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darkhorizon11
05-01-2006, 05:49 PM
Hey I'm writing a paper on the terrible nature of combat during WWI. Specifically I'm writing about the trench scene on the western front where the blood was known to pour like water...

If anyone could help me with some good references and articles escetera I'd appreciate if, it one can also give me some quotes from books that would be even better since were technically not supposed to qoute and use internet sources.

Also I was looking for some stuff about the nature of air combat too. Wasn't there an American aircraft that was refered to as the flying coffin? Anyways Id appreciate any help! Thanks!

WTE_Galway
05-01-2006, 06:00 PM
no specific references on hand but a good period to focus on is the Somme in 1916.

Aside from the first use of tanks in battle it epitomises the futile stupidity of the whole mess. On the first day of the battle the British suffered 58,000 casualties (a third of them killed), therefore making it the worse day in the history of the British Army.

Entire regiments were wiped out in one morning. At that point in time British regiments were taking entirely from one town or district and often every one that could sign up did. This meant some towns in England lost virtually every male between 17 and 45 in a single morning. The British changed the way they recruited after that.

By the end of the battle the British suffered 420,000 casualties. The French lost nearly 200,000 and it is estimated that German casualties were in the region of 500,000. Allied forces gained some land but it reached only 12km at its deepest points.

Low_Flyer_MkVb
05-01-2006, 06:05 PM
John Keegan - The Face of Battle.

Describes & compares in some detail Agincourt, Waterloo & The Somme.

berg417448
05-01-2006, 06:05 PM
Here is an angle not often pursued:

After World War I, French General Alexandre Percin alleged in his book Le Massacre de notre Infanterie that 75,000 of France's 3.3 million casualties were due to artillery fratricide.

darkhorizon11
05-01-2006, 06:37 PM
I got my hands on a rare book, the Friends of France The service of American Ambulances.

It was in a dusty old corner of the school library and is an original book dating back to 1916. Its first hand accounts of the war from the ambulance drivers point of view talking about the wounded and moving the men back and forth along with some accounts of working at the trenches and dealing with the bombardments. Its amazing those guys volunteered to do this in a war that was totally unpopular at the time in the US and many were killed by artillery shells, mines and received the French Cross de Guerre. Truly forgotten heroes!

LEBillfish
05-01-2006, 08:38 PM
Wow......This is a GIGANTIC subject, perhaps even more so then WWII simply due to the tremendous changes in civilization of the time.

Here in our library we have hundreds of books on the subject, many published just after the war one in particular entitled "The Great War" (as in there had never been a global war before). WWI really was what got me started learning about warfare, WWII simply too popular for my tastes........However some tidbits to get you looking, then a VERY STRONG suggestion for writing a paper on this.

1914 was truly an amazing time. Communication between continents had been established, men had finally conquered "controlled flight", though the horse/mule/ox/goat were still primary modes of power for travel, trains, trucks, tractors, cars and so on had just really begun to replace them. Add to that the steel, textile, & chemical industries really now beginning to change the world......and it must of seemed to many like Star Trek seems to us, yet almost there.

In contrast, you could still find tribes of cannibals over numerous parts of the planet. Meet people who had never seen a firearm, die easily from a cold or even from a "scratch" due to infection.....and precious metals and gems were the only true international currency. Most diseases or injuries were still treated as they had been since the days of Rome....and it was possible to go your entire life only meeting under 100 people knowing nothing of the outside world.

Trouble is, a third the planet wanted change, a third did not, and the other third simply did not understand......

Now with all those vast variations and thousands more, imagine war spread out from Europe and touched every part of the globe virtually. It was also a time when the horrors of war were very often overshadowed by the glories of, simply the uniforms of the day tell you that as many looked more like the plumage of a peacock or banty rooster then something "combat ready".........Yet in this one conflict ALL the world would change, and in kind became significantly smaller rather then the vast unknown it had been to all but the select few adventurers.

Combat itself was brutal.....Not so much in that new weapons such as Tanks, Gas, Flame Throwers, Planes, submarines, machine guns and so on were put to use (as such things had been used before simply not to such a degree)....Nor in the percentage of a population that went to war and were lost......Yet in that though most went to war thinking of the glory of it, when the truth became known the world leaders did not care, and forced the soldiers under threat of execution for desertion and treason to "hold their lines"....So they would pound away, day in and day out, for 4 years.....Many there not relieved like they are now.

Try and imagine this..........For 6 months you have stayed in the same trench. Mud, human waste, rotting corpses float in the bottom of it 3' deep....to get anywhere in your trench you must wade through it. Disease is rampant, and I don't mean a cold I mean Typhoid and Cholera.....Rats swarm over everything as they're fat on human flesh. Spring has finally arrived meaning you're no longer on the verge of freezing to death though hypothermia is always a threat....Yet now your ragged wool uniform reeks of mold and mildew and the sweat of a year, and it's now hot, and always soaked. Yet that nothing as the thousands of unretrieved bodies have thawed out, and their smell overpowers everything.

So many shells have hit the same spots most bodies in No Mans Land will never be retrieved some buried 20+' down from it. What was woods or rolling planes simply vast muddy shattered landscapes of shattered trees, barbed wire, and craters........You're sick, you have trenchfoot your feet rotting off, and you're virtually starving. Your last meal 2 days ago was some moldy "sawdust" bread and a soup made from some rotting meat someone got a bit of. You're exhausted, nerves shattered from the constant bombardments and orders to advance and pull back. Yet you have been told how failures to hold the line have yielded those that survived though fighting till the end executions of to make examples for the rest.

Suddenly you hear them, incoming shells yet these you can tell are not fragmentation, or HE, but gas from their wobble in flight. You quickly don your mask, a "P Helmet" made to protect against the Phosgene 10x more deadly then the greenish yellow Chlorine clouds smelling of bleach, instead like new mown hay and invisible....Yet something odd appears, an almost bluish smoke, a sternuator something you've never seen an arsenic based smoke and you feel the urge to vomit as the mask won't filter it out....You're smart, you just raise it to do so quickly pulling it back on, those leaving them off quickly overcome as the second wave of shells is phosgene.

Men drowning in their own blood and vomit the third wave of shells come in, these starting at the enemy lines and slowly inching their way across No Mans Land destroying a wide swath as they creep toward you. You take cover, shells exploding everywhere and you know the "Basket Men" those who just the concussion of the shells will shatter all their bones will be many after....Knowing their destiny is to hang from a hook or basket on a wall somewhere the remainder of their days every limb amputated.

As the Barrage ebbs, they come by the thousands it seems, enemy troops crossing NML to take your festering trench. Men retake their posts and machine guns begin to mow them down, as suddenly planes from overhead begin to strafe you, and they're their bayonets flashing as new crude flame throwers are used to hose down your trenches. The enemy swarms in, too close for long rifles and bayonet so you take up a hand shovel turned battle ax and use your bayonet as a sword as you hack and slash away in the quagmire in the bottom of the trench.

But you drive them out....and as they retreat now hundreds of mutilated bodies laying about from both sides....Your artillery cuts lose finally....First naturally hitting your trenches to drive them out, then rolls over to their lines as suddenly you hear the order you CANNOT refuse........."Counter Attack!!....Over the Top!" as you must now face and do what they did.......In the end, driven back or worse still, recalled to your lines fighting for your life to get back.

Just another day like yesterday, and so it will be tomorrow.


Was it like that for everyone?....No, but many yes. In every branch of service be it the army in the trenches, in a submarine of the North Atlantic, deep in the Jungles of Africa or the deserts of the middle east each faced their own similar grueling hardships each unique yet none easy.

You ask about planes, if you lived 20 hours or some such of flight time you were lucky. Planes were difficult taxing beasts to fly as you breathed exhaust and had to fight it constantly if it simply did not fail (things like wings falling off common).......

Funny thing is, be it the King of England, the Czar of Russia, the German Aristocracy, whatever, they were actually related quite often some distant some close. It was almost like a sibling quarrel, yet at the expense of the "lesser peoples".......

My suggestion...........

There is So VERY much to discuss on the subject, I strongly suggest instead of trying to write about the whole thing you chose one minor topic............Be it the leaders relationships to one another, a particular battle, a new type of weapon, a particular unit in a particular year, manufacturing, whatever. One good possibility would be simply a single soldiers gear and uniform, that in itself you might find stunning.

As to quotes from books as I said, it is simply too vast a subject......Pick something, one tiny thing, then begin your research.

LEBillfish
05-01-2006, 09:13 PM
Ahh........here's a pic I always liked....How's this for some contrast and combat evolving....

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v707/Kaytoo/IL2/Kazakov3.jpg

marc_hawkins
05-01-2006, 09:26 PM
Good stuff as usual Billfish!

This is site has lots of useful stuff:

http://killeenroos.com/link/ww1.html

Dew-Claw
05-01-2006, 10:32 PM
Originally posted by LEBillfish:
Ahh........here's a pic I always liked....How's this for some contrast and combat evolving....


Man would I love a chance at a mission that included a grappling hook as a makeshift weapon.
Not a standard choice in a loadout, but just 1 mission where the ONLY weapon you had was a hook.
Maybe against a couple of unarmed recons and getting jumped by an armed fighter on the way home.

LEBillfish
05-02-2006, 11:01 AM
Originally posted by Dew-Claw:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by LEBillfish:
Ahh........here's a pic I always liked....How's this for some contrast and combat evolving....


Man would I love a chance at a mission that included a grappling hook as a makeshift weapon.
Not a standard choice in a loadout, but just 1 mission where the ONLY weapon you had was a hook.
Maybe against a couple of unarmed recons and getting jumped by an armed fighter on the way home. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Actually to a degree you can, and I do it EVERY similar mission when flying over the Japanese home island.......More so it is just as realistic as the action of Kazakov above.....However for a better reason.

Grab a Ki-61/Ki-100 and fly out "unarmed" (as special attack "shuddering sky" groups removed weapons to shed weight and make altitude).....Find the formation of B-29s, and try to ram one....If lucky ejecting (not an option for Kazakov)......

If your "Taiatari"/body crashing attack works out, give yourself a kill mark and do it again!.....For most it didn't. Set the bombers to around 31,000'.

Good luck http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

(p.s.....I believe Kazakov the one time he tried it "with an anchor" not a grapling hook had to crash land as he rammed the plane as well........ANother was Nesteroff who rammed his victim deliberatly being unarmed.....Killed them both)

x6BL_Brando
05-02-2006, 01:18 PM
There is an excellent novel in English called The General, which goes some way towards explaining Army traditions and why they caused so much horrific waste of man-power. Written by C.S. Forrester - better known for the Hornblower series - it concerns the career of a typical Victorian cavalry officer. Not too bright or efficient he manages to gain promotion through an accident during the Boer War, when his troop of horse gets lost but actually come out behind the enemy lines and surprises them.

The upshot is that this fool (unkind, but true) eventually becomes a high-ranking member of the General Staff, just through precedence, & responsible for the lives of thousands of men. That his physical contact with the regiments is confined to flags on maps in luxurious chateaux behind the lines is the context that Forrester uses in this quite shocking tale of arrogance & ineptitude. It is a very accurate glimpse of the British class-system at work - an idiot could be in charge of a genius, as long as he had a better 'pedigree' http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

Battle has always involved soldiers charging on their enemy to overcome him, and losses are always expected. A read through the annals of infantry in the Napoleonic period will show just how terrible the losses were from simple, smooth-bore cannon and musket-fire - and how many men were thrown forward to achieve their leaders aims. So the precedent already existed for hurling troops forward to carry the day through bravery and weight of numbers. The upper-classes had little scruple in that area.

The "spanner in the works", if you'll pardon the pun http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_redface.gif was the accelerating efficiency of industry. Everything from uniforms and rations to transport and weaponry had become more easily produced than ever before, enabling countries to raise much larger armies and equip them. The extensive railway network played another cruel trick on the common foot-soldier with it's ability to transport thousands like him to within a day's march of the front.

I can't add anything to the contemporary descriptions of what effect well-sited machine-guns can have on a regiment of foot soldiers advancing unprotected across an open field, or caught in that other new-fangled invention, barbed-wire - just mourn the fact that none of them were allowed to take cover when the situation became suicidal. It is sadly true that nothing was done by the 'top-brass' until losses started to threaten the outcome of the war. Even then, little was done to alter things at the Western Front - little could be done. Most help came from 'home' in the shape of improved rations and better equipment. Women from all walks of life came together to raise funds and send 'comforts' to the troops - as well as working constantly in the munitions industry & so on.

However, all the heroism and endeavour on the front-lines was really of little avail. Just Google for 'Gallipoli' to see just how little all that heroism counted in the face of a few well-sited guns.

Please don't mistake my intentions. I can and do honour soldiers who fought in the defence of home & hearth; to impress their girlfriends or just to support their mates who volunteered. As said above, it was notable for social groups to throw together units and volunteer en masse. It was driven by patriotism, rampant in an Empire that celebrated heroes like Nelson & Gordon, ready to give all pro patria Given such stirring examples, what red-blooded young man could resist the call to arms. Entire staffs of non-essential industries joined up in "Pals" companies and marched into the mincing-machine - as so poetically explained by Billfish http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/11.gif

I also agree that the Great War is almost too huge a topic to cover. Specialisation may be a way to bring detail to life, and worthy of consideration: but I'd also suggest looking at areas that aren't so well covered as the nightmarish battles. The effect on the domestic front is a good example. It also ended the royal line in Russia AND about fifty more European principalities.

I could certainly post links to air warfare and European politics of the time, if that is what you're looking for - though Google is your friend in this.

B.

FoolTrottel
05-02-2006, 01:29 PM
flying coffin

"(...)Sometimes called the "Flaming Coffin," its huge fuel tank was dangerously positioned between the pilot and observer,(...)" from a page at 'The Aerodrome' (http://www.theaerodrome.com/aircraft/gbritain/airco_dh4.html)

'Winged Victory' by V.M. Yeats if you want to read about what flying in WWI was like... ( an extract here (http://www.geocities.com/davidvwilliamson/wvsmall.html))

Have Fun!

ploughman
05-02-2006, 02:15 PM
I can't speak for other forces but the following is about British and Commonwealth troops. I don't know how much time you've got for reading but Denis Winters' "Death's Men" is very good for detailing the life of Commonwealth troops on the Western Front adn the evolution of the whole thing from the 'Old Contemptibles' to the victory in 1918.

A thought provoking but by no means totally convincing book "Blood, Guts and Poppycock," by some bloke whose name I can't remember goes some way to exploding a lot of the myths about World War One that have grown up over time and helps to put the conflict into perspective.

World War One on the Western Front was primarily an artillery war with shelling causing most of the casualties on both sides with noteable exceptions like the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Troops in the UK sector were rotated in and out of front line trenches, spending maybe three or four days up on the line before moving back to a rear area and so one, periodically they'd be moved out of the battle area all together for R & R and once in a blue moon they'd even get a ticket home for leave.

Conditions on the front line varied. The UK sector, ie; Flanders was in an area that had a high water table, if you dug a hole it flooded. UK trenches were never as good as the Germans, but his also reflected the idea that the Germans were defending occupied territory, the British Armies were attacking to liberate the same. This offensive 'spirit' also was reflected in aggressive patrolling. Trench raids were a particular favourite of the British and Commonwealth troops and such notable characters as the poet Siegfried Sassoon were enthusiastic practicioners of it.

Blutarski2004
05-02-2006, 02:20 PM
Originally posted by darkhorizon11:
Hey I'm writing a paper on the terrible nature of combat during WWI. Specifically I'm writing about the trench scene on the western front where the blood was known to pour like water...

If anyone could help me with some good references and articles escetera I'd appreciate if, it one can also give me some quotes from books that would be even better since were technically not supposed to qoute and use internet sources.

Also I was looking for some stuff about the nature of air combat too. Wasn't there an American aircraft that was refered to as the flying coffin? Anyways Id appreciate any help! Thanks!


===> Following books recommended -

"Storm of Steel", by Ernst Junger.
Junger served through the entire war as a company level officer. The book is his remembrance of the war in the trenches on the W Front.

"First Day on the Somme", by Martin Middlebrook.
Middlebrook had a grandparent lost at th Somme and wrote this book as a tribute to him. Middlebrook wrote at a time when it was possible fro him to interview a large number of living veterans from both the British and German sides. IMO, this book is what gave Keegan the idea to write his "Face of Battle" and is a better piece of work than Keegan's.

"Death's Men", by Denis Winter is also worth reading. It gives a good picture of day-to-day life in the trenches.

Other stuff - There is a tremendous amount of material on the web regarding WW1 trench warfare, including first person material. Do a Google search for Verdun, Ypres, Paaschendaele.

There is also an immense body of literature on the air war over the W Front - "Bloody April; Black September", by Norman Franks is a good book to start.

Whoever has denied you use of the internet as an historical research tool is either a luddite or a moron. A bit of care is perhaps needed in evaluating the worthiness of any particular site, but some of the finest authorities in the world on any given subject participate on the web. The Aerodrome forum is a perfect, but by no means the only, example of the quality of data accessible by the web.

If you want to get to the nub of the horror of the Western Front in WW1, I suggest that you look carefully into the prodigious amounts of artillery deployed against each other by the opposing armies. Artillery was responsible for something like 80 percent of casualties on the W Front. Huge arrays of artillery were deployed for a typical offensive. Literally millions of shells, from 15 lbs up to 2000 lbs, would be fired in preparation fire before a large offensive - maybe 200+ shells per yard of front.

Mutual homicide on an industrialized basis.

MLudner
05-02-2006, 03:22 PM
The DH 4 was a British design, as the site points out, though it was built in the US.

I think Darkhorizon may be confusing a WW II aircraft for a WW I aircraft. The F2A-2 Buffalo was commonly derided as the flying coffin (unjustly).

WW I (or V, as it could be counted) is a very complex subject very difficult to sum up here, and Lebillfish gave an excellent synopsis that I could not better.

S.L.A. Marshall also wrote a good, brief history of WW I you might want to look up.

Do not rely on movies like "Gallipoli". It is a good movie, and even though it accurately portrays what happened to that ALH Regiment (The 10th, I think) it omits the fact that over-all Lone Pine was not a disaster and actually had many successes (The ANZACs successfully linked-up with the landings at Suda Bay, overran Turkish trenches all along their front, then held them against determined Turkish counter-attacks).

Use good books.

x6BL_Brando
05-02-2006, 03:46 PM
I'm sorry I missed the part about your enforced lack of internet access DH. Are you sure this is correct? I know that there are problems relating to blatant cheating & buying pre-written essays - but to deny you (& your peers) access to the most powerful reference tool on the planet seems just shortsighted & stupid on the part of your teachers.

@ Mludner. I wasn't thinking about the film "Gallipoli" when I suggested Googling the name - sorry if I was unclear about that.

B.

RCAF_Irish_403
05-02-2006, 03:49 PM
Look for a book called "Eye Deep in Hell" (can't remember authors name)....excellent source for the nitty gritty on trench warfare (tactics, living conditions, organiztion)

sabotshooter88
05-02-2006, 04:00 PM
The Guns of August had some good descriptions.

Also these websites may help
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWtrench.htm
http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/1914/aisne.html (http://www.lib.byu.edu/%7Erdh/wwi/1914/aisne.html)

telsono
05-02-2006, 05:15 PM
Of course "All Quiet on the western Front" depicts the trench warfare very well, especially the earlier Lew Ayres version. The director had trenches built by veterans of the warfare for more accuracy.

There is a small section on the trench war in Erwin Rommel's book "Attacks" also call"Infantry Attacks". Rommel served in an elite infantry unit in WWI. This was one of the first units in this conflict to use infiltration tactics, but he did spend a little time in the trenches against the French.

WTE_Galway
05-02-2006, 06:33 PM
Not quite what you are looking for but a very effective passage fron the book "Birdsong" by Sebastian Faulkes about a young woman trying to find out what her grandfather went through in the first world war:

***************


From near to, the scale of the arch became apparent: it was supported on four vast columns; it overpowered the open landscape; the size of it compounded by its brutal modern design; although clearly a memorial, it reminded her of Albert Speer's buildings for the Third Reich.

Elizabeth walked up the stone steps that led to it. A man in a blue jacket was sweeping in the large space enclosed by the pillars.

As she came up to the arch Elizabeth saw with a start that it was written on. She went closer. She peered at the stone. There were names on it. Every grain of the surface had been carved with British names; their chiselled capitals rose from the level of her ankles to the height of the great arch itself; on every surface of every column as far as her eye could see there were names teeming, reeling, over surfaces of yards, of hundreds of yards, of furlongs of stone.

She moved through the space beneath the arch where the man was sweeping. She found the other pillars identically marked, their faces obliterated on all sides by the names carved on them.

'Who are these, these .....?' She gestured with her hand.

'These?' The man with the brush sounded surprised. 'The lost."

'Men who died in this battle?'

'No, The lost, the ones they did not find. The others are in cemeteries.'

'These are just the unfound?'

She looked at the vault above her head and then around in panic at the endless writing, as though the surface of the sky had been papered in footnotes.

When she could speak, she said, 'From the whole war?'

The man shook his head.

'Just these fields'

He gestured with his arm.

Elizabeth went and sat on the steps on the other side of the monument. Beneath her was a formal garden with some rows of white headstones, each with a tended flower or plant at its base, each cleaned and beautiful in the weak winter sunlight.

'Nobody told me.' She ran her fingers with their red painted nails through her thick black hair.

'My God, nobody told me.'

darkhorizon11
05-02-2006, 07:22 PM
I sent the paper I didn't get the chance to do as much with as I woulda like bc of my own procrastination thanks for the help though! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Dammit! The DH.4 That was the plane... I couldn't remember so I took it out. But I coulda sworn it was referred to as the "flying coffin".

MLudner
05-05-2006, 02:47 PM
Originally posted by x6BL_Brando:
I'm sorry I missed the part about your enforced lack of internet access DH. Are you sure this is correct? I know that there are problems relating to blatant cheating & buying pre-written essays - but to deny you (& your peers) access to the most powerful reference tool on the planet seems just shortsighted & stupid on the part of your teachers.

@ Mludner. I wasn't thinking about the film "Gallipoli" when I suggested Googling the name - sorry if I was unclear about that.

B.

I was not referring to anything you had said at all, sorry for the misunderstanding. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/halo.gif

That movie is one of my minor pet peeves is all. Even then, I like it and have it on VHS.