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Old 5th November 2017, 02:10 AM   #121
Hubert Cumberdale
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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.
You are missing the point.

The point is not that the generals couldn't get an idea of what was going on and IDK why you're obsessing over balloons. They had aircraft with radios and cameras.

Why bother with balloons?

So now let's assume a hypothetical battle in which the general recieves good intel that the attack is held up here but an other sectors has made very good progress.

How is the general going to get his orders to the fighting men?
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Old 5th November 2017, 02:14 AM   #122
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
You made a very specific claim that 90% of British casualties on the Some were caused by bullets.

I asked for a source.

You respond by spamming a wall of irrelevant nonsense, none of which supports your very specific claim.

You are full of it Hans.
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Old 5th November 2017, 03:32 AM   #123
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Right, so of course the message you quoted in that message I was answering to is message #103, which was about the stuff I supported above. Of course I should have been psychic and known that you may be linking to message #103 in your question, but ACTUALLY you were still asking about #92 and consider ACTUALLY addressing the message you linked to as "irrelevant nonsense". Silly me, it must be my fault that I didn't win Randi's prize

No, sorry, if you're unable to even quote the message you're asking about, it doesn't mean I'm full of it. I'm pretty sure it's still just you. I wasn't in charge of teaching you how to use a basic forum, so I don't feel any guilt for your being apparently unable to actually quote the message you're actually asking about

That said, about that claim, I was looking through my sources, but if you suffer from the delusion that the only answer that counts is RIGHT NAO, on the spot, no research allowed... well, it's still your problem not mine. But since I'm a nice guy, this is one I could find on short notice is: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/te...-of-the-somme/

As for calling BS, I think you may be suffering from delusions of relevance. As long as I don't see you having any actual data or argument there... yeah, I'm not actually losing any sleep over what you call it. Feel free to come up with an actual argument or to get over it.
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Old 5th November 2017, 03:50 AM   #124
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
You are missing the point.

The point is not that the generals couldn't get an idea of what was going on and IDK why you're obsessing over balloons. They had aircraft with radios and cameras.

Why bother with balloons?

So now let's assume a hypothetical battle in which the general recieves good intel that the attack is held up here but an other sectors has made very good progress.

How is the general going to get his orders to the fighting men?
Well, Haig seemed to have no problem getting a cavalry brigade from French, to try (too late) to exploit the gap. It had closed by then, mind you, but he had no problem getting the cavalry and giving them the orders.

Frankly, the only thing I don't understand is why it's so hard in your fantasy world that you seem to just make up as you go. One thing you seem completely oblivious to, is that all sides had troops in reserve. Especially the cavalry, of which Haig was so fond, was invariably right there, because they weren't even SUPPOSED to take part in the initial waddling slowly towards the machineguns. They were right there near the general.

Doesn't even have to be WW1. Especially with cavalry, it's been something done at least since the end of the bronze age. It's been how it worked in the age of musket squares. Etc. Keeping the cavalry charge for last, RIGHT THERE NEXT TO YOU, OR SOMEWHERE WHERE YOU CAN TELL THEM WHEN TO CHARGE, was the normal modus operandi.

And sure enough, if you actually read about Haig's plans, he's keeping the cavalry for the last stage. They're not even supposed to go in there until the last stage.

Hell, it was even the message you just dismissed as irrelevant stuff. There's an eyewitness quote in there, about what the cavalry was for. But that would require actually reading, I suppose.

But, yeah, having some information kinda isn't that irrelevant, if you want to argue a point.

So, anyway, "How is the general going to get his orders to" those guys? Duh. How about just send someone a couple hundred metres back to tell them to attack? It was literally that simple in the real world.
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Old 5th November 2017, 03:55 AM   #125
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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?
Indeed, but even if they were surprised, it wouldn't have taken much time on Sailsbury Plain to dig some dummy trenches, put in some barbed wire and then fire a few shells at it and watch how ineffective it was.

The Somme offensive might have been a strategic necessity but the first day wasn't. And as you say, it could have been predicted to have been something that reduced the forces of the Entente more than it weakened the Germans.
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Old 5th November 2017, 03:58 AM   #126
HansMustermann
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But let's get more creative.

How do you get the message to someone a couple hundred yards away, when you don't have radio? Well, gee, I wonder how the ships at, say, Trafalgar, managed to send orders to each other without radios. It must have been totally impossible, eh?

Well, no, they just used flags.

And you know what you can do with an observation balloon, that has a telegraph connection down the tether? Yeah, you can tell that guy to show some flags to the troops.

So, yeah, it doesn't actually require more than 5 minutes thinking to come up with a working solution to the problem that apparently some see as unsolvable.
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Old 5th November 2017, 04:09 AM   #127
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
The Somme offensive might have been a strategic necessity but the first day wasn't. And as you say, it could have been predicted to have been something that reduced the forces of the Entente more than it weakened the Germans.
The Somme offensive was anything but necessary. As I was saying there was ZERO strategic importance there. There wasn't even the empty village that would allow Haig to claim victory when he took it at Passchendaele. It was simply the point where the British and French lines met.

The more logical solution, as I keep saying, is: if you want to decimate the German forces and relieve Verdun, then frikken just send the guns to Verdun and mow down the Germans when THEY go over the top there.

The real problem wasn't strategic or even really military. The problem was one of national dick-waving. That was it. That was the WHOLE problem.

The British wouldn't send their soldiers to fight under the French at Verdun, while the French correctly pointed out that with Verdun going, they can't even afford to send some troops to somewhere on the British segment of the front. So the compromise was made to just work together where the lines met.

Meanwhile the Americans get their own case of waving their collective dick, and refuse to pretty much listen to anyone. The MAIN reason Pershing was hailed as a hero back home was not as much that he fought and was at least on the winning side, but that he kept his troops independent and projected AMERICAN power abroad. That he didn't even listen at all even to Haig, who for all his incompetence otherwise, at least wasn't nearly as incompetent as Pershing himself, wasn't even seen as a fault. It was a merit.

So yeah, that's how you get to throw men at a piece of land which has no other value for the Germans than that they're trying to keep their front continuous. Which is a valid reason to defend it, but it's just as valid in some more strategically important position. And might have actually drawn more troops from Verdun if it threatened something of actual importance.
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Old 5th November 2017, 04:27 AM   #128
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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?
Citation hugely needed.
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Old 5th November 2017, 04:34 AM   #129
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
Are you really so stupid as to think that WW1 Aircraft took off from trenches on the front line?
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Old 5th November 2017, 06:25 AM   #130
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
Indeed, but even if they were surprised, it wouldn't have taken much time on Sailsbury Plain to dig some dummy trenches, put in some barbed wire and then fire a few shells at it and watch how ineffective it was.

The Somme offensive might have been a strategic necessity but the first day wasn't. And as you say, it could have been predicted to have been something that reduced the forces of the Entente more than it weakened the Germans.
What I've read is that a lot of pre war shell production was planned as shrapnel instead of high explosive - and the switch to needing/making lots of HE was responsible for the large amounts of duds in 1915 & 1916 (by late war, they were much better). So for the Somme they used shrapnel to clear the wire (saving HE for trenches )

Anyhow, apparently Germany used to use barbed wire with wooden posts but switched to metal just before the Somme. Wooden posts hit by shrapnel would break and collapse but metal would just spring back up.

(So some of the ineffectual wire cutting was just due to a last minute german change)
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Old 5th November 2017, 11:00 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
What I've read is that a lot of pre war shell production was planned as shrapnel instead of high explosive - and the switch to needing/making lots of HE was responsible for the large amounts of duds in 1915 & 1916 (by late war, they were much better). So for the Somme they used shrapnel to clear the wire (saving HE for trenches )

Anyhow, apparently Germany used to use barbed wire with wooden posts but switched to metal just before the Somme. Wooden posts hit by shrapnel would break and collapse but metal would just spring back up.

(So some of the ineffectual wire cutting was just due to a last minute german change)
I am trying to find the incident on the web but there was a story where in the 20s where the British were testing some armor's effectiveness against shrapnel. They used old WW1 shells from early-war field guns and had them wired up to explode. Someone screwed up the wiring and as they were setting up the shells went off with everyone still in the target area.

But nobody was hurt.

Turns out the steel balls they used for shrapnel rounds just did not get enough momentum from the explosive charge. Being early-war field guns they weren't very large the begin with and the projecting charge just wan't up to snuff.

Turns out nobody had really tested these shells in any meaningful way.
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Old 5th November 2017, 11:12 AM   #132
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But let's get more creative.

How do you get the message to someone a couple hundred yards away, when you don't have radio? Well, gee, I wonder how the ships at, say, Trafalgar, managed to send orders to each other without radios. It must have been totally impossible, eh?

Well, no, they just used flags.

And you know what you can do with an observation balloon, that has a telegraph connection down the tether? Yeah, you can tell that guy to show some flags to the troops.

So, yeah, it doesn't actually require more than 5 minutes thinking to come up with a working solution to the problem that apparently some see as unsolvable.
For one thing, flags on a mast of a ship are much more visible than a guy on a stool waving like mad over uneven terrain. Also the ship messages tended to be simple.

For another, a few hundred yards is useless. Yes, some trench lines were that close to each other. In reality those were the first-line trenches which were practically meant to be abandoned after taking as a big a toll as you could on the attacking units. These were 'taken' all the time but were rarely kept as they were in range of not only the artillery but also the field guns in the next line of trenches. You need to take those trenches and more otherwise your just plain vulnerable to a simple counter-attack.

In 1918 the Germans employed a system of colored-smoke rockets. It kind of worked.
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Old 5th November 2017, 12:57 PM   #133
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Originally Posted by Damien Evans View Post
Are you really so stupid as to think that WW1 Aircraft took off from trenches on the front line?
Not sure why you ask ME that. It was Hubert Cumberdale who proposed to use recon aircraft to see when a breakthrough was made. I was just making fun of his idea.

Feel free to ask him the above.

What I find even more interesting though, is that not only you quoted, but even highlighted the part where I explicitly say it was his idea. Yet you pull the above ad-hominem abusive against ME.

So to use your own words, "Are you really so stupid" that you can't even read what not only you're answering to, not only you quoted, but you even highlighted?

See, two can play that game.
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Old 5th November 2017, 01:03 PM   #134
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Originally Posted by kookbreaker View Post
In 1918 the Germans employed a system of colored-smoke rockets. It kind of worked.
Indeed. I was just trying to be creative and come up with yet another solution -- even if not as good -- for the supposed impossibility that was postulated again and again.
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Old 5th November 2017, 01:30 PM   #135
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In a novel I read recently, Army engineers discovered that if you laid chicken wire on top of the barbed wire you could walk over it. Presumably the laying-on of wire was done while it was dark.

The novel is "To the Last Man." It suffers from being written for Americans, with the command point of view being basically limited to Pershing's. It also follows a Marine private and before that, the Lafayette Escadrille and Richthofen. The author, Jeff Shaara, does not depict Pershing as having much regard for Haig.
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Old 5th November 2017, 01:59 PM   #136
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post

The novel is "To the Last Man." It suffers from being written for Americans, with the command point of view being basically limited to Pershing's. It also follows a Marine private and before that, the Lafayette Escadrille and Richthofen. The author, Jeff Shaara, does not depict Pershing as having much regard for Haig.
It depends on the period the novel is set. At first, Pershing didn't respect Haig or the British troops and thought that they were far too methodical and defensive minded and that his American troops would use movement and skilled aggressive riflemen to restore fluidity and decisive results to the battlefield. He was disillusioned fairly quickly and comprehensively, and began to see Haig and the British methods as worth learning from.
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Old 5th November 2017, 02:07 PM   #137
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Indeed. I was just trying to be creative and come up with yet another solution -- even if not as good -- for the supposed impossibility that was postulated again and again.
Its been a while since I looked at things but they did try all kind of things tocommunicate, most of them just didn't work.

Radios weren't going to happen. They were too large; clunky and unreliable.

Wired communication wasn't going to happen, if you rolled any wire into no-mans land it was going to get cut. They tried all kinds of things to avoid this, none of them worked.

Runners are too slow and get killed.

Carrier pigeons are too limited.

Flags are going to get lost behind any uneven terrain. Good luck keeping the flags clean in no-mans land mud BTW.

Balloons can see a lot but not much in the way of detail.

Recon planes have to spot, return and report. This is slow.

The fastest tanks are still too slow and unreliable. Forget trucks or other motorvehicles in the mud.

This is why the 'Bite and Hold' tactics using early storm troooper tactics that were started in 1917 ended up working best. Set a limited goal that isn't unreachable or where you own artillery can't move in short notice (no more of these promises to make to the enemy border or capitol) and take it, then fight off the counterattacks more effectively with your own artillery.

Problem is that the generals have the gambler's sydrome where when they make a winning $100 bet they think it is a $900 loss since they could have bet to win $1,000. So the pressure was made to increase the size and gains of the attacks....
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Old 6th November 2017, 12:43 AM   #138
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That they did, but bear in mind that at Neuve Chapelle (which is what started the whole "oh noes, it's impossible to react faster" subthread) they had made a breakthrough that was LITERALLY a mile wide. I'm not talking "a mile wide" as in the hyperbolic mile, but they literally took over an 1600 yards wide section. (About 1500m for the rest of us.) It is within 7.5% of a mile, so we can safely round it to one mile without any mathematicians spinning in their graves.

There was VERY wide angle, obtuse even, in your field of view to see that even from the original position.

We're not really talking about seeing details there. I mean, I'll grant that an obviously observer (balloon or otherwise) might not see something like that you've taken a house or something, or that some parts would be obscurred by terrain or craters, and so on, but... a MILE of front where the fighting stopped and the guys are chilling around waiting for orders, is kinda hard to miss, innit?

At which point, you just have to send whatever troops you have in reserve for a breakthrough that-a-way. Like eventually they did, but not until Haig had to personally request that French sends in some cavalry. Because otherwise there seemed to be no plan to.
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Old 6th November 2017, 04:29 AM   #139
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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...


Let’s look at the 66 pounds:

A. Uniform and boots - about 4 pounds
B. Helmet - 5 pounds
C. Rifle - 9 pounds
D. Load bearing equipment - 2 pounds
E. Ammunition (personal) - 6 pounds
F. 4 Grenades - 4 pounds
G. Bayonet - 1 pound
H. Entrenching tool - 2 pounds
I. Canteen and water - 3 pounds
J. Rations - 2 pounds
K. Extra ammo for the Lewis Gun - 10 pounds
L. Shovel or pick - 2 to 4 pounds
M. First aid supplies - 1 pound
N. Sandbags - 10 pounds
O. Gas mask - 4 pounds

All of that is essential.

The sandbags and shovel are needed because when you take the German trench it will have been shelled and it’s defenses somewhat impaired, plus most of its capabilities are for an attack to its front, ie the way the Tommy came from, not towards the German rear - given that the Germans had a doctrine of counterattacking, getting defences in place quickly after taking ground requires ready made stuff.

Battlefield resupply is challenging enough when you can get a vehicle with stores to the troops - now picture doing that without vehicles and over broken ground. The troops needed at least a days food with them to make sure they could sustain themselves until supplies could be brought forward.




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Old 6th November 2017, 04:47 AM   #140
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
Let’s look at the 66 pounds:

A. Uniform and boots - about 4 pounds
B. Helmet - 5 pounds
C. Rifle - 9 pounds
D. Load bearing equipment - 2 pounds
E. Ammunition (personal) - 6 pounds
F. 4 Grenades - 4 pounds
G. Bayonet - 1 pound
H. Entrenching tool - 2 pounds
I. Canteen and water - 3 pounds
J. Rations - 2 pounds
K. Extra ammo for the Lewis Gun - 10 pounds
L. Shovel or pick - 2 to 4 pounds
M. First aid supplies - 1 pound
N. Sandbags - 10 pounds
O. Gas mask - 4 pounds

All of that is essential.

The sandbags and shovel are needed because when you take the German trench it will have been shelled and it’s defenses somewhat impaired, plus most of its capabilities are for an attack to its front, ie the way the Tommy came from, not towards the German rear - given that the Germans had a doctrine of counterattacking, getting defences in place quickly after taking ground requires ready made stuff.

Battlefield resupply is challenging enough when you can get a vehicle with stores to the troops - now picture doing that without vehicles and over broken ground. The troops needed at least a days food with them to make sure they could sustain themselves until supplies could be brought forward.




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Suppose the Tommies had all dropped their sandbags and shovels and ammo and food at the supply train. Then made a breakthrough and advanced to the German trenches. Thein either got mowed down because no means to get cover up to speed and no ammo to respond, or retreat to supply train to fetch all that and lose the advance; just imagine how Hans would jeer today because of thei utter stupidity of not bringing gear to the front!
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Old 6th November 2017, 04:47 AM   #141
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Given it's been over a day since two people asked, I'm guessing you don't have a citation.
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Old 6th November 2017, 05:58 AM   #142
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Originally Posted by Damien Evans View Post
Given it's been over a day since two people asked, I'm guessing you don't have a citation.
There was a link to an infographic in the Telegraph saying that 90% of British casualties in the Somme (not 1st day alone) were due to machine guns.
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Old 6th November 2017, 06:07 AM   #143
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
The Germans had been shifting forces from Verdun to the Somme since July, increasingly so as the year wore on. Which is why the French gained ground post-July.
So the highlighted bit is bollocks.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
British logistics were based on feeding their army in North West France.
In addition, since you're so well versed in these campaigns, I'm sure you've seen the photos of the Voie Sacrée, chockablock with French supply vehicles. And you want to stick a British army into that mix?

I thought you were proclaiming the logistics was all...
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Old 6th November 2017, 06:39 AM   #144
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The Somme offensive was anything but necessary. As I was saying there was ZERO strategic importance there. There wasn't even the empty village that would allow Haig to claim victory when he took it at Passchendaele. It was simply the point where the British and French lines met.

The more logical solution, as I keep saying, is: if you want to decimate the German forces and relieve Verdun, then frikken just send the guns to Verdun and mow down the Germans when THEY go over the top there.
Except your "logical" solution is not terribly useful.

Removing guns from one sector to another obviously means those guns aren't in the original sector to be used.

And simply shifting them is not as easy as it sounds. Guns are generally horsedrawn - meaning that you are now feeding many hundreds of more horses in an area that is already tapped, and of course the other items that need to be fed here are the men and the guns.

This is not the days of NATO standard ammo - every nation is using their own weapons and generally with their own unique ammo natures (British 18 Pdr and French 75mm are not the same), so bringing in more guns from another nation's army is going to really complicate the logistics of the situation, and the factories are already at capacity producing what they were already set up to make - retooling to produce another type of weapon is going to stop production for months. This is not a game of Panzer General where you can upgrade those light guns for the heavier guns with the click of a mouse.

WWI was a war unlike any other that had been fought up to this point. The scale was so far beyond what anyone had done before meant that no one was ready for it, and frankly I do not believe that it could have been prepared for. The logistics persons were listened to, but none of them were thinking of the strain of keeping millions of men, horses and equipment in the field for 4 years - because that was completely out of the experience of any of the combatants.

Quote:
The real problem wasn't strategic or even really military. The problem was one of national dick-waving. That was it. That was the WHOLE problem.
Humans are tribal - this is nothing new.

Quote:
The British wouldn't send their soldiers to fight under the French at Verdun, while the French correctly pointed out that with Verdun going, they can't even afford to send some troops to somewhere on the British segment of the front. So the compromise was made to just work together where the lines met.
It's not quite as simple as you make it out, but hey, you should develop this line into a proper thesis and present your findings to any military college to see if it is accepted.
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Old 6th November 2017, 08:19 AM   #145
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
Suppose the Tommies had all dropped their sandbags and shovels and ammo and food at the supply train. Then made a breakthrough and advanced to the German trenches. Thein either got mowed down because no means to get cover up to speed and no ammo to respond, or retreat to supply train to fetch all that and lose the advance; just imagine how Hans would jeer today because of thei utter stupidity of not bringing gear to the front!
They can keep the ammo or the rations, but I hardly think that the advantage of carrying sandbags offsets the fact that it makes you a slow walking target. Even a partially ruined trench still offers more cover until you can reinforce it, than when you struggle to haul those sandbags slowly under machinegun and artillery fire.

But hey, why think, when you can do dumb browbeating again about what Hans would say. I'm not impressed, you know? Ridicule may work as an extra once you have a coherent argument, but not INSTEAD of even trying to make one.
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Old 6th November 2017, 08:26 AM   #146
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
How's that not stupid?
Have you ever heard of the phrase "hindsight is 20/20"? It's so easy to look at the results of an action, in its full context, and then criticise those who took the action, without full context, as if they should've known what would happen.

That's why, as some noted, you have to understand people actions in the context in which they were taken, not based on knowledge we have a century down the line.
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Old 6th November 2017, 08:30 AM   #147
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
There was a link to an infographic in the Telegraph saying that 90% of British casualties in the Somme (not 1st day alone) were due to machine guns.
That any there's still the unchallenged (other than an appeal to emotion) fact I started with as a claim, namely that the bombardment was heavier on the Germans than on the British.

The British and French shot a total of 1.73 million shells in the opening week alone, for an average of about 250 shells a day. But that's misleading, because as I was saying, the British didn't actually allocate any extra shells for the last day. So the average per day outside that 2 day cock-up was actually higher.

The closest I can find for the Germans is just the average of 150,000 shells a day, cf "A History of Modern Germany Since 1815" by Frank Tipton, page 283.

The English and French were basically shooting around twice as many shells at the Germans, than were coming the other way around. And IIRC the English and French also had a higher proportions of heavy guns.

Seems to me like regardless of whether that 90% quip may be true or false, my original claim still stands that the chances to be killed by a shell were lower for the British than for the Germans. And I haven't seen it challenged by any actual data. 'Tell that to the dead australians' appeals to emotion don't really count as much of a logical argument.
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Old 6th November 2017, 08:41 AM   #148
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
Have you ever heard of the phrase "hindsight is 20/20"? It's so easy to look at the results of an action, in its full context, and then criticise those who took the action, without full context, as if they should've known what would happen.

That's why, as some noted, you have to understand people actions in the context in which they were taken, not based on knowledge we have a century down the line.
That is, of course, true, but is itself not considering the context, when used to justify the actions at the Somme and other places. As I was quoting in the message quote right at the top of this page, for example, “Rawlinson [...] privately he was convinced that they were based on false premises, and on too great optimism.

That's not hindsight. That's what the general of the 4'th army thought, based on the data available to him before the battle. He didn't think that that data supported Haig's conclusions.

He may not have had as much information as we have in hindsight, but obviously there was enough information to correctly predict that Haig's plan can't work.

So, no, it's not just hindsight.

Additionally, I might add, Rawlinson himself wasn't a particularly general either. In fact, his tactics were even worse. "What is certain is that those divisions, Regular or otherwise, which most closely followed Rawlinson's advice, suffered the heaviest casualties and achieved the least success." -- "The First Day on the Somme", Martin Middlebrook, page 279.

But even he could spot that Haig's premises don't hold any water, and the battle showed that he was right. Basically, you didn't even have to be a military genius to spot the problem in Haig's plans, with the data available at the time.
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Old 6th November 2017, 08:56 AM   #149
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
That's not hindsight.
It really is. You're telling us that everyone in those days were idiots because you figured a way they should've done things, and yay look you found people back then who disagreed with them, as one is wont to do when looking at history. It's absolutely hindsight.
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Old 6th November 2017, 09:00 AM   #150
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
They can keep the ammo or the rations, but I hardly think that the advantage of carrying sandbags offsets the fact that it makes you a slow walking target. Even a partially ruined trench still offers more cover until you can reinforce it, than when you struggle to haul those sandbags slowly under machinegun and artillery fire.

But hey, why think, when you can do dumb browbeating again about what Hans would say. I'm not impressed, you know? Ridicule may work as an extra once you have a coherent argument, but not INSTEAD of even trying to make one.
Argument from imagination / incredulity noted.
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Old 6th November 2017, 09:30 AM   #151
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
They can keep the ammo or the rations, but I hardly think that the advantage of carrying sandbags offsets the fact that it makes you a slow walking target.
10 pounds of sandbags isn't going to recude you to a walking pace. In any event its not like you are going to get there any faster than the guys cutting the wire or knowing where the wire was cut can point you to reach the enemy trenches.
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Old 6th November 2017, 09:52 AM   #152
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
They can keep the ammo or the rations, but I hardly think that the advantage of carrying sandbags offsets the fact that it makes you a slow walking target. Even a partially ruined trench still offers more cover until you can reinforce it, than when you struggle to haul those sandbags slowly under machinegun and artillery fire.

But hey, why think, when you can do dumb browbeating again about what Hans would say. I'm not impressed, you know? Ridicule may work as an extra once you have a coherent argument, but not INSTEAD of even trying to make one.
As a member of the forces I do think that the advantage of carrying the sandbags offsets the reduction in mobility for the PBI in this case - and oddly so did the PBI who carried the things in WWI. How do we know that? Well, we read the diaries of soldiers, the war diaries of the units and find that they didn't ditch the things at the first opportunity. Compare and contrast this with WWII when the Canadian military issued body armour to some of its infantry in the Battles for Normandy - unit war diaries and individual accounts were very blunt in recounting that you could follow the path of some units by following the body armour that had been ditched at the side of the road - the troops felt it was useless weight and acted accordingly. What you don't see in WWI are accounts where you could follow the assaulting troops by following the sandbags...

That partially ruined trench system is going to come under bombardment by enemy guns quickly - and they have the map references to allow fairly accurate fire, so being able to strengthen your position quickly an asset. And then there is the observation I'm going to repeat, the German defences are not set up to protect themselves from the German rear positions, if anything they are set up to allow for swift movement of men and materiel to the forward positions while remaining in cover - so it you can impede that with a small wall of sandbags in the communications trench and some bright lads from Calgary on overwatch of that location then you can hold onto what you've gained.

Soldiers in the field are very practical creatures. They will carry immense amounts of kit if they know they'll need it (grumbling about the weight all the time), but if they don't see the need for it, they'll ditch it at the first opportunity
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Old 6th November 2017, 11:06 AM   #153
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
It really is. You're telling us that everyone in those days were idiots because you figured a way they should've done things, and yay look you found people back then who disagreed with them, as one is wont to do when looking at history. It's absolutely hindsight.
Maybe, but there were lots of people back then who disagreed with them. E.g., I've mentioned Churchill before, who ALSO didn't agree with how it was done, and had his own ideas about how it should be done.

It may be hindsight that we know their conclusion was correct, but if more than one person reaches the correct conclusion, it must have been based on SOMETHING.
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Old 6th November 2017, 11:11 AM   #154
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
Argument from imagination / incredulity noted.
Also noted that you still don't understand fallacies. Also noted that you're still just not presented any data or anything, you're still apparently just thinking that brow-beating is an alternative. It's not, sadly.

Look, you don't have to believe me. In fact, nobody asked you to do anything, least of all believe. But if you want to take part in the discussion, and that's not mandatory either, but if you want to, please do try to actually have an argument, rather than content-free lame attempts at ridicule and, yes, your own thinly veiled arguments from incredulity.

In fact, it seems funnily hypocritical to hear you complain about a supposed argument from incredulity, when your whole message #111 is opposing nothing to my argument than your own disbelief. Hypocrite much?
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Old 6th November 2017, 11:58 AM   #155
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Maybe, but there were lots of people back then who disagreed with them. E.g., I've mentioned Churchill before, who ALSO didn't agree with how it was done, and had his own ideas about how it should be done.

It may be hindsight that we know their conclusion was correct, but if more than one person reaches the correct conclusion, it must have been based on SOMETHING.
Irrelevant to my point. That people disagreed and turned out to be correct doesn't make the other guy stupid.
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Old 6th November 2017, 12:08 PM   #156
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
As a member of the forces I do think that the advantage of carrying the sandbags offsets the reduction in mobility for the PBI in this case - and oddly so did the PBI who carried the things in WWI. How do we know that? Well, we read the diaries of soldiers, the war diaries of the units and find that they didn't ditch the things at the first opportunity. Compare and contrast this with WWII when the Canadian military issued body armour to some of its infantry in the Battles for Normandy - unit war diaries and individual accounts were very blunt in recounting that you could follow the path of some units by following the body armour that had been ditched at the side of the road - the troops felt it was useless weight and acted accordingly. What you don't see in WWI are accounts where you could follow the assaulting troops by following the sandbags...
Well, technically the germans beat them to that silly idea with the lobster armours in 1914. Which also tended to get discarded because they at best could stop a low powered pistol round, but did nothing whatsoever to stop a rifle or machinegun round.

But anyway, first of all... absence of evidence is not evidence. There were plenty of things that were provably useless, yet didn't get thrown by the side of the road. Since you mention Canadians, I've already mentioned the idiotic spade they started WW1 with, yet I don't recall mentions of people just throwing it away by the roadside.

What would be more conclusive is if you found someone saying thank God they had the sandbags. I'm not aware of any such accounts, but I'm willing to be educated.

Second... the problem becomes a lot less clear, when said equipment has other uses. E.g., you don't see soldiers discarding their bayonets, even though nobody did a bayonet charge lately. The sacks were actually quite useful for a lot of other purposes in between attacks, and some even blamed a shortage of sandbags early in the war on soldiers using sandbags for other purposes. So would you still get rid of them? I'm not completely sure.

Third... WHEN would you ditch them? As I was saying, most casualties happened in the first 15 minutes. That's hardly enough to figure out alternatives and change your gear accordingly.

Fourth... I don't see any mention of sandbags in the equipment of the French (e.g., see here: http://www.151ril.com/content/gear/1914 ) and there is no indication that the French infantry performed any poorer for lack of them. (Well, other than the first year's general screw-up that the French did for other reasons.)

Fifth... thing is, the British themselves soon changed the tactics, from overencumbered soldiers waddling towards the enemy, to more modern tactics that involved sprinting under cover fire. Seems to me like they too found it more useful to be able to move. Obviously they had to leave SOMETHING behind.

Sixth... I have no problem consider the opinion of the common soldier to be the barometer, but that's not really helping defend the officer's competence. As I've quoted before, it didn't take long for the Brits to call Haig's "Big Push" by the much less flattering name of "Big ****-Up" and felt they were abused by Haig. The French outright had revolts in the army in 1917, followed by a couple of them in the British army as well. The Russians even grew dissatisfied enough with their leadership that, well, you know how THAT ended.

Hell, it didn't even take all the way to 1917 for the soldiers to get depressed. Already by 1915, the French started being aware of the quick morale loss in the army, since they were reading and censoring every letter the soldiers sent home. and by 1916 the report was that "the man in the ranks [...] has lost both faith and enthusiasm." (Cf, "Dare Call it Treason" by Richard M. Watt.)

IF you're going to base the judgment of those guys' opinions -- and again, I'm not opposed to it -- it hardly disproves my thesis about incompetent officers. I think the perception of the common soldier was pretty much in that ballpark.
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Old 6th November 2017, 12:09 PM   #157
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
Irrelevant to my point. That people disagreed and turned out to be correct doesn't make the other guy stupid.
Lack of ability to learn from what was in HIS own hindsight, however, does.
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Old 6th November 2017, 12:14 PM   #158
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Lack of ability to learn from what was in HIS own hindsight, however, does.
Ok, how about you just go ahead and maintain your preconceived conclusion? Contrary to what you claim, you clearly aren't looking for a discussion, nor are you willing to challenge your own beliefs.

Have fun with that.
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Old 6th November 2017, 12:57 PM   #159
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Fifth... thing is, the British themselves soon changed the tactics, from overencumbered soldiers waddling towards the enemy, to more modern tactics that involved sprinting under cover fire. Seems to me like they too found it more useful to be able to move. Obviously they had to leave SOMETHING behind.

Except that's the opposite of what happened. Carrying sandbags was one of those changed tactics designed to improve the success of attacks and it worked, it was useful, it was practical. It was the outcome of earlier battles that led to the British realizing that just getting troops into the trenches wasn't enough, they needed the means to hold the trenches. You assert that 66 pounds was ludicrously overburdening a soldier, one quick google search reveals:

Quote:
Today the average US soldier carries at least 60 pounds of gear, with an extended patrol often*doubling that weight. Specialized warfighters, such as Automatic Riflemen, Combat Medics, and Special Operations can see totals much higher. For example, US Army Spc. Craig Brown carries 90 pounds of gear as a SAW gunner, not including a ruck.
https://protonex.com/blog/what-do-so...ts-its-weight/

In other words the soldier of WWI was carrying no more than a modern soldier, with all the mod cons as far as resupply goes, would carry and probably less in many cases. Again you've made a specious complaint based on nothing but your own incredulity.
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Old 6th November 2017, 01:07 PM   #160
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Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
Except that's the opposite of what happened. Carrying sandbags was one of those changed tactics designed to improve the success of attacks and it worked, it was useful, it was practical. It was the outcome of earlier battles that led to the British realizing that just getting troops into the trenches wasn't enough, they needed the means to hold the trenches. You assert that 66 pounds was ludicrously overburdening a soldier, one quick google search reveals:



https://protonex.com/blog/what-do-so...ts-its-weight/

In other words the soldier of WWI was carrying no more than a modern soldier, with all the mod cons as far as resupply goes, would carry and probably less in many cases. Again you've made a specious complaint based on nothing but your own incredulity.
John Keegan has stated that the weight of equipment carried by "heavy infantry" has stayed fairly constant from the Hoplites to the RM commandos and Paras in the Falklands, via the Medieval armoured infantry and the WWI infantry
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