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Old 10th November 2017, 01:27 PM   #281
jimbob
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Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
The sequence of events that led to most of the problems at the Somme have already been explained but to recap:

The British General's knew their army wasn't ready for a major offensive in 1916 and if it had been they wouldn't have chosen the Somme as the place to fight. They were given no choice by the politicians, who forced them to participate in what was intended to be a primarily French operation. The German attack at Verdun led to the French progressively scaling back their involvement at the Somme, while expecting the British to fill the gaps with their limited resources and in the end it became a primarily British operation, that couldn't be cancelled because of the paramount importance of preventing the Germans committing their full weight at Verdun. It also has to be noted that in the French sectors where artillery density was higher the British troops assigned generally did better, strongly suggesting the issue was indeed artillery support, not infantry tactics or 'encumberance'.
All very well, however, the disaster of the first day of the Somme could have been predicted, and indeed was, according to some at the time.

An attack where all you do is force the enemy to expend hundreds of thousands of bullets isn't very good.
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Old 10th November 2017, 03:32 PM   #282
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
All very well, however, the disaster of the first day of the Somme could have been predicted, and indeed was, according to some at the time.
According to memoirs written many years later is probably closer to the truth.
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Old 10th November 2017, 09:36 PM   #283
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Well, I said it myself before that the choice of battle ground was political, so yeah, who am I to argue with myself?

What I impute to Haig's intelligence is more like stuff like, among other things:

- that confidence that the artillery would totally wipe out the Germans and the troops would only have to walk over and take possession. As you say, and as I've said too, artillery support was an issue, and comparison to previous battles gave no reason for that conclusion. Basically the lack of enough artillery does excuse the inevitable outcome, but it is the damning factor not the excuse in said conclusion.

- that after the first day, mini-pushes were made willy-nilly (there were 90 pushes in 141 days) and for the first half or so of the battle it was with uncoordinated brigades leaving at different times, and getting predictably slaughtered. I mean, if the big push on day 1 was a complete massacre and resulted in very nearly 50% of the men turning into casualties, WTH confusion of mind would lead one to believe that a lone brigade would fare better?

- that attacks were not stopped from starting even when they were deemed to be hopeless and there was no actual gain expected. Which, as I was saying, seems to me like... well, take your pick between stupid, insane or borderline treason.

It's not even particularly controversial stuff. It's mainstream. You can even find support for the last two in the article Border Reiver linked, and I think he wasn't exactly trying to SUPPORT my point.
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Old 10th November 2017, 09:52 PM   #284
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Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
According to memoirs written many years later is probably closer to the truth.
I will refer you to "The Western Front 1914–1916" by Michael S Neiberg, page 168. Before even day 1, Rawlinson argued with Haig for more concentrated "bite and hold" attacks (which incidentally were the only thing that eventually worked before at Loos), but Haig insisted on a full frontal attack on the whole 16 miles width. Haig actually expected that he could take all that in one day and return to mobile warfare.

It seems to me like it's not just some later distortion, nor that he just conveniently remembered having some doubts that nobody else was told about. Rawlinson (who himself played a large part in the ensuing stupidity anyway, so I'm not building him up as a military genius or anything) actually voiced his concerns during planning the battle. And you know what? He was right on that issue and Haig was wrong. Bite and hold attacks worked better earlier, and would work much better later too.
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Old 10th November 2017, 10:05 PM   #285
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Originally Posted by Tolls View Post
This is nonsense.
There were no "rules" that said a battalion or brigade couldn't show initiative!
That's why on the first day of the Somme different divisions/brigades etc handled the pre-assault preparations (see my reference earlier about the southern sector using more saps and forward trenches).
Carrington was in no way disobeying orders.
AGAIN, it depends on the period. By September, YES, troops were told to show initiative and do whatever works. They even printed pamphlets to tell them to.

In July, NO. I will refer you to, for example, "Safeguard Our Flank: The Kensingtons" by Terence Kearey. One thing that actually Rawlinson had pushed for more than Haig himself (told you Rawlinson was no genius either) was his distrust of the resolve or ability of the Territorial army to work things out on their own, and thus the insistence on a rigid wave system and sticking to the plan. Rawlinson is also the one who most opposed the idea of night attacks.

So, yeah, infiltration during the previous night instead of attacking at the time you were told to? Nah, that guy totally wasn't following the orders he was given.
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Old 10th November 2017, 10:10 PM   #286
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For that matter, you only need to look on the same page of the same book, to find this bit of info that ties in with some silly claims I keep seeing here:
"In battle fatigues with normal webbig pouches for spare ammunition, tirailleurs (mobile shooters) can move independently to meet situations as they appear. If, as in this case, the forward troops are weighed down by carrying too much equipment, freedom and flexibility of movement is placed in jeopardy. Supporting troops can bring forward any extra equipment needed"
(My emphasis.)

So can we please lay down to rest the MADE UP silliness that, "oh noes, but it wasn't the forward troops carrying that weight"? Yes, it was. It says so point blank. No, it wasn't the support troops carrying that extra kit. It's in fact saying that that should have been the case. But it wasn't.

Basically one can't just make something up, based on nothing more than belief that they couldn't have done the insane thing. Yes, they actually did the stupid thing. That is the point.
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Old 11th November 2017, 08:14 PM   #287
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Originally Posted by Henri McPhee View Post

The Americans seem to have demanded a high price for their intervention, which eventually led to the collapse of the French and British Empire, as well as the German Empire. Somebody said recently on TV that Britain paid its last First World War debts to America of about a billion pounds in 2015.
That is correct.

Quote:
The government will repay the outstanding £1.9bn of debt from a 3.5% War Loan on 9 March 2015.
Ref: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30306579

The rest of the article is worth a read.
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Old 11th November 2017, 11:06 PM   #288
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No, it's not correct. That wasn't really for their entry into war, is it? It was just a case of the British and French borrowing like crazy to be able to continue their own war effort.

And when I say "like crazy", I mean the national debt in 1914 was £650 million. By 1019 it had grown to £7.4 billion. By way of comparison, the total GDP of Britain in 1919, was £5.4 billion.

And it was their own spending, not paying the Americans to enter the war or such. If you look at the government spending in, say, 1919, total government budget was 2,569.6 million pounds, and the defense spending was 2,199.2 million pounds. The UK's own defense spending was over 85% of the whole budget.

But that was after the war had ended. In 1918, the figures are more like this: defense 2,404.1 million, out of a total budget of 2,686.5 million, so defense was about 90% of the total government spending.

Source, here:
- https://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/p..._1918_UK_total
- https://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/p..._1919_UK_total

To put thinks into context, the about 2.4 billion that the UK spent on defense in 1918 is the equivalent of about 128.5 billion in 2017 money. Just in one year. Though probably the best comparison is that it was very nearly HALF THE GDP being spent on the war.

That wasn't going on paying the Americans to enter the war. That was to pay for all those millions of shells (some of which were manufactured by American private companies, who did expect to be paid), and those tanks, and the super-expensive Vicker machineguns earlier in the war, and all.

The Americans did no more to get the UK into debt than allow the UK to take loan after loan. I suppose as opposed to just giving then 7 billion in 1919 pounds. Which in 2017 money is 340 billion pounds. So, yeah, nobody's just gonna give you a third of a trillion pounds, without expecting you to pay back.

Blaming it on the Americans is like someone blaming it on the bank that their credit card is maxxed out.

I mean, I can see some sense in blaming it on the Germans or Austrians, but WTH, why blame the Americans?

Edit: NB, when I convert to 2017 pounds it's adjusted for inflation. If you want a more apt comparison to today's economy, what you want is adjusted for GDP growth. And then you have to multiply the numbers above by about 5.5. So, yeah, compared to the economy, it's more like borrowing very nearly 2 trillion pounds today.
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Old 13th November 2017, 04:05 AM   #289
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
AGAIN, it depends on the period. By September, YES, troops were told to show initiative and do whatever works. They even printed pamphlets to tell them to.

In July, NO. I will refer you to, for example, "Safeguard Our Flank: The Kensingtons" by Terence Kearey. One thing that actually Rawlinson had pushed for more than Haig himself (told you Rawlinson was no genius either) was his distrust of the resolve or ability of the Territorial army to work things out on their own, and thus the insistence on a rigid wave system and sticking to the plan. Rawlinson is also the one who most opposed the idea of night attacks.
And I will point out the 1st day of the Somme, where brigades were not required to jump off from the original forward trench.

Some did...some pushed saps out...some crawled into No Man's Land before the bombardment stopped.

As for night attacks, it didn't take him long to agree to them. I make it 2 weeks.

ETA: Also, they were New Army by this point by and large.
The Territorials had been fighting for over a year.
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Old 13th November 2017, 04:33 AM   #290
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Well, depends on what kind of night attacks we're talking about. At the very least, raids, yeah, you're right, they were pretty quick to warm up to that idea.

Edit: that said, I too would have expected them to have more doubts about the new army. Makes a lot more sense, doesn't it? But the book said that Rawlinson distrusted the territorial army. Go figure.
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Old 14th November 2017, 02:37 AM   #291
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Depends when the quote was from.
The Territorials were held with similar concern in 1915.

I have heard the distrust of the New Army for 1st July (one of the reasons for the suggestion of not rushing the German trenches so as not to lose cohesion), but not so much the Territorials. There was also the question of the quality of the officers as a lot of them had been rapidly promoted, and few had actually been through a battle.

Well, the 14th July was the one I was referring to. Generally considered the first big night attack. One in which Rawlinson (IIRC) had to convince Haig to allow it.
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Old 14th November 2017, 09:51 AM   #292
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There seemed to be similar disagreements about strategy in the Second World war with Montgomery and Alan Brooke proposing a concentrated thrust in northern Europe, while Eisenhower insisted on stretching all the armies along the line to Switzerland on a wide front. This resulted in the battle of the Bulge and the second Ardennes attack by Hitler. Patton seemed to be in disagreement with Eisenhower as well with regard to the Czechs.

There is an interesting article about Haig on the internet which does not seem to provide an author, but I must say I tend to agree with:

http://www.historynet.com/field-mars...st-general.htm
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Old 14th November 2017, 10:30 AM   #293
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I'm curious about this thread. Is the OP just trying to point out that "everyone was stonking stupid" or attempting to understand why particular bad decisions were made?
There are certainly certain actions that where mind numbingly stupid, Austria Hungary sending 3 200k armies one after another to freeze trying to rescue 100k troops and churchill suddenly thinking that forcing the dardanelles was possible.

But aside from those it is less easy to point out as blatant stupidity.

Weapon choices, with the french having to load individual cartridges into a tube magazine would seem like a worse mistake. The Lebel was outdated the year after it was introduced.
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Old 14th November 2017, 10:32 AM   #294
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Maybe, but jamming literally after 2-3 rounds is kinda a record. We're not talking stuff like some rifle which worked in the factory, but not in mud, or whatever. We're talking flat out failing to extract the spent cartridge before you finish the first burst, for the .30-06 version.
So does this mean that cartridge conversions of LMG's are easy or can really make a weapon non functional.
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Old 14th November 2017, 10:35 AM   #295
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Originally Posted by Henri McPhee View Post
There is an interesting article about Haig on the internet which does not seem to provide an author, but I must say I tend to agree with:

http://www.historynet.com/field-mars...st-general.htm
Can't think of Haig as the worst General when the likes of Luigi Cadorna operated in that war.
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Old 14th November 2017, 10:48 AM   #296
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Originally Posted by Henri McPhee View Post
There seemed to be similar disagreements about strategy in the Second World war with Montgomery and Alan Brooke proposing a concentrated thrust in northern Europe, while Eisenhower insisted on stretching all the armies along the line to Switzerland on a wide front. This resulted in the battle of the Bulge and the second Ardennes attack by Hitler. Patton seemed to be in disagreement with Eisenhower as well with regard to the Czechs.

There is an interesting article about Haig on the internet which does not seem to provide an author, but I must say I tend to agree with:

http://www.historynet.com/field-mars...st-general.htm
Rather ignorant article.

- It misses (already covered on this thread) that the fighting on the Somme saved the French at Verdun (and therefore the war)

- That Allied losses on the Somme were comparable to German

- Says that the British Army "he army he commanded—and had almost ruined—was, if not victorious, then plainly on the winning side"... that's a rather weak way of describing the Army that had done most of the work of defeating the German attacks in early 1918 and then during the Allied counter offensives later that year had engaged the majority of the German Army in the West, in their strongest positions, and captured as many prisoners as the French, Americans and Belgians combined.
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Old 14th November 2017, 10:52 AM   #297
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Originally Posted by ponderingturtle View Post
So does this mean that cartridge conversions of LMG's are easy or can really make a weapon non functional.
My take would be... both?

Thing is, there are THOUSANDS of successful calibre conversions around these days, for all sorts of weapons.

And there were hundreds before that. E.g., Mauser had no problems rechambering their C96 from a necked 7.63x25mm to 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Mauser, plus 8mm Gasser, 8.15mm Mauser, 7.62mm Tokarev, and even .45 ACP. (Ok, so the last 2 were China.) Even though the .45 ACP is NOTHING like the 7.62x25mm, and the 7.62mm Tokarev is even less like it. And I'm picking that one only because it's one of the first recoil-operated weapons that saw very successful rechamberings for rounds of wildly different powers.

You'd think that by the time Chauchat did the .30-06 version, the kinks would have been sorted out.

But if you have a bad design to start with, and make a piss-poor job of the conversion on top of it... yeah, it's still possible to screw up.
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Old 14th November 2017, 10:55 AM   #298
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Originally Posted by kookbreaker View Post
Can't think of Haig as the worst General when the likes of Luigi Cadorna operated in that war.
As I was saying, personally I would have voted Potiorek and von Hötzendorf for the top two worst generals. But, yeah, Cadorna is up there too. Good pick.
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Old 14th November 2017, 12:09 PM   #299
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
My take would be... both?

Thing is, there are THOUSANDS of successful calibre conversions around these days, for all sorts of weapons.

And there were hundreds before that. E.g., Mauser had no problems rechambering their C96 from a necked 7.63x25mm to 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Mauser, plus 8mm Gasser, 8.15mm Mauser, 7.62mm Tokarev, and even .45 ACP. (Ok, so the last 2 were China.) Even though the .45 ACP is NOTHING like the 7.62x25mm, and the 7.62mm Tokarev is even less like it. And I'm picking that one only because it's one of the first recoil-operated weapons that saw very successful rechamberings for rounds of wildly different powers.

You'd think that by the time Chauchat did the .30-06 version, the kinks would have been sorted out.
And you would think they wouldn't mess up the M16 by changing power type, saying it didn't need cleaning and not chrome plating the action. But they did all those things.

Given the numbers and the need, even it less effective than it might have been does not mean it wasn't the most important LMG in the war.

Hell they dealt with having magazines in the Ruby that couldn't be swapped between individual guns.

Any design or design changes will offer chances to screw things up or get them right. And that still happens now.
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Old 14th November 2017, 01:24 PM   #300
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Originally Posted by ponderingturtle View Post
And you would think they wouldn't mess up the M16 by changing power type, saying it didn't need cleaning and not chrome plating the action. But they did all those things.

Given the numbers and the need, even it less effective than it might have been does not mean it wasn't the most important LMG in the war.

Hell they dealt with having magazines in the Ruby that couldn't be swapped between individual guns.

Any design or design changes will offer chances to screw things up or get them right. And that still happens now.
You'll notice that what I was calling stupid isn't that someone made a mistake in the design. What I was calling stupid is that obviously nobody tested it.

Again, we're not talking about something that eventually fouls up after a few thousand rounds, nor something that just doesn't work well in mud (like the Canadians' Ross rifle), nor anything that has any excuse really. Even in the most ideal lab conditions, that thing would fail to extract or fail to chamber before you even finished the first magazine. In fact, quite often before you even finished a 3 round burst.

Look, I realize that sometimes screw ups happen in design. I really do. And I get it that some mistakes are only apparent after extensive use. But there's no excuse to not even finish shooting a magazine with the damned thing before putting it in mass production.


Incidentally, a lot of the planning screw ups I imputed to Haig and the like, would also have been avoided if anyone had actually CHECKED. E.g., if you claim that your barrage will destroy enough of the barbed wire so your troops won't bunch up in front of the machineguns, fer fork's sake, send a few people crawling into the no man's land at night to CHECK if it actually worked that way.

E.g., if you claim that your artillery barrage will kill most Germans, then fer fork's sake, ask a couple of prisoners if the rest of their unit is decimated yet. Because they had actually caught a few deserters and such, and while they did paint a bleak picture of the morale in the German trenches (although even that may have been self-selecting,) AFAIK nobody said "OMG, almost everyone else is dead." So how DOES one maintain an unshaken faith that by day 7 most germans will be dead, if there's no sign of that even starting to happen by day 5? Especially without allocating any extra shells for the last two days. WTH were all those Germans supposed to have suddenly died of in the last day before the attack, that didn't happen in the previous days? Of boredom?

It's not even something *I* came up with. There are enough historians making the exact same accusation, long before I even started having any interest in WW1.
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Old 15th November 2017, 02:45 AM   #301
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Originally Posted by kookbreaker View Post
Can't think of Haig as the worst General when the likes of Luigi Cadorna operated in that war.
I'm not saying Cadorna was a mental giant or anything, but he was quite limited in what he could do, whilst also being pressured by both his own politicians and the other allies to attack.

And there was really only one place that held any chance of success (minimal though it might have been), and that was towards Trieste, through the Isonzo.
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Old 15th November 2017, 02:59 AM   #302
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Well, pressure or not, Cadorna did manage to surprise everyone a couple of times. Like when he up and ran away when his army was under a massive attack, leaving the army to figure out for itself WTH to do
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Old 15th November 2017, 03:41 AM   #303
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, pressure or not, Cadorna did manage to surprise everyone a couple of times. Like when he up and ran away when his army was under a massive attack, leaving the army to figure out for itself WTH to do
Good old Caporetto...
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Old 15th November 2017, 09:03 AM   #304
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Originally Posted by Tolls View Post
I'm not saying Cadorna was a mental giant or anything, but he was quite limited in what he could do, whilst also being pressured by both his own politicians and the other allies to attack.

And there was really only one place that held any chance of success (minimal though it might have been), and that was towards Trieste, through the Isonzo.
He was a Martinet who thought that adding cruelty towards his troops was the key to winning. He failed any sort of innovation, he was given chances to outright win against the AHs and dropped the ball. I don't buy the 'pressure from back home' line. He failed at everything.
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Old 15th November 2017, 09:49 AM   #305
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Oh no, the man was a complete arse as well.
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Old 15th November 2017, 10:05 AM   #306
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WWI generals (and lots of other folk) do look stupid, and we find that quite often there are lots of people who were prepared to say, "Why are we doing this again?" And generally, the Monday morning quarterbacking might even be accurate. We especially find some things inexplicable when they result in people dying.

Popular culture often has a bigger effect on how we perceive things then facts do. Since the 20s we've been fed a lot of "the Lions led by Donkeys" bit in the English speaking world We get to look back and second guess what they did do and say, "Why didn't they take this course of action? It's so obvious that it would have yielded better results." What we aren't often asking is why did they take the action they did?

Let's not kid ourselves, some lessons get digested faster - particularly when the people that need to learn them have been doing things a very different way for 30 years. They need to learn multiple lessons that contradict their prior training and they need to learn them all at once. That doesn't happen very often. And quite often until you get the new ideas figured out, you get stuck with the options of:

A. We'll do this the way everyone is used to and can execute well, but aren't as effective;
B. We'll do this a new way, and hope that we can make it work, even though we aren't as well trained in this method yet; or
C. We'll wait and get everyone trained to do it the new way, despite very strong pressures to get something done NOW.

And then we get the pressure of "Is the other side learning these lessons faster then we are?" and "Is the lesson we learned here also applicable there?"
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Old 15th November 2017, 10:28 AM   #307
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Well, what I'm saying is that sometimes there's also the option:

D) Let's try what already worked at Loos just fine, with the troops we have, and my second in command begs to do it again, instead of trying again verbatim that which didn't work

E.g., bite and hold tactics. The frontal attack method is exactly what did not work at Loos, and in fact resulted in a complete massacre. 80% of the troops were dead in the first couple of hours. Bite and hold was what actually worked: letting the Germans get THEIR men killed trying to retake the Hohenzollern Redoubt.

Sometimes things aren't THAT new and totally unexpected, is all I'm saying. I mean, sure, some people learn quicker than others, and some slower, but learning and adapting quickly kinda is an indicator of intelligence.


And that goes double for the three stooges we've been arguing over which of them is the dumbest: Potiorek, von Hötzendorf, and Cadorna.

E.g., for Cadorna, really, running away in a battle and leaving his troops without a commanding officer -- especially when his second in command was unavailable too -- isn't even fitting your three choices. It was just... random, to say the least.
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Old 17th November 2017, 02:18 AM   #308
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I was thinking on this last night.
If you look at any war there are amazingly stupid actions, and very bad generalship all round. Even from generals that may be looked upon as at least reasonable.

So what is the difference with WW1? Well, I would say it's one of those periods in military history where technology and tactics combine to prevent quick results. Consequently, when you get something wrong you don't actually end up losing the war.

As an example, in WW2 the French deployed a couple of rubbish third line divisions in front of the Ardennes. They had no anti tank kit, and so were overrun by the German armoured thrust through that area. In WW1 this would not have mattered so much (similar things happened in August/September 1914) as the attacker simply could not exploit the gap in any meaningful way. So what was a war loser (give or take) in one war was simply "something that happened" in the other.

So in WW1 we seem to get more of these happening because it was simply impossible for one side or the other to actually take advantage of these errors, or missteps.

Then that made me think of rubbish generals of WW2. And I had a field day. The entire (and I mean the entire) Japanese command structure, for example. I'm not entirely sure there's more than a couple of sane generals or admirals in the lot. They were pretty much all delusional.

An awful lot of the German commanders as well. Rommel's inability to take on board his supply situation, and how it would pretty much prevent him taking Egypt, as an example.

For the allies? Well, how much of the Soviet command survived 1941, or even 1940?

And my favourite...MacArthur.

I won't go into British issues...that might take too long.

And the French were led by a 19th century cretin.

I ought to dig out my stuff on 16th and 17th century warfare, as that was a similar period in which there was a force imbalance between offense and defense. Both on the battlefield and when it came to fortifications.
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Old 17th November 2017, 03:01 AM   #309
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Originally Posted by Tolls View Post
I was thinking on this last night.
If you look at any war there are amazingly stupid actions, and very bad generalship all round. Even from generals that may be looked upon as at least reasonable.

So what is the difference with WW1? Well, I would say it's one of those periods in military history where technology and tactics combine to prevent quick results. Consequently, when you get something wrong you don't actually end up losing the war.

As an example, in WW2 the French deployed a couple of rubbish third line divisions in front of the Ardennes. They had no anti tank kit, and so were overrun by the German armoured thrust through that area. In WW1 this would not have mattered so much (similar things happened in August/September 1914) as the attacker simply could not exploit the gap in any meaningful way. So what was a war loser (give or take) in one war was simply "something that happened" in the other.

So in WW1 we seem to get more of these happening because it was simply impossible for one side or the other to actually take advantage of these errors, or missteps.

Then that made me think of rubbish generals of WW2. And I had a field day. The entire (and I mean the entire) Japanese command structure, for example. I'm not entirely sure there's more than a couple of sane generals or admirals in the lot. They were pretty much all delusional.

An awful lot of the German commanders as well. Rommel's inability to take on board his supply situation, and how it would pretty much prevent him taking Egypt, as an example.

For the allies? Well, how much of the Soviet command survived 1941, or even 1940?

And my favourite...MacArthur.

I won't go into British issues...that might take too long.

And the French were led by a 19th century cretin.

I ought to dig out my stuff on 16th and 17th century warfare, as that was a similar period in which there was a force imbalance between offense and defense. Both on the battlefield and when it came to fortifications.
highlighted

Not very many. That is sure.
The soviets though had one good idea (for certain values of good idea) concerning a major war and it stood them in good ground even when the generals, soldiers and weapons were not all that they could be at various times during WWII).

Their lesson learned from the Great War was that a future war would be an attritional war and they wholly prepared for that.

By their caculations a frontline army (and in this I mean the entire army, not the 'army orgenization of several corps') would be able to be deployed and used for some 8-10 weeks (12 if you're lucky). After that it is basicly gone and you have to replace it more or less completely.

That is why the Soviets could stop the Germans before Moscow. Because they had the reserves ready to replace the army they just lost in the opening weeks of Barbarossa. Granted. The materiel of that army would be defective in numbers because of all the losses for the foreseeable time, but at least they could replace and keep replacing.

Cynical way of looking at a future war, for sure. But exactly the kind they in the end needed.
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Old 17th November 2017, 03:21 AM   #310
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And that attritional war was exactly what happened in 14-18, only without the mobility that the following war possessed.

I think I've said this before (I lose track ), but when looking at WW1 compared to WW2 you need to look at the Eastern Front in the second war, and then think what it would have been like with tanks that could only manage a few miles (if lucky) before breaking down, and aircraft made of paper.
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Old 17th November 2017, 03:53 AM   #311
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Originally Posted by Tolls View Post
<snip>
Then that made me think of rubbish generals of WW2. And I had a field day. The entire (and I mean the entire) Japanese command structure, for example. I'm not entirely sure there's more than a couple of sane generals or admirals in the lot. They were pretty much all delusional.
<snip>
If you ever want a good read on the subject the book Midway the Japanese Story by Mitsuo Fuchida & Masatake Okumiya is a real eye opener. It is not that the Japanese were no good, it was their view of the world that was wrong.

Example. In any air force at the start of a conflict you will have some pilots who are vastly superior to other pilots. What do you do with them? The Japanese put them in the front line where they did huge amounts of damage to the enemy. Trouble is, no matter how good they were, it was war. They were slowly killed off. Result the Japanese had no good pilots. The Americans, on the other hand, sent them to train other pilots. Result: A lot of these were killed, but they were replaced with other pilots trained by these same superior pilots. Result: The Americans never ran out of pilots.

Example. During exercises a junior officer messed up. This would be witnessed by more senior officers. In Japan these senior officers would say nothing because that would mean the junior officer would lose face.
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Old 17th November 2017, 04:44 AM   #312
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
If you ever want a good read on the subject the book Midway the Japanese Story by Mitsuo Fuchida & Masatake Okumiya is a real eye opener. It is not that the Japanese were no good, it was their view of the world that was wrong.

Example. In any air force at the start of a conflict you will have some pilots who are vastly superior to other pilots. What do you do with them? The Japanese put them in the front line where they did huge amounts of damage to the enemy. Trouble is, no matter how good they were, it was war. They were slowly killed off. Result the Japanese had no good pilots. The Americans, on the other hand, sent them to train other pilots. Result: A lot of these were killed, but they were replaced with other pilots trained by these same superior pilots. Result: The Americans never ran out of pilots.

Example. During exercises a junior officer messed up. This would be witnessed by more senior officers. In Japan these senior officers would say nothing because that would mean the junior officer would lose face.
BTW: Same difference between British and German approaches. British periodically pulled experienced pilots from frontline to train reserves and have some R&R, while Germans kept them on frontline.

Same outcome.
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Old 17th November 2017, 06:32 AM   #313
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One of the main differences between WWI and the wars of the previous say 50 years was simply the rapid expansion of forces - those were pretty much "come as you are" wars. Wars were fought with the forces a nation had on hand, with the materiel that the nation had stockpiled prior and could produce during the conflict. One of the main reasons everyone was saying, "it'll all be over by Christmas." is that pretty much EVERY war fought by major European powers did not require the mass mobilization of soldiers - the ACW fought half a century before was the most recent experience of that nature - and those wars were fought against militaries where a major power imbalance generally existed and the lesser power would lose, recognize they couldn't pull out a victory, and dealt with the political fall out.

WWI saw a rapid expansion of military forces and an exponential increase in the need for materiel. Part of that "were they really that stupid" is simple inexperience of dealing with the current issues of supply, personnel, etc at the needed scale. You ended up with people commanding formations of several hundred thousand troops who prior to this were dealing with 3 to 5,000 or at the lower end with those newly mobilized reserves - the shopkeeper who had been a junior militia officer in charge of 20 people twice a month for a weekend and for 2 weeks in August, now found himself the newly promoted Captain in charge of 150 raw soldiers. As it was said earlier - the learning curve was steep and not everything was learned at once.

This was seen again in WWII, but with the greater mobility of that war, the attritional nature of the war wasn't as evident as it was in WWI.
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Old 17th November 2017, 06:56 AM   #314
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Originally Posted by Tolls View Post
And that attritional war was exactly what happened in 14-18, only without the mobility that the following war possessed.

I think I've said this before (I lose track ), but when looking at WW1 compared to WW2 you need to look at the Eastern Front in the second war, and then think what it would have been like with tanks that could only manage a few miles (if lucky) before breaking down, and aircraft made of paper.
Yep. And an attritional war is the only kind you can get if you have two industrial states/state blocks, that go against each other and each of which has decided to not stop until victory is achieved.

You try to fight as efficient as possible (that is where tactics and strategy comes into play), but in the end, you can only win if you still have resources (men, material) left when the enemy runs out of his.
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Old 17th November 2017, 07:12 AM   #315
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Originally Posted by Klimax View Post
BTW: Same difference between British and German approaches. British periodically pulled experienced pilots from frontline to train reserves and have some R&R, while Germans kept them on frontline.

Same outcome.
It's not just pilots. Germans never rotated their infantry either, with the net result that by the end of for example Verdun, for everyone it looked like death is just a matter of time, and morale was predictably hitting rock bottom.
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Old 17th November 2017, 07:24 AM   #316
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
It's not just pilots. Germans never rotated their infantry either, with the net result that by the end of for example Verdun, for everyone it looked like death is just a matter of time, and morale was predictably hitting rock bottom.
True. Very true. But there's another side to that coin.

The French did rotate their units more and this certainly helped with morale on the Verdun battlefield itself. It did mean though, that vastly more Frenchmen went through the hell of Verdun than did German soldiers, which did not help the morale of the rest of the French army. This was one reason why the 1917 French army mutinies were so widespread when they did happen. An issue the Germans did not have at this moment of the war.
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Old 17th November 2017, 08:09 AM   #317
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I am currently researching and recording members of my family born in the 1890 to early 1910s as part of a project to get as complete a tree of descendants of my great^4-grandfather as I can. It is downright heartbreaking to read all the obituaries of young men fallen in either WW1 (usually unmarried) or WW2 (often married with children), while their parents sometimes survived into the 1940s and 50s. This contrasts greatly with the 19th century, where nobody fell in wars, neither the Napoleonic nor 1870/71. Three or four had died while in the military, but from desease or accident, not war. (Seems like the environment of regiments posed a real public health problem, for mortality overall was very low for 20- and 30-somethings. This is reporting from today's Belgian, then Prussian, canton of St. Vith). I report this just to provide some close to the heart impact the unprecedented scale of the new wars must have had on national psyches and morales.
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Old 17th November 2017, 08:26 AM   #318
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
It's not just pilots. Germans never rotated their infantry either, with the net result that by the end of for example Verdun, for everyone it looked like death is just a matter of time, and morale was predictably hitting rock bottom.
The other "interesting" part of this was that the experienced German tank crews were kept together in the same vehicle as much as possible. While this leads to good crews with an excellent knowledge of their machine, it also meant that it was the new crews that got the newest (and most survivable) vehicles with all the issues that entailed.
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Old 17th November 2017, 09:17 AM   #319
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Can I just say how much I’m enjoying this thread? There’s a big WW1 shaped hole in my knowledge of military history and I’m learning a lot here.
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Old 17th November 2017, 01:04 PM   #320
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Originally Posted by malbui View Post
Can I just say how much I’m enjoying this thread? There’s a big WW1 shaped hole in my knowledge of military history and I’m learning a lot here.
+1

Many thanks to all.
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