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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 2/28/2018 4:13:57 AM
1st Battle of Ypres

Flandernschlacht, 19 October – 22 November) was a battle of the First World War, fought on the Western Front around Ypres, in West Flanders, Belgium, during October and November 1914.

The battle was part of the First Battle of Flanders, in which German, French and Belgian armies and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) fought from Arras in France to Nieuport on the Belgian coast, from 10 October to mid-November.


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Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 2/28/2018 7:10:10 AM
Strength
Belgian: c.  247,000
French: 3,989,103
British: 163,897
Total: 4,400,000
German-5,400,000

Casualties and losses
Belgian: 21,562
French: 50,000–85,000
British:
7,960 killed
29,563 wounded
17,873 missing
2,128 unknown cause

Total: 58,155
8,050 killed
29,170 wounded
10,545 missing
Total: 46,765

134,315 German casualties in Belgium and northern France, 15 October – 24 November

Regards

Jim
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Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 2/28/2018 10:13:31 AM
Jim,

I bet the German's were using those damn "German machine guns", they always inflicted such high casualties! The Allies should have found a better way to attack than just infantry charges!??

What say you?
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 2/28/2018 11:39:20 AM

Quote:
Jim,

I bet the German's were using those damn "German machine guns", they always inflicted such high casualties! The Allies shouls have found a better way to attack than just infantry charges!??

What say you?
MD
--Michigan Dave


They did but it took time to develop the necessary tactics that including small unit attacks on emplacements of MG's and the use of Lewis gun teams and grenades.

By the time the Americans got into the fight, they had to learn the hard way, as the French and British and Commonwealth did from 1914 to 1917, that high spirits and a gung-ho attitude weren't going to cut it.

There was a learning curve and all went through it.

BTW, the British and Commonwealth and French had MG's too. In battles like Hill 70 in 1917, heavy MG's were hauled up the hill as the Germans were forced off and used to cut them down during the inevitable counter attacks.

Just one example that I am familiar with.

The other point to make is that the Germans were on the high ground in solid defensive positions for much of the war and so the attackers were at a distinct disadvantage.

Even the successful battles of 1917-18 were accomplished at great cost.

Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 2/28/2018 12:34:59 PM

Quote:
Jim,

I bet the German's were using those damn "German machine guns", they always inflicted such high casualties! The Allies shouls have found a better way to attack than just infantry charges!??

What say you?
MD
--Michigan Dave


And yet, Dave, in this First Ypres battle, it was the Germans who surged forward into the fire and got cut down in tens of thousands.

The legend grew that the British rifle fire was so intense and accurate that the Germans believed they were being confronted by machine guns firing from virtually every nook and cranny of the battlefield.

There is a deal of exaggeration in this story, much beloved of British people who cherish the idea of the fusillade at Mons or Ypres as much as they do that of the arrow storm at Crecy and Agincourt.

But, folklore notwithstanding , the Germans did deploy their untrained infantry prodigally and imprudently in this autumn fighting in Flanders, and paid a stiff price for doing so.

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

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 2/28/2018 2:32:32 PM
Thanks Phil,

If those early days hadn't been so costly, one wonders whether the changes in tactics would have come about.

I would like to think that husbandry of human resources would have been paramount no matter the results of the first battles and especially something like the Somme.

Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 2/28/2018 3:24:10 PM
George,

The casualty figures for the fighting on the Western Front that culminated in late November 1914 with the Battle of Ypres speak for themselves : British, 85,000 ; French pretty well ten times that number...not to forget 50,000 or so Belgians. German killed, wounded and missing stated by their Reichsarchiv at nearly 680,000, with the deadly impasse of December yet to come.

The British figure looks trivial by comparison with those continental counterparts ; yet in a crucial sense the British were the most overdrawn of all. Their army was so small that the professional cadre - especially of officers - was all but destroyed, literally.

Franco German armies retained the professional core while reservists were expended mercilessly .

In qualitative terms - by which I mean officer experience - the British sustained unique damage. I think that thereafter they fought on the back foot , constantly bereft of experienced officers and paying a disproportionate price.

Churchill had been controversial in the opening phase of the war by suggesting that the BEF be held back from the initial clash on the Frontiers, so that it could intervene in a big counter attack after the initial German thrust had been contained. To do so would have been to break faith with the spirit of the Entente agreement; in the event, the little British army - deployed on the left of the French - was placed right in the path of the German advance and was knocked about in relentless fighting, and was never able to recover.

The terrible casualties suffered at Second Ypres, Loos and the Somme reflect the loss of that expertise that vanished with the officers who were killed, captured or crippled by the opening battles. And that loss was nearly replicated in the more humble ranks.

I wonder if Churchill was right. Was he presuming too much in his anticipation of the Germans being turned back without the khaki clad heroes of Mons ?

Recent research into the attrition of the BEF officer cohorts in 1914 implies that the subsequent British experience in France and Flanders was to a large degree shaped by an excessively lavish commitment in the “ first shock “.

Your use of the word “ husbandry” is discerning.....

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

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 2/28/2018 3:39:57 PM
Were they junior officers in the main, Phil?

Cheers,

George

Phil Andrade
London, UK
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 2/28/2018 3:57:26 PM
Yes , they must have been ; but plenty of colonels “ copped it “, too.

I suspect, George, that British society in the years leading up to the Great War had been afflicted with profound unrest, so serious that , had it not been for the war , revolution was on the cards.

Perhaps the British officer caste was anxious to prove its worth, and, in an attempt to justify its existence , went over the top - literally and figuratively - to the point where it put that existence in jeopardy.

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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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/1/2018 3:45:09 AM

Quote:
Although the great majority of casualties in WW1 were from the working class, the social and political elite were hit disproportionately hard by WW1. Their sons provided the junior officers whose job it was to lead the way over the top and expose themselves to the greatest danger as an example to their men.

Some 12% of the British army's ordinary soldiers were killed during the war, compared with 17% of its officers. Eton alone lost more than 1,000 former pupils - 20% of those who served. UK wartime Prime Minister Herbert Asquith lost a son, while future Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law lost two. Anthony Eden lost two brothers, another brother of his was terribly wounded, and an uncle was captured.

Dan Snow -

BEF casualties

August–December 1914[
Month Losses
August 14,409
Septembe5,189
October 30,192
November24,785
December11,079

Total 95,654--Source-Official History

Regards

Jim

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Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/1/2018 4:58:55 AM
Jim,

Good post.

The disparity in fatality rates between officers and men was at its highest in 1914.

This might reflect the more traditional aristocratic character of the officer cadre of the original professional army ; it might also be due to the more close quarters combat that developed in the early battles, which made officers more conspicuous.

As the war became more industrialised and impersonal, the disparity diminished, although it never vanished.

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: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/1/2018 5:34:08 AM
GM Phil-Yes I agree the 1914 battalion officers would have led from the front.

The figures you have given do not show the destruction of the BEF but they crippled sufficient units as to cause them to become ineffective-the Guards Battalions were a case in point -the two HLI Bataltions virtually disappeared

The Tommies put up some splendid performances eg. the Ox and Bucks and Worcesters scattered the Prussian Guards at Nonen Boschen However at the end "there were omly 10,000 weary men David Ascoli.


Regards

Jim

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anemone
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/1/2018 6:26:06 AM
More on Casualties

In 1925, Edmonds recorded that the Belgians had suffered a great number of casualties from 15–25 October, including 10,145 wounded. British casualties from 14 October – 30 November were 58,155, French losses were 86,237 men and of 134,315 German casualties in Belgium and northern France, from 15 October – 24 November, 46,765 losses were incurred on the front from the Lys to Gheluvelt, from 30 October – 24 November.[61] In 2003, Beckett recorded 50,000–85,000 French casualties, 21,562 Belgian casualties, 55,395 British losses and 134,315 German casualties.

In 2010, Sheldon recorded 54,000 British casualties, c. 80,000 German casualties, that the French had many losses and that the Belgian army had been reduced to a shadow.

Sheldon also noted that Colonel Fritz von Lossberg had recorded that up to 3 November, casualties in the 4th Army were 62,000 men and that the 6th Army had lost 27,000 men, 17,250 losses of which had occurred in Armeegruppe Fabeck from 30 October – 3 November.
Source Wikipedia

Regards

Jim

S
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MikeMeech
UK
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/1/2018 9:16:23 AM

Quote:
Yes , they must have been ; but plenty of colonels “ copped it “, too.

I suspect, George, that British society in the years leading up to the Great War had been afflicted with profound unrest, so serious that , had it not been for the war , revolution was on the cards.

Perhaps the British officer caste was anxious to prove its worth, and, in an attempt to justify its existence , went over the top - literally and figuratively - to the point where it put that existence in jeopardy.

Regards, Phil
--Phil Andrade


Hi

British Army officers lead from the front pre-war to lead by example, which was expected by the rank and file. They were also 'obvious' in the fact that officers were dressed differently and carried swords. Loss of officers became a problem, especially in Indian Army units as the officers in them could not be replaced easily as the replacements would not generally be able to speak the 'native' language required. As the war progressed the officers dressed more like the men.

However, this was not only the British Army both the French Officer (most obviously) and German Officer were distinctive, again sword in hand leading from the front. If German postcards from 1914 are to be believed both the Germans and French went forward with their Regimental Colours flying! This may or may not be artistic licence.

Mike

Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/1/2018 2:48:38 PM
Hello Mike,

It intrigues me that the Continental armies deployed such a different ratio of officers to men from the British. I think, roughly speaking, that there was one officer for every sixty men in the Franco German armies, compared with one in thirty in the British. I wonder why.

When I was writing in my post about the destruction of the British officer cohort in 1914, I was haunted by knowledge of a photograph in Jack Sheldon’s book THE GERMAN ARMY AT YPRES, 1914.

Alongside page 174 is a photograph of twelve German officers from Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 wearing what Sheldon describes as the ill-fated Landsturm forage caps.

This group of twelve went into battle at the Battle of Gheluvelt : by the end of that battle, eight had been killed and two wounded. Two survived unscathed, one of whom was the Regimental Medical Officer.

So, clearly, German officers were being slaughtered too...but my earlier post alluded to the Germans ( and the French ) husbanding their professional cadre while exploiting their reserves mercilessly .

The ill fated Landsturm were among those latter victims.

Keep the baby, throw out the bath water.

Regards, Phil

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

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

MikeMeech
UK
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Posts: 400

Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/1/2018 3:20:42 PM

Quote:
Hello Mike,

It intrigues me that the Continental armies deployed such a different ratio of officers to men from the British. I think, roughly speaking, that there was one officer for every sixty men in the Franco German armies, compared with one in thirty in the British. I wonder why.

When I was writing in my post about the destruction of the British officer cohort in 1914, I was haunted by knowledge of a photograph in Jack Sheldon’s book THE GERMAN ARMY AT YPRES, 1914.

Alongside page 174 is a photograph of twelve German officers from Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 wearing what Sheldon describes as the ill-fated Landsturm forage caps.

This group of twelve went into battle at the Battle of Gheluvelt : by the end of that battle, eight had been killed and two wounded. Two survived unscathed, one of whom was the Regimental Medical Officer.

So, clearly, German officers were being slaughtered too...but my earlier post alluded to the Germans ( and the French ) husbanding their professional cadre while exploiting their reserves mercilessly .

The ill fated Landsturm were among those latter victims.

Keep the baby, throw out the bath water.

Regards, Phil


--Phil andrade


Hi

Possibly the differing officer/men ration was down to the completely different methods of recruitment. The French and Germans with mass conscription would probably have a different make up to a small 'professional' army designed for world wide service rather than major European conflict.

However, does anyone know the officer/men ratios in the French and German colonial/native forces throughout their empires', was it different from their home conscript forces?

Mike

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/1/2018 7:36:16 PM

Quote:

However, does anyone know the officer/men ratios in the French and German colonial/native forces throughout their empires', was it different from their home conscript forces?

Mike
--MikeMeech


Can´t speak for the French. Difficult with the German. The Colonial Schutztruppen were not part of the german Army but under the Colonial Office answerable to the Kanzler and Kaiser and not the Imperial General Staff. The Marinexpedioncorps were seperately answerable to the Navy Office .There were big changes after 1907 as consequences of the Herroro genocide. Although openly unwilling to accept any public criticism of "his Army" the Kaiser was furious.
I´ll see what I can find.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

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

RiaindeVoy
Geelong, Australia
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/2/2018 12:47:37 AM
I was reading just yesterday that in 1914 while the Germans had the same number of Machine Guns in a division as the French or British they didn't parcel them out in pairs to battalions like the British and French. Instead they kept them as the 13th company of an infantry regiment and preferred to keep them concentrated, indeed it was German doctrine that the MG Coy be commanded by the senior officer on the spot.

It appears that the British took something of a leaf out of this book and formed the Machine Gun Corps in October 1915, grouping the MG sections in Btns into MG Coys in Brigades.
---------------
Fact: The phrase "she'll be right mate" increases an Australian's healing process by 40%.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/2/2018 6:44:24 AM
Canadian battalions went to Britain with 4 embedded MG's. The second two were purchased through fund raising but the importance of the MG's seemed to be understood. I really don't know how. They were so inexperienced.

We had an officer named Brutinel who was French, a reserve officer in the French army, and he had an idea that MG's would be effective if mounted on motorized vehicles.
So in Sept. of 1914, he was allowed to set up a brigade by our somewhat mercurial Defence minister Sam Hughes (of Ross Rifle fame and the trench shovel with the hole in it, to be used as a shield).


Quote:
On 9 September 1914, the brigade included 2 batteries, 9 officers 115 men, 8 armoured cars, 8 trucks, 4 automobiles, 17 motorcycles, 16 bicycles and 20 machine guns. The brigade, since it possessed its own transport and mechanics, was logistically self-sufficient. It was the first totally mechanized military unit in the British Empire.


From what I have read about Sam Hughes, while possibly crazy, he was impressed by innovative equipment even if he wasn't sure whether they would work out.

[Read More]

Cheers,

George

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Posts: 7834

Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/2/2018 6:46:36 AM
Canadian battalions went to Britain with 4 embedded MG's. The second two were purchased through fund raising but the importance of the MG's seemed to be understood. I really don't know how. They were so inexperienced.

We had an officer named Brutinel who was French, a reserve officer in the French army, and he had an idea that MG's would be effective if mounted on motorized vehicles.
So in Sept. of 1914, he was allowed to set up a brigade by our somewhat mercurial Defence minister Sam Hughes (of Ross Rifle fame and the trench shovel with the hole in it, to be used as a shield).


Quote:
On 9 September 1914, the brigade included 2 batteries, 9 officers 115 men, 8 armoured cars, 8 trucks, 4 automobiles, 17 motorcycles, 16 bicycles and 20 machine guns. The brigade, since it possessed its own transport and mechanics, was logistically self-sufficient. It was the first totally mechanized military unit in the British Empire.


From what I have read about Sam Hughes, while possibly crazy, he was impressed by innovative equipment even if he wasn't sure whether they would work out.

[Read More]

Cheers,

George

MikeMeech
UK
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Posts: 400

Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/2/2018 9:39:04 AM

Quote:
Canadian battalions went to Britain with 4 embedded MG's. The second two were purchased through fund raising but the importance of the MG's seemed to be understood. I really don't know how. They were so inexperienced.

We had an officer named Brutinel who was French, a reserve officer in the French army, and he had an idea that MG's would be effective if mounted on motorized vehicles.
So in Sept. of 1914, he was allowed to set up a brigade by our somewhat mercurial Defence minister Sam Hughes (of Ross Rifle fame and the trench shovel with the hole in it, to be used as a shield).


Quote:
On 9 September 1914, the brigade included 2 batteries, 9 officers 115 men, 8 armoured cars, 8 trucks, 4 automobiles, 17 motorcycles, 16 bicycles and 20 machine guns. The brigade, since it possessed its own transport and mechanics, was logistically self-sufficient. It was the first totally mechanized military unit in the British Empire.


From what I have read about Sam Hughes, while possibly crazy, he was impressed by innovative equipment even if he wasn't sure whether they would work out.

[Read More]

Cheers,

George
--George


Hi

The first fully motorized organization in the British Army (and Empire forces) was the Royal Flying Corps. Each squadron from 1913 (according to their Mobilization tables) was equipped with 7 light aeroplane tenders, 6 heavy aeroplane tenders, 4 motor repair lorries, 3 shed lorries, 4 reserve equipment lorries, 6 motor cycles and 6 trailers. These went with the squadrons to France on the out break of war. The Royal Naval Air Service was also fully motorized when it went to France in 1914 under Charles Rumney Samson, who also locally converted some of his motor vehicles into armoured vehicles, carrying a varied armament from Maxim machine guns to a 3-pounder gun! They saw operational use while mobile warfare continued in Belgium.
However, one problem with motor transport (and armoured cars) throughout most of the war was that they were not very good over rough terrain when horses or horse pulled transport had to be used.

I should also mention that with the RFC's 63 aeroplanes that arrived in France with the BEF, it meant that the BEF was the most air supported army in theatre. Both the German's and the French had more aeroplanes they also were support lots more divisions, this meant the BEF had more aeroplanes per division than the French or Germans.

Mike

Phil Andrade
London, UK
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/2/2018 1:34:47 PM

Quote:
I was reading just yesterday that in 1914 while the Germans had the same number of Machine Guns in a division as the French or British they didn't parcel them out in pairs to battalions like the British and French. Instead they kept them as the 13th company of an infantry regiment and preferred to keep them concentrated, indeed it was German doctrine that the MG Coy be commanded by the senior officer on the spot.

It appears that the British took something of a leaf out of this book and formed the Machine Gun Corps in October 1915, grouping the MG sections in Btns into MG Coys in Brigades.
--RiaindeVoy


You make an excellent point there, Riain.

I’ve just browsed through Terence Zuber’s book THE MONS MYTH, which is setting out to debunk myths of British superiority and enhance the reputation of German arms.

Anyone who cherishes the story of the Old Contemptibles slaughtering thousands and thousands of massed German infantry will be disappointed by what Zuber tells us.

What comes over very clearly from Zuber’s analysis is how effective the German MG companies were, especially when they were deployed on slag heaps that dominated the dismal mining areas where these early battles were fought.

On more than one occasion, British infantry - despite their accurate rifle fire - were driven from the field by this MG fire, and took devastating casualties as they fell back. This was very much the case in the fighting of 24 August, 1914 : the day after the actual Battle of Mons.

One German officer was charged with burying the dead in one sector after this fighting, and reported that 169 Germans and 135 British dead were counted on this part of the battlefield .

This testifies to the accuracy and candour of the German report : there was every praise for the accuracy and intensity of the British fusillade, but, at the end of the day, the effective and concentrated German MG fire prevailed and won the field with casualties that were much more equal than British accounts would have us believe.

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

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Posts: 3913

Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/2/2018 2:03:17 PM
If your the Allies you don't want to charge these guys!?

[Read More]

better duck,
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."

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
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Posts: 3213

Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/2/2018 2:56:42 PM

Quote:
If your the Allies you don't want to charge these guys!?

[Read More]

better duck,
MD
--Michigan Dave



Sad to say, too many upper class British officers didn’t learn to duck !

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

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Posts: 7834

Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/2/2018 3:13:11 PM
It took a while to learn the best small unit tactics to take out those MG positions. The skills were learned however and that improved the odds of survival.


Phil andrade
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/2/2018 4:04:53 PM
Those German machine gunners were themselves exposed to awful mortality rates.

To be among their ranks was truly a covenant with death.

The guns themselves were not easy to handle : heavy, cumbersome and prone to jamming, and, I daresay, becoming very hot after prolonged firing. Range setting and elevation required skill and care. Undulating terraine and natural features could afford attacking troops a lot of cover, even if they just leapt from shell hole to shell hole.

To attack a MG position was an awful prospect : to man such a position, and fire for your life while skilful, determined and - surely - enraged stormtroopers were coming at you, was terrifying and must have required the steadiest of nerves and the stoutest of hearts.

I speak from imagination here, never having donned a uniform, let alone smelt powder....

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

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

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Posts: 7834

Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/2/2018 4:26:03 PM
Canadian anecdotal reports suggest that German MG teams, much like snipers were not as likely to have their surrenders accepted.

If a small section or platoon had seen several men cut down as they made their way toward the MG emplacement, they were not predisposed to responding favourably when the hands of the machine gunners went up at the last minute.

I don't know how often this happened but it has been reported many times in Canadian accounts.

I would guess that it worked the same way in the other direction.


Quote:

We were held up by machine-gun fire from a ridge. . . . I don’t know how I escaped because I was lying right out in the front. After losing half of my company there, we rushed them and they had the nerve to throw up their hands and cry, “Kamerad.” All the “Kam- erad” they got was a foot of cold steel thro them from my remaining men while I blew their brains out with my revolver without any hesitation. You may think this rather rough but if you had seen my boys go down you would have done the same and my only regret is that too many prisoners are taken.

Lieutenant R. C. Germain, 20th Canadian Infantry Battalion


The quote above was taken from an article by historian Tim Cook on the Politics of Surrender.

Seems very un-Canadian but I have never been in combat.

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/2/2018 5:14:04 PM
Something important that I forget to mention : German MG fire was predicated mainly on enfilade, with flanking and interlocking fields of fire being the sought after result. The image of machine gunners spewing out death to masses coming at them frontally is a feature more attuned to war movies than the actuality of the Great War battlefield.

I imagine that a lot of MG fire was blind, at long range, with the “ beaten zone” being assessed by skilled commanders and crews.

The pillbox labyrinth of German defences in 1917 perfected this technique.

Small numbers of men, deployed in the most dispersed manner practicable , enjoying the advantage of ferro concrete defence, could use MGs to great effect and husband manpower . This was a method well suited to the shell hole wilderness battlefields, which came into prominence at Verdun, the Somme, Arras and Passchendaele . That phrase “ trench warfare “ became something of a misnomer .

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
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Re: Death of an Army--the End of the Beginning
Posted on: 3/4/2018 1:27:16 PM
The feud with French finally cost Smith-Dorrien his command during the second battle of Ypres (22 April-25 May 1915). After the chaos caused by the first German gas attacks on 27 April, Smith-Dorrien recommended pulling back closer to Ypres. French was in one of his more optimistic moods, and felt that Smith-Dorrien was being unduly defeatist.

On 27 April Smith-Dorrien was ordered to pass command of his troops to Heneral Sir Herbert Plumer, command of V corps. On 6 May Smith-Dorrien requested to be relieved of command, and returned to Britain. Meanwhile, Plumer ordered exactly the same retreat as Smith-Dorrien had planned.'

RMegards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

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