Stewart, William Frederick (2012)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Ernest William Turner served Canada admirably in two wars and played an instrumental role in unifying veterans’ groups in the post-war period. His experience was unique in the Canadian Expeditionary Force; in that, it included senior command in both the combat and administrative aspects of the Canadian war effort.
This thesis, based on new primary research and interpretations, revises the prevalent view of Turner. The thesis recasts five key criticisms of Turner and presents a more balanced and informed assessment of Turner. His appointments were not the result of his political affiliation but because of his courage and capability. Rather than an incompetent field commander, Turner developed from a middling combat general to an effective division commander by late 1916. His transfer to England was the result of the need for a proficient field commander to reform the administration. Turner proved to be an excellent administrator, a strong nationalist, and was crucially responsible for improvements in administration and training in England. Finally, the conflict with Sir Arthur Currie, the commander of the Canadian Corps, rather than being motivated by obstructionist jealousy was the outcome of competing institutional imperatives and Currie’s challenging personality.
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