ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » History, Literature, and the Arts
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Tags World War I history

Reply
Old 8th November 2017, 08:43 AM   #241
abaddon
Penultimate Amazing
 
abaddon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 16,887
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...
Wrong. The average US soldier carries a minimum of 60 pounds of gear today.

In fact, throughout history, that figure has pretty much remained constant.

As for everyone being stupid in WW1 that is not really accurate. Everyone was accustomed to the 19th century military thinking, massed formations of troops in the field and what not. Battles are madly chaotic, so bright uniforms are useful for distinguishing "us" from "them". The French did have those spanking blue/red uniforms but, they were in the process of phasing them out. WW1 happened before they completed that and they could hardly say to the germans "Wait! we aren't ready yet!".

The British opted for the khaki, the French for a kind of non-descript blue and the Germans for battlefield gray. The fact remains that a great deal of military thinking was inherited, and was forced to change over the course of WW1. The invention of the tank is a case in point. Nobody knew exactly what tactics were right. The British considered it an infantry support weapon which had no need to move faster that a soldier could walk, the French preferred more nimble light tanks and the Germans went for behemoths. Why the disparity? Because it was new and nobody had much of a clue.

Airpower was the same. Nobody had the foggiest clue what one could do with it.

The point is not that they were stupid, it is that they were all on a very, very steep learning curve.
__________________
Who is General Failure? And why is he reading my hard drive?
abaddon is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2017, 09:01 AM   #242
Tolls
Illuminator
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 3,653
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The 8mm Lebel version could shoot more than that before overheating and malfunctioning. It was only the .30-06 version made for the Americans that was called the worst machinegun ever. I mean, mind you, it's still the same underlying issue of thermal expansion and tolerances in both versions, but the more powerful .30-06 round made them surface much faster.

And really, it's so well known a problem, you can even hit Wikipedia and search for the machinegun.
So, not a machine gun with 3 years service and over a 250,000 produced, but one with a years service and 18,000 built.

Which is what I was beginning to suspect you actually meant.


Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The M16 did indeed have problems, mostly stemming from the fact that the army was using a different grade of ammunition than the manufacturer had specified. Which, yes, combined with the lack of a cleaning kit, was indeed a jam waiting to happen. Good call.

Still, unless my memory fails me, it took more than a couple of rounds to get there.
And there were more than 18000 built before it was fixed.
Tolls is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2017, 09:17 AM   #243
Border Reiver
Philosopher
 
Border Reiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 6,068
Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
The point is not that they were stupid, it is that they were all on a very, very steep learning curve.
It would be the equivalent today of fighting WWIII - and having to develop and adapt the new tactics required by space capable fighters (and other tech) while using weapon systems that have only recently come into service in the last 10-15 years, dealing with the rapid expansion of the various world militaries by a factor of 10, with the subsequent demand for food, and kit, and the need to deal with the resulting social disruption.
__________________
Questions, comments, queries, bitches, complaints, rude gestures and/or remarks?
Border Reiver is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2017, 09:24 AM   #244
Henri McPhee
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 1,895
I have always held the view that the Higher Command in the First World War not only lacked imagination, but they were unaware of the battle conditions. I suppose that might be a bit unfair. Some soldiers were known to have complained about Sir Doug. Many soldiers suffered from the effects of whizz bangs after that war. I believe Haig was given 100000 after that war. It was a defensive war, unlike the blitzkrieg tactics of Rommel and Guderian in the Second World War.

There is a bit of waffle about all this in a book called the Russian Outlook published in 1947 by Lieutenant-General Sir Giffard Martel:

Quote:
I think that any experienced soldier, who has studied these matters, will agree that it was fortunate that the strong views of Haig and Robertson prevailed and that we never sent great forces to seek the easy way round through the Balkans, and that Mr. Winston Churchill was unsound in pressing that point of view. This statement will no doubt be countered by pointing out that his proposals were made early in the war and that only a force of a limited size was intended. But even the small force that we did send was a heavy drain on our resources. The sending of any larger force might easily have proved fatal.........

The long period of trench warfare and the resulting stagnation in the First World War naturally gave rise to the idea that the generals had been particularly stupid in that war. Military writers were very expansive on this subject. Of course mistakes were made. Mistakes are always made in war, but it was won in four years and the proportion of men in the forward areas who became casualties was not much greater than in the much more mobile warfare of the Second World War. Future history may not be quite so critical about the First World War.
Henri McPhee is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2017, 07:28 PM   #245
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
It would be the equivalent today of fighting WWIII - and having to develop and adapt the new tactics required by space capable fighters (and other tech) while using weapon systems that have only recently come into service in the last 10-15 years, dealing with the rapid expansion of the various world militaries by a factor of 10, with the subsequent demand for food, and kit, and the need to deal with the resulting social disruption.
But were most things really that new?

I mean, the first use of barbed wire and trenches I can think of is during the American Civil War. So it's not the last 10-15 years, but more like the last 50 years.

Using firepower as a defense, and the high casualties you'd take in a frontal attack against such defense, WTH, that was more like AT LEAST 500 years old. See, Crecy, Agincourt, etc.

But even just looking at the more recent American Civil War, would have shown the horrible casualties you can get when walking slowly in neat ranks towards enemy lines these newfangled rifled weapons, with their long range. At Cold Harbor, 7000 union troops were wiped out in just 20 minutes, without even needing machineguns. Hell, even looking at the war of 1812, more than a CENTURY before would have demonstrated the flaw in that plan.

So it's more like someone doing a war in 2017, while ignoring what happened in Vietnam in 1967, or what happened at Passchendaele in 1917, than discovering stuff that's barely a decade old.

Cavalry, it is widely considered that the last successful cavalry charge was Von Bredow's "Death Ride" at he Battle of Mars-La-Tour in 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War. And even then, note how it was called a "Death Ride." Haig was insisting there's a place for that, as late as 1925, so again, more than 50 years later.

AND even at Mars-La-Tour, one of the reasons it worked at all was that it used terrain and smoke, and only appeared as a complete surprise into the enemy's view some 1000 yards or so from the enemy line, going at full speed. And it still was a "death ride". Nothing even remotely similar to those conditions would exist at the Somme, yet Haig was keeping his cavalry prancing around, ready to charge.

It seems to me more like a systemic failure to learn. And NB, all European powers had sent observers to the American Civil War. So it's not like they didn't know about what happened. They just didn't learn.


And sure, some stuff like tanks was new, but they played no part in formulating the original disastrous plans, since they didn't even exist yet.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

Last edited by HansMustermann; 8th November 2017 at 07:33 PM.
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2017, 07:57 PM   #246
Border Reiver
Philosopher
 
Border Reiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 6,068
Originally Posted by Henri McPhee View Post
I have always held the view that the Higher Command in the First World War not only lacked imagination, but they were unaware of the battle conditions. I suppose that might be a bit unfair. Some soldiers were known to have complained about Sir Doug. Many soldiers suffered from the effects of whizz bangs after that war. I believe Haig was given 100000 after that war. It was a defensive war, unlike the blitzkrieg tactics of Rommel and Guderian in the Second World War.
You're a bit late to the party, and frankly your impression is incorrect.

Most British and Dominion generals were up at the front every few days - especially by the late war, when most of them had started the war as lower ranking officers. As has been pointed out, they were quite innovative overall - rewriting doctrine and tactics on the fly in many cases, incorporating new technologies on nearly a monthly basis.

Most soldiers grumble about their commanders - any that tell you that they don't is lying. From the perspective of the common soldier the orders that come down often seem strange - and when they dramatically change the way you've been doing things you tend to not like it.

And your impression that the war was a defensive one is incorrect - wars are not won on the defense. The Western allies waged an offensive war - the pauses to gather the materiel for the next attack leading to the impression that the Allies were just waiting..
__________________
Questions, comments, queries, bitches, complaints, rude gestures and/or remarks?
Border Reiver is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2017, 08:34 PM   #247
Border Reiver
Philosopher
 
Border Reiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 6,068
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But were most things really that new?
Yes, when used in combination they were.

Quote:
I mean, the first use of barbed wire and trenches I can think of is during the American Civil War. So it's not the last 10-15 years, but more like the last 50 years.
The military experience of most of the European powers and the armies that trained like them was not to use trenches - the much smaller forces they were used to operating with simply meant that trenches were something to use temporarily, as there was enough terrain for forces to move around fixed defences. It was not until WWI that you got defensive systems on the scale of WWI with trenchlines from the North Sea to the Swiss border.

Quote:
Using firepower as a defense, and the high casualties you'd take in a frontal attack against such defense, WTH, that was more like AT LEAST 500 years old. See, Crecy, Agincourt, etc.
This was more like a siege and yes the leaders were well aware of the superiority of firepower for the defence. The entire freaking war was one long exercise in figuring out the best way to supress the enemy fire to get your folks in close to gain local superiority. The lovely rail network of Europe was wonderful though for moving reserves to those threatened sectors to reinforce areas making the job much harder. Unlike today, using your guns or missiles or aircraft to stop this wasn't an option - as there was no way to correct the fire accurately, or the tech was insufficient to achieve the aim.

Self loading automatic weapons were new - having been introduced on a wide scale only within the previous twenty years and were just getting to the reliable stage - well after the last large scale European war. The Balkan wars being fought by poor countries with limited means to buy and employ them on the scale that the major industrial powers could use, and thus they didn't form a huge part of the military lessons learned.

Quote:
But even just looking at the more recent American Civil War, would have shown the horrible casualties you can get when walking slowly in neat ranks towards enemy lines these newfangled rifled weapons, with their long range. At Cold Harbor, 7000 union troops were wiped out in just 20 minutes, without even needing machineguns. Hell, even looking at the war of 1812, more than a CENTURY before would have demonstrated the flaw in that plan.
Which is why soldiers didn't move in neat ranks (British and Imperial troops advanced in loose and open order). Troops moved as quickly as they could given the conditions of the ground they had to cover. I've carried the weight they carried and with similar load bearing equipment - and found that your speed is more affected by terrain then by your normal carried kit. Mud, shell craters reduced their speed to a crawl.

Quote:
Cavalry, it is widely considered that the last successful cavalry charge was Von Bredow's "Death Ride" at he Battle of Mars-La-Tour in 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War. And even then, note how it was called a "Death Ride." Haig was insisting there's a place for that, as late as 1925, so again, more than 50 years later.

AND even at Mars-La-Tour, one of the reasons it worked at all was that it used terrain and smoke, and only appeared as a complete surprise into the enemy's view some 1000 yards or so from the enemy line, going at full speed. And it still was a "death ride". Nothing even remotely similar to those conditions would exist at the Somme, yet Haig was keeping his cavalry prancing around, ready to charge.
How would you exploit any breakthroughs?

Trucks and cars aren't getting over the former no-man's land. Tanks are not reliable enough, etc. You are also ignoring that cavalry was expected to be employed as mounted infantry - the idea is use the horse as a living APC to get forces where they are needed faster then Tommy Atkins could march.

With what was available how would you do it? Be specific.

Quote:
It seems to me more like a systemic failure to learn. And NB, all European powers had sent observers to the American Civil War. So it's not like they didn't know about what happened. They just didn't learn.
And the lessons of the ACW were not reinforced by the next 50 years of the military campaigns they did fight.

Quote:
And sure, some stuff like tanks was new, but they played no part in formulating the original disastrous plans, since they didn't even exist yet.
Tanks were new. The rate of munitions consumption was orders of magnitude higher then any of the powers had seen in any of the battles they had fought.

You are also forgetting that the Schlieffen Plan very nearly worked.
__________________
Questions, comments, queries, bitches, complaints, rude gestures and/or remarks?
Border Reiver is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2017, 08:51 PM   #248
whoanellie
Critical Thinker
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 264
War is stupid
whoanellie is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2017, 09:01 PM   #249
theprestige
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 23,174
Originally Posted by whoanellie View Post
War is stupid
Not always.
theprestige is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2017, 09:15 PM   #250
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
TBH, I doubt that at least the version they used of the Schlieffen Plan could POSSIBLY work, especially since it went off the expected timeline from the start. Moving some 600,000 men through Belgium alone, required not only to capture the Belgian infrastructure and trains intact, but to be done taking the railway junction of Liege by day 5. We're talking a heavily FORTIFIED position, and it had mere hours margin of error, starting from when the mobilization order was given at all.

It also assumed stuff like that they'd totally be left alone by the Russians im the meantime, but the new mobilization plans of the Russians meant that that assumption had been bogus since 1910. Correcting for that mistaken assumption took even more troops from a Schlieffen plan that already wasn't doing that great, and doomed it completely.

So, uh, yeah, it "very nearly worked" in the same way as someone jumping off a bridge very nearly flew
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2017, 11:12 PM   #251
jimbob
Uncritical "thinker"
 
jimbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 15,728
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But were most things really that new?

I mean, the first use of barbed wire and trenches I can think of is during the American Civil War. So it's not the last 10-15 years, but more like the last 50 years.

Using firepower as a defense, and the high casualties you'd take in a frontal attack against such defense, WTH, that was more like AT LEAST 500 years old. See, Crecy, Agincourt, etc.

But even just looking at the more recent American Civil War, would have shown the horrible casualties you can get when walking slowly in neat ranks towards enemy lines these newfangled rifled weapons, with their long range. At Cold Harbor, 7000 union troops were wiped out in just 20 minutes, without even needing machineguns. Hell, even looking at the war of 1812, more than a CENTURY before would have demonstrated the flaw in that plan.

So it's more like someone doing a war in 2017, while ignoring what happened in Vietnam in 1967, or what happened at Passchendaele in 1917, than discovering stuff that's barely a decade old.

Cavalry, it is widely considered that the last successful cavalry charge was Von Bredow's "Death Ride" at he Battle of Mars-La-Tour in 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War. And even then, note how it was called a "Death Ride." Haig was insisting there's a place for that, as late as 1925, so again, more than 50 years later.

AND even at Mars-La-Tour, one of the reasons it worked at all was that it used terrain and smoke, and only appeared as a complete surprise into the enemy's view some 1000 yards or so from the enemy line, going at full speed. And it still was a "death ride". Nothing even remotely similar to those conditions would exist at the Somme, yet Haig was keeping his cavalry prancing around, ready to charge.

It seems to me more like a systemic failure to learn. And NB, all European powers had sent observers to the American Civil War. So it's not like they didn't know about what happened. They just didn't learn.


And sure, some stuff like tanks was new, but they played no part in formulating the original disastrous plans, since they didn't even exist yet.
Upthread I mentioned this ( a different "campaign" of 1812) but Mark Urban in his book Rifles about the Royal Greenjackets in the Peninsular Campaign mentioned that their use of muzzle loading rifle fire successfully broke French attacks and he claimed that the French did learn a lesson from that, but it was the wrong one.
Heavy troops with muskets can't succeed against concentrated muzzle loading rifle fire.
We need to improve their elan, so maybe if we don't issue them any ammunition - just bayonets , that will work against machine guns.
Personally I think that is evidence for the OP.
__________________
OECD healthcare spending
Expenditure on healthcare
http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/health-data.htm
link is 2015 data (2013 Data below):
UK 8.5% of GDP of which 83.3% is public expenditure - 7.1% of GDP is public spending
US 16.4% of GDP of which 48.2% is public expenditure - 7.9% of GDP is public spending
jimbob is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 12:39 AM   #252
erwinl
Graduate Poster
 
erwinl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,582
Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
Upthread I mentioned this ( a different "campaign" of 1812) but Mark Urban in his book Rifles about the Royal Greenjackets in the Peninsular Campaign mentioned that their use of muzzle loading rifle fire successfully broke French attacks and he claimed that the French did learn a lesson from that, but it was the wrong one.
Heavy troops with muskets can't succeed against concentrated muzzle loading rifle fire.
We need to improve their elan, so maybe if we don't issue them any ammunition - just bayonets , that will work against machine guns.
Personally I think that is evidence for the OP.
That is indeed one of the more stupid decisions.
Albeit one also come about as a result of a rational thought line about what is needed for a succesful bayonet attack (shock effect, which means that you don't want to warn the enemy you are coming, so you want to make sure no inattentive soldier ruins the surprise by a premature firing, so....). You get the picture.
Logical train of thought. Only exactly the wrong one, because it starts the moment of thinking through a bit too late in the 'we're going to make a bayonet attack' process.

Although, as far as I know, they were issued with ammo. Only the Lebel rifle has a magazin cut-off (basically a lever which stops the ammo in the magazin from feeding, when working the bolt mechanism, as was also present in the SMLE). Using the cut-off and forbidding the soldiers from putting a bullet in the chamber, has the same result as advancing with an unloaded weapon.

It is these trains of thought. Each single step logical, but the end result being wrong that makes this and others like it so interesting.
And France was not the only country doing something like this (I'm looking at you USA, with your Tankdestroyer doctrine in WWII (and no tanks were not forbidden to fight other tanks!)).

Edit:
And to be fair. The UK army in the Napoleon wars also tended to make bayonet attacks with unloaded weapons. This being directly after the final massive volley.
__________________
Bow before your king
Member of the "Zombie Misheard Lyrics Support Group"

Last edited by erwinl; 9th November 2017 at 12:42 AM.
erwinl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 01:19 AM   #253
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
I think both are somewhat simplified. The notion of elan may have had some of its roots there, but really only was properly formulated and really took off later, after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian war. And it was a bit more of a combined ball of stupid than just wanting a bayonet charge.

The French essentially looked at why they lost and the Germans won, and ended up drinking the kool aid of what was at best an excuse to tell oneself after losing. Namely that the Germans had more impetus, or will to win, or such.

It wasn't JUST that it predicated a bayonet charge. It was that they drunk deep and greedily of their own kool-aid and by the time of WW1 that "elan" was pretty much everything. Their only plan was to attack with lots of elan, and a soldier with enough elan could conquer anything and overcome any odds. That elan would matter more than equipment, logistics, training, communications, or really anything.

The bayonet charge was more of a result of that kind of thinking than its base.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 01:51 AM   #254
erwinl
Graduate Poster
 
erwinl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,582
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I think both are somewhat simplified. The notion of elan may have had some of its roots there, but really only was properly formulated and really took off later, after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian war. And it was a bit more of a combined ball of stupid than just wanting a bayonet charge.

The French essentially looked at why they lost and the Germans won, and ended up drinking the kool aid of what was at best an excuse to tell oneself after losing. Namely that the Germans had more impetus, or will to win, or such.

It wasn't JUST that it predicated a bayonet charge. It was that they drunk deep and greedily of their own kool-aid and by the time of WW1 that "elan" was pretty much everything. Their only plan was to attack with lots of elan, and a soldier with enough elan could conquer anything and overcome any odds. That elan would matter more than equipment, logistics, training, communications, or really anything.

The bayonet charge was more of a result of that kind of thinking than its base.
That is true.

But this question concerns more the why of a bayonet attack (which was indeed a part of a larger doctrine of 'elan', alongside other parts, like the famous 75mm French gun and machine guns as light as possible like the Chauchat (there is that thing again). All to stay as mobile as possible for the elan doctrine)).
My example was more about the how of a bayonet attack.

But yes.
All is connected in the prevailing doctrine.
__________________
Bow before your king
Member of the "Zombie Misheard Lyrics Support Group"
erwinl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 01:57 AM   #255
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
Oh, I didn't say there was anything wrong with your presentation of the how of the attack. I was just putting it in the larger context of that doctrine.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 02:24 AM   #256
erwinl
Graduate Poster
 
erwinl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,582
The 'elan' doctrine had a reason as well.

In 1870 Frech doctrine was indeed not agressive enough, which cost them that war.
How to prevent that in the future? The German army was way more agressive, so you have to 'out aggresive' them.
Aside from that German population was larger than that of France and projected to rise even more. That means that the German army would be bigger or that, given a same size of army, a larger portion of the French population would be in arms.

Aside from that there was a true resentment in France concerning the lost provinces of Elsace and Lorraine. They really, really wanted those provinces back. And you don't do that by retreating and letting the enemy come to your guns. You want to liberate them from then Germans!

So. You want aggresive attacking strategy and you want to win the war as soon as possible, because getting penned up in Paris and Sedan again is simply not a winning strategy.
neither do you want to wage war in a video game manner, where the fight gets harder and harder till you meet the end boss. You want your first hit to be end boss level violence!

I suspect this doctrine had a real chance in succeeding if the war would have been an 1870 type of war, maybe even as late as 1905-1906.

So. There is a rationale there, flawed as it was.

Unfortunately. When the Great War finally did erup, defensive capabilities exceeded offensive capabilities. And unknown to the other countries (let's talk about a failure of intelligence here) Germany used their reserve units as frontline units, thereby doubling the number of frontline troops, instead of using reserve troops to replenish losses from active units.

And as, for example, taking the wrong lessons from an earlier war. Look at the Russo Japanese war. Yes. you can say it showed the value of defense in the case of the siege of Port Arthur. Absolutely true.
But look at the rest of the battles. The battle of Mukden, for example. 260.000 Japanese against 340.000 Russians.
Only. The Japanese were much more agrressive than the Russians and won that battle and this was seen during the entire war. Passive Russians who let themselves be outmanouvred and outfought by aggressive Japanese.

So which lesson is more valid, when seen at that moment? Siege style defense or Agressive tactics during a battle? In the end it turned out to be the first, but having the entire frontline, from Switzerland to the Belgian coast to turn into one great siege was something nobody had forseen at that time. Thus taking the latter lesson as more valid, at the time, is understandable.
__________________
Bow before your king
Member of the "Zombie Misheard Lyrics Support Group"
erwinl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 02:26 AM   #257
erwinl
Graduate Poster
 
erwinl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,582
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Oh, I didn't say there was anything wrong with your presentation of the how of the attack. I was just putting it in the larger context of that doctrine.
I took it that way as well.

took me a little while to type my next part though, so didn't see your remark earlier.
__________________
Bow before your king
Member of the "Zombie Misheard Lyrics Support Group"
erwinl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 02:33 AM   #258
Tolls
Illuminator
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 3,653
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Cavalry, it is widely considered that the last successful cavalry charge was Von Bredow's "Death Ride" at he Battle of Mars-La-Tour in 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War. And even then, note how it was called a "Death Ride." Haig was insisting there's a place for that, as late as 1925, so again, more than 50 years later.
What Haig was referring to was more what happened at Beersheba in 1917 (which is generally acknowledged as the last cavalry charge).

He expected them to mostly be used to exploit a gap as mounted infantry. After all, it's all he had for that role.

I doubt he expected a charge home to be a regular occurrence. After all, the horse wasn't exactly kitted out for that. As the wiki says, the Aussies charged using hand-held bayonets.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
TBH, I doubt that at least the version they used of the Schlieffen Plan could POSSIBLY work, especially since it went off the expected timeline from the start. Moving some 600,000 men through Belgium alone, required not only to capture the Belgian infrastructure and trains intact, but to be done taking the railway junction of Liege by day 5. We're talking a heavily FORTIFIED position, and it had mere hours margin of error, starting from when the mobilization order was given at all.

It also assumed stuff like that they'd totally be left alone by the Russians im the meantime, but the new mobilization plans of the Russians meant that that assumption had been bogus since 1910. Correcting for that mistaken assumption took even more troops from a Schlieffen plan that already wasn't doing that great, and doomed it completely.

So, uh, yeah, it "very nearly worked" in the same way as someone jumping off a bridge very nearly flew
And yes. The Schlieffen Plan was a nonsense created out of perceived necessity for the war they felt they were going to have to fight. There's still argument over whether Schlieffen himself felt it was anything other than a desperate hack.

It relied on the Russian mobilisation being slow, which as you say was less and less the case every year. In the 20 years before the war the Russian added some 20,000 miles of track to their network.

It also relied on the aforementioned shifting of a massive army through Belgium. Considering they had huge issues supplying what they did manage to shove through there, adding any more would not have helped in the slightest, unlike the complaints by many over Moltke's handling of the plan.
Tolls is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 03:16 AM   #259
erwinl
Graduate Poster
 
erwinl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,582
I've recently seen a lecture concerning the strategic choices the German army took in WWII conderning which targets to attack.

The argument was that is was all based on the Prussian mindset from way back.
Prussia. A smallish country on the edge of civilized Europe, surrounded by larger enemies and not really posessing any true defensive country or ability to last a long war.
The only way to win a war was to hit the enemy as soon as possible as hard as possible. Everything in the first blow, because you have no possibility to last an attrition war. This midnset was completely infused in the Prussian way of (army)life and later in the German army (because it was Prussia, which set out the direction for doctrine here).

That is why Prussia, when things didn't go their way in the Napoleonic war didn't stay the course like for instance Great Britain, but sued for peace and waited for a better opportunity later (this is very short, it was a lot more complicated than that, of course).

The German army in WWI and stil in a way in WWII was still infused with that Prussian mindset. Strike as hard as possible, with everything you have and the enemy will sue for peace, before your own reserves/logistics force you to stop on your own.

Which worked in France in 1870, in Poland in 1939 in France and the Low countries in 1940.
But if the enemy didn't fall down (France 1914, Russia 1941) quickly enough, there is not fall back option. You see it time and time again with the German army. All out violent attacks and after the failure a stop and a 'And now what?'.

A strategic defence on the Alsace/Lorraine front and a concentration on the Russian front would indeed have been the better strategy for Germany. But the Prussian mindset was incapable of seeing things that way.

I'm not saying that that lecture had all the truth in it. I'm certain there are a lot of nuances here and there, but it was a very intriguing new way of looking at, why people did the things they did.
__________________
Bow before your king
Member of the "Zombie Misheard Lyrics Support Group"
erwinl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 05:23 AM   #260
Border Reiver
Philosopher
 
Border Reiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 6,068
Originally Posted by erwinl View Post
I'm not saying that that lecture had all the truth in it. I'm certain there are a lot of nuances here and there, but it was a very intriguing new way of looking at, why people did the things they did.
It's not that new a way of looking at things though. That lecture was based on the idea that a society's actions will be influenced by its history and culture. It's not a common way to look at military history, but its not that radical.

It can be extrapolated to other nation states and can be used to explain why certain activities keep getting used even when, to outside eyes, they seem stupid or counterproductive.
__________________
Questions, comments, queries, bitches, complaints, rude gestures and/or remarks?
Border Reiver is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 05:30 AM   #261
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
I've carried the weight they carried and with similar load bearing equipment
So did I. I may not have been in Afghanistan, but we used to have conscription, you know? I even had to charge up a small hill with that kind of load. BUT, and this is a big BUT...

Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
and found that your speed is more affected by terrain then by your normal carried kit. Mud, shell craters reduced their speed to a crawl.
... that's why I was saying that it's context dependent. Which is what everyone keeps ignoring when they answer my (and not only MY) objection.

The fact is, it's not even taking the maximum of the two, but really the sum of the two. If it's mud, then increasing your body weight by around 50% (which is what the official history says for the soldiers they had back then), just means 50% more pressure on your soles, so you get stuck in the mud harder. If it's getting out of a mine crater, increasing your body mass by 50% increases the work you have to do by the same amount. If it's charging at the machineguns on the edge of that crater, given the same leg muscles, 50% more weight means you only have 2/3 of the acceleration. It's basic newtonian stuff. Etc.

The same weight can be perfectly ok if you're marching on a flat road, or even doing a short charge up a small hill, but not ok for trying to get to some machineguns a mile away, over cratered ground, without cover. It's the COMBINATION of all the factors that eventually breaks the proverbial camel's back.

So if you can't change the weather or make the enemy machineguns be closer, then the weight is the one thing you can change.

And it's not like there was a shortage of things you could safely leave behind. E.g., a bunch of soldiers in each unit had to carry cans of paint, to mark the guns captured by that unit. Because... priorities
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 06:01 AM   #262
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
And now for something completely different...

I'm going to do the crazy thing and actually defend the Chauchat. Well, sorta. The IDEA was a actually a great one, shame that the execution put a stain on it for the next quarter of a century or so.

The thing is:
- the Chauchat was actually very lightweight for its time. It weighed only 20 pounds, whereas the Lewis weighed 28 pounds, and a Vickers could weigh up to 50 or so. The German 08 was over 65 pounds without the tripod, but with the water in it. The 08/15 was around 40 pounds and that counted as a lighter machinegun for mobile warfare.

- The 8mm Lebel was producing a muzzle velocity of 730 m/s or so, IDENTICAL to the muzzle velocity of a much later 7.62x39mm AK-47 round. And even though the bullet was a larger and heavier boat-tail bullet, it still came around 2/3 or so of the muzzle energy of a .30-06.

What I'm getting at is that the French came THIS close to inventing, well, maybe not literally the assault rifle, but close enough. Or at least the first true modern light machinegun.

Shame that the stupid design made it be considered barely adequate even in the less-jamming 8mm Lebel version.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 06:17 AM   #263
Border Reiver
Philosopher
 
Border Reiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 6,068
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
So did I. I may not have been in Afghanistan, but we used to have conscription, you know? I even had to charge up a small hill with that kind of load. BUT, and this is a big BUT...



... that's why I was saying that it's context dependent. Which is what everyone keeps ignoring when they answer my (and not only MY) objection.

The fact is, it's not even taking the maximum of the two, but really the sum of the two. If it's mud, then increasing your body weight by around 50% (which is what the official history says for the soldiers they had back then), just means 50% more pressure on your soles, so you get stuck in the mud harder. If it's getting out of a mine crater, increasing your body mass by 50% increases the work you have to do by the same amount. If it's charging at the machineguns on the edge of that crater, given the same leg muscles, 50% more weight means you only have 2/3 of the acceleration. It's basic newtonian stuff. Etc.

The same weight can be perfectly ok if you're marching on a flat road, or even doing a short charge up a small hill, but not ok for trying to get to some machineguns a mile away, over cratered ground, without cover. It's the COMBINATION of all the factors that eventually breaks the proverbial camel's back.

So if you can't change the weather or make the enemy machineguns be closer, then the weight is the one thing you can change.

And it's not like there was a shortage of things you could safely leave behind. E.g., a bunch of soldiers in each unit had to carry cans of paint, to mark the guns captured by that unit. Because... priorities
The problem is that the weight of what you need to carry isn't going to drop - the assault troops aren't the ones carrying the tins of paint, they're carrying the extra grenades and bullets. The assault troops are leaving the trenches the way we see in those old newsreels - they've got a rifle, a bayonet, loadbearing equipment, lots of bullets, grenades, a bandage and sterile dressing and a canteen. The follow on forces have the metric butt-tonne of kit with all the stuff we think of as "really, they brought that?"

The paint had practical uses - mainly to mark captured kit to give a visual cue that it had been rendered safe, or that the bunker has been searched and found to be clear. Otherwise, the follow on forces are going to be nervously and cautiously approaching them, when they should be moving with speed.
__________________
Questions, comments, queries, bitches, complaints, rude gestures and/or remarks?
Border Reiver is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 06:30 AM   #264
Border Reiver
Philosopher
 
Border Reiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 6,068
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
And now for something completely different...

I'm going to do the crazy thing and actually defend the Chauchat. Well, sorta. The IDEA was a actually a great one, shame that the execution put a stain on it for the next quarter of a century or so.

The thing is:
- the Chauchat was actually very lightweight for its time. It weighed only 20 pounds, whereas the Lewis weighed 28 pounds, and a Vickers could weigh up to 50 or so. The German 08 was over 65 pounds without the tripod, but with the water in it. The 08/15 was around 40 pounds and that counted as a lighter machinegun for mobile warfare.

- The 8mm Lebel was producing a muzzle velocity of 730 m/s or so, IDENTICAL to the muzzle velocity of a much later 7.62x39mm AK-47 round. And even though the bullet was a larger and heavier boat-tail bullet, it still came around 2/3 or so of the muzzle energy of a .30-06.

What I'm getting at is that the French came THIS close to inventing, well, maybe not literally the assault rifle, but close enough. Or at least the first true modern light machinegun.

Shame that the stupid design made it be considered barely adequate even in the less-jamming 8mm Lebel version.
It's not that crazy - the weapon made sense for the use and doctrine that it was designed for. Then it found itself being needed in completely unsuitable locations and the ability to give it a redesign is limited. And as you noted, it was a very new concept - and mechanically the engineers had not worked out how to do it well yet - being the first to use bleeding edge tech and you get stuck with all the flaws that no one knows about until its in use.

The slow rate of fire meant that it was more controllable and that it would heat up as fast. Those magazines with the big cutouts on the side? That's so the gunner's assistant knows when the gunner is about to run out of bullets and he's got to reload.

But certainly, the engineer that "redesigned" the Chauchat for 30-06 seemingly did so at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend after a 3 Martini lunch. And went "meh, not my countrymen that are going to use it".
__________________
Questions, comments, queries, bitches, complaints, rude gestures and/or remarks?
Border Reiver is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 06:55 AM   #265
Tolls
Illuminator
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 3,653
Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
The paint had practical uses - mainly to mark captured kit to give a visual cue that it had been rendered safe, or that the bunker has been searched and found to be clear. Otherwise, the follow on forces are going to be nervously and cautiously approaching them, when they should be moving with speed.
In addition, you really want to let your own aircraft know which things not to bomb. I mean, we've already gone through the issues of communicating with the planes.

As you say about the load carrying...exactly who (as in what role they performed) was carrying this stuff needs to be identified. Because the lack of any sort of transport that could handle the ground, until late in the war, meant people were the mules.
Tolls is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 07:39 AM   #266
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
The problem is that the weight of what you need to carry isn't going to drop - the assault troops aren't the ones carrying the tins of paint, they're carrying the extra grenades and bullets. The assault troops are leaving the trenches the way we see in those old newsreels - they've got a rifle, a bayonet, loadbearing equipment, lots of bullets, grenades, a bandage and sterile dressing and a canteen. The follow on forces have the metric butt-tonne of kit with all the stuff we think of as "really, they brought that?"

The paint had practical uses - mainly to mark captured kit to give a visual cue that it had been rendered safe, or that the bunker has been searched and found to be clear. Otherwise, the follow on forces are going to be nervously and cautiously approaching them, when they should be moving with speed.
Depends on the time we're talking about, actually. Eventually, yes, the British DID develop more sane tactics, like you describe above. Sure.

But for a long time, they didn't have anything like a separation between assault troops and follow-on forces. The guys who marched into death on the 1st of July weren't even told they'd need to assault anything, much less be diveded and briefed for that purpose. What they had been told is that between the mines and the artillery barrage, most of the Germans would be dead anyway, and they just needed to walk over and take possession of the trenches and everything.

One regiment even went over the top and started kicking a ball as they marched towards the German lines. That's how prepared for an assault they were told to be.

The more staggered formation -- since you were challenging my "in neat ranks" statement earlier -- also came later. The first couple dozen tries at the Somme were literally done in, well, as neat a line as you can get on totally broken ground, anyway.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 09:31 AM   #267
Border Reiver
Philosopher
 
Border Reiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 6,068
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Depends on the time we're talking about, actually. Eventually, yes, the British DID develop more sane tactics, like you describe above. Sure.

But for a long time, they didn't have anything like a separation between assault troops and follow-on forces. The guys who marched into death on the 1st of July weren't even told they'd need to assault anything, much less be diveded and briefed for that purpose. What they had been told is that between the mines and the artillery barrage, most of the Germans would be dead anyway, and they just needed to walk over and take possession of the trenches and everything.

One regiment even went over the top and started kicking a ball as they marched towards the German lines. That's how prepared for an assault they were told to be.

The more staggered formation -- since you were challenging my "in neat ranks" statement earlier -- also came later. The first couple dozen tries at the Somme were literally done in, well, as neat a line as you can get on totally broken ground, anyway.
Yes, there is that story of the unit kicking the football out over no-man's land during the attack - and given that they were using almost an entire year's worth of shell production in the pre attack fire plan, plus the mines, the gross overconfidence is a little more understandable.

As to the tactics employed by the British you are somewhat mistaken. I would suggest you read this article on the subject. It gives a good overview of British/Imperial tactics and as they changed over the course of the war. It points out that the traditional impression of linear tactics was incorrect and phased out by the Somme due to the lessons learned from 1915.
__________________
Questions, comments, queries, bitches, complaints, rude gestures and/or remarks?
Border Reiver is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 09:32 AM   #268
Tolls
Illuminator
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 3,653
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
One regiment even went over the top and started kicking a ball as they marched towards the German lines. That's how prepared for an assault they were told to be.
Not in the slightest.
If you read accounts of the East Surrey's attack, the two footballs were to calm the nerves of the otherwise raw troops. And they charged across, not marched.

They were very well prepared. Many of the divisions in the southern section (where they attacked) prepared forward jumping off trenches, which is part of the reason south of Albert was more successful (and the trenches tended to be closer together to begin with).

So, you may laugh, but the football thing was little different to playing the bagpipes.
Tolls is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 12:58 PM   #269
dudalb
Penultimate Amazing
 
dudalb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 37,554
Originally Posted by whoanellie View Post
War is stupid
Wow, that is a shocking new statement that never occurred to anybody before......
__________________
Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay - and claims a halo for his dishonesty.

Robert Heinlein.
dudalb is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 05:58 PM   #270
Garrison
Illuminator
 
Garrison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,657
Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
The problem is that the weight of what you need to carry isn't going to drop - the assault troops aren't the ones carrying the tins of paint, they're carrying the extra grenades and bullets. The assault troops are leaving the trenches the way we see in those old newsreels - they've got a rifle, a bayonet, loadbearing equipment, lots of bullets, grenades, a bandage and sterile dressing and a canteen. The follow on forces have the metric butt-tonne of kit with all the stuff we think of as "really, they brought that?"

The paint had practical uses - mainly to mark captured kit to give a visual cue that it had been rendered safe, or that the bunker has been searched and found to be clear. Otherwise, the follow on forces are going to be nervously and cautiously approaching them, when they should be moving with speed.
And the other weight all had it's purpose, indeed things like the sandbags and paint were things added based on earlier painful experience. It should also be borne in mind the British infantry became more specialized, light machine gun sections, 'bombers'(grenadiers, but the units with that word in their regimental name objected to anyone else using it) and of course the units whose job was to shore up and hold the captured trenches.
__________________
So I've started a blog about my writing. Check it out at: http://fourth-planet-problem.blogspot.com/
Garrison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 07:29 PM   #271
John Jones
Penultimate Amazing
 
John Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Iowa USA
Posts: 11,649
Originally Posted by whoanellie View Post
War is stupid
How come nobody told us before??!!!eleven11?
__________________
Credibility is not a boomerang. If you throw it away, it's not coming back.
John Jones is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 10:30 PM   #272
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
Yes, there is that story of the unit kicking the football out over no-man's land during the attack - and given that they were using almost an entire year's worth of shell production in the pre attack fire plan, plus the mines, the gross overconfidence is a little more understandable.
I notice that the article you linked also mentions the battle of Loos, which I had also mentioned before as an example for WHY good ol' Haig's confidence at the Somme is more like evidence of his inability to learn from hindsight. Really why no, his overconfidence was not really understandable.

And we're not even talking about stuff that only we know in 2017 (to address Argumemnon's earlier objection too,) but about stuff he damn well should have known himself, since he was right there at Loos too, as French's second in command. It's stuff he should have known better than any later historians, since it was first hand experience.

Simple arithmetic about the density of guns and the density of shells, which I've done before, should have put the kibosh on that optimism right there. Because shooting more shells than ever means nothing if the width and depth over which you're shooting them increased more than that.

Loos should have also provided valuable insight on what happens when you send men walking towards the enemy positions in the open, and in direct sight of the enemy machineguns. And especially of what happens if you just try again, when nothing had changed, except giving more time to the Germans to recover from the attack. Just because you extensively bombarded the Germans before the battle, doesn't mean that's going to stay the case. On the second day of the battle, twelve of the atacking battallions lost some 8000 men out of 10,000 total in no time.

And it's not like they died for a victory. The first phase of the battle, from 25 to 28 September was an abject failure, that cost John French his command. (The only actual wins were later at the Hohenzollern Redoubt.)

The best that could be said about it, in a slapstick kinda way, is Rawlinson's statement on the 28'th of September that, "From what I can ascertain, some of the divisions did actually reach the enemy's trenches, for their bodies can now be seen on the barbed wire."

Yet Haig would persist in confidently sending waves -- and at that, too small and uncoordinated waves -- at the Germans at the Somme anyway, never mind that nothing had really changed from the previous day to warrant trying the same again, and expecting a different result. Other than the proverbial definition of insanity, that is.

And his most notable change of plan, as your article notes too, was to send waves, so when the first wave gets butchered, the second can move on over then, then when that one gets massacred, the third wave would continue. It's like Zapp Brannigan went back in time, really, except the Germans didn't have a preset kill counter like the killbots in Futurama.

The only reason for confidence I can think of, is that Haig had been REWARDED for his stonking stupidity at Loos. See, the biggest reason John French was replaced by Haig as commander in chief, was his mis-use of reserves. But it was actually Haig who asked for those reserves to be used, and was responsible for what they were used for. So I suppose, if the guy gets majorly rewarded for his incompetence, yeah, no surprise if what he learns is to do it again verbatim.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

Last edited by HansMustermann; 9th November 2017 at 11:33 PM.
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 10:33 PM   #273
theprestige
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 23,174
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I notice that the article you linked also mentions the battle of Loos
LOL. Someone rebuts your claim, and you ignore it and change the subject.
theprestige is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2017, 10:40 PM   #274
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
LOL. Someone rebuts your claim, and you ignore it and change the subject.
How about the fact that I was actually addressing something they said in that message, and which I quoted.

But I guess that would require you to read and comprehend, instead of just rushing to do content-free browbeating. Then again, since just brow-beating and exactly zero historical information has been ALL you've provided in the whole thread, I would have been surprised if you'd done anything else

I'm not sure what do you think you're even providing to the conversation. Did the OP say "need some completely uninformed cheerleaders with comprehension problems for the other side", or what? Exactly what do you think that your content-free drivel adds to the argument, except dillute the actual useful stuff? Even if you think some other guys are right, exactly what do you think you achieve if you spread their actual argument over more pages, by interspersing with your useless cheerleading? Are you hoping to make their messages look better by contrast with your "LOL, watch me be unable to parse basic English" filler, or what? Heh.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

Last edited by HansMustermann; 9th November 2017 at 10:48 PM.
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th November 2017, 12:49 AM   #275
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
But, just so theprestige's cheerleading isn't in vain, I don't see how that article refutes my point that it depends on what exact time we're talking about.

The earliest source for a specialized attack cited in the article mentions the date September 14th, 1916. The Battle Of Somme started on the 1st of July.

The earliest use of infiltration tactics IS from July, but as the article notes, that was not yet a part of Haig's plan. Charles Carrington did this of his own initiative. And, I might add, at that point initiative was NOT expected of the troops. That too came a couple of months later. At that point, Carrington was essentially disobeying orders by doing that.

Essentially nobody's saying that the British and specifically Haig didn't EVENTUALLY learn. Some people just seem to think that a lot of those elements happened earlier than they actually did. The issue is muddied, I think, by the fact that when we talk about a battle nowadays, it's something much more concentrated than the three and a half months of the Somme. So when we read that something happened at the Somme, we tend to kinda extrapolate over the whole battle, as opposed to noticing that it often took two months of repeating the same idiotic thing until reality dawned upon Haig. Yes, reality eventually dawned upon him during the Somme -- he wasn't COMPLETELY brain-dead -- but, you know, after doing the same doomed thing like 50 times in a row and expecting a different result.


Also, even from the linked article itself, "Noted British historian Trevor Wilson in his assessment of the Somme states that the British failed because the attacks were too small and unsupported by either aircraft or effective artillery fire once the attack began. Too many attacks were doomed to fail from the start and were either launched anyway or not called off once it was deemed that the attack could not succeed. Too many casualties were sustained because attacks continued when the only result could be a further loss of life with no territorial gains."

Which really just illustrates my case in the OP of asking if it was a case of stonking stupidity.

I'm at a loss as to how it wasn't stonking stupid to NOT call off an attack, once it's already been deemed that it will just result in some men getting killed for NOTHING. Because if it's not stupid, then it's borderline treason: it's definitely acting against the best interests of your country and countrymen.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th November 2017, 02:15 AM   #276
Tolls
Illuminator
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 3,653
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But, just so theprestige's cheerleading isn't in vain, I don't see how that article refutes my point that it depends on what exact time we're talking about.

The earliest source for a specialized attack cited in the article mentions the date September 14th, 1916. The Battle Of Somme started on the 1st of July.

The earliest use of infiltration tactics IS from July, but as the article notes, that was not yet a part of Haig's plan. Charles Carrington did this of his own initiative. And, I might add, at that point initiative was NOT expected of the troops. That too came a couple of months later. At that point, Carrington was essentially disobeying orders by doing that.
This is nonsense.
There were no "rules" that said a battalion or brigade couldn't show initiative!
That's why on the first day of the Somme different divisions/brigades etc handled the pre-assault preparations (see my reference earlier about the southern sector using more saps and forward trenches).
Carrington was in no way disobeying orders.
Tolls is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th November 2017, 03:38 AM   #277
Henri McPhee
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 1,895
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The only reason for confidence I can think of, is that Haig had been REWARDED for his stonking stupidity at Loos. See, the biggest reason John French was replaced by Haig as commander in chief, was his mis-use of reserves. But it was actually Haig who asked for those reserves to be used, and was responsible for what they were used for. So I suppose, if the guy gets majorly rewarded for his incompetence, yeah, no surprise if what he learns is to do it again verbatim.
As an armchair strategist myself, my understanding is that Haig assumed that the initial massive artillery barrage at the Somme would wipe out any German opposition, and that an infantry assault would then be easy. The trouble was the German machine gunners, and flame throwers, had burrowed deep into their trenches, and the British artillery barrage had only scratched the surface. I don't know if that was a failure of military intelligence, or stupidity, or lack of practical knowledge of the battle conditions.

From all accounts those First World War artillery barrages were really something. They were deafening, and the earth shook at the time.

The thing that seems to have broken the stagnation was the arrival of about a million American troops in 1918, even though many of them then died of the Spanish flu, and the allies were then able to break through at Amiens. The British army was a more effective army in 1918.

The Americans seem to have demanded a high price for their intervention, which eventually led to the collapse of the French and British Empire, as well as the German Empire. Somebody said recently on TV that Britain paid its last First World War debts to America of about a billion pounds in 2015.
Henri McPhee is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th November 2017, 04:49 AM   #278
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
Originally Posted by Henri McPhee View Post
As an armchair strategist myself, my understanding is that Haig assumed that the initial massive artillery barrage at the Somme would wipe out any German opposition, and that an infantry assault would then be easy. The trouble was the German machine gunners, and flame throwers, had burrowed deep into their trenches, and the British artillery barrage had only scratched the surface. I don't know if that was a failure of military intelligence, or stupidity, or lack of practical knowledge of the battle conditions.
Your undersatanding is correct. Or at least that is what Haig told everyone to expect, anyway.

The reason I'm challenging it as stupidity is, see up the page, the battle of Loos. Haig was there too, and the difference in shell density between Somme and the first phase of Loos really didn't warrant that conclusion. There was only a slight increase in guns per 100 yards of front line, at least twice the depth to bombard, and two third of the shells were the wrong type to do anything to either dugouts or barbed wire. So actually it's only pure disconnect from reality, or possibly inability to do elementary arithmetic, that could possibly lead one to believe that the bombardment at the Somme had ANY reason to work better than the denser one at Loos.

Even other people there at the Somme, such as Rawlinson, the commander of the 4th Army, thought that Haig's confidence was unwarranted and based on false premises.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th November 2017, 07:11 AM   #279
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,292
Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
So when you flat out asked if IQ was lower back then because of lead pipes, it was just exasperation?
Actually, let me ammend that. The word I was looking for isn't even "exasperation." It's more like "horror." I've read Edgar Alan Poe, and Lovecraft, and Stephen King, and others, but really, nothing compares even remotely.

On the bright side, I guess I did manage to scare myself for Helloween, so I guess it's not all bad
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th November 2017, 12:34 PM   #280
Garrison
Illuminator
 
Garrison's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,657
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Your undersatanding is correct. Or at least that is what Haig told everyone to expect, anyway.

The reason I'm challenging it as stupidity is, see up the page, the battle of Loos. Haig was there too, and the difference in shell density between Somme and the first phase of Loos really didn't warrant that conclusion. There was only a slight increase in guns per 100 yards of front line, at least twice the depth to bombard, and two third of the shells were the wrong type to do anything to either dugouts or barbed wire. So actually it's only pure disconnect from reality, or possibly inability to do elementary arithmetic, that could possibly lead one to believe that the bombardment at the Somme had ANY reason to work better than the denser one at Loos.

Even other people there at the Somme, such as Rawlinson, the commander of the 4th Army, thought that Haig's confidence was unwarranted and based on false premises.
The sequence of events that led to most of the problems at the Somme have already been explained but to recap:

The British General's knew their army wasn't ready for a major offensive in 1916 and if it had been they wouldn't have chosen the Somme as the place to fight. They were given no choice by the politicians, who forced them to participate in what was intended to be a primarily French operation. The German attack at Verdun led to the French progressively scaling back their involvement at the Somme, while expecting the British to fill the gaps with their limited resources and in the end it became a primarily British operation, that couldn't be cancelled because of the paramount importance of preventing the Germans committing their full weight at Verdun. It also has to be noted that in the French sectors where artillery density was higher the British troops assigned generally did better, strongly suggesting the issue was indeed artillery support, not infantry tactics or 'encumberance'.
__________________
So I've started a blog about my writing. Check it out at: http://fourth-planet-problem.blogspot.com/
Garrison is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » History, Literature, and the Arts

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:08 PM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
2014, TribeTech AB. All Rights Reserved.
This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.