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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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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 12:11:27 PM
It would seem possible Trevor-However it was in 1916 that Falkenhayn believed the Verdun fortresses were ripe for attack. His plan was nothing more than a war of attrition – to wear down the defences of the French and bleed their army white.

Falkenhayn believed that if Verdun was captured, then the whole of France would surrender as Verdun, in the minds of the French, was impregnable.

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 12:40:19 PM
Falkenhayn's experience at First Ypres was such as to turn him against further such offensives.

Verdun was to be an offensive of a different kind from the Flanders attacks of autumn 1914. Carefully limited manpower exposure was envisaged for his 1916 plan.

The First Ypres battle was notorious in German minds for the lack of ammunition and the profligate use of soldiers who were too young led by officers who were too old.

I take your point, Trevor....one can't help but think of Ypres as a British Verdun ; the determination not to yield ground costing them as many lives as their French counterparts in the Mill on the Meuse.

There is no evidence that I've seen that indicates that Falkenhayn's strategy at Verdun had its provenance in the killing fields of Flanders in 1914. But it's significant that he tried a local offensive - and an experimental one - there in later April 1915, when chlorine gas was used.

In that battle the British certainly played to German strengths , counter attacking and taking dreadful casualties . It would be the second - rather than the first - battle at Ypres that would be a contender for inspiring Falkenhayn to embark on Operation Gericht.

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
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Posts: 669

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 1/13/2017 1:14:26 PM

Quote:
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
--Phil andrade


The Ypres salient was certainly no bargain for the BEF, to say the least. But if abandoned, where do they fetch up after withdrawing? The position doesn't have a lot of depth to the rear, with Dunkirk, Calais, and Hazebrouck to consider. Plus, there would be the admittedly somewhat symbolic, but still significant, matter of conceding the rump of Belgium to the Germans.
---------------
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 1:27:30 PM
You're right, I'm sure, Jim.

What SD proposed was withdrawing from some of the ground, not all of it.

Ypres was pretty well the only piece of Belgium that wasn't held by the Germans.

The reasons for holding on there were very compelling.

The war was fought to uphold the guarantee of Belgian independence.

And there wasn't much room behind....only 130 miles to Greenwich !

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

Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA, USA
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Posts: 490

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/9/2017 6:07:19 AM

Quote:
A little British army was put to the sternest test that any army from these islands has ever endured.
--Phil andrade


For perspective, that little British army had 50% more men in it than the entire US Army at the time in September 1914. And it was backed by a considerable number of trained special reserves that would keep the ranks full of pre-war trained personnel until new recruits could complete training starting in February 2015.

As to the death of an army claim, it is ridiculous. The army grew so fast with additional regulars from the 4th and 5th corps (7th, 8th, 27th, and 28th divisions) plus a corps of regular Indian Army troops that it was split in December into the 1st and 2nd Armies. This was also done to prepare for the arrival of New Army and Territorial divisions that would start flowing into the continent, which resulted in a 3rd Army in July 2015, but the new units were from the territorials and the new army. Also, at least 2/3 of the casualties of the early months were returned to their units after recovering in a few days to a few months.

Note, by December, none of the new regular recruits that had enlisted starting the day the war began had finished their training. Replacements had come from the existing special reserve--trained pre-war to regular standards as well as the army reserve of former serving soldiers that had 4 or more years commitment in the reserves. But, the new recruits would start arriving in February 1915 as replacement.

The death of an army claim is a lot more myth than reality.

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: 3/9/2017 6:38:09 AM

Quote:
The death of an army claim is a lot more myth than reality.


Mike I think you have missed the point in your post -"Death of an Army"refers to the passing of the original BEF of regular soldiers-sent to France in August 1914; and all but destroyed by the end of the year-they were the Old Contemptibles-a name coined by the Kaiser when he called the BEF "a contemptible little army".It was this contingent that had but a few survivors-Each battalion had on average- scarcely one officer and thirty men with the colours in the end.It was well named Death of an Army-coined Anthony Farrar Hockley-an ex British Army officer- for his book about the original BEF.

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: 3/10/2017 2:33:08 AM

Quote:

Quote:
A little British army was put to the sternest test that any army from these islands has ever endured.
--Phil andrade


For perspective, that little British army had 50% more men in it than the entire US Army at the time in September 1914. And it was backed by a considerable number of trained special reserves that would keep the ranks full of pre-war trained personnel until new recruits could complete training starting in February 2015.

As to the death of an army claim, it is ridiculous. The army grew so fast with additional regulars from the 4th and 5th corps (7th, 8th, 27th, and 28th divisions) plus a corps of regular Indian Army troops that it was split in December into the 1st and 2nd Armies. This was also done to prepare for the arrival of New Army and Territorial divisions that would start flowing into the continent, which resulted in a 3rd Army in July 2015, but the new units were from the territorials and the new army. Also, at least 2/3 of the casualties of the early months were returned to their units after recovering in a few days to a few months.

Note, by December, none of the new regular recruits that had enlisted starting the day the war began had finished their training. Replacements had come from the existing special reserve--trained pre-war to regular standards as well as the army reserve of former serving soldiers that had 4 or more years commitment in the reserves. But, the new recruits would start arriving in February 1915 as replacement.

The death of an army claim is a lot more myth than reality.
--Mike Johnson


Mike,

You're right to encourage circumspection.

There's a lot of rhetorical exaggeration and people do tend to conflate casualties with deaths.

In terms of the experience of the original cohorts of the BEF that disembarked in France in mid August 1914, however, the statistical reality was startling, let me tell you.

The battle casualties by year's end exceeded the size of the original compliment.

Of these casualties, roughly one fourth had been killed, and one fifth taken prisoner.

Even if most of the wounded recovered, the majority of the casualties were clearly irrecoverable.

In the case of the officers, the figures are truly catastrophic.

Approaching one half of all their battle casualties were fatal: by the end of the First Battle of Ypres, more than one third of those who had disembarked one hundred days earlier were actually dead.

This reflects the small size of the original BEF, and its exposure to sudden and relentless battle in " the first shock".
Had I not seen authentication of these figures, I would have been reluctant to believe them.

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
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Posts: 669

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/10/2017 1:09:57 PM
The original cohort of pretty much any force committed to a lengthy and intensive campaign is likely to be essentially used up by the time it's over. The original BEF was no exception.
I recall reading how at the end of the campaign in northern Europe in WW2, an American infantry regiment wanted to have men who had landed on D-Day carry the flags in a victory parade. There were none left.
---------------
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: 3/11/2017 4:43:13 AM
Good points, Jim C,

I have to admit that I was thinking about this myself : you could cite the attrition of the campaign in NW Europe 1944 -5 ; you might even make an observation about the fate of the cohorts that crossed the Rapidan in early May 1864 and reflect on how many of those boys in blue were still alive and kicking when Lee surrendered at Appomattox .

Viewed in that light, the original BEF's ordeal doesn't seem so exceptional.

There is a caveat : the other two campaigns were culminating events - albeit protracted and painful - that were instrumental in bringing their respective conflicts to a close.

The 1914 experience was the reversal of this, with initial and immediate catastrophic attrition of a cadre - especially in terms of officers - that was to impinge very seriously on the conduct of the war over the next four years.

In terms of absolute numbers, the casualties suffered by the BEF in 1914 were trivial compared with those of the French - perhaps barely one tenth.

But because of the very smallness of this British force, the nation was already seriously overdrawn in terms of its professional core before the end of the first five months.

The French and Germans had prepared in depth, and could suffer a million casualties each and still draw on their capital of professionalism .

The appalling British casualty rates of 1915, 16 and 17 are in some way attributable to the destruction of the old army in 1914.

You yourself have noted how the French army was so very much " ahead of the game " compared with the British by the time of the Battle of the Somme.

I wonder if my observation convinces you.

Before the war started, the French had made a comment about how they would best avail themselves of such a tiny British army ;

If the English send us only one man, we will make sure he is killed.

It would actually be revealing to compare British infantry casualty rates between the Battle of Mons in late August and the close of First Ypres in mid November 1914, with those of their counterparts in Normandy between D Day and the end of August 1944. The time span is nearly identical....as indeed it would be if we were to compare the time between the Battle of the Wilderness and Appomattox with the campaign in NW Europe 1944-5.

I've got stuff at home ( I'm in my beloved Dorset right now ) and would like to try the excercise when I return.

In the meantime, I'll use my Ipad to trawl the web and see if I can come up with something.

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
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Posts: 2474

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/12/2017 3:49:34 PM
A few striking statistics, if I may.

Battalion fatalites, First Battle Ypres, 19th October to 22nd November , 1914 ( bear in mind these are figures for deaths only, not total casualties : we might assume that overall casualties equate to four times the number of fatalites ). Nominal Bn strength = 1,000 ; frequently significantly lower in actual battle :

1st Bn Scots Guards : 344

1st Bn Irish Guards : 264

Ist Bn South Staffordshire : 247

1st Bn Black Watch : 238

2nd Bn Gordon Highlanders : 206

This implies literal wiping out of entire battalions. The drafts that filled the gaps were being destroyed at an appalling rate. This, it must be stressed, is for a thirty five day period. The preponderance of Scottish units in those samples must not obscure other British units from all over the UK that suffered extreme casualties.

In Normandy, 1944, a Scottish Battalion - the 1st Gordon Highlanders - was exposed to intense combat in a battle that lasted more than twice as long as First Ypres, and counted 133 fatalities.

It might be worth extending the comparison to the Union regiments in the Overland Campaign of May to June 1864, which entailed a time period very similar to that of First Ypres.

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
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Posts: 2474

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/13/2017 6:25:54 PM
The 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, deployed as infantry, suffered casualties in the Virginia Campaign of May and June 1864 that are redolent of those that armies were to suffer in the most intense fighting fifty years later.

In two separate days of the most terrible fighting - 19 May and 18 June - it suffered a loss of 357 killed or died from wounds. This exceeds the loss of the 1st Bn Scots Guards at Ypres in 1914.

The regiment's total casualties killed, wounded and missing in these two engagements were 1,113.

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: 3/14/2017 8:38:55 AM
Total British casualties since the outbreak of war totalled 90,000, which was greater than the size of the original force sent to France in August 1914. The regular army which had sent seven divisions to France in 1914 ceased to exist.

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: 3/15/2017 4:29:40 AM
Close to two thirds of those approx. 90,000 casualties were attributable to First Ypres itself.

And another fact merits mention ; the end of the battle on 22 November did not signify the end of the fighting.

December 1914 brought another ten thousand British and Indian casualties in Flanders ; sustained in forgotten little battles that were deadly for the participants and made singularly unpleasant by virtue of the dismal winter conditions.

To the hundred thousand battle casualties of 1914 were added many thousands of cases of exhaustion, illness and frostbite, along with nervous collapse at senior command level.

Was Churchill right ? Should the BEF have been held back around Amiens or Rouen while the Fronitier battles rages, thereby allowing it to be unleashed when it could make a better account of itself, being larger and better prepared ?

In the event it was rendered too fragile by dint of its very smallness ; it punched above its weight, but, in the process, the account was overdrawn and the subsequent cohorts paid the price.

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: 3/15/2017 4:50:02 AM
Well Phil-we did precisely the same in 1940-straight to the front line with
a much weaker and quite unready BEF. Going back to your point about the 1914 BEF being held back at Amiens-I feel that this would have fatally damaged the morale of those magnificent soldiers-they had to be blooded and they were at Mons; but not before they caused the attacking Germans some alarm and casualties- with their rapid rifle fire.

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: 3/15/2017 5:34:36 AM
You mention a repeat syndrome in 1940, Jim.

There was a huge difference.

The BEF that disembarked in mid August 1914 was fighting for its life ten days later, and fought, bled , marched and died with virtually not let up for thirteen weeks of high intensity battle.

Not so the men who landed in France in 1939.

The Phoney War.

No such reprieve for the men of 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

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: 3/15/2017 5:45:51 AM
Indeed so Phil- but you have not addressed re.the holding back of the 1914 BEF at Amiens,unless of course,given that you agree with me on this-it would have a serious effect on their morale ie.feeling that they were not good enough.!!

Regards

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

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/15/2017 6:57:34 AM
I don't think the French, fighting for their existence as an independent nation state, would have tolerated a situation where c.100,000 British troops were held in splendid isolation whilst one million Frenchmen were engaged in merciless slaughter at the frontiers. To hold the BEF back would have been detrimental to the Tommies' morale, to Anglo-Franco/Russian relations and may well have caused the French left flank to utterly collpase on the retreat to the Marne.

The BEF, once deployed to the continent, had no alternative but to get into the thick of it. National honour and strategic need demanded that the BEF set about its work.

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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Posts: 5934
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/15/2017 7:23:01 AM
Having said much the same myself Colin- I can only agree.Despite overwhelming odds- they fought and died magnificently at Mons and Le Cateau anf then marched 220 miles south to the Marne in the Great Retreat.

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: 3/15/2017 10:25:11 AM

Quote:
Indeed so Phil- but you have not addressed re.the holding back of the 1914 BEF at Amiens,unless of course,given that you agree with me on this-it would have a serious effect on their morale ie.feeling that they were not good enough.!!

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Yes, it's hard to disagree with you, let alone argue in favour of Churchill's suggestions.

I suspect that Winston would have anticipated the very points that you and Colin raise, and would have marshalled his arguments accordingly.

Perhaps I'll dig through my shelves and try and cite some stuff that might make Churchill's argument more convincing.

It's so nice in the garden right now, that I'm going to beg leave of absence until later on tonight.

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: 5934
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Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/15/2017 10:36:48 AM
Yes- it is a beautiful day here too-busy sorting out my rose garden meantime-taking out old- replacing with new bushes-I've grown roses for over sixty years.

Regards

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

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Posts: 5271

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/15/2017 10:48:27 AM
Beautiful gardens? Roses? Stop, it's torture.

A balmy -8 C and a bitter wind that cuts like a knife. Snow and a frozen lake. That's March in my part of the world.

You boys make me envious but grab a beer and enjoy. I'll join you but with my behind up against the fireplace.


Cheers,

George

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
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Posts: 5934
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/15/2017 11:02:36 AM
Mon pauvre Canadien-it will be over soon-"when spring is sprung and the grass is ris-I wonder where the birdies is ?"

Regards

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

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 442

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/15/2017 11:28:30 AM

Quote:

Quote:
Indeed so Phil- but you have not addressed re.the holding back of the 1914 BEF at Amiens,unless of course,given that you agree with me on this-it would have a serious effect on their morale ie.feeling that they were not good enough.!!

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Yes, it's hard to disagree with you, let alone argue in favour of Churchill's suggestions.

I suspect that Winston would have anticipated the very points that you and Colin raise, and would have marshalled his arguments accordingly.

Perhaps I'll dig through my shelves and try and cite some stuff that might make Churchill's argument more convincing.

It's so nice in the garden right now, that I'm going to beg leave of absence until later on tonight.

Regards, Phil

--phil andrade


Without pre-empting you, Phil, I suspect Churchill would have argued that BEF was only ever meant to be a supporting force, and that with the war likely to carry on, it would need to be the nucleus of a larger British force in due course. In this respect, prudent husbandry of resources makes sense, but would be oblivious to strategic and political needs of the time.

Enjoy your evening in the garden, chaps. 6C where I am, so not really "sitting outside" weather but at least I can open a window without freezing my fingers off, unlike poor George!

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
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5934
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/15/2017 11:40:47 AM

Quote:
Field Marshals John French and Herbert Kitchener had differing ideas on where the Army should concentrate French wanted Belgium and Maubeuge- where Kitchener and Haig wanted Amiens. It appears that Kitchener wanted Amiens as it was in a good position to counter any German advancements and that he didn't trust the fort systems in Belgium.


Source Alternative History

Regards

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

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Posts: 2744

Re: Death of an Army-!st Battle of Ypres 19 Oct,-22 Nov.1914
Posted on: 3/15/2017 12:40:02 PM

Quote:
Beautiful gardens? Roses? Stop, it's torture.

A balmy -8 C and a bitter wind that cuts like a knife. Snow and a frozen lake. That's March in my part of the world.

You boys make me envious but grab a beer and enjoy. I'll join you but with my behind up against the fireplace.


Cheers,

George
--George





George,


Cold remote lake, why it sounds like a scene out of the movie Fargo, I hope you don't have a wood chipper!??

[Read More]

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my bad!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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