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Old 6th November 2017, 01:58 PM   #161
Garrison
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
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
And it makes sense when you think about it, a soldier going into battle has a certain carrying capacity so an army will try to get full use out of that capacity whether it's lugging a Hoplite shield, a pack full of ammo and rations, or sandbags for that matter.
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Old 6th November 2017, 02:45 PM   #162
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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:
Seriously, if speed were the primary factor in trench assaults then you'd be best served using soldiers carrying only a short melee weapon, a sidearm, and a grenade or two. Then have them followed up with regular-armed troops. But it was tried before and didn't work.* This is because there was no single factor in taking a trench.


* During the American Civil War, one attempt using sailors carrying revolvers and cutlasses were used on an assault on a Confederate entrenchment. Even against single shot weapons it failed.
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Old 6th November 2017, 03:07 PM   #163
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I love these Conspiracy Theory threads--I always learn so much!
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Old 6th November 2017, 03:14 PM   #164
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I love these Conspiracy Theory threads--I always learn so much!
This does have a lot in common with CT threads in that it basically poses a question the OP has already decided the answer to and that answer is not going to be changed by any amount of facts that contradict it.
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Old 6th November 2017, 03:30 PM   #165
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Originally Posted by kookbreaker View Post
Seriously, if speed were the primary factor in trench assaults then you'd be best served using soldiers carrying only a short melee weapon, a sidearm, and a grenade or two. Then have them followed up with regular-armed troops. But it was tried before and didn't work.* This is because there was no single factor in taking a trench.


* During the American Civil War, one attempt using sailors carrying revolvers and cutlasses were used on an assault on a Confederate entrenchment. Even against single shot weapons it failed.
Interesting - any more information please?

As an aside, ages ago, i read somewhere (no idea where) that the average distance for a gunfight in the Wild West was about 10-ft. At such distances, I'd have guessed that a sword or unloaded bayonet would not have been at that much of a disadvantage one on one.
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Old 6th November 2017, 03:39 PM   #166
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
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.
And you are? I see you just threw a ridiculous claim, and now are stomping out and slamming the door when it wasn't immediately accepted.

Mate, the point is that given the same data available at the time (and I even mentioned other battles from which such data came, and which WERE in their hindsight) some people reached the correct conclusions, while some reached horribly wrong conclusions. Maybe "stupid" is too strong a strong term, but some were clearly less competent than others.

And it's nothing new about it here. We make such calls all the time.

If a stock broker groupis making better picks than another, with the data available to them at the time, then we deem the former more competent than the latter. And even in history, some generals are deemed to be more competent than others, because they made better decisions given the available data. Etc.

What is in fact an irrational position, and wanting to "maintain your preconceived conclusion" is the ridiculous position that we can't look back and judge who was better at it and who was worse.
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Old 6th November 2017, 03:41 PM   #167
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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.
First of all, how about waiting for an answer instead of picking on 1 detail out of the whole thread and preemptively claiming victory, if you accuse me of not wanting a discussion? You know, practice what you preach and all that? Because if we're talking similarities to CT threads, that is one of them: the tendency to preemptively claim victory as soon as they wrote a couple of paragraphs.

Ok, that aside, the difference is that a modern soldier doesn't have to run a mile across completely cratered terrain, or not with much better results.

Second, it's not *I* who introduced the claim that they couldn't run with that load in this thread, nor, in fact, in history texts. So how about you do the browbeating at them, if you're that determined to do some?
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Old 6th November 2017, 03:45 PM   #168
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I love these Conspiracy Theory threads--I always learn so much!
Mate, considering that nobody actually mentioned a conspiracy... yeah, far from me to stop you from doing the same dumb brow-beating that's been your ONLY contribution so far, but it kinda fails to impress when it's based on your not even being intellectually equipped to understand simple words or comprehend what you read.
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Old 6th November 2017, 03:51 PM   #169
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
Interesting - any more information please.
I’m going on memory here but I am sure it was mentioned in Shelby Foote’s trilogy. Doubtless in the last book when it was just constant fighting rather that pitched battles.
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Old 6th November 2017, 04:05 PM   #170
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
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
Maybe, but if you value Keegan's opinion -- and you should -- then he also wrote such stuff about Haig: "On the Somme, [Haig] had sent the flower of British youth to death or muti*lation; at Passchendaele he had tipped the survivors in the slough of despond."
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Old 6th November 2017, 04:07 PM   #171
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Which would be a fair observation IF it had been contradicted by facts. What I see is yet another lemming offering no more than browbeating.

How about you actually offer some facts before you make that complaint?
You've been offered facts, lots of them and you've repeatedly skipped past them. You've been offered evidence that the 60 pounds you regard as such an encumbrance was in fact nothing exceptional, it's been pointed out that the carrying of sandbags was a new tactic adopted, not an old one that was dropped and as with everything else that contradicts your fantasy version of WWI you've concocted you choose to ignore those posts and then pretend your being 'browbeaten'.
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Old 6th November 2017, 04:22 PM   #172
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Just to make it clear, though, the notion that the encumbrance was making it "difficult to get out of a trench, impossible to move much quicker than a slow walk, or to rise and lie down quickly," comes straight from the British official history of the war, and was written by historian General Edmonds. And is cited in such sources as "The Somme: Herosim and Horror in the First World War", by Martin Gilbert, or "Elegy: The First Day on the Somme" by Andrew Roberts.

So I find it amusing in a slapstick way to accuse me that it's born out of just my incredulity, or some CT-er mindset or such, when actually it takes a certain amount of ignorance to even make that accusation at all.

So, really, what are you saying I should do? Disbelieve the official history of the war, and the word of several actual historians, and believe YOU that oh noes, the historians were totally wrong about it? Is that what you're imputing me? That I'm some CT-er if I believe the contemporary historians, instead of you? That I'm some CT-er if I don't take your word on military matters over what was written by an actual GENERAL?

Really? Seriously?
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Old 6th November 2017, 04:29 PM   #173
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Maybe, but if you value Keegan's opinion -- and you should -- then he also wrote such stuff about Haig: "On the Somme, [Haig] had sent the flower of British youth to death or muti*lation; at Passchendaele he had tipped the survivors in the slough of despond."
Very poetic, I would suggest reading Garry Sheffield's Forgotten Victory: The First World War Myths and Realities as a counterpoint to Keegan's First World War, but as I doubt you read the latter in the first place and simply found the quote on a website I doubt it would be worthwhile.
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Old 6th November 2017, 04:32 PM   #174
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Very poetic indeed, from the guy accusing me that a claim from the British official history was born of just my own incredulity
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Old 6th November 2017, 04:44 PM   #175
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Very poetic indeed, from the guy accusing me that a claim from the British official history was born of just my own incredulity
And yet that claim, which you've only finally bothered to offer up a source for at the 3rd attempt, doesn't equate to the amount of weight being carried being either unnecessary or stupid and let's not forget that is your underlying claim, not that it had drawbacks but that it was 'stupid'. That's where the incredulity comes in, your inability to accept that there was perfectly sound rationale to decisions that were made. Now if there were a way to send a soldier into battle carrying everything they need and make it light as well that would be great, but they didn't manage it before WWI and they haven't managed it since.
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Old 6th November 2017, 04:51 PM   #176
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Also, I find it interesting that you latch on the weight of just the soldiers' kit, yet ignore what I said that they had to carry stuff on top of that. Let's look at what they had to carry on top of those 66 pounds:
To add to what they were already carrying, each battalion distributed among its thousand men a total of 1600 flares [...] 512 havesacks containing the extra ammunition for the Lewis guns, 64 bundles of five-foot wooden pickets to serve as trench supports, a minimum of 10 trench bridges -- each ten foot long, to be carried by two men -- and 16 sledgehammers.

Other men were detailed to take, as well as their standard equipment, rifle grenades, seven-foot trench ladders, and buckets in which to carry bombs. In addition [...] 640 men in each battalion carried, to add to their burdens, barbed-wire cutters, and 33 men per battallion carried the twenty-foot-long steel Bangalore Torpedoes."

-- "The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War", Martin Gilbert
Or
Some units also carried pigeon baskets, signalling gear, drums of telephone wire and tins of grey paint to put the unit's identification on every artillery piece captured. Those carrying barbed wire, carried 90 lbs (41 kg) of it. Small wonder that the leather straps that held the kit bit into the men's shoulders
-- "Elegy: The First Day on the Somme" by Andrew Roberts
So yeah, no, carrying 90 pounds of barbed wire on TOP of the aforementioned 66 pounds, is way out of whack with what modern marines carry into battle, or what the hoplites carried into battle
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Old 6th November 2017, 05:10 PM   #177
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Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
And yet that claim, which you've only finally bothered to offer up a source for at the 3rd attempt,
Considering that so far I seem to be the only one offering much in the way of citations at all, and I'm not writing a history book but having a conversation on a forum, I'll still take that as a compliment. It's hard work finding the exact page for all the claims being challenged, so I'm not sure what makes anyone act as if it wasn't answered in a minute, it's some mortal sin. Especially since I don't see many others matching the kind of effort and speed that they feel entitled to outright demand of me.

Plus now the complaint is, what? That if I had told you from the start that it's from the official history, you would have known not to call it a conspiracy theory?

Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
doesn't equate to the amount of weight being carried being either unnecessary or stupid and let's not forget that is your underlying claim, not that it had drawbacks but that it was 'stupid'. That's where the incredulity comes in, your inability to accept that there was perfectly sound rationale to decisions that were made. Now if there were a way to send a soldier into battle carrying everything they need and make it light as well that would be great, but they didn't manage it before WWI and they haven't managed it since.
"Unnecessary" or "stupid" is contenxt dependent. If you're marching with that weight down a street, it's obviously possible to do so. If you're trying to walk a mile of cratered terrain under machinegun fire with 66 pounds of kit and 90 pounts of barbed wire... it kinda is a bad idea. Or worse, trying to climb out of a gigantic mine crater under machinegun fire.

About those mine craters, since I'm on that page of the book anyway at this point:
German troops were able to occupy the rims of the craters before the advancing troops were able to reach them. When the Germans reached the rim nearest them, they immediately set up machineguns that poured a devastating fire on the attackers, still many yards away
"The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War", Martin Gilbert
So yeah, no, carrying everything AND the kitchen sink is not particularly optimal when you're trying to scramble uphill out of a big hole under machinegun fire and without cover.

And it's not just my opinion. The aforementioned historian and general Edmonds wrote THIS himself: "This overloading of the men is by many infantry officers regarded as one of the principal reasons of the heavy losses and failure of their battalions, for their men could not get through the machinegun zone with sufficient speed."

So again it's funny to see the whole "OMGWTFBBQDERP, Hans is stupid for thinking more speed would have helped", when officers at the time and a general thought exactly that. It's not something *I* made up.

So, I dunno... maybe "stupid" is or isn't a too strong word, but it's hardly just MY assessment that the lack of speed was kinda counter-productive.

Edit: and just to qualify what I mean by "counter-productive", so we don't get bogged down in THAT, see the Edmonds quote. It is regarded as one of the principal reasons of the FAILURE to achieve their goals. When something is the main reason for failing, I'd say "counter-productive" applies quite literally.
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Old 6th November 2017, 05:17 PM   #178
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Also, I find it interesting that you latch on the weight of just the soldiers' kit, yet ignore what I said that they had to carry stuff on top of that. Let's look at what they had to carry on top of those 66 pounds:
To add to what they were already carrying, each battalion distributed among its thousand men a total of 1600 flares [...] 512 havesacks containing the extra ammunition for the Lewis guns, 64 bundles of five-foot wooden pickets to serve as trench supports, a minimum of 10 trench bridges -- each ten foot long, to be carried by two men -- and 16 sledgehammers.

Other men were detailed to take, as well as their standard equipment, rifle grenades, seven-foot trench ladders, and buckets in which to carry bombs. In addition [...] 640 men in each battalion carried, to add to their burdens, barbed-wire cutters, and 33 men per battallion carried the twenty-foot-long steel Bangalore Torpedoes."

-- "The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War", Martin Gilbert
Or
Some units also carried pigeon baskets, signalling gear, drums of telephone wire and tins of grey paint to put the unit's identification on every artillery piece captured. Those carrying barbed wire, carried 90 lbs (41 kg) of it. Small wonder that the leather straps that held the kit bit into the men's shoulders
-- "Elegy: The First Day on the Somme" by Andrew Roberts
So yeah, no, carrying 90 pounds of barbed wire on TOP of the aforementioned 66 pounds, is way out of whack with what modern marines carry into battle, or what the hoplites carried into battle
Nope. Modern infantry carry additional gear and supplies, on top of their individual loadout. Weapons crews carry the components of their crew-served weapon, and ammo for those weapons. Radiomen carry radios and batteries. Sappers carry demolitions charges and breaching gear. Everybody carries a little bit of extra everything. Etc.
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Old 6th November 2017, 05:18 PM   #179
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Right, well, Edmonds and a lot of officers seemed to disagree with it being a good idea. You know, since they called it as one of principal reasons of failure.
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Old 6th November 2017, 05:25 PM   #180
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Also, I find it interesting that you latch on the weight of just the soldiers' kit, yet ignore what I said that they had to carry stuff on top of that. Let's look at what they had to carry on top of those 66 pounds:
To add to what they were already carrying, each battalion distributed among its thousand men a total of 1600 flares [...] 512 havesacks containing the extra ammunition for the Lewis guns, 64 bundles of five-foot wooden pickets to serve as trench supports, a minimum of 10 trench bridges -- each ten foot long, to be carried by two men -- and 16 sledgehammers.

Other men were detailed to take, as well as their standard equipment, rifle grenades, seven-foot trench ladders, and buckets in which to carry bombs. In addition [...] 640 men in each battalion carried, to add to their burdens, barbed-wire cutters, and 33 men per battallion carried the twenty-foot-long steel Bangalore Torpedoes."

-- "The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War", Martin Gilbert
Or
Some units also carried pigeon baskets, signalling gear, drums of telephone wire and tins of grey paint to put the unit's identification on every artillery piece captured. Those carrying barbed wire, carried 90 lbs (41 kg) of it. Small wonder that the leather straps that held the kit bit into the men's shoulders
-- "Elegy: The First Day on the Somme" by Andrew Roberts
So yeah, no, carrying 90 pounds of barbed wire on TOP of the aforementioned 66 pounds, is way out of whack with what modern marines carry into battle, or what the hoplites carried into battle
Actually, its not.

Canadian soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan routinely carried 75 or more pounds of equipment. A forward observer for artillery and/or fast air carries about 100 pounds. Radios are heavy and you need 2 - one to talk to the guns and the other talk to the pilots. Extra batteries are also heavy. The laser range finder, binoculars are also extra weight.

Infantry assault pioneers will have chainsaws with them to help dismantle obstacles over and above all the kit a normal infantry soldier carries.

It's heavy, but in the circumstances it was necessary.

No one is arguing its a lot of weight - how would you make sure that the troops had what they needed, when they needed it, given the battlefield conditions?

We know what the answer they came up with at the time and we know what the solution would have been if the war had gone on to 1919 - but how would you have done it?
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Old 6th November 2017, 05:25 PM   #181
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post

So, I dunno... maybe "stupid" is or isn't a too strong word, but it's hardly just MY assessment that the lack of speed was kinda counter-productive.
Except there wasn't an option but to carry the weight, or at least not a credible one you've presented. The fact is that carrying the sand bags and picks/shovels was something from later in the war when the British were more successful. The keys to overcoming the problem of infantry speed during WWI was better artillery support and the introduction of armoured warfare, or to put it another way keeping the German's heads down long enough to let the infantry get into the trenches.

Quote:
About those mine craters, since I'm on that page of the book anyway at this point:
The mine craters were one battle and yes the troops took too long to reach them, which has precisely zero to do with occupying functional trenches which is what I was under the distinct impression we were discussing so is your Edmonds quote specifically about the battle for the craters? The problem with the mines was that their effect on the defenders was grossly overestimated. They looked like a good idea on paper but proved ineffective in practice, which is why they didn't feature later in the war.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Right, well, Edmonds and a lot of officers seemed to disagree with it being a good idea. You know, since they called it as one of principal reasons of failure.
And the fact that you've just had it explained that soldiers do the same thing to this day doesn't strike you as perhaps meaning that either Edmonds was referring just to the attempt to take the craters or that the problem he described was essentially inescapable?
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Old 6th November 2017, 05:41 PM   #182
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The mines were even worse than that. The original plan was to detonate them right at the moment of the attack, but then it was decided to detonate them 10 minutes BEFORE the attack, just in case the fuses don't go off and need some fixing. The effect however, and quited adequately documented at that, was that

A) it was the first warning the Germans had, even before the artillery stopped. In fact, after the explosions they were actively waiting for the artillery to stop or shift and an attack to begin, and preparing for it.

B) to give them time to prepare to have go at the craters before the Brits get there.


That said, no, Edmonds was writing about the whole thing, not specifically the craters. I used the craters to show a more extreme situation where the encumbrance is even worse. But the judgment call Edmonds makes on it is not tied to the mine craters.
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Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
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Old 6th November 2017, 05:41 PM   #183
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
Actually, its not.

Canadian soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan routinely carried 75 or more pounds of equipment. A forward observer for artillery and/or fast air carries about 100 pounds. Radios are heavy and you need 2 - one to talk to the guns and the other talk to the pilots. Extra batteries are also heavy. The laser range finder, binoculars are also extra weight.

Infantry assault pioneers will have chainsaws with them to help dismantle obstacles over and above all the kit a normal infantry soldier carries.

It's heavy, but in the circumstances it was necessary.

No one is arguing its a lot of weight - how would you make sure that the troops had what they needed, when they needed it, given the battlefield conditions?

We know what the answer they came up with at the time and we know what the solution would have been if the war had gone on to 1919 - but how would you have done it?
That's a good question, especially as no one has solved the problem in the century since...
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Old 6th November 2017, 05:48 PM   #184
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The mines were even worse than that. The original plan was to detonate them right at the moment of the attack, but then it was decided to detonate them 10 minutes BEFORE the attack, just in case the fuses don't go off and need some fixing. The effect however, and quited adequately documented at that, was that

A) it was the first warning the Germans had, even before the artillery stopped. In fact, after the explosions they were actively waiting for the artillery to stop or shift and an attack to begin, and preparing for it.

B) to give them time to prepare to have go at the craters before the Brits get there.
and there's your problem, the difference later in the war was better artillery tactics, not the infantry carrying less stuff.

Quote:
That said, no, Edmonds was writing about the whole thing, not specifically the craters. I used the craters to show a more extreme situation where the encumbrance is even worse. But the judgment call Edmonds makes on it is not tied to the mine craters.
Then again we come to question that Border Reiver asked, how would you get the troops everything they needed to fight given the limitations of the western front in 1914-18 without the soldiers themselves carrying it? Simply stating that it was a problem is not proof of ineptitude or stupidity if there wasn't any better alternative.
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Old 6th November 2017, 06:07 PM   #185
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
Actually, its not.

Canadian soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan routinely carried 75 or more pounds of equipment. A forward observer for artillery and/or fast air carries about 100 pounds. Radios are heavy and you need 2 - one to talk to the guns and the other talk to the pilots. Extra batteries are also heavy. The laser range finder, binoculars are also extra weight.
The difference is just that: they're on patrol, or just getting into a position to observe. And in case of a problem, they can take cover and call for support. They're not required to carry that while charging a mile over cretered terrain, under concentrated machinegun fire (and a water-cooled Maxim could fire continuously for hours, unlike the bursts used by modern machineguns), without ANY cover. Including without any cover fire.

There's bit of a difference, you know.

Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
No one is arguing its a lot of weight - how would you make sure that the troops had what they needed, when they needed it, given the battlefield conditions?

We know what the answer they came up with at the time and we know what the solution would have been if the war had gone on to 1919 - but how would you have done it?
How I would have done it, is take it into account when coming up with the plan. Because, really, that's what I call stupid. It's not one factor taken by itself, but the disconnect between cause, effect, previous experience, and expectations. It's context dependent, basically.

I'm not saying that making a breakthrough is stupid, for example, I'm saying that it's stupid if you don't have a plan on standby to take advantage of it when it happens. And I'm not saying that the weight per se is stupid, but it's stupid to do a slow stroll towards the German machineguns because you're too encumbered to do much else.

If the weight can't be reduced, then come up with some other plan. That a plan is hamstrung by reality is not an excuse, but the damning part. Anyone can do a plan that's disconnected from reality. E.g., watch me: I can plan to use the Force, jedi-jump over the no man's land, and slaughter all the Germans with my lightsaber. The fact that reality prevents it from working isn't an excuse for that plan, it's what makes it stupid.


But to actually answer the question, you already know my answer: let the Germans waddle towards MY guns, rather than send my men waddling towards THEIRS. If you're going to play a war of attrition, which really is what Haig's excuse is for what he was doing, then do it in defense, not in offense.

Reinforce Verdun.

Yes, I know, the supply line was set up for the northern side, sacred road, etc. So what? If you can move 3 million men to the Somme (about half and half between the Brits and French by the end of it), you can get them to Verdun just as well.

And sure, the Sacred Road was overcrowded, but if you have 3 million men, you can have them pave you a new road to Verdun or lay you a new railroad track if you want. Railroads have been built with a thousandth of that manpower.

Especially since this ties in with another mistake of the Germans at the time, namely that they weren't attacking or disrupting that road. You could even have a civilian crew laying down tracks there.

Think it's an unrealistic plan to lay new tracks? Well, the Germans in WW2 were doing it all the time. Hell, the advance into Russia literally required them to re-lay the tracks on the whole hundreds of miles advanced, because they were of a different gauge.

But that, again, brings us back to thinking about logistics. Not doing anything to improve a bottleneck isn't exactly optimal logistics.
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Old 6th November 2017, 06:24 PM   #186
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Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
Then again we come to question that Border Reiver asked, how would you get the troops everything they needed to fight given the limitations of the western front in 1914-18 without the soldiers themselves carrying it? Simply stating that it was a problem is not proof of ineptitude or stupidity if there wasn't any better alternative.
Sure there was. Not do an offensive war of attrition if you don't have the means to do it sanely.

I mean the question of how would the soldier carry it other than waddling slowly with it towards machineguns that could fire literally tens of thousands of bullets each -- literally, I provided a quote earlier from a German who had to change his barrel 5 times, after shooting 5000 rounds with each -- is begging the question of whether you have to do that push in the first place.

There's a difference between Chess and Go that I'll use illustrate the whole thing. In Chess you HAVE to take a move, even if all possible moves put you into a worse position. In Go you don't.

And generally the whole "we have to do SOMETHING" kind of mentality is a very western thing. No, you don't. If you can't do anything productive, doing SOMETHING can actually be a very bad idea.

Also, to tie in with another earlier example of mine, one of the first things you're taught in Go is to never throw more pieces away, trying to save dead pieces. I.e., pieces that CAN'T be saved. It's not to say that you should always throw your hands up and concede all pieces. It's just to say that you should learn to quickly assess whether your situation actually allows you to save them, and if there's nothing you can do that wouldn't just result in more losses for you, then don't do anything about them.

Conrad von Hötzendorf's THREE failed offensives in the Carpathian mountains were such a failure to think like in Go. If the current situation doesn't, in fact, make it realistic to save 100,000 besieged soldiers, then don't throw 800,000 casualties on top of that by trying anyway.
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Old 6th November 2017, 06:27 PM   #187
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Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
and there's your problem, the difference later in the war was better artillery tactics, not the infantry carrying less stuff.
If we're still talking about the mines, I think rather the consensus was that the problem was the 10 minute delay
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Old 6th November 2017, 06:44 PM   #188
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The difference is just that: they're on patrol, or just getting into a position to observe. And in case of a problem, they can take cover and call for support. They're not required to carry that while charging a mile over cretered terrain, under concentrated machinegun fire (and a water-cooled Maxim could fire continuously for hours, unlike the bursts used by modern machineguns), without ANY cover. Including without any cover fire.

There's bit of a difference, you know.
Having been there - yes.

Your answer tells me that you have not.

Quote:
How I would have done it, is take it into account when coming up with the plan. Because, really, that's what I call stupid. It's not one factor taken by itself, but the disconnect between cause, effect, previous experience, and expectations. It's context dependent, basically.
In other words, you don't have an idea.

Quote:
I'm not saying that making a breakthrough is stupid, for example, I'm saying that it's stupid if you don't have a plan on standby to take advantage of it when it happens. And I'm not saying that the weight per se is stupid, but it's stupid to do a slow stroll towards the German machineguns because you're too encumbered to do much else.

If the wait can't be reduced, then come up with some other plan. That a plan is hamstrung by reality is not an excuse, but the damning part. Anyone can do a plan that's disconnected from reality. E.g., watch me: I can plan to use the Force, jedi-jump over the no man's land, and slaughter all the Germans with my lightsaber. The fact that reality prevents it from working isn't an excuse for that plan, it's what makes it stupid.
Now, explain why the actual plan at Battle X was deficient. Not based on what we know now, or even after the battle, but what was known prior to the battle. Please make sure that you also take into account the political imperatives.

The plan at the Somme was to:

a. Suppress the enemy trenches by sustained bombardment while the infantry advanced;
b. Move the artillery fire based on a set schedule to deeper targets, as the infantry advanced.

You ignore the difficulties in actually communicating with the fighting troops in WWI - radios are not manportable, pigeons often get shot and runners get shot even more often. And the ground is ***** for getting messages over broken ground quickly.

The plan at the Somme is actually fairly sound - where it has issues is the inability to react quickly at anything above a battalion level to changing conditions

Quote:
But to actually answer the question, you already know my answer: let the Germans waddle towards MY guns, rather than send my men waddling towards THEIRS. If you're going to play a war of attrition, which really is what Haig's excuse is for what he was doing, then do it in defense, not in offense.
When the enemy is occupying your territory, or your allies territory, sitting on the defensive is generally not an option - you have an obligation to attempt to liberate your own people. Sitting on the defense surrenders the initiative to the enemy, and forces you to react to them.

Quote:
Reinforce Verdun.
The French were doing this.

Sending imperial troops there would serve not useful purpose. It would complicate the existing logistical situation, and frankly surrenders the initiative elsewhere. If the Germans are throwing most of their reserves to one location, why wouldn't an offensive elsewhere have a better chance of success?

Quote:
Yes, I know, the supply line was set up for the northern side, sacred road, etc. So what? If you can move 3 million men to the Somme (about half and half between the Brits and French by the end of it), you can get them to Verdun just as well.
You've never moved much more then yourself and a small group of people anywhere remote have you? With everything they need to carry out a specific job when they get there and limited means to get the replacements for the tools they have.

Quote:
And sure, the Sacred Road was overcrowded, but if you have 3 million men, you can have them pave you a new road to Verdun or lay you a new railroad track if you want. Railroads have been built with a thousandth of that manpower.
You just need the tracks, and the rolling stock, and the land to do it on. Sure, it can be done by Tuesday.

Quote:
Especially since this ties in with another mistake of the Germans at the time, namely that they weren't attacking or disrupting that road. You could even have a civilian crew laying down tracks there.
Tunnel vision affects us all - however, if an artillery planner had gotten Falkenhayn to allow a change to the plan...

Quote:
Think it's an unrealistic plan to lay new tracks? Well, the Germans in WW2 were doing it all the time. Hell, the advance into Russia literally required them to re-lay the tracks on the wole hundreds of miles advanced, because they were of a different gauge.
You realize the Germans lost that war, don't you?

The resources that were expended on railway construction were unavailable to be used elsewhere - all that steel, all that rolling stock, etc. As useful as breasts on a bull.

Quote:
But that, again, brings us back to thinking about logistics. Not doing anything to improve a bottleneck isn't exactly optimal logistics.
And adding the British to Verdun, even to lay in new raillines to facilitate logistics wasn't going to make a poor situation better - it was going to turn it worse first.
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Old 6th November 2017, 07:14 PM   #189
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
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.
The Ross Rifle is today an highly prized target rifle and brings very high prices on the collectable firearms market,, and was successfully used as a sniper rifle (snipers could afford the time and effort it took to keep it in optimum working condition) but as a general issue service rifle it was a total disaster. Great rifle
wrong situation.
It did not have two of the vital thing a successful general issue military rifle needs to have:ruggedness and reliability.
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Old 6th November 2017, 07:19 PM   #190
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
Actually, its not.

Canadian soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan routinely carried 75 or more pounds of equipment. A forward observer for artillery and/or fast air carries about 100 pounds. Radios are heavy and you need 2 - one to talk to the guns and the other talk to the pilots. Extra batteries are also heavy. The laser range finder, binoculars are also extra weight.

Infantry assault pioneers will have chainsaws with them to help dismantle obstacles over and above all the kit a normal infantry soldier carries.

It's heavy, but in the circumstances it was necessary.

No one is arguing its a lot of weight - how would you make sure that the troops had what they needed, when they needed it, given the battlefield conditions?

We know what the answer they came up with at the time and we know what the solution would have been if the war had gone on to 1919 - but how would you have done it?
Fascinting that the standard weight of equipment that the US Soldier nowdays takes into battle...between 50 and 60 pounds...is almost the same weight that the Roman Legionaries carried on their backs. Marius's Mules Lives!
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Old 6th November 2017, 07:24 PM   #191
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Interestingly enough,"Wonder Woman" has greatly increased interest in the First World War.
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Old 6th November 2017, 07:51 PM   #192
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Interestingly enough,"Wonder Woman" has greatly increased interest in the First World War.


It even showed a historically accurate British tank repainted in German colours.
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Old 6th November 2017, 07:54 PM   #193
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Interestingly enough,"Wonder Woman" has greatly increased interest in the First World War.
Did you see how fast she moved when assaulting? It's because she carried hardly anything! Why didn't other commanders learn from her example? Stupid!
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Old 6th November 2017, 08:10 PM   #194
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
It even showed a historically accurate British tank repainted in German colours.
But Eindeckers in 1918?

(Yes, there was an artistic reason...)
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Old 7th November 2017, 01:11 AM   #195
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Fascinting that the standard weight of equipment that the US Soldier nowdays takes into battle...between 50 and 60 pounds...is almost the same weight that the Roman Legionaries carried on their backs. Marius's Mules Lives!
Not really, no. While Vegetius does write that the soldier was carrying 60 pounds in addition to his weapons, those are Romans pounds. In modern units that's merely 43 lbs. That's literally only two thirds of what the guys at the Somme were carrying, so I wouldn't really say "almost the same".

But even more importantly, some of that was carried only when they were on the march. They did not carry the cooking instruments and whatnot into battle.

So, yeah, not REALLY.
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Old 7th November 2017, 01:32 AM   #196
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
In other words, you don't have an idea.
I also don't have an idea how to sanely attack Russia in winter, but nobody says that it HAD to be done, much less that that makes it anything but a stupid move.

Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
Now, explain why the actual plan at Battle X was deficient. Not based on what we know now, or even after the battle, but what was known prior to the battle. Please make sure that you also take into account the political imperatives.

The plan at the Somme was to:

a. Suppress the enemy trenches by sustained bombardment while the infantry advanced;
b. Move the artillery fire based on a set schedule to deeper targets, as the infantry advanced.
No it was not. NEITHER before, nor after, introducing the creeping barrage, did the use of artillery even vaguely resemble your point 1.

And the creeping artillery barrage wasn't used until a couple of months later. Yes, it eventually happened at the Somme, but saying it was part of the plan that Haig had for Somme is like saying that tanks were. The original plan had the artillery stop bombing the Germans entirely when the Brits and French went over the top.

I mean, wth, it's not just me. Garrison also was just saying that better artillery tactics didn't happen until later.

Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
When the enemy is occupying your territory, or your allies territory, sitting on the defensive is generally not an option - you have an obligation to attempt to liberate your own people. Sitting on the defense surrenders the initiative to the enemy, and forces you to react to them.
Right. I'm sure the five miles gained at the Somme liberated a lot of people. And presumably a lot more people were there to liberate in that cratered no man's land than the million lives lost to save them

Otherwise, see what I've said about the game of Go.

Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
You realize the Germans lost that war, don't you?
You realize that the RUSSIANS had to do the same on their way back and they won that war, don't you?

Or to get back to the point before, that surrendering the initiative at Kursk to the Germans and letting THEM throw themselves at layered Russian defences actually worked well for the winning team?

Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
And adding the British to Verdun, even to lay in new raillines to facilitate logistics wasn't going to make a poor situation better - it was going to turn it worse first.
Adding them to the Somme also didn't immediately do anything positive, you know? It took between May and the 1st of July to rush the men and equipment there. In which time you COULD say that it made the situation worse. After all, you have to haul supplies to them now, and they're not yet doing anything useful.

I hardly think that using them to lay a track to Verdun for a couple of weeks would have been that insanely worse.
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Old 7th November 2017, 02:08 AM   #197
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That Blackadder clip made me look at a few episodes on YouTube - in one case the commander tosses a helmet out of the trench and it is immediately followed by a hail of machine-gun bullets and rolls back in full of holes. Hugh Laurie mentions helmet camouflage might do some good. In the final scene of the series they really are going "over the top" armed with revolvers. The implication is they all die more or less immediately. This is in 1917.

Earlier in the series Blackadder gets orders to advance. Spoilers: He fakes a bad connection on the phone, manages to ignore a telegram and then shoots and eats a passenger pigeon.

I'm not taking my history from that, obviously, but did Germany have the edge on automatic weapons, and how long did it last?

ETA: He dismisses a would-be offensive saying Haig wants to move his drinks cupboard 4 inches closer to Berlin. So what ever the facts, popular culture later offered a very cynical take on generals' best-laid plans. But the Allies did win, after all. I would like to learn from this thread, with specific examples of how Allied tactics improved enough to change the course of the war.

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Old 7th November 2017, 02:15 AM   #198
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post

Reinforce Verdun.
I covered this earlier.
This cannot happen.
If it could then why did the French not move all their guns from the Somme to Verdun?
Indeed, if it were possible, why were the French involved in the Somme battle at all?

The answer was simply that the Germans (as has been explained earlier) picked Verdun because the French would find it harder to supply their forces.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Yes, I know, the supply line was set up for the northern side, sacred road, etc. So what? If you can move 3 million men to the Somme (about half and half between the Brits and French by the end of it), you can get them to Verdun just as well.
Bloody hell. You spent ages going on about logistics and then come up with this?
It's a fantasy.

It's the same fantasy the Germans had wrt August/September 1914. You can't just shove millions of troops into a small area and expect the logistics to hold up.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
And sure, the Sacred Road was overcrowded, but if you have 3 million men, you can have them pave you a new road to Verdun or lay you a new railroad track if you want. Railroads have been built with a thousandth of that manpower.
And now we have an interesting variant on the Mythical Man Month.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But that, again, brings us back to thinking about logistics. Not doing anything to improve a bottleneck isn't exactly optimal logistics.
The French did do things to improve the bottle neck. That you don't know about the widening of the road, the traffic control set up, and also the parallel railway line says a lot.

But then you seem to think the Germans were still attacking Verdun after the Somme kicked off, and hadn't shifted a load of troops to that battle instead.
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Old 7th November 2017, 03:08 AM   #199
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
That wasn't what that was, and if you actually knew much about WW1 you would have known why I posted that. See, what happened was once the Germans had decided they couldn't dislodge the Australians from Pozieres with infantry, they turned the artillery on them. Pozieres turned in to a German artillery practice range, and almost all of the Australians lost in the second part of the battle were killed by shells. All up in the 6 weeks of Pozieres over 12,000 of the Australians were killed, most of them by mortar shells.
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Old 7th November 2017, 03:10 AM   #200
Damien Evans
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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.
My mistake, I didn't see that had been posted. Given that contradicts everything I've read I don't necessarily believe it, but it is indeed a source.
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