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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/20/2017 9:00:55 AM
The target of this offensive was the Messines Ridge, a natural stronghold southeast of Ypres, and a small German salient since late 1914. The attack was a forerunner to the much larger- Third Battle of Ypres, known as Passchendaele, decided upon by the British Commander-in-Chief Sir Douglas Haig following the collapse of the French Nivelle Offensive earlier in May 1917.

The manner of attack was via a huge tunnelling operation carried out in utter secrecy underneath the German position on the Messines Ridge.Much of the excavation work was done by special Royal Engineers units formed from Welsh and Durham miners. Sometimes miners would meet and fight German tunnelers underground as their tunnels intercepted enemy works.


Additional Data if Required

[Read More]

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Jim
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anemone
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/20/2017 12:13:40 PM

Quote:
The inception of a deep mining offensive on the Second Army front dated from July, 1915; but the proposal to conduct offensive mining on a grand scale was not definitely adopted till January, 1916.

From that date onwards, as the necessary labour became available, deep mining for offensive purposes gradually developed, in spite of great difficulties from water-bearing strata and active counter-mining by the enemy.

In all, twenty-four mines were constructed, four of which were outside the front ultimately selected for our offensive, while one other was lost as the result of a mine blown by the enemy. Many of these mines had been completed for twelve months prior to our offensive, and constant and anxious work was needed to ensure their safety.

The enemy also had a deep mining system, and was aware of his danger. At Hill 60 continuous underground fighting took place for over ten months prior to our attack, and only by the greatest skill, persistence and disregard of danger on the part of our tunnellers were the two mines laid by us at this point saved from destruction.
Sir Douglas Haig's Dispatch

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Jim
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George
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/21/2017 7:59:48 AM
delete

George
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/21/2017 8:00:49 AM

Quote:
The manner of attack was via a huge tunnelling operation carried out in utter secrecy underneath the German position on the Messines Ridge.Much of the excavation work was done by special Royal Engineers units formed from Welsh and Durham miners.


Oh dear, the colonials have been forgotten again.

Let's hear it for the Australian and Canadian tunnelling companies who toiled for so long with their British brothers to set up this explosion. Yes they were all under the direction of the Royal Engineers.

There were 19 mines exploded at Hill 60. I believe that 25 emplacements were dug. I do not know why the 6 were not exploded.

Map of the position of the mines. It was too big to post as an image.

[Read More]


I believe that the Canadian mining companies dug 5 of them. I am not sure how many the Aussies dug.

As well, over the two year preparation period, companies moved in and out, sharing in the dig.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/21/2017 8:23:19 AM


Quote:
By January 1916, several deep mine shafts, marked as "deep wells" and six tunnels had thus been started. Sub-surface conditions were especially complex and separate ground water tables made mining difficult. To overcome the technical difficulties, two military geologists assisted the miners from March 1916, including Edgeworth David, who planned the system of mines.

Co-ordinated by the Royal Engineers, the mine galleries were dug by the British 171st, 175th and 250th Tunnelling companies and the 1st Canadian, 3rd Canadian and 1st Australian Tunnelling companies.

The British 183rd, 2nd Canadian and 2nd Australian Tunnelling companies built dugouts (underground shelters) in the Second Army area.
Wikipedia

As you can see George almost all of the mining work was carried out in 1916 I assume that the placing of the enormous amount of explosive-as indicated in your sketch plan- was carried out in 1917 along with wire cutting

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Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/21/2017 9:35:36 AM
You will read, again and again, in what seem to be authoratitive accounts, that ten thousand Germans were killed by the explosions.

Let me assure you that this is exageration of sensational proportions.

Yes, the explosions were immense, and the effects terrific.

No doubt many hundreds of Germans were obliterated or buried in a few moments.

But the lines were thinly held ; the German front line was manned by outposts and specialist teams, relying on dispersal and defence in depth.

To imagine that ten thousand Germans were crammed into a narrow zone, and stood there awaiting their fate, is ludicrous.

In the event, the Germans reported twenty three thousand casualties in the first ten days of June in that sector ; of these, nearly one third were taken prisoner.

Of the remainder, about ten to twelve thousand were wounded.

The arithmetic says it all....perhaps one thousand Germans were killed by the mines, and two or three thousand more in the accompanying barrage and subsequent fighting.

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

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anemone
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/21/2017 10:10:10 AM
Casualties

Quote:
In 1941 the Australian Official Historian recorded II Anzac Corps losses from 1–14 June as 4,978 casualties in the New Zealand Division, 3,379 casualties in the 3rd Australian Division and 2,677 casualties in the 4th Australian Division.

Using figures from the Reichsarchiv, Bean recorded German casualties for 21–31 May, 1,963; 1–10 June, 19,923 (including 7,548 missing); 11–20 June, 5,501 and 21–30 June, 1,773. In volume XII of Der Weltkrieg the German Official Historians recorded 25,000 casualties for the period 21 May – 10 June including 10,000 missing of whom 7,200 were reported as taken prisoner by the British.

Losses of the British were recorded as 25,000 casualties and a further 3,000 missing from 18 May – 14 June. The initial explosion of the mines, in particular the mine that created the Lone Tree Crater, accounts for the high number of casualties and missing from 1–10 June.

In 1948, the British Official Historian gave casualties of II Anzac Corps, 12,391; IX Corps, 5,263; X Corps, 6,597; II Corps, and VIII Corps, a total of 24,562 casualties from 1–12 June. The 25th Division history gave 3,052 casualties and the 47th Division history notes 2,303 casualties.

The British Official Historian recorded 21,886 German casualties, including 7,548 missing, from 21 May – 10 June, using strength returns from groups Ypern, Wijtschate and Lille in the German Official History, then wrote that 30 percent should be added for wounded likely to return to duty within a reasonable time, since they were "omitted" in the German Official History, reasoning which has been severely criticised ever since.

In 2007 Sheldon gave 22,988 casualties for the German 4th Army from 1–10 June 1917


NB.No figures for Dead

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Jim
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anemone
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/21/2017 10:31:16 AM
Preceded by an intense artillery barrage -the nineteen mines were blown at 0330 on 7 June- wrecking large portions of the German front line trenches and at that point the barrage stopped and the infantry advanced and within a few minutes the entire German front line was overrun-almost without opposition.Resistance stiffened as the penetration deepened.The NZ Division
cleared the intricate fortifications at Messines.The fortified village og Wytschaete was captured after a fierce struggle by the 16th and 36th Irish Divisions- fighting together for the first time.The rapidity with which the attack had been carried through, and the destruction caused by our artillery, made it impossible at first to form more than a rough estimate of our captures. When the final reckoning had been completed, it was found that they included 7,200 prisoners, 67 guns, 94 trench mortars and 294 machine guns.

Source-Liddell Hart's "History of the First World War"


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Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/21/2017 12:08:27 PM
British and Dominion dead on 7 June 1917 in Belgium - which are virtually all attributable to the opening day of the Battle of Messines - are numbered at 3,430 on the CWGC database. This, I reckon, implies 13,000 casualties in all. A very similar number of casualties would have been incurred in the following week, as the fighting spluttered on.

So even in this remarkably successful local offensive , British casualties were probably equal - or even slightly in excess of - those of the Germans .

The Anzacs suffered significant casualties from friendly fire ; their rapid advance exposed them to shelling from British guns. They had gone further forward than expected, and paid the price.

Two of the twenty one mines failed to explode. One blew up in 1955 and killed a cow ; the other one remains lost underground.

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

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anemone
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/21/2017 12:36:59 PM

Quote:
.Resistance stiffened as the penetration deepened.The NZ Division
cleared the intricate fortifications at Messines.


You are right Phil- the above proves it; but Haig's Disptch does not mention this.Our casualties were greater than the German's- undoubtedly The sheer exuberance of the attackers put them in grave danger from the British artillery bombardment.


Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/21/2017 1:05:00 PM
Here is the elusive breakdown of the casualties sustained by the Germans, according to their medical history, 1-10 June 1917 in the zone that included Messines

Killed : 2,516

Wounded : 12,614

Missing : 7,858

Total : 22,988

You can be sure that the total for killed needs to be greatly inflated : these were only the confirmed dead ; many of the missing had been killed - obviously, in view of the mine explosions - and probably at least another thousand of the wounded died. So, all in all, at least five thousand German dead...perhaps six thousand or so, in those ten days.

So much for ten thousand being killed just by the mine explosions.

The CWGC commemorates 5,887 British and Dominion army deaths in Belgium, from all causes, in that same time period.

In terms of loss of life, this looks pretty well Even Stevens to me.

Regards , Phil

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

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anemone
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/21/2017 1:23:24 PM
Well Phil -you are the stats man-and I will certainly accept your judgement on this.I was most surprised at Wiki's fulsome figures did not include the Dead.However does your "Missing" figure include POWs- which numbered 7200 according to Haig et al,????

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Jim
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phil andrade
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/21/2017 6:26:48 PM
Yes, Jim...the missing includes prisoners, so straight away we discern a big disparity between the British claim of prisoners captured and the number implicit in the German figures. There can be no doubt that a significant portion of the Germans posted as missing had been killed, especially in view of the obliterating effect of the mine explosions. That leaves too few to reconcile with the number of prisoners that British records allow for .

You have to ask yourself : whose account should we believe ?

Whatever happens, do not fall for the claims of the British Official Historian, when he insists that thirty per cent should be added on to German returns to make them compatible with British criteria.

OTOH, I do not think that the British fabricated their figures for German prisoners. It does leave me wondering how best to interpret these dreadful statistics.

One thing I'm absolutely sure about : there's no way that the Germans, using their dispersed defence in depth methods of 1917, would have crammed so many men into a front line that ten thousand of them could be wiped out in a few moments.

They knew only too well that the entire sector was extremely perilous on account of mining operations : indeed, they were active themselves in that respect.

Whole companies were killed outright by the explosions : no doubt about that.

That's a different thing from ten thousand.

Sorry if I keep banging on.

Regards , Phil

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

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anemone
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 4:39:39 AM
One of the reasons why I choose to copy the Wikipedia Casualties is because they do use all information to hand-even though the figures differ- it is down to the reader to decide which assessments to accept.They did include the caveat about the addition of 30% of casualties returning to duty which are very questionable/

I too have to rationalise just how many men the Germans would sensibly have in that sector to start with.I also had a good read of your comments on the GWF vis a vis Messines Casualties-you are very passionate about numbers.


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Jim
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anemone
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 4:48:02 AM

Quote:
Analysis
Ashley Ekins referred to the battle as a great set-piece victory, which was also costly, particularly for the infantry of II Anzac Corps, as did Christopher Pugsley, referring to the experience of the New Zealand Division.

Heinz Hagenlücke called it a great British success and wrote that the loss of the ridge, had a worse effect on German morale than the number of casualties. Jack Sheldon called it a "significant victory" for the British and a "disaster" for the German army, which was forced into a "lengthy period of anxious waiting".

Brown in 1996 and Simpson in 2001 concluded that extending British supply routes over the ridge, which had been devastated by the mines and millions of shells, to consolidate the Oosttaverne line and completion of the infrastructure further north in the Fifth Army area, was necessary before the "Northern Operation" (the Third Battle of Ypres) could begin and was the main reason for the operational pause in June and July.
Wikipedia

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Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 5:06:20 AM
Yes, the numbers excercise a peculiar hold over me : I wish they didn't.

Wiki cites the sources, among them the work of Jack Sheldon.

Sheldon uses the German Medical History, the santitatsbericht ; so I referred to that volume myself to give the rendition including the figure for confirmed deaths.

It's a bit like trying to square a circle when you compare these figures with the British count of German prisoners.

My suggestion - a tentative one - is that the German Medical History is accurate and authentic when it comes to statistics for admissions to hospital : that's its true remit, and it does it very well. When it comes to men killed or missing - whether they were taken prisoner, or vapourised or buried alive by the mine explosions - then they were beyond the reach of medical facilities and therefore the count was not so meticulous.

The British count of prisoners is, I'm confident, accurate and authentic.

So we're not dealing with liars here.

What does smell bad, though, is the British Official Historian's attempt to inflate German casualty statistics by dint of a thirty per cent yardstick. That's truly mendacious ; that it's been used is bad enough ; but to see it adopted and accepted by reputable historians and commentators is hard for me to bear.

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

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anemone
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 5:54:15 AM

Quote:
Heinz Hagenlücke called it a great British success and wrote that the loss of the ridge, had a worse effect on German morale than the number of casualties. Jack Sheldon called it a "significant victory" for the British and a "disaster" for the German army, which was forced into a "lengthy period of anxious waiting"


Phil-can you explain to me the "lengthy period of anxious waiting"

Liddell Hart says "When the expected German counterattack was launched on the whole front the next day,it failed everywhere- against defences that had been rapidly and firmly organised; and in the recoil the British gained even more ground"

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 6:02:56 AM
Jim,

Have you read Leon Wolff's IN FLANDERS FIELDS ?

This is very much journalistic history .


It was written in 1959, so the events he was describing were as close to his day as Vietnam is to ours.

A very readable book, and, despite its shortcomings, it stands the test of time and I would thoroughly recommend it.

He gives a powerful account of Messines.

The 3rd Bavarian Division was relieving the 24th Saxons, and both relievers and relieved were smitten by the mines : they were decimated, and the balance taken prisoner .

Wolff reckons that the Germans suffered nearly twenty thousand killed or wounded in addition to 7,300 taken prisoner in the ten day period 1-10 June : I would endorse that.

Let me lift a passage, now, in which Wolff cites an article by the war journalist Philip Gibbs, in his dispatch of 12 June 1917 :

From Messines and Wytschaete [ the Germans] had absolute observation of a wide tract of country in which our men lived and died -how complete an observation I did not realise until after this battle, when standing in Wytschaete and on the mound by St Eloi, and on the ground rising up to Messines, I looked back, and saw every detail of our old territory laid out like a relief map brightly coloured. My God, said an officer by my side it's a wonder they allowed us to live at all !

This was indeed a masterpiece of siege operations. The twenty or twenty five thousand casualties expended were compensated not only by the immense moral and physical damage inflicted on the Germans, but even more so by the future saving of British and Dominion lives....from that position the enemy had been able to massacre Haig's men with impunity.

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."

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anemone
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 6:16:35 AM
Yes Phil- I do have Leon Wolff's "In Flanders Fields" and Philip Gibbs' Dispatches; but must confess have not looked at them in years-will do sso today.I have hundreds of books on both wars and all three main services plus another hundred or so- running back to the wars with Scotland.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 8:22:08 AM

Quote:

Quote:
Heinz Hagenlücke called it a great British success and wrote that the loss of the ridge, had a worse effect on German morale than the number of casualties. Jack Sheldon called it a "significant victory" for the British and a "disaster" for the German army, which was forced into a "lengthy period of anxious waiting"


Phil-can you explain to me the "lengthy period of anxious waiting"

Liddell Hart says "When the expected German counterattack was launched on the whole front the next day,it failed everywhere- against defences that had been rapidly and firmly organised; and in the recoil the British gained even more ground"

Regards

Jim
--anemone


That phrase a lengthy period of anxious waiting was coined by Herman von Kuhl, chief of staff at Army Group Crown Prince Rupprecht.

It was clear to him and his fellow soldiers that they had taken a terrific blow ; it was equally obvious that more were to come.

Kuhl went on to write :

...What was completely uncertain , however, was when the offensive was due to begin. It was obvious that the British had imposed an operational pause, in order to complete all their preparations with the utmost thoroughness .

Messines was a catastrophe for the Germans - albeit a local one. Awaiting further developments was bound to be an anxious experience, after such a profound - in the most literal sense - shock.

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: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 8:37:37 AM
Thank you Phil-great research on your part.Yes- Messines was a great victory- marred on by the number of casualties to "friendly fire"-Allied troops outrunning the barrage; but their recovery was so slick and efficient- that they were able to "turn the tables" on the Germans the next day- when they counterattacked.

Regards

Jim
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scoucer
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 9:02:14 AM
Both Von Kuhl and the Crown Prince wanted to withdraw as they expected "something was coming". The Division commanders disagreed and appealed to the General Staff. The relationship between both and Ludendorff had been strained since before christmas. Ludendorff backed the Division commanders. From thereon the relationship between the Crown Prince and Ludendorff went rapidly downhill.

Trevor
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anemone
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 9:22:01 AM
Thank you Trevor -another snippet of useful information-CPR and Ludendorff had fallen out over the destruction of the infra structure ,houses and water supplies during the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line and the creation of the waste land behind them- in late 1916.


Regards

Jim
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MikeMeech
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 9:23:27 AM

Quote:
Both Von Kuhl and the Crown Prince wanted to withdraw as they expected "something was coming". The Division commanders disagreed and appealed to the General Staff. The relationship between both and Ludendorff had been strained since before christmas. Ludendorff backed the Division commanders. From thereon the relationship between the Crown Prince and Ludendorff went rapidly downhill.

Trevor
--scoucer


Hi

Yes, but as I understand it the retreat Von Kuhl suggested would have meant the Oosttaverne Line they would retreat to would have been overlooked from the ridge. This meant a move even further back to the Warneton Line (Army level reserve trench line east of Ypres Salient)to avoid that, however, that meant other parts of the line would also have to move back. It was decided it would be better to stay put.

Mike

Phil andrade
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 9:32:40 AM
Interesting to see how the Germans had their own " Smith Dorrien " types who advocated withdrawal from that horrible, horrible killing ground in Flanders.

Reading Philip Gibbs's dispatch, you would think that the Germans were enjoying great advantage by possession of the Messines - Wytschaete Ridge, and were turning that advantage to deadly account.

When you survey Crown Prince Rupprecht's accounts, you see that these advantages were not so clear cut : the area of the MW ridge was too narrow to allow proper deployment of defense in depth, thereby resulting in too many men being crammed forward.....perhaps I'd better re-consider my earlier comments !

Much the same might be said of Vimy Ridge.

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: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/22/2017 9:36:32 AM
Quote from previous post

"Brown in 1996 and Simpson in 2001 concluded that extending British supply routes over the ridge, which had been devastated by the mines and millions of shells, to consolidate the Oosttaverne line and completion of the infrastructure further north in the Fifth Army area, was necessary before the "Northern Operation" (the Third Battle of Ypres) could begin and was the main reason for the operational pause in June and July."

Was the above proposition ,in point of fact; carried out Mike ????

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

scoucer
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/24/2017 1:04:20 PM

Quote:

Quote:
Both Von Kuhl and the Crown Prince wanted to withdraw as they expected "something was coming". The Division commanders disagreed and appealed to the General Staff. The relationship between both and Ludendorff had been strained since before christmas. Ludendorff backed the Division commanders. From thereon the relationship between the Crown Prince and Ludendorff went rapidly downhill.

Trevor
--scoucer


Hi

Yes, but as I understand it the retreat Von Kuhl suggested would have meant the Oosttaverne Line they would retreat to would have been overlooked from the ridge. This meant a move even further back to the Warneton Line (Army level reserve trench line east of Ypres Salient)to avoid that, however, that meant other parts of the line would also have to move back. It was decided it would be better to stay put.

Mike
--MikeMeech


Thank you Mike. I´ve become very interested in Von Kuhl as he was one of the few historians on the Historical Commission of the Reichsarchiv (along with Hans Delbruck ) who was not in the Ludendorff Lost Cause group. Highly critical of Ludendorff and the Stab in the back myth.

Trevor
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/29/2017 12:07:00 AM
Hi...for those with an interest in the Battle of Messines you might want to checkout the Messines100 Facebook page that I administer...https://www.facebook.com/Messines100/

Regards
Paul
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Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 3/30/2017 6:50:36 PM
Regarding the casualties - I have an article entitled 'Casualty Evacuation Scheme, Battle of Messines, 7 June 1917' that will be available for free download from my personal website (www.pshistory.com) in June to commemorate the centenary of the battle. The article examines the evacuation process established for British casualties as well as a discussion on the total casualties incurred.

Additionally, if any of the forum members are members of the Western Front Association, I have another article on the casualties incurred by the 47th Battalion, AIF that will be published this summer in Stand To! as well. The article analyses the extent of just one units casualties, who the men were, their process through the evacuation scheme and a review of the impact these injuries had on them in latter life.

If anybody is interested please check out my website or 'Like' my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PSHistoryPage/ to receive updates as to when these articles will be available for download. There are also some other articles on the site about the Great War that can be downloaded free of charge.

Thanks
paul
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Paul Sutton
PSHistory.com

MikeMeech
UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 322

Re: The Battle of Messines -7--16 June 1917
Posted on: 4/3/2017 5:15:03 PM
Hi

As with all battles the Battle of Messines resulted in a lot of paperwork in the aftermath reference what had happened during it and some of the 'lessons learnt'.
Two of the documents that are of interest, to me anyway, reference RFC operations in support of the ground troops are to be found in the UK National Archives. AIR 1/2053/204/391/5 is a 31 page document on Artillery co-operation and related matters, another is AIR 1/918/204/5/879 'Extracts from RFC Reports on Second Army Offensive'.
Some of the things mentioned in these documents include the trials carried out by 42 Sqn. (RE.8) in the week prior to the operation using two way wireless telegraphy for long range artillery spotting. This included a successful shoot with a 12 inch Howitzer Battery over a range of 12,000 yards, it kept continuous communication between the aircraft and the battery throughout the shoot. This led to the introduction of extra machines (two machines) on some Corps squadrons to carry out this work using Bristol Fighters with two-way wireless fro early 1918, leading to the formation of L, M, N, O and P flights later that year.
There is a lot in the documents on Wireless and photography and also the formation of the Branch Intelligence Sections on the RFC Corps artillery squadrons, these consisted of an Intelligence Corps Officer plus draughtsmen for 'mapping purposes'. This appears to have been considered a success during Messines as was the use of 'Special Contact Patrols' later known as Counter Attack Patrols to look out for the Germans preparing counter-attacks was also considered useful.
More mundane was the use of a modified map board for the observer, this was a three-ply board faced with an aluminium sheet that meant four clear copies of a map could be produced using carbon paper between each map. One would be dropped to each (of two) division and another to Corps while the remaining one would be used in the observers report. The 'Extracts' document includes a drawing of the board.
Failures are discussed as are the methods to overcome them.

Mike

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