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Old 3rd November 2017, 08:23 PM   #81
HansMustermann
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I'm not sure it was enough even for the Bewegungskrieg they had in mind. Never mind that I'm not sure why they expected that to work either, but ok. As was said, they ran out of them in weeks. I'm not sure in what imaginary universe that's enough time to deal with both France AND Russia.

As for logistics officers planning for failure, the point is rather that you should plan to have some reserves. Precisely so it doesn't end in failure.
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Old 3rd November 2017, 09:42 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
A big myth is that the stalemate was due to trenches with machine guns being impregnable. They weren't (at least not after the very early war).
Yeah, no, it wasn't COMPLETELY impregnable even in early war. Strangely enough, that STILL brings me back in its own to my thesis that people were stonking stupid.

Well, or rather, I should say, the common soldier probably wasn't. But when they're commanded by Lord X and Baron Y, who were officers more by virtue of being born in a traditional aristocratic family (at least in Austria Hungary, anyway, though some other countries as well) than by virtue of showing ANY actual talent or intellect... yeah, the price was paid in common soldiers' blood for the idiocy of those inbred aristocrats commanding them.

But I digress. Let's return to how the fact that they COULD break through machinegun lines STILL illustrates that they were commanded by bloody idjits.

You know what the problem was? Nobody had a frikken plan for WHAT NEXT. Ok, you broke the line, you routed the hun, NOW WHAT? Well, they had about as much plan for that, as a dog chasing a car has a plan for what to do with it if it actually catches one.

I mean take one of the first instances where that happened -- and back to intelligence being the ability to learn: it wouldn't be the last -- like Neuve Chapelle in early 1915. The British actually break the German line, rout the Huns, and then gloriously -- GLORIOUSLY, I say! -- just sit and wait for further orders for a whole 8 (EIGHT!) hours, while the Germans regroup and form a new defensive line.

Because they literally had as much plan for what to do if they break the line, as said dog has for what to do after he catches himself a car. I.e., not the faintest.


And I'm not just picking on the Brits, mind you. Cadorna, after the previously mentioned Austro-Italian screw-up championship, actually routs the Austrians and breaks through. The heartland of the Austro-Hungarian Empire lies before him undefended. Here's his real chance to do what many only dreamed of, namely knock Austria-Hungary clean out of the war. It's glorious. GLORIOUS, I say.

But, you guessed, he has no clue what to do next, so he just stays put.
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Old 3rd November 2017, 09:50 PM   #83
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But really, here's another example of stonking stupidity, that has nothing to do with new weapons, being prepared for the previous war, or anything. It just has to do with the common sense idea that if you say a piece of equipment does X, then BLOODY TEST IT and make sure it actually does it.

The Canadians, just so I offend them too, start the war with a cleverly designed spade with a hole in it. Now here's the clever idea. You could half-fold it and stick it in the ground with a provided spike, so it forms a small upright shield with a hole in it. Then you go prone, put your rifle through it, and shoot at the enemy while being protected from his fire.

Pure GENIUS... except for the fact that it doesn't work either as a shield, nor as a spade.

It's too heavy for a start. But, and this is the cute part, it's still not thick enough to stop even a glancing blow from a rifle bullet. And because the hole has a bevel fo you to rest your rifle on, it sucks hairy ass for digging too.

Again, this has sweet FA to do with new weapons, or anything. That thing wouldn't stop anything between the first muskets and 1914 rifles. (It might stop an early arquebus, though, if you found yourself travelling back in time some 4 centuries.) It's just that someone ordered whole tons of those, without first testing that it works EITHER to stop bullets or to dig a trench, let alone BOTH.

How's that not stupid?

I mean, it's not even a revolutionary new idea to adapt to. Even in the frikken late middle ages, if you claimed that piece of kit could stop a bullet, you had to actually test and show that it actually does. We have literally hundreds of brestplates and helmets in museums, whery you can see that the test was made by actually shooting at it. Yet fast forward some centuries, and that common sense idea apparently gets forgotten.
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Old 3rd November 2017, 10:22 PM   #84
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Yeah, no, it wasn't COMPLETELY impregnable even in early war. Strangely enough, that STILL brings me back in its own to my thesis that people were stonking stupid.

Well, or rather, I should say, the common soldier probably wasn't. But when they're commanded by Lord X and Baron Y, who were officers more by virtue of being born in a traditional aristocratic family (at least in Austria Hungary, anyway, though some other countries as well) than by virtue of showing ANY actual talent or intellect... yeah, the price was paid in common soldiers' blood for the idiocy of those inbred aristocrats commanding them.

But I digress. Let's return to how the fact that they COULD break through machinegun lines STILL illustrates that they were commanded by bloody idjits.

You know what the problem was? Nobody had a frikken plan for WHAT NEXT. Ok, you broke the line, you routed the hun, NOW WHAT? Well, they had about as much plan for that, as a dog

I mean take one of the first instances where that happened -- and back to intelligence being the ability to learn: it wouldn't be the last -- like Neuve Chapelle in early 1915. The British actually break the German line, rout the Huns, and then gloriously -- GLORIOUSLY, I say! -- just sit and wait for further orders for a whole 8 (EIGHT!) hours, while the Germans regroup and form a new defensive line.

Because they literally had as much plan for what to do if they break the line, as said dog has for what to do after he catches himself a car. I.e., not the faintest.


And I'm not just picking on the Brits, mind you. Cadorna, after the previously mentioned Austro-Italian screw-up championship, actually routs the Austrians and breaks through. The heartland of the Austro-Hungarian Empire lies before him undefended. Here's his real chance to do what many only dreamed of, namely knock Austria-Hungary clean out of the war. It's glorious. GLORIOUS, I say.

But, you guessed, he has no clue what to do next, so he just stays put.
Two things: the wait of 8 hours... That's due to the communication and exploitation issue I talked about earlier... Because the commander can't issue pre-battle orders "keep advancing until you get to Berlin " he has to see how/with what the Germans can respond and how neighboring units can keep pace or support the advance.

Secondly, regarding the baron this and lord that "idjits" in command. Did you know that the head of the British army, Robertson, was the son of a tailor, had early jobs as a garden boy and footman before joining the army (as a ranker, not an officer) before rising all the way on merit?
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Old 4th November 2017, 12:44 AM   #85
Eddie Dane
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But really, here's another example of stonking stupidity, that has nothing to do with new weapons, being prepared for the previous war, or anything. It just has to do with the common sense idea that if you say a piece of equipment does X, then BLOODY TEST IT and make sure it actually does it.

The Canadians, just so I offend them too, start the war with a cleverly designed spade with a hole in it. Now here's the clever idea. You could half-fold it and stick it in the ground with a provided spike, so it forms a small upright shield with a hole in it. Then you go prone, put your rifle through it, and shoot at the enemy while being protected from his fire.

Pure GENIUS... except for the fact that it doesn't work either as a shield, nor as a spade.

It's too heavy for a start. But, and this is the cute part, it's still not thick enough to stop even a glancing blow from a rifle bullet. And because the hole has a bevel fo you to rest your rifle on, it sucks hairy ass for digging too.

Again, this has sweet FA to do with new weapons, or anything. That thing wouldn't stop anything between the first muskets and 1914 rifles. (It might stop an early arquebus, though, if you found yourself travelling back in time some 4 centuries.) It's just that someone ordered whole tons of those, without first testing that it works EITHER to stop bullets or to dig a trench, let alone BOTH.

How's that not stupid?

I mean, it's not even a revolutionary new idea to adapt to. Even in the frikken late middle ages, if you claimed that piece of kit could stop a bullet, you had to actually test and show that it actually does. We have literally hundreds of brestplates and helmets in museums, whery you can see that the test was made by actually shooting at it. Yet fast forward some centuries, and that common sense idea apparently gets forgotten.
OK, this deserves a Dilbert cartoon.
I can totally see the pointy-haired boss present this spade in a meeting.
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Old 4th November 2017, 01:12 AM   #86
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Two things: the wait of 8 hours... That's due to the communication and exploitation issue I talked about earlier... Because the commander can't issue pre-battle orders "keep advancing until you get to Berlin " he has to see how/with what the Germans can respond and how neighboring units can keep pace or support the advance.
Which is fair for the men actually waiting for the orders there, BUT it just begs for the question: then why the eff send them in the first place? If there is no sane way to react in time to a breakthrough, then why send men to die to make one? What's the point?

Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Secondly, regarding the baron this and lord that "idjits" in command. Did you know that the head of the British army, Robertson, was the son of a tailor, had early jobs as a garden boy and footman before joining the army (as a ranker, not an officer) before rising all the way on merit?
You'll notice that I mentioned the Austro-Hungarians there.

But, fair is fair, and I'll admit when I'm wrong. The common folk obviously also had more than enough of their own idiots, morons, half-wits, nitwits, dimwits, nincompoops, dullards, dolts, dunces, lunkheads, fools, imbeciles, knuckleheads, boneheads, cretins and dolts to fill any position in an army where the brain-dead promote the brain-damaged.

Edit: hmm, now that I think of it some more, in an army where the median age of death for an officer was around 30, thanks to the continuous colonial warfare and other such factors, going into the army when you didn't HAVE to (e.g., due to some arristocratic traditions expecting you to become an officer) is kind of a test of intelligence, innit? It's a bit self-selecting. I mean, gee, you could live into your sixties by being a gardener, or you could go into the army and maybe see your thirties. I can see how a certain lack of wit may be required to make the latter seem better than the former
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Old 4th November 2017, 01:27 AM   #87
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Two things: the wait of 8 hours... That's due to the communication and exploitation issue I talked about earlier... Because the commander can't issue pre-battle orders "keep advancing until you get to Berlin " he has to see how/with what the Germans can respond and how neighboring units can keep pace or support the advance.

Secondly, regarding the baron this and lord that "idjits" in command. Did you know that the head of the British army, Robertson, was the son of a tailor, had early jobs as a garden boy and footman before joining the army (as a ranker, not an officer) before rising all the way on merit?
Again this is an example of how stupid they were. They had radios even in the early part of WW1. It should have taken them only an hour or so for reports to get to the generals and orders to be sent back to the front. But the troops should have had plenty of targets to hit so no real need for the generals to issue many orders.
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Old 4th November 2017, 01:55 AM   #88
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I wouldn't be so sure about radios, but you know what they had plenty of in 1915? Observation balloons. It wasn't even something new like the radio or the airplane recon. It had been used since literally the 18'th century.

And in 1915, they had telegraph. Literally they had a wire running down the tether of the balloon, so the observer could tell the guys down there in real time what's happening.

Yet at that point they were only used as artillery spotters. The notion to also use them so the general knows immediately that the guys at Neuve Chapelle had made a breakthrough hadn't occurred to anyone.


But, as I was saying, not thinking of that is not even the reason I call them stupid. The reason I call them stupid is that they sent some men to die to make a breakthrough, while having NO plan for what to do if they actually do break through. If you don't actually have the communications, the troops, the logistics, etc, to actually exploit it, then why make one at all?

A breakthrough isn't an END, it's a MEAN. If you don't have a sane END for that move, then WTH are those guys dying for?

It's like a gambit where you sacrifice a piece in chess. It's not an END, it's a MEAN. You only do it when you know what you're trying to achieve if it works. Otherwise you just lost a piece for no good reason. And that's stupid.
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Old 4th November 2017, 03:56 AM   #89
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
1. Yes, it was, but mostly during the actual pushes and a lot less during just staying in the trench and waiting for the artillery shells to destroy the barbed wire. Especially since we're talking Somme, more than a year after the introduction of the Brodie helmet.

So, yeah, during the days I called "padding", there were only SOME deaths by artillery. I'm actually quite confident in calling it only "some" during those days. Only during the actual attacks there were a LOT of deaths by artillery.

2. We were talking about specifically the British deaths at the Somme. Where the artillery bombardment was heavier on the Germans than on the Brits.
Tell that to the Australians buried at Pozieres.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle..._Pozi.C3.A8res
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Old 4th November 2017, 04:01 AM   #90
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
This.

Lets look at the Imperial forces (British in the common tongue, but really this applied to the Indian Army, ANZACs, South Africans, Canadians, etc.).

What was the last war of significance that the Imperial forces had fought? The Boer War (1898-1902) with two significant phases.

What lessons had the British learned?

a. Long range rifle fire can be devastating to bodies of troops when you are not able to respond effectively. Solutions - better quality control at the rifle factories; adoption of a universal short rifle for all branches (Canada took a slightly different lesson out of this and equipped its soldiers with what was a superb long range target rifle); adoption of loose order tactics very similar to modern fire and movement
b. Logistics win - control the railways, control the enemy's food distribution network and they will eventually give in.
c. Direct fire artillery in support of infantry attacks is still valid - artillery is mostly light and intended to be used in a direct fire role at the start of WWI
d. Cavalry is in reality mounted infantry - there is still a use for cavalry but it's not what it was when the generals were Lts
e. Lower level commanders need flexibility - granted this hadn't filtered down to the NCO level by WWI, but officers are given leeway to interpret the way to achieve their objectives, where conditions permit
f. The Australians don't like it when you execute their soldiers.
Indeed.
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Old 4th November 2017, 05:33 AM   #91
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Again this is an example of how stupid they were. They had radios even in the early part of WW1. It should have taken them only an hour or so for reports to get to the generals and orders to be sent back to the front. But the troops should have had plenty of targets to hit so no real need for the generals to issue many orders.
What are you talking about?

Radios in WWI were not man-portable walkie-talkie things. They were large, heavy and fragile. A unit could not simply carry one with them and radio around like they're talking on a mobile phone.

This is the type of thing they had to contend with:

https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/m.../main_1200.jpg
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Old 4th November 2017, 05:51 AM   #92
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Originally Posted by Damien Evans View Post
Tell that to the Australians buried at Pozieres.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle..._Pozi.C3.A8res
I'll tell it to whoever you wish. The fact is, at the Somme 90% of the British casualties were caused by bullets, mostly machineguns. Artillery is somewhere in that 10%. Once you subtract the days of actual attacks on the Germans, the probability to be killed by artillery if you were a Brit at the Somme were very low indeeded.

It's kinda funny how everyone accuses me of not knowing history, but I don't see many others have more than the occasional bit of trivia or generality in their arguments. Like 'oh noes, but over the WHOLE WAR, the casualties for the GERMANS, were over 50% done by artillery.' Sure, but if we're talking specifically the Somme and Brits, is it so hard to at least google the actual numbers for that one if one wants to make an argument?

Or emotional appeals like the dead Aussies. Well, sure, my heart bleeds for them, but how about some numbers or anything else than just emotion?
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Old 4th November 2017, 06:18 AM   #93
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But ok, since we somehow got stuck at Somme, like 100 years ago let's talk Somme and stupidity.

The expectation, or at least what the infantry was told, was that an unprecedented artillery barrage would destroy the Germans before the soldiers even go over the top. But whoever came up with that idea (probably Haig) had no rational reason to believe that that would be the case. In fact, it takes a remarkable lack of intelligence -- as in, ability to learn -- to come up with that conclusion.

While the number of guns was higher than at, say, Loos, the front line was also MUCH wider. The density of guns per mile was in fact almost the same as at Loos and a couple of other places.

To put it in cold hard numbers, at Loos they had 376 guns for 11,000 yards of front line, for a little over 29 yards of front line per gun. At the Somme, they had a little over 1000 guns for 25,000 yards of front line, which boils down to around 25 yards of front line per gun. The increase was already simply not enough to give one delusions of "oh noes, this times they'll totally do what they couldn't at Loos and then some."

But it gets better. Because of the larger DEPTH of the trench system, actually the density of shells per square whatever-unit-you-favour was actually HALVED. So essentially already you had a smaller density of shells per surface than at Loos.

But it gets better. At Loos, the artillery was tasked primarily with targetting the barbed wire and trenches, full time. At the Somme, they really only did that for 2 days of the 7 day opening barrage. Not only it's not enough to destroy the barbed wire, but it even leaves the Germans a few days to recover and reinforce their trenches right back.

Already that assumption of having more artillery punch than ever before is starting to look very unfounded for anyone who was able to learn from VERY recent history. Which obviously didn't include Haig.

But now let's talk logistics. Because, as I was saying, ultimately those are what makes or breaks a plan.

No less than two thirds of the shells allocated for the task are shrapnel shells, not the high explosive shells needed to destroy barbed wire or even deep dugouts. So essentially out of that already lower density of shells per surface, and less days of shelling the actual barbed wire and front trenches, you can divide by roughly 3 to get the number of shells that would really do anything to the barbed wire.

On the 5'th day of the shelling, it is agreed to continue shelling for another 2 days. BUT, and that's the cute bit, no extra shells are given to the artillery for those two extra days. Someone makes a change to the plan (*cough* Haig *cough*) but completely forgets to even pretend to give a flip about the logistics for it.

Etc.

Does it sound stupid yet? Because it sure does to me.

As I was saying intelligence -- the mental kind, not the espionage kind -- is the ability to learn, and to apply what you've learned. Yet I don't see much learning happening before the Somme. In fact, I see some claims made by those in charge, based on nothing more than wishful thinking and on IGNORING recent battles. There was no way that a RATIONAL analysis, based on actual recent data, would have reached that conclusion.
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Old 4th November 2017, 06:25 AM   #94
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
What are you talking about?

Radios in WWI were not man-portable walkie-talkie things. They were large, heavy and fragile. A unit could not simply carry one with them and radio around like they're talking on a mobile phone.

This is the type of thing they had to contend with:

https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/m.../main_1200.jpg
The caption which goes with that is interesting:

Quote:
A German communications squad behind the Western front, setting up using a tandem bicycle power generator to power a light radio station in September of 1917. #
https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/20.../507305/#img04
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Old 4th November 2017, 07:58 AM   #95
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But really, here's another example of stonking stupidity, that has nothing to do with new weapons, being prepared for the previous war, or anything. It just has to do with the common sense idea that if you say a piece of equipment does X, then BLOODY TEST IT and make sure it actually does it.

The Canadians, just so I offend them too, start the war with a cleverly designed spade with a hole in it. Now here's the clever idea. You could half-fold it and stick it in the ground with a provided spike, so it forms a small upright shield with a hole in it. Then you go prone, put your rifle through it, and shoot at the enemy while being protected from his fire.

Pure GENIUS... except for the fact that it doesn't work either as a shield, nor as a spade.

It's too heavy for a start. But, and this is the cute part, it's still not thick enough to stop even a glancing blow from a rifle bullet. And because the hole has a bevel fo you to rest your rifle on, it sucks hairy ass for digging too.

Again, this has sweet FA to do with new weapons, or anything. That thing wouldn't stop anything between the first muskets and 1914 rifles. (It might stop an early arquebus, though, if you found yourself travelling back in time some 4 centuries.) It's just that someone ordered whole tons of those, without first testing that it works EITHER to stop bullets or to dig a trench, let alone BOTH.

How's that not stupid?
It is stupid. It's called "political corruption" as the person who sold the idea to the Minister of Militia was his secretary.

And it's the reason the Canadians were saddled with the Ross Rifle. The Minister of Militia was an officer who had served in South Africa and figured out that long range marksmanship was very effective. Then he met the mad Scot and long range shooting afficiando Sir Charles Ross who had developed a really good long range rifle. The Minister got this rifle selected, because it fit his ideas of what a military rifle should do (be able to shoot people 500+ yards away) and because of licensing issues for the production of Lee Enfield SMLEs in Canada. Throw in some nascent national pride in "designed and made in Canada for Canadians" and you've got a sure fire recipe for less then optimal kit.
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Old 4th November 2017, 08:08 AM   #96
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As an aside, one book which convinced me that a lot of the myths of WWI were valid was "Mud, Blood, and Poppycock" by Gordon Corrigan, who was arguing the opposite.

A post from 2007 on this:


Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
sacket, you'd "love" "Mud, Blood and Poppycock" by Gordon Corrigan.

It overturns several myths about WWI.

The first day of the Somme offensive was not a pointless waste of 20,000 allied lives, despite the fact that no ground was captured. This was because the BEF had been destroyed as a fighting force, so raw, semitrained troops could only walk towards the machine guns. It was the only option, and thus not pointless. (IIRC)

It was a myth that the slaughter was massive, after all 75% of British troops in the Somme were not killed or injured.

Only 12% of all french men born in 1899 were killed in the war.

Of the 8-million British Empire (?) troops mobilised during the war "only" 1 milion were killed or disabled*

*the figures seem high for mobilisation, but the fraction was right, and he was arguing that this showed how benign it was compared to the myths.

I seem to recall some statistics, which he claimed showed how great a chance for survival there was, and you would have been better off playing russian roulette once.

This might have been a slightly harsh review from my recollection of the book (borrowed, not bought), but a quick google search shows me that others think similarly....


"A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam" by Neil Sheehan is a history book that is well worth the read; a biography of an outstandingly brave, able, humane, mysogonistic general...

Jim
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Old 4th November 2017, 08:13 AM   #97
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I'll tell it to whoever you wish. The fact is, at the Somme 90% of the British casualties were caused by bullets, mostly machineguns. Artillery is somewhere in that 10%. Once you subtract the days of actual attacks on the Germans, the probability to be killed by artillery if you were a Brit at the Somme were very low indeeded.

It's kinda funny how everyone accuses me of not knowing history, but I don't see many others have more than the occasional bit of trivia or generality in their arguments. Like 'oh noes, but over the WHOLE WAR, the casualties for the GERMANS, were over 50% done by artillery.' Sure, but if we're talking specifically the Somme and Brits, is it so hard to at least google the actual numbers for that one if one wants to make an argument?

Or emotional appeals like the dead Aussies. Well, sure, my heart bleeds for them, but how about some numbers or anything else than just emotion?
Right I'm asking for a source or calling BS
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Old 4th November 2017, 08:17 AM   #98
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I wouldn't be so sure about radios, but you know what they had plenty of in 1915? Observation balloons. It wasn't even something new like the radio or the airplane recon. It had been used since literally the 18'th century.

And in 1915, they had telegraph. Literally they had a wire running down the tether of the balloon, so the observer could tell the guys down there in real time what's happening.

Yet at that point they were only used as artillery spotters. The notion to also use them so the general knows immediately that the guys at Neuve Chapelle had made a breakthrough hadn't occurred to anyone.


But, as I was saying, not thinking of that is not even the reason I call them stupid. The reason I call them stupid is that they sent some men to die to make a breakthrough, while having NO plan for what to do if they actually do break through. If you don't actually have the communications, the troops, the logistics, etc, to actually exploit it, then why make one at all?

A breakthrough isn't an END, it's a MEAN. If you don't have a sane END for that move, then WTH are those guys dying for?

It's like a gambit where you sacrifice a piece in chess. It's not an END, it's a MEAN. You only do it when you know what you're trying to achieve if it works. Otherwise you just lost a piece for no good reason. And that's stupid.
Maybe the idiot generals stupidly thought that since they had aircraft with like cameras and stuff they could fly right over the front line and report back what they saw, unlike an observation balloon which is in a static position many miles back and not really in a good position to conduct battlefield surveillance.

I don't know what the stupid idiots actually thought. But I'd guess they thought something like the above. In their ignorance.

..............

And this is your interpretation of Neuve Chappelle? That no one had even thought about contingencies for a breakthrough?

Do you actually wonder why people are saying you don't know your history?

Hans, Booby, you are betraying an astonishing ignorance of the subject matter.
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Old 4th November 2017, 08:34 AM   #99
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post

Hans, Booby, you are betraying an astonishing ignorance of the subject matter.
I'm calling Poe. It has to be a Poe.
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Old 4th November 2017, 09:46 AM   #100
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Conserving manpower is an important part of warfare. But so is expending manpower. And there are other important things as well. Location. Timeliness. Morale. Simple body count is never the whole story.

Which I think is the problem with a lot of the complaints you've raised. You've taken complex events and tried to reduce them down to a single simple factor selected ahead of time to support your predetermined conclusion.

I'd be much more interested in considering your premise that stupid decisions were made, if you were actually considering the decisions in context and in detail. Right now the entire thrust of your commentary is simplistic and dismissive. It doesn't seem to acknowledge or adjust for new information.
HAHAHAHAHA!
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Old 4th November 2017, 10:15 AM   #101
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It seems to be widely accepted that the Kaiser himself was batty. Isn't one of his quotes (upon being informed of casualty statistics) "That's what young men are for"?
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Old 4th November 2017, 11:15 AM   #102
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
And this is your interpretation of Neuve Chappelle? That no one had even thought about contingencies for a breakthrough?
My interpretation is that, basically, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating".

You can fantasize all you want about what contingency plans they would have had, just like you can fantasize about faeries, but the fact of the matter is that nothing even remotely resembling an attempt to exploit the breakthrough happened for eight hours.

If they had a plan, it couldn't have been a good one, could it?

Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
Do you actually wonder why people are saying you don't know your history?

Hans, Booby, you are betraying an astonishing ignorance of the subject matter.
I AM wondering why I only see such postulates, but not any actual argument. E.g., I don't see even you actually saying what was such a contingency, or really anything that I'm supposedly ignorant of. You just wrote a big content-free piece of ad-hominem.

See, just postulating "oh noes, Hans just doesn't know it" and leaving it at that, is BS for one reason: it works for everything. You can do it verbatim for religion, homeopathy, electric universe, or the Illuminati. No reason to defend your delusions, when you can just do bare postulates that whoever is attacking them doesn't know the sophisticated theology that makes it all sane.

So do YOU, "booby", actually know more, or is the above ego-wank INSTEAD of actually having an argument?
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Old 4th November 2017, 12:24 PM   #103
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But speaking of the Somme, here's one thing to consider. For it being a success, basically we only have Haig's own statement for it. Just like later at Passchendaele, Haig just unilaterally declared it a victory. Except at Passchendaele he did it after conquering the insignificant and by now empty village (i.e., not much of an objective) that gave it its name, while at the Somme he pretty much stopped when he couldn't continue and unilaterally declared it a victory for, in his own mind, wearing down the Germans and relieving Verdun.

But really that's it. No actual objective had been taken. The Germans hadn't been routed. The battle of Verdun was NOT over, and in fact the Germans were showing no sign of even slowing down yet. There was no tangible result to qualify the slaughter at the Somme as a victory, except Haig's unilateral declaration that he won.

Nobody at home was actually impressed. Especially the Prime Minister at the time, Lloyd George, was very much fed up with Haig and his "victories".

And it's kinda telling that after the war, actually Haig was regarded as a butcher and a "dunderhead" for his "victories".

The fact is, even for the objectives cited by Haig, the battle was idiotic. If you want to relieve Verdun and wear down the Germans, then here's an idea: SEND THOSE GUNS TO VERDUN, where the Germans are busy throwing THEIR men over the top and against machinegun fire. There's no way that throwing YOUR men at THEIR machineguns is going to ever produce a more favourable outcome. But that would be too logical for Haig, I guess.

There was nothing strategic or anything even about the battle location, and there was no objective to be taken there. The location was chosen simply because it was the place where the French and the British fronts met. For no other reason than that it was the easiest to get them to work together there.

That's it. That was the ONLY reason for an attack THERE.

Furthermore, even the measly gains of the battle were mostly due to the newly introduced tanks. THAT was what eventually saved the day, not Haig's idiotic sending wave after wave of men at the German machineguns. No less than 90 (NINETY) times. If the tanks hadn't come on September 15, it would have been a bigger disaster.

Now that an offensive worked with tanks than wouldn't work without, is not damning per se. That is, if it were planned around tanks in the first place. But here's the thing: when Haig came up with his idiotic offensive, tanks weren't in use yet and weren't a part of his plan. His original plan was literally just based on a formulaic sequence of artillery barrages and infantry waves, that failed, and then were followed by another verbatim repeat. NINETY times.

Sure, it got saved by being sent a super-weapon (by the standards of the time) later, but that's hardly excusing a plan that was made without it, and would have been a (bigger) disaster without it.


TL;DR version: it's like Haig was the RL version of Futurama's Zapp Brannigan.
Zapp Brannigan: You see, Killbots have a preset kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them, until they reached their limit and shutdown. Kif, show them the medal I won.
Except in Zapp Brannigan's case at least it WAS an actual victory, the killbots were actually out of the war, and his superiors agreed. Whereas in Haig's case he's the only one who patted himself on the shoulder and unilaterally proclaimed it a victory. So essentially he's worse even than a cartoon parody. Which must be an achievement.
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Old 4th November 2017, 01:18 PM   #104
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
What are you talking about?

Radios in WWI were not man-portable walkie-talkie things. They were large, heavy and fragile. A unit could not simply carry one with them and radio around like they're talking on a mobile phone.

This is the type of thing they had to contend with:

https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/m.../main_1200.jpg
You could have a radio at
1. where the offensive started
2. Where your observation balloons were
3. In aircraft

No need to move them during a battle. Troops could communicate with aircraft using various means just to let them know they were friendly.
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Old 4th November 2017, 01:37 PM   #105
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But speaking of the Somme....
Am still waiting for your source, otherwise am calling BS.
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Old 4th November 2017, 01:39 PM   #106
Hubert Cumberdale
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
You could have a radio at
1. where the offensive started
2. Where your observation balloons were
3. In aircraft

No need to move them during a battle. Troops could communicate with aircraft using various means just to let them know they were friendly.
And so? How is this going to help?
  1. In case 1 your radio station is going to get rekt.
  2. In case 2 your observation balloons are far to the rear and less useful than your your battlefield reconnaissance aircraft .
  3. In case 3 yes they did this all the time so what is your point?
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Old 4th November 2017, 02:06 PM   #107
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
And it's kinda telling that after the war, actually Haig was regarded as a butcher and a "dunderhead" for his "victories".
Was he called this contemporaneously or some time afterwards? It should be remembered that Haig devoted his life after the war to the welfare of ex-servicemen. The poppies we used to buy every November even when I was a kid used to have "Haig Fund" in the middle of them.

ETA: As to the title. Yes, quite a lot of stonking did in fact go on.

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Old 4th November 2017, 03:24 PM   #108
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Originally Posted by TX50 View Post
Was he called this contemporaneously or some time afterwards? It should be remembered that Haig devoted his life after the war to the welfare of ex-servicemen. The poppies we used to buy every November even when I was a kid used to have "Haig Fund" in the middle of them.

ETA: As to the title. Yes, quite a lot of stonking did in fact go on.
Haig's reputation was good until the 1960s.

For a contemporary view: General*John J. Pershing [American expeditionary force commander], who remarked that Haig was "the man who won the war".
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Old 4th November 2017, 03:48 PM   #109
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
Am still waiting for your source, otherwise am calling BS.
So, let me get this straight... you accuse me of not knowing history, but you threaten to call BS on common historical knowledge about the Somme. And obviously you haven't even hit Wikipedia on the subject of Somme, much less some more extenisve expertise... yet apparently that makes you qualified to decree who's "ignorant" or a "booby".

I mean, far from me to discourage one from asking for sources, but there's a difference between that and thinking that in the meantime you can pass judgment on others. When you need to be given sources for even the more basic information, one would expect some basic human decency and modesty there. When you start judging who's "ignorant" or a "booby" based on just YOUR not knowing much on the topic, it raises the other issue: WTH delusions or confusion or mind make you think you're qualified to make that judgment? Dunning-Kruger much, "booby"?

(I'll assume you have no issue with the use of the word "booby", since you threw it first. So it must be an acceptable word for you, right?)

But ok, let's try some easily accessible sources:

History of the Great War Based on Official Documents (British Official History)

Lots of information in there.

https://www.britannica.com/event/Fir...e-of-the-Somme

Note how even “Rawlinson [...] privately he was convinced that they were based on false premises, and on too great optimism.” (Yet he too joins in assuring the soldiers that they just need to walk over and take possession of the enemy trenches. Effectively he was LYING to the soldiers.)

And that in turn is quoted from the History of the Great War Based on Official Documents (British Official History) I mentioned before.

http://www.history.com/topics/world-...e-of-the-somme

Among other things, "The Somme was an expensive lesson in how not to mount effective attacks"

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-h...e-at-the-somme

In case you actually needed a citation that tanks were only added into the mix on the 15 of september, some 2 and a half MONTHS after Haig had started trying to beat the Germans with just cavalry charges and infantry waddles across no man's land.

http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/ind...aign-a-success

Haig claims victory after stopping the Somme offensive, something that the Germans called "a complete victory for German arms"


But let's try some more

- "In a situation demanding the military equivalent of wit and invention […} Haig had none.", "The Great War and Modern Memory", Paul Fussell

Also mentions Haig's undying obsession with cavalry charges winning the day -- really, that was his plan for exploiting a breakthrough, and an integral part of the plan for Somme -- LONG after everyone else had realized that cavalry was extremely vulnerable, and was at most to be used as mounted infantry. Basically just to transport them to another piece of the line.

- "he believed that the value of the horse and the opportunity for the horse in the future were likely to be as great as ever.

How could infantry, piled up with all their equipment, take advantage of a decisive moment created by fire from machine-guns at a range of 5,000 to 6,000 yards? It was by utilizing light mounted troops and mounted artillery that advantage could be taken of these modern weapons.

He was all for using aeroplanes and tanks, but they were only accessories to the man and the horse, and he felt sure that as time went on they would find just as much use for the horse—the well-bred horse—as they had ever done in the past. Let them not be despondent and think that the day of the horse was over.
" -- 1925 June 5, The Times (UK), The Cavalry Arm: Lord Haig On Value in War, Page 8, Column 4, about Haig's speech to the annual meeting of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Let's have a round of applause for the man, the legend, the complete dumbass, Haig himself. NINE YEARS after Somme, Haig STILL hadn't learned anything. Given that, as I was saying, the ability to learn is a defining characteristic of intelligence, I think I'm more than justified to call him stupid.

- "Haig's "Big Push," was referred to by the men as "the Great ****-Up" [...} It was a term with a double edge, reflecting not only the soldiers' contempt for the generals' incompetence, but also their perception of being terribly abused by Haig" -- "The Great Class War: 1914-1918", Jacques R. Pauwels (And yes, the original text has the explicit sexual expletive where I censored it with stars.)

- "He was a man of supreme egoism and utter lack of scruple—who, to his overweening ambition, sacrificed hundreds of thousands of men. A man who betrayed even his most devoted assistants as well as the Government which he served. A man who gained his ends by trickery of a kind that was not merely immoral but criminal." -- B.H. Liddell-Hart, in his diary

- “They wore down alike the manhood and the guns of the British army almost to destruction. They did it in the face of the plainest warnings, and of arguments which they could not answer”, Churchill on the continuation of Passchedaele. (Cf "Churchill: A Study In Greatness", by Geoffrey Best)

And Churchill actually wasn't just shooting the wind, but was actually proposing ways to do it better. So, yes, I'm not the only one who thinks there were alternatives, and it's not just hindsight.

- "The first day of the offensive is very satisfactory. The success is not a thunderbolt, as has happened earlier in similar operations, but it is important above all because it is rich in promises. It is no longer a question here of attempts to pierce as with a knife. It is rather a slow, continuous, and methodical push, sparing in lives, until the day when the enemy's resistance, incessantly hammered at, will crumple up at some point. From to-day the first results of the new tactics permit one to await developments with confidence." -- Statement issued by the British Army based in Paris on the Somme Offensive (3rd July, 1916)

That's right, boys and girls. That first day, the day that was the biggest bloodbath for the British, the day where just the first 15 minutes saw tens of thousands dead or wounded, and didn't manage to achieve anything at all, was "very satisfactory." You can't make up that level of disconnect from reality.


Etc, etc, etc.
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Old 4th November 2017, 03:50 PM   #110
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
And so? How is this going to help?
  1. In case 1 your radio station is going to get rekt.
  2. In case 2 your observation balloons are far to the rear and less useful than your your battlefield reconnaissance aircraft .
  3. In case 3 yes they did this all the time so what is your point?
Yes, they did, and it still meant that nothing was done for 8 hours. So what's YOUR point? You can fantasize all you want about how their plans were totally not stupid, but the proof is in the fact that not only didn't they work, they didn't even start until 8 hours later. That's the reality.

And reality is what actually matters. Your fantasy a lot less so.

Edit: In fact, they didn't even start until Haig personally asked Field Marshal Sir John French to release the 5th Cavalry Brigade to try to exploit the break through. So much for delusions that surely French had a plan.

Edit: as for balloons not seeing stuff, you realize, I hope that some of the trenches at Neuve Chapelle were a mere 200 yards apart. (About 180m for the rest of us.) Technically they didn't even need the flippin' balloons to see that they had captured a huge piece of front. But if you wanted to put a balloon up there, you could put it like 2 miles behind the lines and STILL see what was going on. Yea, I'm soo impressed that you'd use aircraft to take off, see what happens a mere 200 yards away, then wait until they land to learn that info, instead of just getting it in real time down a cable. Or really, just using a periscope or just a pair of binoculars would have done the job better than aircraft.
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Old 4th November 2017, 06:13 PM   #111
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I'll tell it to whoever you wish. The fact is, at the Somme 90% of the British casualties were caused by bullets, mostly machineguns. Artillery is somewhere in that 10%. Once you subtract the days of actual attacks on the Germans, the probability to be killed by artillery if you were a Brit at the Somme were very low indeeded.

It's kinda funny how everyone accuses me of not knowing history, but I don't see many others have more than the occasional bit of trivia or generality in their arguments. Like 'oh noes, but over the WHOLE WAR, the casualties for the GERMANS, were over 50% done by artillery.' Sure, but if we're talking specifically the Somme and Brits, is it so hard to at least google the actual numbers for that one if one wants to make an argument?

Or emotional appeals like the dead Aussies. Well, sure, my heart bleeds for them, but how about some numbers or anything else than just emotion?
Hans, you are so incredibly learned, super-smart, simply SO much better at all of this than all of us, and surely many times more intelligent than the most intelligent WW1 general! I stand in total awe before your utter awesomeness! Please pour more of this wisdom it over the undeserving amateurs you so graciously teach of thine perfectness!

(Frankly, it gets old)
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Old 4th November 2017, 08:18 PM   #112
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Haig's reputation was good until the 1960s.

For a contemporary view: General*John J. Pershing [American expeditionary force commander], who remarked that Haig was "the man who won the war".
You mean the same Pershing who now some historians consider to be the bigger incompetent there? https://www.smithsonianmag.com/histo...mme-180959488/

Yeah, I can see how he'd admire Haig
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Old 4th November 2017, 08:19 PM   #113
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
Hans, you are so incredibly learned, super-smart, simply SO much better at all of this than all of us, and surely many times more intelligent than the most intelligent WW1 general! I stand in total awe before your utter awesomeness! Please pour more of this wisdom it over the undeserving amateurs you so graciously teach of thine perfectness!

(Frankly, it gets old)
Flattery will get you everywhere, but do you have any actual info to add, or...?
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Old 4th November 2017, 08:45 PM   #114
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
You mean the same Pershing who now some historians consider to be the bigger incompetent there? https://www.smithsonianmag.com/histo...mme-180959488/

Yeah, I can see how he'd admire Haig
Quoted from your link:

"Recent scholarship and battlefield archaeology, previously unpublished documents and survivors’ accounts from both sides support a new view of Haig and his commanders: that they were smarter and more adaptable than other Allied generals, and swiftly applied the harrowing lessons of the Somme"

It seems that your historian admires Haig too
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Old 4th November 2017, 09:49 PM   #115
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I didn't say there was a complete consensus. Some do kinda sorta defend Haig, some are far more critical of him than I've ever been.

E.g., another Smithsonian article, actually mentioned in the one I linked, calls Haig no less than “The Worst General” ever. It's available online too. You should read it, really. It's... hardcore stuff for a historian. I mean, they usually tend to avoid making such calls. Anyway, *I* reserved that title for the likes of Potiorek and von Hötzendorf. But there are actual historians who consider Haig to be worse than those two combined. Sobering thought.

But to return to the linked article, you'll notice (if you've actually read all the article), that it doesn't really absolve Haig either. In fact, it has some pretty damning stuff.

E.g., it includes a first hand account of the "grand looking cavalrymen, ready mounted to follow the breakthrough," which is something I've imputed Haig too. The notion that in 1916 he expected to send a cavalry charge against machineguns is... surrealistic.

The best I can say about that, and I'm really making an effort here, is that at least unlike the earlier Neuve Chapelle, he actually had a plan what to do with a breakthrough. It was a stonking stupid plan, but at least he HAD one. So, hey, he did learn SOMETHING in the meantime. He wasn't COMPLETELY brain-dead.

E.g., the same article mentions the following about Haig's sending men walking towards machineguns: "The Germans were incredulous. “The English came walking as though they were going to the theatre or were on a parade ground,” recalled Paul Scheytt of the 109th Reserve Infantry Regiment. Karl Blenk of the 169th Regiment said he changed the barrel of his machine gun five times to prevent overheating, after firing 5,000 rounds each time. “We felt they were mad,” he recalled."

Also bear in mind that the crawling barrage was not yet invented, and he didn't even use the guns to suppress the enemy or anything. In fact, the artillery abruptly stopped firing right before the Brits started to climb out of the trenches. Which was immediately taken by the Germans as, "heads up, they're coming over the top." Everyone came out of the dugouts and manned every machinegun and pointed every rifle in the direction of the Allied trenches the instant the artillery stopped.

You know, in case you were wondering why tens of thousands of casualties were mowed down in the first 15 minutes. That's why. Because a clear signal was given to the enemy that they're coming.

Etc. Daming stuff, really. And hardly the kind of stuff that would give anyone the impression that he's a FAN of Haig.

So if you actually read it, it really just says that Haig was less incompetent than "some other Allied generals", and especially less than Pershing. Which is fair, really. Personally I'll agree that were some who had done more brain-damaged stuff than Haig. They just weren't in a position to do as much damage as Haig did with his incompetence, but they existed. (Though some would disagree, since at least one calls Haig "the worst general".)

Doesn't say much either way, though. It's like arguing whether Curly was smarter than Larry and Moe, or he was the dumbest of the three. Still doesn't exactly say he's smart.
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Old 5th November 2017, 12:10 AM   #116
rjh01
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
And so? How is this going to help?
  1. In case 1 your radio station is going to get rekt.
  2. In case 2 your observation balloons are far to the rear and less useful than your your battlefield reconnaissance aircraft .
  3. In case 3 yes they did this all the time so what is your point?
Just to add to what was said before on this post

An observation balloon can be put a kilometer behind the line and so be safe from most attacks (short of aircraft) and it would be able to see many kilometers. If the advance had gone out of sight of the balloon then the generals would know they are in fantasy land. A radio could be put at the base to communicate with the rear.

In short it should not take long for the generals to know what is going on and issue the correct orders.
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Old 5th November 2017, 12:22 AM   #117
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I also get that the generals were surprised that the shels weren't effective in cutting the wire, but tgese are obvious things to test far from the battlefield before the offensive started, or indeed before its logistics was planned.
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link is 2015 data (2013 Data below):
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US 16.4% of GDP of which 48.2% is public expenditure - 7.9% of GDP is public spending
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Old 5th November 2017, 12:26 AM   #118
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Just to add to what was said before on this post

An observation balloon can be put a kilometer behind the line and so be safe from most attacks (short of aircraft) and it would be able to see many kilometers. If the advance had gone out of sight of the balloon then the generals would know they are in fantasy land. A radio could be put at the base to communicate with the rear.

In short it should not take long for the generals to know what is going on and issue the correct orders.
Scroll on from WW1 to WW2 and operation Market Garden. It didn't quite work, did it? And one of the contributing factors? Radio fail.

Even by WW2 radio comms had not been nailed down.
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Old 5th November 2017, 01:44 AM   #119
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
I also get that the generals were surprised that the shels weren't effective in cutting the wire, but tgese are obvious things to test far from the battlefield before the offensive started, or indeed before its logistics was planned.
Testing... well, it had been done by just shooting them at each other for almost a year at that point. They kinda had already gotten the idea by then.

Also, just to make one thing clear, NO shells were very good at destroying the barbed wire, and all nations had plenty of data to that effect by then. Heavy artillery HE shells just made a bigger crater, threw a lot of ground away, and in doing so might break or throw away the poles holding the wire in that area.

It's not a very efficient way of getting rid of the wires, by the way. You essentially just have to saturate the area with insane numbers of HE shells, so probabilistically most sections of barbed wire would fall within or close enough to a crater. And the way that probability worked, well, it meant MILLIONS of shells to even start to make a difference. The initial bombardment at the Somme used up something like 1.73 MILLIONS of shells, and didn't come even CLOSE to doing a good job of it.

Really, it just beat sending some guys to cut the wires, on account of the fact that the Germans had machineguns, and being an unkindly lot, they tended to shoot them at anyone who even looked French or English.

The problem wasn't as much in testing them, as the fact that two thirds of the shells supplied were the wrong kind entirely for that kind of a job. Which... isn't very good logistics. Also, no extra shells were allocated for the last two days of firing, so the shelling was stretched rather thin for the Brits at that point. (Though IIRC the French did keep firing at full rate.) Again, not entirely optimal.

Also, according to British sources, as much as 35% were duds. Since about three quarters of the shells were made in the USA, it resulted in a bit of inofficial finger pointing at each other when it came to explain why over a third of the shells just went into the ground. But really nobody knows which side made more duds than the other, if any.


HOWEVER, none of that would be a problem per se, though, if the plan had been realistic for the supplies at hand. The problem is that that wasn't even remotely the case.

The claims being made, both to the soldiers and to the politicians and press at home, were completely disconnected from reality or from any reason. Claims were made like that the artillery will have killed most germans and the brits had to just walk over and claim the trench, when not only there was no sane way to get that idea from previous data from previous battles, but there also there was no sane way to expect that to be the case when the trenches themselves hadn't even been shelled for most of the interval.

Also the few German prisoners they took, sure, indicated that the situation was bleak in the German trenches, with low morale and being almost out of food. (A lot of shelling had been actually BEHIND the front line to prevent the Germans from getting supplies.) But IIRC NONE of them said that they're almost all dead or anything of the kind. So I'm not sure what kind of confusion of mind was required for a general so he'd believe that although the prisoner taken today says all the Germans were still there, surely they'd be killed by tomorrow. How was that going to happen?
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Old 5th November 2017, 01:57 AM   #120
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Also, it has been mentioned before that a British soldier carried 66 lbs worth of kit, and couldn't run or take cover quickly even if he wanted to. Hence, the walking. And it's true too. In fact, some of the newer soldiers had trouble even climbing out of the trench when the time came.

What hasn't been said is WHY that soldier was so loaded: because not only he was supposed to carry all his stuff during an attack (the notion of a baggage train to bring that stuff over had apparently been forgotten), including all the rations, all the ammo, etc. But that kit also included stuff for digging and reinforcing a trench in the unlikely event that you actually take a trench.

I kid you not, every soldier's kit for an attack also included carrying TWO SANDBAGS. Sadly it's not a joke.

I can only guess that at that point they had simply run out of an idea as to how to encumber the soldiers

And in case that wasn't enough, each soldier ALSO had to carry either a shovel (most of them) or a pickaxe (a minority of them). I say "ALSO" because that wasn't included in the kit. That was extra weight ON TOP of those 66 pounds. To carry during the attack.

It's too stupid to make up, folks...
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