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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914?

 
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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 12:41:17 PM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Zovs

What rubs me wrong about Loki’s post is that if the militaries did study warfare and trench warfare and artillery and the effects of machine guns on moving troops then why did Verdun and the Somme occur with all this great military knowledge and why did 40k CW soldiers perish at the Somme?

...


I think you are mixing up 'do we know the problem' with 'do we have a solution'.

The problem, the impact of rifle fire on large bodies of troops moving across open ground, was well known. And constantly reinforced by a sequence of wars from the 1850s to the Franco-Prussian War, and then the implication of the machine gun was undeniable after the Russo-Japanese war.

So everyone knew that relatively close order attacks across open terrain was going to lead to massive losses. [1]

But most armies at the time wanted to take the offensive - it was key to why they were going to be in a war (the British might be the exception here).

Various armies came up with solutions. In 1870, to some extent the Prussians solved the problem of the chassepot with better artillery (equipment and tactics) - just read about the rows of French dead at Gravelotte behind walls and in shallow trenches ... killed by shrapnel. In turn the French decided that this problem would be solved by enthusiastic attacks, the Russians to some extent that numbers would allow them to sustain an attack, the Germans sort of came to the view that operational competence would trump tactical problems (it had worked for them in 1870-1), the British that professionalism and training would make the difference.

And then they hit the reality of October 1914.

After that there was a search for a way around the problem. Gas, better artillery tactics, more controlled offensives (ironically the Somme was over-controlled), then by 1917 the slow move towards smaller unit tactics (& the tank).

Yes, there were fools aplenty at the top of various military systems, there were also bright people trying to solve an insoluble problem. And they knew - which is why I keep on referencing Gat.

[1] as an edit here, the Russians copied carefully and effectively the German infantry tactics from 1870-1 and applied them in the 1877 war with the Ottomans. The result was their infantry were slaughtered at Plevna. Now the Turkish infantry were nowhere as near competent as the French regulars had been in 1870 but rifles had improved enough to convert a border line successful tactic that the Prussians had used in 1866 and 1870 into a recipe for disaster.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Zovs

...
I personally don’t think anyone had a clue, and the Germans almost pulled off taking out France but when the offense in 1914 failed or fizzled out then the trenches where dug the slaughters began.

..


but this isn't true. The French managed to lose 40,000 men in the week 20-27 August 1914 and a total of 301,000 in 1914 alone (as a comparison they lost 252,000 in the whole of 1916 - the year of Verdun). The British lost around 1,600 in the defensive victory at Mons and the Germans some 3-5000. This was a relatively limited action for both sides, but the slaughter started early. The Germans refer to their losses at 1st Ypres (October-November) as the Kindermord as so many university reservists were killed.

< Message edited by loki100 -- 8/18/2019 1:29:14 PM >


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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 12:45:17 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Zovs

What rubs me wrong about Loki’s post is that if the militaries did study warfare and trench warfare and artillery and the effects of machine guns on moving troops then why did Verdun and the Somme occur with all this great military knowledge and why did 40k CW soldiers perish at the Somme?

I personally don’t think anyone had a clue, and the Germans almost pulled off taking out France but when the offense in 1914 failed or fizzled out then the trenches where dug the slaughters began.

I think the politicians were clueless and it would seem the militaries and people at that time were blinded to what we all know now.

Is there any links to what the militaries knew what would happen? If indeed they knew that makes it even more horrific that they carried it out anyway.
warspite1

Of course army leaders were expected to know the latest developments, they were expected to follow contemporary battles, it was their JOB. But sadly humans are humans. Some are good at their jobs and some are rubbish and over-promoted. And I suspect for some there was a Colonel Blimp mindset whereby they didn't need to look at other armies because 'ours are of course made of sterner stuff'.

One only needs to look at the French Army in 1940 and Gamelin in particular for the proof of this particular and rather sad pudding. Experience and length of service count for nothing when you are an old codger that has been in the job too long, can't (or won't) move with the times and is content to simply fight the last war.

Why did the Somme and Verdun happen? Well they were two and three years into the First World War and the days of taking lessons from past wars was long since over. The 'plan' for Verdun - essentially to bleed the French white, was just horrendous but showed the sheer paucity of thinking that had gripped limited minds. The generals were in the stalemated mess they were in and it was only as the war progressed further that technology (tanks and aircraft) and being prepared to understand how best to employ what they had (creeping barrages etc) allowed much of the fighting of 1918 to be at least better thought out. And by that I mean any thought at all.


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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 1:42:00 PM   
RangerJoe


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For trench warfare lessons, all that they had to do was to look at Petersburg, Virginia, 1864.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 2:42:09 PM   
Curtis Lemay


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quote:

ORIGINAL: loki100

Not sure why you are persisting with this.


Because that's where what really happened takes us. What some think tank may or may not have thought they knew is irrelevant. What was actually done in the field is what matters. And French initial action makes it clear that they were clueless. The von Schleiffen Plan grossly underestimated the power of the defense. The Russians (God help them) armed masses of their troops with pikes! Toss in Verdun and The Somme and it's pretty clear that all sides even remained pretty clueless for years into the war. Not till 1917 was there real evidence that some were starting to figure things out.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 2:49:18 PM   
loki100


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hard not to think you are now just being obtuse, just to disagree?

split the issue into three parts - a) did they understand the problem .... yes they did, b) did they have a solution ... no, c) did they persist with close order attacks despite knowing the problem and having no solution ... yes.

this is not some 'think tanks', its the analyses of the various General Staffs I am trying to refer you to.

And the Russian army in 1914 was relatively well equipped, they had problems arming it when they expanded radically in 1915.

You seem to think that not knowing the problem was the precondition for b+c, its not, they were well aware of (a).

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 3:05:52 PM   
Curtis Lemay


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quote:

ORIGINAL: loki100

hard not to think you are now just being obtuse, just to disagree?

split the issue into three parts - a) did they understand the problem .... yes they did, b) did they have a solution ... no, c) did they persist with close order attacks despite knowing the problem and having no solution ... yes.

this is not some 'think tanks', its the analyses of the various General Staffs I am trying to refer you to.

And the Russian army in 1914 was relatively well equipped, they had problems arming it when they expanded radically in 1915.

You seem to think that not knowing the problem was the precondition for b+c, its not, they were well aware of (a).

I am not being obtuse. I am basing conclusions on the facts. What actually happened constitutes the facts. Someone's claim that they understood something is not evidence of anything. So...did they understand the problem? There's no actual evidence that they did. In fact, what happened in the field is evidence that they did not.

This is like the difference between spotting some tanks in the trees near Arhnem, and actually going into Monty's HQ and telling him that the II SS Panzer Corps is parked in Arhnem and you had better cancel that airborne offensive. The former happened, the latter did not. Were there threads available that someone might have tied together to generate some sort of prescient prediction of the future. Yes. But actually doing so in a fashion that would alert the nation's leaders is another matter altogether.

< Message edited by Curtis Lemay -- 8/18/2019 3:07:49 PM >


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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 3:12:38 PM   
loki100


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no point discussing it with you then is it? If you'd read something about late 19C early 20C military theory that would help. You won't, so you'll stick to your approach which is a pity.

I think you are muddying up knowledge with solution. I think we both agree that they went to war in 1914 with no solution to the problem, the distinction is I've read the evidence that shows they knew the problem you haven't.

And yes, the same applies cf Arnhem etc, there is indeed a difference between not knowing you have a problem or knowing you have a problem and persisting.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 3:34:36 PM   
Curtis Lemay


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quote:

ORIGINAL: loki100

no point discussing it with you then is it?


Not till you figure out the difference between a fact and a theory.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 3:53:32 PM   
Chickenboy


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To answer the OPs question: Yes.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 4:02:22 PM   
RangerJoe


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How about this, quit beating a dead horse.

As far as tanks at Arnhem, the resistance knew that the SS was there. Monty's HQ did not want to believe it. The person who evaluated the photo recon pictures informed his higher ranking officers. I believe that he was in England but Monty's HQ was on Continental Europe. That officer in question was in the first British Airborne and it was recommended that he take a vacation because he was obviously overworked and stressed. No more pictures were taken. The British also took the wrong route from Belgium to Arnhem.

The generals before and during WWI knew about the deadly modern rifles and machine guns from the US Civil War. The generals knew about deadly trench warfare from there as well. They also knew about it from the Balkans during the preceding ten years.

Armored tanks had yet to be invented, there were armored cars but not the modern type, and military heavier than air aircraft was in its infancy. So they could not develop blitzkreig tactics nor tactical air support.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 6:07:19 PM   
Aurelian

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: RangerJoe

For trench warfare lessons, all that they had to do was to look at Petersburg, Virginia, 1864.


The Russo-Japanese War was far more WW1 like.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 7:01:54 PM   
RangerJoe


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Maybe but the US Civil War was before that. Then you look at other wars after that.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 7:14:53 PM   
Zovs


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Ok I can bite on “they knew they had a problem “ and “there solutions sucked and millions died” but (its been many years since I read The first day on the Somme) the folks in general (I.e., the foot soldiers and front line officers) did not anticipate trench warfare stalemate and the carnage that would ensure.

My understanding is that the younger officers that lived through WW1 developed the tactics for 1939-41, but the western Allies and the Russians learned much quicker then there WW1 counterparts did.

< Message edited by Zovs -- 8/18/2019 7:15:30 PM >


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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 7:27:49 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Zovs

..... but the folks.... in general (I.e., the foot soldiers and front line officers) did not anticipate trench warfare stalemate and the carnage that would ensure.

warspite1

That's a pretty broad canvas. Would your newly arrived volunteer, signed up on a wave of patriotism and/or seeking adventure be expected to know? no why would he?

Would your professional soldier, already part of the army be expected to know? Possibly, depending on his role, his seniority, his wish to understand the profession he's in.

Would your professional soldiers that made up the senior generals - army, corps and divisional level - and your head of the army be expected to know, be expected to actually understand what is happening in their chosen field? Well you'd bloody well hope so, but as per my earlier comment, it depends based on the intellect/mindset of the individual. However I don't think its outlandish to suggest that a future war - complete with machine guns - was going to be a nightmare for any attacker and this is something that should have been known.


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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/18/2019 7:57:11 PM   
Orm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

Another excellent debate I stumbled across - with four excellent speakers. I hope this is of interest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqO5CnnKLtA



Thank you for sharing, I will take a look at it soon.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/19/2019 8:27:02 PM   
Zorch

 

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Here is the definitive answer to how WWI started. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1SpJ15HadE

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/22/2019 4:41:36 PM   
GaretBale

 

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Hahha, Rowan Atkinson can be anyone. Thanks for the laughter.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/23/2019 11:18:20 PM   
AndySfromVA

 

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I just visited the WW1 museum in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Gives wonderful insight into the conflict, especially with regard to American involvement, and contains thousands of amazing artifacts.

My visit confirmed two thoughts I've had for a long time:
1-The US was the decisive factor in the Allies' victory; and
2-If not for the sinking of the Lusitania (and other ships where Americans died) the US would not have entered the war and Germany would have won.

< Message edited by AndySfromVA -- 8/23/2019 11:19:03 PM >

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/26/2019 7:58:44 AM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


quote:

ORIGINAL: Twotribes

Lets see the facts.... Germany attacked Serbia and Russia. France was allied to Russia, Germany attacked Belgium to get at France. Britain had every reason to be in the war, The war isnt what caused WW2 the peace treaty that the US refused to sign was the cause of WW2 and that falls on France Britain and to a lesser extent Italy.
warspite1

The Treaty of Versailles was the cause of WWII - that is your opinion, it is not a fact.

The Treaty of Versailles was not the cause of WWII. The treaty did allow the conditions for extreme politics to flourish, but its likely any treaty would have done that – quite simply, many Germans didn’t think they lost the war.

Yes there was a second war, yes it was started by Germany (the “wronged” party at Versailles) but it took 21-years, it took a worldwide economic depression, it took a sociopathic leader to emerge that was not interested in putting Versailles right (by 1939 most of the provisions of Versailles as negatively affected Germany were gone), it took a policy of appeasement – in short a hell of a lot of water flew under the bridge between 1918 and 1939. Given the foregoing WWII was hardly a direct result of Versailles. It was not the cause – at best it was a contributory factor.

The factual part of your statement was:

quote:

the peace treaty that the US refused to sign


The US refused to ratify the treaty – why was that and what was it that Wilson’s opponents objected to exactly?


warspite1

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Why didn't the US follow their President's lead and ratify the treaty?


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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/26/2019 10:29:43 PM   
philabos

 

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I think the objections centered more on the League of Nations.
Giving power to an international body was too much for some, others pointed to Washington's warning of entangling foreign alliances.
Wilson never could muster the two thirds majority required for ratification.
Not the only time in US history.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/27/2019 12:52:22 AM   
RangerJoe


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Wilson also had a stroke.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/27/2019 12:54:34 AM   
RangerJoe


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The Japanese were willing to send ground troops but the other Allies did not want them. The Chinese had laborers in France but no combat troops.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/27/2019 3:44:24 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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"Of course, it is just possible that we may not have to go. England may leave France to her fate. We are sure that there is no binding treaty between them."

"And Belgium?"

"Yes, and Belgium, too."

Von Bork shook his head. "I don't see how that could be. There is a definite treaty there. She could never recover from such a humiliation."

"She would at least have peace for the moment."

"But her honour?"

"Tut, my dear sir, we live in a utilitarian age. Honour is a mediaeval conception. Besides England is not ready. It is an inconceivable thing, but even our special war tax of fifty million, which one would think made our purpose as clear as if we had advertised it on the front page of the Times, has not roused these people from their slumbers. Here and there one hears a question. It is my business to find an answer. Here and there also there is an irritation. It is my business to soothe it. But I can assure you that so far as the essentials go—the storage of munitions, the preparation for submarine attack, the arrangements for making high explosives—nothing is prepared. How, then, can England come in, especially when we have stirred her up such a devil's brew of Irish civil war, window-breaking Furies, and God knows what to keep her thoughts at home."

"She must think of her future."

"Ah, that is another matter. I fancy that in the future we have our own very definite plans about England, and that your information will be very vital to us. It is to-day or to-morrow with Mr. John Bull. If he prefers to-day we are perfectly ready. If it is to-morrow we shall be more ready still. I should think they would be wiser to fight with allies than without them, but that is their own affair."

--"His Last Bow", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/27/2019 7:20:38 AM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: philabos

I think the objections centered more on the League of Nations.
Giving power to an international body was too much for some, others pointed to Washington's warning of entangling foreign alliances.
Wilson never could muster the two thirds majority required for ratification.
Not the only time in US history.
warspite1

Were the League of Nations and the Treaty part of the same deal or separate?


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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/27/2019 1:08:41 PM   
RangerJoe


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I think that they were separate.

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 8/27/2019 1:26:54 PM   
RangerJoe


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I was mistaken. I knew that it was part of the 14 points but:

quote:

Part I of the treaty, as per all the treaties signed during the Paris Peace Conference, was the Covenant of the League of Nations, which provided for the creation of the League, an organization for the arbitration of international disputes.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_Versailles#International_organizations

Why was the treaty not passed in the US? Many reasons for the public but this trumps all:

quote:

Defeating the League of Nations

Unfortunately for Wilson, he was met with stiff opposition. The Republican leader of the Senate, Henry Cabot Lodge, was very suspicious of Wilson and his treaty. Article X of the League of Nations required the United States to respect the territorial integrity of member states. Although there was no requirement compelling an American declaration of war, the United States might be bound to impose an economic embargo or to sever diplomatic relations. Lodge viewed the League as a supranational government that would limit the power of the American government from determining its own affairs. Others believed the League was the sort of entangling alliance the United States had avoided since George Washington's Farewell Address. Lodge sabotaged the League covenant by declaring the United States exempt from Article X. He attached reservations, or amendments, to the treaty to this effect. Wilson, bedridden from a debilitating stroke, was unable to accept these changes. He asked Senate Democrats to vote against the Treaty of Versailles unless the Lodge reservations were dropped. Neither side budged, and the treaty went down to defeat.


http://www.ushistory.org/us/45d.asp

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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 9/7/2019 8:24:10 PM   
Bennett

 

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I have read many standard works on this topic. This book is a different angle on the Liberal party cabinet decision to go to war in August 1914 and is worth reading for consideration.

https://www.amazon.ca/Darkest-Days-Truth-Behind-Britains/dp/1781683506/ref=sr_1_7?keywords=the+darkest+days&qid=1567887378&s=books&sr=1-7


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RE: Should Britain have gone to war in 1914? - 9/8/2019 2:59:37 AM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Bennett

I have read many standard works on this topic. This book is a different angle on the Liberal party cabinet decision to go to war in August 1914 and is worth reading for consideration.

https://www.amazon.ca/Darkest-Days-Truth-Behind-Britains/dp/1781683506/ref=sr_1_7?keywords=the+darkest+days&qid=1567887378&s=books&sr=1-7


warspite1

Thanks for the link.


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