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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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Phil andrade
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/10/2017 11:08:34 AM
A magazine I've received has been issued to commemorate the centennial of Passchendaele. One of the articles therein is based on the war diary of the 1st Battalion, the Prince of Wales's ( North Staffordshire ) Regiment ( 1/N Staffords ), on the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres ( Passchendaele ) 31 July 1917.

The Battalion recorded its casualties for one month in the Salient : 7 officers and 35 men killed ; 3 officers and 135 men wounded : a total of 180 casuaties. This does not seem too bad, does it , especially for an entire month ? It should be noted, however, that the toll on the officers was disproportionate, and, to make matters worse, the officers killed had included the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dugmore DSO, and his second in command, Captain G H Robinson ; and then Major Arthur Conway DSO, who had succeeded in command, was also killed. The intelligence officer and medical officer were both wounded, and the replacement intelligence officer was wounded shortly afterwards. The adjutant, Captain PD Harris, had escaped unscathed but it was apparent that his nerve was gone ; small wonder !

Apart from anything else, this demonstrates how commanding officers at battalion level not only shared risk, but took more than their fare share.


But here's the sting in the tail, that revelation that makes the impact .....this was not in the Battle of Passchendaele , but during the month before the battle commenced, in a so called quiet period !

This was in June, 1917, after the Battle of Messines, and the battalion was doing a tour of duty in what might be called routine operations in the Salient in the Mount Sorrel sector.

This, then, was what occupying the Salient meant. This is what Haig's men were faced with, just by being there.

The Germans, we are constantly told, remained on the defensive. But what kind of defensive was this, that was exacting such a toll even in quiet periods ?

And what were the options that the British high command had to contend with ?

To continue holding that salient was to condemn,every week, hundreds - no, thousands - of British and Dominion soldiers to constant death and wounds from the harassing fire of an enemy that was determined to inflict constant punishment even during periods of low key activity. There were plenty of British officers who argued, at the time and subsequently, that it was a monstrous waste of British blood to keep hold of such expensive real estate.

BUT

To abandon the salient was to relinquish the last areas of Belgian soil to an enemy that had, arguably, provoked a world war by invading Belgium in the first place.
Britain and the Empire had gone to war for that very reason. What message would it send out to the Allies - not to mention the enemy - if a place of such symbolic importance was abandoned ? Especially at a time when the fragility of the Russian and French allies was all too apparent.

Then there was another option : rather than stay put and endure that constant slaughter, push the enemy off that encircling rim of ridges, and, if possible, exploit this and clear the Belgian coast, and, maybe, Flanders itself, from the harsh occupation of Imperial Germany. Even the capture of the UBoat ports on the Belgian coast would suffice as an objective, given the loss of merchant tonnage to those enemy submarines.

The eminent success of the Messines attack was bound to increase appetite.

It does make you appreciate, doesn't it, that the strategy pursued by Haig was not prompted purely by ludicrous hubris, but by a compelling pressure that needed to be dealt with ?

Editing here : I should add that when this battalion did go into battle on 31 July 1917, its casualties that day amounted to 269 killed, wounded and missing from the 550 it carried into action.

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: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/10/2017 12:52:52 PM
Hi Phil,

Those losses taken just prior to the jump off for 3rd Ypres are indicative of the high risk situation that those men were in.

I am curious though.

Were the losses due to artillery and sniper fire or were the North Staffordshires engaging in multiple trench raids? Perhaps they were training for the raid within range of German artillery. Men were often lost that way too.

Trench raiding was a bone of contention at least with the Canadian soldier. Officers felt the need to keep the men sharp while the men saw little purpose in sneaking over just to get into a costly fire fight and then to return to the relative safety of the home trenches, perhaps with a prisoner but often to count losses.


Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/10/2017 1:28:41 PM
George -I should imagine that any Allied unit doing a non operational tour in the Salient- post Messines- would be "used" by the the enemy for all manner of target practice.Artillery,M/c guns and snipers-these particularly hunting officers.

As you have said- trench raiding was a dangerous trade and IMO -calculated lunacy.

I have searched the web for 1/N Staffs details; but nothing of any real significance or relevance found.

Regards

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

Phil andrade
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/10/2017 2:18:26 PM

Quote:
Hi Phil,

Those losses taken just prior to the jump off for 3rd Ypres are indicative of the high risk situation that those men were in.

I am curious though.

Were the losses due to artillery and sniper fire or were the North Staffordshires engaging in multiple trench raids? Perhaps they were training for the raid within range of German artillery. Men were often lost that way too.

Trench raiding was a bone of contention at least with the Canadian soldier. Officers felt the need to keep the men sharp while the men saw little purpose in sneaking over just to get into a costly fire fight and then to return to the relative safety of the home trenches, perhaps with a prisoner but often to count losses.


Cheers,

George
--George


George

Artillery fire did the damage, at least in the main part, as far as I can tell. Had trench raiding been featured , I think the article would have specified. One way or another, one quarter of the battalion's complement was killed or wounded without taking part in a major action. I'm attempting to extrapolate what the arithmetical implications are. I have read in one journalistic account of the Passchendaele Campaign -IN FLANDERS FIELDS, by Leon Wolff - that British casualties in the Salient were averaging one thousand per day before the Third Ypres battles started. I have to say that that seems a tall figure....but it must not be dismissed out of hand.

It makes me think that if you're losing that quantity of men doing nothing, you may as well try conclusions in an attempted break out. That's a crude simplification, but it might have merit.

The Germans, I suppose, were pragmatic about retention of ground, and abandoned the Somme region in early 1917 to better husband their manpower.

Maybe the French insistence to hold ground at Verdun was imprudent.

In a sense, one might liken the British stance at Ypres to that of the French at Verdun.

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: 8/10/2017 2:46:31 PM

Quote:


I have searched the web for 1/N Staffs details; but nothing of any real significance or relevance found.

Regards

Jim
--anemone



Jim,

The article stated that there was nothing particularly remarkable about the part played by the battalion on the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres.

Indeed, I sense that this was why it was chosen as a case study....to give an indication of how ubiquitous this experience was for the infantry battalions that served at Wipers.

On the big day itself, the Bn suffered about fifty per cent casualties : 269 from a strength of 550. A severe blow....but the other two battalions from the brigade, which took part in the same attack, took comparable or worse casualties : the 8/Queen's and the 7/Northamptons suffering 305 and 258 respectively.

George,

In answer to your question about the cause of the Bn's casualties during its tour in the " quiet " spell, it's significant that the Commanding officer and his second in command were both killed by shelling that hit their HQ ; and the succeeding Bn Commander was killed a few days later, again by shellfire falling on Bn Headquarters.

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: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/10/2017 6:57:41 PM
Thanks Jim and Phil. I suppose the only way to ensure a risk free environment was to be on leave.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/11/2017 3:25:50 AM

Quote:
I suppose the only way to ensure a risk free environment was to be on leave.
George

Or desert-however the desertion rate was at it's lowest in 1917 ie 7,41 per 1000 men at arms Previously it had been higher 1914=20.7,1916 9.19 and 1918 7.99 I must add that only a minority were caught=307 British Army and Commonwealth soldiers were "shot at dawn" after courts-martial for desertion and other capital offences during World War I.

Trench raiding
Trench raiding was encouraged by some elite units and much refined by the Canadians and Australians, was viewed by British military authorities as a means of reinforcing the 'offensive spirit' of front-line troops.

However the ordinary soldier had not much stomach for such attacks. As well as the dangers of taking part in them, there was the near certain risk of enemy retaliation afterwards.


Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/11/2017 11:43:48 AM
In the wake of the disastrous Passchendaele Offensive-there were a number of changes to the BEF in F/F from top down.

On the advice of Kiggell who had seen the state of the ground that the men were fighting in- FM Haig sacked his Chief Intelligence Officer Charteris-he was the man who told Haig all the information that he wanted to hear-he was heavily lambasted for his fabrications.(Leon Wolff)

General Plumer was sent to Italy to take command of the British contingent sent there to bail out The Italian Army-Rawlinson took over 2nd Army.

The hardliner General Gough was virtually in disgrace and now only commanded XIX Corps. He was ultimately sent to south of the Somme to plug the gap between VII Corps and the French.This however is a different story

The British Army in France was recovering from a major reorganisation and was significantly under strength as the Prime Minister Lloyd George, mistrusting the British commander Douglas Haig, held troops back in Britain just when they were about to face the Kaiserschlacht in March 1018

Regards

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

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/11/2017 3:02:42 PM
My maternal grandfather was wounded at Passchendaele. Sufficiently enough to be transported back to England where he was treated at a hospital in Blackpool. The nurse was a charming young welsh lady from Llanrwst of welsh and Manx background. He was shipped back just in time to be captured during the Spring Offensive. He escaped and spent the rest of the war hiding out in Belgium. At wars end he returned to England and looked up the charming welsh nurse who became my maternal grandmother.

So some good came of it.

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.

George
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/11/2017 4:19:05 PM
Good family story Trevor. Thanks

George

MikeMeech
UK
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/11/2017 4:59:54 PM

Quote:
My sincere thanks to both Mike and Phil for the excellent postscripts giving me much food for thought.

I rather fancy that you were right Phil re. the possible paucity of "attacking" aircraft at 3rd Ypres.

I have now learned that the the British poison gas was Yperite; but was in fairly short supply in 5th Army.

I understand that Passcghendaele Ridge was relinquished during Operation Georgette (KaIserSchlacht) in April 1918 to a rebuilt German 4th Army-the original adversary."Sic Transit Gloria !"

Phil-give us a realistic Butcher's Bill for Passchendaele

Regards

Jim
--anemone

Hi

Reference the 'paucity' of attacking aircraft, 'War in the Air Volume IV' page 201-202, has some of the statistics for RFC operations in the month of September 1917 sent by Haig to London. These include that the RFC undertook 226 bombing attacks by day and night dropping 7,886 bombs totalling 135 tons on enemy targets (the Germans dropped 969 bombs on targets within British lines). The RFC Corps squadrons helped range British artillery on 9,539 targets, mainly German batteries (the German aircraft ranged their guns on 743 targets). The RFC also exposed 14,678 photographic plates distributing 346,999 prints from those exposures. The two aircraft depots, working round the clock, standardized and issued 930 aeroplanes during September also reconstructing 116. It could be said that they were engaged in some work during the battle despite the weather.

Mike

Phil andrade
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 3:07:06 AM
Thanks Mike.

Those RFC figures astonish me : not in themselves, but in the margin over the enemy.

This was a huge preponderance.

The implications in terms of being the " eyes of the guns " are important.

How did the Germans cope with this material superiority ?

I think we need more focus on how this Flanders fighting impinged on the German High Command .

What comes to my mind is that old circus act when plates are spinning round and round on poles, and a poor fellow has to rush around frantically try and keep them all aloft and intact, as some of them teeter precariously, about to fall !

The Germans were still heavily engaged in a multi front war : Russia was obviously in dire trouble ; but the Kerensky Summer showed that its army was still large and supplied with guns and shells sufficient to launch an offensive. Romanians and Italians were not to be dismissed as foes. Above all, there was the Western Front ; and while Flanders was the main event there, the French were - despite their difficulties ( or even, perhaps , because of them ? ) - fighting with great effect in limited offensives. To make the cup run over, a Canadian diversion at Lens inflicted disproportionate damage.

The German achievement in holding things together under this pressure is something of a historical phenomenon : not only containing the Flanders offensive, but turning against the Russians, Romanians and Italians and inflicting enormous strategic defeats on them.

The final spasm on the Western Front - Cambrai - provides another example of German resilience and riposte.

Given this German success in not only holding its own, but also dealing out huge and fatal or near fatal blows, Haig's fixation that one more push in Flanders would bring Germany to her knees seems preposterously out of touch.

In the five months of war in 1914, German battle casualties on all fronts averaged 200,000 per month. In 1915 and 1916, they averaged 125,000 per month. In 1917, they dropped to 100,000 per month. The spring of 1918 allowed the Germans to deploy three and a half million men on the Western front and mass ten thousand guns and trench mortars against the British alone on the front of one offensive.

So much for Haig's attrition.

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: 8/12/2017 3:40:19 AM
The following figures are taken from the National Encyclopedia of the First World War and are at variance with yours Phil EXCEPT 1917 :-

Germany
1914=142,502
1915=628,445
1916=963,501
1917=1,227,273
1918=1,901,575

A considerable read

[Read More]


Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 4:33:00 AM

Quote:
The following figures are taken from the National Encyclopedia of the First World War and are at variance with yours Phil EXCEPT 1917 :-

Germany
1914=142,502
1915=628,445
1916=963,501
1917=1,227,273
1918=1,901,575

A considerable read

[Read More]


Regards

Jim
--anemone


Jim,

Those are cumulative totals to each year's end .... not a total for each year ( except for 1914), and they are for DEATHS only. The figure for 1914 is understated by more than 100,000, with them being subsumed into the 1915 figure.

Sorry, this is getting a bit technical.

Here's a rough and ready summary of seven million German battle casualties, year by year :

1914: 1,000,000

1915 : 1,500, 000

1916: 1,500,000

1917 : 1,200, 000

1918 : 1,800, 000

Total: 7,000,000

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Posts: 2603

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 5:07:37 AM
Reflecting on what I've written above, I want to put Passchendaele into perspective: for the British Commonwealth, it dominates the year 1917, accounting for roughly one third of all battle casualties on all fronts .

For Germans, that was just one episode- albeit a testing one - that accounted for one sixth of the nation's battle casualties in that momentous year.

The statistical dimensions reveal the extent of Haig's fixation, and the delusion within .

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: 8/12/2017 5:13:20 AM
Sorry mate-jumped the gun there I fear.I never in my wildest dreams thought that 54.6% of the 13 million Germans in arms became casualties-it is staggering!!! I do hope that I have read the text accurately this time.I now wonder what proportion of all British and Colonials became casualties ??
Going for the ton

Regards

jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 6:49:10 AM
Jimmy what's this British and COLONIALS all about, my friend.

That's the sort of condescension that caused the Canadians, Aussies and Kiwis to grind their back teeth.

We're always watching for it. It seeps into the conversation. "So that's what they think of us".


From the far reaches of the Empiah, I remain,

Your humble colonist,


George

anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 7:23:02 AM
Geez George- I do sometimes get awfully mixed up differentiating from Empire (now redundant) Commonwealth, Dominion and Colonials-they have been collectives for so long.

I do know that Canada remains a Dominion; but talking strictly in WW1 parlance-it is too easy to lump Empire, Commonwealth and Dominion together and say Colonials.

I "think" you are pulling my leg; but I stand corrected. Won't happen again Sar-standing at attention- Sar !!!

PS-I don't know who is daftest; but probably me.

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 8:02:10 AM
I am pulling your leg Jim.


Quote:
I do know that Canada remains a Dominion;


We never use Dominion anymore though technically the term has never been rescinded from the constitution.

When 4 British colonies decided to Confederate to become Canada, the Fathers of Confederation wanted to call the new country the Kingdom of Canada.

Britain said no, that that would raise the ire of the Americans to the south.

So Dominion it was and it was mentioned in the British North America Act, the document that officially founded Canada.

But the Statute of Westminster of 1937 affirmed Canada's independence in foreign policy.

In 1982, we repatriated our original constitution, the BNA Act and added the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Nowhere in the new Constitution Act of 1982 or in the Charter does the word "Dominion" appear. But the old BNA is a part of the Constitution Act statute so technically, the word is still there.

But are we a Dominion in the old sense of the word? Absolutely not. Fully independent.

The word smacks too closely of colonial control.

Thank you for reading my long winded explanation.


anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 8:23:32 AM
So George- given your Independence-Canada is now a self governing autonomous state- is there any "sort of connection" left with the UK-the Queen perhaps.????

Regards

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

anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 8:50:16 AM
British/-----Mobilised--K/DOW--Wounded-MIA/POW TOTAL CAS
Empire
--- 8,904,908,371.2,090,212.191,652.-3,190,235

ie. Approx 38.3% of the total mobilised became casualties.

Regards

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

George
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 9:30:41 AM

Quote:
So George- given your Independence-Canada is now a self governing autonomous state- is there any "sort of connection" left with the UK-the Queen perhaps.????

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Of course, Elizabeth ll is our head of state.

That is fine with anyone who is a royalist in this country. But we have a quarter of the population who are French speakers and would likely not agree.

And there are thousands who emigrated here from countries that resented British colonial rule.

The divide is most noted when new Canadians are asked to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen. That is considered repugnant to them.

Old time Canadians are sometimes in agreement but more often would tell the new people that this is our way, live with it.

The Queen's status doesn't really affect us at all. It is a part of our history however and that is the bone of contention between those who would do away with her as head of state and those who wish to maintain the historical connection.

There are a couple of symbolic links with GB and many would like to see those eliminated because they are vestiges of a former colonial past.

example:

The Queen's Privy Council for Canada.

It is a group that is appointed in Canada by the Queen's representative, the Governor General. Among the members are former cabinet members, former GG's and honoured citizens.

The Privy Council (for short) is supposed to advise the Queen on matters relevant to Canada.

They almost never meet and never in the whole. About the only time that they would come together is to discuss the advent of a new monarch or some sort of discussion related to a request for a royal marriage in Britain. You know, let's ask the Commonwealth what they think of this marriage.


Quote:
The last formal gathering of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada was in 1981. The Privy Council was asked to give its formal consent to the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer.


It is a symbolic link as I said but serves little purpose and I do not know whether the Privy Council members get paid.


Jim, I don't mind discussing all of this but I note that we are on the Passchendaele thread and I fear that I am diverting us down an irrelevant path.

I do appreciate your interest, however.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 10:01:31 AM
Diversions -the whole question arose via a slip of nomenclature by me and you have set matters right-"Alles in ordnung mein freund"

Regards

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

MikeMeech
UK
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 10:52:31 AM

Quote:
Thanks Mike.

Those RFC figures astonish me : not in themselves, but in the margin over the enemy.

This was a huge preponderance.

The implications in terms of being the " eyes of the guns " are important.

How did the Germans cope with this material superiority ?



Regards, Phil


--Phil andrade


Hi

The 'margin over the enemy' is not due on the whole to 'material superiority'. The Allied air assets from the Lys to the sea was 508 British aeroplanes (230 single-seat fighters), 200 French (about 100 single-seaters) and 40 Belgian aircraft, a total of 748 aeroplanes (330 fighters). There was also 104 RNAS aircraft in the Dunkirk area. By the 31st July the German Fourth Army had 600 aircraft, one third being single-seat fighters (not including German naval air units in the area). Not all the Allied aircraft or RNAS aircraft would be always available to fight over the battlefield they would have other tasks also to perform. In single-seat fighters the Allies had a superiority 3 1/2 to 2, although the British fighters were also performing ground attack missions which were rare operations for German single-seaters. (figures from War in the Air Volume IV', page 141-142).
One of the main differences is in how the aircraft were used. To enable the artillery aircraft (and 'Corps' operations) to operate more effectively the RFC operated in an 'offensive' way going quite a distance over German lines and engaging the enemy there, this could result in 'high' losses, however, throughout the war this enabled the air support operations of the RFC to do what was needed most of the time, as seen by the figures in my previous post. The German fighters rarely crossed the Allied lines in any depth and therefore did not provide as much protection to their artillery and other support aircraft (a policy not repeated by the Luftwaffe fighter arm during WW2). This is one of the reasons less artillery missions were flown by the Germans. The German fighter tactic did enable the pilots to achieve 'high scores', however, it could be argued that it provided less support to the troops on the ground overall and probably nor a 'war winning' tactic. That appears to have been agreed with by the Luftwaffe as, on the whole, they did not repeat the tactic in WW2.

Mike

anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 1:43:38 PM
Cracking post Mike -could you please show us the types of aircraft flown, both Allied and German; and the number of each type-a BIG ask I know; but it will indicate where the strengths and weaknesses were.eg were the British bomber DH types and the German fighters Fokker, Albatross and Pfalz ???

I had a great uncle (my GF 's cousin) who flew SE5 aircraft for 84 Sqdn RFC-AFAIK- in 1917 (12 confirmed kills and a double MC)-he survived the war.

Regards

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

Phil andrade
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 2:11:09 PM
Yes, let me second Jim's approval of your post, Mike.

I had not looked beyond the huge disparity in bombs dropped and battery sightings etc : this speaks of a more intense exploitation of available resources , rather than a simple preponderance .

My GF was a motor bike dispatch rider in the RFC, and regaled me with many anecdotes.

He was taken up by a friend in an RE8, and flew over German lines.

That's what he told me.

My other GF a Welshman - was a chaplain in France, but never divulged much, except to tell me how shocked he was at the incidence of venereal disease among the troops.

Being on leave was not as risk free as George suggests !

His brother took a bullet through the arm at Mametz Wood in July 1916.

When he recovered, he was sent to East Africa, having been commissioned in the King's African Rifles.

The Welsh division participated in the opening attack at Third Ypres.

The name Passchendaele will always be associated with another Welshman : David Lloyd George.

He devoted an inordinate amount of his memoirs in pursuit of lambasting Haig for fighting that battle. The polemic is so venomous that one has to suspect that the Welsh Wizard sought to shift any blame from himself and find a safe scapegoat.

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: 8/12/2017 2:30:07 PM
DLG Talking about his reservations about the Passchendaele attack, He writes:


Quote:
Ought I to have vetoed it?... Ought I not to have resigned than acquiesce in this slaughter of brave men? I have always felt there are solid grounds for criticism in that respect. My sole justification is that Haig promised not to press the attack if it became clear that he could not attain his objectives by continuing the offensive.
(p.2036-7)

Just how true was the statement re. Haig's promise to halt the attack given that the objectives could not be attained-we shall never know-this was written after his death.

Regards

Jim

---------------
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Phil andrade
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/12/2017 4:08:24 PM
Jim,

Yes, indeed...written after the death of the man he sought to condemn.

Compare this with his protege, Winston Churchill : he had been an outspoken critic of the Passchendaele strategy - and of the Somme - at the time. He published his criticism of Haig's war when the latter was still alive. He didn't pull any punches, but he gave full and proper acknowledgement to the achievements of Douglas Haig, giving a much fairer and less toxic legacy to historians to chew over.

Haig and Churchill retained cordial relations, despite the fact that Haig was unhappy about Churchill's rendition.

And, significantly, Churchill declared that - when he came to reflect on the Great War as the second conflict approached - he realised that Haig had done a far better job than his World Crisis critique had allowed for.

He never relinquished his detestation of the Passchendaele saga, but he balanced it with an equanimity that the Welsh Wizard failed to exhibit.

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: 8/13/2017 3:39:23 AM
Reflecting upon the fact that – although Haig knew very well in January 1918 that the Germans were massing to attack on the Third and Fifth Armies – he did not take steps to reinforce them (see pages 1704-5), Lloyd George deduces:


Quote:
Haig’s action is unaccountable. History can recall many cases of men in great positions who have been known to do inexplicable things in a great emergency… It is difficult to find any favourable explanation for Haig’s extraordinary behaviour towards the Fifth Army… [Haig had been forbidden to continue his Passchendaele campaign and] constitutionally stubborn men such as Haig are apt to carry resentment so far into the realm of reluctance as to thwart and defeat the odious command and to punish with failure those who issued it. (pp.1706-7)


Here I get the impression that Gough and 5th army were going to suffer the full Weight of Operation Michael despite being undermanned and overstretched-which of course was exactly what did happen and Gough was sacked and sent home. Haig was vindictive

Regards

Jim
---------------
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Phil andrade
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/13/2017 3:57:03 AM

Quote:
DLG Talking about his reservations about the Passchendaele attack, He writes:


Quote:
Ought I to have vetoed it?... Ought I not to have resigned than acquiesce in this slaughter of brave men? I have always felt there are solid grounds for criticism in that respect. My sole justification is that Haig promised not to press the attack if it became clear that he could not attain his objectives by continuing the offensive.
(p.2036-7)

Just how true was the statement re. Haig's promise to halt the attack given that the objectives could not be attained-we shall never know-this was written after his death.

Regards

Jim

--anemone


The three big blows of Menin Road Ridge ( September 20th ), Polygon Wood ( September 26th ) and Broodseinde ( October 4th ) came when the weather improved, and were perhaps tantalising enough in their results to encourage continuation.

The subsequent and culminating phase of Poelcapelle and Passchendaele were dismal and notorious, with the rain and mud closing in and, literally, smothering the battle.

This final month of fighting, between 9th October and 12th November, was unspeakable and horribly expensive .

It's understandable that Haig has been blamed for continuing. He would have done better to draw a close after Broodseinde, ending on a relative " high ".

Some have said, though, that it was imperative to push on and secure Passchendaele , because the prospect of facing winter under the shadow of that ridge was simply unbearable. Do we have a form of mission creep here ? But, of course, Passchendaele had been the initial objective for the first attack at the end of July....

So the Canadians were put into the battle, and did what was asked of them.

It should not be forgotten that in the October fighting for Passchendaele , before the Canadians were sent in, the New Zealand division was deployed in a particularly disastrous action, and lost thousands of men. In terms of loss of life, this remains the worst day in New Zealand's history.

Its effects were still extant a generation later, when Bernard Freyberg insisted that the Abbey at Monte Casino be bombed. As a New Zealand commander, he had not forgotten what had happened that day in October 1917. When challenged as to the reasons for that controversial and futile bombing of the Abbey, his replied with one word .....Passchendaele .

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

MikeMeech
UK
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Posts: 322

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/13/2017 4:51:45 AM

Quote:
Cracking post Mike -could you please show us the types of aircraft flown, both Allied and German; and the number of each type-a BIG ask I know; but it will indicate where the strengths and weaknesses were.eg were the British bomber DH types and the German fighters Fokker, Albatross and Pfalz ???

I had a great uncle (my GF 's cousin) who flew SE5 aircraft for 84 Sqdn RFC-AFAIK- in 1917 (12 confirmed kills and a double MC)-he survived the war.

Regards

Jim
--anemone

Hi

The 'Development of German Warplanes in WW1' by Jack Herris contains the official German figures for type available on certain dates, these are a totals for all Theatres. For 31 October 1917 we have:

D-Type (Biplane fighters)- 1224, Mainly Albatros D.III (446) and D.V (526). The next highest type was the Pfalz D.III (145). There were 17 Fokker Dr.I Triplanes.

C-Type (Armed two-seat Biplane) used for 'supporting the ground forces' tasks - 1821, mainly DFW C.V (901), Rumpler C.IV (225) and LVG C.V (219).

G-Type (Twin-Engine bombers) - 116 of all types.

Mike

Phil andrade
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/13/2017 4:53:47 AM

Quote:
Reflecting upon the fact that – although Haig knew very well in January 1918 that the Germans were massing to attack on the Third and Fifth Armies – he did not take steps to reinforce them (see pages 1704-5), Lloyd George deduces:


Quote:
Haig’s action is unaccountable. History can recall many cases of men in great positions who have been known to do inexplicable things in a great emergency… It is difficult to find any favourable explanation for Haig’s extraordinary behaviour towards the Fifth Army… [Haig had been forbidden to continue his Passchendaele campaign and] constitutionally stubborn men such as Haig are apt to carry resentment so far into the realm of reluctance as to thwart and defeat the odious command and to punish with failure those who issued it. (pp.1706-7)


Here I get the impression that Gough and 5th army were going to suffer the full Weight of Operation Michael despite being undermanned and overstretched-which of course was exactly what did happen and Gough was sacked and sent home. Haig was vindictive

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Gough was sacked because Lloyd George and Derby insisted.

Haig was under pressure from politicians.

He was not vindictive to Gough ; he was unhappy about dismissing him, and sought to put him back in command of a reserve army.

Hubert Gough was the scapegoat .

If vindictiveness played a part in his downfall, it stemmed elsewhere from Haig.


Editing here : Jim, I've just taken a look at the main wiki article on Gough. It's the best general summary of a military commander that I've ever seen on Wikipedia...suggest that you give it a brief look. It gives full countenance to all the arguments: Gough's reputation is subject to multiple interpretations.

Hubert's brother, Johnnie, had been a great favourite of Haig's, and had been mortally wounded in early 1915. Haig sought to replace him in his affections by nurturing the career of Hubert...so it's been suggested.

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: 8/13/2017 6:24:49 AM
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
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/13/2017 7:45:27 AM

Quote:
Ahead of the publication of the 1918 volume, Gough dined twice with Lloyd George and his historical adviser Liddell Hart. Gough was initially impressed by the former Prime Minister's charisma, and was almost persuaded that he had had nothing to do with his sacking in April 1918, until he remembered that both Esher and Birkenhead had told him the truth years earlier.

Lloyd George, who may well have been keen to appease a potential critic, eventually sent Gough a letter (described as "carefully worded" by Farrar-Hockley) claiming that new facts had come to his attention since that date, and admitting that Gough had been "let down" and that "no General could have won that battle"
General Sir Hugh Gough Biog.

Yes it is messy- but then again what else would it be.??? So much chicanery and covering up- plagued Gough from 1917 to 1937.The last line of the blog begs the question was he meant to win???


Regards

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

Phil andrade
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/13/2017 11:15:13 AM
The name Liddell Hart is a red rag to a bull for those who seek to protect Haig's reputation.

My eyes pricked up when I saw that passage. So LH was DLG's historical adviser ?

Now the dots begin to join up.

I really don't know what to make of Haig.

But if I had to choose one person's assessment of Haig's performance, that person would NOT be Lloyd George.

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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Posts: 6103
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/13/2017 11:42:13 AM

Quote:
I really don't know what to make of Haig.


Well phil-I have and I have nailed my colours to the mast- on the above issue- and for me there is no shifting


Quote:
But if I had to choose one person's assessment of Haig's performance, that person would NOT be Lloyd George.


Nor me neither Phil-more slippery than an eel that one. However I have to say- that I am astonished at what I found after turning over a few stones-the bloody intrigue and the "diving for cover",the sackings tp placate higher authorities- even the King- via an envoy- refused permission for Gough to publish his side of this murky story.I find the whole business quite sickening.Much rather be in the trenches with the fighting men

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/13/2017 2:05:40 PM
RFC IN 1917

To support the Battle of Arras beginning on 9 April 1917, the RFC deployed 25 squadrons, totalling 365 aircraft, a third of which were fighters (scouts).

The British lost 245 aircraft with 211 aircrew killed or missing & 108 as prisoners of war. The German Air Services lost just 66 aircraft from all causes.

By the summer of 1917 at 4rd Battle of b/[] the introduction of the next generation of technically advanced combat aircraft (such as the SE5, Sopwith Camel and Bristol Fighter) ensured losses fell and damage inflicted on the enemy increased.

Close support and battlefield co-operation tactics with the British Army were further developed by November 1917, when low-flying fighter aircraft co-operated highly effectively with advancing columns of tanks and infantry during the Battle of Cambrai.

Despite the above- 1917 saw 2,094 RFC aircrew killed in action or missing.

GERMAN aIR sERVICE-1917

1917 Fokker D.I and D.II's were now swinging the pendulum back in the German Empire's favour with the single much more deadly IMG 08 gun. Then came the Fokker D.III with twin IMG 08 guns and the pendulum became a bloodbath for ground forces and the RFC ["Bloody April"].

The Allies adopted the same twin machine gun and set to work on reducing airframe vulnerabilities. They came in the form of the R.E.8 and F.K.8 modest enhancements, not stunning, but none the less more resilient to direct hits.

Then came the superb Bristol F.2b, Sopwith Camel and SE5 fighters and the Allies once again regained air superiority.

Regards

jim
---------------
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MikeMeech
UK
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Posts: 322

Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/13/2017 4:30:01 PM

Quote:
RFC IN 1917

To support the Battle of Arras beginning on 9 April 1917, the RFC deployed 25 squadrons, totalling 365 aircraft, a third of which were fighters (scouts).

The British lost 245 aircraft with 211 aircrew killed or missing & 108 as prisoners of war. The German Air Services lost just 66 aircraft from all causes.

By the summer of 1917 at 4rd Battle of b/[] the introduction of the next generation of technically advanced combat aircraft (such as the SE5, Sopwith Camel and Bristol Fighter) ensured losses fell and damage inflicted on the enemy increased.

Close support and battlefield co-operation tactics with the British Army were further developed by November 1917, when low-flying fighter aircraft co-operated highly effectively with advancing columns of tanks and infantry during the Battle of Cambrai.

Despite the above- 1917 saw 2,094 RFC aircrew killed in action or missing.

GERMAN aIR sERVICE-1917

1917 Fokker D.I and D.II's were now swinging the pendulum back in the German Empire's favour with the single much more deadly IMG 08 gun. Then came the Fokker D.III with twin IMG 08 guns and the pendulum became a bloodbath for ground forces and the RFC ["Bloody April"].

The Allies adopted the same twin machine gun and set to work on reducing airframe vulnerabilities. They came in the form of the R.E.8 and F.K.8 modest enhancements, not stunning, but none the less more resilient to direct hits.

Then came the superb Bristol F.2b, Sopwith Camel and SE5 fighters and the Allies once again regained air superiority.

Regards

jim
--anemone

Hi

I not sure why you have mentioned Fokker D.I, D.II and D.III as being responsible for 'swinging the pendulum' back to the Germans, these aircraft were mediocre at best and not produced in great numbers. The best German fighters were the Albatros series D.I, D.II and D.III over this period. On 31 December 1916 there were 4 Fokker D.I, 68 D.II and 34 D.III. For the Albatros there were 39 D.I, 214 D.II and 13 D.III on this same date. By the 28 February 1917 there were 5 Fokker D.I, 49 D.II and 7 D.III. Albatros fighters on this date were 28 D.I, 150 D.II and 137 D.III. The Fokker products at this time were inferior to the Albatros series, it was these latter aircraft that created a better situation for the Germans although they still did not fight for air supremacy over allied lines and on the whole failed in preventing the RFC adequately undertaking their tasks for the ground troops despite their high losses. It was not just due to new allied aircraft that the German fighters became less effective after 'Bloody April' the Germans had problems continuing to fight at the high intensity of that month, even MvR had to go on leave!

Mike

anemone
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 4:06:07 AM
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
---------------
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Phil andrade
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Re: 1917-Passchendaele-"A Sad Drawing Down of the Blinds"
Posted on: 8/14/2017 5:07:22 AM
The last phase of the Passchendaele fighting that is most associated with the dismal culmination at Passchendaele itself might fairly be said to have started on 9 October with the battle of Poelcapelle, and to have ended on 12 November when the Canadian corps consolidated its capture of the notorious village.

This was a period of thirty five days : exactly one third of the 105 days officially ascribed to the Third Battle of Ypres.

More than one third of the deaths that CWGC record in Belgium during that period of 105 days can be attributed to those last thirty five days. This strikes me as an indicator of the evil reputation of the battle : the last phase not only coincided with the most ghastly conditions, it also entailed a loss of life that exceeded, on a daily average, that of the first thirty five day period.

I thought this worthy of mention : most such offensives on the Western Front were characterised by an initial phase that cost the highest casualty rate of the whole battle ....they then faded away into fighting on a rather smaller scale as local objectives defined outcomes.

In this sense, Passchendaele differed, with the last third of the battle being even more lavish of life than the first.

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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