Perth Digger Posted 27 October , 2009 Share Posted 27 October , 2009 David Barrie asked about officers, not general officers, so I gave these stats, which actually are killed, not casualties. The number of general officers is so small compared with the number of O/Rs that any statistical analysis would be meaningless anyway. As a matter of interest, on 15 September 1916 about 4000 troops were killed. 11 battalion COs (Lt-Cols) were killed, as well as 10 majors. 309 officers were killed that I have counted so far all told, most of them of course being subalterns. There is no doubt that officers were more at risk than O/Rs. The troops realised that, which is why many preferred to stay non-commissioned rather than become an officer when the opportunity arose. Mike (formatting above added) This illustrates one of the problems with bald statistics. I guess it is possible to conclude that the "average" officer was more likely to be killed or injured than the "average" for the army, but it hides other information (which may be in the books referred to - I'm afraid I do not have them). Speculating: "Officers" covers a wide range of ranks and corresponding experiences:2nd Lts, Lts, Capts had a more "front-line" experience than officers in general and were expected to "lead from the front", so should have the highest casualty rate, (almost an expectation of casualties) Majors, Lt-Cols and Brig-Gens might be expected to be involved with the front line, but with the expectation that they should take care not to get killed, injured or captured. (a casualty might be viewed as a failure to take care and a waste of a leadership resource) More senior roles were probably expected to spend most of their time out of relative harms way because that is the only way they could be available to communications and able to have a wider view. Any casualties were most likely to be accidents or the results of enemy shell-fire. Obviously there are huge shades of grey and the divisions are not as clear-cut as above. (You could for instance be a Captain serving in Army headquarters well away from the front-line.) Casualties covers, killed, missing, wounded and capturedThere will again be a different range of statistics as above We have to be careful what even the fuller statistics tell us.High rates may indicate:specific bravery, etc. but it may also indicate carelessness, or even just bad luck. Comparison with other ranks is possibly dangerous as officers may have hada greater degree of knowledge of the situation a greater chance to influence the tactics. Junior officers will probably have had a different mind set to other ranks in that they were one leading many, whilst the other ranks were usually one of a group. (Possibly currently serving members of armed forces can tell me whether this is a true perception.) I'm not wishing to suggest we should not respect those officers who died (just getting on a troop ship to go to the war (front-line or otherwise) - particularly when you had some idea of what you were going to - was in my view brave and deserving respect irrespective of rank), but a senior staff officer doing his duty in a relative place of safety who gets killed by a stray shell will be just as grievously missed by his family as a private or a subaltern killed leading his company in no man's land. David Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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