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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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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 10:28:35 AM
Many thanks for that Phil.

Was consideration given to quick extrication of the British forces if it appeared that the French were not committed?

Is so, would it not be better to be placed in Flanders rather than farther south near Amiens? Having said that, protection of all the channel ports, both Belgian and French, would require a larger force than the British had.

I am not suggesting that the British landed with the intent to make a token effort and then depart. Quite obviously the work done is legendary and an army lost in the process.

Was any exit plan considered?



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 10:36:18 AM
Joffre considered it was necessary to relieve him on the afternoon of 3 September-ostensibly because he could not be relied upon for the planned counter stroke on the Marne; but as you say Phil- there was a quite a lot of back biting behind the scenes- giving rise to conspiracy theories.


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: 1/11/2017 10:46:30 AM

Quote:
Was any exit plan considered?--George


Only by Sir John and he was quickly dissuaded once Kitchener turned up in his Field Marshall's uniform, resplendent with medals earned from across the Empire. Kitchener carpeted French more than once in South Africa for his elastic grasp of command; it's hard to escape the conclusion that the meeting was a horribly cringeworthy and awkward affair.

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 12:37:19 PM
Been reading Cyril Falls'"The Great War"- Chapter- "Manoeuvres and Slogging Matches"which I associate with 1st Ypres and I personally see as a series of ferocious melees-this particular passage caught my eye-it is as follows:-


Quote:
"There had been much entrenchment in the ACW; but the proportion of men to front or fronts was very much lower than the Western Front.In the First World War it was nearly always the case,that the fewer the men to the mile,the more open was the warfare.Why did one side or the other not break through these defences which remained very flimsy until late 1915----the assault could never have been driven through into open ground fast and cleanly enough to prevent new lines of resistance being established; and the new defence "congealing" about the bulge-as skin re-establishes around a wound.The break in could not be converted into a breakthrough.It seems a simple conundrum and a hundred times men thought it solved- but it never was wholly solved


Regards

Jim

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Jim Cameron
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 1:28:59 PM

Quote:
Many thanks for that Phil.

Was consideration given to quick extrication of the British forces if it appeared that the French were not committed?

Is so, would it not be better to be placed in Flanders rather than farther south near Amiens? Having said that, protection of all the channel ports, both Belgian and French, would require a larger force than the British had.

I am not suggesting that the British landed with the intent to make a token effort and then depart. Quite obviously the work done is legendary and an army lost in the process.

Was any exit plan considered?


Cheers,

George
--George


I don't know that I would say Flanders was chosen with a quick extraction specifically in mind, so much as that it made sense in terms of a short line of supply from the channel coast. That said, if supplies can move one way, troops can move the other. In other words, I would imagine that the contingency was kept in mind.
---------------
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: 1/11/2017 4:01:00 PM

Quote:
Been reading Cyril Falls'"The Great War"- Chapter- "Manoeuvres and Slogging Matches"which I associate with 1st Ypres and I personally see as a series of ferocious melees-this particular passage caught my eye-it is as follows:-


Quote:
"There had been much entrenchment in the ACW; but the proportion of men to front or fronts was very much lower than the Western Front.In the First World War it was nearly always the case,that the fewer the men to the mile,the more open was the warfare.Why did one side or the other not break through these defences which remained very flimsy until late 1915----the assault could never have been driven through into open ground fast and cleanly enough to prevent new lines of resistance being established; and the new defence "congealing" about the bulge-as skin re-establishes around a wound.The break in could not be converted into a breakthrough.It seems a simple conundrum and a hundred times men thought it solved- but it never was wholly solved


Regards

Jim

--anemone


You're bang on with that phrase ferocious melees Jim...that sums up First Ypres perfectly, I think.

I've got that Cyril Falls book,so I'll root out that passage, reflect and report back.

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Jim Cameron
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/11/2017 6:47:49 PM
The similarity of ACW and WW1 trenches should not be pushed too far. The ACW featured nothing like the power of artillery, no machine guns, and the depth of WW1 defensive zones.

Even in WW1 I think what was important wasn't so much the men per mile along the front, so much as the number of reserves back behind the front, ready to be fed into the fight by road or rail. A well planned, well supported, and well executed attack was very likely to get through the front line trenches, and would probably chew up the defenders in the process. But reserves could almost always reach the scene in time to seal off any penetration.
---------------
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: 1/12/2017 3:56:09 AM
That makes sense- but this did not happen in 1st Ypres battles-the Germans seemed quite incapable of enlarging a "break in" to a breakthrough. It would undoubtedly not get any better with the introduction of the three trench line defence ie Front ,Support and Reserve Lines


Quote:
A well planned, well supported, and well executed attack was very likely to get through the front line trenches, and would probably chew up the defenders in the process.


That sounds like excellent tactics; but how many times did this happen in 1914/15-because this was the period Falls was referring to.It was probably 1918 before the Allies were obtaining breakthroughs into open ground beyond.Even during the Kaiserschlact- although the Germans broke the Allied lines- a new line was formed further back-just as Falls says.

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: 1/12/2017 5:35:31 AM
Cyril Falls wrote an excellent history, didn't he ?

His narrative on First Ypres is superb.

A propos this question of how many times attacks succeeded in breaking in, but failed to exploit into break through - or beak out ? - we need look no further than Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 to exemplify this.

At First Ypres itself, Haig was astonished that the Germans had failed to exploit their advantage ; thereafter he was to cite that as a reason to keep bashing on in his notorious offensives...he believed that at the end of October 1914 the enemy had the thing in the palm of their hand, but failed to grip : he didn't want to make the same mistake.

One of the things that Falls does well in his history is remind us that, while this 1914 fighting in Flanders was raging, the Germans had very severe fighting against the Russians, too. A particularly fierce battle at Lodz cost them 100,000 casualties - 36,000 of them fatal - a feature that is too often overlooked.

Even the French, who were heavily engaged at Ypres, attribute only one quarter of their casualties for October and November 1914 to that battle - a fact that serves to remind us how much was going on elsewhere.

For the British, of course, it was the main event, to say the least.

Regards, Phil

---------------
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"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: 1/12/2017 6:18:34 AM
I am of the opinion that the whole of this campaign was a bloody mess for nothing gained.For this to be so- was down to Sir John french who was quite unfit to command such an elite force; and that most senior officers of Corps,Division and Brigade were still learning their trade- for the want of a better word.There were 84 battalions of infantry in the BEF. Of these on 1st November:

18 were at cadre strength-below 100 all ranks. NB. 2/HLI had 30 all told
31 were very weak-100-200 all ranks
26 were weak-200-300 all ranks
9 were middling-300-450

These figures must be considered against the war establishment of a British battalion of 30 officers and 977 other ranks- with which most had come to France in August.

This noble army of regular soldiers -the Old Contemptibles-had been destroyed.This statement is also backed by David Ascoli author of the "THE MONS STAR" John Keegan just manages to give this campaign mention.

NB The figures quoted are from Farrah-Hockley's "Death of an Army"

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: 1/12/2017 7:06:37 AM

Quote:
I am of the opinion that the whole of this campaign was a bloody mess.--anemone


Might the same be said from the German point of view ?

I like the summary of Jack Sheldon's introduction to his book THE GERMAN ARMY AT YPRES, 1914 :

This great casualty count is clear proof that neither side in this landmark battle had any monopoly on courage or sacrifice and that the men of the Fourth German Army were too inexperienced to know they could not prevail and too courageous not to go on trying to advance even when it was hopeless.

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: 1/12/2017 7:15:06 AM

Quote:
Many thanks for that Phil.

Was consideration given to quick extrication of the British forces if it appeared that the French were not committed?

Is so, would it not be better to be placed in Flanders rather than farther south near Amiens? Having said that, protection of all the channel ports, both Belgian and French, would require a larger force than the British had.

I am not suggesting that the British landed with the intent to make a token effort and then depart. Quite obviously the work done is legendary and an army lost in the process.

Was any exit plan considered?



Cheers,

George
--George


George,

At the end of August, John French advocated a complete British withdrawal from the line, in order to rest and refit.

This was the extent of the envisaged exit, as far as I can tell. I haven't yet seen any evidence suggesting evacuation.

French had in mind a withdrawal behind the Seine, and proposed that Le Mans be chosen as an advanced base instead of Amiens. He intended to remain there for as short a time as possible, reorganise, and then to advance again.

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: 1/12/2017 7:33:13 AM
But of course Phil-the Germans were many but inexperienced-The BEF soldiers were experienced; but were prodigally wasted on worthless objectives and never shirked and obeyed orders-as it turned out- it cost many good lives.There was something shameful about the loss of this elite force after losing :
7,960 killed
29,563 wounded
17,873 missing
2,128 unknown cause

Total: 58,155 out of a possible; but somehow unlikely- 80,000 total

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: 1/12/2017 8:27:25 AM

Quote:
...The BEF soldiers were experienced; but were prodigally wasted on worthless objectives and never shirked and obeyed orders-as it turned out- it cost many good lives.There was something shameful about the loss of this elite force...--anemone


Specifically what objectives do you consider worthless, Jim? Mons was an unavoidable meeting engagement; Le Cateau was forced upon Smith Dorrien; the various other rearguard actions were fought as required when the Germans made contact; the Battle of the Marne was part of an allied counter-offensive set out to drive the German invaders away; the Battle of the Aisne was an attempt to gain high ground and try and force the Germans back further; 1st Ypres was do or die, possibly for the entire Allied war effort.

It seems to me that the BEF fought often and hard, but didn't fight frivolously.

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."

Jim Cameron
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Posts: 687

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/12/2017 8:35:39 AM

Quote:
That makes sense- but this did not happen in 1st Ypres battles-the Germans seemed quite incapable of enlarging a "break in" to a breakthrough. It would undoubtedly not get any better with the introduction of the three trench line defence ie Front ,Support and Reserve Lines


Quote:
A well planned, well supported, and well executed attack was very likely to get through the front line trenches, and would probably chew up the defenders in the process.


That sounds like excellent tactics; but how many times did this happen in 1914/15-because this was the period Falls was referring to.It was probably 1918 before the Allies were obtaining breakthroughs into open ground beyond.Even during the Kaiserschlact- although the Germans broke the Allied lines- a new line was formed further back-just as Falls says.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Exactly my point. All even a well executed attack was likely to do was get through the first enemy position, but then stall within the deeper defensive zone. The resulting salient would be sealed of by counterattacks and artillery, while enemy positions further in became the new front. Even in 1918 breakthroughs were illusive. A more effective approach evolved as lateral exploitation and a gradual pushing back along the front replaced attempting to exploit forward to force a breakthrough that simply wasn't feasible. As you say, the Germans couldn't do it in 1914, and the situation didn't improve for either side as defenses became increasingly deep and sophisticated.
---------------
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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: 1/12/2017 8:37:14 AM
Colin- I am discussing the 1st Battle of Ypres- not what has gone before, and as you say 1st Ypres; and yes it was do or die -they did and they died. Langemarck or should I saY Bixschoote- was a fanciful forward action- thought up by John French- which gained absolutely nothing

Frivolously-where did that word come from.???

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: 1/12/2017 8:44:10 AM

Quote:
Colin- I am discussing the 1st Battle of Ypres- not what has gone before, and as you say 1st Ypres; and yes it was do or die -they did and they died.

Frivolously-where did that word come from.???

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Your post referred to the lives of BEF soldiers being wasted; I wasn't sure if this referred to the whole of 1914 or just 1st Ypres, so I opted for the former as we had been talking in general terms in various parts of this thread.

"Frivolously" is my word, but if you believe some objectives were worthless then let's hear you state your case. My view is that Haig and Smith Dorrien performed well at 1st Ypres, probably better than at any other point in 1914. The BEF clung on by the skin of its teeth, shifting whatever ad hoc forces it could around to plug gaps. I'm sure if any of the objectives were deemed "worthless", then so many lives would not have been expended trying to throw back the Germans.

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: 1/12/2017 8:57:08 AM
If you had read carefully what the purpose of the BEF was at 1st Ypres-you would have found that they were to hold the line; and ensure that there was no breakthrough to the sea.Now holding the line does not include forays forward or pitched battles-however I will concede that the desperate mellee at Nonne Boschen included bringing the 1/Ox and Bucks forward- because there was a breech in the line-which had to be closed.

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: 1/12/2017 9:48:24 AM
Jim,

I read it back again to see if I missed anything. Your statement was:


Quote:
...The BEF soldiers were experienced; but were prodigally wasted on worthless objectives and never shirked and obeyed orders-as it turned out- it cost many good lives.There was something shameful about the loss of this elite force...


What objectives do you deem were worthless?

You further state in your latest post:


Quote:
...Now holding the line does not include forays forward or pitched battles...


The objective of the war was not to hold the line, it was to expel the Germans. Even if that were not the case, the attacking side usually has local momentum, whilst sitting waiting for an assault whilst heavily outnumbered often leads to outright defeat. Officers from company level to army level in the BEF at 1st Ypre decided that counter-attacks were needed to prevent the Germans from gaining the decisive initiative.

Outnumbered defenders going onto the attack is not without precedent; the 20th Maine successfully repelled the Confederate assaults at Little Round Top by way of a bayonet charge, as they were running low ammo and weren't sure if they could win another musketry engagement. Not every defensive action in military history involves standing fast to the last man and last cartridge; quite often to do so is counter-productive.

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: 1/12/2017 9:53:52 AM

Quote:
A more effective approach evolved as lateral exploitation and a gradual pushing back along the front replaced attempting to exploit forward to force a breakthrough that simply wasn't feasible. As you say, the Germans couldn't do it in 1914, and the situation didn't improve for either side as defenses became increasingly deep and sophisticated.


I assume this is "rolling up the flanks" Jim.It is the one way to obviate the failure of frontal attacks.If well planned and covert-IMO it has every chance of success.The Canadians i think employed this tactic at the Canal du Nord in 1918.
Re. the German very deep entrenchments-that and invariably for much of the war held the high ground and that plus a deep shelter.; but well made and equipped with ladders-made these almost impregnable.eg 1st July 1916


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: 1/12/2017 10:04:59 AM

Quote:
The objective of the war was not to hold the line, it was to expel the Germans. Even if that were not the case, the attacking side usually has local momentum, whilst sitting waiting for an assault whilst heavily outnumbered often leads to outright defeat. Officers from company level to army level in the BEF at 1st Ypre decided that counter-attacks were needed to prevent the Germans from gaining the decisive initiative.


Sorry Colin-I just cannot agree with what you state. Falkenhayn did not give up on reaching the coast until the 22nd of November-which by then- it was all over bar the shouting.The counterattacks that were made were to recover lost ground eg/Gheluvelt and Nonnen Boschen as principals

NB.
Kitchener's Orders to French-extract

."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".

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: 1/12/2017 10:42:05 AM
Jim,

Please date Kitchener's orders - I expect they pre-date the 1st Battle of Ypres and possibly before the Marne. Do orders given months earlier in central France still hold the same relevance when the entire strategic position had changed? French's forces, on paper at least, had also increased. The BEF was woefully low on fit and ready soldiers, but so were the Germans.

If Falkenhayn gave up on trying to reach the coast, does that mean the Allies should have given up on trying to expel the Germans from Belgian and French soil? I think not. The war would not be over until the Germans were expelled or asked for terms for a peace, which they eventually did, of course.

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."

Jim Cameron
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/12/2017 10:42:31 AM

Quote:


I assume this is "rolling up the flanks" Jim.It is the one way to obviate the failure of frontal attacks.If well planned and covert-IMO it has every chance of success.The Canadians i think employed this tactic at the Canal du Nord in 1918.
Re. the German very deep entrenchments-that and invariably for much of the war held the high ground and that plus a deep shelter.; but well made and equipped with ladders-made these almost impregnable.eg 1st July 1916


Regards

Jim
--anemone


More like a series of offensives, in different sectors.
---------------
Jim Cameron

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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: 1/12/2017 10:53:36 AM

Quote:
More like a series of offensives, in different sectors


Jim- I think you had better explain the above to me- so that I do understand what you are telling me please.I think we are at cross purposes as it stands

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: 1/12/2017 11:38:55 AM

Quote:
The BEF was woefully low on fit and ready soldiers, but so were the Germans.

If Falkenhayn gave up on trying to reach the coast, does that mean the Allies should have given up on trying to expel the Germans from Belgian and French soil? I think not. The war would not be over until the Germans were expelled or asked for terms for a peace, which they eventually did, of course.


Kitchener's Orders August 1914 and we are discussing November 1914

What a contradiction of terms Colin-a woefully weak BEF; and they were to drive the Germans back AT THAT TIME- when their very existence was in the balance.You cannot be serious.

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: 1/12/2017 1:06:09 PM
Early to mid October 1914 and the signs were fairly propitious for an Allied offensive in the north. It was a reasonable aspiration for the allied commanders : to exploit the opportunity of an open flank. Remember that by this time, British casualties had not exceeded thirty thousand in total.

Foch held command of the French forces here, and he was very encouraging, urging French to co-operate in a thrust towards Bruges.

French was unduly susceptible to mood swings, and was, perhaps , anxious to erase the impression of dismay that had emanated from him in the desperate August days.

Things seemed to be going fairly well at first.

Of course that all changed when the Germans got into their stride.

In the six weeks of fighting that ensued, the British were to suffer twice as many casualties as they had in the preceding two months.

We would do well to consider how the Germans felt about the outcome. First Ypres bled the Germans excessively, and it's significant that thereafter Falkenayn lost appetite for all out attack, and sought a negotiated peace.

Regards , Phil







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"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: 1/12/2017 1:47:12 PM
Neither side had achieved very little in this campaign and Falkenhayn was considering a different strategy; and was looking at how to detach Russia or France from the Alliance via diplomacy.

Frankly I cannot see how at this juncture; but that was his attitude then.He asked the German Secretary of State to approach Russia regarding a settlement-I expect this did not happen- because the "Heavenly Twins"H and L were the supremos in Russia.So the war continued to the end of 1914 in stalemate/

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: 1/12/2017 5:11:44 PM
Jim,

I'm going to respectfully ask that you please don't use whole words in capitals when posting directly to me or others - it's considered shouting on Internet forums. Would you shout at me in person if we were discussing this face to face?

As for Kitchener's orders, you brought them up as relevant to events in November 1914. As Phil has pointed out, BEF casualties prior to 1st Ypres had been heavy, but not so heavy as to render the Expeditionary Force as useless or near useless. 1st Ypres, with all its coming and going, attacks, stands and charges, was a necessary evil to keep the Allied line intact and keep the British in the continental war. I simply cannot accept that strategy of simply defending the sector (with no attempt to blunt potential German attacks) would have helped in any way.

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."

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: 1/12/2017 7:52:08 PM

Quote:

Quote:
More like a series of offensives, in different sectors


Jim- I think you had better explain the above to me- so that I do understand what you are telling me please.I think we are at cross purposes as it stands

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Trying to turn a successful attack that had managed to break into the enemy defenses into a full fledged breakthrough by exploiting forward, toward the enemy rear areas, was pretty much a lost cause. Reserves would contain the penetration, and the enemy would establish new defensive positions.
Lateral exploitation would push an offensive as far as it would go, pushing back the enemy line, and then shift to a different part of the front and do it again. The exploitation part took advantage of the fact that the enemy could not be strong everywhere, and resisting one offensive made the next one that much harder to face. Sector after sector would be pushed back, until the front failed, due not to a breakthrough so much as relentless pressure.
---------------
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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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/13/2017 2:51:55 AM
The Ypres Salient has been likened to a saucer, with the city itself being the dent in the middle and the rim being the surrounding ridges.

The Germans failed to break through, but they remained in possession of a large part of the rim of the saucer ; a position which they exploited to deadly effect in the years ahead.

The best part of a quarter of a million soldiers from the British Empire lost their lives in that saucer.

That was the outcome of this battle : it configured The Salient. Fifty thousand or so British troops were lost in laying the foundations ; another half to three quarters of a million were lost there in the ensuing four years.

Death of an army indeed.

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
Glasgow, UK
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E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 459

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/13/2017 4:00:05 AM

Quote:
Death of an army indeed.--Phil andrade


I would go further; the death of a generation. Memorials to the men of the Empire across the world show how disastrous the loss of life was.

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
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/13/2017 6:16:37 AM
The historian David Ascoli ended his book "The Mons Star"with the following words:

"In the British battalions which fought from Mons to Ypres there scarcely remained with the colours one officer and thirty men of those who landed in August 1914.The old British Army was gone beyond recall"

NB. Hardest hit was 7th,3rd and 1st Infantry Divisions.

Regards

Jim
---------------
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: 1/13/2017 6:26:55 AM

Quote:
Trying to turn a successful attack that had managed to break into the enemy defenses into a full fledged breakthrough by exploiting forward, toward the enemy rear areas, was pretty much a lost cause. Reserves would contain the penetration, and the enemy would establish new defensive positions.
Lateral exploitation would push an offensive as far as it would go, pushing back the enemy line, and then sight to a different part of the front and do it again. The exploitation part took advantage of the fact that the enemy could not be strong everywhere, and resisting one offensive made the next one that much harder to face. Sector after sector would be pushed back, until the front failed, due not to a breakthrough so much as relentless pressure.
---------------
Jim Cameron


My thanks for the explanation Jim-certainly makes a lot of sense.Would I be correct in saying that this lateral exploitation was not practiced until the last 100 days of WW1 ??

Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/13/2017 6:53:51 AM

Quote:

Quote:
Death of an army indeed.--Phil andrade


I would go further; the death of a generation. Memorials to the men of the Empire across the world show how disastrous the loss of life was.

Cheers,

Colin
--Lightning


There's a prominent hill just outside Greenwhich in south east London : it's called Shooters Hill.

On the top there is an eighteenth century milestone with indications of distance inscribed on its sides : 8 miles to London Bridge and 7 miles to Dartford .

A third inscription has been attached :

130 MILES TO YPRES / IN DEFENDING THE SALIENT / OUR CASUALTIES WERE 90,000 KILLED/ 70,500 MISSING/ 410,000 WOUNDED

Take into account the missing who were dead, and the wounded who died from their wounds, and it's probable that well over one hundred and fifty thousand deaths are implied in that statement : add on the loss of life in those peripheral areas of the Salient that extended south beyond the Franco Belgian border, and we can countenance a quarter of a million from the British Empire.

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: 1/13/2017 7:33:24 AM
Shooters Hill images

[Read More]

Regards

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

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
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Posts: 459

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/13/2017 7:53:58 AM
Horrifying numbers there, Phil. In the context of 1914/1915, I wonder if they would have increased or decreased had Sir John followed the advice of Horace Smith-Dorrien and pulled the British line back into a more compact position?

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."

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 687

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/13/2017 8:36:59 AM

Quote:


My thanks for the explanation Jim-certainly makes a lot of sense.Would I be correct in saying that this lateral exploitation was not practiced until the last 100 days of WW1 ??

Regards

Jim
--anemone


The concept predated the last 100 days. But its application was facilitated by German expenditure of men and material in the Spring offensives, as well as by the resulting salients that were both difficult to supply and defend, and lengthened their front.
---------------
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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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/13/2017 8:53:05 AM
Colin,

Firing from the hip, I would contend that following SD's advice would have saved lives.

Retain sacred ground in the face of converging fire...that's what the Germans wanted the British to do : a good reason, IMHO, for not doing so.

Lt General William Marshall wrote a memoir of his war service, and had this to say about his experience of Flanders in the winter of 1914-15 :

This absurd worship of ground as such was an absolute negation of our previous military training ....I wonder what history will say about the continued holding of the Ypres salient, with its record of 250,000 dead. One was told that it was held for sentimental reasons, but, if that was the case, I can only say that such costly sentiment is out of place in war.

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: 2596

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/13/2017 8:59:43 AM

Quote:
Shooters Hill images

[Read More]

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Thanks, Jim.

Greenwich is a good place to visit. The Cutty Sark and a rather splendid market....and a statue of Wolfe of Quebec ; not to mention the famous Observatory and the wonderful Naval Museum and college that dominates the shoreline.

My elder daughter and her husband used to live there in the early days of their marriage, and I always promised myself that I would go and see that milestone memorial atop Shooters Hill...but I never got round to it.

Your contribution has rectified that omission !

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

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1957

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/13/2017 11:21:27 AM

Quote:
Retain sacred ground in the face of converging fire...that's what the Germans wanted the British to do : a good reason, IMHO, for not doing so.


Regards , Phil
--Phil andrade


Was it here that Falkenhayn's idea for Verdun began ?

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

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