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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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MikeMeech
UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 303

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 5:18:12 AM

Quote:
Point taken Mike-you being the expert and certainly not me.
However many thanks for your valuable contribution- it is appreciated.

No harm done though- it was the last half of 1917 which is of interest and just how much aerial offence was meted out by the RFC; and what type of German aircraft were up against the RE8's and the DH4's during their bombing sorties and of course was trench strafing introduced in late 1917??-

Is it true to say that despite terrible losses, the RFC, supported by several fighter squadrons of the RNAS, continued their artillery spotting, army co-operation, bombing, and long-range reconnaissance missions.

In mid-1917, they regained some parity with the introduction of improved aircraft such as the Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a, Sopwith Camel, and the revised Bristol F.2b Fighter.

For their part, the Germans introduced the distinctive Fokker Dr.1 Triplane and the upgraded Albatros DV.

In the latter half of 1917, particularly at Cambrai in November, both sides provided direct support to the soldiers on the ground through specific ground-attack roles.

Regards


Jim
--anemone


Hi

The RFC Communiques contain details of operations, Chaz Bowyer had an edited edition for 1917-1918 published by Grub Street in 1998. Random examples are:

Communique No. 99, 28 July-3 August 1917: 67 Tons of Bombs dropped. Over 13,000 photos taken. 1940 hostile batteries successfully engaged for destruction by artillery with aeroplane observation; 345 gun pits destroyed, 973 damaged, 953 explosions caused.

No. 103, 24-31 August 1917: (weather 'unfavourable' for aerial work during this period) 79 tons of bombs dropped. 11,000 photos taken. 1860 hostile batteries successfully engaged for destruction with aeroplane observation; 304 gun pits destroyed, 803 damaged, 764 explosions and 302 fires caused.

No. 107, 24-30 September 1917: 125 tons of bombs dropped. Over 16,000 photos taken. 1372 hostile batteries successfully engaged for destruction.

No. 110, 16-22 October 1917: 293 hostile batteries engaged for destruction and 523 zone calls sent. 23,851 rounds fired at ground targets. 4530 photos taken. Approximately 232 tons of bombs dropped.

The Albatros series of fighters were always in the majority even when the Fokker Dr.I was at its 'peak' of 171 at 30 April 1918. At the same time there were 174 D.III, 131 D.V and 928 D.Va of the Albatros series on all fronts. The D.V and Va did not restore the balance in Germany's favour nor did the Dr.I (despite the hype on this type the Albatros D.Va outlasted it).

Mike

MikeMeech
UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 303

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 6:18:40 AM

Quote:
I am afraid that I just cannot agree with you Phil-here I stress that this has nothing to do with our working together ; I still feel in my very bones that Haig was not only manipulative; but posed as an entirely reasonable,benevolent man-I'd rather walk with the Devil.

The Gough article which I read carefully is full of "smoke and mirrors-statements and denials -Neil Malcolm passing on what he thought was a fact about the use of cavalry- was according to Haig "mistaken" and was fired for his pains and given command of 66th Division in Gough's meagre 5th Army-what an irony. Gough's firing was most certainly contrived and Haig was "forced " to sack him with a gush of crocodile tears.

Trouble with Haig was that he had not seen a battlefield after 1915 (when he had had a hand in getting rid of French) and got others to do it for him eg Charteris -who always told him what he wanted to hear and eventually was peremptorily fired in anger- when the heat was on after Passchendaele. Haig's toll of staff was legion-he was selfish ,indolent and quite untrustworthy IMHO.I have to say that my mind is set against Haig.Many historians believe Haig was a callous leader who should bear the responsibility of dispatching hundreds of thousands of men to their deaths on the Western Front. He also stands accused of being a "Chateau-General" who lived in luxury a safe distance from the front line-ie 105Km away


PS Neil malvolm GOC of the riven 66th Division was wounded at Domart (further back from Demuin) on 29th March.On recovery shortly after-he was asked how he saw the war-he replied "Splendid-we have won the war" Mmmm-I wonder!????Was the Amiens Salient contrived???


Regards

Jim
--anemone

Hi Jim

Oh dear!

The "Chateau-General" myth should be long gone by now with all that has been written on the subject of command and control in WW1. Of course an Army's GHQ is not going to be close to the firing line that would be gross stupidity (and no Army done it), also if it was close to one part of the line it would be even further from the other parts. GHQ was commanding five Army level HQs and had to be in contact with them through the telephone and telegraph systems and not be too far away so to be in direct personal contact. Haig is known to have visited down to Divisional HQ level to discuss with the commanders 'on the ground'. More often it was to higher command levels, for example, on the afternoon of 1 August 1917 Haig motored to visit the Fifth Army's Corps HQs in the following order II Corps, XIX Corps, XVIII Corps. He then visited the Army HQ speaking to General Uniacke.
GHQ and lower formation HQs also generally had forward HQs, this enabled the commanders to go further forward but the main HQ could remain fully operational and in contact with all its formations as well as the commander having direct communications with his main HQ from the forward HQ. Haig actually had a train that could move along the line to where operations were engaged in.
GHQ had rather wider responsibilities (logistics, training organisation, liaison with allies and national government etc)than 'just' fighting individual battles and these tasks had to be carried on even when major battles were going on.

Mike

anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 7:03:08 AM
OK mike -then how come it was Kiggell; late on in the battle, who discovered the dreadful conditions in which our men were fighting in the Passchendaele Offensive.

OK I suppose he did visit 5th Army HQ at the very start of the offensive; but why Uniacke and not Gough that he spoke to.I personally do not rate Haig as a C in C and have said so-he vacillated and passed on lies to Government far too much for my liking Mike.His treatment of subordinate who displeased him- was quick and final-no second chances.I would rather not talk about him- truth to tell.

I am not trying to be rude to you in any way, shape or form; and do not wish to avert you from providing your usual excellent "specialist" contributions. Phil is the man and probably others youn talk to about haig-I am the black sheep-I do hope that everything is OK between you and I.

Regards

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

MikeMeech
UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 303

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 8:07:29 AM

Quote:
OK mike -then how come it was Kiggell; late on in the battle, who discovered the dreadful conditions in which our men were fighting in the Passchendaele Offensive.

OK I suppose he did visit 5th Army HQ at the very start of the offensive; but why Uniacke and not Gough that he spoke to.I personally do not rate Haig as a C in C and have said so-he vacillated and passed on lies to Government far too much for my liking Mike.His treatment of subordinate who displeased him- was quick and final-no second chances.I would rather not talk about him- truth to tell.

I am not trying to be rude to you in any way, shape or form; and do not wish to avert you from providing your usual excellent "specialist" contributions. Phil is the man and probably others youn talk to about haig-I am the black sheep-I do hope that everything is OK between you and I.

Regards

jim
--anemone

Hi

The problem is the 'Kiggell' story has been found to be a 'myth'. His name only became associated with the story in 1958, four years after he died, when Liddell Hart decided to say it was him. One book that covers this story in detail is 'Bloody Red Tabs', Davies and Maddocks, pages 16-21,it is highly likely that the 'incident' never happened. It is one of those stories (rather like alleged RFC Training deaths) that keeps getting repeated by both popular and some academic historians because it 'sounds good'. Sadly a lot of 'lying', or 'miss-interpretation', was going on post WW1. I have had to look at a lot of information on Command, Control, Communication and Training as it relates in my 'specialist' subject of air/ground co-operation in WW1 and I have become very 'wary' of much 'well known facts'. There is nothing personal in my comments just what I have been finding out during my own research, I am nor pro or against any particular personality.

Mike

anemone
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Posts: 5934
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 8:38:16 AM
Mike-Why I stuck with the Kiggell "story" was because it came from Leon Wolff's Book "In Flanders Fields" Kiggell having seen the conditions the men were fighting in; and here I discount the tears and the outburst as unprofessional.

He reported back to Haig and advised him to get rid of his CIO Charteris-the premier Yes Man- for fabricating his reports to the Chief-which he Charteris always thought that was what Haig had wanted- and this is true; but in times of crisis get rid of the evidence; and out went Charteris on grounds of ill health.I rest my case.

NB.From Adolf Hitler's War Record

In Flanders, Haig's officers are stunned by their own blundering. The maps don't reveal the mud. But British shellfire has destroyed Flanders' drainage systems. A British staff officer, Launcelot Kiggell, visiting the muck for the first time, gasps, "Did we really send men to fight in that?"

Regards

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

MikeMeech
UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 303

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 10:31:53 AM

Quote:
Mike-Why I stuck with the Kiggell "story" was because it came from Leon Wolff's Book "In Flanders Fields" Kiggell having seen the conditions the men were fighting in; and here I discount the tears and the outburst as unprofessional.

He reported back to Haig and advised him to get rid of his CIO Charteris-the premier Yes Man- for fabricating his reports to the Chief-which he Charteris always thought that was what Haig had wanted- and this is true; but in times of crisis get rid of the evidence; and out went Charteris on grounds of ill health.I rest my case.

NB.From Adolf Hitler's War Record

In Flanders, Haig's officers are stunned by their own blundering. The maps don't reveal the mud. But British shellfire has destroyed Flanders' drainage systems. A British staff officer, Launcelot Kiggell, visiting the muck for the first time, gasps, "Did we really send men to fight in that?"

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Hi

All I will say is that a lot has been written since Wolff's 1958 book.

On the 'dangers' of 'well known facts' I shall return to RFC/RNAS/RAF Training deaths. In his 1982 book 'The First of the Few', Denis Winter, on page 36, states that, for the British:

"...official figures at the end of the war listed 14,166 dead pilots, of whom 8,000 had died while training in the UK."

Leaving aside the fact that the 'official figures' in the Official History did not say that, Winter's figures, directly or indirectly, have been stated ever since in both popular and academic books. Some of the most recent examples are the following:

'Reckless Fellows', 2016, by Professor Edward Bujak, on page 4:

"Shockingly, over half the 14,166 pilots who lost their lives in the war did so in training."

'The Battle of the Somme', 2016, Edited by Matthias Strohn, Chapter 4 'Air War over the Somme' by Dr James S. Corum, page 83, on British training methods:

"This informal and haphazard approach to training by the RFC killed far more British airmen than the German - the biggest cause of death for British airmen in World War I was training accidents. A total of 8,000 British aircrew were killed while training in the UK - a record of casualties per training hours that exceeded that of the Germans, French, and Americans by several times."

'Victory on the Western Front', 2016, by Dr. Michael Senior, page 66:

"According to one historian more pilots were killed during their training period (8,000) than in combat with the enemy (6,166)."

The problem is you will not find this number of dead listed on the CWGC Website, while 'Airmen Died in the Great War 1914-1918' (DVD-ROM), lists all British and Commonwealth Air Services of all ranks, men and women from all causes and comes up with a total of 9,350. Of these 3,592 were KIA (not just aircrew) and 2,844 were killed whist flying (accident), the deaths in training are included in this figure, looking through the individuals about 1,600 or so were killed in training accidents (another 396 Died of Wounds and 235 Died of Injuries during the war). The numbers of those killed in British training (throughout the world not just UK) is similar to the German figure for those killed, although the British trained more aircrew, so it is difficult to say the British system was 'more dangerous' than other nations.

During the war the 'British' KIA figures were not exceeded by accidental deaths while flying:

1914: 11 KIA, 11 KWF
1915: 73, 51.
1916: 318, 213.
1917: 1363, 841.
1918: 1827, 1728.

However, as Winter's figures keep being used by even professional historians the 'myth' will continue (and appear on websites). This is the same as other 'well known facts' that should really be looked at closely before accepting them.

Mike



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


Posts: 5934
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 11:08:09 AM
I can surely see where you are coming from Mike; but there are so many opinions old and new,it leaves one bewildered .Should the basis for belief be the very latest date published.?? Old beliefs can only be eradicated by proof positive that new proposition is intelligently sound and without doubt-that being even tad absent-it throws one back to the old belief.Question- who emphatically says Kiggell was never on the Passchendaele battlefield to see the state of the ground and what solid proof is offered ???.Of course in the long run -Does it really matter; or is the eradication of a presumed myth of vital importance ????

Coming to your statistical conundrum-I always think that mathematics is a simple science where deaths are apportioned to various pigeonholes :-
KIA ,DOW, MIA,Wnded in action and POW-these are all attached to being in action against an enemy.Other Casualties -Training KWF, DDT incl dying of injury, INJ WF,and sickness deaths.Given that all the deaths,wounded ,injured and sickness are correctly pigeon holed there should be no problem in total and believable tabulation.

Regards

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

MikeMeech
UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 303

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 12:01:01 PM

Quote:
I can surely see where you are coming from Mike; but there are so many opinions old and new,it leaves one bewildered .Should the basis for belief be the very latest date published.?? Old beliefs can only be eradicated by proof positive that new proposition is intelligently sound and without doubt-that being even tad absent-it throws one back to the old belief.Question- who emphatically says Kiggell was never on the Passchendaele battlefield to see the state of the ground and what solid proof is offered ???.Of course in the long run -Does it really matter; or is the eradication of a presumed myth of vital importance ????

Coming to your statistical conundrum-I always think that mathematics is a simple science where deaths are apportioned to various pigeonholes :-
KIA ,DOW, MIA,Wnded in action and POW-these are all attached to being in action against an enemy.Other Casualties -Training KWF, DDT incl dying of injury, INJ WF,and sickness deaths.Given that all the deaths,wounded ,injured and sickness are correctly pigeon holed there should be no problem in total and believable tabulation.

Regards

Jim
--anemone

Hi

On the 'Kiggell' point I have given a reference for anyone interested to work from and they can make up their own mind.

On the aviation deaths the point is that figures appear to have been 'falsified' to support a theory that 'British' air crew training was much worse than anyone else's due to these 'high' death rates. However, as the deaths have been very much exaggerated the theory fails. The 'British' training system did have problems for various reasons, however, it was evolving all the time, as can be seen from even a brief reading of the histories.

Mike

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


Posts: 5934
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 12:50:13 PM
Mike-I have to concede that Haig was not advised by Kiggell to sack Charteris; as Haig was was required to dismiss Charteris in Dec 1917.

Robertson had arrived at Haig's Headquarters with orders (signed by Derby) for his dismissal in his pocket, in case Haig refused to do as he was asked.

Haig claimed to his wife (14 December) that Charteris' work had been excellent; but he felt he had to sack him because he had "upset so many people".What a sad sack was this man Haig-he did not take the blame for anything

A common criticism is that Haig only accepted intelligence from Charteris (who told him what he wanted to hear) and did not cross-check it with other intelligence-failed again through indolence.

So I am on the cusp of giving up on Kiggell not being a witness to the conditions at Passchendaele-my apologies for the obfuscation.

I accept without equivocation your statement on aviation deaths

I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed these discussions; and as usual have learned a lot on the way -my sincere thanks for your patience Mike

Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2474

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 2:53:50 PM
Earlier on in this thread I divided the Third Battle of Ypres into three equal parts, and noted that the third and final part of 35 days between the 9th October and the 12th November 1917 appeared from CWGC data to be the most expensive in terms of life.

This by itself is hardly of use unless I supply my own interpretation.

The charge of culpable persistence levied against Haig in his Flanders offensive is bolstered up by this arithmetic.

The previous year, on the Somme, the final third of the battle's 141 days - that is, the 47 days between early September and mid November 1916 - was the least expensive in lives.

Passchendaele might be seen as an anomaly in this respect : the continuance of the offensive being attributable to Haig's insistence, and, with it, the consequential loss of life thereby.

I am pleased that Mike has challenged the story of Kigell and his outburst : there is too much hyperbole and apocryphal legend that does not stand up to scrutiny.

But the figures tell me that an awful lot of British and Dominion blood was poured out in continuing an offensive which could - and, IMHO, should - have been terminated weeks or even months earlier.

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: 5934
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 3:16:32 PM
Yes Phil-Mike and I had a fair old chinwag over Kiggell among other issues-the mystery to me is how Kiggell was chosen to star in this so called myth- when either a)someone else saw this or b) nobody saw this or c)it was a wicked hoax.Anyway I have completely lost interest in this matter and am pleased to see you back on duty


Quote:
IMHO, should - have been terminated weeks or even months earlier.


and therein lies the rub-this was Haig's baby- he having fought and no doubt lied- to start this offensive-was not going to relinquish it lightly-so he wheedled the Canadians to finish the job for a further 16,000 casualties-does that cold fact not speak volumes about Douglas Haig. I've held the fort all day Phil and I'm off at 0430 tomorrow morning-so going off air for 28 days -See Ya.

ATVB

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

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


Posts: 5934
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/20/2017 10:51:10 AM
In retrospect the point of Passchendaele in this 3rd Battle of Ypres is really inexplicable.It can be said it took the pressure off the French after their bit of bother with mutineers; but I confess that I do not buy that-it is Haig's consuming passion to have something done which HE had set his mind on.

Haig had used up the very best Great Britain's infantry formations- the Guards,the Regular Divisions,the Scottish 9th,15th and 51st Divisions, the Welsh 38th Division ,the Irish 16th and 36th Divisions; and having used them up- then turned to the ANZAC and used them up too.All at a terrible cost in good men's lives-this tragedy was not missed by Lloyd George-who wanted Haig removed from post-so incensed was he at the profligacy of human life

Nevertheless not to be be outdone- Haig cajoled the Canadians to take on this Armageddon of mud and machine guns at a cost of a further 17000 casualties to win the ridge- which they did; and Haig lost interest at this juncture.

My God !! this man Haig was "acting as if he were either deranged or a cold blooded killer" who would sacrifice any number of men- to satisfy his lust for a victory.However it was not all doom and gloom -the GOM plumer pulled off quite and victory- a century ago- on the Menin Road AFAIK

REQUIUM FOR THE DEAD AND THE DISAPPEARED

The British lost an estimated 275,000 casualties at Passchendaele to the German's 220,000, making it one of the war's most costly battles of attrition.
.
Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2474

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/20/2017 1:04:51 PM
Jim,

Exactly one hundred years ago, this very day, Haig's British and ANZAC troops scored a significant success in the Battle of the Menin Road.

We must not allow the horrific memory of the culminating phase of Third Ypres - Passchendaele - to drown out the importance of this successful phase of the fighting.

Ludendorff was in dismay at the impact of the blow - to be followed on 26 September with another at Polygon Wood, and, on 4 October, with the most damaging of all at Broodseinde...one of Germany's " Black Days ".

I wonder how far these successes were almost pernicious , in so far as they encouraged persistence.

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: 5934
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/20/2017 1:30:37 PM
No Phil it was not all bad-as news arrived back at GHQ of the great success of the Broodseinde attack, the head of GHQ Intelligence went to the Second Army headquarters to discuss exploitation.


Quote:
Plumer declined the suggestion, as eight fresh German divisions were behind the battlefield, with another six beyond them. Later in the day, Plumer had second thoughts and ordered I Anzac Corps to push on to the Keiberg spur, with support from the II Anzac Corps.

The II Anzac Corps commander wanted to advance north-east towards Passchendaele village but the I Anzac Corps commander preferred to wait until artillery had been brought up and supply routes improved.


Was this good sense or a missed opportunity.?? Yes Phil- a run of successes was habit forming -especially to GHQ staff.

Regards

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

Phil andrade
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Posts: 2474

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/20/2017 3:22:28 PM
A new book on the battle : PASSCHENDAELE , Requiem for Doomed Youth, by the Australian Paul Ham is now on my shelves.

It's a journalistic account, based on interpretation and synthesis of secondary sources, bolstered up with a lot of wiki stuff, so those seeking primal archival research must look elsewhere....but it works.

The style is captivating , the evocation very compelling.

There are one or two errors ; but the power of anecdote and the seduction of the narrative outweighs the mistakes.

This is the joy of such works : the store of knowledge is not increased, but the emotions are fully engaged and the interest not only maintained, but flared up to a new pitch.

Recommended.

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

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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


Posts: 5934
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/21/2017 6:15:58 AM
Following the series of British successes-on 7 October, the German 4th Army again dispersed its troops in the front defence zone.

Reserve battalions moved back behind the artillery protective line and the Eingreif divisions were organised to intervene as swiftly as possible once an attack commenced, despite the risk of British artillery-fire.

Counter-battery fire to suppress the British artillery was to be increased, to protect the Eingreif divisions as they advanced.

Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2474

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/21/2017 7:22:10 AM
Ten years ago I was taken round the Passchendaele battlefield by a Belgian guide who really knew his stuff.

One of the things he told us which I keep wondering about was his assertion that the German pill boxes were served by MG crews who fired from the top of the structures....not from the inside, firing through the slits, which is what I had always assumed.

Apparently, the crews sought shelter from the bombardments by hunkering down within ; but when the enemy infantry came into view, they lugged their MGs outside and took up firing positions on the roof .

This does not accord with accounts that I have read elsewhere ....but I suppose it's important to remember that these heavy MGs were not easy to handle,had to be laboriously sited and required frequent cooling, and could not traverse quickly. They had to be carefully calibrated and were not amenable to the sort of mobility we associate with the Lewis Gun : perhaps this made the roof of the concrete structure the more sensible place to mount them.

If any MHOers know about this, please pitch in.

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: 5934
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/21/2017 7:47:45 AM
German machine-gunners were often housed inside pillboxes. With very thick walls, they were difficult to destroy by artillery barrages.

It was possible to fire through narrow slits in the wall.

However, during an enemy offensive, the machine-guns were placed either on the top, or at the side of the pillbox.


[Read More]

NB. I doubt that the machine guns used in those circumstances would be the particularly heavy type.Some of the guys will know

Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2474

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/21/2017 12:58:59 PM
Perhaps the Germans heaped sandbags on top of the pillboxes, to provide an additional protective rampart, and afford the MG teams some extra cover.

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: 5934
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/21/2017 1:05:42 PM
Both sides also used smaller machine-guns and posts. The British tended to use Bergmann machine-gun, rather than Maxims in these posts. Germans built machine-gun posts in large numbers all along the line at Ypres and Messines.

Machine-gunners were deeply hated by the infantry and they were more likely to be killed when captured than other soldiers.

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Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/21/2017 3:19:39 PM
German MG tactics were predicated on enfilade and interlocking fields of fire.

Despite their notorious reputation as infantry slayers, machine gun bullets killed fewer than half as many men as artillery projectiles.

Regards, Phil
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anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/22/2017 3:03:24 AM
The British plan for the Menin Ridge battle fought from 20–25 September, included more emphasis on the use of heavy and medium artillery to destroy German concrete pill-boxes and machine-gun nests, which were more numerous in the battle zones being attacked and to engage in more counter-battery fire.

The British had 575 heavy and medium and 720 field guns and howitzers, having more than doubled the quantity of artillery available at the Battle of Pilckem Ridge.

Aircraft were to be used for systematic air observation of German troop movements, to avoid the failures of previous battles, where too few aircraft crews had been burdened with too many duties and had flown in bad weather.

NB.It is often stated that most deaths on the Western Front were caused by artillery fire. But is there any evidence to support this statement?

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Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/22/2017 6:36:30 AM
Jim,

Evidence about ratios of casualties has to be based on wounds treated rather than deaths.

The evidence is overwhelming that artillery caused the preponderance of wounds : from more than fifty to seventy per cent overall, with variations according to theatre of operations and time. Plenty of medical statistics are available from official histories to support this.

This does, of course, raise the question as to how far ratios of wounds can be conflated with deaths....if a man is hit by MG fire, is he less likely to survive than a man hit by shrapnel ? Does this skew the ratios ?

I would have thought that high explosive and jagged, heavy shell fragments were more likely to kill a man outright than bullets....but there has to be an element of supposition in one's take on this.

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: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/22/2017 6:48:26 AM
Paul Ham, in his new book, offers a unique interpretation on the whys and wherefores of Passchendaele.

Basically, he sees it as the result of dysfunctional relationships between soldiers and politicians.

Lloyd George, thwarted in his aspiration for transferring British effort to Italy and/or the Balkans, and exposed as injudicious in espousing Nivelle's strategy, was determined to press his vendetta against Haig and his entourage.

Haig, mortified by his subservience to Nivelle and intent on pursuing his Flanders ambition, resorted more and more to relying on being told what he wanted to hear.

Haig's bitterness was understandable, but his psychological disposition regrettable. His motives for action were turning dangerously personal. A garrulous political monkey sat in judgement on his shoulder, waiting for him to fail. Haig would win this offensive and silence Lloyd George. How many young lives must be ruined or lost as a result of hasty decisions perverted into action by the smouldering hatred between two proud and wounded men ?

Page 187.

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: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/23/2017 4:22:26 PM
Today's Times newspaper carries a double page feature on tomorrow's elections in Germany, which the pundits think will go Angela Merkel's way.

There is no complacency, though, especially in view of the significant presence of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which could win up to 60 seats.

Many Germans, the article states, have been horrified by the words of the AfD co-candidate for chancellor, Alexander Gauland, who urged the nation to be proud of the actions of German soldiers in the two world wars.

This brings to mind the Lost Causers of the Southern United States, with their veneration of Confederate heroes.

But I have to say, on reading Paul Ham's book, that I, too, have been thinking about the sheer fighting prowess of those German soldiers who stood up to the overwhelming preponderance of material that the British Empire deployed against them one hundred years ago today in the Battle of the Menin Road ( 20-25 September 1917 ). Were I a German, whose grandfather had fought there, I would be tempted to heed the words of Gauland.

The odds facing those Germans were awful : for every shell their guns fired, the British fired four ; and these shells were vastly improved, with effective fuses that exploded on impact and enhanced the effect in qualitative as well as quantitative terms. The manpower arrayed against them was truly overwhelming...crack ANZAC and British troops - and South Africans - not only supported by a stupefying concentration of artillery, but also endowed with infantry trained in modern tactics of fire and movement, equipped with Lewis guns, rifle grenades and attributes of storm trooper fighting methods.

These German soldiers had been suffering from hunger, thirst, exhaustion and, to make the cup run over, a foul onslaught of intestinal illness caused by living in a putrid battlefield, surrounded by decomposing corpses and stagnant water in a field of shell holes. The relentless bombardments and the constant threat of gas must have made existence there all but unbearable.

By and large, British people are conditioned to think of Passchendaele as the ultimate martyrdom of the manhood of Britain and the Dominions in an appallingly futile and bloody series of battles.

This is all too understandable, and, to a degree, justifiable.

That the Germans managed to contain this monstrous offensive is a feature that compels more reflection and acknowledgement.

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: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/25/2017 11:18:42 AM
Haig, for Lloyd George, was a man out of his depth:(Extracts from GLG's Memoirs


Quote:
He was a second-rate Commander in unparalleled and unforeseen circumstances… He was not endowed with any of the elements of imagination and vision which determine the line of demarcation between genius and ordinary. And he certainly had none of that personal magnetism which has enabled great leaders of men to inspire multitudes with courage, faith and a spirit of sacrifice…
He was incapable of planning vast campaigns on the scale demanded on so immense a battlefield… When he had to fight battles in quagmires he had never seen and over an area extending to a hundred miles which he never did or could personally inspect, he was lost. (p.2014)

Joffre, Haig and Robertson had much in common… Patriotism, integrity, industry, study and some grain of experience were essentials of their high responsibility, but by no means the only attributes that leadership in such an immense undertaking demanded. There ought to have been initiative, resource, pliability, vision, imagination, aptitude to learn from experience, courage and skill to profit by, and not to persist in mistakes. In all these respects these men had grave deficiencies, and the world is suffering today from the results of their shortcomings. (870-1)


Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/25/2017 1:54:56 PM
Siegfried Sassoon, whose poetry famously depicted the horrors of trench warfare, mentioned the battle in his poem Memorial Tablet. Penned a month before the war's end in October 1918 and first published in his 1919 collection Picture-Show, the poem is narrated by a dead soldier.


Quote:
Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell -
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare;
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’...that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire


Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/26/2017 7:56:32 AM
Cyril Falls of 36 Division, contrasted his experience under Gough with the one his unit had under Plumer at Messines:

“The System of liaison was practised by the Second Army as in no other. General Harington’s car (he was Plumer's Chief of Staff) stopped at every door, and the cheerful young staff officers, who knew every communication trench on the Army front, who drank with company commanders in their front-line dug-outs before coming back to tea with a Brigadier, or with General [Oliver] Nugent [GOC 36th Ulster Division] at his Headquarters, formed a very real link between the Higher Command and the troops…

The difficulties at Ypres were infinitely greater than at Messines; that everyone recognised. But (there was a real difference in) the (level of) precision, care, and forethought (between Second and Fifth Armies). The private soldier felt a difference"

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jim.
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anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 9/29/2017 1:37:09 PM
MUD-it was unbelievable


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Jim
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