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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles
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anemone
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5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/30/2018 9:15:57 AM
In his 1998 book "The First World War", Keegan writes in the chapter on the March Offensive on the 5th Army's performance...."Even though some British Battalions had given their all......they were the exception....The loss of ten infantry Lieutenant-Colonels killed testifies to the desperate fight put up by some units; but it is also evidence of the degreI'd be intere3stedto knoe which units DID NOT fighte of disorganisation that it required commanding officers to place themselves in the front-line and, by setting an example to their stricken soldiers, pay the supreme sacrifice. .I presume he is referrinfg to Lt Col Elstobb on Manchester Hill-this unit did fight

Well-prepared units do not lose their senior officers in such numbers, even in the circumstances of a whirlwind enemy offensive, unless there has been a collapse of morale at the lower level....

As a generalisation I do not accept Keegan's premise-do you????? I would also be interested to know of units that did not fight

Regards

Jim."
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BWilson

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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/30/2018 11:12:43 AM
 In general, I doubt the premise. The Germans took heavy officer losses throughout the Second War, but it would be hard to argue that was because their morale had 'collapsed'.

Cheers,

BW
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anemone
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/30/2018 11:25:07 AM
Thankss Bill

Men who fight hard and inflict heavy casualties on attackers often doom themselves to extreme execution; only then they may eventually stop fighting and consider surrender.This possibility is increased greatly where a position is completely overrun/taken by storm

Regards

Jimr
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George
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/30/2018 11:35:27 AM
I'm a bit confused Jim. Is your concern that many 5th army units were not deployed, or simply did not fight? Is that Keegan's suggestion.

Gough's 5th Army was in a difficult position covering miles of front with insufficient numbers, wasn't it? They were overly extended past St. Quentin at the behest of the French.

I think that the British defensive posture had a lightly defended front and then battle zones. The Germans weren't initially successful in all of those zones so something was being done right I think.

Jim, I think that the last part of the Keegan quote was missing. It stopped at the word degree.

Do you have the time to complete it so that I may understand his opinion? I get the gist but I would like to read it.

Cheers,

George


anemone
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/30/2018 11:51:40 AM
Geoge-as requested I think
Quote:


Even though some British Battalions had given their all......they were the exception....The loss of ten infantry Lieutenant-Colonels killed testifies to the desperate fight put up by some units; but it is also evidence of the degree of disorganisation that it required commanding officers to place themselves in the front-line and, by setting an example to their stricken soldiers, pay the supreme sacrifice. Well-prepared units do not lose their senior officers in such numbers, even in the circumstances of a whirlwind enemy offensive, unless there has been a collapse of morale at the lower level.....


Regards

Jim"
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George
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/30/2018 2:21:59 PM
Thanks Jim,

Did Keegan acknowledge that length of the front assigned to the 5th Army was too long for the number of troops available?

Cheers,

George

MikeMeech
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/30/2018 3:23:50 PM

Quote:
Thanks Jim,

Did Keegan acknowledge that length of the front assigned to the 5th Army was too long for the number of troops available?

Cheers,

George
--George


Hi

Keegan covers a whole range of 'problems' that faced the Fifth Army on pages 424 - 427. However, as it is a 'general' book on WW1 it does not go fully into the actual fighting situation (there are whole books on that subject) so can be rather 'simplistic' at times due to the lack of space.

Mike

George
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/30/2018 4:17:53 PM
Thanks Mike. I obviously have not read the book.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/31/2018 3:23:41 AM
Keegan does acknowledge that the British Fifth Army was handicapped by factors outside of its control. Namely, it was, numerically, the weakest Army in the BEF. Its soldiers had suffered grevious losses in the previous year's Ypres Battle and most of the survivors had not had adequate rest or leave.

Its commander, Hubert Gough, was already at that stage of the war, undergoing serious criticism for his conduct and was regarded as perhaps Haig's least-talented or able General.

Another serious problem was the recent re-organisation of the 5th Army, made necessary largely by the emerging shortage of manpower, in There was also the matter of which each Division's allocation of 12 Battalions was reduced to nine.There was also the disproportionate length of front 5th Army had to defend

I am coming around to the conclusion that 5th Army were intended to be the "Fall Guys"

Regards

Jim
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Michigan Dave
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/31/2018 7:31:52 AM

Quote:
 In general, I doubt the premise. The Germans took heavy officer losses throughout the Second War, but it would be hard to argue that was because their morale had 'collapsed'.

Cheers,

BW
--BWilson






Hi Bill,

I also think that the German Army's moral had to take a hit considering all the factors going against it,

It had to effect the casualty counts?

good point,
MD
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/31/2018 8:36:01 AM
Dave I would think that morale would have been pretty high until the supply lines were overstretched and it became clear that the war was not going to end with this push.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 1/31/2018 9:32:08 AM
Many of the disbanded Battalions were in the Fifth Army and therefore all of the remaining units now had hundreds of new rankers, officers and staff joining them, all men who did not know each other and had never fought together before.

The lengthy process of re-organising the Army into a co-hesive fighting force was still not completed by March, not helped by Gough's plodding Administrative leadership.

The 5th Army had only recently moved into the sector when the March Offensive began and many of the trenches, recently vacated by the French, were in a poor state.

Gough was short of labourers for the work of improving his defences and many of his 40,000 workmen were recruited Chinese and Italians and too many of them were employed on making and repairing roads behind the lines. By the time the Germans struck, the 5th Army's trench-line was far from ready. It didn't help that the British had not yet had time to get to know the territory they were defending.

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/1/2018 3:39:28 AM
Casualties
Although the Germans had gained over 1,000 square miles of Allied-held territory in a few days, the casualties suffered by the Germans is recorded as 31,000 killed, 20,000 missing and 190,000 wounded.

The German offensive resulted in 160,000 5th Army casualties killed or wounded and 90,000 men taken prisoner

By the end of Operation Michael the German troops were generally dispirited and disorganized.

Regards


Jim
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phil andrade
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/1/2018 3:53:08 AM

Quote:
 In general, I doubt the premise. The Germans took heavy officer losses throughout the Second War, but it would be hard to argue that was because their morale had 'collapsed'.

Cheers,

BW
--BWilson



No one - IMHO - offers us a better general survey of the casualties of the Great War than Winston Churchill.

He made it his business to investigate without fear and favour : he did, of course, have a dog in the fight : it being his contention that his strategic thinking - as exemplified by Gallipoli- offered the means of achieving great results without incurring the disproportionate casualties that were being suffered for negligible gains on the Western Front. With that caveat, his rendition is superb.

In his analysis of the German offensive of March and April 1918, he makes some especially pertinent comments that throw light on what we're discussing here, particularly in regard to German officers.

Something dreadful happened to the German officer corps in the struggle against the British in March and April 1918.

What Churchill does is draw our attention to the ratio of officer casualties to those of the enlisted men. This is often cited as an indicator of morale. It also suggests that, in an all out offensive, the officer will be more conspicuous than usual, with fatal results.

The Germans deployed a far smaller number of officers - in relation to men - than did the British. Probably only half as many....if the British used one officer for every thirty men, the Germans would use one for sixty. I suspect that the German NCO played a very prominent role in taking the burden here.

The casualty figures tell an interesting story. Throughout their great offensives of 1916 and 1917 - at the Somme, Arras and Passchendaele - the British suffered casualties with a ratio of one officer for every twenty men. In the same period , from July 1916 to the end of 1917, the Germans sacrificed one officer for every forty two men. Now, in this terrific and desperate fighting of March and April 1918, when the Germans went all out on the attack, there was a remarkable change. In this crisis, the British were still suffering the same ratio of officer casualties- i.e. one for every twenty men. The Germans, however, reported one officer casualty for every twenty six men, as opposed to the forty two in the time when they were fighting on the defensive against the British.

What might we infer from this ?

Is this an indication of German officers being exposed to fire because the offensive entails a more conspicuous role for the officer ? Or might it be evidence of declining morale amongst the soldiers, with officers being required to make desperate efforts to keep up the momentum ?

For the British, the ratios were the same, more or less, during both the offensive and the defensive roles. If we are to cite the ratio of officer casualties as an indicator of morale, it was the Germans who appeared to be in trouble.

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

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anemone
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/1/2018 5:02:09 AM
Correction to my previous post on Casualties

In the British Official History (1935) Davies, Edmonds and Maxwell-Hyslop wrote that the Allies lost c. 255,000 men of which the British suffered 177,739 killed, wounded and missing, 90,882 of them in the Fifth Army--many of whose bodies were never found

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/6/2018 7:54:03 AM
Sir Hubert Gough, who rose amid thunderous cheeis to respond to the to astof his health said that it was now acknowledged that evetytliing had been done by tliinklng and couiageous men to meet a danger which had it been overwhelming would have been disastrous foir the Allied cause and ended the war in favour of the Germans The present vindication must take the blame from the shoulders of one person and place it else-where Earl Haig had made some mistakes but lils was not the sole responsibllity for the 5th Army's desperate situation

The Government could not escape its share in falling to despatch the necessary reinforcements Nevertheless Eail Haig at last led to victory an army which stood at the end of the war as the best in Europe The 5th Army slight was asoldiers battle in which the troops displayed-the grandest and greatest qualities shattered Germans hopes and won the war for England for which thej had been covered with odium.

Regards

Jim

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Michigan Dave
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/6/2018 8:37:00 AM

Quote:
Correction to my previous post on Casualties

In the British Official History (1935) Davies, Edmonds and Maxwell-Hyslop wrote that the Allies lost c. 255,000 men of which the British suffered 177,739 killed, wounded and missing, 90,882 of them in the Fifth Army--many of whose bodies were never found

Regards

Jim
--anemone




Hi Jim,

Yes the British suffered terrible casualties in this offensive, do think that they bore the brunt of this Allied attack? Where were the French, & the Americans??

Cheers,
MD
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Phil andrade
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/6/2018 9:42:20 AM
Dave,

For the first several days, the British bore the entire burden, losing around one hundred thousand men in less than a week ; but after 25 March, the French shared the load and their casualties rivalled those of the British in that subsequent phase.

US troops did not engage in any significant fighting until their first major encounter at Cantigny in May.

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

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MikeMeech
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/7/2018 5:44:21 AM

Quote:

Quote:
Correction to my previous post on Casualties

In the British Official History (1935) Davies, Edmonds and Maxwell-Hyslop wrote that the Allies lost c. 255,000 men of which the British suffered 177,739 killed, wounded and missing, 90,882 of them in the Fifth Army--many of whose bodies were never found

Regards

Jim
--anemone




Hi Jim,

Yes the British suffered terrible casualties in this offensive, do think that they bore the brunt of this Allied attack? Where were the French, & the Americans??

Cheers,
MD
--Michigan Dave


Hi

According to the figures in Zabecki 'The German 1918 Offensive', page 160, the casualties for Op MICHAEL over about 16 days were: British 177,739, French 77,000 Total = 254,739. For the Germans the total was 239,800, made up of Seventeenth Army 81,200, Second Army 73,800 and Eighteenth Army 84,800. (Notice German and French casualty figures are rather 'rounded' figures).
The Germans had hit the 'allies' with 'overwhelming' force in both infantry and artillery in one part of the 'allied' line advancing to a depth of 60 kms, capturing 1,200 square miles of territory. However, they had failed to achieve any operational or strategic 'victory'. The tactical 'victory' had lengthened the line they would have to defend in poorer defensive positions after loosing men they could ill afford to lose. This included many 'storm troopers' whose 'new' infiltration tactics did not prevent many of them becoming casualties to the 'old' forms of defence of machine guns, artillery and barbed wire!

Mike

anemone
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/7/2018 6:13:44 AM
The ground by the Gernans was hard to move over and difficult to defend, as much of it was of the shell-torn wilderness left by the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Elsewhere the transport infrastructure had been demolished and wells poisoned during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line in March 1917.

The initial German jubilation at the successful opening of the offensive soon turned to disappointment as it became clear that the attack had not been decisive.

Marix Evans wrote in 2002, that the magnitude of the Allied defeat was not decisive, because reinforcements were arriving in large numbers, that by 6 April the BEF would have received 1,915 new guns, British machine-gun production was 10,000 per month and tank output 100 per month.

The appointment of Foch as Generalissimo at the Doullens Conference had created formal unity of command in the Allied forces.

NB Maj Gen Neil Malcom-one time staff officer to Haug now GOC 66th Inf Division (he had been wounded at Domartat the end of Maerch 1928) when asked how the offensive was going answered "Splendid-we have won the war!!!"

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/7/2018 10:00:35 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
Correction to my previous post on Casualties

In the British Official History (1935) Davies, Edmonds and Maxwell-Hyslop wrote that the Allies lost c. 255,000 men of which the British suffered 177,739 killed, wounded and missing, 90,882 of them in the Fifth Army--many of whose bodies were never found

Regards

Jim
--anemone




Hi Jim,

Yes the British suffered terrible casualties in this offensive, do think that they bore the brunt of this Allied attack? Where were the French, & the Americans??

Cheers,
MD
--Michigan Dave


Hi

According to the figures in Zabecki 'The German 1918 Offensive', page 160, the casualties for Op MICHAEL over about 16 days were: British 177,739, French 77,000 Total = 254,739. For the Germans the total was 239,800, made up of Seventeenth Army 81,200, Second Army 73,800 and Eighteenth Army 84,800. (Notice German and French casualty figures are rather 'rounded' figures).
The Germans had hit the 'allies' with 'overwhelming' force in both infantry and artillery in one part of the 'allied' line advancing to a depth of 60 kms, capturing 1,200 square miles of territory. However, they had failed to achieve any operational or strategic 'victory'. The tactical 'victory' had lengthened the line they would have to defend in poorer defensive positions after loosing men they could ill afford to lose. This included many 'storm troopers' whose 'new' infiltration tactics did not prevent many of them becoming casualties to the 'old' forms of defence of machine guns, artillery and barbed wire!

Mike

--MikeMeech


The figure of 177,739 British casualties is, if memory serves me, a “ gross” or uncorrected figure, including thousands of men posted as missing who subsequently turned up alive and well.

I think that an adjustment was made to allow for these and a more accurate figure of about 160,000 was finally accepted, indicating that about ten per cent of the “ gross” figure was removed to allow for those who were only temporarily missing.

The French figure of 77,000 is widely cited.

Again, there are suggestions that this might be overstated, too.

The reality was shocking enough.

The data of the CWGC indicate that as many British soldiers were killed in France in the sixteen days between March 21st and 5th April 1918 as were killed in the first sixteen days of the Somme in 1916 ; an appalling thought when you allow for the great numbers of prisoners that the British lost in their desperate defensive fighting in the Kaiserslacht, not to mention huge numbers of wounded and gassed.

The entertaining but substantially authoritative American commentator Dan Carlin put it rather succinctly when he said that there were three or four “ soiled underwear “ moments for the Allies in the Great War, and that this was certainly one of them !

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

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MikeMeech
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/8/2018 12:51:32 PM

Quote:
The ground by the Gernans was hard to move over and difficult to defend, as much of it was of the shell-torn wilderness left by the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Elsewhere the transport infrastructure had been demolished and wells poisoned during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line in March 1917.

The initial German jubilation at the successful opening of the offensive soon turned to disappointment as it became clear that the attack had not been decisive.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Hi

Yes, in March 1917 the Germans had 'cleverly' withdrawn to the Hindenburg Line, so they could shorten their line to have more troops available for other operations. In March 1918 they 'cleverly' attacked over the ground they had voluntarily given up a year earlier, achieving a 'success' that ended going 'no-where' while losing many of the troops they had 'saved' in their March 1917 operation. Probably a good reason to be 'disappointed'.

Mike

Phil andrade
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/8/2018 2:33:09 PM
But it still made the Entente require a change of underwear !

More seriously , I’m bound to indulge in a bit of might have been reflection, and wonder if Germany’s predicament afforded the chance of maintaining the status quo .

Was there immense pressure to attack and seek conclusions, on account of blockade, remorseless attrition and the imminent arrival of millions of yankees ?

Regards , Phil
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scoucer
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/8/2018 3:11:52 PM

Quote:
Was there immense pressure to attack and seek conclusions, on account of blockade, remorseless attrition and the imminent arrival of millions of yankees ?

Regards , Phil
--Phil andrade


No.

Trevor
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Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

Phil andrade
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/9/2018 3:53:57 AM

Quote:

Quote:
Was there immense pressure to attack and seek conclusions, on account of blockade, remorseless attrition and the imminent arrival of millions of yankees ?

Regards , Phil
--Phil andrade


No.

Trevor

--scoucer


So this was a reckless and unecessary folly , born of Ludendorff’s manic proto nazi outlook ?

I would buy into that.

What represented Germany’s best option one hundred years ago ?

Did Rupprecht of Bavaria state a view ?

Regards, Phil
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"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: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/9/2018 5:59:13 AM
see how They Ran" by Wiliam Moore re Battle of the Rosieres Pocket

"Allied conference demanded by Haig took place on 26 March at Doullens. Ten senior Allied politicians and generals were present, including the French president, prime minister and Winston Churchill (the Minister of Munitions), Generals Pétain, Foch, Haig and Wilson (the Chief of the Imperial General Staff).

The end result of the meeting was that General Foch was first given overall command of the fighting on the Western Front and then later became generalissimo of all Allied forces everywhere. It was agreed to hold the Germans east of Amiens and an increasing number of French soldiers would come to the aid of Gough's Fifth Army, eventually taking over large parts of the front south of Amiens.Ludendorff issued new orders on 26 March.

All three of his armies were given ambitious targets, which included the capture of Amiens and an advance towards Compiègne (close to Foch's own head quarters). Neither of these objectives would be achieved, although Montdidier would fall on 27 March

Regards

Jim
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Andy235
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/10/2018 7:56:23 PM
While the Germans came the closest to winning in the West in 1918, it was ultimately their offensives that weakened them to the point where they were able to be defeated by the end of the year. Even with the arrival of American forces in significant numbers, it could have taken well into 1919 to break open the German's defensive positions on the Western front. However, their allies were terribly weakened in 1918 and if they wanted to continue the war, they would have had to expend more and more resources propping up Austria-Hungary, The Ottomans and Bulgaria.

anemone
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/11/2018 7:40:34 AM
Quote Andy"

However, their allies were terribly weakened in 1918 and if they wanted to continue the war, they would have had to expend more and more resources propping up Austria-Hungary, The Ottomans and Bulgaria"

Not at all sure what you mean in the quote Andy-maybe I misses something ???

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/12/2018 7:00:53 AM
27 March saw the culmination of the Battle of Rosieres and a series of continuous complex actions and movements during the defensive battle of XIX Corps against incessant German attacks from the north, east and north-west around Rosières, less than 30 kilometres (20 mi) east of Amiens.T heir nre defence line stretchedfrom Moreuil yo Villers Bretonneux

This was a consequence of the precipitate abandonment of Bray and the winding line of the Somme river, with its important bridgeheads westwards towards Sailly-le-Sec, by the Third Army on the afternoon of 26 March.[83] The important communications centre of Montdidier was lost by the French on 27 March.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/12/2018 12:19:25 PM
If I might be forgiven for citing statistics again, there is a significant aspect of the record of the German offensives that might be worth emphasising .

Throughout the entire war on the Western Front, 1914-1918, a total of 774,000 Germans were claimed as taken prisoner by the Allies.

Of these, almost exactly half - 385,000 - were attributable to the final phase of the war, commencing with the counter attack on the Marne in mid July through to the Armistice.

Up until that counter stroke, the Germans had suffered a loss of ten men killed or wounded for every one taken prisoner : this, I think, is a decent indicator of sound morale and resolute and skilful fighting. A low proportion of prisoners in a total casualty list is a yardstick for combat prowess.

In the period of their huge offensives in the spring and early summer of 1918, the Germans suffered horrendous casualties : in the order of three quarters of a million. Of these, no more than four per cent were prisoners.

The change around in the ratio of prisoners to total battle casualties from four per cent to close to forty per cent is remarkable and speaks volumes about how drastically things changed between the spring offensive and the Allied riposte.

It’s tempting - and understandable - to attribute this change around to the skill of the Allied armies in their series of victories : best exemplified by the British in their Hundred Days. I wonder, though, whether it might be equally ascribed to the dogged resistance of the defense put up - especially in March and April - and the terrible toll that this took of the Germans.

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: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/12/2018 1:04:20 PM

Quote:
It’s tempting - and understandable - to attribute this change around to the skill of the Allied armies in their series of victories : best exemplified by the British in their Hundred Days. I wonder, though, whether it might be equally ascribed to the dogged resistance of the defense put up - especially in March and April - and the terrible toll that this took of the Germans
Phil.--

In the British Official History (1935) Davies, Edmonds and Maxwell-Hyslop wrote that the Allies lost c. 255,000 men of which the British suffered 177,739 killed, wounded and missing, 90,882 of them in the Fifth Army and 78,860 in the Third Army, of whom c. 15,000 died, many with no known grave.

The greatest losses were to 36th (Ulster) Division, with 7,310 casualties, the 16th (Irish) Division, with 7,149 casualties and 66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division, 7,023 casualties.

All three formations were destroyed and had to be taken out of the order of battle to be rebuilt. Six divisions incl 8tk and 50th Divs lost more than 5,000 men. German losses were 250,000 men, many of them irreplaceable élite troops.

Regaeds

JIM.


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

Phil andrade
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/12/2018 2:06:51 PM
Jim,

That citation of 15,000 died, many with no known grave , is a huge understatement .

This is for confirmed killed in action only.

An army in retreat - or rout - cannot properly account for its dead.

The missing and those who died from wounds and gas massively inflated the figure.

That fifteen thousand, judging by CWGC data, becomes more like forty thousand.

We can only guess at how many Germans were killed.

Many more than British, I’m sure.

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: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/13/2018 4:18:43 AM
i have to agree Phil-an Army in retreat or rout will have left'its it.dead dying,gassed and wounded on the battlefield and the perios was of no great magnitude-21--18 March-could it be as many as 10,000 a day aver????


Regards

Jimag
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Phil andrade
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/13/2018 4:57:31 AM
CWGC gives a total of 36,246 deaths in France for the period 21 March to 5 April 1916.

That, you will note, is nearly two and a half times the figure of fifteen thousand posted as killed.

There would have been additional deaths in Belgium as well ; although the number would have been relatively small until the storm broke there after 9 April.

The British deaths attributable to the big attack on 21 March have been stated as 7,500 - 8,000 on that day alone.

That implies a daily average of just under two thousand a day for the ensuing fifteen days.

The British loss in prisoners was significantly greater than the loss in dead ; and there were, of course, huge numbers of wounded and gassed to take into account too.

The enormity and intensity of the punishment is hard to imagine : the big consolation for the Allies being that the Germans were hit every bit as badly, with a much heavier loss in killed.

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: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/13/2018 5:56:22 AM
i meant to ass the gassed and immobile wounded as being left behind during the period of rout from St Quentin to Rosieres en Santere where 5th Army withdrew some 20 miles to a line Moreuil-Villers Bretonneux.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/13/2018 7:08:10 AM
Somewhere I’ve read that the huge haul of British prisoners included thirty per cent who were wounded and ten per cent who were gassed.

After the war the people who tried to sort out the casualty lists made an effort to identify the unwounded British prisoners.

An unspeakably difficult job.

My guess is that roughly half of the 160,000 British casualties in those sixteen days were captured, but of those fewer than fifty thousand were unscathed.

My GF was a chaplain, and he hardly uttered a word to me about his experiences ; he did, though, allude to the wounded soldiers he encountered who were in dread of being abandoned to the Germans as the British were retreating in March 1918.

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: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/13/2018 8:25:14 AM
The British lost 236,000 men between 21 March and 29 April 1918 however the nature of the losses was unusual in that relatively few soldiers were killed (but still 20,000) while many were lost in action (120,000), for the most part taken prisoner--if not left for dead and never recovered. NB Phil what was the number of British {PWs????

The French suffered fewer losses (92,000), although the proportion of deaths was very high for the units fighting on Kemmel Hill.

As for the Germans they lost, in the same period, 348,000 men..

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/13/2018 8:56:43 AM

Quote:
The British lost 236,000 men between 21 March and 29 April 1918 however the nature of the losses was unusual in that relatively few soldiers were killed (but still 20,000) while many were lost in action (120,000), for the most part taken prisoner--if not left for dead and never recovered. NB Phil what was the number of British {PWs????

The French suffered fewer losses (92,000), although the proportion of deaths was very high for the units fighting on Kemmel Hill.

As for the Germans they lost, in the same period, 348,000 men..

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Jim,

The number of British soldiers killed among those 236,000 casualties you mention was much greater than twenty thousand. I think you stipulate the number who were officially posted as killed in action as opposed to the total number who were finally found to have died, when the died of wounds and gas and the missing presumed dead were taken into account.

Forty years ago Martin Middlebrook wrote a good account of the spring offensive THE KAISER’S BATTLE. This deals with the single day of 21st March 1918, and does have a concluding chapter which gives a fairly cogent estimate of British casualties in the sixteen day period of 21 March to 5 April. On page 347 he writes :

The British units in the battle had suffered approximately 160,000 casuaties - 22,000 killed, 75,000 prisoners, 63,000 wounded evacuated to medical units.

This, it must be stressed, does not include the very heavy fighting that occurred in the Battle of the Lys that started on 9 April and raged for three weeks.

The killed he alludes to are those killed outright on the field : additional thousands died from wounds. Note the sinister implication when he stipulates the 63,000 wounded evacuated to medical units .....there were many thousands who were not evacuated to those medical units, but were captured by the enemy. The figure of 75,000 prisoners would, I think, contain 30,000 wounded or gassed.

Again, his reference to British units engaged in the battle must not obscure the fact that British soldiers in France and Belgium died in more quiet sectors , largely in local diversionary attacks.

Hence the much greater numbers of dead we can see commemorated in the CWGC registers.

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: 6791
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/13/2018 9:28:52 AM
Many thanks for that Phil.Strictly speaking it is almost impossible to come up with a fair figure for the missing and never found and and identified in this particular action in March/April 1918 .

Regards

Jim
---------------
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Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: 5th Army in the March Offensive of 1918
Posted on: 2/13/2018 10:57:12 AM
Jim,

The very same Martin Middlebrook wrote another book about the Somme battlefields, and provided tables of the CWGC data showing what percentage of bodies were lost or unidentifed during various periods of the war in the sector of the Somme.

The figure for the March and April 1918 is 55.5% of all British Empire dead were unrecovered or unidentified .

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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