From: London, Surrey, United Kingdom
ORIGINAL: Curtis Lemay
Regardless of what they may have "known", I remain dubious that the Allies actually could match the Germans in that regard.
If you go to the source that SMK quoted, it provides a number of specific examples of sophisticated infantry tactics being employed by the British Army prior to 1918, with references to diaries and journals of individual soldiers.
I think a good case can be made that the Allies didn't even grasp infiltration tactics until they were hit over the head with them shortly after May, 1940. They fully expected it to be WWI all over again.
What they expected was the campaign they were preparing for in 1919.
You're painting a picture of the Allied armies sending men forward in columns right up until the Armistice. That's a cliche but not one that's accurate. Actually, the Allies were feeling their way toward a good combined arms solution to the problem of trench warfare, and one which proved to actually work in the second half of 1918. The problem in 1940 was that in the intervening 20 years technology had made it possible for the attacker to deliver concentrated power well beyond the zone of battle that existed in the First World War.
They did select for youth, experience, and fitness. But they also got weeks of special training in infiltration tactics. I doubt that they selected for who was willing to fire their weapon at the enemy (how would that even have been determined?).
That they fire their weapons isn't the point; I was merely illustrating that most men in combat arms are- quite understandably- not interesting in killing the enemy or winning the battle, but only in surviving. The balance are the men who were drawn out for the Spring 1918 offensives.
I find it dubious that 80% of soldiers are useless. More likely is that they didn't restrict that study to front line squads. Most of the US Army in WWII was rear-area, so most soldiers didn't ever even encounter an enemy.
Go read Men Against Fire. This is a study about riflemen in rifle squads.
Regardless, most firepower is provided by artillery, mortars, and machine guns.
It is in the forward and battle zones, but Allied lines stretched back behind these. The difference here is that the Germans were able to continue to be effective offensively outside the range of the bulk of their artillery, which was virtually immobile during the battle. Here, the ability of riflemen to actually aggressively attack the enemy is going to be critical- even if most casualties are still by machine gun fire.
By that line of reasoning, May, 1940, was a false dawn for the German Army, too.
In what world are these situations analogous?
In 1918, the Germans suffered roughly equal casualties with their best troops against the Allies average, and in doing so they advanced forty miles in a limited sector of the front.
In 1940, the Germans caused twice the casualties that they suffered even before counting prisoners. Including prisoners brings that ratio to about 12 to 1. They overran the whole of the Low Countries and northeastern France in three weeks.
Try using facts instead of flippant remarks.
Let's not forget the huge American reinforcements and the use of massed tank combat.
Had massive additions of men produced rapid, decisive advances in 1915, 1916 or 1917? Moreover if you believe the British hadn't mastered modern infantry tactics by 1918, it's fantasy to think the US Army had done so.
Had massed deployment of armour produced decisive results at Cambrai and elsewhere? Note also that British analysts determined that the addition of tanks to an infantry assault only marginally increased the chance of success, and not as much as simple pouring in more shells.
The difference in 1918 was that the German army had loss hundreds of thousands of its best men and was essentially a shell.
< Message edited by golden delicious -- 12/17/2014 10:34:29 PM >
"What did you read at university?"
"War? Huh. What is it good for?"