MHO Home   Forum Home   Help   Register   Login
 
 
Welcome to MilitaryHistoryOnline.com.
You are not signed in.
The current time is: 12/10/2017 9:16:35 PM
 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
AuthorMessage
Page 2 of 7 (Page: 1  2 3  4  5  6  7 ) 
Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2592

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/15/2017 4:09:35 PM
George,

Good questions, backed up with your usual cogent comments.

Having raised these aspects of the topic, I'm a little discomfited by the realisation that I don't know the answers !

That'll teach me !

I will refer to those old chums on my shelves and try and make a decent 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

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5680

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/15/2017 4:21:54 PM
Thanks Phil. I don't have the answers either. I just know that some of the Canadian literature says that the Battle of Festubert was hastily concocted.

Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2592

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/15/2017 4:32:45 PM
Kitchener said :

We have to make war as we must, not as we would wish.

He might have been answering.

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
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1957

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/15/2017 11:47:25 PM

Quote:

Quote:
If the political leaders had at their disposal any practicable method for opening a way to an understanding with the enemy - whether in the East or in the West was all the same from a military point of view - it was advisable to employ it .


Looking at the emboldened script-it begs the question Why-in a time of war would a political leader ever want an "understanding" with the enemy-it is pure gobbledegook !!!


Regards

Jim
--anemone


Bad translation indeed. " Verständnis " can mean understanding or agreement. What he meant was that diplomatic atempts should be made to come to an agreement if possible.

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.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 3:32:56 AM

Quote:
Jim, the study of history is much more than historical fact taken from text and I believe that what attracts most of us to this form is not a dry presentation of a timeline but an interesting discussion based upon poster's questions and knowledge and opinions.

We want to understand through analysis of events, the reasons that they happened and the lessons learned and the effect on future events.

We may want to know the primary players in an event and how they impacted on the result.

A short synopsis of Festubert whether an original post on your part, a clear cut and paste, or an amended cut and paste does not provide a basis for discussion.

So if you can tell us why you posted that piece on Festubert, or identify the significance of it, then perhaps we can determine some basis for analysis and formulation of opinions and discussion.

Cheers,

George


--George



George the piece on Festubert really caused me much surprise and begged a number of questions:

1. Where did all the artillery come from a month or so after Neuve Chapelle's miserable 40 minute barrage ???

2 It was said that the British captured some of the German front line but not it all ???

3 The Germans retreated to their second defence line.Why was this line not barraged as the the 1st was ???I have gathered since it was; but was not touched= because it's position was not known


4 It was said that the British eased off.?? This surely gave the Germans time to regroup- to such an extent- that further "Canadian" brigade strength efforts were useless ???

5.On the premise that the British army was there to fight-why did we quit and allow the Germans to retake their original front line- thus nullifying the entire enterprise ???


Quote:
“The general plan of the main attack will be as follows:- To continue pressing forward towards Violaines and Beau Puits, establish a defensive flank along the La Bassee road on the left and maintaining the right at Givenchy. The line to be established in the first instance if possible on the general line of the road Festubert – La Quinque Rue – La Tourelle crossroads – Port Arthur. The position to be consolidated and the troops reformed and communication established. While this line is being established, a general bombardment on the whole front will continue with a special bombardment of the next objectives, viz: Rue d’Ouvert – Rue du Marais. When ready a fresh advance will be ordered on these objectives”

First Army Operation Order, 13 May 1915.

P_S I honestly believe that all historical accounts of battles are in themselves ripe for discussion-there are always imponderables.

Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2592

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 4:31:14 AM
Neuve Chapelle's miserable forty minute barrage ?

That needs to be reconsidered.

The barrage was uniquely successful in its effects. It remained so - for the British - for quite a long time. That concentration of guns per square yard was to remain unrivalled for the best part of a couple of years.

Perhaps this reflects the more thorough preparation and planning that was lavished on it : the subsequent attacks at Aubers and Festubert did not afford the same scope for this ....perhaps because the British were being pressured to act quickly by the French.

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
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 5:06:46 AM

Quote:
Neuve Chapelle's miserable forty minute barrage ?

That needs to be reconsidered.

The barrage was uniquely successful in its effects. It remained so - for the British - for quite a long time. That concentration of guns per square yard was to remain unrivalled for the best part of a couple of years.

Perhaps this reflects the more thorough preparation and planning that was lavished on it : the subsequent attacks at Aubers and Festubert did not afford the same scope for this ....perhaps because the British were being pressured to act quickly by the French.

Regards, Phil


--Phil andrade


I must recant Phil-the following was taken from the Long,Long Trail A'Winding
but I must confess it astonishes me-however the man who never made a mistake-made nothing-what I printed was in good faith and for me it made sense.


Quote:
The attack was undertaken by Sir Douglas Haig’s First Army, with Rawlinson’s IV Corps on the left and Willcock’s Indian Corps on the right, squeezing out a German salient that included the village itself. The battle opened with a 35 minute bombardment of the front line, then 30 minutes on the village and reserve positions. The bombardment, for weight of shell fired per yard of enemy front, was the heaviest that would be fired until 1917
.

Regards

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

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 5:23:07 AM
Although quite unprepared to go to war- on May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary.

The Italian declaration opened up a new front in World War I, stretching 600 kilometers—most of them mountainous—along Italy’s border with Austria-Hungary.

One has to ask why they did so -I found no tangible reason- other than perhaps pressure from the Triple Alliance ????

Regards

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

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


Posts: 459

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 6:49:49 AM

Quote:
Perhaps this reflects the more thorough preparation and planning that was lavished on it : the subsequent attacks at Aubers and Festubert did not afford the same scope for this ....perhaps because the British were being pressured to act quickly by the French.--Phil andrade


One wonders what the BEF would have come up with, if not forced into engagements like Aubers, Festubert and the Somme. We know that both the short, sharp blasts of artillery and week-long pounding of positions took a heavy toll on the Germans, but the infantry failed to make the gains expected of them. IMO, the British were occupying far too much of the Allied line in relation to the size of their forces. The Royal Artillery simply wasn't ready until at least 1917 to carry out the kind of operations that would negate the inexperience and rudimentary tactics of the attacking infantry.

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: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 7:16:07 AM
German guns were plentiful, invariably well hidden; and were able to neutralise most infantry attacks-perhaps their spotting was better than the British spotting.What the Royal Artillery and the Royal Garrison Artillery had to learn- was to be able to pinpoint enemy gun positions and fire with such accuracy-that that position was destroyed.

This of course took time- but by dint of sheer perserverence- they had to know the layout of the ground and map accurately via air reconnaissance-they had to learn Flash Spotting. Sound Ranging and Gun Laying with greater accuracy- so that each shell counted-here again spotting from the air was imperative.

Regards

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

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5680

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 8:33:09 AM
It is my understanding that the British, after Aubers Ridge wanted some time to consolidate and prepare.

However, the French commander reminded them of their commitment to continue operations so long as the French attacks were under way.

And so operations at Festubert commenced with very little preparation time. The BEF had a duty to do so.

Sir John French extended the front of 1st Army southward just in front of the Bassée Canal That freed up a French division to join in the attack on Vimy Ridge.

Mistake in use of artillery

French opted for a 60 hour bombardment beginning on May 13. French acknowledged that this would eliminate any element of surprise and this was the type of barrage that proved to be ineffective as specific targets had not been spotted.

It was a slow barrage if you like. 433 guns opened up and pounded a 5000 yard section of the German defences.

But guns were restricted to 50 rounds in each 24 hour period.

That contrasts greatly with the way that artillery was employed in 1917.

They targeted parapets, communication trenches and the wire in no man's land.

Artillery was attempting to take out German guns but spotting techniques were unsophisticated and the British forces attacked into German artillery that was well able to counter.

I saw pictures of the German parapets. Apparently the water table was so high that the Germans had to build up, to build these parapets which were rather imposing structures for the British soldiers to attack.




Some of the things that limited the effectiveness of the British and Canadian attack:

1. Lack of familiarity with the ground. British 7th Div. of which the Canadian brigades were a part, were new to the area and unfamiliar with the ground.

2. Maps were inaccurate and were printed upside down. One article said the "iconography" was lacking.

3. For the Canadians who attacked, they were supposed to meet a British officer who would guide them toward their objectives. We contrast that with the changes in British tactics in which the lowly foot soldier had already been appraised of his series of objectives.
One battalion never did find their guide and were quite blind because of it. They never found their start line.

4. Frontal attacks were ordered over wet, soggy ground and in heavy rain. The ground had many drainage ditches that had to be forded and as the Germans had pulled back in one section, the troops had to "up and over" the parapets, the breastworks that the Germans had constructed above ground.

5. By May 19, the British and Indian troops had failed to reach their objectives. They had been pounded by accurate German artillery.
The Canadians had managed to close with the British troops but little progress had been made.

New attacks without preparation

On May 20, the British 2nd and 7th divisions were rotated out and replaced by the 51st Highlanders and the 1st Canadian.

They were ordered to attack immediately and in broad daylight. I know that the Canadians protested this but were told that the British felt that night operations were too difficult to control and that the artillery risk during daylight was worth taking.

Arthur Currie was the commander of CDN 1st Div and this is the first instance of a demonstration of his willingness to buck authority when he felt that preparation was lacking. Currie received attack orders from 1st Army that gave him 5 hours to prepare.

He asked for 24 and was denied. Currie was said to be "angry and disillusioned" as he knew that his attacks would be costly but he protested the order.

Maps

I mentioned the mapping problem. Currie was unable to find his objectives.

Other than being upside down (north at the bottom, east on the left), the maps also used the same icon for every German position whether it be an MG nest or a notable piece of land. So all the officers knew was that they were attacking something, somewhere.

It was discovered that the maps were quite inaccurate with objectives marked often as much as 450 yds away from where they actually were.

Artillery withdrawn

In the Canadian sector, an extended bombardment was requested and denied because the Canadians were too close to the objective and would have had to pull back to accommodate the shoot. The Germans were still in position on Aubers Ridge and they could see everything that 1st Army was doing and employed their artillery and MG's to great effect.


May 21

The May 20 attacks had been a debacle and so the renewed attacks on the 21st went in when it was dark or was supposed to.

In the end it also went in when it was light and the artillery bombardment that preceded it was judged to be, "woefully ineffective".

The Canadians made some progress but were cut down with heavy casualties. Currie withdrew his remaining men losing all but 100 yards of his initial gain.

So dissatisfied was General Alderson with his Canadian "Alderson's Force", that he placed them under direct command of 1st Army.

May 22-24

Attacks by British and Canadians persisted on the German positions with little success and heavy casualties. I don't know whether the Indians were still in the line.

The BEF was running out of ammunition and men and its forces were trying to assemble in full view of the Germans.

Finally, mercifully, the attacks were called off.


I still don't know whether the Festubert attacks had the desired effect to ease pressure on the French attacking at Vimy. I presume that they did and the BEF deserves credit for taking one for the team.

The official Canadian historian characterized events at Festubert as "the most unsatisfactory engagement" of the war.

Half the Canadian troops at Festubert had just arrived from the reinforcement camps. They had to replace the troops lost only 3 weeks before at 2nd Ypres slaughter. Many were barely trained in musketry.

I presume that the British were in rough shape as well as the Germans took a heavy toll on them.


So a lot had to be improved and tactics had to change. Attritional warfare of this nature was not sustainable.


Cheers,

George

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 9:23:53 AM
George- that I have to admit was a cracking account; but where on earth did you get this amount of information from--it fills the entire picture; and despite people exhorting me about what I want to discuss.You on the other hand leave little to discuss-- because of the detail that you have to hand.I can only congratulate you on a great job.I have neither the resources nor the ability to provide such a detailed account

On one of the Forums I was a member of-there was this chap who when he described a battle -there was nothing left to discuss -he was so meticulous-a thread of say five parts would take him a week-leaving no stone unturned.How say you ????

Regards

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

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5680

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 9:43:39 AM
Actually Jim, the details of the battle are almost totally missing from my post. I have accounts of the detailed movements of Canadian battalions as they attempted and largely failed to attain objectives and none of that appears in my post.

I have not provided any details. I did provide reasons why I think that this affair was a cock-up.

Where do I find this stuff? Various sources. I read, analyze, attempt to consolidate my thoughts and then I write my views and opinions, hoping to keep errors to a minimum. I attempt to have a conversation. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don't.

I also think that there is plenty left to discuss:

- planning for attacks in 1915. Compare the degree of planning and practice with battles two years later.

-problems with artillery tactics and not just shell shortage. Things like ineffective destruction of wire because the wrong types of shells are used.

-technological advances that allowed artillery to be more effective.

-flawed mapping techniques. Poor spotting techniques.

-problematic co-ordination between the French and British troops



Quote:
On one of the Forums I was a member of-there was this chap who when he described a battle -there was nothing left to discuss -he was so meticulous-a thread of say five parts would take him a week.How say you ????


I can't tell whether I am being damned with faint praise or not Jim. I concede that my last post was a lengthy one but I tend to talk with my fingers rather than post complete articles as my contribution.

I do detect something in your phrasing that indicates your perception of how a thread should proceed.

How do you determine that a thread has 5 parts to it, or 2 or 3. I do note that once you have posted something on say Aubers Ridge, that you feel that the topic has been dealt with sufficiently and then it's on to the next part of the thread, as you perceive it. Getting to the end of the central topic of 1915 is the goal rather than identification of themes or topics within that period.

Threads do take on a life of their own but we are poorer for the experience if we cannot find anything to discuss.

Otherwise, I may as well just read my books and heed my own counsel.



anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 10:14:12 AM
I did not determine how this chap I knew operated-all I could see was a finished article that invited little comment.I am most certainly not damning you with faint praise-I meant what I said.The one thing that I have come to realise is that I am no armchair general-my statements are concise- drawn from wherever the detail looks sound whereas yours are long, but in your opinion still have something left to discuss-mine being short- leave nothing to discuss-that to me is a complete contradiction of terms.

Regards

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

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


Posts: 686

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 11:08:52 AM
Jim, your comments to George did seem to have an air of criticism for having contributed a comprehensive post.
George's post may have been lengthy, but I personally thought that it left plenty of scope for ongoing discussion.
---------------
Jim Cameron

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

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


Posts: 459

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 11:09:51 AM
It's not really about the length of the post, Jim. George's post contained posed questions and his own comments on the course of the battle (with opinions on what went well/went wrong), whereas yours sometimes tend to be purely descriptive of the battle. The purpose of the forum is the discuss, not simply to follow the historical narrative. As George says, if I want to read about the battle without recourse to discourse, I'll just pick up a book.

Hope this helps.

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: 686

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 11:34:42 AM
George touched upon problems with artillery tactics, aside from the shell shortage, as well as technological advancements, spotting, and mapping.
All were related. The rapid increases in shell production required bringing in more, often unskilled, labor, and led to quality control problems. Including, a large percentage of duds. If the shell doesn't go off, there is no right type to destroy wire. And once you do hit on the right type of shell, something which took some trial and error, how many does it take to open a gap of whatever size? The right type of shell, moreover, also needed the proper fuse. Developing effective "graze" fuses was a development program all its own.

Spotting became a serious problem (always was, actually) as the enemy learned to both deepen the defensive zone, and, employee reverse slope positions. Spotting techniques would depend in large part on technological advancements in order to improve. Air reconnaissance was the answer (techniques such as sound and flash ranging had their limitations), including to accurate mapping, but the whole package of aircraft types, photography, and air/ground communication was an ongoing exercise in technological advancement.
---------------
Jim Cameron

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

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 11:58:37 AM
An important British development of 1916 was the Number 106 Fuze, which was based on an existing French technology. For the first time, the artillery had a highly sensitive contact fuze; so sensitive that it would explode the shell as soon as it touched barbed wire.

Before this, contact (or percussion) fuzes needed to hit the ground before exploding.

The 106 fuze gave much superior ability to clear barbed wire defences. Was this the "graze " fuse Jim ????


Regards

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

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


Posts: 686

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 12:02:22 PM
Yes.
---------------
Jim Cameron

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

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5680

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 12:13:08 PM
There is considerable commentary regarding the efforts of artillery to destroy the wire that prevented movement or funnelled men into killing zones in no mans' land. At Festubert, it was unsuccessful despite a 60 hour bombardment.

Was the problem simply one of insufficiently long bombardments or of the type of explosive used?

I am not sure whether artillery shoots at Festubert targeted the wire or were more concerned with hitting German trenches or ferreting out gun positions.

What developments in technology and artillery tactics other than the fuse mentioned, would allow for the destruction of the wire?


Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2592

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 12:19:01 PM

Quote:
Although quite unprepared to go to war- on May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary.

The Italian declaration opened up a new front in World War I, stretching 600 kilometers—most of them mountainous—along Italy’s border with Austria-Hungary.

One has to ask why they did so -I found no tangible reason- other than perhaps pressure from the Triple Alliance ????

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Jim,

There is a famous - perhaps infamous- phrase in the Italian repertoire of WWI : sacro egoismo.

The phrase was cited a great deal by the Italian leaders.

The actual meaning of the phrase is something we might discuss !

It's an interesting comment on the varying fortunes of 1915 that two wavering neutrals eventually cast their lots on opposing sides : Italy with the Allies, and Bulgaria with the Central Powers. I wonder if this reflected how see-saw that year was....it was going either way : the Gallipoli enterprise might well have been perceived as offering prospects of success in the spring ; by autumn the calamitous losses of the Russians and the evident failure of the Dardanelles foray cast things in a different light.

One of the most significant things about this year, I think, was the fact that a very major inter allied conference was held at Chantilly in December. This was testimony to the effectiveness of coalition warfare, and was portentous for the development of grand strategy.

Edit : I've just googled , and found out that the first Chantilly Conference was held in July 1915 ; the one in December was the second.

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
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 12:45:24 PM

Quote:
A subsequent conference, similarly convened at Chantilly some five months later, was more specific and ambitious in the clarity of its aims and led to a commitment whereby the other Allies would launch major offensives of their own should a given Allied nation find itself in clear danger from the Central Powers.


I've often wondered why we sent forces to Italy-now I know -thanks Phil

Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2592

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 12:46:03 PM
In the debacle of the Aubers Ridge attack of earlier May 1915, the British sprung a mine under the German trenches. This came as a horrific surprise to the defenders, and several dozen of them were killed in the blast.

I mention this for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, because it suggests that the British did try and use some surprise methods to augment the woefully inadequate artillery.

Secondly, I think it accounts in part for the merciless nature of the repulse . I have read shocking accounts of this fighting : in one anecdote, a British survivor ( later to be killed ) described how he saw Germans using flame to kill helpless British wounded. The rage of soldiers who have literally been undermined and seen their comrades dispatched in a frightful manner - too often buried alive - engenders a special bitterness to the ensuing combat. Fighting in mine craters is at extreme close quarters and becomes a hand to hand affair : truly murderous. Think of the Crater at Petersburg at the end of July in 1864.

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
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 12:52:15 PM

Quote:
What developments in technology and artillery tactics other than the fuse mentioned, would allow for the destruction of the wire?


In 1916 it was found that HE shells just tangled the wire and threw it all over the place -I think shrapnel was tried, and it did have some success; but the shot had to be accurate- as you can well imagine.

Regards

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

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 1:30:28 PM

Quote:
In the debacle of the Aubers Ridge attack of earlier May 1915, the British sprung a mine under the German trenches. This came as a horrific surprise to the defenders, and several dozen of them were killed in the blast.

I mention this for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, because it suggests that the British did try and use some surprise methods to augment the woefully inadequate artillery.

Secondly, I think it accounts in part for the merciless nature of the repulse . I have read shocking accounts of this fighting : in one anecdote, a British survivor ( later to be killed ) described how he saw Germans using flame to kill helpless British wounded. The rage of soldiers who have literally been undermined and seen their comrades dispatched in a frightful manner - too often buried alive - engenders a special bitterness to the ensuing combat. Fighting in mine craters is at extreme close quarters and becomes a hand to hand affair : truly murderous. Think of the Crater at Petersburg at the end of July in 1864.

Regards , Phil
--Phil andrade


Hill 60
On 17th April 1915, five mines were exploded under the German position; four mines went up in two pairs and the fifth mine as a single mine. The top of the hill was literally blown off. The British took the hill and over the following four days fought off ferocious German counter-attacks. On 22nd April the battle subsided with the British in control of the hill.

Regards

Jim







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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2592

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 3:07:25 PM
Hill 60 - if I'm correct - was not a natural feature, but man made.

So much of the terraine in the developed world was shaped by excavated railways, with the debris heaped up and configuring the landscape.

Heck, you know all about this, Jim, being a mining engineer...my Welsh Great Uncle Haydn was one such, and was himself involved in tunnelling under Hill 60.

Even the house where I live, in North London, was built on top of a hill made from soil chucked up from the recently excavated railway, as the commuter belt to the City was being developed. My house was built in 1912.

I often imagine the first owners living here ...perhaps sitting in the very room where I am now, reading reports from the Front in 1915.

Edit : Maybe Hill 60 was formed from debris thrown up from canal construction : there was a big canal near Ypres, a conduit to a place called Commines.

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
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 686

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 5:46:03 PM

Quote:

Quote:
What developments in technology and artillery tactics other than the fuse mentioned, would allow for the destruction of the wire?


In 1916 it was found that HE shells just tangled the wire and threw it all over the place -I think shrapnel was tried, and it did have some success; but the shot had to be accurate- as you can well imagine.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


No expert on the subject, but I believe that HE was actually more effective at cutting wire. Providing it was properly fused, which was why the graze fuse was better. Ground bursts were less effective.
---------------
Jim Cameron

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

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5680

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 5:55:22 PM
Without that fuse, some rounds would bury themselves in the muck and explode without too much damage though people could be buried in the explosion.

As Jim C has said and as I have read, and have been trying to find the reference, that HE shells did a better job of destroying wire. At Festubert, British artillery launched mostly shrapnel shells which were ineffective on the wire.

There was a shortage of HE. Now if I could only find the source.

Cheers,

George


Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2592

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/16/2017 6:40:01 PM
The month of May 1915 was especially bad.

No other calendar month cost as many British lives until July 1916, when the Battle of the Somme set new records.

There were sixty five thousand British, Canadian and Indian battle casualties in France and Belgium in May 1915. Of these, CWGC records indicate that very nearly twenty thousand were fatal.

My guess would be that French casulalties were close to three times as great ; and German Medical History records tabulate one hundred and twenty thousand of their soldiers killed, wounded and missing in France and Flanders in May 1915.

The aggregate for both sides on the Western Front must have been well over 350,000 for that single month.

Worse still - by far - were the figures for the Eastern Front.

And then there was that relatively small scale but intensely fierce affair at Gallipoli, which I suspect caused the best part of another hundred thousand in the month of May.

The Italians were gearing up, and soon the bloodshed in their theatre of operations would begin to add another dreadful dimension to the figures.

All in all, May 1915 stands out as a very grim and bloody month indeed for all the major participants.

Editing : apologies, folks...I was guilty of rhetorical exaggeration in regard to Gallipoli : it seems May there cost a mere fifty thousand casualties, most of them Turkish. And Italians didn't start fighting until June. But, that said, there must have been more than a million casualties on all fronts in May, 1915, indicating not only scale and intensity of the fighting, but also its widening scope. With this background, the first Chantilly Conference in July is all the more significant.

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
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/17/2017 3:57:07 AM

Quote:
Without that fuse, some rounds would bury themselves in the muck and explode without too much damage though people could be buried in the explosion.

As Jim C has said and as I have read, and have been trying to find the reference, that HE shells did a better job of destroying wire. At Festubert, British artillery launched mostly shrapnel shells which were ineffective on the wire.

There was a shortage of HE. Now if I could only find the source.

Cheers,

George


--George



Quote:
Where the wire was well cut the expenditure of 18 pdr shells was very large. For example, the 56th Division fired 27,500 18 pdr rounds of shrapnel on their front where the wire was fairly well cut though missed in certain crucial places. For various reasons the neighbouring 46th Division only fired 10,500 shrapnel rounds and, in places, the wire was barely cut at all.

Where the wire was well cut, for example on the front of the 36th Division at Thiepval, the division had the assistance of a group of French 75 mm quick firing field guns. The French had available two types of shell the British did not then possess: gas shells and, most importantly, shells with an instantaneous graze fuse. This fuse exploded on contact with anything and the French used HE shells with this shell to destroy wire both for the British and on their own front on the south end of the battlefield.

The shells were unstable in flight and dangerous to use but very effective. The British would not have an equivalent fuse for some time.

Great War Forum

Regards

Jim



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

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/17/2017 4:40:09 AM
The Dardanelles/Gallipoli Campaign- Synopsis

Many in Britain, notably the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, believed that knocking the Ottomans out of the war would undermine Germany.

They theorised that as a result of this attack, Britain and France would be able to help their weakest partner, Russia; but the theory was based on the mistaken belief that the Ottomans were weak and could easily be overcome.

On 19 February 1915, British and French ships began a naval assault on the Dardanelles. The fighting culminated in a heavy setback for the Allies on 18 March due to the large number of ships lost to Turkish sea mines.

Military landings on the Gallipoli peninsula followed on 25 April. Contained by the Ottoman defenders, a new assault began on 6 August. Each fresh attempt was defeated, and by mid-January 1916, all Allied troops had been evacuated and the attack on the Dardanelles abandoned.

NB.The time lag of some nine weeks between the two assaults is important but why is it important ????

Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2592

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/17/2017 6:41:11 AM
Jim,

Presumably you're alluding to the nine weeks between the naval assault in February and the landings on 25 April ?

Or do you refer to the longer gap between the landings in April and the Suvla Bay offensive in August ?

There's terrific controversy about this campaign.

Most of what I read and hear is an insistence that it was a misbegotten strategy that should never have been undertaken.

I try to accept that ; but in my guts I can't help but feel that the thing had good prospects and reflected a worthwhile attempt to exploit periphery and utilise maritime advantage. The diplomatic and geo strategic potential of success there were enormous.

Good thinking is one thing ; bad execution another.

People agree about the fouled up execution ; but as to the merits of the idea, there is scope for sympathetic consideration.

Throw some opinions in, Jim...give us your gut reaction.

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
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/17/2017 7:19:46 AM
Phil-The forcing of the Dardanelles by heavy naval units was feasible on paper; but without any form of pre survey-the plan was not so feasible.The Turks had mined the Straits and three capital ships were sunk and three damaged-clever way of finding that the Straits were not traversable.

At this juncture the plan was dead in the water; and oUght to have been abandoned IMHO.However the powers that be decreed that a military force land on the Gallipoli Peninsula-starting with an ANZAC contingent(poor buggers).

The Turks had not been idle in the interim period between the naval and military assaults-The Turks had prepared to repel a landing on either side of the Straits, with the Ottoman Fifth Army. This force, which initially consisted of five divisions- with another en route, was a conscript force, commanded by Otto Liman von Sanders, a German officer who had been head of the Military Mission sent to Turkey as advisors.

So the fat was in the fire-the landing ships carrying the British 29th Regular Infantry Division came under heavy fire from the cliff tops-yes cliffs-above the landing beach; and troops who survived this baptism of fire- had to scale these cliffs to come to grips with an entrenched enemy-it's not looking good.Need I say more at this point.????

The Lancashire Fusiliers lost 800 out of a 1000 men on W Beach-bags of VCs#

"We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement"

Regards

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

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


Posts: 459

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/17/2017 8:30:22 AM
My understanding is that the Turkish shore defences were running extremely low on ammunition and had the Allied naval force continued to lay down fire, the Turkish defenders would have been unable to respond at all within a short while. With the shore batteries silenced, the naval forces could have more effectively swept the area and been able to provide overwhelming fire support to the landing infantrymen. Gallipoli was a close run thing; with the Turks out of the war, the Central Powers would have been almost full encircled.

The encirclement, IMO, would have been largely psychological. The Germans, in particular, would only be beaten in northern France and Belgium and no amount of strategic manouvering around the edges would ultimately bring down the core of the Central Powers. You would not assail the Western Front by steaming through the Dardanelles.

Gallipoli was probably worth a punt, but I would say it went on much too long. Once the initial attacking waves were pinned down, they should have been withdrawn and a new strategy considered.

People fell on their swords because of this misadventure, notably Churchill and Ian Hamilton. The hero of Ladysmith was allowed no input into the planning, was given far fewer men and equipment than he requested and was hung out to dry by an Establishment keen to find a scapegoat or two.

Incidentally, a hero of mine was one of the last men off the beaches when the order to withdraw was finally given. Major Attlee served his country admirably in so many different ways over the years.

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: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/17/2017 9:03:17 AM
My understanding is that the main minefields at the narrows, over ten layers deep, were still fully intact.

Furthermore, they were very well protected by the smaller shore guns that had not seen any action on 18 March.

These and other defenses further in the strait had not exhausted their ammunition and resources by far as yet.

It was therefore not a given that one more push by what was left of the Fleet- would have resulted in passage to Marmara Sea.

Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2592

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/17/2017 9:25:57 AM
Colin,

Thanks for your reckoning on this.

worth a punt ...yes, I like that !

Jim,

Would you be willing to concede that - given the right planning and resources - the thing had a decent chance ?

That begs the question : chance of what ?

Or do you think it was a complete non starter, and should never have been considered ?

That phrase of mine the right planning and resources is easy to utter from the comfort of my armchair a century later .

Who, in the throes of desperate warfare, with crises coming at point blank range, is afforded the luxury of time, resources and circumstances conducive to thorough planning ?

And what plan survives first contact with the enemy ?

Those poor guys at Gallipoli attacked uphill against an entrenched enemy. They were outnumbered. They did not have enough shells. But look at what they did !

It was, as Colin says, a close run thing. Despite their disadvantages, the British, Indians , Anzacs and French succeeded in inflicting even bloodier losses than they themselves suffered. It was a killing ground, and the Turks got the worst of it. I have to wonder how much more they might have accomplished had they been better provided with ordnance and munitions. But those words might have are also a luxury of hindsight.

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
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/17/2017 10:02:07 AM
First of all-let me say -mention WSC to me-and I immediately think disaster and to be fair here- he was known for hairbrained schemes-his were legion-they may have sounded fine; but that was as far as it went-I do believe that once he hatched a plan-it had to be done pronto-no time was given to others to plan, and iron out the many caveats.

Had the.Dardanelles been covertly; surveyed and the sea mines found-then a fleet of proper RN minesweepers(not RNR fishermen) should have been deployed to clear them at night-yes- there would have been losses,but minesweepers- not capital ships.This was the only way to reach Constantinople and bring down the Ottoman Empire.

The secondary choice IMHO was a non starter and so it turned out-there was no future in it whatsoever-it was all britches arse thinking It is no wonder that Jackie Fisher-who WSC had suckered into believing him-resigned.

As far as a close run thing-well this has to be rose tinted spectacles-the fact that we killed more Turks than they killed us is of little importance-we just could not get off that spit of land.

Casualty figures for the campaign vary between sources but in 2001, Ericson wrote that that by the time the Gallipoli Campaign ended over 100,000 men were dead, including 56,000–68,000 Ottoman and around 53,000 British and French soldiers.

In 2001, Carlyon gave 43,000 British killed or missing, including 8,709 Australians. In 2000, McGibbon wrote that 2,721 New Zealanders had been killed, about a quarter of those who had initially landed on the peninsula.

In total there were nearly half a million casualties during the campaign, with the British Official History listing total losses, including sick, at 205,000 British, 47,000 French and 251,000 Ottoman troops. Ottoman casualties have been disputed and may have been higher, with Travers in 2001 listing 2,160 officers and 287,000 other ranks (battle and non-battle).

Included among this may be as many as 87,000 killed. The New Zealand official history contained an estimate of 251,000 Ottoman battle casualties including 86,692 dead.

Liman von Sanders estimated 218,000 Ottoman battle casualties, including 66,000 dead.

Regards

Jim

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2592

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/17/2017 10:41:49 AM
Jim,

Thanks for those fair and cogent arguments.

And for your rendition of the casualty statistics.

I do take your point : the fact that more Turks were killed does not alter the strategic outcome.

It does have one aspect, though, that I offer up for consideration.

At the same time that this Gallipoli fighting was at its height, the Western Front also attained some terrible heights of slaughter...as we've already seen with your references to Aubers, Festubert and Second Ypres. During these awful battles in France and Flanders, the Germans were killing British and French soldiers at least twice the rate that their own men were dying.

Given the choice between a theatre of war where the enemy is killing two of your own men for every one that you kill of his ; and another where, despite scarce resources and disadvantageous terraine, your men are killing the enemy at a greater rate than they themselves are sustaining, the argument to focus effort on the latter is a compelling one.

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
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/17/2017 11:07:10 AM

Quote:
Given the choice between a theatre of war where the enemy is killing two of your own men for every one that you kill of his ; and another where, despite scarce resources and disadvantageous terraine, your men are killing the enemy at a greater rate than they themselves are sustaining, the argument to focus effort on the latter is a compelling one.


IMHO Phil-my answer has to be an emphatic Non!!A battle is fought for some strategic gain-the Dardanelles aim was the overthrow of the Ottoman Empire.the Kaiserschlacht to gain a railhead and access to the sea,etc.This requires tactics and one tactic is to kill more of the enemy- than they you.

The fact that you are killing more of the enemy; BUT you are not anywhere near gaining your objective-is a waste of resource and time to go-which on Gallipoli was the right thing to do.The Somme and Passchendaele and indeed- the Kaiaserschlacht bears this particular point out. Now in 1918-The Amiens Offensive/Last Hundred Days-the aim was to end by winning the war and this happened- regardless of loss.I rest my case.

Regards

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

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6091
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/17/2017 11:43:54 AM
Aftermath

Political repercussions in Britain had begun during the battle, Fisher resigned in May after bitter conflict with Churchill. The crisis that followed after the Conservatives learned that Churchill would be staying, forced the Prime Minister H. H. Asquith to end his Liberal Government and form a Coalition Government with the Conservative Party.

The Asquith government responded to the disappointment and outrage over Gallipoli and Kut by establishing commissions of inquiry into both episodes, which had done much to "destroy its faltering reputation for competence".

The Dardanelles Commission was set up to investigate the failure of the expedition, the first report being issued in 1917, with the final report published in 1919.

Following the failure of the Dardanelles expedition, Sir Ian Hamilton, commander of the MEF, was recalled to London in October 1915, ending his military career.

Churchill was demoted from First Lord of the Admiralty as a condition of Conservative entry to the coalition; but remained in the Cabinet in the sinecure of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.He resigned thereafter.

Regards

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

 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
Page 2 of 7 (Page: 1  2 3  4  5  6  7 ) 
 Forum Ads from Google