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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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Lightning
Glasgow, UK
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 4:50:15 AM
Jim,

My phrase "in the open" refers to both sides being so - neither the defending Germans at the Somme nor the entrenched French at the Verdun could be described as in the open. Encirclement was never a serious prospect on Western Front after 1st Ypres.

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: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 5:55:02 AM
A couple of points-I feel certain that Verdun was eventually fought in the open eg. Le Morte Homme; but will not push it.So the first really "open warfare" was Operation Michael in March 1918- which was a close run thing; but the Germans "ran out of steam" logistically, and weariness did not help.

Regards

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

phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 6:36:49 AM

Quote:

Quote:
Russian casualties were returned as 3.4 million for the first ten months ...an appalling figure, since it implies that this was only up until the end of May, 1915 !

If that's true, then we might assume five million Russian casualties by the end of the year. It's a wonder that they didn't quit the war earlier .

Austro Hungarian casuaties were enormous, perhaps exceeding those of Germany.--Phil andrade


Phil,

As the fighting in the East was (generally) a bit more fluid than the static combat on the Western Front, might we then assume that the open style of warfare was even more ruinous on human lives than its trench/siege counterpart? After all, it is surely easier to mow down men with machine guns and shells when they are in the open, rather than sheltering in trenches. Did the more available space actually increase mortality?

If so, one wonders what would have happened had the Allies (or the Germans) successfully broken the stalemate in 1915 in the West?

Cheers,

Colin
--Lightning


Colin,

This question is bothering me ; I find it difficult to assess.

Incidentally, a propos the Austro Hungarian casualties, I see that they were officially tabulated at 1,880,375 as of 31 July 1915 : the first twelve months of war, dead, wounded and missing on all fronts.
That bears out my suggestion that, by the end of 1915, they rivalled German casualties and might even have exceeded them. The big difference between them, however, was that while the confirmed dead consisted of about 25% of the German total, and the missing and POWs only half of that percentage, the AH equivalents were 13% and 39% respectively, indicating how much higher the proportions of prisoners were in the casualties on the Eastern Front, where the vast majority of Austro Hungarian casualties had been sustained.

I have managed to find out the Russian equivalent figures as of 31 July, 1915 : 3,403,013 killed wounded and missing, of whom 1,547,590 were posted as missing or prisoners : 45% of the total. Of course, not all of those missing were prisoners ; I would guess that hundreds of thousands were dead...but it does indicate the fact that these massive Eastern Front casualty lists must be treated with circumspection when they are compared with those of the fighting in France and Flanders, where the proportions of prisoners among the casualties tended to be much lower, and the ratio of fatalities correspondingly higher.

The open warfare on the Eastern Front did allow for the fighting to extend on a much wider front, and, consequently, engaged more forces simultaneously : this would also impinge on the scale of casualties.
In the West, the static warfare engendered much more localised fighting, with small sectors being the focus of extremely intense battle, while other areas remained relatively quiescent. This would restrict the number of divisions fighting and that would impinge statistically. OTOH, in those confined sectors in France and Flanders, and among those troops unfortunate enough to be deployed there, the loss of life reached outrageous levels, and never more so than in those notorious battles that we associate with trench warfare ( although we might do better to describe them as " shell hole" or " crater field" battles by 1916). The Hundred Days of 1918 exemplifies the open warfare with much wider theatres of battle and more general engagement along the entire front, with consequentially high casualty totals.

Another thing should be mentioned : there were episodes of static warfare in the East, too. Indeed, when alluding to " siege" warfare, there can be no better example than the fortified zone of Przemsyl which featured prominently in the campaigns in the East, especially in 1915 : this was the biggest siege of all in the Great War.

In 1916, when the Brusilov Offensive ran up against stern German resistance and started to run out of steam, the Russians resorted to head on attacks against prepared German defences. The result was the " Kowel Massacres", when the German commander refused to allow a truce to clear the battlefield, because he wanted to demoralise the enemy who would have to advance over heaps of decomposing bodies of their comrades: positional, static warfare at its worst.

More to come,

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: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 6:57:40 AM
Brusilov had captured Bukovina and much of Eastern Galicia along with 350,000 POW's; but via prolonging the offensive for longer than was necessary he profligately lost over 1 million men in a series of disastrous encounters.It was not surprising that this enormous loss undermined Russia fatally; and revolution and collapse- loomed large.

Regards

Jim
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Jim Cameron
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 8:23:23 AM

Quote:
Regarding breaking the stalemate-the Germans at Verdun and the British on the Somme-both marathon encounters "in the open",for the want of a better words; were unable to break the stalemate-just more blood shed.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


I wouldn't describe either as being examples of open warfare.
---------------
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: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 8:36:58 AM
I think that I have already admitted that error

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 8:52:54 AM
That figure of 3.4 million Russian casualties that I cited is an auhtoratitive official compilation ; but I'm not sure about its time remit : whether it applied to the period July 31st 1914 to 31st July 1915 ; or whether it pertains to the end of 1915.

I would incline to the former, but I'm not all that confident.

What I have found is a tabulation which is unofficial, but it was compiled by a Russian staff officer, General Golovin, who knew whereof he spoke and was able to make some very plausible conjecture. He re-allocates the missing , so that we can see roughly how many Russian soldiers were killed and wounded, and how many were taken prisoner, during the various phases of the war. I am non plussed by the seasonal calibration : when do winter and summer begin and end ?

All the same, it serves to illustrate how huge the Russian losses were, and how they peaked in the summer of 1915.

Summer and Winter 1914- 1915 : 1,210,000 killed or wounded ; 764,000 POWs ; Total : 1,974,000. Average per month : 329,000

Summer 1915 : 1,410,000 killed or wounded; 976,000 POWs; Total : 2,386,000. Average per month : 398,000

Winter 1915-16 : 850,000 killed or wounded ; 156,000 POWs ; Total : 1,006,000. Average per month : 168,000

Summer 1916 : 1,200, 000 killed or wounded ; 212,000 POWs ; Total : 1,412, 000. Average per month : 235,000

Winter 1916-17 : 660,000 killed or wounded; 96,000 POWs; Total : 756,000. Average per month : 126,000

Summer 1917 : 170,000 killed or wounded ; 213,000 POWs; Total : 383,000. Average per month : 48,000 (8 month span )



Overall Total : 5,500,000 killed or wounded ; 2,417,000 POWs ; Total : 7,917,000. Average per month : 208,000


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: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 9:09:21 AM
Militarily, Imperial Russia was just no match for industrialized Germany, and Russian casualties were greater than those sustained by "any nation in any previous war".

The economy was also on the point of collapse due to the costly war effort,even moderates joined Russian radical elements- in calling for the overthrow of the Czarist regime; and in due course the entire Romanoff family were put to death.

Regards

Jim
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Lightning
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 9:24:20 AM

Quote:
Militarily, Imperial Russia was just no match for industrialized Germany, and Russian casualties were greater than those sustained by "any nation in any previous war".

The economy was also on the point of collapse due to the costly war effort,even moderates joined Russian radical elements- in calling for the overthrow of the Czarist regime; and in due course the entire Romanoff family were put to death.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Yet the Germans were worried, prior to the war at least, that by 1917 or 1918 that Russia would become unbeatable as it modernised its mobilisation techniques and its railway system. The Russian army, even with a relatively primitive industrial base, was very well armed in the 1916/1917 period. Russia's collapse was, in my view, due mainly (but not wholly) due to social cohesion breaking down. The seeds of Imperial Russia's demise were sown on 22nd January 1905 in St Petersburg (where the Russian monarchy showed its true colours and feeling towards its subjects), rather than the butcher's yard of the Brusilov Offensive. Russia stopped being a cause worth fighting for.

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: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 9:43:08 AM

Quote:
It was not surprising that this enormous loss undermined Russia fatally; and revolution and collapse- loomed large.


Re Brusilof Offensive-The above is what I actually stated Colin-I made no direct reference to the demise of the Romanoffs.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 9:46:51 AM
Social upheaval in the footsteps of military defeat has been a theme in modern Russian history : Crimean War : abolition of serfdom ; Russo Japanese War : the turmoil of 1905 ; WW1 ; need one say more ?

In the case of WW1, though, I suppose it is arguable that military defeat was the sequel of social unrest, rather than the other way round.

Russia put up a great fight in that war, mad monks and sealed trains notwithstanding !

Regards, Phil

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

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Lightning
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Posts: 459

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 9:50:28 AM

Quote:

Quote:
It was not surprising that this enormous loss undermined Russia fatally; and revolution and collapse- loomed large.


Re Brusilof Offensive-The above is what I actually stated Colin-I made no direct reference to the demise of the Romanoffs.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


I don't agree that the Brusilov Offensive fatally undermined Russia. Russia was still in the war after it. It was social unrest (IMO, only indirectly linked to the outcome of the offensive) afterwards that brought the bubbling unrest into the outpouring of revolution.

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."

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
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Posts: 459

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 9:52:42 AM

Quote:
In the case of WW1, though, I suppose it is arguable that military defeat was the sequel of social unrest, rather than the other way round.--Phil andrade


Succinctly put, Phil. Russia was on the slide to revolution long before Princip loaded his pistol.

Cheers,

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 3:02:06 PM
In addition to those enormous battle casualties that I've been enumerating, the Eastern Front was far more virulent than its Western counterpart when it came to the ravages of disease. And there was also sheer hardship : frostbite, especially, took a lethal toll.

Historians are very mistaken when they state that disease killed more than battle : enemy action took vastly more lives than illness ....but the squalour and hardship incapacitated hundreds of thousands, and killed tens of thousands.

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

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 5:12:33 PM
Phil, what were the factors that led to disease being more significant on the eastern front?

Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 5:34:55 PM
George,

Typhus loomed large in the populations, and was bound to be more apparent in the armies of the East and the Balkans.

Logistical difficulties in large areas left armies more exposed to shortages and compounded squalour.

Harsh climates induced frostbite in winter ; enteric diseases spread more easily in the summer heat ; the very large hauls of prisoners were in themselves a hazard of contagion.

By and large, things were more " backward ", and this was exemplified by morbidity in general health.

The overall record of 1914-18 was remarkable in the fact that at least three quarters, and probably four fifths, of all soldiers who died were victims of enemy action.

The French, British and German armies could attribute about 88% of their fatalites to combat. At the other extreme, the Ottoman , Romanian and Serbian armies - those with the highest overall death rates - lost more men to disease than to battle.

Not the best of answers, I'm afraid, but I hope it passes muster.

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: 687

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 6:18:36 PM
Indeed, the Russians lacked the the extensive medical infrastructure of Western Europe. Both in terms of the existing civil facilities in the far more numerous and closely spaced cities and towns, and, the hospital systems superimposed on this by the armies. Combined with the extensive road and rail nets which supported them, this allowed far more accessible and efficient treatment than on the eastern front.
---------------
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
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/26/2017 8:03:30 PM
Great answer Phil. And the same to Jim C as well.

Thank you both.

George

Phil andrade
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/27/2017 3:16:30 AM
One of the most significant events of 1915 - and a catastrophe in its own right - was the Austro Hungarian offensive into the Carpathians. This resulted in terrific fighting in the most dreadful conditions, with the consequential losses through sickness and frostbite compounding the effect of terrible battle casualties.

I'll delve into one or two accounts, and report back later on today : I reckon this episode is sufficiently important to merit attention, especially on this thread.

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

James W.
Ballina, Australia
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/27/2017 4:13:32 AM
Thanks Phil - for presenting the data on those truly awful losses of young men on the Ostfront...

I recall hearing that ~90 million Russian men were wasted/sacrificed in their wars of 20th century, & I couldn't fathom it,
yet it is clearly, a major contribution to the sad state of alcoholic resignation/nationalistic-militaristic agitation shown today..
The average life expectancy of the Russian male has been pretty appalling for many generations, going back centuries now..

For the British Empire, casualty rates of 50,000 per month in several long drawn-out battles during WW I seem incredible now,
yet those would be mere 'bagatelle' numerical-wise compared to those shocking losses to the long-suffering Russian 'masses'...

& for Hitler, who spent his whole combat tenure in the West, the collapse of Russia in 1917 & with rapid disposal of the Western Allies in 1940, a natural under-estimation of what a truly totalitarian Stalinist regime, with immense practical backing by the West, could/did do...

James W.
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/27/2017 4:15:09 AM
Deleted duplicate post.

anemone
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/27/2017 6:28:10 AM

Quote:
George,

Typhus loomed large in the populations, and was bound to be more apparent in the armies of the East and the Balkans.

Logistical difficulties in large areas left armies more exposed to shortages and compounded squalour.

Harsh climates induced frostbite in winter ; enteric diseases spread more easily in the summer heat ; the very large hauls of prisoners were in themselves a hazard of contagion.

By and large, things were more " backward ", and this was exemplified by morbidity in general health.

The overall record of 1914-18 was remarkable in the fact that at least three quarters, and probably four fifths, of all soldiers who died were victims of enemy action.

The French, British and German armies could attribute about 88% of their fatalites to combat. At the other extreme, the Ottoman , Romanian and Serbian armies - those with the highest overall death rates - lost more men to disease than to battle.

Not the best of answers, I'm afraid, but I hope it passes muster.

Regards, Phil
--Phil andrade



Quote:
In 1917, Russia it was a disorganized country with a failed military. Russia was torn apart by typhoid, cholera, dysentery, famine, and the socialist revolution.

Then real calamity occurred, sweeping across the whole Eastern Front, from all the way to St. Petersburg to the north to Roumania in the south, Typhus Fever crossed into Mother Russia and nearly stopped the socialist revolution. There were at least 20,000,000 cases of which half died.

Did the louse change the course of The War? Yes, it basically shut down The Eastern Front. It stopped the war, because German troops (which had been fighting the Russians in the east with the closing down of the Russian Army) were transferred to the West and, thereby, strengthened the German Army.


Regards

Jim



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

Phil andrade
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/27/2017 7:00:19 AM
Thanks, Jim : a very timely reminder of the scale and impact of the diseases that ravaged populations in those days.

Yet it's a fact that the Russian archives record " only" 155,000 deaths- or thereabouts - among their armies which were attributed to disease.

More than ten times that number were killed in battle.

I daresay that men who died from illness or privation went off the radar ; but it's certain that a great number who did not die from disease on active service were rendered invalids for the rest of their diminished and depleted lives ; their fate would have been rendered especially precarious in view of the hardships of civil war and famine that afflicted Russia after 1917.

Here's another statistic that speaks volumes about how armies suffered very differently.

The Gallipoli campaign was notorious for its hideous conditions. The slaughter was awful ; but the putrefaction of the battlefield was amplified by almost universal dysentery. There was a cruel twist at the end of the affair, when the sudden onset of blizzards and freezing weather caused deaths from exposure and drowning.

The British medical records state that deaths from disease at Gallipoli amounted to only 8% of those from enemy action. The Ottoman records tabulate disease deaths that equated to roughly one third of deaths in battle in that campaign.

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: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/27/2017 7:12:19 AM
Frostbite


Quote:
Mar. 18 - 1st Battle of Lake Narotch began with Russian bombardment from 1271 guns for 8 hours, then 2nd Army of Gen Evert with 300,000 attacked German 10th army with 50,000 east of Vilna, but bad weather, thaws and freezes, too cold for poison gas, ineffective bombardment of Gen. Pleshkov.

The attack was stopped by German guns on three sides of the Russian salient and Russians lost 100,000. German airplanes had spotted Russian infantry moving west, and Germans were able to position reserves at the correct locations.

The battle ended Apr. 14 with 122,000 Russian casualties including 12,000 dead from frostbite and freezing weather, the Germans lost 20,000 casualties.

The battle was the last failed effort of the old Russian Army that had been defeated by the Germans the previous year. "Lake Narotch was, despite appearances, one of the decisive battles of the First World War. it condemned most of the Russian army to passivity."


Regards

Jim
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phil andrade
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Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/28/2017 5:32:33 AM
This business in the Carpathians in the winter of 1915 is appalling to read about.

It's complex, with a big cast of generals with unpronounceable German and Slavic names, commanding units and fighting in places with equally difficult names.

The Austrian commander, Conrad, was desperate to try and retrieve Austro Hungarian fortunes after the disasters suffered by his armies at the hands of the Russians - and the Serbs - in the opening campaigns.

Above all, he was determined to try and salvage diplomatic success and prevent the Italians and Romanians from intervening on the Allied side.

In order to do this he had to lift the siege of Przemyl. The foray into the Carpathians was seen as the avenue of approach to effect the relief of the besieged fortress, which had become a kind of symbol in the war between the rival empires.

The arena of the Carpathians was about the worst possible place imaginable for such an undertaking : in the snows of January 1915, it almost beggars belief that an offensive could be contemplated, let alone committed.

The resulting fighting was just horrific, with whole companies freezing to death and wounded men being left to die in the snow.

The Russians counter attacked and saw the chance of invading Hungary. Instead of saving the AH Empire and deterring Italy and Romania from joining the Allies, the campaign backfired and left the Hapsburg bloc in a state of acute crisis.

German involvement on the Eastern Front - against the wishes of Falkenhayn - was to a large degree motivated by the need to save the Austrians.

Anyone who likes to depict the Dardanelles as a misbegotten and silly endeavour would do well to take a survey of this dreadful enterprise in the Carpathians.

It makes Gallipoli shine out as thoroughly plausible in comparison.

Eight hundred thousand men of the Austro Hungarian armies were cut down by enemy fire or by the ravages of exposure and sickness in this campaign in the mountains . If I had to select any episode in military history as an example of unredeemed folly, this would be a very strong contender.

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: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/28/2017 1:51:36 PM

Quote:
Thanks Phil - for presenting the data on those truly awful losses of young men on the Ostfront...

I recall hearing that ~90 million Russian men were wasted/sacrificed in their wars of 20th century, & I couldn't fathom it,
yet it is clearly, a major contribution to the sad state of alcoholic resignation/nationalistic-militaristic agitation shown today..
The average life expectancy of the Russian male has been pretty appalling for many generations, going back centuries now..

For the British Empire, casualty rates of 50,000 per month in several long drawn-out battles during WW I seem incredible now,
yet those would be mere 'bagatelle' numerical-wise compared to those shocking losses to the long-suffering Russian 'masses'...

& for Hitler, who spent his whole combat tenure in the West, the collapse of Russia in 1917 & with rapid disposal of the Western Allies in 1940, a natural under-estimation of what a truly totalitarian Stalinist regime, with immense practical backing by the West, could/did do...
--James W.


Hi James,

That's been a theme for a couple of hundred years.

In the war against Napoleon - especially at Borodino in 1812 - the Russians died in stupefying numbers.

It happened again in the Crimea forty odd years later : the mass graves in the cemetery at Sebastopol contain some outrageous numbers of Russian soldiers who perished in that conflict : one hundred and thirty thousand, IIRC.

In the Russo Japanese war another fifty years on, it was the Japanese who proved the more prodigal in lives, although their tactics won.

And then, of course, the Great War....the true scale of Russian losses 1914-17 is still a matter of guesswork, although the official tabulation records seven million casualties and leaves the impression that this cannot be complete.

With the ensuing civil war, followed by collectivisation and purge, the culling of males continued.

The Great Patriotic War 1941-45 cost the Soviet Union at least twenty million lives, of whom up to half were in the military . There were an additional fifteen million soldiers wounded.

It's astonishing how preponderantly the loss fell on the male population, even in the inter war years : all the traumas we associate with the experience of modern Russia have carried away men far more rapidly than they have women. It's actually something of a phenomenon in demographic history : you would expect it on the battlefield ; but to see it so manifest elsewhere is harder to account for.

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: 2603

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 1/31/2017 8:54:55 AM
It was a heck of a struggle trying to get to grips with the history off the war on the Eastern Front in 1915.

I had promised to report back with a survey of the Carpathians Offensive, but I was overwhelmed by the difficult task of trying to follow the narrative.....composing a rendition about it was harder still.

In the end, I just tried to convey my impressions about the awful folly and the atrocious conditions.

On reflection , I note that, just as in the West, the offensives were designed to exert a pincers type of attack, on an enormous scale.

In the Artois Champagne Offensives of 1915, Joffre sought to attack the huge German bulge that extended westwards towards Noyon : Chamapagne would be the southern pincer , Artois the northern .

In the East, the bulge was more gigantic ; but this time it was a Russian bulge, extending into Galicia, and secured by the Carpathians in the south and the Masurian Lakes in the north.

The Central Powers aimed to attack from both wings, with the Austrians coming up from the Carpathians and the Germans advancing in the Baltic sector.

Russia's war was undermined by failure of the commanders in their NW Front and the SW Front to act with the necessary co-operation. This was not just a question of rivalry...it was more hostile and mendacious. There were some very able Russian commanders ; and their soldiers could exhibit enormous resolve and toughness ; but the whole show was ruined by corruption and bad faith between factions.

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: 1958

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/1/2017 5:11:50 PM

Quote:
Joffre was far from a dullard, even if initially wrong-footed in the opening days of 1914.
I think that what eventually happened to him when he was kicked upstairs and sidelined was was happens to a lot of early war senior generals. Sooner or later they run afoul of the politicians, or different sects within their own army, or both, get blamed for lack of results, or too many casualties, or both again, and wear out their welcome. Often, the war they managed and understood simply evolves beyond them and demands new leadership. (Think George McClellan, during the American Civil War. Then think Grant.)
--Jim Cameron


Absolutely agree. I think both Joffre and Falkenhayn had similar problems - ambitious subordinates with more political influence, and political intrigue. In 1914 military leadership on both sides had been given almost dictorial powers to win the war. Lack of success showed the politicians atempting to regain control of events.

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.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1958

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/1/2017 7:35:49 PM

Quote:
Certainly, the Germans were worried about giving the Russian army time to organise and modernise. I understand that certain elements felt that the Russian army would become unbeatable once it had modernised and had access to new railroads that could shuttle their endless millions of men westward at a frightening speed, therefore nullifying the main German war strategy.

In this context, it seems surprising that the Germans launched any offensives at all on the Western Front in 1915; would those men and shells frittered away in the mud of Flanders and France have been better put to use striking the fatal blow to the Russians, forcing them into an early compromise peace?

Cheers,Colin --Lightning


Indeed, that's why in the years 1906-1914 France was pouring millions into Russia to build railways, especially railways that could speed up mobilisation. Similarly, massive loans to maintain the Serbian army.

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.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2603

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/2/2017 3:42:44 AM
Thanks for chipping in here, Trevor.

These comments of yours are so incisive and informed : I was feeling like the last man on my feet in this thread, and you've rescued the thing.

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
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 459

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/2/2017 2:11:25 PM
Trevor,

Interesting comments regarding the dictatorial powers enjoyed by generals on both sides in 1914 and early 1915. IMO, Germany came closer to winning outright when it was able to bypass the civilian Government completely; close run things in 1914 and 1918 that sandwich political meddling in between. Similarly, the Allies finally achieved true success when they gave supreme direction to Foch; no more offensives chosen simply because that's where the Allied lines met or because one side felt it had to demonstrate its' commitment to the cause. Victory by any and all means became the order of the day.

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: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/2/2017 6:19:31 PM

Quote:
Certainly, the Germans were worried about giving the Russian army time to organise and modernise. I understand that certain elements felt that the Russian army would become unbeatable once it had modernised and had access to new railroads that could shuttle their endless millions of men westward at a frightening speed, therefore nullifying the main German war strategy.

In this context, it seems surprising that the Germans launched any offensives at all on the Western Front in 1915; would those men and shells frittered away in the mud of Flanders and France have been better put to use striking the fatal blow to the Russians, forcing them into an early compromise peace?

Cheers,

Colin
--Lightning


On the other hand, if the Germans did not launch any offensives in the West, they would surrender the initiative to the French, who would undoubtedly have launched offensives of their own, both to take the pressure off Russia, and, by way of disrupting any future German offensives.
---------------
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: 2/3/2017 6:53:47 AM

Quote:

Quote:
Certainly, the Germans were worried about giving the Russian army time to organise and modernise. I understand that certain elements felt that the Russian army would become unbeatable once it had modernised and had access to new railroads that could shuttle their endless millions of men westward at a frightening speed, therefore nullifying the main German war strategy.

In this context, it seems surprising that the Germans launched any offensives at all on the Western Front in 1915; would those men and shells frittered away in the mud of Flanders and France have been better put to use striking the fatal blow to the Russians, forcing them into an early compromise peace?

Cheers,

Colin
--Lightning


On the other hand, if the Germans did not launch any offensives in the West, they would surrender the initiative to the French, who would undoubtedly have launched offensives of their own, both to take the pressure off Russia, and, by way of disrupting any future German offensives.

--Jim Cameron


Was it perhaps a risk worth taking? The French offensives in 1914/1915 had pushed the Germans back, but failed to decisively break through or cause the Germans undue concerns after the Battle of the Marne. I understand I'm writing with the gift of hindsight, but the Germans had Russia on the ropes in 1915 and seemed to be holding their own against France; could they realistically hoped to deliver the final and fatal blow to the Tsar's armies?

Cheers,

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2603

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/3/2017 1:04:53 PM
Colin,

Perhaps you might be understating the difficulties the Germans experienced trying to contain the Allied attacks in the West.

You say the French offensives 1914/15 failed to cause the Germans undue concern.

In September 1915, the Germans were truly alarmed by the French break in when the first position was overrun in Champagne.

Hindenburg would definitely have agreed with you, though.

The Russian soldiers dreaded fighting the Germans. They knew that this was a very different prospect from coping with the Austrians.

We need to address the question : did the Russians collapse emanate from the army or the home front ?

My opinion is that it was mad monks and sealed trains that delivered the fatal blows.

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: 2603

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/3/2017 5:38:40 PM
Some more thoughts....

Colin,

You suggest that the risk was worth taking.

I suppose the Germans started the whole thing by taking an immense risk : invading Belgium and staking all on knocking out France in six weeks.

Perhaps the German warmaking was uniquely predicated on taking risks from beginning to end. Once you embark on a programme entailing extreme risk, is it ever possible to disavail yourself of that risk ?

In 1915 - the year we're discussing - did the Germans show themselves to be trying to pedal back on their risk taking ; or did their endeavours in the East show their appetite to be undiminished ?

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: 687

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/3/2017 8:58:54 PM
I suspect the Russian collapse emanated from both the home front and the army, but where the army was concerned more due to a failure of leadership than the the rank and file.
---------------
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
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2603

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/4/2017 5:43:33 AM
The Russian army took such an immense hammering in 1915 that it's tempting to suggest that - had the army been intrinsically fragile - it would have been down and out.

But in 1916, it came back with a vengeance ; so much so that the Central Powers faced existential crisis.

And at the beginning of 1917, it was better armed than ever, with six million men or more available.

There will be some very interesting commentary this year when we come to the autumn , and the Centennial is being marked. Come to think of it, it was about now 100 years ago that the Tsar abdicated : perhaps the first of the two 1917 revolutions will provide more scope for speculation.

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: 1958

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/6/2017 10:08:30 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
Certainly, the Germans were worried about giving the Russian army time to organise and modernise. I understand that certain elements felt that the Russian army would become unbeatable once it had modernised and had access to new railroads that could shuttle their endless millions of men westward at a frightening speed, therefore nullifying the main German war strategy.

In this context, it seems surprising that the Germans launched any offensives at all on the Western Front in 1915; would those men and shells frittered away in the mud of Flanders and France have been better put to use striking the fatal blow to the Russians, forcing them into an early compromise peace?

Cheers,

Colin
--Lightning


On the other hand, if the Germans did not launch any offensives in the West, they would surrender the initiative to the French, who would undoubtedly have launched offensives of their own, both to take the pressure off Russia, and, by way of disrupting any future German offensives.

--Jim Cameron


Was it perhaps a risk worth taking? The French offensives in 1914/1915 had pushed the Germans back, but failed to decisively break through or cause the Germans undue concerns after the Battle of the Marne. I understand I'm writing with the gift of hindsight, but the Germans had Russia on the ropes in 1915 and seemed to be holding their own against France; could they realistically hoped to deliver the final and fatal blow to the Tsar's armies?

Cheers,

Colin
--Lightning


This was the dispute between Falkenhayn and Ludendorff. Falkenhayn believed ( quite right in my opinion ) that a fatal blow could not be delivered as Russia would simply retreat as is what actually happened after Gorlice-Tarnow.

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.

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


Posts: 459

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/7/2017 6:52:22 AM
One wonders whether Falkenhayn actually believed that Germany could win the war or not. As the primary component of the Central Powers, Germany appeared to have fairly fluid war goals; was this really a winner-takes-all scenario (i.e. Britain driven from the continent, outright defeat of France and emasculation of Russia) or were parts of the German hierarchy hoping for a settlement in Germany's favour, a la 1871?

I think we need to take a closer look at what exactly Germany hoped to achieve with its actions in 1915; did they think they could win the war in that year or was it part of a longer term strategy?

Cheers,

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2603

Re: 1915-A Year of Battles. Disappointments and some Newcomers
Posted on: 2/7/2017 7:56:40 AM
The sense I get is that Falkenhayn sought to bring about a negotiated peace that was favourable to Germany.

He probably saw the quest for a Cannae style strategic victory, entailing a huge battle of annihilation, as akin to tilting at windmills.

This is how it seems to me....I speak from impression, and might have to yield to a more learned rendition that proves me wrong.

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

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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