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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/9/2017 11:40:03 AM
This offensive by the BEF was a series of named battles- which also formed part of an outflanking encounter. It became a desperate epic fight east of the city of Ypres- which finally ended in stalemate and entrenched warfare.

Death of an Army??Why so dramatic?? Was all of the BEF involved; and did they all die.???No- but the losses among the Old Contemptibles were grievous.



[Read More]



Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/9/2017 1:16:13 PM
More lifted Wiki articles.
How often do people have to object to this sort of thing?
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

anemone
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/9/2017 1:23:44 PM
Your statement is neither true nor fair-Why is my Information Link inclusion to this theme objectionable ????

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/9/2017 3:27:53 PM
That battle was dramatic.

A little British army was put to the sternest test that any army from these islands has ever endured.

The thing was small scale compared with what was going to happen in 1916 : the entire British casualty list from several weeks of fighting hardly rivalled that of the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

But, to repeat, this was a diminutive force ; it punched so far above its weight, and, in so doing, bled to death.

It was desperately close....and the stakes were high.

It merits a degree of hyperbole.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/9/2017 4:01:29 PM
A surge of emotion grips me.

There was an episode - one of many - in this First battle of Ypres that I want to talk about.

The main crisis of the battle occurred on 31 October 1914. The village of Gheluveld fell into German hands : this was the crucial piece of ground, and its loss was bound to be a catastrophe.

An undersized unit - the 2nd Battalion, the Worcester Regiment - was ordered to retake the village.

This equates to Gregg's Texas Brigade in the Battle of the Wilderness on 6 May 1864...the odds were every bit as daunting, the stakes every bit as high.

The carnage that raged around the place could certainly stand comparison with the nightmare of 5th and 6th May, 1864, in Virginia.

Three hundred and seventy men of the Worcester Regiment advanced, more than half were cut down ; Gheluveld was retaken, the Kaiser thwarted.

I spent a week in the cathedral city of Worcester in the summer of 1972. It's the most evocative of English cities. The Cathedral dominates. There is a lovely cricket ground in the shadow of the Cathedral...I used to watch Basil d'Oliveira bat ....there are delightful pubs and some striking reminders of the English Civil War close at hand : some of the first and last engagements of that conflict were fought there.

If anyone wants to sample the best traditions of English history and culture, he could do worse than visit Worcester.

But the thing that caught my eye, and which my companions did not notice, was a little piece of ground there called Gheluveld Park, in memory of that battalion that saved the World in 1914.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Lightning
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Posts: 459

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/9/2017 5:53:27 PM

Quote:
Your statement is neither true nor fair-Why is my Information Link inclusion to this theme objectionable ????

Jim
--anemone


Hi Jim,

You've directly lifted text from the linked article - we'd much rather read it in your own words, if possible.

It's fine to quote primary sources directly and to quote secondary sources to support an argument (i.e. casualty research, historiography, etc), but to lift descriptive introductory text that simply sets the scene without adding much else isn't really fair to anyone concerned. Your posts, when in your words alone, are a joy to read. Please keep the descriptive/narrative links to a necessary minimum.

On 1st Ypres:

Phil evokes the desperate fighting undertaken by the British in trying to maintain the line; I'm struggling to imagine how desperate it must have been, with cooks and batsmen given rifles and told to make their stand; half battalions charging brigades with bayonets; artillery blasting at close range to devastating effect; dismounted cavalry plugging the line that revealed gaps from Ypres to Calais.

1st Ypres was both the last gasp of the old way of war and the first breath of the new way; primitive close combat augmented with the weapons of war that would turn battles into industrial killing zones. It truly was the end of innocence.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/9/2017 6:23:58 PM
German cavalry, on reconnaissance , actually entered Ypres in earlier October, a week or two before the battle.

They came and went.

Ypres represented virtually the last piece of Belgian soil free from German occupation.

It became a symbol.

I wonder whether the actual strategic value of the ground merited the lives and blood of so many hundreds of thousands of men .

One British general whom we've discussed already - Smith Dorrien - was sacked in the early summer of 1915 after he suggested that it might be more prudent to relinquish ground there.

Regards, Phil



---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 4:38:15 AM

Quote:
You've directly lifted text from the linked article - we'd much rather read it in your own words, if possible.


All my detractors can rest assured- that what I stand rather unfairly accused of -will never happen again-in future the selection of threads and their intros-I will leave to my "betters"

Regards

Jim
---------------
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Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 4:54:34 AM
Gheluveld ( Gheluvelt in usual English ) was to First Ypres what Little Round Top was to Gettysburg.

The 2nd Bn Worcester Regiment equates to the 20th Maine.

Even the numbers bear a striking similarity : Joshua Chamberlain commanded 385 men at LRT ; Major Hankey's command consisted of 387 officers and men.

The number of fatalities suffered by these two units in their respective actions were correspondingly similar : 42 men of the 20th Me were either killed outright or died from wounds ; as far as I can tell from CWGC, the 2nd Worcester death toll was much the same. Total casualties represented one third of the Gettysburg example, but about one half of the Ypres contingent.

Other regiments in both battles suffered much higher losses than these ; but both commands behaved in legendary fashion at a moment of crisis, and will forever be associated with the battles.

Both regiments mounted a bayonet attack that saved the day.

The Worcesters had to traverse 1,000 yards of open ground under artillery fire, which cost them one hundred casualties. When they got to within 200 yards of the Germans in the grounds of Gheluveld Chateau, they stopped to fix bayonets, and then drove the astonished Germans back.

The Germans they attacked outnumbered them three to one.

I might take a look at the other Civil War example - Gregg's Texas Brigade in the Wilderness - and see how that compares.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 5:57:25 AM
The recapture of Gheluvelt by a shattered remnant of 2/Worcesters.led by Major Hankey ,routed perhaps four German battalions; and restored the line- was a famous victory- which would go down in the annals of the British Army.The cost-the Btn was so weak now- it had to be withdrawn to a new line across the Menin Road near Veldhoek.

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 9:21:19 AM
Re. Gheluvelt

The defending British forces lacked heavy artillery and al depende on the infantry's musketry.As mentioned previously- Fabeck's men were young volunteers
all fired up with patriotic courage,but poorly trained and led by elderly reservist officers.The British regular infantrymen cut them down in swathes.However overwhelming numbers decided the issue; and the Germans broke through and took Gheluvelt; and almost brought about a rout of the defenders.

Regards

Jim
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Lightning
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 10:09:04 AM
Hi Jim,

Please put aside the narrative and instead focus on your own commentary. It's hard to engage in a discussion that simply follows the chronological order with no points for debate.

What do you think would have happened if the BEF had collapsed at 1st Ypres and was forced to retire or surrender?

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

anemone
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 10:13:26 AM
DUNNO -YOU TELL ME


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Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 10:13:49 AM
The German losses are best exemplified by that photo of the officers of Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 that I alluded to in the other thread.

Twelve pose for the camera before they were sent into battle.

Of those twelve, eight were killed at Gheluvelt, two were evacuated wounded ; only two survived unscathed, and one of them was the Regimental Medical Officer.

British experience was also dreadful ; the officer cadre was all but wiped out, and the loss of its professional experience was to result in catastrophic losses for the BEF in the following years.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 10:24:46 AM
CMIIAW Phil-To cover the heavy loss of officers in this campaign-I believe the Artists Rifles-A Reserve Regiment- was converted to the very first Officers Training Unit and based in the UK.Intake was from the "Intelligencia" and suitable Nom Coms

Regards

Jim
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Lightning
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 11:10:11 AM

Quote:
DUNNO -YOU TELL ME

--anemone


Jim,

I'm trying to stimulate discussion, not start a fight. My apologies if my attempts to rouse debate caused any offence to you.

For what it's worth, I think had the BEF collapsed entirely at Ypres, the Belgians would have followed shortly after. France would have fought on, with perhaps some sort of uneasy peace in 1915, as neither the Germans nor the French would have had the remaining strength at that point to force the issue.

All the best,

Colin

---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 11:23:03 AM
Well -Thank you for that Colin-I really had not thought of that possibility and therefore did not know the answer.

However I would prefer some licence to present some of the more notable actions-which in turn would perhaps stimulate debate.

I do find difficulty in talking randomly-"Out of the blue"as it were

Best Regards

Jim

NB-there is no Wiki "lifted text" in this thread
---------------
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Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 12:07:33 PM

Quote:
CMIIAW Phil-To cover the heavy loss of officers in this campaign-I believe the Artists Rifles-A Reserve Regiment- was converted to the very first Officers Training Unit and based in the UK.Intake was from the "Intelligencia" and suitable Nom Coms

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Good point, Jim.

I wonder if there was a formula extant that allowed for quick identication - and exploitation of - suitable candidates for officer replacements.

There must have been....but there was no substitute for that profoundly professional cohort that was destroyed. Not only were these officers experienced, they also had an almost mystic " feel" for their job, based on intuition and some sort of benign elitism.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
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Posts: 687

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 12:08:05 PM

Quote:


For what it's worth, I think had the BEF collapsed entirely at Ypres, the Belgians would have followed shortly after. France would have fought on, with perhaps some sort of uneasy peace in 1915, as neither the Germans nor the French would have had the remaining strength at that point to force the issue.

All the best,

Colin

--Lightning


A plausible scenario. I think the French would have done what they could for the Belgians, but without the BEF it's uncharted territory. Also, a negotiated settlement after a relatively short war would have been a "normal" outcome, historically speaking.
Would any such peace talks have included Russia?
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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Posts: 687

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 12:16:51 PM

Quote:
The German losses are best exemplified by that photo of the officers of Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 that I alluded to in the other thread.

Twelve pose for the camera before they were sent into battle.

Of those twelve, eight were killed at Gheluvelt, two were evacuated wounded ; only two survived unscathed, and one of them was the Regimental Medical Officer.

British experience was also dreadful ; the officer cadre was all but wiped out, and the loss of its professional experience was to result in catastrophic losses for the BEF in the following years.

Regards, Phil


--Phil andrade


Officers and, equally damaging, long service NC0s.
I wonder if part of this was a combination of what was still rather "open warfare" conditions, with both officers and men more exposed to aimed fire than would be the case in later years, and, officers having yet to learn to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Posts: 2595

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 12:32:00 PM

Quote:

Quote:
The German losses are best exemplified by that photo of the officers of Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 that I alluded to in the other thread.

Twelve pose for the camera before they were sent into battle.

Of those twelve, eight were killed at Gheluvelt, two were evacuated wounded ; only two survived unscathed, and one of them was the Regimental Medical Officer.

British experience was also dreadful ; the officer cadre was all but wiped out, and the loss of its professional experience was to result in catastrophic losses for the BEF in the following years.

Regards, Phil


--Phil andrade


Officers and, equally damaging, long service NC0s.
I wonder if part of this was a combination of what was still rather "open warfare" conditions, with both officers and men more exposed to aimed fire than would be the case in later years, and, officers having yet to learn to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible.

--Jim Cameron


Yes, surely ...open warfare, and something else that might be described as " first shock ".

By which I mean the all out, maximum intensity that arises from eagerness and determination to prevail quickly, undulled by the prolonged exposure to routine. I am sure that the ratio of British officer deaths - vis a vis those of the men they led - was higher in this phase than it was to be later. Officers were determined to live up to the high ideals of noblessse oblige, and made themselves more conspicuous than prudence required.

I had tended to think of this as a peculiarly " British " thing....but the experience of the officer cohort of Bavarian RIR 16 at Gheluvelt dispels that notion.

German officers were to display the same prodigality again in the spring of 1918.

Regards , Phil


---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 12:38:20 PM
According to The Great War Forum -of which I am a member-Of 3107 Officers who landed in F&F before 22 November 1914-all became casualties-half that number lasted up to 40 days.Just over one third lasted only 30 days

Regards


Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 1:09:10 PM
Initially was this professional army keen to go to war against the Germans?

Did they feel that they were a large enough force to actually turn the tide and defeat the Germans before Christmas? If so, who told them that and who told the public?

I wonder whether there are any diaries of the men who led this excursion as to how they really felt. Did they know that they would be up against it and the narrative spun to the ranks and the public was that this would be a quick victory?

And I don't know how many men of this professional army survived to see the end of the war but in the British archives, are there any documents that would tell us whether the soldiers suddenly had an epiphany, one that told them that, "I am going to die here in Flanders."?

Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 1:11:04 PM
Yes...Jim, you're referring to the scholarship of Martin Gillot, who has provided GWF with the most admirable research.

Amongst his most superb contributions is a statistical analysis of the fate of the first cohorts of officers - and men - who disembarked in France in the middle of August 1914.

The revelations are staggering.

In some regiments, not only had all the officers become casualties , but half of them were actually killed,which is appalling.

The impact of this attrition of officers' experience on the subsequent performance of the BEF was incalculable.

Regards, Phil



---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2595

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 1:27:29 PM

Quote:
Initially was this professional army keen to go to war against the Germans?

Did they feel that they were a large enough force to actually turn the tide and defeat the Germans before Christmas? If so, who told them that and who told the public?

I wonder whether there are any diaries of the men who led this excursion as to how they really felt. Did they know that they would be up against it and the narrative spun to the ranks and the public was that this would be a quick victory?

And I don't know how many men of this professional army survived to see the end of the war but in the British archives, are there any documents that would tell us whether the soldiers suddenly had an epiphany, one that told them that, "I am going to die here in Flanders."?

Cheers,

George
--George


George,

How discerning you are in your pitch of questions !

This is a difficult one.

I really want to do it justice.

This is where I must retire, read and reflect before I return.

Or maybe it's better to fire from the hip and trust in the more instinctive response ?

Regards , Phil


---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Posts: 6095
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 1:39:09 PM

Quote:
Initially was this professional army keen to go to war against the Germans?

Did they feel that they were a large enough force to actually turn the tide and defeat the Germans before Christmas? If so, who told them that and who told the public?

I wonder whether there are any diaries of the men who led this excursion as to how they really felt. Did they know that they would be up against it and the narrative spun to the ranks and the public was that this would be a quick victory?

And I don't know how many men of this professional army survived to see the end of the war but in the British archives, are there any documents that would tell us whether the soldiers suddenly had an epiphany, one that told them that, "I am going to die here in Flanders."?

Cheers,

George
--George


GB of that period was pretty jingoistic IMO-our little army blythly marched off- with a Home by Xmas air-Their officers may have given them that idea but these men were professional soldiers-they were the Old Contemptibles- and they had the right attitude.

I am sure that there were diaries aplenty and many letters home-My GF wrote to his wife daily; and these I have-I can see no difference in 1914.


Quote:
" 1914, Glory Departing", by Edward Owen. He gives the following as BEF casualties in 1914:

Mons: 4352 killed, wounded, & missing
Le Cateau: 7812 " " "
Total for the retreat: @ 15000
Battle of the Marne: 1700 " " "
Battle of the Aisne: 561 officers, 12980 men
First Battle of Ypres: 2368 officers, 55787 men

The total of just under 90,000 casualties " was equivalent to the entire original BEF." " An average of 1 officer and 30 men remained of each of the original 64 thousand-strong battalions that landed in France in August."

I believe that an average cavalry regiment would have been much stronger, although still with greatly reduced numbers, since most did serve dismounted in the trenches, especially at Ypres. The Household Cavalry took especially severe casualties there.

To me, the best book on the BEF is " The Mons Star", by David Ascoli. A friend of mine has borrowed my copy, so I cannot refer to it now.
Needless to say, the Regular British Army was decimated in 1914, but they held the line, along with their French and Belgian Allies.


Regards

Jim

---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 2:15:12 PM
There are two distinctly adversarial forms of historiography when it comes to the BEF in 1914.

A recent surge of revisionism has insisted that the British public - and, indeed, their historians - have taken a rose tinted view of the Old Contemptibles.

They were first rate " barrack room sweats " ; fifteen rounds rapid ; punched so far above their weight as to save the Empire and, by extension, the world.

No, no say these new commentators : the force was characterised by dim witted officers, systemic ineptitude and a shocking degree of unfitness - both mental and physical - among the rank and file.

The force survived Mons and Le Cateau more by luck than judgement.

David Ascoli suggests that the BEF might have inflicted ten to fifteen thousand casualties on the Germans at Mons on 23 August 1914. He accepts six thousand as the minimal estimate.

This, remember, was purchased by 1,600 British casualties.

The truth ? According to Terence Zuber, 1,900 Gemans were casualties in that engagement .

You have to wonder how much wishful thinking has been deployed in our assessment of the men of the old BEF.

And yet.....I still remain convinced that the Old Contemptibles made an excellent account of themselves, both in their ability to withstand punishment, and, indeed, to mete it out.

With this in mind, I tend to believe that the officers who bled and died so prodigally were all too aware of the nature of the ordeal they were duty bound to undergo.

To think of them as naive and unaware of what modern industrialised warfare was bound to entail is to deny the professionalism and commitment that they bestowed on their craft.

I know of a few commentators who would show me the door now.....

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Posts: 5690

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 2:53:42 PM
Phil, what exactly were the orders when the British army was sent?

I don't have an appreciation for the fluidity of the situation on the continent or whether the British had a master plan to stop the German advances.

Was this very much an arrive, recce and then respond mission?

What were French's orders to his cavalry and divisional commanders?

I am trying to get a read on just what the army expected as they landed on the continent. How well prepared in terms of intelligence were they?


And I thought that this was an indicator of the esteem in which the British army was held by the people

In Westminster Abbey is a plaque upon which is written.


Quote:
"Remember THE OLD CONTEMPTIBLES The British Expeditionary Force which served in Flanders within range of the enemy mobile artillery between 5 August and 22 November 1914. At the first battle of Ypres their stand against a force of ten times their number prevented the German advance against the Channel ports. Unveiled 15 July 1993 by H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother".





Quite touching and unveiled in 1993, nearly 80 years after the great stand.


Cheers,

George


Jim Cameron
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 5:01:09 PM
I suspect that a fair assessment of the BEF of 1914 would rest somewhere between the two extremes.

"We ain't no thin red 'eros, Nor we aren't no blackguards too."
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/10/2017 5:15:56 PM
These, in the day when heaven was falling,

The hour when earth's foundations fled,

Followed their mercenary calling

And took their wages and are dead.



Their shoulders held the sky suspended ;


They stood, and earth's foundation stay ;


What God abandoned, these defended,

And saved the sum of things for pay.


Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 4:00:55 AM
George

Pre 1914 a number of military discussions between GB and France- culminated in a plan to land a British Expeditionary Force in F&F- in the event of an invasion of France by Germany, there purpose was to help ensure that a swift German victory did not happen.

In the event of such a war, Britain planned to land a British Expeditionary Force of six infantry divisions in France, a force of 100,000 men.

I do not think it was anything more complex than that.

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 5:10:36 AM
The Battle of Lamgemarck seemed to me- to be a quite unnecessary action-here BEF troops had locked horns with the enemy in a kind of standoff.Sir John French ordered an attack by the 1st Division- which turned a standoff into a disturbed hornet's nest.

I confess that I did not discern much of a plan by Sir John; but assume DH would have set out a course of action; and the hardest hit was the Gds Brigade and 51st Highland Division.The whole ending in near rout of the Germans.I regret that I cannot find a casualty count.

Regards

Jim
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phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 6:27:04 AM

Quote:
Phil, what exactly were the orders when the British army was sent?






--George



From Lord Kitchener, Minister of War, to Sir John French :

..to support and co-operate with the French Army...in preventing or repelling the invasion by Germany of French and Belgian territory and eventually to restore the neutrality of Belgium....it must be recognised from the outset that the numerical strength of the British force ....is strictly limited....the greatest care must be exercised towards a minimum of losses and wastage. Therefore, while every effort must be made to coincide most sympathetically with the plans and wishes of our Ally, the greatest consideration will devolve upon you as to participation in forward movements where large bodies of French troops are not engaged and where your Force may be unduly exposed to attack. In this connection I wish you distinctly to understand that your command is an entirely independent one, and that you will in no case come in any sense under the orders of any Allied General.

Talk about being told to make an omelette without breaking any bloody eggs !

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Lightning
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 6:59:02 AM

Quote:
A plausible scenario. I think the French would have done what they could for the Belgians, but without the BEF it's uncharted territory. Also, a negotiated settlement after a relatively short war would have been a "normal" outcome, historically speaking.
Would any such peace talks have included Russia?

--Jim Cameron


Yeah, I don't think the French would willingly abandon Belgium, but with the BEF gone they've probably got worries of their own to be dealing with.

I would have expect that the Russians, given their alliance with France, would have been involved. I don't think Russia would have done too badly out of any settlement; France, OTOH, might be looking at losing yet more border territory and faced with the prospect of Belgium being consumed by the German Empire or set up as a German puppet state.

Cheers,

Colin
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"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

George
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 7:01:15 AM
Thanks Phil, I have read the orders to French a couple of times.

Clear and vague at the same time.

"support and co-operate with the French"

"greatest care .....minimum of losses and wastage"

There are really no specifics and I suppose that they were heading into the unknown. We may contrast this with the specific "warnings" sent to Corps commanders later in the war when set pieces were ordered. Rather more specific in those cases I think.

I sense that Kitchener is telling French that if the French army doesn't commit, then he is under no compulsion to act aggressively. Do you sense that Kitchener is saying that the British should follow the lead of the French while operating as an independent force?


Seems to be a "get over there and see what's up and what you can do".

Did French write a memoir or leave evidence that he was perplexed or annoyed by these orders?


Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 7:39:01 AM

Quote:
I sense that Kitchener is telling French that if the French army doesn't commit, then he is under no compulsion to act aggressively.


The Battle of Langemarck would seem to have been a deviation from the above-see previous post on this action.

Regards

Jim
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George
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 7:48:46 AM
Jim please explain your point of view. Referring me to a previous post somewhere up the line doesn't tell me what you are thinking.

Cheers,

George

Lightning
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 7:50:40 AM
As I recall, the vague orders were to tack to the left of the French (there's a first in British history) and basically engage the invading Germans as the overall situation allowed, whilst avoiding excessive casualties.

Sir John French was a hysterical figure, ranging from supreme optimism prior to Mons and then abject desolation after Le Cateau. In my view, though a gifted cavalry officer, he was unfit for overall command of the BEF and Kitchener should have pressed for his removal when he made the request to retreat to the ports.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

anemone
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 8:47:25 AM

Quote:
Jim please explain your point of view. Referring me to a previous post somewhere up the line doesn't tell me what you are thinking.


Langemarck- IMO opinion seemed to an action ordered by Sir John French where little or no action was required.Having read his rambling Ypres Dispatch-there was little mention of this battle; and I wondered what others thought about this as a battle or an action???

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 9:57:46 AM
George,

Kitchener was unhappy about the BEF being exposed as an appendage of the French Left.

He - correctly , in my view - preferred the idea of the force being concentrated further back and to the South around Amiens, where it could be husbanded and deployed subsequently with effect in the event of a counter strike.

In the event, he was persuaded to comply with the views of French and Haig , who, inspired by the efforts of the Francophile Henry Wilson, argued for deployment in Belgium.

Kitchener subsequently regretted that he had not been more forceful, and his rather ambiguous instructions to French indicate how he sought to give French his head while still insisting on restraint and equivocation. The worst of all worlds : a remit designed to limit risk ended up by compounding it and leaving the BEF yet more vulnerable and exposed.

I fear that I'm getting into " mission creep " mode here, delving more and more into the shenanigans of intrigue, rivalry, and mistrust that gave rise to conspiracy theories.

A lot of damage was done on account of the personal friction between John French and Lanrezac during an unhappy meeting on 17 August. From what I've read, it seems that the Frenchman was the culprit, treating the British commander with sarcasm and disdain.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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