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Florent
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Sat Oct 25, 2008 4:17 pm

It was game over in 1918, the major reason is the total defeat of the Central Powers in the Balkan often forgotten.
General Franchet D'Esperey did a Masterplan and brought the Allied forces from Salonique in Greece (starting of opérations on 15 september 1918) to Belgrad and the Danube(taken 1 november 1918) brillantly.
The Allied forces were on their way to Budapest, Vienna and Berlin.
The Germano-Bulgarian armies had been defeated (German XI Army surrendered with 80000 men and Bulgaria put out of the war (September 1918).
These events played a major part in the Armistice of 1918.

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Spruce
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Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:53 pm

Basicly, the German ambition to avoid an attrition war with the Entente was a little naive. So I think they can not escape the meat grinder.

side remark = that's also the game about - as many nations make a very wide scaled armed conflict.

Second, any good reason to gain the edge in the attritional war, is a reason why the Central Powers could have won the war. F.e. I think about morale issues (political consequences) with the Entente - Socialist revolts - etc.

Everything is possible.

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Tamas
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Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:50 am

Florent wrote:It was game over in 1918, the major reason is the total defeat of the Central Powers in the Balkan often forgotten.
General Franchet D'Esperey did a Masterplan and brought the Allied forces from Salonique in Greece (starting of opérations on 15 september 1918) to Belgrad and the Danube(taken 1 november 1918) brillantly.
The Allied forces were on their way to Budapest, Vienna and Berlin.
The Germano-Bulgarian armies had been defeated (German XI Army surrendered with 80000 men and Bulgaria put out of the war (September 1918).
These events played a major part in the Armistice of 1918.



I agree, altough for that they needed the abysmal state of the Dual Monarchy's army. I dont know details about the Balkan front, but reports from Austria-Hungary's prime frontline at the time (Italy), just before the Piave offensive, are horryfing. Chronic lack of proper provisioning, low ammunition, and in result of that and the horrible losses for the last 4 years plummeted the morale, especially among the "non-ruling" nationalities.

orca
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Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:42 am

No-one has made much of submarine warfare. The Germans came much closer to winning the shipping war in WWI than in WWII. Had they not backed off unrestricted warfare in 1915 they had a very good chance of starving Britain and France. Earlier US entry would have hurt them, but the RN wouldn't have had two years to learn ASW. That's their big mistake IMHO.

Palpat
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Mon Oct 27, 2008 8:29 am

IIRC, France was not starving during the Great War. Except the occupied part.

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Charles De Salaberry
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:49 am

Could Germany have won the war? Yes!

Their focus for the entire beginning of the war should have been on knocking Russia out of the war, not France. This was a relic of the Napoleonic War where Napoleon had been defeated by the Russians and every major European power now feared the Russian Steamroller. The Japanese had shown how fragile the Russian Army was during the Russo-Japanese War, but the European powers still had not learned the lesson and they believed that once the Russian Steamroller started moving it was impossible to stop.

If they had done so, they probably would have caused the collapse of Russia in 1916, after the Brusilov Offensive (which would have been a massive failure) with the subsequent result that they would not have needed to resort to the measures which caused the US to declare war and would have been able to launch their 1918 Spring Offensive in 1917 and caused the collapse of France.

Even given events as they had unfolded, they could have still won in 1918. The major effect that the United States had during the German Spring Offensive of 1918 was not the extra manpower they provided, which was 2 or 3 divisions at most, it was the Morale boost that it gave to the Allied Forces. Examination of the historical records shows that the Germans came very close to causing a complete morale collapse within the Allied Forces - this was only prevented by the knowledge that the Americans were coming and reinforced by the presence of the few American forces at Belleau Woods, and the second Battle of the Marne. The German Spring Offensive of 1918 was a complete throw of the dice, and could easily have gone either way before the Americans arrived.

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Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:29 am

The most Plausible road to CP victory would have been the 1918 spring offense. The big mistake (with hindsight) was letting up on the British after the initial great success. Instead of aiming for Paris in May, they should have aimed for the Channel. I am aware of the fact that the German Army could not have continued the attacks against the Brits after the first great attack-the infrastructure was wrecked, and they need to the big guns up front again. By May, they should have been able to do it. With 40 fresh divisions against what still what were ghosts of British divisions, success was likely. Of course, French reserves were in the area, but would it had been enough? How effective would the French had been if caught up in the rout of another Army?
I think that Germany should have done everything it could to avoid war with the U.S. The U Boat effort was a great gamble-far too risky of one, IMO.

The Russian gambit? Maybe, but when we get into those things, quite a few doors get opened up. It might have worked, but it may have ended in a disaster. I'll be giving that another try with this new WW1 game-after the patch.

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Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:44 pm

Id like to second the recommendation of "The myth of the Great war". Until you read this book you won't realize how much our understanding of the war is still shaped by Allied propaganda and post war myth making.

Probably the most extreme example of "the winners write the history books" ever.

As to if the CP could have won. They very nearly did. It was entirely due to America's intervention that they didn't. American intervention includes the extremely effective, well lead, and well armed 1 million man AEF as well as the massive financial and material assistance provided both before and after war was declared (there was a reason, after all, WHY CP declared unrestricted submarine warfare).

In fact in a very real way they didn't really lose. That they were treated as a prostrate opponent led to a very bitter harvest indeed.

The real success of the Allies was proganada and diplomacy. First by France in encircling Germany with a alliance with Russia, then prying Italy loose from Germany. Then incredibly getting Britian entagled in a continental land war, then getting Italy to enter the fight and finally to get the US into it.

The CPs military prowess was unfortunetely (for them) matched up with diplomatic ineptness, with a little skill here and a basic avoidance of boneheaded moves like sinking ocean liners they could have carried the day.


,

tagwyn
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Wed Dec 03, 2008 12:51 am

With all due respect, where in Wonderland/Oz/Narnia are you writing from? America did not win the war but w/o them the war would not have been won. Britain told Kaiser Bill on numerous ocassions that the invasion of Belgium, etc. would probably bring them into the war with France. France entered into alliance with the Czar for the preservation of both France and Russia. Didn't work for Russia, one reason being that Huns slipped Lenin through the Finland Station into Russia at a key point in the war. Read B. Tuchman, Guns of 1914.[I][/I] :p apy:

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Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:53 am

I'm not really parsing your logic. The Great War in the end came down to which alliance exhausted itself first. My contention (well not only mine of course) is that without US support both overt and covert the allies would have been the ones most likely to crack.

In particular the introduction of a million fresh troops (which were far from ineffective as they've often been painted) with the promise of more to come had a fatal effect on German morale and a positive effect on the Allies.

As to Britain coming in due to the invasion of Belgium, this is incorrect. In point of fact the British had committed in secret to land the BEF in support of the French regardless a fact of which the Germans were well aware (since the required logistical operations could hardly be hidden).

As to the Franco-Russian alliance being for France's preservation this is not the most accepted historical analysis. After the debacle of the 1870's, France was determined to win any future conflict with Germany. Part of that war winning strategy was to force Germany to fight on two fronts. Always a good strategy of course.

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Wed Dec 03, 2008 6:14 am

And?

TommH
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Wed Dec 03, 2008 6:53 pm

More explicitly, because of the size of the forces and the general militarization/industrialization of the states involved a decisive military victory was extremely unlikely if not impossible. The CP was extremely successful militarily in 1914 and 1915 (much more then the Allies admitted at the time or that many histories still admit) but they still couldn't win.

Both sides kept seeking this sort of climatic "Napoleonic" resolution but it just wasn't possible. Instead the winner was the one who could hold out the longest. That given, in order for the CP to "win" we have to look at factors which would allow it to hold out longer or for the allies to collapse sooner. Americas entry is a obvious major element.

Of course Russian and Britain not being aligned with the French from the start would be even better (from the CP's point of view of course), but then you have to question if there would have been a war at all. Without Russia, France (with only the help of the very small original BEF) would have been in very dire straits. It would have been incredibly foolish to provoke a war under those circumstances, not to mention that that Ferdy getting capped wouldn't have mattered.

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soundoff
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Wed Dec 03, 2008 7:24 pm

TommH wrote:
As to Britain coming in due to the invasion of Belgium, this is incorrect. In point of fact the British had committed in secret to land the BEF in support of the French regardless a fact of which the Germans were well aware (since the required logistical operations could hardly be hidden).



Totally totally disagree. We were bound by Article 7 of the Treaty of London of 1839 to guard the neutrality of Belgium. Indeed two days before we declared war on Germany we were asked by them to ignore the 'scrap of paper' :love:

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Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:35 pm

Please keep in mind one other point that escaped most of the posters here: the quality and adaptability of the German Army. It had the best officer corps of all combattants, was capable of renewing itself during the carnage of the war and kept up to date with developments.

Although like other combatants, the German army underestimated the firepower of their adversaries, they quickly adopted to it. It can be seen from the adoption of new uniforms, equipment and tactics. This is something that the opposing forces lagged behind. They also came closest to using the combined arms approach during that war (benefits of which were reaped in the next one).

Normally we tend to think of German officers as a monocled, humourless idiot without a single grey cell, obeying orders like a robot. Unfortunately that was due to the way the opposing propoganda portrayed them. The truth was something else. Most were professionals, trained from childhood (or adoloscence) to lead men and interpret their orders creatively. Look at the likes of Rommel, Schorner, Guderian and others who later became generals in their own time. They were already behaving creatively at the time when they were lieutenants. Nowhere is this superiority of the German officer corps visible more then in the destruction of Roumania. The arrival of 2 generals (included the recently discharged chief of staff Falkenheyn) with a brigade of Germans basically altered the situation by molding such different armies as the AH, Bulgarian and Ottoman into one cohesive whole.

On the other hand, we had all those brilliant allied generals like Nivelle, Mangin, Haig, Samsanov, who showed flashes of genius, products of army mafias, royal connections or political imbroglio. The allies had very few generals, let alone junior officers of the calibre of those found in the German Army.

The truth is that the German Army went to war understrength because the Kaiser decided to build a Dreadnaught fleet, and having to prop up allies which became ever more of a burden. The bulk of the AH army was a joke, composed of nationalities who wanted to set up their own nation states (thus only Austrian, Hungarian, Slovenes and Croats really fought hard - they were, after all, the traditional heartland of the Hapsburgs). The Ottoman Empire was called the sick man for some reason. :w00t: The Bulgarians were stolid and worthy, but basically relied for their hardware from their larger allies.

The truth is that basically it was a war of quality vs quantity and as someone said "quantity has a quality of its own"

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Pt1

Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:43 pm

I am new to this site so I apologise if I am going over old ground. I think the Central Powers could have won, but only in 1914. If they had stuck to the original Schleiffen Plean then the Right wing would have been stronger and might have survived the rigours of the campaign. Once the war settled own into what was effectively a Seige the had lost.

I would disagree with Offworlder's views of the allied generals, in the late sixties and early seventies a view of the war became viewed as irrefutable which said that all the Generals were "butchers and bunglers". This was mainly because it suited the class warfare view of history that characterised that time.

If any of the Generals on either side could appropriately be called a "butcher" it was the German General Falkenhayn who conceived the Battle of Verdun as a means of wearing down and destroying the French Army by inflicting massive casualties.

As regards the position of the British Army, they we always the Junior Partner on land, but the Senior Partner at Sea. There is evidence that the British would have liked to hold better ground than the Ypres Salient but it was unacceptable to the French to give up any of their soil.

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Pt2

Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:57 pm

The British and Empire armies certainly proved adaptable and the Battle of Amiens was a superb combined arms battle. The difference was one of doctrine. The British and Empire forces trained specialists within their units, the Germans created elite formations of Stormtroopers concetrating their best troops.

The Kiaserschlacht Offensive ran out of steam when the isproportionsately high casualties amongst the stormtroopers began to tell, and also when in overunning the the Allied lines they also overan the supply dumps it was apparent that the Central Powers' propaganda that the Alles were starving and on the brink of collapse were untrue. That realisation was the beginning of the end for the morale of the German Army.

It is worth bearing in mind that the Britis and Empire Army was the only one that did not suffer a catastrophic failure of morale. It is also worth bearing in mind that when Haig died 20,000 ex-servicemen filed past his coffin in London before it was taken to his family home in the Borders. Had he been the uncaring fool that he is so often prtrayed as the solsiers would not have turned up in those numbers. Soldiers know when a General doesn't care and they dont like it. They aren't that dumb.

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Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:12 pm

The battle of Amiens was in 1918 , after nearly four years of conflict. The Germans were using combined arms tactics (the use of special pioneers, MGs, massed heavy artillery, in a early form in 1914-1915 (in the Ardennes for instance).

As to the idea that special weapons were more integrated in the British forces then in the German this is the exact opposite of the truth. From the begging of the war German forces had integrated at the divisional level pioneer (combat engineer units) , much more artillery both heavy and light and MGs were attached directly to units. By contrast in the BEF MGs were part of the MG corps (and were initially very rare), artillery was handled as a corps asset etc.

I'm afraid we'll just have to differ as to our opinions on Haig. I consider him a butcher of the first order and one of the worst commanders at that level of any modern war.

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Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:46 pm

Please remember how Haig came through power: political intrigue coupled with backstabbing of his boss. It is well known that he was on the verge of being removed several times and only royal patronage saved his skin. One reason why the British Prime Minister Lloyd George agreed to have Haig put under French control was to stop or curtail his bungling.

As to Falkenheyn, he suffered from having princely underlings who didn't understand the whole idea behind Verdun Battle. Spurred on by the rapid successes of general like von Zwehl, Army generals dreamt of breakthroughs etc. In fact one of the ideas behind the whole battle was to save manpower and rain steel on the enemy. It is his underlings that really screwed him over. It is interesting to note that after Verdun, he co-ordinated an offensive that obliterated Romania with troops coming from 4 different countries (more if we chose to look closer at the composition of AH contingents) in a matter of months.

As to who came up with combined arms warfare in the modern sense, well one has to look back to the wars of German unification. As TommyH pointed out, German divisions were self contained fighting units, including infantry, artillery, recon, MGs, pioneers and support services at the begining of the war, and operated as one (only the French adopted a similar system pre-war - a combination of quick-firing artillery plus infantry advances). As war went on, they reduced the number of infantry, increased MGs and pioneers and in general boosted the division's firepower to economise on manpower. Its no surprise that everyone else followed suit. It is also worth noting that great interest was taken in radio signals, though contemporary technology was lacking.

What is interesting that all these WWI refinements were brought to fruition in WWII, with devastating effects. The Allied side rarely came up with new tactics or exploited advances in technology in a decisive way (with the exception of the tank). It is also worth noting that some of the best brains in British and French forces were sidelined to lesser theatres in order not to 'disrupt' their rather more deliberate 'elders'.

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Reply to TommH

Fri Dec 12, 2008 11:49 am

Sorry it has taken a few days to get back.

I think there is a tendency to regard the German Army in both World Wars as possessed of all the military virtues and the epitome of military perfection. There is also a tendency to regard other armies in the opposite light.

In 1914 the German Army marched its troops into massed rifle fire in the sort of formations that characterised the wars in 1870. Even at First Ypres the German formations were marching into battle singing songs and with linked arms.

The Question of Machine Guns is an interesting example of the myths that surround the subject.

The Infantry Divisional Organisation of the main participants in 1914 is revealing:

German : Men : 17,000 : Guns: 72 : MGs : 24.
French : Men: 15,000 : Guns 36 : MGs : 24.
British : Men: 18,000 : Guns 76 : MGs : 24.
Russian : Men: 20,000 : Guns 48 : MGs : 32.
Austro Hungarian : Men: 15,000 : Guns 42 : MGs : 28.

There doesn’t seem to be much disparity. What is interesting is that some years before the war the British Army carried out a study and concluded that they needed 12 MGs per Battalion. The Chancellor would not provide the funds so they concentrated on Marching and Marksmanship. The Chancellor in questions was, of course, Lloyd-George who was one of the most vociferous critics of the Generals after the war, but being a politician he couldn’t be expected responsible for the effects of his own decisions. I haven’t read his memoirs but I understand they try to shift all blame onto others.

Machine guns were concentrated in Machine Gun Companies of six MGs per three battalion regiment. The British Battalions were allocated to Brigades separately and each had two MGs. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference.

Also the Machine Gun Corps was founded on 22 October 1915 and the Vickers MMG was withdrawn as the Lewis Gun was rolled out although many brigades had already anticipated this move.

As regards Engineers there were two companies per British Division and one per German. It is true that the German engineers did take responsibility for the Trench Mortars but that was only in Dec 1914 after trench warfare had started.

It is interesting to consider what the Germans themselves thought. Walter Bloem in his book “The Advance from Mons” (Vormarsch in the original German, I believe) describes being shot at but no enemy to be seen. As the German army advanced he makes this comment.

“Then they apparently knew something about war, these cursed English, a fact soon confirmed on all sides. Wonderful, as we marched on, how they had converted every house, every wall, into a little fortress: the experience no doubt of old soldiers gained in a dozen colonial wars; possibly even some of the butchers of the Boers were among them. And now they had gone, left all this work rather than wait for our bayonets and the butts of our rifles.”

The BEF had managed to break off without the German knowing which is a very difficult manoeuvre to carry out successfully.

Coming back to the original subject of the thread could the Central Powers have won, One major threat to the BEF and therefore the flank of the allied army was the Cavalry Corps under Von Marwits. This was kept to the flank of the BEF because Von Kluck was convinced the BEF had come ashore at Calais and the first army was forcing it away from its lines of communications, whereas the BEF were retreating along their LOCs having landed at Le Havre. Had the Cavalry been used during the retreat then it might have been a different story.

Offworlder
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Fri Dec 12, 2008 7:17 pm

There is also the question of scale. The British army was composed of a few, well trained divisions, while the German was a mass conscript army. Once the 1914 army was shredded to pieces, the British army had to learn its trade again in the most painful way-the sacrifice of the Kitchner divisions in human wave attacks at the Somme. Also note that the bulk of the German troops at First Ypres was made up of untrained university students rather than trained soldiers. There was a real fear that they would go to ground once all hell broke lose and that is why they advanced in compact masses. There was some misgiving about using them in battle at HQ, but it was judged that their impact may bring about the resumption of mobile warfare. Obviously, they were wrong, but in practice the original BEF seized to exist at that time.

Another thing that one should consider is that the Germans always relied on firepower delivered from mobile units. As far back as the Austro-Prussian war, they had abandoned battalion salvos in favour of company skirmisher-style advances. They had come to the conclusion (like the Americans simultaneously did in the Civil War) that mobile firepower was the key to success. It is interesting that it was only in the Boer War that the British started appreciating firepower and camouflage and yet neglected the most important aspect of it: field trenches. Their most horrendous losses occured during the Boer war when they assaulted them while they were dug in. Yet artillery was rather weak, both in numbers and weight of shot, and indifferently supplied with ammo.

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soundoff
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Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:11 pm

Whoa.....Artist (I'm a Brit and proud of it) but I'm not sure I'd agree with your assertions in respect of the use of Machine Guns between the combatants at the start of the war. Before I make a final judgement though can you supply your sources?

Now from my understanding whilst Maxim offered the machine gun first to the Brits in 1885 our high command could see no real use for it with some officers even regarding the weapon as an improper form of warfare.

The German high command however quickly saw the potential and produced the Maschinengewehr 08 in large quantities at the Spandau arsenal. By the time war broke out in August 1914 Germany already had 12,000 at their disposal whilst the British and Fremch could only muster a few hundred each. Indeed in 1914 the British Army only issued two MG's per battalion.

What is also true (reluctantly accepting some of Offworlders contentions) the British army found it difficult to accept the superiority of defensive warfare technology as witnessed by the futile attacks at the Somme.

Mind you no country actually found a way of combating a good defensive strategy until the introduction of the Tank......Germany was generally just as inept in assault as any of her opponents.

The area where I'd really disagree with both Offworlder and TommH is their assessments of Haig. I accept we must agree to differ but at least recent British historians look far more favourably on Haig than was initally the case. Personally his reputation was tarnished too much at the end of the war by Lloyd George and Churchill....both of whom had 'other' agendas. Then again thats a whole new thread.

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Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:57 pm

The concept of the British army during WWI being an 'Army of Lions led by Donkeys' and Haig having the nickname of 'Butcher' Haig date from the 1930's when the disillusionment of the Great Depression succeeded the optimism that emerged after the war. Richard Holmes in his book 'Tommy' covers this apect very well. Reading letters dated 1918 from veterans shows no negative references to Haig or other British generals. In fact, Haig was held in high regard by his troops. Reading the same veterans' letters from the 1930's shows a change in attitude towards Haig in particular and British leadership in general. The bitterness of not seeing any of the benefits for their wartime sacrifices caused men's attitudes towards the war to change.
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Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:13 am

Dear me, I do seem to have stirred up a debate!!

In answer to Offworlder,

The question of Machine Guns, Over the last four years since I have become interested in the period I have come across a number of references to this. The easiest to access and the ones to which I referred my post.

Atlas of the First World War by Arthur Banks has a set of Divisional Organisations. Set out as diagrams on pages 34&35 for the Infantry Divisions.

G.F. Nafzinger produced books of Orders of Battle and the one on the Russian Army (the only one I have at the moment) seems to corroborate the Russian figure.

Osprey do an Battle Orders Series, the one on the BEF 1914-15 seems has an interesting discussion on Machine Guns . It is written by Bruce Gudmundsson who according to the fly leaf has taught at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, RMA Sandhurst and Oxford University. According to him the British infantry battalions started using them in 1887 but although there were machine guns and people trained in their use, an official MG section didn’t appear until 1913. (page30 and 31) There is also details of Motor Machine Gun Batteries. (Page 32)

The German organisation is also corroborated in The Osprey German Army in WW1 first Volume. Part of their Men at Arms Series (Page 45 Plate description C2).

A book has recently appeared in UK Bookshops call “An Officer’s Manual of the Western Front 1914-1918” I consists of reprints from a selection of the Manuals, Notes, Instructions etc produced during the War. Chapters One is from the pre-war manual “Infantry Training, 1914” and reproduces Chapter X “Infantry in Attack” . This is what it says about MGs

“6. The object of fire in the attack, whether of artillery, machine guns, or infantry, is to bring such a superiority of fire to bear on the enemy as to make the advance to close contact possible.”

Later in Paragraph 8 there is reference to covering fire detachments.

“In undulating or mountainous country it may be possible for these detachments to cover the advance from positions in rear, but in flat country it is impossible for infantry or machine guns to fire over the heads of their own troops, and opportunities for supplying covering fire must be sought on the flanks”

It seems clear that MGs were integrated into the workings of an infantry assault at a fairly low level of command even before the war.

There are also sections on working with the Guns.

I think we tend to forget that the Royal Navy was the principal service for Great Britain, an initially the BEF was designed to be a weapon “Fired by the Fleet”.

The difficulty facing the Allies in the war was that Defensive technology had out stripped offensive technology in effectiveness. I don’t think that there was a difficulty in accepting the superiority of the defensive, but the cause of Britain’s entry into the War was the wholesale annexation of Belgium and therefore turfing Germany out of Belgium was a key war aim. You couldn’t do that without attacking the armies sitting there. Similarly for the French the recovery of the occupied areas of Northern France, which in large measure was their industrial heartland was a key war aim and again the German Army could sit it out whereas the French had to attack to recover their land.

A book that is well worth reading is Mud Blood and Poppycock by Gordon Corrigan. It takes subjects like the casualty rates, how time in the trenches was organised etc. Basically it takes most of the accepted “Truisms” about the War and examines whether they are valid or not. Usually he concludes they aren’t but there is enough information for the reader to draw their own conclusion. It only deals with the British Army.

Christopher Duffy has written an interesting book “The Somme through German Eyes” which put a different perspective on that battle.

Walter Reid’s biography of Haig is good.

Naval & Military Press have reprinted Von Kluck’s and Falkenhayn’s post war account (Von Klucks was written during the war but published afterwards) Von KLuck’s is more readable that Falkenhayn’s and both are much better than the Kaisers.

I hope that helps with some of the sources.

FM WarB
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Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:13 am

Commanders we can all (I hope) agree to scorn:
1) Conrad. Had he not ruined the best of the AH army in 1914 and early 1915 with his rail mobilization fiasco and overambitious, costly offensives, AH might not have been the weakling it was for the rest of the war.
2) Enver Pasha. His mismanagement of the Turkish forces in the Caucusses greatly reduced Turkey's contribution to the CP cause.
Germany needed more help from its allies; AH (the cause of Germany entering the war in the first place) proved more burden than aid and CP allied strategic coordination makes the TE version appear a love-fest.

tagwyn
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Win in 1914!

Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:27 am

If Lanzerac's army had not shifted, contrary to Joffre's orders, towards the coast to slow down the Huns' wheel the war would have been lost for the French in 1914. BEF had great soldiers but foolish generals and would have posed no opposition for the massive Hun movement. t :p oke:

FM WarB
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Sun Dec 14, 2008 5:15 am

The Schlieffen Plan was faulty. It aimed for a quick knockout blow ignoring logistics, the fatigue of right wing long marches, and Brit intervention caused by attacking Belgium. Two more Korps would have been no help on the right wing, as they couldnt be supplied.
Schlieffen wasnt the only one promising a quick victory; Home before the leaves fall was the promise to the cannon fodder of all nations. Even if the military Geniuses in charge of WWI could see the eventual long attritional war, it was nothing they could promise their nations.

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Sun Dec 14, 2008 7:44 am

Also the Schlieffen plan did not take into account the diplomatic changes that had taken place since its inception. Like all the other plans made prior to WWI, they were also faulty in the sense that each antagonist thought that they were going to fight a war close to the Franco-Prussian war. But it is hard to see what the Germans could otherwise do if they really wanted to knock out France in the first place. Schlieffen's (and his successors) main fault is that they did not have an alternative plan(s), something that the elder Moltke would not have allowed to happen.

It is interesting to note that the last European war(s), the Balkan Wars were relatively mobile and therefore misleading as to the real nature of future warfare. Though General Staffs took note of the Russo-Japanese war, they arrived at the wrong conclusions - that morale would triumph over steel. Most praised the Japanese resolve in attacking en masse, despite the fact that very often they ended getting shredded. Yet, they won the war...

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Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:57 pm

Just noticed that my last was addressed to Offfworlder, sorry it should have been to Soundoff's question about sources.

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CP Win

Thu Dec 18, 2008 9:43 pm

IMO a Russia first strategy (four or five German armies in the east) coupled with no invasion of Belgium (which may very well keep the Brits out) has a good chance. A quick campaign to grab St Petersburg followed by a magnanimous peace (with the shaken but not ruined Russian Monarchy) that takes Poland and gives CP free hand in the Balkans might have a chance. Will France hold out against Germany alone? Will Italy join France or CP, which can now buy Italian loyalty with promises of French Colonies and territory? What happens if the French invade Belgium as they may have has to do in order to get around German border defenses in Alsace? Brits sure don't want France in charge of the low countries (something they had fought against since 1690). German dipomatic stupidity bringing in GB and USA had much to do with their defeat. They could have actually done some effective pre-war planning with the Austrians as well, which would have helped a great deal.
usfkman:confused:

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soundoff
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Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:54 am

Le Ricain wrote:The concept of the British army during WWI being an 'Army of Lions led by Donkeys' and Haig having the nickname of 'Butcher' Haig date from the 1930's when the disillusionment of the Great Depression succeeded the optimism that emerged after the war. Richard Holmes in his book 'Tommy' covers this apect very well. Reading letters dated 1918 from veterans shows no negative references to Haig or other British generals. In fact, Haig was held in high regard by his troops. Reading the same veterans' letters from the 1930's shows a change in attitude towards Haig in particular and British leadership in general. The bitterness of not seeing any of the benefits for their wartime sacrifices caused men's attitudes towards the war to change.


Much of Lloyd Georges and Churchills criticism of Haig in the 20's and 30's stems from Haigs own words of 1916 prior to the first Somme offensive....and I quote....

'The nation must be taught to bear losses. No amount of skill on the part of the higher commanders, no training, however good, on the part of the officers and men, no superiority of arms and ammunition, however great, will enable victories to be won without the sacrifice of men's lives. The nation must be prepared to see heavy casualty lists.'

Lloyd George and to an extent Churchill never forgave him for stating the obvious that WW1 would be an attritonal war.....with victory going to the side that could bear the losses better. So sad but so true. :(

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