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Ralph J. Whitehead

German Casualty discussion

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Robert Dunlop

Thanks, George and salesie. To some extent, my quote from Occleshaw has distilled out one of the key issues under debate here. To paraphrase, there is a view that:

1. Macdonogh had a 'pretty good picture of the true level of German casualties'.

On this point you both agree.

This view was based on a formula of:

Number of German battalions involved in a battle x "expected number of casualties per battalion".

The latter started out as a constant, which had to be adjusted downwards in the Third Battle of Ypres because the number of German battalions went up significantly, in keeping with the more rapid rotation compared with the Battle of Arras.

Please note that I was not trying to say that Macdonogh was 'wrong'. I was pointing out that the methods that Macdonogh quoted were estimates based on several assumptions. The issue of Charteris and his methods / interpretations is irrelevant to this thread, IMHO.

2. There were "glaring gross imbalances in and between German lists, lists that purport to count the same German casualties, in the same categories, in the same war" which reflected "bad arithmetic" amongst other things.

salesie, you made this point.

However "bad" the German's arithmetic was, Macdonogh's constant ("expected number of casualties per battalion") was based on it.

According to Occleshaw:

"The German official casualty lists [my emphasis] (at this stage belated and incomplete) [Occleshaw's interpretation] showed an average loss of 43 per cent in infantry. Macdonogh considered that 'We shall therefore probably not be taking too high a figure if we assume an average of 50 p.c. casualties in the 440 infantry battalions engaged.'"

Occleshaw juxtaposed "German official casualty lists" (which will be the VL if I have understood Ralph's posts correctly. The SB did not exist at that time.) with the quote from Macdonogh that starts "We shall therefore...". I presume from this (and it is only a presumption based on Occleshaw at this time) that Macdonogh was prepared to place more credence in the German 'arithmetic' that you are, FWIIW.

More significantly, the inference is that Macdonogh's 'pretty good picture of the true level of German casualties' was, in fact, based on none other than the German's picture of the level of German casualties.

I apologise that my earlier post appeared to have been taken out of context by me. I hope that the reason for the selection of the quote, which was meant to illustrate the above point, is now clearer. I repeat that it was not about any comparison with Charteris, which is off-topic IMHO.

The inference, based on Occleshaw's work, must be subjected to further scrutiny of Macdonogh's original text. By that I mean the text that Occleshaw has paraphrased in the first part of the relevant paragraph.

Assuming the inference is correct, that Macdonogh based his constant on the VL, then Ralph's detailed understanding and analysis of the VL in this and other threads becomes even more pertinent and valuable. Given the esteem with which Macdonogh was, and is, held then perhaps it will become easier to take note of Ralph's points and begin to evaluate his comments in a new light. I get the distinct impression that Macdonogh would have approved of Ralph's careful methods and interpretations - but this is definitely a guess on my part ;).

Robert

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salesie

Thanks, George and salesie. To some extent, my quote from Occleshaw has distilled out one of the key issues under debate here. To paraphrase, there is a view that:

1. Macdonogh had a 'pretty good picture of the true level of German casualties'.

On this point you both agree.

This view was based on a formula of:

Number of German battalions involved in a battle x "expected number of casualties per battalion".

The latter started out as a constant, which had to be adjusted downwards in the Third Battle of Ypres because the number of German battalions went up significantly, in keeping with the more rapid rotation compared with the Battle of Arras.

Please note that I was not trying to say that Macdonogh was 'wrong'. I was pointing out that the methods that Macdonogh quoted were estimates based on several assumptions. The issue of Charteris and his methods / interpretations is irrelevant to this thread, IMHO.

2. There were "glaring gross imbalances in and between German lists, lists that purport to count the same German casualties, in the same categories, in the same war" which reflected "bad arithmetic" amongst other things.

salesie, you made this point.

However "bad" the German's arithmetic was, Macdonogh's constant ("expected number of casualties per battalion") was based on it.

According to Occleshaw:

"The German official casualty lists [my emphasis] (at this stage belated and incomplete) [Occleshaw's interpretation] showed an average loss of 43 per cent in infantry. Macdonogh considered that 'We shall therefore probably not be taking too high a figure if we assume an average of 50 p.c. casualties in the 440 infantry battalions engaged.'"

Occleshaw juxtaposed "German official casualty lists" (which will be the VL if I have understood Ralph's posts correctly. The SB did not exist at that time.) with the quote from Macdonogh that starts "We shall therefore...". I presume from this (and it is only a presumption based on Occleshaw at this time) that Macdonogh was prepared to place more credence in the German 'arithmetic' that you are, FWIIW.

More significantly, the inference is that Macdonogh's 'pretty good picture of the true level of German casualties' was, in fact, based on none other than the German's picture of the level of German casualties.

I apologise that my earlier post appeared to have been taken out of context by me. I hope that the reason for the selection of the quote, which was meant to illustrate the above point, is now clearer. I repeat that it was not about any comparison with Charteris, which is off-topic IMHO.

The inference, based on Occleshaw's work, must be subjected to further scrutiny of Macdonogh's original text. By that I mean the text that Occleshaw has paraphrased in the first part of the relevant paragraph.

Assuming the inference is correct, that Macdonogh based his constant on the VL, then Ralph's detailed understanding and analysis of the VL in this and other threads becomes even more pertinent and valuable. Given the esteem with which Macdonogh was, and is, held then perhaps it will become easier to take note of Ralph's points and begin to evaluate his comments in a new light. I get the distinct impression that Macdonogh would have approved of Ralph's careful methods and interpretations - but this is definitely a guess on my part ;).

Robert

It seems you do believe after all, Robert, that Macdonogh was a "one trick intelligence pony". For some reason you fail to grasp the importance of the belated corroborative intelligence that British Military Intelligence was receiving from German paybooks and, to an extent, from inside Germany itself. The bare calculations you seem stuck on were obviously a foundation to start building estimates from (during an on-going action), not an end in themselves - this is clear when Occleshaw also says that, 'these figures should provide a stock answer to those who glory in the persistent argument that German losses were nearly always far lighter than the British.' Why would he say this if he believed, as you seem to do, that Macdonogh's figures were simply tracking the VL?

Cheers-salesie.

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phil andrade

Salesie,

You have, once or twice, written on this thread that Edmonds's "..arithmetic is open to question.."

Something a lot more forthright, please !

Downright mendacious, in my opinion !

Phil (PJA)

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George Armstrong Custer

The key to British Intelligence's grasp of the big picture regarding German casualties is an understanding of the true nature and objectives of attritional warfare in respect of depleting the enemy's available pool of reserves, allied with an appreciation of British Intelligence's analysis and prediction of when the German reserves would run out. This intelligence analysis was, inter alia, a key factor in Haig's decision to continue Third Ypres. The collapse of Russia, of course, caused a reassessment of intelligence assessments and the accurate prediction that Germany would attempt to head off the arrival of the Americans in force with a last throw of the dice in Spring '18.

George

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Robert Dunlop

Sorry, salesie. I am not trying to suggest that Macdonogh was a 'one-trick pony'. I am very comfortable with your comments about the wider range of information that was used, FWIIW. Feel free to replace 'Macdonogh' with 'British Intelligence' if that will help you to get to the fundamental point.

Occleshaw's interpretation is not relevant to this discussion, IMHO. He is entitled to his opinion, and you are entitled to place whatever store by it that you wish. Both are secondary sources, if you will.

There is no getting away, however, from the fact that the VL was recognised by British Intelligence (as it was by other Intelligence services) as an important source of information about German casualties.

Robert

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Robert Dunlop

George, I agree with your latest points. This whole area is definitely worthy of a separate discussion at some point.

Robert

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Robert Dunlop

Phil, when you get access to your copy of SB again, are you able to take some screenshots of the relevant tables? These could be posted as images. PM me if you need any help to sort this. Several of us can read Fraktur so you will get a very fast turnaround on the translations. It will also help Ralph to focus and to give you an interpretation of the significance, limitations, etc of the numbers.

Robert

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salesie

Salesie,

You have, once or twice, written on this thread that Edmonds's "..arithmetic is open to question.."

Something a lot more forthright, please !

Downright mendacious, in my opinion !

Phil (PJA)

See my post #69, paragraph 5, Phil. What I'm saying, is that I understand your concerns about Edmonds' arithmetic, but don't agree with the conclusions you draw from it - not least because you base them on an acceptance that the German figures are true and accurate, whereas I say that said German stats are open to much more serious questioning than "bad arithmetic" on Edmonds' part. Serious questioning that you seemed to begin to spot earlier (when you wobbled), but then allowed Ralph to fob you off with his usual "apples and oranges" excuse. In other words, I view your obviously fervent dislike of Edmonds to be nothing more than a narrowly focused attempt to catch a red-herring.

Cheers-salesie.

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salesie

Sorry, salesie. I am not trying to suggest that Macdonogh was a 'one-trick pony'. I am very comfortable with your comments about the wider range of information that was used, FWIIW. Feel free to replace 'Macdonogh' with 'British Intelligence' if that will help you to get to the fundamental point.

Occleshaw's interpretation is not relevant to this discussion, IMHO. He is entitled to his opinion, and you are entitled to place whatever store by it that you wish. Both are secondary sources, if you will.

There is no getting away, however, from the fact that the VL was recognised by British Intelligence (as it was by other Intelligence services) as an important source of information about German casualties.

Robert

Interesting post, Robert. Occleshaw is relevant when you introduce a snippet of his work, but irrelevant when I introduce more of his work to put your snippet into context? Fascinating view of things.

And, your use of language would seem to imply that British Military Intelligence took the VL as gospel? If so, there must be plenty of ex-Macdonogh men reincarnated as members of this forum. :lol:

Cheers-salesie.

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phil andrade

See my post #69, paragraph 5, Phil. What I'm saying, is that I understand your concerns about Edmonds' arithmetic, but don't agree with the conclusions you draw from it - not least because you base them on an acceptance that the German figures are true and accurate, whereas I say that said German stats are open to much more serious questioning than "bad arithmetic" on Edmonds' part. Serious questioning that you seemed to begin to spot earlier (when you wobbled), but then allowed Ralph to fob you off with his usual "apples and oranges" excuse. In other words, I view your obviously fervent dislike of Edmonds to be nothing more than a narrowly focused attempt to catch a red-herring.

Cheers-salesie.

Take it from a dyed in the wool wobbler, salesie, if the British Official Historian, in his attempts to estimate German casualties in the Battle of the Somme, takes an official German statistic for the entire Western Front, and states that this alludes to the Battle of the Somme only, he is either terribly mistaken or pulling a fast one. I prefer to think the latter : it wouldn't do to have an official historian who was thick....

"Open to question" ?? To use your own expression whan you lambast Ralph "Come off it" !

Phil (PJA)

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salesie

Take it from a dyed in the wool wobbler, salesie, if the British Official Historian, in his attempts to estimate German casualties in the Battle of the Somme, takes an official German statistic for the entire Western Front, and states that this alludes to the Battle of the Somme only, he is either terribly mistaken or pulling a fast one. I prefer to think the latter : it wouldn't do to have an official historian who was thick....

"Open to question" ?? To use your own expression whan you lambast Ralph "Come off it" !

Phil (PJA)

It seems that you wobble so much, Phil, that you lose your eye for detail. In your post #3, you tell us that, "Apart from the Reichsarchiv, we have the meticulous tabulations from the sanitatsbericht, the German Medical History. Edmonds refused to cite these figures for the Somme or for Third Ypres, because they were so inimical to his case. Those of you who cherish the view that German casualties were understated by exclusion of the lightly wounded....look away now, because you will not like what you see :

Somme, June 21st to November 20th 1916, against both British and French : Killed; 57,987, Wounded; 273,132, Missing 85,683. A total of 416,802 casualties, with reference to an additional 3,000 or so who were gassed..."

In post #71. Robert introduces British Military Intelligence's basis for its own estimates, and takes great pains to point out that, at this stage, BMI's figures tracked the VL very closely, giving an estimated German loss of 522,000 men on both the French and British Somme front up to 30th September 1916. German losses of 522,000 men (closely following the VL totals at this stage) with several weeks of the battle still to go. Perhaps Edmonds preferred to believe BMI's figures, which would have been corroborated by other sources when he wrote the BOH, rather than the Sanitats?

Before you castigate a man's reputation, a man not around to defend himself, perhaps you should develop a bit more of an eye for detail?

Cheers-salesie.

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Robert Dunlop
Occleshaw is relevant when you introduce a snippet of his work, but irrelevant when I introduce more of his work to put your snippet into context? Fascinating view of things.
salesie, I quoted Macdonogh (on behalf of British Intelligence) in the context of Occleshaw's book. The remainder of Occleschaw's secondary comments were heavily caveated.

Let me repeat Macdonogh's quote:

"We shall therefore [on the basis that the German official casualty lists showed an average loss of 43 per cent] probably not be taking too high a figure if we assume an average of 50 p.c. casualties in the 440 infantry battalions engaged."

The numbers submitted by British Intelligence (WO) were based on this assumption.

Are you saying that Occleshaw disputes this statement by Macdonogh in his book? That is not my reading of what Occleshaw wrote.

Are you saying that Macdonogh was mistaken in what he wrote?

The caveats about Occleshaw's context for Macdonogh's quote remain. Fortunately, Occleshaw has provided the primary source for Macdonogh's quote. I will chase this up.

Robert

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salesie

salesie, I quoted Macdonogh (on behalf of British Intelligence) in the context of Occleshaw's book. The remainder of Occleschaw's secondary comments were heavily caveated.

Let me repeat Macdonogh's quote:

"We shall therefore [on the basis that the German official casualty lists showed an average loss of 43 per cent] probably not be taking too high a figure if we assume an average of 50 p.c. casualties in the 440 infantry battalions engaged."

The numbers submitted by British Intelligence (WO) were based on this assumption.

Are you saying that Occleshaw disputes this statement by Macdonogh in his book? That is not my reading of what Occleshaw wrote.

Are you saying that Macdonogh was mistaken in what he wrote?

The caveats about Occleshaw's context for Macdonogh's quote remain. Fortunately, Occleshaw has provided the primary source for Macdonogh's quote. I will chase this up.

Robert

I covered this point in post #77, Robert, when I wrote:

"It seems you do believe after all, Robert, that Macdonogh was a "one trick intelligence pony". For some reason you fail to grasp the importance of the belated corroborative intelligence that British Military Intelligence was receiving from German paybooks and, to an extent, from inside Germany itself. The bare calculations you seem stuck on were obviously a foundation to start building estimates from (during an on-going action), not an end in themselves - this is clear when Occleshaw also says that, 'these figures should provide a stock answer to those who glory in the persistent argument that German losses were nearly always far lighter than the British.' Why would he say this if he believed, as you seem to do, that Macdonogh's figures were simply tracking the VL?"

The problem with Occleshaw's work is that the content of many chapters is specific to the context of that particular chapter's title, and thus it is easy to take things out of context. The basis to start building estimates was as the formula you introduced, but there was on-going revision as the paybook info, and intel from spying activities, came in. This latter info, by definition, would be later than the start of the estimates.

Because Occleshaw gives the appraisal of both methods in different chapters it is easy to see them as totally separate entities, when in fact they were intrinsically linked - the formula to start-off the estimates, the corroborative historical evidence to confirm or revise them. That's what I mean about BMI not being a one trick pony - and let's be fair, if they just tracked the enemy's own lists they'd be bloody fools, which clearly they weren't.

Cheers-salesie.

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Robert Dunlop

With respect, salesie, you have evaded the fundamental questions. I am very familiar with Occleshaw's work. You are quite right that he has distributed relevant material throughout the book. There are internal inconsistencies but this is irrelevant to this thread. Occleshaw's work has been superceded in many respects, not least of all by some of George's research for example. But this is also irrelevant. I am not aware of any other quotes in Occleshaw from Macdonogh that counter his mention of using the VL as the basis for calculating the numbers of casualties that were quoted officially by British Intelligence (WO).

Robert

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phil andrade

BMI's figures tracked the VL very closely, giving an estimated German loss of 522,000 men on both the French and British Somme front up to 30th September 1916

Cheers-salesie.

Excuse me, but...what ! ?

522,000 German casualties on the Somme, just up until the end of September, and that's supposed to be tracking the VL very closely ?

At this point the wobbler in me gets a bit of backbone : there was a massive degree of assumption in that estimate, based on extrapolation of the most optimistic kind.

The most meticulous research of the German figures of the ZN and the Reichsarchiv, which were essentially harmonious and founded on the data of the VL, was carried out by Wendt, who placed German losses in the Somme fighting up to the end of September at 310,000, against an Anglo-French figure of 460,000. The final two months cost the Germans another 125,000 casualties, the Allies 150,000.

Phil (PJA)

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salesie

With respect, salesie, you have evaded the fundamental questions. I am very familiar with Occleshaw's work. You are quite right that he has distributed relevant material throughout the book. There are internal inconsistencies but this is irrelevant to this thread. Occleshaw's work has been superceded in many respects, not least of all by some of George's research for example. But this is also irrelevant. I am not aware of any other quotes in Occleshaw from Macdonogh that counter his mention of using the VL as the basis for calculating the numbers of casualties that were quoted officially by British Intelligence (WO).

Robert

Not evading any fundamentals at all, Robert i.e. I'm not disputing the fact that BMI (under Macdonogh) did use the VL as the basis of its formula for estimating initial German losses, but I am disputing your implicit suggestion that that was the be-all and end-all of the estimating process at BMI. In an earlier post you tell me, "Sorry, salesie. I am not trying to suggest that Macdonogh was a 'one-trick pony'. I am very comfortable with your comments about the wider range of information that was used, FWIIW." But you now seem to want to separate the individual components of that wider range of information, in order to seemingly make the point that even Macdonogh, the undisputed intelligence genius of WW1, saw the VL as being sound?

To do that you would have to be seriously suggesting that BMI were foolish enough to take the enemy's published figures as gospel? Or, believe that BMI's final figures, after corroboration, did in fact prove the final VL totals to be sound? Maybe you're just waiting for the right moment to produce them?

Cheers-salesie.

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salesie

Excuse me, but...what ! ?

522,000 German casualties on the Somme, just up until the end of September, and that's supposed to be tracking the VL very closely ?

At this point the wobbler in me gets a bit of backbone : there was a massive degree of assumption in that estimate, based on extrapolation of the most optimistic kind.

The most meticulous research of the German figures of the ZN and the Reichsarchiv, which were essentially harmonious and founded on the data of the VL, was carried out by Wendt, who placed German losses in the Somme fighting up to the end of September at 310,000, against an Anglo-French figure of 460,000. The final two months cost the Germans another 125,000 casualties, the Allies 150,000.

Phil (PJA)

You'd better have a word with Robert as well, Phil, he too believes that contemporary BMI estimates used, as a basis, the contempoary VL of the battle. I wonder if anything went wrong between the contemporay reports of 1916 and the time that Wendt studied them?

Cheers-salesie.

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Robert Dunlop
I'm not disputing the fact that BMI (under Macdonogh) did use the VL as the basis of its formula for estimating initial German losses...
Thanks for clarifying this, salesie.
but I am disputing your implicit suggestion that that was the be-all and end-all of the estimating process at BMI... in order to seemingly make the point that even Macdonogh, the undisputed intelligence genius of WW1, saw the VL as being sound?
Then let me make this quite explicit. I know that the VL was not the be-all and end-all of the BMI's evaluations, based on the reading I have done. Second, I am not saying that Macdonogh saw the VL as being 'sound'. Nor am I saying that he saw the VL as being 'unsound'. Until I read Macdonogh's original report, I will reserve judgement on this.

All I am pointing out is that Macdonogh used the VL as the explict basis for calculating the numbers of German casualties that he quoted, a point upon which we are both agreed.

From what I know about Macdonogh, he was very careful in his analyses. I cannot imagine that he would have put his name to a calculation that explicitly mentioned the VL without some good reason. Nor can I imagine that he did so without understanding the limitations of the VL. Which is why I shall return to my earlier point. He would have respected Ralph's analyses, which bear all the hallmarks of careful scrutiny and appraisal. Ralph has helped us to understand the limitations. He has also helped us to understand how the VL stacks up. FWIIW, I can now appreciate why Macdonogh was prepared to sign his name to the fact that the VL was used as the basis for the calculation.

It is interesting to note that the percentage of casualties could be associated with specific battalions. It is also interesting that Macdonogh described how the percentage was increased by a factor of 25%. The basis for this increase is not clear. I will check if the information is in the primary source.

Robert

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salesie

Thanks for clarifying this, salesie.

Then let me make this quite explicit. I know that the VL was not the be-all and end-all of the BMI's evaluations, based on the reading I have done. Second, I am not saying that Macdonogh saw the VL as being 'sound'. Nor am I saying that he saw the VL as being 'unsound'. Until I read Macdonogh's original report, I will reserve judgement on this.

All I am pointing out is that Macdonogh used the VL as the explict basis for calculating the numbers of German casualties that he quoted, a point upon which we are both agreed.

From what I know about Macdonogh, he was very careful in his analyses. I cannot imagine that he would have put his name to a calculation that explicitly mentioned the VL without some good reason. Nor can I imagine that he did so without understanding the limitations of the VL. Which is why I shall return to my earlier point. He would have respected Ralph's analyses, which bear all the hallmarks of careful scrutiny and appraisal. Ralph has helped us to understand the limitations. He has also helped us to understand how the VL stacks up. FWIIW, I can now appreciate why Macdonogh was prepared to sign his name to the fact that the VL was used as the basis for the calculation.

It is interesting to note that the percentage of casualties could be associated with specific battalions. It is also interesting that Macdonogh described how the percentage was increased by a factor of 25%. The basis for this increase is not clear. I will check if the information is in the primary source.

Robert

I agree, Robert, that Macdonogh states in this paper that he uses the VL as a basis for his initial calculations. But, he was after all a very adept intelligence operator, and this could, I suppose, be an attempt at misinformation? He would certainly have had the means to ensure the enemy saw this paper, and thus lead them away from discovering his true source/s? And/or he could judge, by his other sources, just how quickly and by how much the powers-that-be in Germany could/would manipulate the published VL (or judge if they had the power to do so at all)? Pure supposition on my part, of course, but it could just be an alternative good reason why he put his name to a paper giving such information? Or maybe I'm just a fiction writer forming a storyline in his bonce? :lol:

Cheers-salesie.

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phil andrade

The prevailing tendency to fixate on "conspiracy theory" in history annoys me...we see it too often, whether it be Pearl Harbor or the Twin Towers...it irritates me .

But in this matter of Edmonds and his treatement of German losses, it really does strike me that the expression "conspiracy theory " fits.

He tells us that lightly wounded were excluded from official German casualty communiques ; he reckons that a survey of German regimental rolls of honour indicate a total death roll twice as high as the two million officially announced; he argues that in the positional battles of attrition the defender tended to suffer heavier casualties than the attacker.

By making errors such as depicting German casualties for the entire Western Front as being for the battle of the Somme alone, he digs himself deeper into the brown and sticky stuff.

Phil (PJA)

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Ralph J. Whitehead

Phil, In getting back to your questions and some examples you quote I can only advise caution. In regard to the numbers and comparisons I will see what I can do to find the appropriate sources of the numbers and to see just how these were created and listed. In regard to trying to fit small unit returns into the overall loss ratios between killed and wounded there is a lot to look at. Small returns will not always be in sync with the end result numbers simply because in one case you are talking of hundreds of men, in the other, millions of men. Some examples will be far lower in the ration, others far higher and all at different times in the war.

Here are a few ratios to determine and to play with some additional numbers as reported by the Württemberg authorites for losses suffered during the war:

Grenadier Regt. 119; Killed: officers, 123, EM, 3,883.

Wounded: officers 266, EM 8,655

Inf. Regt 120; killed: officers 129, EM 3,914

wounded: officers 209, EM 8,723

RIR 119; killed: officers, 73, EM 2,216

wounded: officers, 160, EM 5,735

RIR 120; killed: officers, 93, EM 3,398

wounded: officers, 176, EM 7,897

Just four examples at present but there is a wide range for losses in all categories. If you look at later units such as IR 476 the numbers are killed: officers, 46, EM 1,127. Wounded: officers, 77, EM 2,915.

Of course the latter regiment was formed much later than the former ones and had less time at the front. As each unit suffered a different number of losses it is necessary to look at the fronts they fought on, the battles they were involved in, etc. Just a few numbers for you to fool around with.

Ralph

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Latze

I agree, Robert, that Macdonogh states in this paper that he uses the VL as a basis for his initial calculations. But, he was after all a very adept intelligence operator, and this could, I suppose, be an attempt at misinformation? He would certainly have had the means to ensure the enemy saw this paper, and thus lead them away from discovering his true source/s? And/or he could judge, by his other sources, just how quickly and by how much the powers-that-be in Germany could/would manipulate the published VL (or judge if they had the power to do so at all)? Pure supposition on my part, of course, but it could just be an alternative good reason why he put his name to a paper giving such information? Or maybe I'm just a fiction writer forming a storyline in his bonce? :lol:

Cheers-salesie.

Hi salesie,

if you really believe this (the last sentence of your post makes it seem that you are not serious) maybe you could offer a theory why the real source of these estimates are not known by know? Even ULTRA was declassified years ago and Occleshaw happily discloses any secrets he could unearth... like the super-secret rescue from Russia.

Btw I bought my copy used. Ex-library stock. Stamped "East Riding of Yorkshire Library and Information Services". Just coincidence?

regards

Matt

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Ralph J. Whitehead

A few points noted from recent posts. No ‘new’ list has been put forth on this thread. It is a discussion of the treatment of German losses as described by Edmonds. The German loss details are used as part of this overall discussion. They have not been offered as proof of one point or another, they have been put forth to provide information on German losses from sources that after years of research for numerous projects completed and more in the planning stages. Additional time was taken to explain the different sources, their time periods, reporting characteristics, etc.

It would mean more if the people who are consistently opposed to any idea that any German list has value would actually look at them and their background. To omit this important aspect of understanding is somewhat foreign to me.

As I said earlier, in my opinion each source and each variation of any statistical data is important for what it is. I am not concerned that one list does not match another. Are the British estimates of killed and wounded so perfectly matched? No. Should we toss them out with the bath water? No. Look at each one and how it was developed. Use the information in any research and discussion accordingly.

While it seems to be lost in all of the discussions, the lists were not, did not and will not match unless they were done in exactly the same manner. If so and there were still differences then someone got their figures wrong. If one listr has more deadlisted and another with less has missing men still unaccounted for then the question to me is where was the information found and what portion of the loss reports was used. Just what is this overpowering need to shove everything into a neat little number.

Some members appear to believe the Germans were under reporting losses yet in the 15 years +/- after the war the loss amounts climbed from year to year until the authorities were satisfied they had done what they could to establish the true losses in the war. If there was the intent to deceive then these should have decreased instead.

I seriously doubt the loss numbers held after the end of the war were considered so secret that they could not be revealed as to source, etc. In the decades since the war something along these lines would have turned up in some research. So many books have been written on the British side it would appear no such hidden information has ever been leaked. I can only think of the Dreyfus trial in which Captain Dreyfus was convicted on mountains of secret documents that no one was able to see as they were secret. So secret they never existed.

Everyone uses the final numbers of losses and monthly numbers when available. Does anyone know how these were arrived at? The actual basis for the final decisions made?

“after all, the gross imbalances in the German lists hardly lend them to trustworthiness”. I am baffled. Why is there this overwhelming need to balance every list that was made. The idea of different times, different criteria and different reasons for creating each list does not rise and fall on the other and the lack of balance does not make them untrustworthy. They should be used for what they were designed for and trust me, it was not so that they would all fit into a nice neat package.

“The detail in German returns and the VL, regarding individual names etc. is something of a red-herring in my opinion, in that when looking too closely at the trees then the wood is easily missed i.e. a family could see that their loved one was named in them, but how on earth could they know that he was included in the total count?” An easy answer, they did not care about the overall loss numbers and statistical reviews. It is a source of information that can be used to look at losses throughout the war. Their names, birthplace, nature of casualty. The insights into the search for missing men, dead with identifying marks, returned prisoners of war, etc. It is an invaluable resource when looking at the human side of the war.

It is true that Jack and I and possibly others with some contact with the German records do report any shortcomings and issues that we have found. This is not to mean that all of the information is suspect or so incomplete that it makes it all useless. It is simply to be as accurate as we can so that any possible issues in using them will be known to the readers. If I supply a small peak at a particular unit or group it is not to say the information is so unusual that the remainder of the information is useless. I am not going to post hundreds of examples of anything that some feel might be needed, especially when the opposing views are simply talking points on research of others and without a single example or explanation to show otherwise.

A recent remark ‘but there was on-going revision as the paybook info, and intel from spying activities, came in.’ would seem to support my very argument that data is a great source of information but it does change over time as the status of men changed therefore requiring a harder look at whatever we are using for research. Thanks Salesie, for the confirmation of my view on this aspect of the lists in general.

This expression, looking at the wood not the trees has been used. Far from it, you need to look at everything in order to come to any sort of well-founded conclusion on your research. In my case the overall numbers, the movements of armies do not mean much. I much prefer to study the ‘trees’ or as I see them, the human beings that make up the very numbers being argued. These were people, some were relatives of the forum members and some of these appeared in one casualty list or another. I see nothing wrong with trying to determine some small piece of humanity of any man who fought in the war.

Oddly enough, the recent statement ‘Because Occleshaw gives the appraisal of both methods in different chapters it is easy to see them as totally separate entities, when in fact they were intrinsically linked - the formula to start-off the estimates, the corroborative historical evidence to confirm or revise them. That's what I mean about BMI not being a one trick pony - and let's be fair, if they just tracked the enemy's own lists they'd be bloody fools, which clearly they weren't.’ is clearly what I have been discussing about using multiple sources, cross checking, etc. yet again, in this case Occleshaw is acceptable and in mine it is not?

I would have much more respect for opposing ideas and opinions if some, any actual research was done to look at the sources being discussed. I get the feeling that while detailed research by a number of members is simply being dismissed as useless, excuses, just plain wrong and ridiculous the opposing views are based on no more than what others have written years earlier. Simply not acceptable in trying to put forth a solid argument. Anything put forth should have the foundation it deserves.

Is each list or chart put forth by the different countries valid? Yes as they were based upon the materials at hand. Are they a glimpse at a moment in time? Yes, as each day that passed could and did allow for information to change, the status of any soldier from any country to change and therefore alter the overall number.

Is the SanB an excellent source of materials? Yes, it had the original documents. Did it have limitations? Yes, statistics were not added to specific lists because the full data was not available and this was pointed out. At the same time the losses from this period for some major units was known and presented separately. Of course, if you had read the book you would know this.

I do accept each list as they are. Each was prepared for a specific purpose, each has its uses and I see no need to match them all up or toss them away.

‘Ralph tells us that he accepts each and every one of these lists as being valid because some counted "apples" and some counted "oranges", and, not only that, they counted them at different times. I say that is nonsense because all these lists purport to count/measure the same German casualties, in the same categories, in the same war.’

Why do you persist in making statements that are so patently incorrect and then expect us to take your word for it? The VL and the subsequent SanB did count the same men. The methods and presentation of such details was completely different. In one, the losses were reported as they occurred and without knowing the final status of these men. Later lists did contain such corrections. Did the Allied intelligence services track man for man, name for name because if they simply relied upon the reports in whole numbers then their calculations would be in error. In certain lists there are pages addressing status correction for earlier lists. Some indicate a missing man was a prisoner, killed, in hospital but many times it was a change of a first or last name, a birthplace or a reserve regiment as opposed to an active regiment. Did the British intelligence sections factor in the main reporting details, omit or change the subsequent status details and come up with a final number? Can someone provide a clear explanation of the exact methods employed by the British?

The ZNB did not publish monthly loss totals for the army, the publishing of lists was spotty at best as it was not the primary reason it existed and as the RA used the reports and numbers taken from other sources used during the war just how were all of these lists from different decades using the same criteria. This would have been a complete waste of time in duplicating what has already been created several times over it seems.

The SanB also reported the same men as taken from the lists used to populate the VL but they had the benefit of looking at later reports and numbers when the status of these men did change. The categories you allude to in your post, were these ones you found in your research into the primary sources or were they ones created by people years after the war?

We have opposing views. I support mine with actual research into primary sources. Others rely on efforts of others, second and third hand with limited mention of key records. Were they simply restating what had already been put forth as gospel without attempting to verify any of it?

Ralph

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salesie

Hi salesie,

if you really believe this (the last sentence of your post makes it seem that you are not serious) maybe you could offer a theory why the real source of these estimates are not known by know? Even ULTRA was declassified years ago and Occleshaw happily discloses any secrets he could unearth... like the super-secret rescue from Russia.

Btw I bought my copy used. Ex-library stock. Stamped "East Riding of Yorkshire Library and Information Services". Just coincidence?

regards

Matt

Just a bit of fun on my part, Matt, just a bit of fun (but given the illogicallity that sometimes seems to pervade the British establishment's mentality on de-classification, maybe the answer lies buried under the 100 year rule, who knows? :lol:)

As for Occleshaw's book, I bought my copy for a fiver on Ebay a few years ago - so just a coincidence, mate.

Cheers-salesie.

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phil andrade

Phil, In getting back to your questions and some examples you quote I can only advise caution. In regard to the numbers and comparisons I will see what I can do to find the appropriate sources of the numbers and to see just how these were created and listed. In regard to trying to fit small unit returns into the overall loss ratios between killed and wounded there is a lot to look at. Small returns will not always be in sync with the end result numbers simply because in one case you are talking of hundreds of men, in the other, millions of men. Some examples will be far lower in the ration, others far higher and all at different times in the war.

Here are a few ratios to determine and to play with some additional numbers as reported by the Württemberg authorites for losses suffered during the war:

Grenadier Regt. 119; Killed: officers, 123, EM, 3,883.

Wounded: officers 266, EM 8,655

Inf. Regt 120; killed: officers 129, EM 3,914

wounded: officers 209, EM 8,723

RIR 119; killed: officers, 73, EM 2,216

wounded: officers, 160, EM 5,735

RIR 120; killed: officers, 93, EM 3,398

wounded: officers, 176, EM 7,897

Just four examples at present but there is a wide range for losses in all categories. If you look at later units such as IR 476 the numbers are killed: officers, 46, EM 1,127. Wounded: officers, 77, EM 2,915.

Of course the latter regiment was formed much later than the former ones and had less time at the front. As each unit suffered a different number of losses it is necessary to look at the fronts they fought on, the battles they were involved in, etc. Just a few numbers for you to fool around with.

Ralph

You're kind to post those figures, Ralph : thank you !

Those four Wurttemberger regiments show a remarkable consistency in the ratio of killed to wounded : an aggregate of 13,829 killed and 31,821 wounded, which indicates 2.3 wounded for every one killed. None of those four samples deviates much from that ratio.

It is such a high proportion of killed to wounded ( remember the SB ratio is more like 6 wounded to every one killed) that I suspect that in these examples the "killed" includes deaths from all causes, which would be a crucial point of differentiation from the SB criterion of killed being confirmed KIA only.

I think that a man would go out of his mind if he tried to reconcile all these differing reports, compiled in different ways and at different times. My wish is to try and get a decent measure of general harmony into the comparison of casualty statistics.

I doubt that if anyone will better Churchill's attempt at this when he wrote

The Germans, out of a population of under 70 millions, mobilised during the war for military service thirteen and a quarter million persons. O f these, according to the latest German official figures for all fronts including the Russian, over 7 millions suffered death, wounds or captivity, of whom nearly 2 millions perished. France, with a population of 38 millions, mobilised a little over 8 million persons. This however includes a substantial proportion of African troops outside the French population basis. Of these approximately 5 millions became casualties, of whom one and a half millions lost their lives.....The French and German figures are..capable of very close comparison. Both the French and German armies fought with their whole strength from the beginning to the end of the war. Each nation made the utmost possible demand upon its population. In these circumstances it is not surprising that the official French and German figures tally with considerable exactness. The Germans mobilised 19 per cent. of their entire population, and the French, with their important African additions, 21 per cent. Making allowance for the African factor, it would appear that in the life-and- death struggle both countries put an equal strain upon their manhood. If this basis is sound - and it certainly appears reasonable - the proportion of French and German casualties to persons mobilised displays an even more remarkable concordance. The proportion of German casualties to persons mobilised is 10 out of every 19, and that of the French 10 out of every 16. The ratios of deaths to woundings in Germany and France are almost exactly equal, viz. 2 to 5. Finally, these figures yield a division of German losses between the western and all other fronts of approximately 3 to 1 in both deaths and casualties.

All the calculations which follow are upon the basis of the tables which yield these authoratitive and harmonious general proportions.

Authoratitive and harmonious general proportions - what a lovely phrase ! Churchill was definitely able to see the wood rather than the trees. He certainly had an agenda, and was, in my opinion, a propagandist for a concept of warfare that was not consistent with the strategic rationale and requirement of defeating the main enemy on the main front. But in his actual deployment of casualty statistics, I think he puts Edmonds to shame.

Phil (PJA)

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