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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles    
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or not
Posted on: 11/17/2017 6:54:50 AM
There were many points of learning at the tactical level:

Intelligence about the newly-strengthened Geman positions was not available or given insufficient attention
No surprise was achieved; the blowing of mines well before the attack placed the enemy on the alert
Smoke screens were effective; cloud gas was not. Its behaviour proved unpredictable
The duration and weight of the British bombardment was insufficient to break the German wire and breastwork defences, or to destroy or suppress the front-line machine-guns German artillery and free movement of reserves were insufficiently suppressed
Trench layouts, traffic flows and organisation behind the British front line did not allow for easy movement of reinforcements and casualties
British grenades were of poor design and manufacture and were easily outranged by the enemy ones
It soon became impossible to tell precisely where British troops were; accurate close-support artillery fire was impossible; RFC observation was very limited due to poor weather
The New Army Divisions fought bravely but were clearly not yet trained to a sufficiently high fighting standard as a formation; they would need a period of familiarity with war conditions and could not be reliably deployed ‘straight off the boat’
The withdrawal of cookers to Divisional control was a disaster, with many men going hungry to battle.
The Lonng,Lommg Trail quote

Regards

Jim
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or not
Posted on: 11/17/2017 7:32:49 AM
Major-General Richard Hilton, at that time a Forward Observation Officer, said of the battle:

"A great deal of nonsense has been written about Loos. The real tragedy of that battle was its nearness to complete success. Most of us who reached the crest of Hill 70, and survived, were firmly convinced that we had broken through on that Sunday, 25th September 1915. There seemed to be nothing ahead of us, but an unoccupied and incomplete trench system. The only two things that prevented our advancing into the suburbs of Lens were, firstly, the exhaustion of the "Jocks" themselves (for they had undergone a bellyfull of marching and fighting that day) and, secondly, the flanking fire of numerous German machine-guns, which swept that bare hill from some factory buildings in Cite St. Auguste to the south of us. All that we needed was more artillery ammunition to blast those clearly-located machine-guns, plus some fresh infantry to take over from the weary and depleted "Jocks." But, alas, neither ammunition nor reinforcements were immediately available, and the great opportunity passed".

Regards

jim

— Richard Hilton
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George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or not
Posted on: 11/17/2017 9:27:55 AM
Haig felt that the terrain to the north of Lens was too open and flat.

But this was Joffre's plan with the Brits attacking to the north of Lens and the French from the south.

It was supposed to be a significant blow.

I am not sure why Haig decided to employ chlorine gas in this attack. I suppose that the German MG's which would have cut down the Tommies on that open approach would have had to deal with the gas.

But Sept. 25 wasn't a very good gas day at all. When the gas was supposed to be released, the air was still on some parts of the line.

I recall reading that in one area, the officer in charge of the gas cylinders released the gas even though the air was still. He wound up gassing a number of British soldiers. I don't have the number.


Jim, the quote from that officer regarding the fatigue that the reserves, the Jocks, felt was part of the problem. They were also late getting to the front and had just completed a long forced march just to get there.

Still, wasn't the initial attack pretty successful but as so often happened in the early days of the war, the British could not exploit the success and could not handle the counter attack by the Germans.

And where was the artillery during this attack? Was it sufficient in the number of guns or was the effectiveness of artillery fire just poor in 1915?

And the tally? 50,000 British casualties. Astounding.

We are aware of how much better the British and Commonwealth troops were in 1917-18.

So what do we think was learned from a battle like Loos?


Cheers,

George

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Posts: 5704

Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or not
Posted on: 11/17/2017 11:20:12 AM






Amazing how the names of the same towns and villages are repeated in so many battles.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Posts: 5704

Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or not
Posted on: 11/17/2017 11:28:17 AM
I believe that Loos was the last time that the Indian Expeditionary Force fought on the western front. They had suffered heavy losses.

Then they were shipped to other fronts.


anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or Not
Posted on: 11/17/2017 12:32:27 PM
During this time, little operational analysis is carried out. Many of the lessons of Loos are not learned, and many of the mistakes are repeated with uncanny similarity on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916 and through into 1917.I am of the opinion that the KaiserscHlact of 1918 brought about a new awareness along with many new machines, techniques and artillery technology==a very long wait indeed notwithtstsnding Canadian ingenuity.

Regards

Jim
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MikeMeech
UK
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Posts: 322

Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or Not
Posted on: 11/17/2017 1:37:55 PM

Quote:
During this time, little operational analysis is carried out. Many of the lessons of Loos are not learned, and many of the mistakes are repeated with uncanny similarity on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916 and through into 1917.I am of the opinion that the KaiserscHlact of 1918 brought about a new awareness along with many new machines, techniques and artillery technology==a very long wait indeed notwithtstsnding Canadian ingenuity.

Regards

Jim
--anemone

Hi

Quite a bit of 'operational analysis' did take place during this period and the rest of the war. 'Courage without Glory' ed. Spencer Jones has chapter 13 on the Battle of Loos by Brian Curragh, this includes 'Lesson Learned?' pages 385-389, it covers mainly the 7th and 9th Divisions which includes problems with communications (a problem that was very difficult to solve and was not completely solved by any army during WW1) and the need for a 'universal' bomb (grenade) and much else. On gas the BEF did not use gas in the 'same way' as they did at Loos again. The decision to try and use gas was probably correct (although the lack of wind caused problems) as BEF Intelligence correctly that the Germans had as yet not introduced thorough anti-gas training, POW interrogation indicated German soldiers were still equipped with a 'cotton pad' which had to be kept moist and many soldiers were poorly trained. This is 'surprising' since the Germans had introduced gas onto the battlefield and appear not to have taken protection methods 'seriously'!( see Palazzo, 'Seeking Victory on the Western Front', page 66)
The BEF also used 'deception' methods, 'Chinese attacks' and smoke to try and confuse the Germans with variations in 'success', this became quite common in later battles (see Davies 'Conceal, Create, Confuse' pages 87-93).
There were still artillery problems with limited numbers of heavy guns and still a lack of rounds. This made observation by aircraft important and there was a 'major' (for the time) air plan (see map WitA Vol.2 opposite page 125) in operation with aircraft involved in counter-battery fire and trench bombardment as well as bombing and tactical reconnaissance tasks, the RFC supplied forty Wireless receiving stations to artillery batteries (see WitA Vol. 2 page 126). However, as always, weather could hamper air operations, another problem that was never solved during WW1 or much later.
There were also attempts to try to follow the battle from the air with wireless equipped aircraft, troops on the ground were supposed to show cloth strips and use yellow smoke, for various reasons this appears not to have happened. Experiments were also undertaken to signal aircraft with a signalling lamp from the ground to both send information and receive it. Again this was a problem that was difficult to solve and improvements were continued throughout the war in procedures and equipment.
There was much else being thought about as well.

Mike

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or Not
Posted on: 11/17/2017 2:03:43 PM
Thank you very much Mike for the mountain of evidence pointing to improvements which for the layman such as I- are just not able to pick up on .Far be it for me to make an argument against such evidence; but for me the war virtually stood still till 1918.Of course there had to be improvement but were they tangible ??? I think that ,any of us p;ace too much emphasis on the failures and miss the successes.Again my thanks for your erudition.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or Not
Posted on: 11/17/2017 3:07:51 PM
Lessons were learned at Loos.

Sad to say, it appears that the Germans proved more adept at applying them .

Lossberg made a brilliant account of himself , working like a maniac to endow the German defence with the most lethal effectiveness.

This was a dreadful ordeal for the Germans, who had to deal with an immense Franco British superiority and break through in both Loos and Champagne on 25 September 1915.

The achievement of German soldiers in holding things together under this pressure is one of the underrated triumphs on the battlefields of that war .

Indeed, I’m tempted to suggest that Falkenhayn was seduced into thinking that his men were invincible, just as Robert E Lee admitted that he had been by the triumphs of his army before Gettysburg half a century earlier.

Perhaps the provenance of the battle of Verdun could be a sense of hubris that stemmed from German prowess displayed in that Artois Champagne fighting...in which case I must reconsider my statement that the Germans proved more adept at applying the lessons of September 25th 1915.

Incidentally, that day was the second worst day of the entire war for the British, judging by CWGC data.

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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Posts: 6103
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Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or Not
Posted on: 11/18/2017 4:21:41 AM
The twelve attacking battalions suffered 8,000 casualties out of 10,000 men in four hours. French had already been criticised before the battle and lost his remaining support in the government and army, because of the British failure and that he was responsible for poor handling of the reserve divisions.[16] French was replaced by Haig as Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in December 1915.

Casualties[edit]
British casualties in the main attack were 48,367 and they suffered 10,880 more in the subsidiary attack, a total of 59,247 losses of the 285,107 British casualties on the Western Front in 1915. J. E. Edmonds, the British Official Historian, gave German losses in the period 21 September – 10 October as c. 26,000 of c. 141,000 casualties on the Western Front during the autumn offensives in Artois and Champagne. In Der

Weltkrieg, the German official account, losses of the German 6th Army are given as 29,657 to 21 September; by the end of October losses had risen to 51,100 men and total German casualties for the autumn battle (Herbstschlacht) in Artois and Champagne, were given as 150,000 men.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or Not
Posted on: 11/18/2017 4:41:07 AM
Jim,

Those casualties you allude to - eight thousand out of ten thousand in twelve attacking battalions - were suffered on the 26th September, the second day of the battle.

This was one of the worst shambles of the war, with two British divisions being deployed too late after the wasted opportunity of the opening attack.

The British Official History estimates about 15,500 casualties for the first day, but evidence from CWGC registers suggests a significantly higher figure.

This was truly a Flowers of the Forest moment in history, with a uniquely high proportion of Scottish casualties.

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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Posts: 6103
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Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or Not
Posted on: 11/18/2017 4:56:35 AM
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST indeed Phil

By the time the attack was resumed, the Germans had also been reinforced. The British attack had lost the element of surprise and had no gas cover, so the German machine guns cut down the men from Kitchener's army in their thousands.

Battalions from every Scottish regiment fought in the Battle of Loos and suffered huge numbers of casualties. Of the 21,000 killed, over 7,000 were Scottish soldiers. Almost every town and village in Scotland was affected by the losses at Loos.

Regards

jim
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Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or Not
Posted on: 11/18/2017 5:53:22 AM
Let me reiterate that we must accord the Germans credit for containing this massive Entente offensive.

The French unleashed a truly mighty attack in Champagne that day, and also plied into the Artois to the south of the British at Loos.

More than that , the Germans were fighting enormous battles against the Russians at that time, as well as preparing a fatal onslaught against the Serbs.

Loos can only be properly appreciated when views against the backdrop of this crisis among the Allies.

Gallipoli was a failure, Bulgaria had come in to support the Central Powers, and the Franco British armies on the Western Front were under great pressure to attack and ease the burden.

The British high command understood only too well how unsuitable the ground was for such an attack, but the exigencies of coalition warfare could not be denied.

The Germans were profoundly shaken by the ferocity and scale of the Anglo French offensive, and they performed superbly against dreadful odds.

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: 6103
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or Not
Posted on: 11/18/2017 6:33:11 AM
Additionally many of its original members had become casualties and replacements were difficult to find. 1915 did not go much better, the BEF was still a minor player with only a relatively small number of divisions compared to the many in the French Army.

The culmination of several attacks by the BEF in 1915 was the attack in the Loos sector in September where in a mining area north of Arras-slag heaps greatly favouring the German defence, the largest British offensive of the war thus far took place.

Forced into an offensive in an area which as one senior commander put it was on 'most unfavorable ground', the BEF suffered heavy casualties and little material gain. Probably for these reasons the 1915 battles have been largely ignored and there has been a dearth of decent publications on Loos.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or Not
Posted on: 11/18/2017 8:14:59 AM
Two excelllent books about Loos have come to the fore in the last decade or so, one by Niall cherry and the other by Nick Lloyd .

Both highly 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
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6103
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: Battle of Loos--Lessons learned or Not
Posted on: 11/18/2017 8:28:24 AM
Oddly enough I sold my copy to a book dealer last year; and it was entitled as something to do with "Unfavouravle Ground".It was at a time when I started to realise that I would never read a book again and so it has proved.When I[ass there will several hundred books to dispose of -possibly fetching 40peach

Regards

Jim
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