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Lions led by Donkeys

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Mahross, Nov 18, 2003.

  1. Greenjacket

    Greenjacket Member

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    Hello Anthony, welcome to the board. Are you the same Anthony EJW that posts elsewhere as Limey?
     
  2. Anthony EJW

    Anthony EJW Member

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    78 British generals paid the ultimate price during the First World War. Prehaps some medals are in order for them as well?

    Haig was tasked with defeating the German army and he did so. He did make mistakes that had real and bloody consquences; but the British army was engaged in fighting the main body of the main enemy in a continental war. Mass warfare sadly makes for mass casaualites; and Britain's lower casualty list in the Second World War mainly shows that they did less fighting. In WW2 it was the USSR who did the bulk of the land fighting and look how many men they lost.

    :rolleyes:
     
  3. Anthony EJW

    Anthony EJW Member

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    Indeed, the Allied victory on the Western Front in 1918 was a *allied* victory, and I am not seeking to belittle the efforts of any nation. The French army had been doing the bulk of the fighting in the west since the start of the war; and in 1918 its contribution was both massive and signficant. But it should be remembered that it was the BEF that faced the largest proportion of active German divisions compared to the other allies for most of the fighting between March and November.

    The Australians and Canadians were both very formidable troops and made a greater impact than mere numbers would suggest. But they constitued only 10 divisions of the 56 infantry divisions of the BEF in late 1918. When the Australian Corps was withdrawn from the front lines after the breaching of the Hindenberg Line they were replaced by British divisions and the advance continued.

    I am not saying that Haig was a great commander; but I do believe he was a competent leader. If he is to be blamed for the British army's defeats then he to should recieve some credit for the stunning victories of 1918.
     
  4. Anthony EJW

    Anthony EJW Member

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    Yes, its me... back to defending the honour of the BEF.
     
  5. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Well if any of them stood on the brink of a trench and said; ”Now men, you’ve seen how all your comrades in the first wave were mowed down within yards, so I’m here to personally lead the second wave”, I’d volunteer to polish them myself.

    Britain did have fewer casualties in W.W.II than W.W.I, and, they fully intended it to be that way!

    We all know the Soviets lost the most people in W.W.II, but are you saying these were unavoidable and nothing to do with their style of warfare? There is a very poignant report in ‘War on the Eastern Front’ where a German machine gunner observes how the waves of Soviets became younger and younger and eventually there were ‘boys’ running at him without a weapon.

    No.9
     
  6. KnightMove

    KnightMove Ace

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    I can't agree in this. Once your opponent has gone for broke, victory is rather easy. And still, it were not only the British troops to wrestle the Germans...
     
  7. Anthony EJW

    Anthony EJW Member

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    On 26th October 1915, an attempt was made to retake the The Quarries by troops from 2nd Division (including 2nd Worcesters)

    "Althought the British were able to establish themselves on the south western edge of The Quarries, they were pinned down and found it impossible to move forward. The position- the former German front line- was very deep and very wide and was overlooked by houses which gave cover and a perfect line of fire to the Germans. As a result small parties of Worcesters were forced to beak from cover and attempt to drive forward into the open, being encouraged all the time by their officers.

    Suddenly, the figure of Major-General Capper was spoted running forward with the troops, joining in the assault and organizing the troops as he ran. What happened next is unclear, but he was next seen returning back down a shallow communication trench when he was hit by a bullet and fell. He was found and brought back by his A.D.C, who had to crawl a considerable distance with the General on his back until he could get him under cover... Capper died of his wounded the following day."

    Bloody Red Tabs, Davies and Maddocks

    During nine days of the Loos offensive eight generals were wounded, killed or captured due to being in the front line. To equal these general losses you'd have to go back to Waterloo.

    The main reason Britain had fewer casualties in WW2 was because they did less fighting. Compare the German divisions engaged at El Alemain or Normandy with German divisions engaged by the BEF at the Somme or during the Hundred Days.

    The front line riflemen of WW2 suffered casualty rates that are comparable to predecessors who fought in WW1. In Normandy the attrition of Anglo-American infantry was appalling. Losses amongst infantry was so bad that Britain had to resort to breaking up anti-aircraft units in England and sending them over the channel as gun carrying troops. The Eastern front saw the greatest slaughter in human history ....not even the Somme or Verdun destroyed men on the same scale, and this despite mobility and technology that armoured warfare bestowed on the battlefield.

    I am not trying to downplay the horrors inflicted by WW1 but this must not obscure the fact that it was not hopeless massacre from beginning to end.

    The Communist regime did show a callous disregard for human life, I am not disputing this. But it was the Red Army that ripped the guts out of the Wehrmacht, despite the fact that by 1942 the main industrial and agricultural regions of the USSR were under Nazi occupation. In 1941, despite a greater quantity of men and machines, the Red Army had been ripped to pieces. A year later at Stalingrad, despite rough parity, the Soviets were able to win a great victory. The Russians must have been doing something right...

    German accounts after the war had a tendency to blame their defeat on the great "Bolshevic hordes", rather than admitting that they had been ultimately out-thought and out-fought. The Germans likewise had to resort to conscipting boys and eldery men, as well as other extremities. (Look at the 'stomach' battalions encountered by the Allies at Normandy). The carnage in the East was not one way.

    The technology and scale of the conflict combined to make vast death tolls unaviodable, and Stalin and Hitler added to this in their own particular, brutal ways.
     
  8. Anthony EJW

    Anthony EJW Member

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    Foch had the following to say on the BEF's accomplishments during the Hundred Days: "Never at any time in history had the British Army achived greater results in attaack than in this unbroken offensive... The victory gained was indeed complete, thanks to the excellence of the Commanders of Armies, Corps and Divisions, thanks above all to the unselfishness, to the wise, loyal and energestic policy of their Commander-in-Chief, who made easy a great combination, and sanctioned a prolonged and gigantic effort."

    (Quoted in Terraine, To Win a War

    Casualties during the Hundred Days were heavy but the fighting itself has been compared with that of the Soviet advance through the Ukraine and BeloRussia, Poland in 1944/45. A slugfest -this was no Iraqi Freedom.
     
  9. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Again, just to end that comparisson (a very unwise one, by the way) between Normandy and the 3rd battle of Ypres, I just want to point know how many of those 3.500 casualties a day in Normandy were KIA? The 3rd battle of Ypres costed as much KIA as the British Empire's 40% of KIAs in all WWII! More than 200.000 men killed! To achieve what? Haig sent those 200.000 men to assault German fortifications using the same tactics than in the Somme in the middle of autumn, rains and floodings because he believed he could take the Rhine and the Ruhr in two months! Where did he get those beliefs?! Perhaps in a clinic for mental ills?!

    Once more, you CAN'T compare both wars. And you can't compare wisely what was the main theatre of operations in WWI and the less important of theatres in WWII. Marshal Foch had three million men under his command, thousands of tanks, guns and planes while the Germans didn't have reserves, tanks, nor guns and the country was starving. I don't think you can compare the strategic situations of Foch and Hindenburg with that of Alexander and Keßelring! [​IMG]

    No, as in WWI it was because Germany was already defeated and had nothing to compensate the astonishing enemy superiority in materials and men.

    No, the problem here is that Haig and other generals DIDN'T change their tactics during the whole battle (except for the introduction of the tanks and some mines, NOT decisive). It wasn't until they let Plumer do what he had to do that there was a succesful battle such as Messines, but Haig, at 3rd Ypres didn't learn from any of them, the Somme nor Messines... [​IMG]

    WWI didn't happen the way it happened because of politicians. It was the generals who didn't comprehend what modern and total war meant, what new technologies could do. What similar strenghtened armies could do to each other. Why the tacticians and strategists didn't learn from the machine guns and trenches in the last stages of the US civil war and the Russo-Japanese war? Why did they overllok the impact of German heavy artillery in 1870? INCOMPETENCE and SELF CONFIDENCE.

    I completely agree with this, I'll only add that there were many, many dominion troops under Haig and even many, many more French troops beside him. But as nine says, at WHAT COST? After how many casualties the generals learned how to use new tactics and how use them correctly to achieve superiority on the field.

    Again, "the yanks saving the day". This the greatest and most disgusting MYTH of the whole war. By the time when Germany wasn't able to win the war, the AEF was not a completly trained and strong enough force.

    Welcome to the forums, as well, Anthony. But this is wrong. There were indeed more than a million British and Dominiom troops fighting the German Army in the Wst, but there were three million French troops fighting them in their own soil at the same time. Without underestimating and estimating the British sacrifices, they WERE NOT the main body fighting the Germans.

    But about your comment about the Aussies and the Canadians, you're right. The divisions that STOPPED Ludendorff's offensives in spring 1918 and DEFEATED the German Army were Australian and French (will bring the exact battle later).

    He is completely GUILTY of both. However, if Haig wouldn't have ANNIHILATED his own Army in useless offensives in 1916 and 1917, victory could have been MUCH easier and the cost MUCH smaller... :rolleyes:

    700.000 men killed at Verdun and 700.000 men killed at the Somme... To achieve what? :rolleyes:
     
  10. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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    My point exactly. Haig was badly supplied and did the best he could. the same is true to a point with all other commanders in the war. they make the best out of it. it took time. these men were trying to fight a Total war with 19th century training. the same is to an extent true of the germans.
     
  11. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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    Freddy good post but i would like to pick on a few point of yours. Unfortuanatly we come at this from do very different schools of thought.

    Point taken not as many a Ypres but as any good general will tell you it is better to maim and wound than to kill as it has a greater effect on an enemies lines of communication. Therefore, the comparison is mvalid as i was talking casualties not killed. Those who died at ypres, and i agree it was bad but please realise the political reason for the offensive, the french mutinies, did not tie up the british lines of communication and therefore, did not effect the conduct of the campaign. This may seem harsh but is reality.

    Well i believe you can. the tactics and doctrine that were being adopted by the allies in the last year of the war formed the basis of all doctrinal thinking of WW2. For example britians doctrine did not change much and some of the lessons had to be re-learned adopting similar tactics as they had in the first war.



    Considering that the italian campaign is often compared to the condition of the western fron i think you can fairly compare the 2. conditions at Cassino were not much better than the western front. Just look at germanys line of defensive lines a la Hindenburg line.



    Tactics do change. The best example to look at is artillery. They learn change there techniques. they realsie that a long prep bombardment is not the answer. the somme saw the first use of 'creeping' barrages after the failure of 'destruction' barrages. Just look at the opening of the Battle of Amiens, the Black day of the German Army. the british use a crepping barrage and knock out all german guns on the front. that is progress. the developemt in infantry tactics were huge and while we all laud german stormtroopers the british were just as good and british infantry battalions eventually represent a microcosm of the whole army in that it combines an all-arms theory. If you wnat to see how tactics do change i recomment you read one of these:

    - Griffith P (1994) Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army’sArt of Attack 1916-18, New Haven and London, Yale University Press
    - Griffith P (Ed.) (1996) British Fighting Methods
    in the Great War, London, Frank Cass
    - Travers T (1990) The Killing Ground: The British Army and the Emergence of Modern Warfare, London, Routledge
    - Travers T, The Evolution of British Strategy and Tactics on the Western Front in 1918: GHQ, Manpower and Technology, Journal of Military History, 54:2 (1990:April), Pgs. 173-200




    I agree that they didn't comprehend, but they do learn. the fact that it takes 4 years is because they do take time to learn and master the tecniques of industrial war, btw don't agree with the concept of Total War.



    You have your numbers wrong there were aprrox 2 million british troops in france in 1918. And as to the french they are a spent force in 1918 they are still relling from the mutinies of 17.
     
  12. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Nice discussion!

    Here I can see some truth, but still, a lot of incompetence on Haig's part. There was a mutiny inside the French Army because in spring 1917, général Nivelle had killed 350.000 men in useless offensives. Maybe it was very dangerous and very silly to repeat those attacks with British troops...

    But one thing is to show the Germans that the Allies are still fighting and a very different one is that Haig believed that he could break through Ypres - a salient which didn't have why to there -, take Antwerp, capture the German U-boat bases, advance through the Rhine , take the Ruhr and end the war. There was too, that Haig believed that Great Britain was going to be defeated by the submarine offensive and that she needed to give a last fight. Maybe he had good reasons, but he was far away from reality and the fact is that he sent 200.000 men to inhumane deaths in the most horrible battlefield in warfare history. There couldn't be an advance in that terrain and even less without Plumer-like careful and meticulous planning! Haig insisted, it became a massacre and even after it was obvious that a breakthrough was impossible, he remained sending men in for months! :mad: [​IMG]

    You CAN, at the TACTICAL level, as you can compare WWI with the latest stages of USA Civil War. But absolutely NOT STRATEGICALLY.

    Again, that's tactically. Because of the similar terrain and conditions. But not strategically, since Italy was a secondary theatre in which similar size forces were engaged. Completely different strategically, than the Western Front.

    I thought you said that they cahnged tactics by the 2nd day, and Amiens happened in 1918, two years later. After July 1st 1916, Haig kept sending their men full loaded, with bayonets, against well defended trenches, which were unharmed after weeks of bombardments. The same thing happened at Passendæle a year later...

    It certainly takes someone VERY incompetent not to realise that your men can't go through barbed wire, machine guns, mud, artillery and gas that easy! And Haig didn't learn that until Ludendorff came 20 miles from Paris in 1918!

    And total war means that EVERY aspect of a state and people is compromised in the war effort; socially, economically, politically. And that is the case of WWI.

    One more million British troops. Right, but still there were many more French troops, which by mid 1917 were again a fighting force. The mutiny was not about fighting at all, but fighting the way they did. They said: "We will defend France to the last man, but we WILL NOT attack any German trench" and they were completely right. The British should have refused to obey Haig some months later and 200.000 men would not have been chopped to pieces in the marshes of Ypres...
     
  13. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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    Yeah good discussion. yes put we are talking tactically. The tactics developed eventually lead to victory. the tactics would never have been developed had the GHQ of the BEF allowed. Some historians have suggested that they allowed a 'culture' to become prevalent which bred these changes.



    Amiens was just the culmination of changes. It is also the best example but others do exist. You took that to literally :D



    I know what Total War is. It was suggested by arthur marwick and it is concept that i do not fully agree with that is why i prefer the term industrialised war or the totalisation of war. It suggest that the country is fully behind the war effort and i believe that you can find example where this is not true for example on a sinple level black marketeers. they are in actual fact taking something away from the war effort.

    [ 24. November 2003, 01:45 PM: Message edited by: Mahross ]
     
  14. No.9

    No.9 Ace

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    Coming back to the original question, were the British forces ‘Lions led by donkeys’, if including field officers among the Lions and the Chiefs of Staff and the planners as the donkeys, then generally speaking the statement is true.

    There’s been much talk of innovation and learning, but, the upper echelon actually demonstrated no more skill of warfare than the original rule one, day one tactic of 'you line all your men up at your end and do the same with mine at my end, then we’ll melee the lot and the last man standing is the winner'. Take away the pre battle bombardments and that’s what you’re left with. Oh yes, generals at the back on caravan chairs sipping a pink gin please.

    “Foch says……” and who was Foch? Correct, a general sitting in his caravan chair sipping a pink gin, looking at Haig’s rack saying; “Got any swaps mate?” Meanwhile, the men of the Ulster Regiment said; “We're not making a sacrifice. Jesus, you've seen this war, we are the sacrifice.”

    Again, with all this talk of change of tactics, can you tell me what the plan ‘B’ was? Meaning, assume of a moment the plan of attack begins to fail dramatically after it gets under way – what was in place to extricate the men? As Freddy correctly pointed out, whether or not the generals were thick as two short planks impervious to the squandering of life, they were too damn conceited to acknowledge that they may not know what they were doing and should prepare for the eventuality that they were wrong!

    ‘Cassino is the same was the Western Front? – What???. Firstly by ‘Cassino’ I take it you mean the Gustav Line, not just the rock. Apart from the Western Front not having the same mountain features as that section of the Apennines, when were the Germans in the Gustav Line ever there to launch a massive offensive to push the Allies back to the toe of Italy?

    ” The main reason Britain had fewer casualties in WW2 was because they did less fighting”

    I said, quite correctly, that Britain fully intended to have less casualties. What do you mean by ‘less fighting’? Britain was NOT going to pour men into the meatgrinder for months on end as was done in W.W.I. Britain was also not going to pour men into every theatre out of some misplaced Imperialist obligation. Britain placed great store by using it’s head for a change and making it impossible for the Germans to prevail. Britain fought but in conjunction with others. Britain at least learnt there are no spoils for the victor after a world war, only a depleted population and 3 or 4 cripples for every fatality. As Mark Clark was told by Alexander when he was moaning about why the British couldn’t do a job the Americans was given to do; “Britain is almost at its limit of allocated manpower for this war”. Britain wasn’t spent of fit young men to fight, but is was close to its predetermined level of those it was prepared to lose. The reason for this because they were determined to have that category of citizen available to them after the war to rebuild, repopulate and finance the restoration of the Nation. Just winning a war IS NOT everything!

    No.9
     
  15. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    WWI was the suicide of the British Empire. In 1914 and early 1915, the British Army, the best of the world, a perfect fighting machine that had been developing for centuries was annihilated in the trenches. Then in 1916 and 1917, Kitchener's volunteers were wasted by Haig in useless offensives. Here was where the Empire was doomed, since all the young officers were drafted from universities and they were chopped to pieces in the mud. The generals, the lawyers, the medics, engineers and intelectuals the Empire was going to need to overcome WWI and prevent WWII were lost in the trenches, along with the miners, workers and farmers who would breed the next generation and rebuild the Empire.

    Not without forgetting the thousands of Canadian, South African, New Zealander and Australian idealist volunteers whose lifes were wasted in the Dardanelles... [​IMG] :mad:
     
  16. Anthony EJW

    Anthony EJW Member

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    Total British *casualties* for Third Ypres was in excess of 200,000- this includes killed, wounded, missing and PoWs.

    With hindsight it is readily apparent that the Third Ypres offensive should never have been launched when it was. However, this is not so easily apparent at the time. Ypres experienced its worst rainfall in a generation- the command at the time might well have expected the rain to go at any time given the usual rainfall that Ypres normally had.

    A battle of this magnitude, fought between Germany and the British Empire had to take place in the latter half of 1917. The continuing vulnerability of the French Army demanded a British offensive on a major scale,if nothing else to tie German forces down.

    After the BEF had taken the three major distinct topographical features held in German hands along their frontage (Albert Ridge, Vimy Ridge and Messines) by mid 1918, what alternative area of operations can anyone suggest other than Flanders in 1917? As Trevor Wilson comments 'no aura of past failure hung over an attack here'. The Hindenburg Line from Bullecourt to Arras was already the scene of the April battles,the Lille area the site of the 1915/16 encounters at Neuve Chapelle, Loos and Fromelles.

    Only tanks and mines? What of the 106 fuses, the gas barrages, the MG barrages, the tanks, the prominence given to attaining air superiority through aggressive action,the prominence given to the artillery school in range finding, etc?

    The Germans were very alarmed by the advances in British tactics. When good weather around the end of September 1917 allowd the BEF to demonstrate the full power of its methods, the Germans found that not one of their theoretical systems actually worked. They chopped and changed depserately from close-in reserves to distant and deliberate counterattacks but could find no adequate answer until the rain intervened to save them.

    Yes, Haig had many dominion troops under his command but the bulk of his army was still made of British divisions. The French contribution to victory in 1918 was massive and is often underrated; but the bulk of the best German divisions still faced the BEF.

    Coming up with new tactics and using them correctly was no mean feat. What a generation of naval and military leaders, no longer young, brought up in Victorian society and accustomed to a leisurely process of technical and social change, had to face was this:

    The first war of aviation,
    The first real under-sea war
    The first war of the internal combustion engine
    The first war of wireless telegraphy
    The first of two great artillery wars
    The first chemical war
    The first war of modern mass production, mass logistics and mass administration
    And much else besides

    All in all, it was a great deal to think about- the experience was infact unique. Never before or since had so much innovation been packed into such a short space of time. All the time while they were locked into deadly combat with the finest mass army in the world. But consider this- in 1916 a British army first committed to war en mass, less than a year later at Arras they were proving masters of the trade.

    I largely agree. American contributions to the Allied victory between September-November 1918 were important but not critical. America participation did provide a great morale boost by the *expectations* that there would be victory. If the campaign had continued into 1919 there is little doubt in my mind that the greatest military burden would have been carried by Pershing's Armies. Problems arise when someone jumps the gun and confuses the expected fruits of an American victory in 1919 with an unreality that did not occur in 1918.

    Thanks [​IMG]

    The bulk of the best German divisions- the sort that had carried out the Spring Offensives- were facing the BEF. Between August and November 1918 the BEF engaged and defeated 99 German divisions out of a total of 197 German divisions in the West.

    I disagree. French efforts during the fighting were massive and important but I would not credit the Australian divisions alone for the defeat of German offensives in the British sector. I consider a simple matter of scale, and for the exact same reasons I do not believe in the criticality of the BEF in 1914 or the AEF in 1918. Their fighting record was certainly excellent by five divisions were not the bulwark of the British defences. The German offensive codenamed Operation Mars, for example, was stopped dead by six British divisions.

    The offensives of 1916 and 1917 was not ones Haig wanted. He didn’t want to attack on the Somme in 1916; and he certainly didn’t want Arras. But these attacks were caused because of Britain’s place in a global alliance and the political pressure to eject the Germans from allied soil. Also remember that these battles also caused critical damage to the German army as well- without them, she would have been far stronger in 1918.

    The fighting was very bloody and horrific but my understanding is that total *casualties* at Verdun amounted to 700,000?

    What was achieved? At Verdun a major offensive was defeated, at the Somme the British were able to relieve German pressure on the French and after a mutually costly battle it ended with the Germans scuttling back to the Hindenberg line. On its own it does seem pointless- but in the context of the war they have the same significance that Stalingrad, Kursk, Orel and many other Russian places would have in World War Two. As the Somme was, in Churchill’s words, “the graveyard of Kitchener’s armies” so to would the Somme be, in the words of a German officer, the “muddy grave of the German field army”.
     
  17. Anthony EJW

    Anthony EJW Member

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    By late 1916/ early 1917 infantry tactics were looking pretty modern, and were not immensly different to those employed right up to the era of mass deployment of assault rifles in the 60s/70s. This was centered around fire and movement covered by intergeral support weapons, especially light machine guns, supported by rifle grenades and morters. I honestly cannot see how tactics can have gone much further than this given the technologies available at the time.


    78 British generals died in WW1 (far more than in WW1). Having given an example of a general being killed while personally directly a battalion level attack (which really should have been done by the battalion CO) prehaps you would like to comment?

    "Let sleeping dogs lie. The Generals are all dead now and its noticable how most critics waited until they were dead before tearing them to pieces. I believe that our generals were the best and did their job to the best of their ability. After all we did win the war, didn't we?"

    Sergeant W. Wilson, 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Quoted in Cheerful Sacrifice)

    Presumably (what was left of) the infantry were to withdraw back to the safety of their trenches. Given the lack of reliable, man portable radios in WW1 communication between the front and rear echlons was very difficult. A disasterous result often wouldn't be known for some time till after the fact if telephone wire was cut and the only means of communication available were runners.

    As plans for battles and tactics changed clearly the generals acknowledged that there was a better way to do things?

    At no time were the Germans able to do this, as the Allied armies there had a massive material advantage over this detachment of the German army. But then, how were the several bloody battles it took to eventually secure say, Cassino or Tilly in Normandy, different from similar examples on the Western Front?

    I mean exactally that. Compare the number of German forces engaged and defeated by the British army at El Alemain, Normandy etc with the number of German forces engaged and defeated by the BEF in WW1.

    In WW2 she had the luxury of having a hardy ally that did most of the fighting and most of the dying. In WW1 they had no so luxury- either they deployed a continental army or they would lose the war.

    Greece? Singapore? Hong Kong? Crete?

    Britain reached her peak mobilization in 1943/44. The rapid expansion of the RAF in addition to the needs of industry meant that divisions were broken up due to lack of manpower. Losses amongst infantry were so bad at Normandy that Britain resorted to given AA units rifles and sending them over as infantry. Although Britain never had to resort to same levels as sending unfit men into battle; manpower shortages were still very real.

    The total number of British officers killed during WW1, both army and navy, were 38,834. These were the future "...generals, the lawyers, the medics, engineers and intelectuals". The total of aircrew of Bomber Command, exactally the same type of men, killed during the Second World War was 55,573. (Figures quoted in the Offical History and "World War 1939-1945" by Peter Young)

    [ 25. November 2003, 02:03 PM: Message edited by: Anthony EJW ]
     
  18. Anthony EJW

    Anthony EJW Member

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    The British army in 1914 was tiny. Man for man it was very good, but for the duties of mass continental warfare it does not compare to those of Russia, France and especially Germany.

    What Canadian units served in the Dardanelles? Also, don't forget the French and British troops that were wasted in this offensive.
     
  19. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Exactly 310.000 BEF casualties alone, the French casualties were high too, but I'm not sure about the number.

    The strategic situation demanded a major battle; political reasons. But in a conflict like WWI it was political and unfounded strategical views the ones that annihilated a generation. But of course, Haig in his Château or the politicians in London couldn't see what Passchendæle looked like...

    I agree with this.

    But this was not decisive. They ignored more important things like weather, terrain and German forces.

    Yes, you're right. Plumer worked perfectly to achieve that every German counterattack would be chopped to pieces even before it started. And this happened many times when conditions were good. The problem was that surprise factor, momentum and cohesion happened very rarely during the whole campaign at Third Ypres.

    In almost all of German offensives, the reserves which actually halted the German advances, were French troops. But in many cases, it was the fierce fighting of the retreating dominion troops which weakened the attacks.

    Total losses at Verdun are a little bigger than one million, including 355.000 French KIAs and some 340.000 German KIAs.

    This is true, but not that much. The German field Army was almost bled to death in 1916 by Verdun, the Somme and the Brusílov offensive in the East as well as Italian attacks at the Isonzo - which diverted Austrian troops from the East. If you mass the Somme, Verdun and east casulaties of the German Army here you find the fatal blow of it. Without this fatal blow, Ludendorff could have taken Paris and Flanders in 1918, winning the war. But still, all those British wasted in the Somme could have done much worthier things later on.
     
  20. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Yes, you're right. Both us are right.

    Of course I don't forget about British and French (also Légion units) in the Dardanelles, and even if Canadians didn't fight there, they did fight and were wasted in many other places. [​IMG]
     

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