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View Full Version : Today: 90th Anniversary of First Day on the Somme



leitmotiv
07-01-2006, 06:56 AM
"I had not thought death had undone so many."

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Chuck_Older
07-01-2006, 07:13 AM
It's hard to beleive that in 1916 the people of the world hadn't begun to think the end of the world was coming

Ruy Horta
07-01-2006, 07:28 AM
Just finished reading a book on Verdun, ready to start on the biography of Kronprinz Wilhelm.

WW1 never ceases to amaze me.

I guess Europe bled to death in the great war, never really attaining its former glory. It took another war to realize that greatness had finally passed on to the new superpowers.

It is good to see that France and Germany finally settled their differences!

x6BL_Brando
07-01-2006, 07:31 AM
I highly recommend a reading of the "The General", by C.S.Forester, for a flavour of the times and a deeper understanding of the reasons why so many casualties were sustained for no gain.

Siegfried Sassoon (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ltg/projects/jtap/tutorials/intro/sassoon/counter.html) paints a vivid picture of life beyond the chateaux of GHQ.

The question is not so much why it occurred as why did we keep repeating the same futile tactics?

Chuck_Older
07-01-2006, 07:43 AM
Originally posted by x6BL_Brando:

The question is not so much why it occurred as why did we keep repeating the same futile tactics?

Short memories, arrogance, and vainglory

Nick_Toznost
07-01-2006, 08:09 AM
Britain's oldest man and WW1 vet, Henry Allingham who's 110 years old is attending the memorial services.

I think that's amazing. A WW1 Veteran attending a 90th anniversary memorial.

He wasn't at the Somme but was in the Navy at that time, working with seaplanes at the battle of Jutland. He was reposted to the muddy horror of the Western front in 1917. Doubt he ever thought he'd live to see 2006.

There are estimated to be 10 British WW1 veterans alive today of which Henry Allingham is the oldest.

I've no idea what the same statistics are for other countries, any ideas people?

I'm just astounded that there is still a living link with that part of history.

x6BL_Brando
07-01-2006, 08:56 AM
Short memories, arrogance, and vainglory

Yes - but are you talking about the General Staff or the boy-men of 16 upwards who were just following orders?

B.

ARCHIE_CALVERT
07-01-2006, 10:58 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v187/Secudus/AircraftImages01/Somme.jpg

Ruy Horta
07-01-2006, 11:42 AM
Our post war judgement and analysis fails in two regards.

1. 20/20 hindsight
2. the full tactical and strategic picture

What would we do if we'd faced the same circumstances, with the same psychology of the age and finally material?

Would we still judge the Generals of WW1 as shortsighted and lacking in judgement?

I am willing to give them at least the benefit of doubt.

WW1 was unique because of various circumstances, but perhaps stupid generalship wasn't one of the variables.

Bobario
07-01-2006, 12:07 PM
IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

TSmoke
07-01-2006, 01:40 PM
Would of been nice of your to post the author of the poem Flanders Fields.

So I'll do it for you written by John McCrae.

He was a Canadian doctor when he wrote it during the second battle of Ypres.

Chuck_Older
07-01-2006, 01:40 PM
Originally posted by x6BL_Brando:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Short memories, arrogance, and vainglory

Yes - but are you talking about the General Staff or the boy-men of 16 upwards who were just following orders?

B. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

The boy-men of 1914 may have been victims of their own images of glory and honor and even arrogance, but by 1916, the slaughter of innocents must rest squarely on the general staff.

Jester_159th
07-01-2006, 02:23 PM
Originally posted by Chuck_Older:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by x6BL_Brando:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Short memories, arrogance, and vainglory

Yes - but are you talking about the General Staff or the boy-men of 16 upwards who were just following orders?

B. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

The boy-men of 1914 may have been victims of their own images of glory and honor and even arrogance, but by 1916, the slaughter of innocents must rest squarely on the general staff. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Not quite fair, Chuck.

For a start machine guns and heavy artillery were new weapons, and machine guns in particular handed a vast advantage to the defenders in the purely infantry battles of WW1. Yes, in the case of the Somme, the tactics (especially on the first day where most units were ordered to walk across no-man's land since it was felt that this way they were less likely to lose unit cohesion) were wrong, due to an overly optimisitc appraisal of the effect the preliminary, extended,artillery barrage was to have. But here again we have to remember the weaponry was new to the generals and they were still learning how to use it effectively. Cleverer unit commanders had moved their troops into no-man's land during the final stages of the bombardment and were as such able to reach the German lines before the Germans could react. The traditionally minded commanders didn't since they were wanting to avoid the possibility of casualties due to shells falling short. As someone mentioned earlier. It's easy to judge these commanders with hindsight.....but troops were still killed in WW2 due to artillery "creepback."

Secondly the equipment the British artillery had in 1916 wasn't capable of doing the job they wanted it to do (ie: pulverise the German dugouts - many of which were 6-10 metres underground and remained unscathed- and cut the barbed wire).

Thirdly, all the generals had learned their trade in the old world of infantry standing shoulder to shoulder and the cavalery exploiting the gaps. It took time for them to adapt to the new industrial scale war. The entire situation was new and unique since (as I mentioned previously) the advantage of the available equuipment fell very much in favour of the defneders. Given a similar situation I seriously doubt any of the famous generals of WW2 would have coped any better.