the Treaty of Versailles. Our research will be focused on contentious issues including:

  • American financial and business dealings which expanded through the Allied access to Federal Reserve funds
  • The Balfour Declaration and the dealings behind the scenes which clearly demonstrate the reasons why this misnamed letter of intent became a matter of international contention. Who benefitted within the context of the First World War?
  • The entrance of the United States into a global conflict in which so many millionaires had been created, and from which they could continue to thrive. Who changed President Wilson’s mind?
  • The Russian Revolution and the American involvement in 1916-17.
  • The Armistice and the horrors which followed in the Allied drive to crush the German people.
  • The Secret Elite and the Treaty of Versailles.

We are grateful to our many thousands of readers, to those who have sent welcome and valuable comments and additional insight, and those who have re-blogged our posts. Please keep our link open so that we can post you direct information when book 2 is ready for publication and our blogs can restart.

Remember always that we are lied to by governments and truth is constantly abused by pliant historians. We continue to find that evidence has been torn from official documents [1] , that correspondence is missing or cannot be found, and that unaccountable omissions in original accounts and diaries are glossed over or explained by laughable excuses.

Once again, thanks for your support

Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor

[1] Barely a fortnight ago while researching Foreign Office documents at the National Archives ini London (FO 899, Cabinet Memoranda 1905-18 volume IV.) we discovered that page 685, which followed a confidential memo on the work of the Committee for Relief in Belgium and German guarantees, had been blatantly ripped from the bound documentation. What secrets once lay within? Most likely we will never know. Whatever it was, the Establishment did not want it recorded.

The Great Coup of 1916: 7 The End of Democracy

10 Downing Street before the war. The car probably belonged to A J BalfourLloyd George immediately accepted the King’s invitation to form a government on 7 December 1916. His own version of events dripped insincerity, giving the impression that the onerous task of leading the government was thrust upon him suddenly, as if by magic. ‘As soon as the King entrusted me with the task of forming an Administration in succession to the Ministry that had disappeared, I had to survey the tasks awaiting me…’ [1] What arrant nonsense. ‘The ministry that had disappeared.’ This was not a Harry Potter. Perhaps he was thinking more in terms of a mafia ‘disappearance’. He would have been at home with the Mafiosa.

One of Lloyd George’s first moves was to summon Maurice Hankey to the War Office to ‘have a long talk about the personnel of the new Govt., the procedure of the select War Ctee., and the future of the war.’ [2] He asked Hankey to write a memo giving his view on the state of the war and as early as 9 December, Hankey spent the whole day with the new War Cabinet. [3] How more central could he have been to all of the discussions which finally approved Lloyd George’s decisions? [4] Unlike many of his contemporaries, Maurice Hankey was not surprised to find that Milner had been appointed directly to the inner-sanctum of Britain’s war planning. Unelected, unknown to many ordinary men and women, Lord Milner appeared as if out of the ether to take his place among the political elite charged with managing the war to ultimate victory. [5] Lloyd George claimed, laughably, that ‘I neither sought nor desired the Premiership’ and explained Milner’s inclusion as representing the ‘Tory intelligentsia and Die-Hards.’ [6] What lies. Lloyd George had always exuded unbridled ambition and had been plotting the coup against Asquith with Milner’s cabal for months. [7] His premiership was conditional on their support. Lord Milner was to have a place by his side.

The myth of Lloyd George’s ‘lightening rapidity’ in assembling around him ‘all that is best in British Life’ was coined by Lord Northcliffe in an article printed by the international press on 10 December. [8] Northcliffe had been highly influential in supporting Lloyd George, largely, but not exclusively through his editor at the Times, Geoffrey Dawson.

Northcliffe - his editors were instructed to hound Asquith out of office.

Although he thought nothing of telephoning the new prime minister in person, [9] the owner of the Times could not stop other influences obligating Lloyd George to retain what Northcliffe called ‘has-beens’ in cabinet posts. [10] His Daily Mail and Evening News called for the removal of Arthur Balfour and his cousin, Lord Robert Cecil to no avail. Did Northcliffe not know that both men were deeply entrenched inside the Secret Elite?

Let there be no doubt, the coup was devised and executed by members and agents of the Secret Elite. Once Asquith had been replaced, they permeated the new administration with Milner’s acolytes and associates from top to bottom, and on all sides as well. [11] Let Lloyd George be the figurehead, but the Monday Night Cabal and their Secret Elite supporters were absolutely determined to place themselves and their trusted allies in all of the major offices of state. Furthermore, Lloyd George was subtly but securely scrutinised at every turn. He would not be given free rein. Thus their chosen men were placed in key positions, with a smattering of useful Conservative and Labour MPs given office in order to guarantee that the government could survive any parliamentary vote. On his return to London on 10 December, Hankey ‘had to see Lord Milner by appointment’. He noted in his diary ‘I have always hated his [ Lord Milner’s] politics but found the man very attractive and possessed of personality and [we] got own like a house on fire’. [12] Of course they did. Hankey would not have survived otherwise. He was well aware of Milner’s power and influence.

Optimised by Greg Smith

Another myth still widely accepted is that Lloyd George’s very special cabinet, which literally took control of every strand in the prosecution of the war, was assembled at break-neck speed by the Welsh genius. It had taken months of deliberation and consultation before appointments and tactics were finally agreed inside the closed ranks of the Monday Night Cabal. The final selection which bore Lloyd George’s alleged stamp reflected the Secret Elite’s approval of men in whom they had faith. The War Committee initially comprised prime minister Lloyd George, who had been in the Secret Elite’s pocket since 1910, [13] Viscount Alfred Milner, the most important influence inside that secret movement [14] George Curzon of All Souls and twice Viceroy of India, [15] Andrew Bonar Law, still the formal leader of the Tories and the Labour MP Arthur Henderson, an outspoken champion of the war effort. [16] This central core took charge. They held daily meetings to better manage the war. Sometimes two and three meetings took place in a single day. These five men alone were supposedly the supreme governors of the State. [17] But they were not in any sense, equals.

From the left, Lord Crewe, Winston Churchill and Sir Edward Grey. Crewe and Grey were dismissed ini 1916. Churchill was still sidelined by Lloyd George.

The old order of senior Liberal politicians was mercilessly purged. Out went Asquith despite his years of loyal service. Sir Edward Grey had forfeited his right to office when he began to consider possibilities of peace with the Americans. He was put out to pasture. ReginaldMcKenna, long a thorn in Lloyd George’s side was dismissed. Lord Crewe remained loyal to Asquith and was not considered. To his great disappointment, Winston Churchill was not deemed suitable.  He had many enemies in the Tory  party. One Liberal Party stalwart, Samuel Montagu, who took over at the Ministry of Munitions when Lloyd George moved to the War Office in July 1916, had to go in order to find room for other appointees, but his patience was to be rewarded some short months later when he was made Viceroy of India. [18] This is precisely how the Secret Elite adjusts its favours and looks after its own. It still does.

The Secret Elite stamped their authority over every important level of government. With Sir Edward Carson at the Admiralty and Arthur Balfour at the Foreign Office, Lord Derby became Secretary of State for War and Lord Robert Cecil continued in his position as Minister of Blockade. Home Secretary, Sir George Cave took office barely months after he and FE Smith had successfully prosecuted Sir Roger Casement and refused his right to appeal to the House of Lords. [19] Secret Elite agents, every one.

Milner ensured that his close friends were given positions of influence and authority. Take for example the meteoric rise of Rowland Prothero. He claimed to know only two men ‘prominent in public life’. [20] It transpired that these were Lords Milner and Curzon. In 1914 Prothero was first elected to parliament as one of Oxford University’s MPs. In late 1915 he served on a Committee on Home Production of Food with Alfred Milner. In 1916, Milner’s friend was given the cabinet post of President of the Board of Agriculture. [21] It took him a mere two and a half years to move from new recruit to cabinet minister. In addition, Arthur Lee, who had accommodated many of the secret meetings which foreshadowed the coup, was appointed Director-General of food production. Other known members and supporters of the Secret Elite who shamelessly benefitted from the coup included H.A.L. Fisher, President of the Board of Education, [22] Walter Long as Colonial Secretary and Sir Henry Birchenough at the Board of Trade. [23] They were everywhere … and not just politicians.

Board of Trade offices from Parliament Square around 1900.

Lloyd George had risen to high office through the unseen patronage of the Secret Elite. His performance at the Board of Trade [24] guaranteed him the benevolent approbation of leading figures in shipping and ship-building. As Chancellor he laid claim to saving the City [25], took advice from Lord Rothschild, financiers and insurance brokers, linked the British economy to America through Morgan-Grenfell and met and socialised with the great mine-owners and manufacturers of the time. In December 1916 he revolutionised government control of production by bringing businessmen into political office. Unfortunately the appointment of interested parties to posts from which their companies could reap great profit was not a success.

Sir Joseph Maclay was appointed in charge of shipping. As a Scottish ship-owner and manager, Maclay had been critical of the government’s concessions to trade unions and he opposed the nationalization of shipping. The Admiralty treated Maclay with deep hostility, and opposed his idea of convoys after the onset of Germany’s unrestricted submarine offensive in February 1917. Maclay was proved right [26] though shipowners still reaped unconscionable fortunes.

Hudson Kearley 1st Lord Devonport

The new prime minister made Lord Devonport food controller. Chairman of the Port of London Authority (1909-25), he broke the dockers’ strike in 1912, causing great distress and hardship in East London. Imagining that his hard-man image equated to strength of character, Lloyd George appointed Minister of Food Control. [27] Not so. Devonport protected his own grocery interests and resisted the introduction of rationing until May 1917. 

Lord Rhondda, the Welsh coal magnate and industrialist was entrusted with the Local Government Board and his popularity grew when he was asked to take over the role of the incompetent Devonport as minister of food control. He grasped the nettle, by fixing food prices and ensuring government purchases of basic supplies. [28] Compared to the others, he was a shining light.

Westman Pearson, later Viscount Cowdrey, was placed in charge of the Air Board. Pearson had acquired oil concessions in Mexico through his questionable relationship with the Mexican dictator, Diaz. [29] His ownership of the Mexican Eagle Petroleum Company (which became part of Royal Dutch Shell in 1919) guaranteed Pearson vast profits throughout the war.

Sir Alfred Mond, elevated by Lloyd George in 1916 to Commissioner of Works was the managing director of the Mond Nickel Company and a director of the International Nickel Company of Canada. Nickel hardens armour and special steels. Basically it is a strategic material which came to the fore in the so-called naval race prior to 1914. [30]

Alfred Mond (left) with Lloyd George.

The Mond companies made great profits during the prolonged war. In 1915 Britain sent twelve times the amount of nickel to Sweden that it had in 1913. [31] There, it was either manufactured into war materials and sold to Germany, or re-exported in its raw state. Incredibly, the Chairman of one of the Empire’s most important metal processing and exporting businesses, which was directly and indirectly supplying Germany, was created Commissioner of Works. Questionable deals were subsequently negotiated between the British government and the British-American Nickel Corporation which were strongly criticised in parliament [32] but Alfred Mond ended his career as Lord Melchett of Landforth. You couldn’t make this up.

In addition, Milner and his Secret Elite associates literally took over Lloyd George’s private office. As early as 10 December Hankey realised that he was not to be the only member of the new prime minister’s secretariat. At Milner’s request, Leo Amery, his loyal lieutenant in South Africa, was unaccountably placed on the staff of the War Cabinet, but not as joint Secretary. Hankey remained secure in Lloyd George’s trust in charge of the War Cabinet organisation. [33]

A curious new chapter in Downing Street’s history was created outside the prime minister’s residence. Literally. Temporary offices were constructed in the Downing Street garden to accommodate a select group of trusted administrators who monitored and directed all contact between Lloyd George and departments of government. [34] The man in charge throughout its existence was Professor W.G. S. Adams, an Oxford Professor and member of Milner’s entourage [35] who later became editor of War Cabinet Reports and Warden of All Souls in Oxford. [36] This appointment was swiftly followed by that of two former members of Milner’s famous Kindergarten; [37] Philip Kerr became Lloyd George’s private secretary and Lionel Curtis, another of Milner’s loyal acolytes, was also drafted into service. It did not stop there. Waldorf Astor and Lord Northcliffe’s younger brother, Cecil Harmsworth followed shortly afterwards.

John Buchan was drafted into Lloyd George's service at the insistence of Alfred Milner.

To complete the pack, Milner insisted that Lloyd George reconsider appointing John Buchan to his staff after Haig’s apologist had been turned down for a post. In a private letter which has survived because it comes from the Lloyd George archives, rather than Milner’s much culled and carefully shredded papers, he wrote:
‘My Dear Prime Minister, Don’t think me too insistent! I wish you would not turn down John Buchan, without seeing him yourself…. I am not satisfied to have him rejected on hear-say, & ill informed hear-say at that.’ [38]
Buchan was appointed to the prime minister’s staff as Director of Information. And historians would have us believe that these were Lloyd George’s appointments.

It was as if the Monday Night Cabal had kidnapped the prime minister. Just as Alfred Milner had captured, then captivated, the nascent talent of young imperialists from Oxford University at the turn of the century and taken them to South Africa to help him govern and renovate the post Boer-War Transvaal and Cape colonies, so now, the very same men ‘guided’ Lloyd George and filtered the information which flowed to Downing Street. They were not Lloyd Georg’s men … they were Lord Milner’s. He was in charge.

To the anguish of Asquith’s political allies, this new bureaucracy had metamorphosed into an undemocratic monster fashioned by Alfred Milner. They could see it and railed against it. What we need to know is, why has this wholesale coup d’etat been studiously ignored by mainstream historians? Why do they continually write about Lloyd George’s government and Lloyd George’s secretariat when his very position was bound and controlled by Milner and his Garden Suburb minders? The radical journalist, H W Massingham published a vitriolic attack on Milner’s organisation in early 1917:

‘…A new double screen of bureaucrats is interposed between the War Directorate and the heads of [government] Departments, whose responsibility to Parliament has hitherto been direct… The first is the Cabinet Secretariat … the second is a little body of illuminati, whose residence is in the Prime Minister’s garden…These gentlemen stand in no sense for a Civil Service Cabinet. They are rather a class of travelling empirics in Empire, who came in with Lord Milner…The governing ideas are not those of Mr. Lloyd George…but of Lord Milner…Mr George has used Toryism to destroy Liberal ideas; but he has created a Monster which, for the moment, dominates both. This is the New Bureaucracy which threatens to master England.…’[39]

It was indeed. This was the Secret Elite’s most successful coup so far, accomplished by the critical silence and complicity of a compliant press. Elected parliamentary government had been purged. The Secret Elite spurned democracy because they ordained that democracy did not work. Their dictatorship was masked by Lloyd George, happy to pose and strut as the man who would win the war. Perhaps you were taught that he did? It is a self-serving myth. He operated inside a political straitjacket and fronted an undemocratic government.

And the sacrifice of youth continued.  And the profits of war grew ever larger.

[1] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 620.
[2] Hankey, Diary 10 December 1916.
[3] War Cabinet 1, CAB 23/1/1 discussed the cost of loans from America which were running at $60 million per week. Messrs. Morgan, Grenfell and Co. continued as the conduit for all American payments. Hankey also recorded in these minutes that the Press had been informed that the War cabinet would meet every weekday.
[4] Lord Vansittart recorded that Hankey ‘progressively became secretary of everything that mattered..He grew into a repository of secrets, a chiefInspector of Mines of information.’ Robert Gilbert Vansittart, The Mist Procession, p. 164.
[5] While Lloyd George spends many pages expressing his opinion on most of his colleagues, he curiously omits a pen-picture on Lord Milner. Possibly the Censor removed it. Either way it is interesting to note how carefully Milner’s contribution to Lloyd George’s ascent to the premiership has been airbrushed.
[6] Lloyd George, Memoirs, p. 596.
[7] See blog, The Great Coup of 1916: 4 The Monday Night Cabal, 3 August 2016.
[8] The Times estimated that Lord Northcliffe’s lengthy article in praise of Lloyd George had been carried in one thousand American, Australian, Canadian, South African, French, Italian and other journals. [Times 11 December, 1916.]
[9] A M Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, p. 329.
[10] The Times, 11 December 1916, p. 4.
[11] Gollin, Proconsul, p. 376.
[12] Ibid., p. 329.
[13] Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden History, The Secret Origins of the First World War, pp 164-5.
[14] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, pp. 6-9 and pp.140- 47.
[15] The place of All Souls college at Oxford as the centre of the Secret Elite intelligentsia in Britain was identified by Professor Quigley. See The Anglo-American Establishment pp. 20-26.
[16] In August 1914 Arthur Henderson had been outspoken in his objection to war, but he changed his position absolutely within weeks.
[17] Gollin, Proconsul, p. 391.
[18] E S Montagu was both a friend of Asqiuth’s and respected colleague of Lloyd George. To most observers his omission from Asquith’s cabinet in 1916 spelled the end of his political career. But this is not how the Secret Elite work. In stepping down temporarily, Montagu earned the right to be promoted to the prestigious position of Viceroy of India in 1917.
[19] Thomas S. Legg, Marie-Louise Legg, ‘Cave, George, Viscount Cave (1856–1928)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
[20] Lord Ernle, Whippingham to Westminster, p. 248.
[21] Quigley, Anglo-American Establishment, p. 27.
[22] Ibid., p. 312.
[23] Ibid.
[24] President of the Board of Trade was Lloyd George’s first cabinet post in 1906. During his tenure there he became popular with the business class whose interests he often championed.
[25] Lloyd George, Memoirs, p. 61.
[26] Ibid., pp. 688-95.
[27] Richard Davenport-Hines, ‘Kearley, Hudson Ewbanke, first Viscount Devonport (1856–1934)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
[28] John Williams, ‘Thomas, David Alfred, first Viscount Rhondda (1856–1918)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
[29] Geoffrey Jones, Westman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdrey, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
[30] Gordon H Boyce, Co-operative Structures in Global Business, pp. 84-5.
[31] Rear Admiral MWWC Consett, The Triumph of Unarmed Forces, p. 201.
[32] Hansard House of Commons Debate, 14 January 1918 vol. 101 cc5-6.
[33] Maurice Hankey, Supreme Command, vol. II, p. 590.
[34] John Turner, Lloyd George’s Secretariat, p.1.
[35] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 313.
[36] Ibid., pp. 91-93. All Souls College in Oxford has been closely associated with the Rhodes / Milner group so integral to the Secret Elite in England.
[37] The title Milner’s Kindergarten was given to the group of young Oxford University graduates whom Milner attracted to help him rebuild South Africa after the Boer War. They subsequently enjoyed stellar careers in journalism, politics, banking and finance every area of Secret Elite influence. Further reading – Walter Nimocks, Milner’s Young Men.
[38] Milner to Lloyd George 17 January 1917, in the Lloyd George Papers.
[39] H W Massingham, The Nation 24 February, 1917.

The Great Coup of 1916: 6 When Putsch Came To Shove

Lloyd George, at that point Minister of War, nailed his colours to Lord Milner’s flag from September 1916 onwards when, in the afterglow of the secret meetings held with representatives of the Monday Night Cabal, [1] he reaffirmed the Secret Elite’s policies for outright victory. First he gave a private interview to Roy Howard, President of the United Press of America and swept aside any talk of peace. His words were carried across the world. They were intended to warn that any step ‘by the United States, the Vatican, or any other neutral in the direction of peace would be construed by England as an unneutral, pro-German move.’ Here it was that he coined the promise that ‘the fight must be to a finish – to a knock out’. [2]

Their design to reorganise the governing of the war, for which Lloyd George was ever ready to claim credit, began to be voiced by him at the War Committee. Out of the blue, he proposed the creation of a ‘Shipping Dictator’ to control all aspects of the shipping and ship-building industries on 10 November. Hankey considered this ‘an undigested and stupid waste of precious time’. [3] Lo and behold, six weeks later ‘Lloyd George’s’ idea had been transformed into fact. He advocated a similar approach to address the problems with food supplies in a memo which promoted the central control of these vial commodities. What the others had yet to grasp was that the Minister of War had begun to expound the basic principles of a complete reconstruction of government and its functions, principles underpinned by Milner’s belief that success would only be achieved through organisation on a national scale. [4]

Next, Lloyd George ‘adopted’ the idea that the day to day conduct of the war should be placed in the hands of a select few in parliament who would concentrate on the focused leadership required for ultimate victory. According to Lloyd George’s Memoirs, this idea stemmed from a discussion he had with Maurice Hankey when they were in Paris for a ministerial conference on 15 November 1916.

The iconic Place Vendome Paris where Lloyd George claimed to have been advised by Maurice Hankey on a reconstituted approach to government.

The given story, a story faithfully regurgitated by other historians [5] has Hankey dramatically pausing alongside the Vendome Column before urging Lloyd George: ‘You ought to insist on a small War Committee being set up for the day-to-day conduct of the War, with full powers. It must be independent of the Cabinet. It must keep in touch with the P.M., but the Committee ought to be in continuous session, and the P.M. as Head of he Government, could not manage that… He is a bit tired too after all he has gone through in the last two and a half years.’ [6] Such a specific description of time and place, detailed and precise: unfortunately it was pure fiction. Lloyd George would have posterity believe that the strategy he unleashed on government originated from Asquith’s secretary, rather than the Monday Night Cabal and the secret dinners he had been holding with Alfred Milner, Edward Carson and Arthur Lee. [7] He could hardly admit the truth.

This is not how Hankey recorded matters. He wrote of a morning stroll in Paris with Lloyd George ‘who was full of schemes…’ [8] but made no specific reference to a new approach to government. Indeed the Welshman was full of schemes but, what is of particular interest is the pivotal role given to Maurice Hankey. We know from Professor Quigley’s work [9] that Hankey was in the inner-circle of Milner’s group inside the Secret Elite, though not the precise date of his inclusion. It later became evident that Lloyd George had talked about this inner-War Committee with others before he went to Paris and had asked the newspaper owner, Max Aitken, to discuss the concept with the Conservative Party leader, Bonar Law. [10] Given that revelation, why would Lloyd George try so hard to blame, or indeed credit Maurice Hankey for the suggestion? What was he covering up? His source of inspiration was, of course, Alfred Milner and the Monday Night Cabal.

Labour politician Arthur Henderson's commitment to victory and outright rejection of peace in 1916 earned him the approval of the Monday Night Cabal.

Six days later Lloyd George told Hankey that he had further developed his ideas on an inner War Committee and his initial choice of select colleagues was Sir Edward Carson, Andrew Bonar Law and Arthur Henderson ‘to conciliate Labour members’. [11] With whom had he most recently dined? Bonar Law, of course. Hankey recorded his approval of a small and effective inner War Committee, but not the personnel. [12] He didn’t particularly like Carson or Bonar Law. By December, the time to strike was at hand.

Lloyd George stabbed Asquith in a frontal attack of Shakespearian cruelty as surely as Brutus put an end to Julius Caesar. He presented Asquith with an ultimatum, threatening to resign unless a new, smaller War Committee was appointed with himself as Chairman and his political allies by his side. If he wished, Asquith would be allowed to continue to hold the post of Prime Minister without the means to lead the war effort. Lloyd George’s friends in the Monday Night Cabal also unsheathed their knives. Geoffrey Dawson at the Times praised the Minister for War in an editorial and, without a hint of embarrassment, added: ‘Mr Lloyd George, to the best of our knowledge, took his stand entirely alone so far as his colleagues in the Cabinet are concerned, a fact which refutes the tales of intrigue.’ [13] What awesome deception. It was a ridiculous lie. The editor of the Times had been involved in the cabal to remove Asquith since its conception. He played a central part in the intrigue. Every detail of the trial of strength between Asquith and Lloyd George for the possession of 10 Downing Street appeared in Northcliffe’s papers. Lloyd George protested that he was not the mole. No-one believed him then, and no-one should now. The coup was underway.

In the brinksmanship that followed, the key parliamentary conspirators, Lloyd George, Bonar Law and Sir Edward Carson resigned, removing Liberal, Conservative and Ulster Unionist support from Asquith. With an eye to posterity, Lloyd George ended his letter of resignation to the prime minister with the words: ‘Vigour and Vision are the supreme need at this hour’. [14] His conceit was unbounded. Lloyd George imagined that he was talking about himself.

King George V was not originally predisposed towards Lloyd George.

His coalition government torn apart, Asquith tendered his resignation to the King, possibly expecting that it would be declined. Bonar Law was summoned to Buckingham Palace but he rejected the King’s offer to form a new government. He was already party to the planned coup and knew where his future lay. Lloyd George did not have to be asked twice. He had been prepared for government. He had been discussing this moment for months, and he knew exactly who and what was required.

Lloyd George had let it be known that he was willing to take up the mantle of leadership in his secret discussions with the Monday Night Cabal. From his secret meeting with Alfred Milner and Geoffrey Dawson in September 1915, at which stage it was his open commitment to conscription which caught their attention, Lloyd George took every opportunity to strengthen his links with the conspiracy to replace the coalition government. One small but pertinent example of the extent to which these men tried to cover their traces can be gleaned from this particular meeting. ‘On 30 September, after a fair amount of scheming, a luncheon was arranged at Milner’s house, 17 Great College Street. Dawson had first proposed that Milner and Lloyd George should meet at his home, but when the Minister [Lloyd George] learned that Reginald McKenna [the Chancellor of the Exchequer] lived opposite, he refused to go there.’ [15] Clearly Lloyd George had no intention of being caught on the doorstep of the editor of the Times.

Despite all of this well documented intrigue, the official reason for Asquith’s resignation given on the current Library of the House of Commons website, is, incredibly, ‘Hostile Press’. [16] His government effectively destroyed from within, himself pushed from office by the secret intrigues of former political colleagues and opposition leaders who were backed by the awesome power of the Secret Elite, Asquith’s fall from the highest office of government remains covered by a lie. No other prime ministerial resignation, retiral or reason for leaving office is described this way. It is totally misleading and serves only to add obfuscation to an important incident in our so-called democratic history that is regularly glossed over by historians. How Lloyd George would have laughed. Of course the British Establishment will never admit that Asquith was the victim of a bloodless coup.

Sir Henry Wilson , friend and confidante of Alfred Milner was party to the plot to overthrow Asquith .

By 5 December 1916 Asquith’s coalition had been dissolved. That was followed by a purge of the old order of Liberal government dressed up as an administrative revolution. [17] There was no sense of military intervention in this putsch, but senior military commanders like Sir Henry Wilson rejoiced at the coup’s progress. ‘Asquith is out. Hurrah’ he wrote in his diary, ‘… I am confident myself that, if we manage things properly, we have Asquith dead.’ [18] He used the plural ‘we’ to indicate his inclusion in the Monday Night Cabal which had planned the overthrow of government. [19] At the very least there was military collusion with the inner-core of plotters.

In our next blog we will examine the astounding changes which took place inside the British government over the following week; changes so profound and far-reaching that, for once, we can witness the Secret Elite and their agents openly taking control.

[1] A M Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, pp. 323- 364.
[2] The Times, 29 September 1916, p. 7.
[3] Hankey, Diary 10 November 1916.
[4] The Times 27 May 1915.
[5] Roy Hattersley, David Lloyd George, The Great Outsider, p. 402.
[6] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 574.
[7] fuller details are given in previous blog.
[8] Stephen Roskill, Hankey, Volume I, 1877-1918, p. 319.
[9] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 313.
[10] Roy Jenkins, Asquith; portrait of a man and an era, p. 421.
[11] Roskill, Hankey, p. 320.
[12] Ibid.
[13] The Times, 4 December 1915, p. 9.
[14] Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 592.
[15] Gollin, Proconsul, p. 295.
[16] Library of the House of Commons, Prime Ministers, SN/PC/4256. p. 5.
[17] John Turner, Cabinets, Committees and Secretariats: The Higher Direction of War, in Kathleen Burk, War and the State, p. 59.
[18] C E Caldwell and Marshal Foch, Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson VI: His Life and Diaries, pp. 304-5.
[19] Terence H O’Brien, Milner, pp. 266-9.

The Great Coup of 1916: 5 The Sacrilege Of Peace

As the Monday Night Cabal and Milner’s wider circle of friends and associates continued their manoeuvres through much of 1916, the issue which above all others fired their fears, was talk of peace. To the Secret Elite who had invested in the war, who had funded the war and who facilitated the war, this was a pivotal moment. Their aims and objectives were nowhere in sight. Indeed, cessation of the war would a greater disaster than the huge loss of life if it continued.

Somme injured being carried to a casualty station.

The bloodletting across the western front was suitably reducing the masses who might be induced to rise against the middle-class plutocracies, but even in 1916 there was still a sense of denial about the human cost in the purified air of the upper echelons. In early February, Sir Edward Grey told President Wilson’s emissary from America, Colonel House, that Britain had not been seriously hurt by the war, ‘since but few of her men had been killed and her territory had not been invaded.’ [1] Whether this was a stupid lie or callous disregard for the tragedies suffered in every part of the land we will never know, but in that same month (February, 1916) the Times carried column after column of the lost legions of dead and missing every day. [2]

The cost of peace did not bear contemplation. Think of the massive and unprecedented loans that could only be repaid if there were spoils of victory to plunder. Think of the manufacturers whose investments in new plant, new infrastructure and expanded capacity was predicated upon a long war. There were billions of pounds and dollars to be made from extortionate prices, but that only followed a period of sustained and costly investment. The profiteers had initially bought into procuring the loans and providing the munitions because they had been promised a long war. Such are the prerequisites of greed

Nor would a negotiated peace safeguard the future of the Empire. Indeed it would have had the opposite effect. If Great Britain and the Empire and all of the Allies could not defeat the German/Austro-Hungarian/Ottoman powers, then the message would reverberate across the world that the old order had passed.

Austrialian casualties recovering in Cairo after Gallipoli.

Given the massive loss of life already inflicted on the troops from Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, the outcry against a feeble Mother country that had given up the struggle would grow to a clamour. Any notion of a commonwealth of nations would dissolve in cynical spasms of derision. [3] And a negotiated peace would leave Germany free to continue her plans of expansion into the Near and Far East. The real reasons for war, the elimination go Germany as a rival on the world stage, would not be addressed at all. Peace would be a calamity for the Elite under such circumstances. To talk of it was sacrilege.

The flying of ‘Peace Kites’, as Maurice Hankey described Colonel Houses’s approaches, brought one benefit for Milner’s intriguers. Those members of Asquith’s coalition who were attracted to a negotiated peace exposed their lack of commitment to the ultimate goal. Reginald McKenna, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, felt that Britain would gain a ‘better peace now [January 1916] than later, when Germany is wholly on the defensive.’ [4] The Secret Elite were watching and listening. Literally.

As Asquith’s personal confidante and permanent secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence,[5] Maurice Hankey was privy to many confidences but even he was surprised to learn that the Director of Naval Intelligence, Captain Blinker Hall, [6] had in his possession American diplomatic codes and was monitoring the telegrams sent from Colonel House to President Wilson. What the Americans claimed was that they would broker ‘a reasonable peace’ [7] and call a conference. If Germany refused to attend, the USA would probably enter the war on the side of the Allies. [8] Note that the promise was definitely not absolute.

House 1916 sailing to Europe

In late January, Hankey went to Hall at the Admiralty on another pretext [9] and discovered to his horror that Colonel House’s visit was a ‘peace stunt’. 1916 was, after all, an election year, and President Wilson had to appear to be a serious peace-broker. It was a sham. Worse still, Sir Edward Grey had given the Americans an assurance that he would trade Britain’s blockade, euphemistically called the ‘freedom of the seas’, against an end to German militarism. Hall claimed that this priceless secret information had not been shared with Arthur Balfour, First Lord of the Admiralty, which begs the question, with whom was it shared? The Foreign Secretary had made promises behind the backs of his cabinet colleagues, and we are expected to believe that Captain Hall told no-one? Grey was clearly mentally exhausted. Fearful that he might miss an opportunity to ‘get a decent peace’, if the war ‘went wrong’ Sir Edward Grey brought the American proposals before the War Committee in March 1916. They ignored it. When the Americans again pressed for a decision on the President’s offer to intervene in May 1916, the Cabinet was split. Asquith, Grey, McKenna and Balfour were apparently in favour; Lloyd George and the conservative leader Bonar Law, were against.

Alarm bells sounded. The Army Council, a body whose admiration for Alfred Milner could hardly have been stronger, threatened to resign if the War Council insisted on discussing ‘the peace question’, [10] but the threat had not passed.

Asquith was prepared to accept that ‘the time has come where it was very desirable’ to formulate clear ideas on proposals for peace and at the end of August suggested that individual members of his cabinet put their ideas on paper for circulation and discussion.[11] In September E. S. Montagu, then Minister for Munitions, advised that it was not safe to ignore the possibility of a sudden peace since no-one was more likely to ‘get out’ when the fight was up, than the Germans. [12] He also asked what an unqualified victory might mean. The General Staff brought forward their own Memorandum [13] which erroneously claimed that the French Prime Minister, Briand, would likely have ‘very decided views worked out, under his direction, by very clever people who swerve him and who do not appear on the surface of political life.’ They also offered their opinion on how an armistice might be managed to Britain’s advantage.

Hoover was not an altruistic philanthropist. He was a profiteering racketeer.

Foreign Office papers which were shared with the Cabinet in October 1916, showed that Germany was prepared to offer peace to Belgium irrespective of Britain’s position. Herbert Hoover who was running the scandalous Belgian Relief programme, [14] warned the Foreign Office that the German government intended to negotiate with the Belgian government in exile. He alleged that the Germans would evacuate the country, guarantee complete economic and political liberty and pay an indemnity for reconstruction purposes. Furthermore, in order to end the conflict with France, they were prepared to cede the whole of the province of Lorraine under the condition that the French would promise to supply five million tons of iron ore each year to Germany. Their ‘terms’ also included independence for Poland and an unspecified ‘arrangement’ in the Balkans. [15]

(A knowledgeable observer will have noted that in combining the Belgian Relief agency with the supplies of iron and steel from Briey and Longwy, two of the biggest scandals of the First World War were rolled together as a lure to peace.) [16] Hoover had no truck with such suggestions. When he next went to Brussels, the German-American member of the Belgian Comite Nationale, Danny Heinemann, approached him to try to find out what the British terms for peace might be. Hoover claimed that ‘he was not in the peace business’. He most certainly was not. He was in the business of profiteering from war. [17]

Though a conservative, Lord Lansdowne thought that the time to consider what was meant by 'peace'.

The more circumspect Lord Lansdowne, a member of Asquith’s coalition cabinet as Minister without Portfolio, asked a telling question on 13 November, 1916: ‘… what is our chance of winning [the war] in such a manner, and within such limits of time, as will enable us to beat our enemy to the ground and impose upon him the kind of terms we so freely discuss?’ [We might well read this as a ‘get-real’ moment, but when he continued by regretting that the Allied cause remained ‘partly vindictive and partly selfish’ to the extent that any attempt to get out of the impasse of a stalemate was viewed in negative terms, Lansdowne’s immediate future in politics was decidedly limited. [18]

Kitchener’s timely and suspicious death in June 1916 brought to an end any chance of his interference in what he looked forward to as a just peace, [19] but for the Secret Elite, their immediate problem focussed on politicians who clearly lacked the commitment to crush Germany. Asquith had run his course. His prevarications and capacity to ‘wait and see’ had no place at a time when the Secret Elite needed decisive firmness to see it through. Although Asquith went to considerable lengths in Parliament in October 1916 to shun any notion of a settlement, it was too late. His pain was heartfelt [20] when he declared:

‘The strain which the War imposes on ourselves and our Allies, the hardships which we freely admit it involves on some of those who are not directly concerned in the struggle, the upheaval of trade, the devastation of territory, the loss of irreplaceable lives—this long and sombre procession of cruelty and suffering, lighted up as it is by deathless examples of heroism and chivalry, cannot be allowed to end in some patched-up, precarious, dishonouring compromise, masquerading under the name of Peace.’ [21]

Less than two months later the men who had even considered defining peace had gone from government: Asquith, Grey, Lansdowne, Montagu and McKenna were disposed of. They had committed sacrilege. Their unforgivable sin was the contemplation of peace. There would be no peace.

[1] Edward Mandell House and Charles Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, 1915-1917, p.175.
[2] By this time there were daily examples of the horrendous waste of life on the Western Front. one example amongst hundreds can be found in The Times 1 February, 1916, p.10.
[3] Alfred Milner and his associates in the Round Table group in Britain had from 1905 onwards worked tirelessly to promote the Empire and indeed prepare the Empire of r ‘the coming war’. See Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden History, The Secret Origins of the first World War, pp. 153-160.
[4] Stephen Roskill, Hankey, Volume 1, 1877-1918, p. 245.
[5] This secretive committee was originally formed in 1902 to advise the prime minister on matters of military and naval strategy. Maurice Hankey had been Assistant Secretary since 1908 and was the immensely authoritative Secretary from 1912 onwards.
[6] The nerve centre of British intelligence was in Room 40 at the Admiralty where the highly secretive Captain (later Rear- Admiral) William ‘Blinker’ Hall monitored radio and telegraphic messages from Germany and German ships. Britain had had possession of all German codes from the first months of the war. See Blog; Lusitania 1: The Tale of there Secret Miracles, 28 April 2015.
[7] House and Seymour, The Intimate Papers, p. 135.
[8] Ibid., p. 170.
[9] Allegedly, Hankey visited Hall on 27 January 1916 to discuss a ploy to put false German banknotes into circulation and the conversation just happened to wander into Mandell House’s visit to Sir Edward Grey. So they would have us believe. Roskill, Hankey, p. 247.
[10] CAB 42/14/12.
[11] CAB 42/18/ 8.
[12] CAB 42/18/ 7.
[13] CAB 42/18/10.
[14] See Blog; Commission For Relief in Belgium 13: As If It Had Never Happened. posted on 25 November 2015.
[15] FO 899 Cabinet Memoranda 1905-1918, Memorandum by Lord Eustace Percy, 26 September 1916.
[16] See our four Blogs on Briey from 12 November 2014 onwards.
[17] See Blog; Commission For Relief in Belgium 12: Hoover, Servant Not Master, posted on 18 November 2015.
[18] Harold Kurtz, The Lansdowne Letter, History Today, Volume 18 issue 2 February 1968.
[19] Randolph S Churchill, Lord Derby, King of Lancashire, p. 210.
[20] Asquith had lost his son Raymond, on 15 September 1916, at the Somme. It was a crushing personal blow.
[21] Hansard, House of Commons Debate, 11 October 1916, vol 86 cc95-161.

The Great Coup of 1916: 4 The Monday Night Cabal

Herbert Asquith, prime minister from 1908-1916

Asquith’s Coalition government of May 1915 changed little in terms of Britain’s war management. It was hardly likely to given that it was a basic reshuffle of old faces and older politics. Alfred Milner was well aware that this would be the case, and as such, it suited the Secret Elite to bide their time before catapulting their leader into front-line politics. Milner was initially stirred into action over Asquith’s inability to make clear decisions, and criticised the ‘contradictions and inconsistencies which have characterised our action as a nation’ [1] He began to turn the screw on the prime minister in the House of Lords early in 1916 and Sir Edward Carson did likewise in the Commons.[2] Carson had originally been the protege of Alfred Balfour, and was a fellow member of the Secret Elite. It did not take long for the unnatural coalition of conservatives and liberals to unravel inside the Cabinet.

Within the context of 1916, the British nation had no respite from disaster. The Somme [ref] produced heavy losses made more unpalatable by negligible gains. In the War Committee, Curzon and Balfour waged a bitter and prolonged inter-departmental dispute over the future of the Air Board [3] to the detriment of other critical business. Without Kitchener, the General Staff appeared complacent and Maurice Hankey feared the generals were ‘bleeding us to death’. [4] He warned Lloyd George that the British Army was led by ‘the most conservative class in the world, forming the most powerful trades union in the world’ [5] It was an astute observation. The Staff ‘ring’ ( and these were Hankey’s words) which had been brought together under the pre-war influence of Milner’s great ally, and former head of the Army, Lord Roberts, [6] was indeed a closed union of former cavalry officers, so self satisfied and complacent that they ignored the views of others. [7] Whatever the obscene consequences of their mistakes, they continued to repeat them with the arrogance of those who are convinced that they know better.

Confirmed in their view that the democratic process had failed to provide the leadership and organisation which was needed to win the war on their terms, Milner and the Secret Elite began the process of completely undermining the government and replacing it with their own agents. In January 1916 a small group of Milner’s closest friends and disciples formed a very distinctive and secret cabal to prepare the nation for a change so radical, that it was nothing less than a coup; a planned take-over of government by men who sought to impose their own rule rather than seek a mandate from the general public. [8] Having ensured that the war was prolonged, they now sought to ensure that it would be waged to the utter destruction of Germany.

Waldorf and Nancy Astor: both identified by Carroll Quigley as members of Milner's cabal.

The men behind the carefully constructed conspiracy were Alfred Milner, Leo Amery, Sir Edward Carson, Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times, F S Oliver the influential writer who believed that war was a necessity, [9] and Waldorf Astor, the owner of The Observer. They met regularly on Monday evenings to formulate their alternative plans for war management over dinner. These men were drawn from the inner-circle of Milner’s most trusted associates. [10] Others who were invited to join them included, Lloyd George, Sir Henry Wilson, (at that point a corps commander on the Western Front) Philip Kerr, another of Milner’s proteges from his days in South Africa, and Sir Leander Starr Jameson, the man who almost brought down the British government in 1896 in the wake of his abortive raid on the Transvaal. [11] Could anyone have anticipated that Jameson would have reemerged in London inside a very powerful conspiracy some twenty years after he had almost blown Cecil Rhode’s dream apart? [12] But then he was always the servant of the mighty South African arm of the Secret Elite.

On the rare occasions that this clique has been mentioned by historians, it is usually referred to as a ‘Ginger Group’. Yet another veneer of deception. Their objective was not to spice up the opposition to Herbert Asquith but to rule in his place. It was, as Alfred Milner’s biographer put it, a very powerful fellowship devoid of party hacks and faceless civil servants, [13] Carson, still the hero of Ulster Unionists, was the foremost of the Tory critics in the House of Commons; Dawson at The Times was probably the most influential journalist in the Empire and had the full backing of its owner, Lord Northcliffe; Astor’s Observer added hugely valuable weight to Milner’s battalions in the press; Oliver was fanatical in his disdain of grovelling peacemakers. He proposed that the whole nation rather than the armed forces must be conscripted. [14]

Viscount Alfred Milner, the undisputed leader of the Monday Night Cabal.

Alfred Milner was the undisputed leader of this ‘Monday Night Cabal’. [15 ] The agenda notes for one of the meetings in February demonstrated clearly that they planned to demolish the widely held notion that there was no alternative to a combination of Asquith and Bonar Law. Their solution was to repeat ‘in season and out of season’ that the current coalition was having a paralytic effect on the conduct of the war and it was absurd to believe that there was no alternative. [16] They were the alternative.

Here we find one of the few examples of precisely how the Secret Elite worked to influence and dominate British politics. The cabal comprised the key players at the core of the opposition to Asquith. They instructed their supporters and agents to lobby both inside and outside parliament for the policies that were determined over their private dinners. The rank and file were never invited to these exclusive gatherings which remained the preserve of the select. [17] A second assault-route was through the press, whose influential leaders were also at the heart of the Monday Night Cabal. Public opinion had to be turned against the Asquith coalition. One of he most successful influences which the Secret Elite still wield is the power to make the public believe that they want the changes expounded by a corrupted press.

Geoffrey Dawson led the attack from his lofty office at The Times. Instructed in the Milnerite catechism of Coalition failure, his editorials began the campaign to champion Alfred Milner into high office without the niceties of a political mandate. On 14 April his leading article was the first salvo in that offensive:

‘ Let there be no mistake about it. What the country want is leaders who are not afraid to go to all lengths or undergo also sacrifices, party or personal, in order to win the war… We believe that in Lord Milner they possess yet another leader whose courage and character are needed in a national crisis. It is a most damning indictment of the coalition, and especially of those Unionist leaders who had a free hand to strengthen its composition, that such a man should be out of harness at such a time.’ [18]

A J Balfour, an inner-circle member of Milner's Secret Elite. His position in Cabinet was safeguarded by his allegiance to the cabal.

The plot which had been carefully constructed over months of detailed planning was promoted in a series of newspaper editorials which advanced Milner’s intentions. Their new mantra was that change was needed; change was vital to save the country from disaster. But not everyone would be sacrificed. No. Not at all. What was proposed was far more subtle. They proposed that the Secret Elite’s chosen men in Cabinet ( Balfour etc.) needed the support of a more organised system (behind them) and there was ‘no reason whatsoever why they should not continue…’. However, those who had served their purpose, who ‘were encrusted in the old party habit, worn out … by a period of office which has lasted continuously in some cases for more than a decade … are a sheer danger to the State.’ [19] Translated into personalities their targets were Herbert Asquith, Sir Edward Grey, Lord Lansdowne, Walter Runciman and the remnants of the original Liberal government.

Dawson rampaged against the ‘weak methods’ and ‘weak men’ who were failing the country. Unresolved problems of man-power, of food control and food production, of conflict over the output of aircraft and merchant ships were attributed to a system where, according to the clique, the country was being governed by a series of debating societies. He was disgusted that the War Committee had reverted back to the old habits of ‘interminable memoranda’ and raged about the impossibility of heads of great departments having additional collective responsibility for correlating all of the work of a war government. Every design which the Monday Night Cabal had agreed was promoted by Dawson at The Times.

Popular newspapers ensured that their message was unrelenting. Tom Clarke, then editor of the Daily Mail wrote in his diaries that he was instructed by Northcliffe in December 1916 to undermine the Prime Minister. He was told to find a smiling picture of Lloyd George and underneath it put the caption, “ Do it Now” and get the worst possible picture of Asquith and label it, “ Wait and See”. [20] It was to be billed as if it was Action-Man against the ditherer.

The major beneficiary from the conclusions of the Monday Night Cabal was David Lloyd George. Since the day he was given his first government post as President of the Board of Trade in 1905, Lloyd George had pursued his career with the singular intention of rising to the top. His firebrand oratory which made him a champion of the people not matched by his machiavellian self interest. While basking in the credit for providing pensions in old age, he befriended the leaders of industry, the bankers and financiers in the City, the money-men in New York and newspaper owners like Northcliffe and Max Aitken. (Lord Beaverbrook) The Secret Elite had identified Lloyd George many years before [21] as the man most likely to front popular appeal for their policies, but his negotiations between the conspirators in 1916 had to be carried out well away from prying eyes.

Arthue Lee, later Viscount Farnham. later he gifted Chequers as the country residence for the British prime minister

They chose Arthur Lee [22] as the facilitator for many of the secret meetings between Lloyd George, Maurice Hankey, Alfred Milner and Geoffrey Dawson at Lee’s house in the Abbey Garden at Westminster. [23] An opponent of Lloyd George in previous times, Lee had married into the New-York financial elite and his wife Ruth inherited a substantial fortune. He was a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt with whom he corresponded frequently. [24] Lee had apparently become increasingly frustrated with the conduct of the war by the Asquith government and sought out David Lloyd George as the one member of the government whom he considered had ‘sufficient courage and dynamic energy … to insist upon things being done’ [25]. Note how Lee offered his services to Lloyd George who invited him into the Ministry of Munitions as parliamentary military secretary. Later, in his War Memoirs, Lloyd George went out of his way to praise Lee’s ‘untiring industry, great resource, and practical capacity’,[26] without mentioning his role as co-conspirator in Asquith’s removal.

On Lloyd George’s move to the War Office, Lee became his personal secretary. He was also a member of the Unionist war committee which acted as a focus of back-bench opposition to the Asquith coalition in 1916. [27] Whether he was aware of it or not, the Secret Elite ensured that Arthur Lee was well placed to watch over Lloyd George in the critical months leading up to the coup.

Safe from prying eyes, the conspirators drew an ever compliant Lloyd George to the centre of their web. His closest aide ensured that they could contact him with ease without rousing the suspicion of mere mortals. They organised their policies, decided their tactics and picked their chosen men. The Secret Elite were poised to take over the governance of the war and run it along their lines, but the old order had to be removed. As ever with Alfred Milner, he required his opponent, in this instance, Asquith, to make the first unforgivable mistake.

[1] Hansard, House of Lords Debate, 20 December 1915 vol 20 cc696-744.
[2] A M Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, p. 320.
[3] Memorandum for the War Committee, Doc. 658, November 1916 and Reply to The First Report of the Air Board, Doc.658, November 1916 in Cabinet Memoranda 1905-1918, vol. IV, F.O. 899.
[4] Maurice Hankey, Diary entry 28th October 1916, quoted in Stephen Roskill, Hankey: Man of Secrets, p. 312.]
[5] Ibid.
[6] For a detailed examination of the influence which Lords Roberts exerted over the British Military Establishment see Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden History, The Secret Origins of the First World War, chapter 15, The Roberts Academy, pp. 194-203.
[7] Gollin, Hankey, p. 313.
[8] Ibid., pp. 323-4.
[9] F. S. Oliver , Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, author, Richard Davenport-Hines.
[10] Alfred Milner, Leo Amery, Philip Kerr, Waldorf Astor and Geoffrey Dawson were specifically placed inside what Carroll Quigley called The Society of the Elect in his work, The Anglo-American Establishment, while Leander Starr Jameson was placed in the outer circle. [pp. 311-313.] We have enlarged the group under the collective title of the Secret Elite. [
[11] Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War, Prologue, pp. 1-5.
[12] Sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment for his involvement in the infamous Jameson Raid, he served barely three before being pardoned. His career flourished thereafter. From 1904-1908 Jameson was prime minister of the Cape Colony. He returned to England in 1912 and remained one of Alfred Milner’s trusted confidantes.
[13] Gollin, Hankey, p. 324.
[14] Davenport-Hines, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. See above.
[15] It is often interesting to consider the manner in which historians entitle events. In A.M. Collin’s Proconsul in Politics, he boldly christened Milner’s group as The Monday Night Cabal – which it certainly was, while Terence O’Brien, in his work, Milner, stepped away from controversy by calling it the Monday Night Group, thus omitting any hint of conspiracy. [Terence O’Brien, Milner, p. 266.]
[16] Amery Papers, “Notes for Monday’s Meeting, 19th February 1916.”
[17] Gollin, Hankey, p. 325.
[18] The Times, 14 April, 1916, p. 9.
[19] The Times, 1 December 1916, p. 9.
[20] Tom Clarke, My Northcliffe Diary, p.107.
[21] Docherty and Macgregor, Hidden History, chapter 12, Catch a Rising Star, pp. 161-171.
[22] Later Viscount Lee of Farnham. Typical of many Secret Elite associates, his loyalty was rewarded with political appointments including Director General of Food Production from 1917-18, President of the Board of Agriculture, 1919-21 and first Lord of the Admiralty, 1921-22. He donated Chequers, still the country residence of British prime ministers, for that purpose.
[23] Gollin, Hankey, p. 348 and p. 354.
[24] A Clark, A Good Innings: the private papers of Viscount Lee of Fareham, p. 92.
[25] Ibid., p.140.
[26] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 346.
[27] V. W. Baddeley, ‘Lee, Arthur Hamilton, Viscount Lee of Fareham (1868–1947)’, rev. Marc Brodie, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

The Great Coup of 1916: 3 The Compromise Government of ‘Unity’, 1915

The given explanation for the introduction of a ‘national’ or ‘unity’ government in May 1915 goes as follows:

Andrew Bonar Law, leader of the Conservatives in 1915.

Pushed over the edge by the resignation of Lord Fisher as First Sea Lord at the Admiralty, the Conservative leader, Andrew Bonar Law met Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, privately, at the Treasury. Following this, he sent a letter from the Conservative Opposition to prime minister Asquith stating:

‘In our opinion things cannot go on as they are, and some change in the constitution of the Government seems to us inevitable if it is to retain a sufficient measure of public confidence to conduct the War to a successful conclusion.’ [1]

He surreptitiously sent a copy of the same letter to Lloyd George. They were clearly in cahoots. [2] Lloyd George and Bonar Law claimed a personal friendship, ‘on terms of greater cordiality than is usual’ according to the Chancellor himself. [3] In fact, Lloyd George was in agreement with the major issues raised by Bonar Law because the proposed coalition government was no threat to his own career. Their meeting and the subsequent events were more stage-managed than genuine.

What is astounding is the speed at which Asquith accepted the offer to form a coalition. Lloyd George played the role of marriage broker and physically took Bonar Law into the Cabinet Room in 10 Downing Street to talk through the conditions under which the Conservatives would join forces with the government. It took only fifteen minutes to bring to an end the last purely Liberal government in British history. Thus the deed was done. Or so we have been told.

But surely the offer was the wrong way round? To have had credence, to merit the sense of a government striving to do its best for the Empire, surely Asquith should have taken the first steps? Be mindful that a prime minister may appear to be in charge, but is always subject to the power-brokers above him / her.

Asquith trying to assert his authority in Parliament

Instead, a gun was put to his political head and he did not hesitate to capitulate. Why? Who had spoken to him? Did Lloyd George threaten to resign too, unless the coalition was formed? Or was it simply the only way for Asquith to save his own political skin? Hours later he told the King that ‘the Government must be reconstructed on a broad and non-party basis’. [4] Two days later the prime minister announced in the House of Commons ‘that steps are in contemplation which involve the reconstruction of the Government on a broader, personal and political basis.’ He clarified three points, inferring that all of this was of his own doing. He and Sir Edward Grey would definitely remain in post. The prosecution of the War would continue ‘with every possible energy and by means of every available resource.’ Finally, ‘any reconstruction that may be made will be for the purposes of the War alone…’ [5]

The first steps in the Secret Elite takeover of every aspect of war government was underway, but it had a slow-burning fuse.

Political niceties had to be followed. The main condition for ‘unity’ placed on the table by Bonar Law was the immediate demise of Winston Churchill. The Conservatives would not countenance his continuation at the Admiralty after Lord Fisher’s walk out; the Ulster Unionists would never forgive nor forget his pre-war threats to their cause and well, had he not abandoned both his class and his party by crossing over to the Liberals? During the period of horse-trading between Asquith and the Conservatives, the only certainty was, as the Times put it, that ‘Churchill will leave the Admiralty…that is virtually a sine qua non of the reconstruction.’ [6] Winston Churchill was insulted at being shunted off to the inconsequential post of Chancellor of the Dutchy of Lancaster, but he accepted the sinecure, in order to remain a member of the War Council. In the fight for the best pickings, the Conservatives had insisted that he be relegated to a minor position, and Asquith was neither willing nor able to save him. Churchill railed at Asquith for being ‘supinely weak’. He did not stay long in post, resigning on 15 November after he had been denied a place in the revised War Committee. [7]

But Asquith failed one of his best friends, Richard Haldane. It was a stain on his character that he dismissed Haldane, the man who created the BEF, whom he sent to the War Office on 4 August to initiate mobilisation, and abandoned in May 1915 ‘after one of the most discreditable smear campaigns in British history.’ [8]

Richard Haldane was a very experienced and successful politician thrown to the wolves by 'spineless' Asquith.

You might well ask why the Secret Elite were prepared to countenance the loss of two of their agents who had taken Britain into war; in this instance Churchill and Haldane? Basically, they were replaceable. All political agents no matter what their supposed allegiance, were replaceable. They still are. Churchill was a self-publicist who had upset too many important Conservatives. Haldane was an academic, a well read, knowledgeable lawyer who had the complete confidence of King Edward VII. Yet he had been subjected to malicious and ignorant abuse because of his oft-stated admiration and sympathy for Germany. [9] He found himself threatened with assault in the street, and was aware that he was in danger of being shot at. [10] Ridiculous abuse and false accusations were levelled against him by the Daily Express. [11] In an atmosphere of poison, his detractors claimed that he had ordered the release of a ship laden with copper which had been impounded in Gibraltar so that the cargo could be delivered to Germany. [12] A clever lie. Blame Haldane for blockade-bursting and cut him adrift.

What mattered was that both men were unpopular with the public, and the Secret Elite understood that every act which might make the public question the government’s actions threatened their ultimate objective.

This far-from-radical change marked the first step towards a full-blown coup, for that was not yet possible. The government (they called it a National Government) was formed over the next weeks; a government which both re-introduced well known faces and retained some old problems. Asquith’s 22-man coalition had included 12 Liberals, 8 Conservatives, a single Labour MP and Lord Kitchener, retained because of his immense popularity. Despite his support amongst the military chiefs, amongst the liberal imperialists and Conservative grandees, Alfred Milner did not join Asquith’s cabinet. Milner was of course a member of the House of Lords and an outspoken advocate for conscription rather than voluntary recruitment to the army. In truth, keeping unity amongst the coalition government was always going to test Asquith’s skills, and he would have feared Milner’s direct influence over so many in this cabinet. Alfred Milner stood ready, but waited patiently for the turning tide.

Asquith's coalition government 1915. Churchill is 4th from left;Kitchener has his back to the artist. To his immediate left is Bonar Law, with Asquith immediately in front and Lloyd George to Kitchener's right.

The unseen hand of the Elite had redrawn boundaries and ensured that senior posts were allocated to major players from Milner’s associates. [13] The Empire was back. [14] Two former Viceroys of India, Lords Curzon and Lansdowne, were elevated to cabinet posts. Lord Selborne, former High Commissioner in South Africa became President of the Board of Agriculture. Sir John Simon was made Home Secretary, Arthur Balfour replaced Churchill at the Admiralty and Lord Robert Cecil made Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and both Sir Edward Carson (the uncrowned King of Ulster) and FE Smith were included as Attorney General and Solicitor General.

What of Andrew Bonar Law, the man who had assisted Lloyd George in demanding a national government? Surely he would be well-rewarded with a senior cabinet post? Not so. Bonar Law, though leader of the Conservatives, had neither the aristocratic pedigree nor Oxford University kudos to be a member of the Inner-circle of the Secret Elite. Indeed, Professor Carroll Quigley omits him entirely from membership of secret cabal; he was not ‘one of them’. Asquith, in his later reflections on there events of December 1915 talked of the deception and lies which were spun by Lloyd George, but held no animosity towards his Conservative rival. [15] The outsider was obliged to accept the relatively minor position of Secretary of State for the Colonies hardly a handsome reward for his political connivance with the man who had everything to gain.

British newspapers hailed the new non-party Cabinet for its inclusive strength, but John Redmond, leader of the Irish Home Rule Party, would not accept Asquith’s offer of a minor post. He had little option given the prominent inclusion of leading figures from the Ulster campaign to oppose Home Rule from 1912-14. The men who had openly threatened a breakaway government in Belfast were back in power at Westminster. How ironic that British justice was placed in the hands of those who had been openly prepared to defy that rule of law [16] by raising and arming an illegal private army in Ulster [17] and conveniently taking Britain to the brink of what looked like civil war.

Lloyd George at dispatch box in his role of Minister of Munitions.

Lloyd George was paid his asking price. His disloyalty was bought off with the creation of a Ministry of Munitions in which he was given supreme authority. [18] He knew that the burning issue of the moment was the alleged lack of munitions and heavy artillery. He was aware of the clamour from the Military High Command for better shells; he knew that the exaggerated shortage of weaponry would gather public voice and turn to outrage if not addressed. He believed that this was a job that he alone could do, and that his backers in Britain and in America would support him all the way. He was correct.

Lloyd George received a remarkable letter dated 1 June 1915 from Theodore Roosevelt, former President of the United States, a Pilgrim [19] and close associate of the J.P. Morgan associates. Roosevelt was an enthusiastic advocate for the spread of the English-speaking, Anglo-Saxon expansion across the world [20] and as such was an agent of the Secret Elite. His letter read;

‘ I wish to congratulate you upon the action you have taken in getting a coalition cabinet, and especially your part therein. More than all I wish to congratulate you upon what you have done in connection with this war… the prime business for you to do is to save your country. [21]

The former President of America gave the newly appointed Minster of Munitions his full approval for ‘what you have done’. It was an apostolic blessing from the other side of the Atlantic. Lloyd George was congratulated for his action, not Asquith or Bonar Law, because Roosevelt knew that Lloyd George had masterminded this coalition and was the one man who understood what action to take. He was their man. That letter confirmed their approval.

Asquith was sufficiently astute to keep the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer within the Liberal domain, by stating that Lloyd George’s transfer to the new Ministry of Munitions was a temporary arrangement.

maurice hankey

The Secrete Elite’s man at the hub of the war effort, Maurice Hankey, [22] remained exactly where he had always been, at the very heart of the decision-making. In every reorganisation, every shifting of seats or consolidation of power, in every alteration or formation of committee or council that had power and influence, that involved the inner-cabinet, the real decision-makers, Hankey remained quietly in the background as secretary or minute-taker. His was the ever – present hand that recorded the meeting and increasingly advised the members. [23] He, above all, was in the know.

But Asquith remained to the fore and so too did most of the problems. Getting rid of elected officials is always fraught with some danger, and there was a feeling that this national government would lack the competence to pull the nation together. When analysed critically, the deck-chairs had been shuffled but, with the exception of Lloyd George’s new role, little else changed.

Milner knew it would fail. That’s why he was waiting in the wings.

[1] A. Bonar Law to Asquith, 17 May 1915.
[2] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 137.
[3] Ibid., p. 135.
[4] Roy Jenkins, Asquith, pp. 360-1.
[5] Hansard, House of Commons Debate, 19 May 1915 vol 71 cc2392-3.
[6] The Times, 20 May 1915, p. 9.
[7] Virginia Cowles, Winston Churchill, p. 204.
[8] Michael and Eleanor Brock, HH Asquith, Letters to Virginia Stanley, p. 598.
[9] The Times Obituary , 20 August 1928, p.17.
[10] Richard Burdon Haldane, An Autobiography, p. 287.
[11] Maurice, Haldane 1856-1915. p. 359.
[12] Ibid. p. 363.
[13] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 141.
[14] The Times, 26 May 1915, pp. 9-10.
[15] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 141.
[16] Brian P Murphy, Patrick Pearse and the Lost Republican Ideal, p. 45.
[17] Pat Walsh, The Great Fraud of 1914-18, p. 25.
[18] Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 142.
[19] Founded in 1902, this exclusive association of politicians and financiers, ambassadors and businessmen in New York and in London, aimed to preserve the bonds of the english-speaking peoples and promote the Anglo-Saxon race values.
[20] Anne Pimlott Baker, The Pilgrims of America, p. 4.
[21] Roosevelt to Lloyd George, 1 June 1915, reproduced in full on p.145 of his War Memoirs.
[22] Quigley, Anglo-American Establishment, p. 313.
[23] Stephen Roskill, Hankey, Man of Secrets, 1877-1918, pp. 179-185.

The Great Coup of 1916: 2 The Start of the Process; May 1915

Wounded soldiers evacuated from Gallipoli in filthy boats. Conditions were foul.Nine and a half months into the war, no decisive military success had been registered, and public enthusiasm which overflowed in August 1914 began to wane [1] By May 1915 the protagonists had been entrenched in a stalemate on the Western Front for around six months and the Dardanelles Campaign was beginning to feel like a very costly failure. Churchill had promised that the Germans would be on their knees after  nine months of naval blockade [2] but his wild claims were exaggerated lies. How could they be otherwise? The Admiralty was nominally in charge of the tiny blockading force, the 10th Squadron, out in the North Atlantic, but it was the Foreign Office which  nullified their best efforts to deny Germany the key resources for war. Behind the backs of the British people, in blatant defiance of the will of the British Parliament and widely accepted international law, ‘the process of stopping ships that were carrying contraband … was completely undermined by influences inside the British Foreign Office through an invention called the Contraband Committee.’ [3] It was part of a greater lie to dupe the populace into believing that war was being pursued by every possible means. It was not.

Failure risks accountability, but it is rare indeed that the real culprits are ever brought to trial. Mismanagement on the battlefield was glossed over by loud support in the newspapers for Sir John French, Sir Henry Wilson and General Haig. There were however, politicians who could be replaced without any appreciable detriment to the cause of war. To Lord Milner and his Secret Elite cabal, the management of the war lay in the hands of hapless party politicians. Asquith, Grey and Haldane had certainly delivered the war on Germany, but the other liberals inside the Cabinet had no idea how a war should be effectively pursued. We have repeatedly shown that the Secret Elite were contemptuous of the British parliamentary system and held an absolute belief that elected democratic government was no alternative to the ‘rule of the superiors’. [4] They meant, of course, themselves.

Milner during Boer War posing with his friend Lord Roberts and many officers whose career he helped advance.

Milner knew what was needed; he had managed a successful war in South Africa, a war he deliberately caused while making it appear that the Boers were the perpetrators [5] The war against Germany had to be managed. Ultimate victory in a long and punishing conflict had to be properly planned. Manpower had to be organised and one of the problems caused by Kitchener’s success was that voluntary enlistment disrupted many essential industries. The international financiers would provide the money and in the long term such loans would have to be repaid. International armaments combines would provide the weapons of destruction at huge cost, and that too would require financial commitment beyond the scope of previous ministries. This would take time to deliver.

Advised as he was by the City money-men in London, and linked to the New York bankers through Morgan / Grenfell / Rothschild, David Lloyd George was the only member of Asquith’s government who agreed that a new kind of management was required. As he put it, ‘the war was not being treated either with sufficient seriousness or adequate energy.’ [6] What these platitudes actually meant was that he considered himself the serious and energetic leader who was prepared to front the Secret Elite’s drive to destroy Germany in the manner they approved … providing he was in charge of the government. Lloyd George did not lack conceit. Strong control over all aspects of the conflict was the prerequisite for success, and the only success the Secret Elite were interested in was the total destruction of Germany. While they were set on a prolonged war, they needed to find scape-goats.

Parliamentary government was not geared to war. Ministers guarded their departments like fiefdoms, refusing to share knowledge or give detailed explanations of their strategies to either House of Parliament. Communications were hampered by an over-exaggerated ‘need to know’. Kitchener had spoken in the House of Lords on only 34 occasions between 1914-16 [7] making ‘Olympian pronouncements upon military policy’. [8] In other words he appeared to make pronouncements like one of the ancient gods without expecting to be subjected to any questions.

1916: Field Marshal, Lord Kitchener (1850 - 1916), at the Paris Conference.

Kitchener was a law unto himself. He did not trust the discretion of most of Asquith’s cabinet, claiming that they were ‘leaky’, and added, ‘if they will only divorce their wives…I will tell them everything.’ [9] He had cause to be cautious. The prime minister’s wife Margot was a notorious gossip in London society and Asquith’s intimate relationship with the much younger Venetia Stanley was completely out of order. He wrote to her daily, sometimes twice a day, and confided information of such sensitivity that his indiscretion broke every law on secrecy in wartime. [10]

Parliament averaged only 8 meetings per month in the first nine months of the war. [11] That was bad enough, but the War Council, the select group of senior ministers and their military and naval advisors was not established until the end of November 1914. Although it comprised the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, The Chancellor, Lloyd George and its increasingly influential secretary, Maurice Hankey, an unexpected anomaly had ‘evolved’. The Army was directly represented by the Secretary of State for War and Commander-in-Chief, Lord Kitchener, while the Navy, the much revered ‘senior service’, was represented by a politician, Winston Churchill.

In the five and a half weeks between 6 April and 14 May 1915,  the War Council was not convened. It was as if leadership was ‘in a coma’. [12] Consider the events that took place over that timescale;  [13] dangerous reversals on the Eastern Front, the Second Battle of Ypres, Allied landings at Gallipoli, the sinking of the Lusitania and the publication of the highly prejudicial, anti-German propaganda report from Lord Bryce on ‘atrocities’ in Belgium. [14] Yet there was apparently no need for a meeting of the War Council? Who was in charge? At times it appeared that the answer was no-one but do not be fooled. Beyond the scope of the officially elected government powerful men continued to pursue their long-term objectives and the person whose influence was most telling at this juncture was Viscount Alfred Milner.

 Milner [15] stood at the head of a mighty and resourceful network of secret intelligence. Politicians, academics, industrialists, soldiers, journalists and newspaper editors wrote to him to ensure that he knew about their grievances. The reader should be aware that after the crisis in Ulster in 1914, [16] the men who led the British army did not trust the Prime Minister [17] but held Lord Milner in the highest esteem.

Senior army officers wrote to him confidentially and told him their highly suspect version of the ‘truth’ about the desperate state of the war as it progressed. General Sir Henry Wilson had crossed to France on 14 August 1914 as a key member of General Sir John French’s GHQ and within a week was complaining about the  ‘cowardly ignorance’ of his superiors in London. Lord Roberts complained to Milner that the army command was disjointed. Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times, kept him informed about all manner of events that could not be officially reported because of censorship. Leo Amery, Milner’s most ardent acolyte, wrote to him from France and from Lemnos during the Gallipoli campaign, ensuring that he knew more about the failings of the British Army than any member of Asquith’s government, except, perhaps, Kitchener. [18]

David Lloyd George by 1915 was a self-serving agent of the Secret Elite.

From March till the end of May 1915, there was a buzz of intrigue around Westminster. Lloyd George wrote that a fear was growing in the corridors of power  ‘that we could lose the war’, [19] though he above all knew that too much had already been invested by the American Establishment to allow such a disaster. Britain was never at risk of losing the war. Indeed, as we have demonstrated, a range of cleverly contrived arrangements allowed Germany to survive the so-called ‘blockade’ and enabled her to continue her military-industrial output. Lloyd George voiced what the Secret Elite believed the problem to be; a crisis of commitment to war. Most of his colleagues had no stomach for it. They had to go.

Milner knew that serious pressure had to be put on the Asquith government to shake out those ministers whose commitment to a prolonged war was suspect. But he was not yet prepared to lead the opposition publicly. [20] That was not his style. What was wanted was a government with the courage to break away from the laissez-faire attitude to enable greater control of the entire war effort to be given to men who would take his instruction. The Secret Elite knew that victory in a protracted struggle depended on the most efficient exploitation of the resources and manpower of the country. The answer lay in taking over government departments.

While those above him in the corridors and smoke-filled clubs for the privileged pushed for key changes in government, Lloyd George was the only Cabinet member convinced of this necessity. [21] Four years before, in 1910, he had shown himself willing to work in coalition with the Conservatives [22] and, in conjunction with Arthur Balfour, had openly accepted the value of compulsory military service. These were words close to Lord Milner’s heart. He and the former Commander in Chief, Field Marshal Lord Roberts, had argued for many years in favour of  conscription as a much more effective way of providing a professional army. Once more, the word ‘coalition’ was being secretly whispered in the select private clubs frequented by the real power-brokers. Some even called it a  ‘National Government’.

Historians have repeatedly analysed the events of May 1915 and concluded that the political crisis ‘arose with extra-ordinary suddenness’ as if to suggest that by some strange mixture of expediency and good fortune, Asquith’s government was transformed overnight into an all-party alliance. The great historical guru of the 1960s, A J P Taylor, claimed that the emergence of a ‘National Government’ was  ‘one of the few political episodes of the First World War on which solid evidence is lacking’. [23] These are words which should raise alarm. If evidence is lacking, it is because it has been destroyed. Experience proves that to be fact. Lloyd George’s verdict was that ‘political crises never come out of the blue’, and he knew precisely what was going on. [24] Asquith’s government was teetering towards collapse because the old-fashioned Liberals did not have the necessary backbone to see a prolonged war through to its end. Circumstances at home provided the cover to manipulate the change.

Fisher (Right) and Churchill in happier times.Admiral Jackie Fisher, whom Churchill had brought from retirement to become First Sea Lord resigned his post over the Dardanelles fiasco. He believed that vital warships were exposed to unnecessary danger in this theatre of operations. Fisher was beside himself with rage at Churchill whom he called ‘a mad gambler’. [25] The Conservative party in parliament hated Winston Churchill whom they regarded as a turn-coat in politics and an amateur in war. [26] They had a point. On 17 May 1915, Andrew Bonar Law, the Conservative leader, met secretly with Lloyd George at the Treasury. They had been personal friends for years and according to the Chancellor, on friendlier terms ‘than is usual between political adversaries…’ [27] Lloyd George received the proposal to form a national government with open arms. When confronted by this united front, Asquith caved in and made no attempt to stand his ground and defend his cabinet. Why? Many have tried to find a suitable answe. He had been emotionally upset by Venetia Stanley’s sudden split from him … an unexpected turn of events in itself. Was he ordered to accept the inevitable given the formidable combination of the second minister in his government joining forces with the leader of the Opposition?

A convergence of military, naval and political embarrassment had to find public redress. Milner knew that the government had to be firmed up, be resolved to see through unpopular crises, and take greater direction from his Secret Elite agents. The days wasted on propping up the sham of democracy were numbered. Yet ridding the government of it’s deadwood faced the Secret Elite with a difficult quandary. Changes had to be managed carefully. The public had to believe that this was what they wanted. Should opinion turn against the war and muted cries in favour of peace gain support, Germany would not be crushed. Victory was meaningless unless it broke German industrial and economic power. This wasn’t about winning a battle but destroying an enemy.

But which enemy? Churchill? Yes, he was despised by the Conservatives in parliament, and the newspapers had begun to question his judgement. Kitchener? Yes, but his national status placed him above criticism, and the army had to be supported at all costs. Asquith? Not so easy. To sack him would have thrown the government and possibly the country into chaos. Above all, the genuine unwitting liberals who had accepted their role in government, but who had no great enthusiasm for war, had to be wiped out. Democracy would be dismantled and what better way to start the process than under the guise of national unity?
[1] Alfred Gollin, Freedom or Control in the First World War,  (The Great Crisis of May 1915)  Historical Reflections, Vol. 2, no. 2, Winter 1975, pp. 135-155.
[2] The Times, 10 November 1914.
[3] George F S Bowles, The Strength of England, p. 173.
[4] Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden History, The Secret Origins of the First World War, pp. 55-6.
[5] Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War p. 115.
[6] Lloyd George, War Memoirs of David Lloyd George, p. 133.
[7] http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/people/mr-horatio-kitchener/1914
[8] A M Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, p. 249.
[9] Stephen Roskill, Hankey, Man of Secrets, vol 1, 1877-1918, p. 216.
[10] Michael and Eleanor Brock, H H Asquith, Letters to Venetia Stanley. A typical example may be found on page 266 where he discloses the position of Sir Henry Rawlinson’s troops on the road to Bruges and Ghent before sharing Kitchener’s thoughts on an impending stalemate.
[11] http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/sittings/1914/
[12] Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 134.
[13] http://www.firstworldwar.com/timeline/1915.htm
[14] See blogs published 3 and 10 September 2014.
[15] Alfred Milner’s power base is best explained in Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, pp. 84-88.
[16] Docherty and Macgregor, Hidden History,  pp. 301-319.
[17] Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, p. 251.
[18] Letters from these correspondents are included in what remains of the much-culled Milner papers at the Bodleian Library (special section) at Oxford.
[19] Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 133.
[20] Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, pp. 251-2 .
[21] A J P Taylor, Lloyd George, Rise and Fall, p. 23.
[22] John  Grigg, Lloyd George, The People’s Champion, pp. 362-8.
[23] A J P Taylor, English History, 1914-1945, p. 31.
[24] Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 133.
[25] Roskill, Hankey, Man of Secrets, p. 174.
[26] Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, p. 258.
[27] Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p.135.

The Great Coup of 1916: 1 Democracy: Roots of Poison

The Secret Elite scorn democracy. They always have. The following series of blogs trace the activities through which they eventually replaced a democratically elected government with one in which they themselves took  complete control of the British  government from 1916. 

Viscount Alfred Milner leader of the Secret Elite from 1902-25.

In the first years of the twentieth century, their most important influence, Alfred Milner, the passionate promoter of British Imperialism, [1] and favoured heir of Cecil Rhodes’s ideals, [2] held an absolute contempt for the British Parliamentary system [3] which he condemned as an ‘absurd waste of power’ . [4] His acolyte, Philip Kerr, later lord Lothian, described his mentor’s attitude to democratic government thus:

‘In every fibre of his being he loathed the slipshod compromises, the optimistic “slogans”, the vote-catching half-truths with which democracy seemed to compromise the majestic governing art …’ [5]

Before he returned to Britain in 1905, Milner, a copious letter-writer, wrote to his future wife, then Lady Violet Cecil, that the system was hopeless. With a prescience which might make the reader today shudder, he predicted that, ‘Perhaps the great charlatan – political scallywag, buffoon, liar…and in other respects popular favourite – may someday arise, who is nevertheless a statesman…and who, having gained power by popular art, may use it for the nations ends. It is an off chance…’ [6]

(Ponder these prophetic words. Though expressed in a different era, you might be forgiven for thinking that Milner’s description fitted Tony Blair or David Lloyd George. Both were loyal servants of the Secret Elite in their day, posed as a socialist, or Liberal in Lloyd George’s case, misrepresented the reasons for promoting war, popular when first in office, considered by some to be statesmen – but not buffoons or political scallywags. No. Such words are utterly inadequate to catch their devious characters.)

Milner never accepted democratic government. He was convinced that a dedicated, hand-picked and trained elite was better-equipped to run Britain’s affairs. [7] He was an unreformed disciple of the Oxford philosopher, John Ruskin, who advocated that the control of the state should be restricted to a small ruling elite. Social order was to be built on the authority of superiors who would impose on their inferiors an absolute unquestioning obedience. [8]

Prime Minister Asquith at dispatch box. The powerful core of his government were far from 'liberal' in their objectives.

With that mind-set and a determination to manipulate the political system, the highest echelons inside Herbert Asquith’s Liberal government had been successfully infiltrated before he became prime minister in 1908. [9] Sir Edward Grey ( Foreign Secretary from 1905-16), Richard Haldane (War Minister from 1906-10) and Asquith himself, all Secret Elite place-men, formed the triumvirate which steadfastly steered the British Empire into a predetermined war to crush Germany in 1914. [10] In this they were abetted by Winston Churchill and eventually David Lloyd George. [11] It would be ridiculous to imply that five mediocre British politicians were solely responsible for bringing about the world war.

They did not represent democracy in any shape or form. These men refused to be answerable to parliament or the people. They were, like many who have held top political positions in Britain over the century since, mere instruments of the power behind the scenes – the all-powerful, wealthy secret cabal whom we call the Secret Elite. This sham democracy was aided and abetted by the awesome power of the popular press, much of which was owned and controlled by the same men who wielded real power.

Few knew that a powerful group of newspaper editors and owners were closely associated with Milner and the Secret Elite. His personal network of journalists included George Buckle and later Geoffrey Dawson at the Times, Edmund Garrett at the Westminster Gazette, and ET Cook at the Daily News and Daily Chronicle. All were members of the Secret Elite. [12] Their greatest ally was Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe, whom the Secret Elite approved as owner of the Times in 1908 after he had been closely vetted on their behalf by Lord Esher. [13] As owner of the Daily Mail (1896) the Daily Mirror (1903) the Observer (1905) and the Sunday Times, amongst other publications, Northcliffe’s role in the immediate pre-war years was to stir the populace against Germany. His biographers have translated this into an apparently less threatening response to the calls of Lord Milner and Lord Roberts [14] to ‘champion the cause of national defence on land, at sea and in the air.’ [15] He was the scaremonger chosen to undermine public confidence by constantly accusing Germany and the Kaiser of ill-intentions towards Britain and her Empire.

Le Queux's ridiculous propaganda 'novels', backed by Northcliffe and the Daily Mail was accompanied by nonsense leaflets like 'Englishmen Arise'.

Northcliffe unleashed a torrent of fear deliberately aimed to prepare the nation for war against Germany. The Daily Mail carried concocted half-truths and downright lies to unnerve a people who had previously considered Germany no more than a friendly rival. The unrelenting propaganda spun its rabid negativity into the fabric of the nation in similar vein to the years of fear-inducing hostile headlines which led the British working classes to believe that the Brexit option in 2016 would stop the ill-perceived ‘menace’ of immigration. Falsehood became truth; reason was poisoned. Ludicrous stories filled the pages of the popular press. Little changes. [16]

Spy mania added to the sense of paranoia so cleverly promoted by Northcliffe’s stables. Ludicrous claims were made about German intentions and by default, German residents in Britain. Typical of unfounded scaremongering was Lord Roberts’s calculation that there were ‘80,000 Germans in the United Kingdom, almost all of them trained soldiers. They work many of the hotels at some of the chief railway stations, and if a German force once got into this country it would have the advantage of help and reinforcement such as no other army on foreign soil has ever before enjoyed’. [17] It was of course, nonsense, but how often has the true charlatan abused fear of immigrants to gather public support?

Milner and his associates also had backing from finance and business. He had access to Rhodes’s money and the fortunes of his South African backers, Alfred Beit and Abe Bailey. [18] Having earned the gratitude of the Rothschild family by instigating war against the Boers in order to seize their gold mines, his standing with the armaments and shipbuilding moguls could not have been higher. As increasing numbers of financiers from both sides of the Atlantic joined in associated exclusive clubs like the Pilgrims of the United States and the Pilgrims of Great Britain, [19] Milner’s influence, and consequent power, spread.

As has been fully detailed in both our Hidden History, the Secret Origins of the First World War and over several blogs, [20] this combination of political power, media exploitation and financial backing bounced the British Empire into war with Germany in August 1914 in order to create the Anglo-American supremacy in a new world order.

Consider the awful failing of assumed democracy. Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August on the basis of a package of outrageous lies, vile deception and gross exaggeration just as she did in Iraq almost a century later. Despite the presumed responsibility of government to serve the needs of its citizens and stand accountable for its actions, every check which might have stopped the war was circumvented or ignored. War with Germany was visited upon the British people and the British Empire without consent. The people were not consulted. Ironically, the Liberal government which had been elected in 1906 won a landslide victory based on ‘peace, retrenchment and reform’. [21] Further elections in 1910 returned a government whose foreign policy had not changed; officially.

Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey depicted in the House of Commons. Churchill appears behind him. (right)

Parliament was not consulted about a declaration of war in 1914, despite several reassurances from Sir Edward Grey that it would be. Asquith did not move for a vote in cabinet because he knew that the cabinet was weighed against any decision to go to war. While the Secret Elite marshalled its forces in the press, the Church of England and the hallowed halls of Oxford, opponents were caught flat-footed, disbarred from criticism as the newspapers joined ranks to exclude their views. In Parliament the substantial anti-war lobby was practically silenced when an open debate was denied them by prime minister Asquith himself. [22] Those who thought that they could turn to Lloyd George to stand firm against the war and lead a popular opposition to it were sorely disabused of the notion. Like many since, he lead the dissenters into a cul-de-sac and left them there. The Welsh firebrand welched.

Britain was railroaded into war by a government which was neither capable of running it nor elected to do so. The belief that her naval and economic power was sufficient to defeat the Germans was one of the fundamental premises which underpinned the widely held assumption in Britain that it would be ‘business as usual’. [23] Amongst a range of disinformation put about to assuage a gullible public was that the navy would protect Britain from invasion, strangle the German economy and win a low-cost war, safe behind a decade of naval investment. There was no invasion. Never at any stage in the proceedings did Germany plan for an invasion. A much vaunted blockade [24] was secretly reduced to tokenism. It would not be ‘business as usual’. Be of no doubt, and we have repeatedly made this point in our blogs, the war could have been over by the Spring/Summer of 1915 had that been the prime objective. It was not due to incompetence, though the government merited that tag, or miscalculation, that the war was outwardly mismanaged, but by very carefully executed strategies to supply the enemy and prolong the war. [25]

Belgian Relief ship, part of the enormous fleet gathered by Herbert Hoover to supply food to Belgium AND to Germany.

In fact, the Secret Elite’s men in government did a very capable job in prolonging the war. Asquith’s dithering indecision, his failure to change the nature of decision-making in cabinet proved to be a stranglehold on progress. Lloyd George acted under the supervision of the banking and financial sectors on both sides of the Atlantic and used their backing to obtain loans and munitions through the exclusive J P Morgan / Rothschild portal. [26] Sir Edward Grey’s men in the Foreign Office bent double to accommodate the American interests and completely nullify the brave and tireless efforts of the navy to run an effective blockade. They also rubber-stamped the secretive and illusionary ‘Belgian Relief’ programme which was run by Herbert Hoover to supply Germany with much needed food. [27] Churchill ran amok like a headless chicken frequently abandoning his duties at the Admiralty in favour of self-serving publicity.

Victory in the field was not the objective unless it was predicated upon the complete destruction of Germany as an economic rival, and that would take time and absolute commitment. Two very different approaches were underway. Most of the liberal cabinet set out on a loosely sketched journey believing that a short war would be won at sea, and a small army would suffice for the continental struggle; the Secret Elite’s men embarked on a long debilitating war which protected their interests, guaranteed great profits, and was backed by vast resources from the United States.

Even although the Liberal majority in Asquith’s cabinet were reluctant to abandon their laissez-faire principles, Lloyd George, recognised that control of the railway network and guarantees for the shipping insurance business were absolutely necessary to the survival of social order. [28] In other words, government in times of modern warfare required direct intervention. Tellingly, Lloyd George’s first actions were to protect the banks, the money markets and the business of war. He took credit for saving the city after embracing advice from Nathaniel Rothschild and ‘a section of the business and financial world’. [29] Of course he did. He was their man.

Liberal ideology, long mocked by Milner and his followers, proved ineffectual. Do not include Asquith, Grey and Lloyd George as ‘ liberals’. The first two had long sold their souls to the imperialist race patriots; Lloyd George had simply sold his soul. They were not proponents of a political theory or party, but obedient servants of an apolitical, (in the Party sense) anti-democratic, power-obsessed oligarchy. These political place-men of the Secret Elite (then as now) were labeled liberal for public consumption. In reality they were not what the people, and even fellow members of their own party, imagined.

Prolonging the war was of course very profitable, but winning the war was everything. By 1915, the Secret Elite realised that Asquith’s approach to war-management was failing. He and his ministers were no longer dealing with the political issues for which they had been elected and could not be trusted with the unequivocal drive to crush Germany. The Secret Elite required a government focussed on the destruction of Germany and these men were not up to it.

Somme dead. A tragedy we must never forget.

Hundreds of thousands of young men had already been killed. Prolonging the war required men with cold, hard hearts devoid of compassion, committed to the Secret Elite’s cause. How had Milner expressed the steel required to see war through to the ultimate destruction of the enemy? His chilling advice to Richard Haldane during the Boer War was to ‘disregard the screamers’. [30] It takes a special kind of ‘strength’ to ignore humanitarian issues, ignore the utter chaos caused by the sacrifice of so many and yet be willing to sacrifice many more. Milner had such cold steel in his core.

To the Secret Elite, Milner’s deep-rooted fears were completely vindicated. Democratic liberalism, watered down as it had been since the death of Campbell-Bannerman, [31] denied Britain a co-ordinated agency to direct the war effort. In Asquith’s cabinet, only Lloyd George, increasingly the sole candidate for Secret Elite support, grasped the need to shake up the traditional approach to government. Even a pretence of democracy would not deliver ultimate victory. It was poisoning their cause.

But how could they remove the prime minister who had done their bidding?

[1] Viscount Alfred Milner was from 1902-1925 leader of the Secret Society funded and promoted originally by Cecil Rhodes. Although he spurned elected position and championed preparations for war against Germany, once the war was underway , he and his associates wanted control of the government in wartime to control the post-war settlement was they envisaged it. See Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, pp 4-14 and p.140.
[2] He envisaged his great purpose in life to expand the English-speaking sphere of influence until it was so powerful that no nation could challenge it. see Robin Brown, The Secret Society, p. 18.
[3] Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden history, The Secret Origins of the First World War, p. 55.
[4] Thomas Packenham, The Boer War, p. 551.
[5] The Nation & Athenaeum, 23 May 1925.
[6] Milner to Lady Cecil as quoted in A M Gollin, Proconsul in Politics, p. 46.
[7] Robin Brown, The Secret Society, p. 253.
[8] J A Hobson, John Ruskin: Social Reformer, p. 187.
[9] Docherty and Macgregor, Hidden History, pp. 101-2.
[11] Winston Churchill, World Crisis Vol 1, pp. 38-9.
[12] Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, pp. 311-2.
[13] Lord Reginald Esher was one of the original members of Rhodes’s Secret Society. He was the confidante of Kings Edward VII and George V. His full role in vetting and approving Northcliffe’s acquisition of The Times see, J Lee Thompson, Northcliffe, Press Baron in Politics, 1865-1922, pp. 151-3.
[14] Lord Fredrick Roberts had formerly been Commander-in-Chief of The Forces before his retiral. A close associate ofViscount Milner, with whom he shared many a platform, he avidly supported compulsory conscription to the armed forces.
[15] J. Lee Thompson, Forgotten Patriot, p. 159.
[16] The worst of his kind was William Le Queux, a Walter Mitty character, his ridiculous anti-German propaganda was supported by Northcliffe’s Daily Mail. see Christopher Andrews, Secret Service, pp. 37-48.
[17] Hansard, House of Lords Debate, 23 November 1908 vol 196, cc1691.
[18] Brown, The Secret Society, p. 253.
[19] The Pilgrims Society was the embodiment of the ‘special relationship’ between the United States and Great Britain. [Its centennial history was written by Anne Pimlott Baker.] Exclusive to all but the anglo-saxon elite on both sides of the Atlantic, the Pilgrims of the United States included the most pro- British and influential bankers and financiers.
[20] In particular see Blog of 17 June 2014, Secret Elite 3 : Building the Network.
[21] The great Liberal philosophy which was trumpeted by their parliamentary leader, Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who fought and won the landslide Liberal victory of 1906.
[22] Hansard, House of Commons Debate 03 August 1914 vol 65 cc1831-2.
[23] David French, The Rise and Fall of Business as Usual’, in Kathleen Burk, War and the State, The Transformation of the British Government, 1914-1919, p.10.
[24] see Blogs on the sham of blockade, posted from 10 December 2014 to February 2015. Also E Keble Chatterton, The Big Blockade.
[25] Perhaps the most interesting and puzzling scandal of the First World War was Herbert Hoover’s Commission for Relief in Belgium which ensured that war was prolonged by providing supplies, especially foodstuffs, to Germany from 1914-1917.
[26] Kathleen Burk, War and the State, The Transformation of British Government 1914-18, p. 90.
[27] Michael Amara et Hubert Roland, Gouverner En Belgique Ocuppee, p. 99 and p. 214.
[28] David French, The Rise and Fall of Business as Usual’, in Kathleen Burk, War and the State, The Transformation of the British Government, 1914-1919, p. 7.
[29] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 70.
[30] J Lee Thompson, Forgotten Patriot, p. 483.
[31] Henry Campbell-Bannerman died in 10 Downing Street on 22 April 1908 from a heart attack.

Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener 10: The Final Reckoning

The iconic Kitchener recruitment poster.The previous nine blogs have presented the reasons why the men of secret power wanted rid of Herbert Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War from 1914-1916… but were unable to manoeuvre him from office. He had threatened the smooth running of Trans-Atlantic finance, had interfered with, and apparently delayed, the enormous growth in armaments and munitions, and did not agree that the war would be won by the nation which fired most shells across the barren pot-holes of the Western Front. His phenomenal contribution to voluntary recruitment could not go on forever. Its initial success in the early months of the war was unsustainable. Conscription had to be introduced in March 1916 when the Military Service Act came into force [1] just as the parliamentarians had wanted, and Kitchener did not trust politicians. He was justified in his mistrust of gossiping Cabinet colleagues. Prime Minister Asquith, for example, shared secret confidential information with his paramour [2] Venetia Stanley on a daily basis. [3] He famously stated that he would give Cabinet ministers all they information they sought ‘if they would only divorce their wives.’ [4] In this, as in many of his other beliefs, Kitchener was absolutely right. London society was a hotbed of unbridled war-gossip especially in the first two years of the conflict.

What Kitchener failed to understand was that neither he, nor the British Cabinet, called the tune. The elite Bankers and financiers, the owners of the military-industrial complex, the manipulators of power and influence, the newspaper moguls and the academic guardians of historical record, the establishment on both sides of the Atlantic had ordained the war to crush Germany and amass even greater fortunes in the process. The Secret Elite whom we have identified by name in Hidden History, The Secret Origins of the First World War, [5] and further expanded in previous blogs, [6] held this as their sole objective.

The famous cartoon of the merchants of death adequately includes the Secret Elite

An early end to the war was not to be contemplated. Nor was the notion of a just and fair peace about which Kitchener had been talking. What use was a compromise which would have allowed German commerce and industry to remain intact with all of the advantages through which modern business practice thrived? It was inconceivable that they would allow the war to end before the American government joined the conflict. The United States had to be drawn into the war in order to offload the enormous private loans and debts accrued by the Morgan / Rothschild/ Rockefeller empires through their monopolies on arms, munitions and international loans. Had Kitchener influenced a move for peace in 1916, the burden of debt would not have been shouldered by US taxpayers, and likewise, British and French tax-payers, but by the financial institutions. An honourable peace would have left Germany strong and independent. Germany had to be made to pay for a war they had never wanted. Lord Kitchener’s threatened intervention imperilled every aspect of the Secret Elite’s aim.

He knew he had enemies, clearly.

Though he himself was a very loyal servant to King and Country, Herbert Kitchener had to struggle against professional jealousy and disloyalty from his senior staff. Sir Henry Wilson, the Principal Liaison Officer between the allied forces in France, was a regular correspondent with Lord Alfred Milner, the acknowledged leader of the Secret Elite, and acted as a high level informant behind the backs of Kitchener and Asquith. The Prime Minister wrote that both he and Kitchener considered Wilson a constantly intriguing serpent [7] so there was little love lost on either side.

Charles Repington, the infamous Times correspondent

The Secretary of State’s enemies amongst the press included editors of the Morning Post and the National Review, but his loudest critic was Lord Northcliffe at The Times and The Mail. Ever close to the Secret Elite, The Times, through their privileged correspondent Charles Repington, had tried to bring Kitchener into public disrepute by fanning the flames of the so-called munitions crisis in 1915. [8] Far from weakening Lord Kitchener, their accusations against him damaged their reputation and underlined the strength of public support he continued to enjoy. [9] Thus Horatio Kitchener was a man with many enemies, not in the trenches, the workplace or the ordinary home, but inside the core of the Establishment. That he understood. What he could not grasp was the grand plan which had been constructed above the realm of public politics.

Asquith was obliged to shake-up his Cabinet in May 1915 and the net impact of the reorganisation was to bring more members of the Secret Elite into public office. Professor Carroll Quigley [10] identified eleven members of Asquith’s ‘coalition’ Cabinet as members of this cabal including Lords Lansdowne and Curzon, Andrew Bonar Law, the Conservative Party leader, Sir Edward Carson, FE Smith, Walter Long, the Earl of Selborne, Robert Cecil and most importantly, Arthur J Balfour, former Prime Minister, as First Lord of the Admiralty. The man whom they dearly wanted removed, Lord Kitchener, stood firm. Though in private they all wanted rid of him, in public he could not be criticised.

Kitchener was popular at the front wherever he went.

For as long as they could find reason to tolerate him, especially once his powers over munitions had been shifted wholesale into Lloyd Geoge’s court, Kitchener remained an asset both as the international figure-head for the British military and as a buffer between the Prime Minister and his detractors. However, once he began to speak privately about his role as a peace-maker at the end of the war, and share his ideals with leading figures in both the military and the government, [11] Kitchener’s days were numbered. The asset had become a liability. But how could they get rid of him? You might construct a long list of possibilities – ‘heart-attack’, ‘suicide’, a full range of ‘natural causes’ might have been actioned. Any public suggestion of his alleged homosexuality would certainly have ruined him but what possible good would have come from trashing the name and reputation of the hero of the Empire? None. Though the military and political agents of the Secret Elite schemed behind his back, it was in the interests of all to protect Kitchener’s public reputation. He had to be removed with a subtlety which brooked no backlash. What were the odds against Herbert Kitchener dying in a naval tragedy, lost at sea? No-one could have anticipated such a scenario or possibly suspect unlawful practice. Surely?

Before anyone rushes to close the account with the dismissive and entirely unfair claim that this is simply another conspiracy, re-read the volume of evidence, actual and circumstantial, which we have already presented. [12]

We have clearly established that there was no immediate need for Herbert Kitchener to visit Russia. Knowing that the Somme offensive would begin in July, he threatened to pull out of the venture as late as 2 June 1916 rather than have it postponed. [13] The central Secret Elite place-man at the Czar’s court in Petrograd (St Petersburg) was Sir John Hanbury-Williams, a close friend and associate of Alfred Milner. [14] Williams’s position as Chief of the British Military Mission to Russia from 1914-1917 was consolidated by ancestral diplomatic connections with the Empress Catherine the Great, which granted him a special place in the Czar’s more intimate circles. [15]

Sir John Hanbury-Williams (left) Head of the British military Mission in Russia.

The Secret Elite network spun a spider’s web of influence across the globe. Hanbury-Williams had conjured the Grand Duke’s supposed appeal to the British to attack the Dardanelles [16] in 1915, and it was he who co-ordinated Kitchener’s visit to Russia in 1916. His diary shows that the Czar ‘talked over the proposed visit of Lord Kitchener with the greatest keenest and interest’ before Hanbury-Williams organised the details with the British Ambassador and the military attache, Sir Alfred Knox. [17] The plan to send Kitchener to Russia emanated from Britain, not Russia. Indeed Hanbury-Williams’s published record omitted detailed reference to the background preparations for what was transformed into ‘Kitchener’s’ visit. Allegedly, when Lord Kitchener insisted that any postponement of his visit would result in its cancellation, Hanbury-Williams took immediate steps to stress Czar Nicholas’s personal wish that the visit go ahead. [18] The plans devised by Hanbury-Williams were transposed into the Czar’s wishes. So ran the web of deceit.

Everyone personally connected with the Secret Elite whose name had been associated with the ‘mission’ to Russian withdrew. To add to this co-incidence, their reaction to the news of Kitchener’s death on HMS Hampshire was in its own right, suspicious. Lloyd George claimed that he heard the ‘startling’ news on his way to a War Council in Downing Street on 6 June. When he entered the Cabinet Room he described ‘the Prime Minister, Sir Edward Grey, Mr Balfour and Sir Maurice Hankey sitting at a table all looking stunned’. This was indeed an inner circle of powerful men who understood what had happened, yet they were unable to talk about the consequences? Remarkably, given the enormity of what had just taken place, ‘Sir Maurice and I quite forgot for the moment that had it not been for the Irish negotiations, we would have shared the same fate.’ [19] That is untrue. From the outset Hankey said he would not go, and Lloyd George’s refusal had nothing to do with Ireland. [20] How many people would have reacted with such sang-froid? He and Hankey ‘quite forgot’ that they should have been on that same ill fated ship? [21] It defied human nature.

Lloyd George in 1915. A man favoured by the Secret Elite.

Indeed, without breaking step or pausing for a moment to contemplate the many contributions of the now deceased Secretary of State for War, Lloyd George knew that ‘the passing of Lord Kitchener left an empty place at the War Office. I realised that this place might be offered to me.’ [22] This man of many plots, of endless carping behind the backs of others, who briefed the press, especially Northcliffe, against Kitchener, displayed an almost callous cynicism. Lloyd George did indeed accept that office on 4 July, but not before ensuring that all the powers that had been systematically stripped from Kitchener were reinvested in the new Secretary of State for War.

On hearing of Kitchener’s death, Northcliffe is reported to have burst into his sister’s drawing room declaring, ‘Providence is on the side of the British Empire’ [23] Fawning tributes dripped from the mouths of the guilty. Admiral Jellicoe solemnly declared that the navy’s grief for ‘a soldier’ whose loss ‘we deplore so deeply. It was our privilege to see him last; he died with many of our comrades’. [24] No mention was made of Admiralty culpability or unswept channels.

Look again at the depth of that culpability. HMS Hampshire was barely fit for service and its loss added little to the Navy’s post-Jutland woes. Jellicoe and his masters at the Admiralty approved the ship’s route into a known minefield. Naval intelligence at Room 40 had carefully monitored all U-Boat activity. References to the minefield and the sinking of the trawler, Laurel Rose were removed or altered to suit the cover-up ‘explanation’ when difficult questions were raised about the fate of the Hampshire. The official report was kept secret. Key documents have still never seen the light of day.

Kitchener's death was followed by a plethora of false praise from duplicitous men.

Kitchener’s murder was covered with dripping platitudes and cynically penned obituaries. In the House of Lords, Lansdowne proclaimed that Kitchener’s death ‘was a great and dignified exit from the stage upon which he had played so prominent a part during the long years of his life.’ [25] The two-faced Asquith lamented ‘his career has been cut short while still in the full tide of unexhausted powers and possibilities.’ [26] The Secret Elite’s John Buchan ordained that ‘in a sense his work was finished’ and ‘his death was a fitting conclusion to the drama of his life.’ [27] ‘Bollocks’ may not be a recognised historical assessment, but ‘bollocks’ it remains. They peddled lies as fraudsters do.

The full panoply of State and Church gathered at St Paul’s Cathedral on 13 June to hold a service of remembrance for Lord Kitchener and his staff. The King and Queen accompanied by Queen Alexandra, the Lord Mayor in his black and gold robes, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and assorted Aldermen and Sheriffs all gathered to pay their final respects to the former Secretary of State for War and champion of the Empire. They sang ‘Abide with me’, recited the ‘De Profundis’, read from the liturgy, said Prayers for the Country at War and thanked God for a brave and courageous life. The service ended with all three verses of God Save the King. [28] Thus with a great sense of theatre, Kitchener’s memory was consigned to the annals of received history. How quintessentially British.

No-one has ever been held to account for the murder of Lord Herbert Horatio Kitchener and over 700 other men.

[1] Conscription: the First World War – UK Parliament
http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/private…/conscription/
[2] Asquith’s complex relationship with the much younger Venetia Stanley has intrigued commentators over the century. Whether or not they were lovers remains unproven.
[3]Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock, H H Asquith, Letters to Venetia Stanley, Oxford University Press, 1982.
[4] Viscount Hankey, The Supreme Command, Vol. 1, p. 221.
[5] Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor, Hidden History, The Secret Origins of the First World War, Mainstream, 2013 pp. 12-16 onwards, Appendix 1, p. 362 and Appendix 2, pp. 363-9.
[6] Secret Elite, Blogs 1-3, posted June 15-17, 2014.
[7] Brock and Brock, H H Asquith, Letters, p. 342, (Asquith to Venetia Stanley 28 Dec 1914.)
[8] see blog; Munitions 6: Crisis, What Crisis? posted 8 July 2015.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Professor Carroll Quigley, author of The Anglo-American Establishment, initially identified and named the secret cabal who controlled British foreign policy from the early years of the twentieth century.
[11] Randolph Churchill, Lord Derby, King of Lancashire, pp. 209-10.
[12] previous blogs posted from 4 May, 2016 – 29 June 2016.
[13] George Arthur, Life of Lord Kitchener, Volume 3, pp. 350-1.
[14] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, p. 56.
[15] John Hanbury-Williams, The Emperor Nicholas II, as I knew him, p. 1.
[16] See blog, Gallipoli 9, posted 20 March 2015.
[17] Hanbury-Williams, The Emperor Nicholas II, p. 94.
[18] Ibid., pp. 98-9.
[19] David Lloyd George, War Memoirs, vol.1, p. 456.
[20] Stephen Roskill, Hankey, Vol. I, p. 269.
[21] Hankey Diary 6 June 1916, quoted in Roskill, Hankey Vol 1, pp. 279-80.
[22] Lloyd George, War Memoirs, p. 456.
[23] J Lee Thomson, Politicians, the Press and Propaganda, Lord Northcliffe & The Great War, 1914-1919, p. 101.
[24] The Times, 14 June 1914.
[25] Lord Lansdowne , Hansard, House of Lords Debate, 20 June 1916 vol 22 cc315-22.
[26] House of Commons Debate, 21 June 1916 vol 83 cc145-51.
[27] John Buchan, Episodes of the Great War, pp. 246-7.
[28] The Times 14 June 1914.

Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener 9: Secret Reports and Key Omissions

Admiral Beatty was credited as the real hero of Jutland and was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet.The Admiralty lied to the public throughout the war. It’s official reports and accounts of politically sensitive events like the sinking of the Lusitania and of the one major encounter at sea between the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet have been discredited over the last century. [1] Nameless officials doctored ‘evidence’. Courts of Enquiry, especially that of the sinking of the Lusitania, were rigged and embarrassingly flawed. When he was First Sea Lord in 1920, Admiral Beatty falsified his own signature to battle plans concerning Jutland four years after the event. [2]

Immediately after the war the Conservative MP Commander Carolyn Bellairs wrote ‘The Jutland despatches withheld the truth about the battle; and Mr Balfour [First Lord of the Admiralty] who is said to have set aside responsible advice from within the Admiralty itself, refused to assemble a court-martial to inquire into all the circumstances. [ By] Retaining Lord Jellicoe in command, he knew, and indeed asked the press, that criticism should be silenced.’ [3] This direct request to the press from the Secret Elite’s Arthur Balfour also covered the period when harsh questions were being asked about the fate of HMS Hampshire. ‘Criticism should be silenced.’ [4 ] What were they afraid of?

Bellairs had reached the rank of Commander after eighteen years service in the navy before becoming a journalist and politician in 1902. By 1915 he was Conservative member for Maidstone Borough and brought a great depth of knowledge and criticism to parliamentary debates on the navy. He and several other critics tackled the Admiralty’s apparent inability to answer relatively simple questions about the sinking of the Hampshire in a House of Commons debate in July 1916. [5] Despite requests that they should not raise difficult questions that might aid the enemy, many MPs wanted to know what was really going on. Firstly, why did the Admiralty reject a public enquiry into the loss of the Hampshire on 5 June at Marwick Head? Protocol laid down that whenever a ship was lost at sea, a public court-martial should be held with the survivors to ascertain precisely why. Lord Kitchener’s death commanded huge public interest and concern. Still there was no public enquiry.

Kitchener Memorial Service at St Paul's in London.

Sir Richard Cooper correctly pointed out that in refusing to answer questions, the evasive Admiralty only added to wild speculation. They would not confirm whether the sea lane used by HMS Hampshire had been swept for mines. We know that it had not. Jellicoe admitted this in his own history of the Grand Fleet. [6] There was no credible answer to questions raised about the announcement of Lord Kitchener’s death. Cooper pointed out that the formal communique about the loss of the Hampshire was issued in London at 2pm on 6 June 1916, and that evening, the details of Kitchener’s memorial service at St Paul’s were made public before the War Office could reasonably assume that he had not survived. [7] Strange. The bodies picked out of the sea or caught smashed against the jagged rocks were collected and quickly buried. There was no coroner’s inquest, or since the jurisdiction was in Scotland, fatal accident inquiry. [8] It was as if the evidence had to be removed from the scene of the crime. Strange, indeed. To make matters worse, the Admiralty slapped a formal restriction on anyone going to or from the Orkneys on 7 June. Why did they want to keep journalists away from the island? Such restrictions could hardly have restricted spies, if such was the purpose. At every turn officials behaved as if there was something to hide.

The Secretary of the Admiralty issued a summary of the conclusions reached by Jellicoe’s own staff after they had interrogated the 12 survivors of the doomed ship. The Admiralty published their official statement on Saturday 10 June. [9] The narrative was brief and succinct to the point of mere repetition of what had already been published in the newspapers. It focussed on the weather, the unexpected mine and the dignity of Lord Kitchener as he bravely faced death. How fortunate that one of the witnesses, Petty Officer Wilfred Wesson [10] was able to confirm that Lord Kitchener was last seen on deck before the ship went down.

Survivors of HMS Hampshire. The sailor wrapped in bandages is Fredrick Sims who sustained burns when the Hampshire exploded.Many years later in a newspaper article [11] Wesson’s story offered food for thought. Despite the fact that the noise of storm and confusion was deafening, ‘there were orders being shouted. They were mostly being caught in the gale and lost… the wind howled ..immeasurable banks of waves burst in shivering cascades …and then Lord Kitchener came on deck. An officer shouted “Make way for Lord Kitchener”. The captain had called to him to come up to the fore bridge .. that was the last I saw of Lord Kitchener.’ [12] Putting aside journalistic license, we might well wonder how Petty Officer Wesson actually heard what he claimed to have borne witness to in the raging storm? However, what was important to the Admiralty was that they produced a witness who could confirm that Herbert Kitchener made it onto the deck, and so must have been lost with the captain and other senior officers.

During the House of Commons exchanges on 6 July 1916, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, Dr Macnamara, insisted that ‘a full and careful Court of Enquiry’ had been held and ‘a full summary of the report published’ covering the evidence from each survivor. [13] It would appear from subsequent evidence that questions were limited to ‘do you think the Hampshire hit a mine’ and ‘did you see Lord Kitchener?’ Why? Did they have reason to doubt that HMS Hampshire hit a mine? Were they concerned that some story of an internal explosion might raise other issues? And what did it matter if the Secretary of State for War was or was not seen on deck? It was as if the sailors were being asked leading questions.

Aberdeen harbour at the turn of the twentieth century. The Effort was slightly larger than the small fishing vessels in the picture.

The naval authorities did not consider it worthwhile to open an investigation on the allegations from the crew of the Aberdeen trawler, Effort, that the seas were much calmer when they passed the signs of wreckage or search for information from the Dutch trawler reported to have been around the scene of the sinking. [14] Commander Bellairs was once again on his feet to suggest that ‘one of the reasons why the Admiralty of late have taken a dislike to courts-martial is that … they have been known to bring in verdicts blaming the Admiralty. [15] He made one further startling statement: ‘Recently there has been a column in the newspapers about HMS Hampshire and the Battle of Jutland: some of us know that the Hampshire was never in the Battle of Jutland.’ [16]

What? The official order of battle would disagree – but Bellairs was the naval correspondent to War Illustrated and a member of parliament who had many connections inside the Admiralty. Surely he was wrong – or was this yet another alteration made after the event by Lord Jellicoe when he was promoted to First Sea Lord? [17] The more one learns of the Admiralty’s complicity in hiding the truth, the more one wonders what that truth really was.

Yet there was a full official report. It was kept secret. When asked in Parliament where the official enquiry had been held and who conducted it, the evasive answer given was ‘at a naval base under the presidency of a captain of the Royal Navy.’ [18] No names, dates or places. Little wonder suspicion of a cover-up began within a few days of Kitchener’s death.

Rumours ran rife. All of these muddied the waters with suggestions of foul play which ranged from an internal explosion masterminded by Sinn Fein in reprisal for the Easter Rising, to slack talk in Russia which had alerted the Germans who sent a submarine to sink the Hampshire. Such nonsense turned the public away from the most certain of facts. The Admiralty was at fault to the extent that we have every right to suggest complicity. Ten years after Kitchener’s death his friend and biographer, Sir George Arthur, had suffered so many queries about the ‘truth’ surrounding the sinking of the Hampshire that he wrote a public letter to the Editor of The Times [19] in which he exposed the Admiralty’s duplicity:

Front cover of Sir George Arthur's biography of his friend Lord Kitchener.

‘…early in 1920 the First Lord of the Admiralty (the late Lord Long)  invited me to read the secret , or unpublished, report on the sinking of the Hampshire, on the understanding that I would not divulge a word of it to anybody. I declined to read the document under these conditions, as my object was to give in my “Life of Lord Kitchener” the correct version of the tragedy – and this I could not do if material were in my hands which I was not allowed to use. I told the First Lord that I should submit in my book that neglect, or at any rate carelessness, must be charged to the Admiralty, or the Commander of the Grand Fleet, in the arrangements made for Lord Kitchener’s voyage. The reply of the First Lord was, “I do not think you could say otherwise.” [20]

The impact of this revelation hit the Admiralty like a naval broadside. There had been a secret report. There were ‘versions’ of the tragedy. ‘ Neglect’ or ‘carelessness’ had been covered-up. George Arthur forced the issue. The Admiralty was obligated to print the official narrative of the sinking of the Hampshire in the form of a White Paper [21] which could be bought for sixpence in August 1926. It added little to the information which had dripped into the public domain save repeating statements already published. Indeed, having considered the lack of new revelations you would have to ask why this had not happened much earlier.

There is another important but contentious fact. According to naval records, HM Drifter Laurel Crown was one of eight boats in a flotilla crossing the site of the Hampshire’s sinking, when she was struck by one of the U-75’s mines on 22 June 1916, some seventeen days after the tragedy. There were no survivors. No-one to tell the tale. A number of concerns emerged.

The first was how could a small 81 ton drifter, literally a fishing boat pressed into minesweeping service, hit a carefully located mine placed some seven meters from the surface? [ 22] One of the most important factors that seemingly explained HMS Hampshire’s fate was that her weight and displacement on the surging seas combined to take the ship to sufficient depth to cause the collision of mine and cruiser. In theory the German trap laid by U-75 was set to catch much bigger fish than even the Hampshire. Yet a tiny drifter hit one of these mines? How bizarre.

Mine-laying U-Boat 75, sunk in 1917.

Secondly, there is a clear difference in official records concerning the date of the Laurel Crown’s demise. In the document, ‘Navy Losses, 1914-1918’ published in 1919, the hired drifter Laurel Crown is recorded to have been “Sunk by mine west of Orkneys on 2.6.16”. [23] The official German naval history, [24] described the U-75’s voyage in May 1916 and recorded that ‘on June 2nd the drifter Laurel Crown ran into one of U75’s mines and was sunk.’ Thus both official records from the major combatants clearly stated that the Laurel Crown was sunk on 2 June, 1916. [25] Given that these official naval records corroborate each other, the Admiralty must have known of U75’s mine barrier. It would have been abundantly clear to the authorities at Scapa Flow that there was a minefield sewn across the path of HMS Hampshire. Are you prepared to believe that in the confusion after the Battle of Jutland, reports of the trawler’s sinking were delayed, ignored, or otherwise unknown to the senior staff in Scapa Flow?

However, records from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for the crewmen of Laurel Crown give their date of death as Thursday 22 June 1916. That is the same date recorded by the Court of Inquiry held in Kirkwall a week later [26]. Have these too been adjusted to suit the Admiralty’s cover-up? The sinking of Laurel Crown is not included in the official British naval history, “Naval Operations, Volume IV” written by Henry Newbolt and published in 1928. [27] How odd. Official dates, altered dates, strange omissions. For reasons that have never been challenged, the sinking of the Laurel Crown has been relegated to claims and counter claims about the date of its demise.

If, as is surely the case, the official records in Britain and in Germany are correct, Lord Kitchener, his party, and around 700 seamen were sacrificed to ensure that he was lost at sea. Do not be dissuaded by the enormity of the cost. Barely one month later on the killing fields of the Somme, hundreds of thousands more brave men were  needlessly sacrificed in the name of civilisation. Crushing Germany was all that mattered. One more ship was easily lost in the fog of Jutland’s confusion.
[1] Carolyn Bellairs, The Battle of Jutland, The Sewing and the Reaping. 1919.
[2] John Brooks, The Battle of Jutland, p. 307, footnote 198.
[3] Bellairs, Jutland, Preface, p. X.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Hansard, House of Commons Debate, 6 July 1916 vol 83 cc1796-813.
[6] Viscount Jellicoe, The Grand Fleet (!914-1916): Its Creation, Development and Work, p. 427, where he states that had he ordered the seas ahead of HMS Hampshire swept, Kitchener would have lost three days in consequence. Alas it was his life that was lost.
[7] Hansard, House of Commons Debate, 6 July 1916 vol 83 cc1796-813.
[8] In Scottish Law a fatal accident inquiry would have been the appropriate means of investigation. This legal process would take place before a Sheriff and does not require a jury.
[9] Details given in Parliament. See House of Commons Debate 22 June 1916 vol. 83 cc316-3.
[10] Wesson’s service number was PO201136(PO). A full list of survivors and their identification number was published.
[11] Sunday Express, 8 July, 1934.
[12] Jane Storey, HMS Hampshire, Survivors and Their First Statements, http://www.bjentertainments.co.uk/js/survivors.htm%5D
[13] Hansard, House of Commons Debate, 6 July 1916 vol 83 cc1813.
[14] see previous blog
[15] Hansard, House of Commons Debate, 6 July 1916 vol 83 cc1813
[16] Ibid.
[17] http://www.channel4.com/programmes/jutland-wwis-greatest-sea-battle
[18] Hansard House of Commons Debate, 27 June 1916 vol 83 cc732-3.
[19] The Times, 10 February, 1926, p.10.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Cmd. 2710.
[22]Fregattenkapitän Oskar Groos. Der Krieg zur See 1914-18, Nordsee Band V pp. 201-2.
[23] National Archives ADM 137/3138.
[24]  Groos, Der Krieg zur See 1914-18, Nordsee Band V.
[25] https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwj6-fzEvfrMAhVLDsAKHU30Am4QFggdMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rbls-kirkwall.org.uk%2Fmemorials%2FBur%2FGeorgePetrie.doc&usg=AFQjCNFPMO_PWaZWiQp6oJ3o_ONhNn72Ig&sig2=XPyFHttCwB_DkKyUPnrp_Q
[26] National Archives ADM 137/3138
[27] Henry Newbolt, History of the Great War, Based on Official Documents. Naval Operations, Vol IV, pp. 1-21.