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Old 04-09-2011, 08:09 PM   #51
chezlaw
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Re: The First World War

Its not as simple as that, there's a strong argument that general Haig had a plan and it was working. The major criticism is the human cost not the strategy.
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Old 04-09-2011, 08:52 PM   #52
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by chezlaw View Post
Its not as simple as that, there's a strong argument that general Haig had a plan and it was working. The major criticism is the human cost not the strategy.
If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to read that argument. Or, perhaps you can provide some links, or something.
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Old 04-09-2011, 09:22 PM   #53
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Re: The First World War

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If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to read that argument. Or, perhaps you can provide some links, or something.
Wish I could provide more but cant recall where I read a fairly detailed account some years ago.

The basic argument is that the stategy was a war of attrition and that Germany was losing that war (albeit slowly), and would have lost despite the unforseen collapse of the Eastern front even if the USA hadn't joined in.

I'm not claiming to be convinced this is the case but even less convinced by the claim that somehow if the USA hadn't joined in WW1 would still be going on. There is room for an analysis on who was winning the war of attrition and whether that was the general strategy or itself a post hoc justification.

Also Haig was correctly an easy target because of the saverge butchery under his command but so much of the (at the time) revisionism against him was led by politicians like Lloyd-george and Churchill. Not something we should just believe too easily.

[OT but probably my favorite comic moment of all time is the scene of Haig in Blackadder goes forth playing with his toy soldiers while on the phone]
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Old 04-09-2011, 11:15 PM   #54
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Re: The First World War

I have the impression from someplace that a major failure in tactics was the use on both sides of artillery. They would precede any offensive with days of massive artillery fire which was suppose to soften up the enemy as well as flatten or destroy the barb wire. Trouble was it did neither. It barely touched the soldiers in trenches and had little impact on the barb wire. If anything it made no-man's land more treacherous to cross. And it tipped off the enemy that a major offensive was on the way.

What made the machine gun especially deadly was the barb wire. They should have recognized the ineffectivenss of their artillery barrages early on and concentrated on developing something to get them past the barb wire. I believe that turned out to be the highest use of tanks in the theatre when they finally got some. Tanks could roll over the barb wire and allow advancing soldiers to walk through the breach. Had they not so stubbornly stuck with their artillery tactics and instead concentrated on finding a way to solve the barb wire problem the war might have gone a lot differently.


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Old 04-11-2011, 12:48 PM   #55
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Re: The First World War

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That was Adams's point. it was proven that such tactics and strategy were a failure as stalemate set in which was not unlocked until U.S. troops showed how to properly implement tanks and increase mobility.

This is not an argument that the U.S. Troops were better; they were not - in fact they were exceptionally green. However, the active participants had stagnated in their approach to battle and demanded a new perspective. That happened.
This is not clear at all. The Americans barely even had a tank core in WW1, let alone any of their own tanks, and on French and British tanks they only appeared on the battlefield in mid to late 1918, and when they did it hardly created a 'breakthrough'. See here for more details.

No one knew how effective tanks were/could be for basically the whole of WW1. Many of the tank battles ended in total failure and no one could work out how to sustain attacks with them - thus still not allowing them the break in the lines that everyone dreamed possible.

Even in the period where we did make sharp progress right at the end of 1918, it has much more to do with logistic and moral problems with Germany, than it did with any kind of other troop/technology factor as far as nearly all respected historians are concerned.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:44 PM   #56
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Re: The First World War

Should read 'morale' above in last paragraph.

Just to expand on troop mobility etc - the Allies made many daring and 'mobile' infantry attacks during WW1. Gallipoli, The Somme - even Paschendale could be considered a daring and highly mobile plot.

It's highly unlikely the Americans would have faired little better than any other nationality in any of these, and it seems a quite simple point to show that they had little more success on the Western Front late on than the rest of the Allies - and using near identical tactics - something that would suggest it had much more to do with a German internal collapse (which was pronounced and huge) than any single sudden military breakthrough in tactics or technology.
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:48 PM   #57
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Re: The First World War

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Even in the period where we did make sharp progress right at the end of 1918, it has much more to do with logistic and morale problems with Germany, than it did with any kind of other troop/technology factor as far as nearly all respected historians are concerned.
So was the German army "stabbed in the back"? Could Germany have fought on to a cease fire and more equitable peace agreement? Did Germany quit because German bankers were refusing to extend more credit to the government? And/or because of social unrest on the home front stirred up by communists? Why did Germany decide to surrender subject to such onerous terms for peace? Could they have practically done otherwise?


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Old 04-11-2011, 07:07 PM   #58
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Re: The First World War

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A painting of gas victims by Constance Oliver:

Sorry to come to this thread so late and be a nit, but this painting is by John Singer Sargent, not Constance Oliver.
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Old 04-11-2011, 07:44 PM   #59
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Re: The First World War

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This is not clear at all. The Americans barely even had a tank core in WW1, let alone any of their own tanks, and on French and British tanks they only appeared on the battlefield in mid to late 1918, and when they did it hardly created a 'breakthrough'. See here for more details.

No one knew how effective tanks were/could be for basically the whole of WW1. Many of the tank battles ended in total failure and no one could work out how to sustain attacks with them - thus still not allowing them the break in the lines that everyone dreamed possible.

Even in the period where we did make sharp progress right at the end of 1918, it has much more to do with logistic and moral problems with Germany, than it did with any kind of other troop/technology factor as far as nearly all respected historians are concerned.
From the article you cite:

Quote:
II. About the Early Tactical Doctrine of the War's Participants

The French saw the tank as mobile artillery. So they used their light tanks to accompany the infantry, moving forward with the infantry in the assault artillery role, while the heavier vehicles provide fire support instead of going forward to bread the wire.

The British envisioned using the heavy tank alone, although, later they employed the Medium A Whippet, and J.F.C. Fuller began to think more and more about using the Medium D for breakthrough and penetration. The British idea was to send the heavy tanks forward in advance of the infantry to destroy the wire. The, with the infantry following through the gap they made, the tanks were to fan out behind enemy lines to exploit the breakthrough.

The Germans had similar ideas about the use of heavy tanks. They didn't think at all about light tanks.

The Americans planned to send the heavy tanks forward to break the wire while the light tanks accompanied the infantry and provided suppressive fires for taking out machine guns and other strongpoints. And that is how [the US Fist Army] tried to use the tanks in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives.
Which comports with this:

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
True, but for much the war the tank was improperly employed. It was often seen as an "end in itself" as a stand alone weapon. Later, it was properly used as a battlefield tactical piece used in conjuction with troops. The proper idea was to use the tank in a manner to escort and shield the movement of troops over the battlefield.

I've already stated the Armerican troops were inferior to their Allied counterparts, so its not about that. Americans did bring a new way at looking at things which came to bear in reducing the St. Mihiel salient. I did not state or imply that the U.S. used its own tanks or operated on their own. For the most part, they did not.

As for providing a difference, it certainly mattered that the U.S. was brought into the fold. The eastern troops of the Germans were available to fight on the western front after the armistice with Russia. If the U.S. was not there (and you are free to insert troops from "x" country here) the Germans may have had an advantage or at least could have held out much longer.

Last edited by Oski; 04-11-2011 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 04-11-2011, 07:51 PM   #60
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Wamy Einehouse View Post
Should read 'morale' above in last paragraph.

Just to expand on troop mobility etc - the Allies made many daring and 'mobile' infantry attacks during WW1. Gallipoli, The Somme - even Paschendale could be considered a daring and highly mobile plot.

It's highly unlikely the Americans would have faired little better than any other nationality in any of these, and it seems a quite simple point to show that they had little more success on the Western Front late on than the rest of the Allies - and using near identical tactics - something that would suggest it had much more to do with a German internal collapse (which was pronounced and huge) than any single sudden military breakthrough in tactics or technology.
Both of these were coincidental. The fact remains that the Allieds employed new tactics and were working them to an advantage. Germany's internal problems certain brought a quicker end to the war, but prior to that, the outcome was in little doubt as the Allied were holding a knife at their throat. This explains why Germany accepted such one-sided terms.

Also, I appreciate why you may be interpreting my statements as "rah rah Americans," but I'm not. In any event, I think it odd that the Allied generals insisted on fighting the war a certain way for 3 1/2 years then changed up once a new element was introduced (the U.S.), and then one does not want to acknowledge this profound change. Also, the French and the English played the U.S. troops as a political football hoping to be the ones to use them to help them achieve the breakthrough and grab the glory.

The fact is that the French and English generals were not very good and were mostly political puppets or sought to use the War to their own political ends. They are quite responsible for millions of uneccesary casulaties that served no tactical advantage.

Last edited by Oski; 04-11-2011 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 04-11-2011, 11:13 PM   #61
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Wamy Einehouse View Post
Even in the period where we did make sharp progress right at the end of 1918, it has much more to do with logistic and moral problems with Germany, than it did with any kind of other troop/technology factor as far as nearly all respected historians are concerned.
I think some of these respected historians need to correct these introductory paragraphs to the wikipedia article on the Western Front:

Quote:
In an effort to break the deadlock, this front saw the introduction of new military technology, including poison gas, aircraft and tanks. But it was only after the adoption of improved tactics that some degree of mobility was restored.

In spite of the generally stagnant nature of this front, this theater would prove decisive. The inexorable advance of the Allied armies in 1918 persuaded the German commanders that defeat was inevitable, and the government was forced to sue for conditions of an armistice.
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Old 04-12-2011, 03:41 AM   #62
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Re: The First World War

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I think some of these respected historians need to correct these introductory paragraphs to the wikipedia article on the Western Front:
Yes they probably do. And this is true for most historical wikipedia articles - most of them are written to be as approachable as possible and miss huge amounts of data and tell a hyper-simplified version of everything.

Even in the part you quoted it says nothing of the huge German home famine, mass desertions etc, and I don't think I have ever read or studied any graduate or above level text on WW1 that does not have these up there with the very largest factors involved in the armistice.

After all, the Germans made the deepest advances of any army since 1914 in WW1 in the Spring offensive of 1918, and they used very little apart from troops and artillery (albeit lots of them). It seems an odd argument to make that the 'crucial' breakthrough came through changes in tactics when the Germans nearly won using the 'regular' tactics very late on in the war (when by your argument we should have been really getting these technologies/tactics working well).

A much more plausible argument is that the Germans had very little to give after their final massive (and near successful) roll of the dice, and amid mass desertion and starvation and the graudal erosion of the Western front that followed (again - even with out new machines, tactics and the huge problems the Germans had in supply/morale, we advanced slower and less distance than the Germans did in the Spring fighting 'regular' trench warfare), realised all was lost from both a morale and logistical point of view, and then sued for peace - hence it's general acceptance as the reason the war ended amongst nearly all primary source historians.

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Old 04-12-2011, 03:46 AM   #63
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Re: The First World War

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So was the German army "stabbed in the back"? Could Germany have fought on to a cease fire and more equitable peace agreement? Did Germany quit because German bankers were refusing to extend more credit to the government? And/or because of social unrest on the home front stirred up by communists? Why did Germany decide to surrender subject to such onerous terms for peace? Could they have practically done otherwise?


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Once Bismarck lost control of the Navy there was very little he could do imo. Once you lose a section of the war machine that big all is lost.
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Old 04-12-2011, 05:53 AM   #64
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Re: The First World War

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Also, I appreciate why you may be interpreting my statements as "rah rah Americans," but I'm not. In any event, I think it odd that the Allied generals insisted on fighting the war a certain way for 3 1/2 years then changed up once a new element was introduced (the U.S.), and then one does not want to acknowledge this profound change. Also, the French and the English played the U.S. troops as a political football hoping to be the ones to use them to help them achieve the breakthrough and grab the glory.
That's the point - there was tons of change and innovation in those 3 1/2 years, just none of it worked very well. Gallipolli, digging under trenches, new forms of air tactic, the first use of tanks, and posion gas. You seem to be taking credit for a final part of it and dismissing all of this as stupidity, when there is a very solid argument that the 'stupidity' had not changed much at all, just the condition of the soldiers/society it was directed at.

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The fact is that the French and English generals were not very good and were mostly political puppets or sought to use the War to their own political ends. They are quite responsible for millions of uneccesary casulaties that served no tactical advantage.
This is incredibly bold statement and I can think of no solid examples of this at any point during WW1. Would be happy to look at any examples of this you have.

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Old 04-12-2011, 11:55 AM   #65
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Wamy Einehouse View Post

It seems an odd argument to make that the 'crucial' breakthrough came through changes in tactics when the Germans nearly won using the 'regular' tactics very late on in the war (when by your argument we should have been really getting these technologies/tactics working well).
Quote:
On March 21st, 1918, Luderndorff launched the offensive. In just five hours, the Germans fired one million artillery shells at the British lines held by the Fifth Army – over 3000 shells fired every minute. The artillery bombardment was followed by an attack by elite storm troopers. These soldiers travelled lightly and were skilled in fast, hard-hitting attacks before moving on to their next target. Unlike soldiers burdened with weighty kit etc, the storm troopers carried little except weaponry (such as flame throwers) that could cause much panic, as proved to be the case in this attack.

By the end of the first day of the attack, 21,000 British soldiers had been taken prisoner and the Germans had made great advances through the lines of the Fifth Army. Senior British military commanders lost control of the situation. They had spent three years used to static warfare and suddenly they had to cope with a German onslaught. Gough ordered the Fifth Army to withdraw. The German attack was the biggest breakthrough in three years of warfare on the Western Front. Ironically, the British gave up to the Germans the Somme region – where so many British and German soldiers had been killed in the battle of 1916.
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...ve_of_1918.htm

One thing is new about this picture.
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Old 04-12-2011, 12:06 PM   #66
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Wamy Einehouse View Post
After all, the Germans made the deepest advances of any army since 1914 in WW1 in the Spring offensive of 1918, and they used very little apart from troops and artillery (albeit lots of them). It seems an odd argument to make that the 'crucial' breakthrough came through changes in tactics when the Germans nearly won using the 'regular' tactics very late on in the war (when by your argument we should have been really getting these technologies/tactics working well).

A much more plausible argument is that the Germans had very little to give after their final massive (and near successful) roll of the dice, and amid mass desertion and starvation and the graudal erosion of the Western front that followed (again - even with out new machines, tactics and the huge problems the Germans had in supply/morale, we advanced slower and less distance than the Germans did in the Spring fighting 'regular' trench warfare), realised all was lost from both a morale and logistical point of view, and then sued for peace - hence it's general acceptance as the reason the war ended amongst nearly all primary source historians.
The German's most significant problem is that military defeat was inevitable. Indeed, after the Spring offensive, they were rapidly moving backwards. If the state of the military did not have as much of a factor as you claim, why didn't the Armistice include more equitable terms? Why did Germany have to concede territories that they were still holding at the time of the cease-fire and which they had been holding since the start of the war?

The fact is the German forces were losing rapidly and they couldn't hang on much longer. The collapse of Germany was important to ending the war because it made the Germans realize that their country would probably be wiped out if the war continued and if it was to be fought in Germany (as it was about to be). The fact that the Army couldn't hold much longer made it necessary to expidite the negotiations while the Germans could still get something (even a little as we know) out of it.
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Old 04-12-2011, 12:12 PM   #67
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Re: The First World War

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This is incredibly bold statement and I can think of no solid examples of this at any point during WW1. Would be happy to look at any examples of this you have.
How about I start with this, and you can argue it the other way:

Quote:
Senior military commanders dictated the course of a battle. The commanders of the time stifled initiative and orders were expected to be obeyed to the letter. This led to the mentality that existed on all sides - send men over the trenches in huge numbers to fight the enemy. Some commanders, such as Russia's Samsonov, failed to adapt to a modern mode of fighting. Haig, though he used the tank at the Somme, was deeply suspicious of it as a means of fighting. For the French commanders, fighting élan was enough to win the day - hence the slaughter at Verdun. However, it may well be that these commanders were also not guilty of incompetence ("lions led by donkeys") but victims of the rapid industrialisation that took place in the world which resulted in modern and far more deadly weapons. Many of the commanders who led their armies in World War One were from a traditional cavalry background and brought the mentality of a cavalry commander into a war that saw, for the first real time, the mass use of the machine gun and hundreds of artillery guns on one battlefield.
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...ld_war_one.htm

the bolded portion is your opening. However, you must be careful not to run afoul of my further argument that part of being a competent commander is to take into account new weapons and battle conditions rather than doing the same thing over and over.
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Old 04-12-2011, 12:23 PM   #68
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Re: The First World War

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That's the point - there was tons of change and innovation in those 3 1/2 years, just none of it worked very well. Gallipolli, digging under trenches, new forms of air tactic, the first use of tanks, and posion gas. You seem to be taking credit for a final part of it and dismissing all of this as stupidity, when there is a very solid argument that the 'stupidity' had not changed much at all, just the condition of the soldiers/society it was directed at.
And yet, given the "tons of change and innovation in those 3 1/2 years" The armies still charged fixed positions en masse leading to wholesale slaughter. At this point, I am not really sure what you are trying to argue.

It seems that your argument is something along the lines that the Generals made the correct use of tactics because their chosen strategy was to conduct a war of attrition. The strategy played out as planned because they knew that after both sides lost millions of men that Germany would collapse economically, thus the military strategy was a success. Of course, things were going so well, that the Allies had to look to the U.S. and other countries to supply them with troops to make sure the stalemate would last long enough to allow for the planned economic collapse of Germany.

Of course, even though the U.S. troops after seeing things firsthand and developing a "different" approach to fighting, and such tactics were used, there is no correlation between the Allieds turning the tide of the war and putting the Germans in wholesale retreat to the point where weapons, materiel, vehicles and animals were abandoned in the field all across the Western Front.

And fear not, the French and English generals were not incompetent as they ran millions into meat grinder because they found innovative ways to allow these mass slaughters, while incorporating the most modern tactics known to man.
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Old 04-12-2011, 12:41 PM   #69
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Wamy Einehouse View Post
Yes they probably do. And this is true for most historical wikipedia articles - most of them are written to be as approachable as possible and miss huge amounts of data and tell a hyper-simplified version of everything.

Even in the part you quoted it says nothing of the huge German home famine, mass desertions etc, and I don't think I have ever read or studied any graduate or above level text on WW1 that does not have these up there with the very largest factors involved in the armistice.

After all, the Germans made the deepest advances of any army since 1914 in WW1 in the Spring offensive of 1918, and they used very little apart from troops and artillery (albeit lots of them). It seems an odd argument to make that the 'crucial' breakthrough came through changes in tactics when the Germans nearly won using the 'regular' tactics very late on in the war (when by your argument we should have been really getting these technologies/tactics working well).

A much more plausible argument is that the Germans had very little to give after their final massive (and near successful) roll of the dice, and amid mass desertion and starvation and the graudal erosion of the Western front that followed (again - even with out new machines, tactics and the huge problems the Germans had in supply/morale, we advanced slower and less distance than the Germans did in the Spring fighting 'regular' trench warfare), realised all was lost from both a morale and logistical point of view, and then sued for peace - hence it's general acceptance as the reason the war ended amongst nearly all primary source historians.
As I stated in my post, these are introductory paragraphs. The support for these conclusions is set forth in the main article (with citations).

I appreciate the pratfalls of relying on Wikipedia. It so happens this article comports with what I have read about the War, so I don't have reason to question it.

However, in this thread alone, you have not really provided any citations to back up your arguments and normally, that is not a problem for me, but you have also 1) presented a doctored photo as genuine; 2) incorrectly cited a painting. Once these errors are coupled with the fact you have continued your arguments without citing sources makes me concerned.
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Old 04-12-2011, 12:49 PM   #70
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Re: The First World War

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World War One ended in November 1918. During 1918, two major offensives took place on the Western Front, both based on movement as opposed to the trench mentality of the previous years.
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...ld_war_one.htm

Looks like something new.

the timeline tells the story:

500,000 troops freed up for use on the Western Front

Quote:
February 24th: Russia accepted Germany’s peace terms.

March 3rd: Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed between Germany and Russia.[/FONT][/SIZE] [/FONT]
German offensive

Quote:
March 21st: Germany broke through in the Somme at the start of its ‘Spring Offensive’. 65 divisions attacked along a 60-mile front. The German Air Service launched a major campaign against the Royal Flying Corps but it failed.

March 23rd: The Germans made major advances using Storm Troops. Paris was hit with long-range artillery. The British 5th Army suffered major losses.

March 28th: First signs seen that Germany’s offensive was losing its impetus with the failed attack on Arras.
Allied military success

Quote:
July 15th: Second Battle of the Marne started, which saw the collapse of the German army on the Western Front.

August 1st: French forces occupied Soissons.

August 3rd: Germany completed her withdrawal from the Marne salient

August 8th: The Allies continued their advance against the Germans. The RAF dropped 1,563 bombs and fired 122,150 rounds of ammunition in support of ground forces. This day is known as the “Black Day of the German Army”.

August 18th: A British offensive in Flanders began. A French offensive captured Aisne Heights.

August 21st: The British renewed their offensive on the Somme.

August 22nd: British forces captured Albert.

August 28th: Canadian troops broke through the Hindenburg Line.

August 29th: New Zealand troops occupied Baupanne.

September 2nd: Australian forces occupied Péronne. Canadian troops continued their advance past the Hindenburg Line.

September 12th: 1,476 Allied aircraft supported an US attack at St. Mihiel.

September 16th: US forces occupy St. Mihiel.

September 19th: Turkish forces collapsed at Megiddo.

September 26th: French and American forces started an offensive against German positions at Argonne.

September 27th: New British offensive started.

September 28th: Fourth Battle of Ypres started.
Losing ground on all fronts; Luderndorff requests armistice.

Quote:
September 29th: Luderndorff asked for an immediate armistice.
And once again

Quote:
October 4th: Germany asked the Allies for an armistice based on Woodrow Wilson’s ‘Fourteen Points’.
Allied keep pushing Germans back

Quote:
October 9th: British troops advanced to the last line of trenches in the Hindenburg Line.

October 13th: French troops occupied Laon.

October 14th: German troops started to abandon the Belgian coastline.

October 17th: British troops occupied Lille. Belgian troops reoccupied Ostend.

October 19th: Zeebruge occupied by the British.

October 24th: Start of the Battle of Vittorio Veneto.[/FONT][/SIZE] [/FONT]
Here come your mutinies:

Quote:
October 26th: Luderndorff dismissed by Wilhelm II.

October 29th: The German Army experienced mutinies in certain sectors.
More Allied success:

Quote:
November 3rd: Austria-Hungary signed an armistice with Italy. A mutiny occurred within the High Seas Fleet based at Kiel – generally seen as the spark that caused the German Revolution.

November 5th: General retreat of German forces along the Meuse started.
The point where you state "all is now lost" once the Navy withdraws its support
Quote:
November 3rd: Austria-Hungary signed an armistice with Italy. A mutiny occurred within the High Seas Fleet based at Kiel – generally seen as the spark that caused the German Revolution.

November 5th: General retreat of German forces along the Meuse started.

November 8th: German representatives arrived at Compiègne and are handed the terms of an armistice.

November 9th: Wilhelm II of Germany abdicated. Belgian forces occupied Ghent.

November 10th: Wilhelm II crossed into the Netherlands after it became clear that the German Army and Navy no longer supported him.

November 11th: Germany signed an armistice with the Allies, which came into force at 11.00. World War One ended.

Last edited by Oski; 04-12-2011 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 04-12-2011, 01:28 PM   #71
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Wamy Einehouse View Post
Once Bismarck lost control of the Navy there was very little he could do imo. Once you lose a section of the war machine that big all is lost.
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November 10th: Wilhelm II crossed into the Netherlands after it became clear that the German Army and Navy no longer supported him.

November 11th: Germany signed an armistice with the Allies, which came into force at 11.00. World War One ended.
So, it is your position that the precipitating military event leading to surrender happened only one day prior to the signing of the armistice (and six weeks after Luderndorf initially requested an armistice)?

We already know your primary position is the internal collapse of Germany ended the war. The "spark" of the Revolution, of course is traced to November 3 - 8 days prior to the end of the war and 5 weeks after Luderndorf initially requested an armistice.
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Old 04-12-2011, 04:14 PM   #72
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
How about I start with this, and you can argue it the other way:



http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...ld_war_one.htm

the bolded portion is your opening. However, you must be careful not to run afoul of my further argument that part of being a competent commander is to take into account new weapons and battle conditions rather than doing the same thing over and over.
Maybe we'll start with Haig, instead:

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Haig had little time for new military ideas. He was very much steeped in the ways that he knew – conventional tactics. In 1916, Haig put his belief in one final mighty push against the Germans to be executed in the Somme region of France. The French had been asking for some form of military assistance from the British to help them in their battle with the Germans at Verdun. Haig’s plan was to launch an attack on the Germans that would require them to remove some of their troops from the Verdun battlefield thus relieving the French in Verdun.

The Somme led to the loss of 600,000 men on the Allies side; 400,000 were British or Commonwealth troops. When the battle had ended, they had gained ten miles of land. Haig has been criticised by some for his belief in the simple advance of infantry troops on enemy lines. With 20,000 Allied soldiers killed on Day One and 40,000 injured, some historians have claimed that Haig should have learned from these statistics and adjusted his tactics. He did not. However, the Somme attack was not just about antiquated tactics as the battle witnessed the use of the rolling artillery barrage that should have helped the Allied troops as they advanced. That it did not was more a comment on the fact that the Germans had dug in more deeply than British intelligence had bargained for and was less susceptible to artillery fire. Once the artillery firing had stopped, the British had all but signaled that the infantry was on its way.

The tank was first used en masse at the Somme but it did not receive the enthusiastic backing of Haig – though many senior cavalry officers were against the tank and Haig was not alone in his suspicion of it as a weapon.
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...uglas_haig.htm
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Old 04-13-2011, 04:17 AM   #73
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Wamy Einehouse View Post
Once Bismarck lost control of the Navy there was very little he could do imo. Once you lose a section of the war machine that big all is lost.
certainly not Bismarck. He was dead for 20 years by that point and gone from power even longer.
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:13 AM   #74
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
...
the bolded portion is your opening. However, you must be careful not to run afoul of my further argument that part of being a competent commander is to take into account new weapons and battle conditions rather than doing the same thing over and over.
You seem to have been responding to
"The fact is that the French and English generals were not very good ..."
as being the 'bold' statement.

But I think it's the rest of what you said, "... and were mostly political puppets or sought to use the War to their own political ends. They are quite responsible for millions of uneccesary casulaties that served no tactical advantage." which is the issue.

Even the last clause of your statement is a little bit ott, even if the generals were mediocre (at best) or incompetent (at worst) it's a little excessive to lay personal individual blame on people because they were only 'ordinary' rather than 'great'.
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Old 04-13-2011, 08:06 AM   #75
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...ve_of_1918.htm

One thing is new about this picture.
This seems a little like taking credit when a bet wins but not when it does not. The reasons the Germans broke through had a lot to do with men and the fatigued and demoralised state of the Allied troops at this point. In terms of tactics there is very little quanitifiably different than say if they had broke through with gas, yet this is ranked as stupidity, where as this one new tactic is suddenly genius.

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The German's most significant problem is that military defeat was inevitable. Indeed, after the Spring offensive, they were rapidly moving backwards. If the state of the military did not have as much of a factor as you claim, why didn't the Armistice include more equitable terms? Why did Germany have to concede territories that they were still holding at the time of the cease-fire and which they had been holding since the start of the war?

The fact is the German forces were losing rapidly and they couldn't hang on much longer. The collapse of Germany was important to ending the war because it made the Germans realize that their country would probably be wiped out if the war continued and if it was to be fought in Germany (as it was about to be). The fact that the Army couldn't hold much longer made it necessary to expidite the negotiations while the Germans could still get something (even a little as we know) out of it.
This has very little to do with the point I was making. I agree the Germans were in total dissary and had to sue as quickly as possible. We just disagree why.

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
How about I start with this, and you can argue it the other way:



http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...ld_war_one.htm

the bolded portion is your opening. However, you must be careful not to run afoul of my further argument that part of being a competent commander is to take into account new weapons and battle conditions rather than doing the same thing over and over.
My line on this is very simple. Generals/scientists on both sides were highly innovative throughout the war - just none of their innovations worked. Towards the end of the war certain innovations helped make slight progress, but that over all the apex of the collapse of Germany and the near collapse of the Allied was based in societal/moral/supply factors much more so than battlefield tactical ones.

Your get out clause of 'being competant means you should know what weapons/tactics will work' is also nonsense - no person can look at rapidly moving technology and understand exactly how it will work. It's a grim process of trial and error and of doing whatever you can to keep the lines intact.

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And yet, given the "tons of change and innovation in those 3 1/2 years" The armies still charged fixed positions en masse leading to wholesale slaughter. At this point, I am not really sure what you are trying to argue.

It seems that your argument is something along the lines that the Generals made the correct use of tactics because their chosen strategy was to conduct a war of attrition. The strategy played out as planned because they knew that after both sides lost millions of men that Germany would collapse economically, thus the military strategy was a success. Of course, things were going so well, that the Allies had to look to the U.S. and other countries to supply them with troops to make sure the stalemate would last long enough to allow for the planned economic collapse of Germany.

Of course, even though the U.S. troops after seeing things firsthand and developing a "different" approach to fighting, and such tactics were used, there is no correlation between the Allieds turning the tide of the war and putting the Germans in wholesale retreat to the point where weapons, materiel, vehicles and animals were abandoned in the field all across the Western Front.

And fear not, the French and English generals were not incompetent as they ran millions into meat grinder because they found innovative ways to allow these mass slaughters, while incorporating the most modern tactics known to man.
My argument is that in many situations they had little choice. What would your response as a general at the time have been to Verdun for example? Retreat? Attack? How and with what methods?

Last edited by Wamy Einehouse; 04-13-2011 at 08:11 AM.
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