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(1914-1918) WWI
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phil andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 4:31:47 AM

There are thirty odd days to go before we reach the centennial of the Armistice of 11 November 1918.

Let this be an invitation for us to discuss our impressions of that awful conflict .

Subjective approach welcomed....admit to our bias, confess to our ignorance and declare if our outlook changes.

Was the war of 1914-18 a total, unmitigated disaster, an orgy of folly, unredeemed by anything decent or successful ?

Or might we attribute to it the more enlightened aspects of humanity, as people strove to their utmost ?

This extends far beyond the realm of the military.

Regards, Phil
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"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
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 5:55:07 AM

Except for 1914 when the BEF fought themselves to a standstill despite Sir John French being CinC--I thought of as being completely out of his depth- the war was just a bloody mess until 1918.Cambrai 1917 was a shambles.

Haig felt heavily implicated in that action:
his failure but he was wise enough to pass the generalship for the Battle of Amiens to General Rawlinson who made a superb job of planning and executing this attack which led the final 100 dats and the end of the war.

I am prepared to discuss any particular aspect of this Armagennon

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper
phil andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 6:44:02 AM

Jim,

What you write gives us a good jumping off point .

It’s a British perception.

Sometimes I try hard to gauge how French, Italian and other people view this hundred year old conflagration .

The German perception, especially, intrigues me.

It would be great to have Trevor on board here !

Convalesce in the Baltic, dear pal, and if you get the urge, jump in and join us.

I suppose that German folk have let the events of 1914-18 be completely overshadowed by the subsequent world war.

Then there are the Russians.....what must this look like to them ?

Do they recoil from the Imperial folly of the Tsar’s last hurrah, or do they see him as unjustly served by the atrocious nemesis that came his way ?

There are lots of Turkish people living in my part of London, and I have been intrigued to listen to the story of one of my grandsons who has befriended a Turkish boy at school. This boy tells of family folklore, and had a great, great grandfather who lost an arm and a leg at Gallipoli . The Ottoman enemy of a century ago.....I wonder what the Turkish soldiers who fought so bravely against the British, Anzacs and French would think if they had seen their gg grandchildren attending the same Church of England primary school as the descendants of their foe in London !

I think that all of us have been so profoundly affected by the impact of WW1 that we are still learning to appreciate how it casts its shadow over so many aspects of our public and private affairs.

Let’s wear our hearts on our sleeves here, and explore how we think - and feel - about this monstrous event that shook the world.

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
BWilson

 
Posts: 4775
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 7:12:08 AM

 The Great War? The death of France.

Cheers,

BW
----------------------------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.
George
Centre Hastings
ON Canada
Posts: 10971
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 7:25:41 AM

Good morning Phil,

This Great War had profound sociological and political effects on many countries. The economic effects were severe as well

I believe that those effects may have been experienced differently from country to country and you have alluded to that.

There is nothing to apologize for from the participating combatants. The war was a product of the times and the antecedent conditions that precipitated it.

I would like to think that the world had learned that nativism and nationalism reinforced by militarism had to be avoided but we were all at it again within twenty years.

So after two mighty kicks at the ball, have we learned that the things that we teach our kids, like co-operation and collegiality and sharing, as simplistic as that sounds are keys to global peace?

At high school we were compelled to study the legacy of the First WW as it pertained to Canada. The changes here were profound and some were actually positive as they pertain to our slow walk to full independence. I would be happy to discuss them but they may only be of interest to Canadians.

As well, a discussion of the legacy of war is often a sanguine, academic effort. I am not sure that I, born after WW2 can fully appreciate the impact of the conflict.

I do think that for us there was a belief that a new world order could prevent a cataclysmic event from happening again.

I cannot believe that any of the countries that fought for four years in that horrible war could have concluded anything else and that includes Germany and its allies.

However, some elements in the German culture felt that they had been treated shabbily at the end of the Great War. That and social and political problems lead to a repeat, didn't it?

What did we learn?

Cheers,

George
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS
 UK
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 7:30:14 AM

IMO the Germans started the war i by attacking France via Belgium,which in turn brought in the British AND its Commonwealth.The German plan was to quickly defeat the French now backed by the Britisj before turning on Russia,which had made an unexpected start by attacking East Prussia.Treaties were to blame for all this terrible mess.

However prior to all of the above the Balkans were set ablaze by the Sarajevo Incident.Italy allied to France went to war with Austria and allies who were allied to Germany and we the British brought in Turkey by attacking the Dardanelles and tragedy of Gallipoli unfolded.By 1915 most of Europe was at war.

So what was this lunacy all about ????

Regards

Jim
----------------------------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper
phil andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 7:35:24 AM

A wonderful post, George. Thanks.

That war, it seems to me, started things that it didn’t finish.

Unfinished business .......that phrase comes to my mind so often when I contemplate the Great War.

What about that title, The Great War : does it still merit it ?

I think it does. I’ve read commentary that implies that its status has been overrated.

In an attempt to prevent hyperbole, some historians, I reckon, have lent too far the other way and seem almost complacent in their assessment .

Regards, Phil

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"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
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 7:38:11 AM


Quote:
 The Great War? The death of France.

Cheers,

BW
--BWilson


Good pitch, Bill !

Now that’s something to discuss !

If it marks the death of France, why not the death of Germany ?

1918 : Hero. 1940 : Zero.

What a falling off was there !

Regards, Phil
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"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
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 8:10:18 AM

Whatever happens, it’s imperative that I mention the imminent public release of Peter Jackson’s “ They shall not grow old “.

Peter Jackson himself is fixated on the Great War : his direction of the epic Hobbit films has only served to increase his ardour.

What he does here is a labour of love.

He’s transformed the black and white footage of the Great War, with its jerky Chaplinesque sequences, into something that brings it to life, with colour applied and sound installed in accordance with the lip reading observations of experts who have studied the old films. You hear, as well as see, the men laughing, and are party to their banter. The movements are no longer flickering and jerky.

Humour was as extant in that war as well as horror. This comes over loud and clear, literally.

I think that it’s being released 16 October over here, with BBC giving a special showing to mark the Armistice commemorations.

Don’t pass up the chance to see it.

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
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 8:34:16 AM


Quote:
I do think that for us there was a belief that a new world order could prevent a cataclysmic event from happening again.

I cannot believe that any of the countries that fought for four years in that horrible war could have concluded anything else and that includes Germany and its allies.

However, some elements in the German culture felt that they had been treated shabbily at the end of the Great War. That and social and political problems lead to a repeat, didn't it?

What did we learn
George

Speaking as a British citizen--We were GREAT Britain and Empire-the most powerful bloc in the world--but what did we learn from the Great War--I have to say little to nothing including the Entente Cordia

le.Our much vaunted navy sailed the waters of the flag and in the way of largesse made a treaty with Poland when we could not fight our way out of a paper bag-I do not know why except our field armament factories were producing obsolescent weapons--obviously Belgium was forgotten.

I firmly believe that we still think we are grandiose as the Falklands War indicated and to this day mourn the loss of empire.What say you Phil??? I have to say that I meant to shock but am I right ?????.

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper
phil andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 6:31:37 PM

You know, Jim, be you right or wrong, I like the way you talk.

Heartfelt stuff, this is exactly what I was hoping my thread would evince.

The Poetry and the Pity...that’s what my baby boomer generation was weaned on in our appreciation of the Great War . Before the mid sixties, we were pretty unaware of what had happened to our grandparents a half century earlier.

I never got over the shock of the BBC documentary that was launched in 1964. The fiftieth anniversary.

For us, “ the war” was what our mums and dads had experienced 1939-45. We read comics, and bought the kits, and made our model aeroplanes.

Not a word about 1914-18.

The revelation hit hard.

Why, in God’s name, hadn’t we been told about this monstrosity of violence that suddenly came to our attention in those flickering vignettes ?

Regards, Phil



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"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
Riaindevoy
Geelong
 Australia
Posts: 1776
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 6:37:15 PM

As bad as the WW1 was the real tragedy was that it didn't solve the issue at stake, ie. how many superpowers there would be in the world, and a second vastly more horrific war was needed to settle this question.
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“We are pretending to know about things we don’t know and pretending to not know things we’ve known til yesterday.” Douglas Murray.
Jim Cameron
Ossining
NY USA
Posts: 914
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/6/2018 7:02:12 PM

Well thought out, wargammed, meticulously planned mobilization and war plans gone for naught in unbreakable stalemate. "Home before the leaves fall" became a sick joke.
The massive casualties could hardly be called unforeseen, or unforeseeable. The problems caused by mass armies, deployed on fronts hundreds of miles long, with modern artillery and machine guns, were carefully studied. The difficulty of flank attacks was recognised, as were the costs of inevitable frontal assaults. Yet the war came. As if something convinced both sides that, despite all this, their plans would succeed.
Of course, one side did prevail, but only at unthinkable cost, and certainly not according to any original plan.

Speaking as an American, I am struck by how fortunate it was for the United States to have come into the war as an active belligerent as late as it did. It avoided being savaged by years of conflict, in the same war as Britain and France. Perhaps, in a backhanded sort of way, fortunate for the Allies as well. The U.S. was able to lend great support, financially, agricultural, and manufacturing, without having to divert manpower and resources to raising a massive army. I would submit that for most of the war, this was more important than U.S troops on the ground in France.
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Jim Cameron Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.
Phil andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 2:29:15 AM


Quote:
As bad as the WW1 was the real tragedy was that it didn't solve the issue at stake, ie. how many superpowers there would be in the world, and a second vastly more horrific war was needed to settle this question.
--Riaindevoy


...a second vastly more horrific war... ?

For Russia, Germany, Japan .....yes: no doubt about that. For China, too.

The French, British and Italians took a much bigger beating in the earlier conflict than they were to in the second.

I wonder how far the nature of the second was itself shaped by the first : indeed, is it arguable that it was in reality so much its consequence that it amounted to its continuation ? Almost a second Thirty Years War.

The toll in lives of the second is usually assessed by taking into account the start of Sino Japanese hostilities in 1937, and also the disruption, deaths and civil warfare extending into 1947. Take the cost of the internicine conflict in Yugoslavia , for example. The same ten year span might be applied to the first..we could include the Russian Civil War and the Graeco Turkish convulsions into the earlier 1920s, and attribute them to the Great War : surely they were a feature of the upheaval. Then there’s the colossal loss of life in the pandemic popularly known as the Spanish Flu, which was extended and aggravated by the activities of warfare. Taking these into account, the human toll of 1914-24 rivals that of 1937-47.

When I was a kid, I asked my dad which was the worse of the two. He told me to ask my grandmother , because she had lived through both . The Second was fiercer, she replied, what with the bombing and all that, but the memory of the First makes me shudder more..

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
BWilson

 
Posts: 4775
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 3:37:20 AM

The French, British and Italians took a much bigger beating in the earlier conflict than they were to in the second.

 Because in the Second War, they were already beaten although such acknowledgement was not yet widespread. The vitality of these peoples was dealt a telling blow in 1914:1918.

Cheers,

BW
----------------------------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.
Phil andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 3:40:47 AM

Curmudgeon that I am, a rant about educational standards is never far from my lips.

I have to say, though, that I’m delighted with how my grandchildren are being taught about WW1. They know far, far more about it than I expected ; so many details about the assassination at Sarajevo and a very lively interest in the depictions of trench warfare.

I was very moved when I found out that my granddaughter was taken on a school trip to France, and visited a huge military cemetery outside Bolougne where thousands of British and Dominion soldiers are interred. She attended a church school, and the kids were asked to select a grave and say a prayer.

My grandfather was an army chaplain and served his tour of duty on the Western Front, and I know that he conducted a lot of burial services when he was in the great hospital base at Bolougne. It’s quite possible that my granddaughter said a prayer over a grave of a soldier who had been buried under the eye and prayers of my grandfather a hundred years ago.

I recently acquired a family heirloom : a beautiful role top desk that I used to hide in when I was a kid. I now see that there is a little plaque on it, inscribed with the thanks of his parishioners in Wales, and a good luck wish for his departure to France with the “ Church Army” in 1917. It’s a palpable reminder of how the humanity of our family and national traditions can be expressed through quite mundane objects.

Weapons and military hardware have never really been my thing, but I have a shell fuze, polished up and mounted on a wooden base, recovered from the Somme battlefield and given to me by a friend. My grandson - along with his classmates at the school - has been asked to contribute some item or anecdote from family folklore about the Great War as we approach the centennial of the Armistice . I’ve given him this shell fuze, and want to try and explain to him what it was and how it worked. I could do with some help here.

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
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 5:17:44 AM

Phil---Returning to the Great War,hereunder are some statistics I found regarding lives lost in in this monstrous clash of arms :-

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I, was around 40 million.

There were 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded. The total number of deaths includes

9.7 million military personnel and about 10 million civilians. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies) lost about 5.7 million soldiers while the Central Powers lost about 4 million.

Question--How many British and Commonwealth servicemen were killed and how many were found,identified and buried ????

Regards

Jim

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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper
Phil andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 5:44:19 AM

Jim,

The British Empire counted its dead as 908,000 soldiers, 32,000 sailors and 7,000 airmen by the first proper count...947,000 in total. Roughly ten per cent of worldwide military deaths. The number was revised upwards as time moved on : the net was widened, the criteria which were used were expanded and the numbers grew. The most recent figure given by CWGC is in excess of 1,100,000. I think that in rough and ready terms , one half of the dead were given identified burial, one quarter were recovered but could not be identified , and one quarter were not recovered at all. The memorials to the missing commemorate the last two categories by name : well over half a million.

Thanks for your input. I’ll be very happy to delve further into the statistics if our pals on the forum wish.

Regards, Phil
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"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
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 5:49:58 AM


Quote:
The French, British and Italians took a much bigger beating in the earlier conflict than they were to in the second.

 Because in the Second War, they were already beaten although such acknowledgement was not yet widespread. The vitality of these peoples was dealt a telling blow in 1914:1918.

Cheers,

BW
--BWilson


Bill,

This intrigues me. What differentiated the impact of loss between the French and the Germans ?

The Great War killed two million German soldiers, at least. This was as big a beating as the loss of 1.3 to 1.4 million Frenchmen if we assess loss in proportionate terms.

Did Germany show a greater demographic recuperative power ?

Perhaps psychological effects differed and impinged on recuperation.

Totalitarian rule holds life very cheap.

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
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 6:08:41 AM

My grateful thanks Phil--Mr Statistics--as you know my grandfather was killed and supposedly never found.

However Trevor came forward to say that his nody was recovered from a makeshift grave in Demuin and his remains interred in a was grave extension at nearby Hangard.

I can well understand that 5th Army dead many would be left by retreatng troops during Operation Michael in March 1918.

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper
anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS
 UK
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 6:08:48 AM

My grateful thanks Phil--Mr Statistics--as you know my grandfather was killed and supposedly never found.

However Trevor came forward to say that his nody was recovered from a makeshift grave in Demuin and his remains interred in a was grave extension at nearby Hangard.

I can well understand that 5th Army dead many would be left by retreatng troops during Operation Michael in March 1918.

Regards

Jim
----------------------------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper
anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS
 UK
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 6:50:59 AM

German bombing of civilians in England during the Great War

Proposals to bomb Britain were first made by Paul Behncke, deputy chief of the German Naval Staff, in August 1914.[8] These were backed by Alfred von Tirpitz, who wrote that "The measure of the success will lie not only in the injury which will be caused to the enemy, but also in the significant effect it will have in diminishing the enemy's determination to prosecute the war".

The campaign was approved by the Kaiser on 7 January 1915, who at first forbade attacks on London, fearing that his relatives in the British Royal Family might be injured.However did that resolve endure??? Source Wikipedia

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper
George
Centre Hastings
ON Canada
Posts: 10971
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 7:15:57 AM


Quote:
The French, British and Italians took a much bigger beating in the earlier conflict than they were to in the second.

 Because in the Second War, they were already beaten although such acknowledgement was not yet widespread. The vitality of these peoples was dealt a telling blow in 1914:1918.

Cheers,

BW
--BWilson


This begs an expansion of your thoughts Bill.

I have read in other places that the will to fight in the second war was diminished by the terrible experience of the first.

That thought has commonly been associated with the French who seemed to capitulate rather quickly.

And the Italians were not committed to another slaughter from the beginning as well.

But I do not believe that I have read that British and Commonwealth troops lacked vitality.

Cheers,

George


----------------------------------
BWilson

 
Posts: 4775
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 7:48:02 AM


Quote:

Quote:
The French, British and Italians took a much bigger beating in the earlier conflict than they were to in the second.

 Because in the Second War, they were already beaten although such acknowledgement was not yet widespread. The vitality of these peoples was dealt a telling blow in 1914:1918.

Cheers,

BW
--BWilson


Bill,

This intrigues me. What differentiated the impact of loss between the French and the Germans ?

The Great War killed two million German soldiers, at least. This was as big a beating as the loss of 1.3 to 1.4 million Frenchmen if we assess loss in proportionate terms.

Did Germany show a greater demographic recuperative power ?

Perhaps psychological effects differed and impinged on recuperation.

Totalitarian rule holds life very cheap.

Regards, Phil

--Phil andrade


Phil, George ...

 Essentially, my comment is about more than personnel losses. IMO, more than people perished in the war. Entire belief structures collapsed. The result was that, in these countries, there was no sense of bracing readiness for the Second War. It was a very resigned approach, although in Musso's Italy that outlook was probably not so publicly displayed [yet lackluster Italian performance tells its own story.] France gave way very quickly. Great Britain would have done the same but was protected by the Channel. Stung by seemingly endless provocation and humiliations, British society finally found the will to stick out the war but the manpower question remained paramount to the very end of the war in Europe ... and, in the end, to gaze upon ruined national finances and a looming loss of the Empire. Even then, Great Britain's contribution to land operations would have been much attenuated had they not had Canadian, African, Australian-NZ, and Indian troops to beef up their forces. Oh, add Austria to the list. They were so shot through by the effects of the First War that there was no national will to resist the Nazi takeover.

 France had already reached the end of their imperial glory in 1815. 1870 to 1962 was the dagger sunk deep, and twisted. The corpse of France is propped up today and IMO it is an open question how much longer it will retain its current boundaries and name. The same gloomy outlook may apply to several other European states as well.

 Good question about Germany. Perhaps with less history behind them as a unified state, they were willing to go one more round. But the Second War shot them through, and, that war did more damage to Russia than Putin's bravado suggests. Of course, Russia's case is particularly bad. The First War saw the fall of the Tsar, the revolution, the civil war followed by Stalin's paranoia, peripheral conflicts, and the scourge of Unternehmen Barbarossa.

Cheers,

BW
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With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.
Phil andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 8:00:06 AM

The nature of the loss counts for quite a lot here, I think.

The British had a unique sense of qualitative loss : in terms of actual numbers, they escaped lightly compared with their Franco German counterparts...but the voluntary nature of their soldiers , and the inordinate profligacy of their officer class, left them with a notion of bereavement that went beyond the statistical realm. Alanbrooke makes allusion to this in his diary, lamenting the loss of junior officers in the Great War, and attributing British difficulties in WW2 to this deprivation of an elite cohort.

Another aspect of the British experience was the fact that such a high proportion of their casualties were suffered from July 1916 onwards : I might be exaggerating here if I say that four fifths of their dead occurred in the second half of the war : but if I am exaggerating , it would not be by much.

The French definitely had a peculiar trauma in terms of their loss of life, in so far as a grotesquely high number of their dead fell in the first shock : the six weeks of desperate and intense battle in August and September 1914 were frightful in terms of French fatalities : nearly one quarter of all French soldiers who were killed in fifty one months of war were victims of its first five months in 1914. This left a permanent wound, compounded by loss of territory to an invader and the continuance of the war on home soil.

The Germans lost an immmense number of men, but their casualties were much more evenly spread in terms of time, and, in a bizarre sense, they might have been better able to pace themselves on this account.

Regards, Phil
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"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
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 8:36:06 AM

In a speech to the House of Commons, Prime Minister Winston Churchill called this retreat to Dunkirk "a colossal military disaster", saying "the whole root and core and brain of the British Army" had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured.This outcome must not be allowed to happen.

He therefore ordered Admiral Ramsay of Dover Command to prepare whatever number of ships that were required to evacuate those troops stranded on Dunkirk sands.Shades of John Frenchs desire to pull the entire BEF of 1914 back to an area near a Channel Port and Kitchener wassent to Frane to calm him

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper
Phil andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 9:23:42 AM

Jim,

Sometimes I muse on the prospect that the colossal military disaster of Dunkirk was a blessing. The eviction of the BEF spared Britian from a repeat of prolonged positional war on the continent. The defeat and shock of May and June 1940 spared the nation from the horrors of 1914-18.

Anecdotal history tells of Stalin’s reaction to the collapse of the Allies in France and Belgium in 1940 : he was outraged, having based his plans on another war of exhaustion which would allow him to clean up. When he learnt about the German triumph in the west, he became profane in his condemnation of the Franco British coalition : his language was too extreme to allow me to repeat it here.

I wonder if the Soviets were also victims of the spectre of 1914-18 ; they assumed a repeat would allow them time to build up their strength and potential under the pact with the Nazis. Might the loss of twenty odd million Russian lives 1941-45 be attributed - to a degree - to the fatal presumption that there would be more Verduns and Sommes for the allies to contend with in the early 1940s ? I doubt that he envisioned that his beloved namesake city on the Volga would be the scene of the ultimate nightmare.

Regards, Phil
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"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
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 10:16:34 AM

You have hit the nail truly on the head-the Fall of France and Operation Dynamo did change the trend of the war, leaving the Nazis to pursue what they thought was their natural goal-the subjugation of the USSR.

Thus the heat came off GB; apart from the much vaunted Operation Sealion which the Battle of Britain went a long way in scuppering this German move.

GB to take the war to the Western Desert from 1941 to 43 where we had mixed fortunes ending in the Battle of El Alamein and the US entry into that T of Ops which saw the Germans defeated there.

Like 1918 there was no stopping us now ;even though it was tough going up Italy from the south to Austria

Regards

Jim
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS
 UK
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 11:20:06 AM

The Royal Naval Blockade of German occupied ports in the Great War

German official statistics estimated 763,000 civilian malnutrition and disease deaths were caused by the blockade of Germany.

Regards

Jim
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Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan
MI USA
Posts: 5893
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 12:52:12 PM

Wow Jim,

You never think about great blockades during WWI, It sounds like it was fairly effective!? Do you know how many ships of theRN were involved? Also how could it be so effective withe Germany’s U Boat fleet and the over all strength of the German Navy? Comments anyone?

Surprising,
MD
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS
 UK
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 1:09:38 PM

After the sea battle of Jutland the German High Seas Fleet never left port.

The Northern Patrol and Dover Patrol closed off access to the North Sea and the English Channel respectively.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 2:09:18 PM

The British blockade of Germany was against international law : so I have read.

I could do with some clarification here.

Whatever it was, it was damned effective.

The German conduct of warfare 1914-18 strikes me as atrocious. Not to the genocidal extent that it was to become a generation later, but more harsh than many have acknowledged. The Germans themselves cited the British blockade as an excuse for their outrages. Maybe they had a point : but I still see them as the nastier guys. Note the word “ nastier “....there was nastiness enough to go round.

There were enlightened Germans in the High Command who deplored the conduct of their fellow officers. Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria was one such.

Germany had only been unified a couple of generations before the start of the Great War. There was significant resentment at the domination of Berlin, and the demons of regionalism played their part in the outcome.

Germans sometimes argue that the blockade of 1914-18 took more civilian lives than the Allied bombing in WW2 : an attempt, I think, to imply that Allied conduct in WW1 was culpable for the subsequent conduct of the Third Reich, in so far as ruthlessness engenders a ruthless riposte.

Do you buy that ?

One thing is incontestable : by throwing in the towel when German troops stood everywhere on enemy soil, the German people were spared the horrendous “ Twilight of the Gods” apocalypse that afflicted them in the final year of WW2.

Regards, Phil

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"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
Riaindevoy
Geelong
 Australia
Posts: 1776
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 2:46:13 PM


Quote:

Quote:
As bad as the WW1 was the real tragedy was that it didn't solve the issue at stake, ie. how many superpowers there would be in the world, and a second vastly more horrific war was needed to settle this question.
--Riaindevoy


...a second vastly more horrific war... ?

For Russia, Germany, Japan .....yes: no doubt about that. For China, too.

The French, British and Italians took a much bigger beating in the earlier conflict than they were to in the second.

I wonder how far the nature of the second was itself shaped by the first : indeed, is it arguable that it was in reality so much its consequence that it amounted to its continuation ? Almost a second Thirty Years War.

The toll in lives of the second is usually assessed by taking into account the start of Sino Japanese hostilities in 1937, and also the disruption, deaths and civil warfare extending into 1947. Take the cost of the internicine conflict in Yugoslavia , for example. The same ten year span might be applied to the first..we could include the Russian Civil War and the Graeco Turkish convulsions into the earlier 1920s, and attribute them to the Great War : surely they were a feature of the upheaval. Then there’s the colossal loss of life in the pandemic popularly known as the Spanish Flu, which was extended and aggravated by the activities of warfare. Taking these into account, the human toll of 1914-24 rivals that of 1937-47.

When I was a kid, I asked my dad which was the worse of the two. He told me to ask my grandmother , because she had lived through both . The Second was fiercer, she replied, what with the bombing and all that, but the memory of the First makes me shudder more..

Regards, Phil

--Phil andrade


Britain went into WW2 unprepared and poor and came out broken, bankrupt, demoted but victorious only to see her Empire and all the rest of it crumble away, although her loss of life was less.

France was utterly defeated within weeks and occupied for years, but again suffered less deaths.

For everyone else I doubt the silver linings are as obvious.
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George
Centre Hastings
ON Canada
Posts: 10971
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/7/2018 2:54:22 PM

The blockade caused some tension between the US and GB.

Britain was seizing items destined for Germany and its allies.

So the RN would stop vessels to see where they were headed and what they were transporting.

The list of contraband items grew and grew and when GB a healthy part of the North Sea as a combat zone, neutral merchant ships were compelled to enter British ports to have their cargo examined.

I would imagine that that is the illegality to which Phil made reference.

While the RN made sure that the German navy could not gain access to the channel, the French and Italian navies were assisting in parts of the Mediterranean, to stop goods from getting to Germany through Austria.

By the end of the war, the German people were starving.

Dave mentioned the German subs which stepped up their attacks on merchant ships in 1917.

I believe that the Americans, angered by having their ships stopped by the RN, were even angrier at the German attacks on neutral shipping.

One reason to join the fray, I should think especially since Americans, albeit in small numbers prior to Lusitania, were dying on ships torpedoed by u-boats.


If the US markets in Germany and allied countries were cut off by the blockade, did GB begin to order more goods and material from the US in part to placate the American government?

Cheers,

George
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brian grafton
Victoria
BC Canada
Posts: 3203
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/8/2018 1:29:24 AM

George, not sure, but IIUC the issue was more complex than your explanation. I may be confusing the two wars, but don't think so.
Quote:
So the RN would stop vessels to see where they were headed and what they were transporting.

The list of contraband items grew and grew and when GB a healthy part of the North Sea as a combat zone, neutral merchant ships were compelled to enter British ports to have their cargo examined.

I would imagine that that is the illegality to which Phil made reference.


I believe the issue was to do with trans-shipment of good. Some term like that. British controls were designed to blockade Germany from receiving both strategic and civilian goods. Their blockade was efficient, but many neutrals were shipping goods to other neutrals, who then trans-shipped them to Germany. This broke the effectiveness of the blockade, so GB began demanding the right to check manifests, both to question the makeup of the shipment and to ascertain the final point of shipment. If they found forbidden goods on a ship's manifest, or if there was indication that the goods were being trans-shipped to Germany through Oslo or Bergen (for example), then the British argued this was breaking the boycott.

The US, IIRC, felt this was illegal interference in free trade between neutral nations. I believe at law the US was correct. It was an ugly issue that raised anger on both sides of the argument.

I think any change in U-Boat tactics came only as German construction became more sophisticated. But I feel I should point out the submarine warfare began early in the war, and effected ship function and design from as early as 1900. Note, e.g., the torpedoing of HMS Aboukir, HMS Cressy and HMS Hogue in late September, 1914. Keep in mind the incorporation of torpedo designed along the armored sections of large ships. Think about the development of small, fast destroyers, and how they were deployed during fleet manouevres.

Cheers
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
brian grafton
Victoria
BC Canada
Posts: 3203
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/8/2018 1:31:13 AM

dup
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
brian grafton
Victoria
BC Canada
Posts: 3203
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/8/2018 1:34:39 AM

Phil, what wonderful suggestion. It could indeed lead just about anywhere.

I'm hoping to soon find the time to offer some comments. I certainly like what I've read so far.

Cheers
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Riaindevoy
Geelong
 Australia
Posts: 1776
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/8/2018 2:13:10 AM


Quote:
After the sea battle of Jutland the German High Seas Fleet never left port.

The Northern Patrol and Dover Patrol closed off access to the North Sea and the English Channel respectively.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


That is a myth. After Jutland the German high seas fleet did a sortie into the North Sea in 1916, and used better airship recon and commanded the associated uboats from the fleet flagship to better coordinate their activities.

Whats more the HSF sent 20 fleet destroyers to Flanders to contest the control of these southern waters, culminating in a couple of large light unit battles in late 1916 early 1917.

I think in general the ww1 naval war is loaded with more myths than the much bigger land war.
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“We are pretending to know about things we don’t know and pretending to not know things we’ve known til yesterday.” Douglas Murray.
anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS
 UK
Posts: 7899
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/8/2018 5:48:48 AM

1.The foray into the North Sea was pretty timid. Scheer turned north after receiving a false report from a zeppelin about a British unit in the area.

As a result, the bombardment was not carried out, and by 14:35, Scheer had been warned of the Grand Fleet's approach and so turned his forces around and retreated to German
ports.

2.There were complaints about breaches of international law, however most neutral merchant vessels agreed to dock at British ports to be inspected and then escorted—less any "illegal" cargo destined for Germany—through the British minefields to their destinations.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4650
Reflections on the Great War
Posted on: 10/8/2018 7:44:28 AM

The British blockade was in breach of International Law. That comes over loud and clear in Anthony Watson’s excellent book Ring of Steel, which explores the conduct of war by the Central Powers.

In Antiquity, Cicero declared Inter arma enim silent leges .....” In times of war, the law falls silent “.

If Germany expected warfare to be governed by international law, she seemed to think that she was exempt and that every other belligerent would be bound by it : the German invasion of Belgium in 1914, with its violation of Belgian neutrality, was the original sin in this respect. It makes me think of Bomber Harris’s famous remarks a generation later when he said that the Nazis had started the war in the childish belief that they could bomb everyone else, and that nobody was going to bomb them.

Does the war of 1914-18 offer us a similar sow the wind, reap the whirlwind theme ?

Regards, Phil
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"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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