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Chasing the Great Retreat


joerookery
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Very short release sale on this new title.Free UK delivery https://www.helion.co.uk/.../chasing-the-great-retreat... Written as a sequel to the award winning German Failure in Belgium which won the Tomlinson Book Award for the best book on World War I in the English language for 2020, this book stands alone as the German army chases the well documented “Great Retreat.” We focus on the German side of the retreat of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). We show that the Great War should have ended on 23 August 1914 but, due to the ‘fog and friction of war’, as explained by General Carl Graf von Clausewitz, it did not. So, Chasing the Great Retreat was born. 

This is an incredible story of missed opportunities made more astonishing by the amount of propaganda extolled by some British authors. This propaganda line generally purported the story that British firepower dealt a great blow to the German army at the Battle of Mons. Clearly in their eyes, the British won that battle. Much is told about the British soldiers’ ability to fire 15 rounds of aimed shooting in a minute, which allegedly the Germans mistook for machine-gun fire. This is a myth that many readers grew up learning. Britain, in fact, lost the Battle of Mons and should have lost the war on 23 August. Germany missed a wide-open door that would have spelled disaster for the BEF and the entire Left Flank of the French army.

We focus on the role of the German cavalry. This arm is seriously understudied and has had little place in some official histories. In general, both British and German works ignore the role the cavalry played in the war. We are talking about the Right Wing of the German army only, consisting of the German First Army, Second Army and two cavalry organizations known as Höherer Kavallerie-Kommandeur (HKK 1 and HKK 2 ). The HKK were ad hoc organizations that had never been tested before the war. They are often wrongly referred to as a cavalry corps – the cavalry did not become a corps until 1915 – but neither were they similar to an infantry corps. However, many authors do not understand the concept of the HKK and therefore do not address the cavalry in operational maneuvers. This oversight is truly bizarre: The most mobile forces in warfare are given short shrift. Why?

4635 CHASING THE GREAT RETREAT.jpg

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34 minutes ago, joerookery said:

We show that the Great War should have ended on 23 August 1914 but, due to the ‘fog and friction of war’, as explained by General Carl Graf von Clausewitz, it did not.

35 minutes ago, joerookery said:

Britain, in fact, lost the Battle of Mons and should have lost the war on 23 August. Germany missed a wide-open door that would have spelled disaster for the BEF and the entire Left Flank of the French army.

I never knew that. How unfair.

Did the Germans consider complaining to the referee?

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Is it a wonder why so many people don't use this forum anymore?

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6 hours ago, joerookery said:

This is an incredible story of missed opportunities made more astonishing by the amount of propaganda extolled by some British authors

I suspect such sensational sales pitch wording might have invited a little touch of sarcasm although I'm sure no offence was intended.

I for one will be very interested to see the discussion this new book provokes.

Thank you for the provocation!

Charlie

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Chasing the Great Retreat - IMHO worth a read if it is as informative as German Failure in Belgium. 

Edited by squirrel
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Thank you squirrel. I don't even have a copy yet. The sale is only on for a short time so I thought it was worth posting. The cost on Amazon is Beyond astronomical. I hope it is as good as the last one. It was meant to be a sequel.

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Ordered from Amazon - a saving on Helion Books price and free delivery.

Edited by squirrel
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  • 3 weeks later...

You will laugh but I have not even seen a copy yet! Hope it's OK.

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My delivery expected at the weekend.

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20 hours ago, joerookery said:

You will laugh but I have not even seen a copy yet! Hope it's OK.

sorry to hear that ! 

 

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Mine arrived this morning.

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  • 4 weeks later...

This new book is on sale at Amazon for $25 or 16 pounds which is about half price. Cheaper than I can get it from the publisher with an author's discount.

4635 CHASING THE GREAT RETREAT.jpg

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Just to give you a glimpse of some of the things happening around the battle space that had a direct impact on the pursuit, here is a teaser. German Cavalry in West Flanders as well as Belgian infantry being sea lifted into the Antwerp front direct from Namur. It is hard to recognize the dates at first but the burning of the library in Louvain is directly connected to the pursuit of the great retreat!

Quietly focuses on smaller.jpg

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Very informative read - extensive research.

 

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17 hours ago, joerookery said:

Just to give you a glimpse of some of the things happening around the battle space that had a direct impact on the pursuit, here is a teaser. German Cavalry in West Flanders as well as Belgian infantry being sea lifted into the Antwerp front direct from Namur. It is hard to recognize the dates at first but the burning of the library in Louvain is directly connected to the pursuit of the great retreat!

Quietly focuses on smaller.jpg

One question: why can't anyone ever get the names of places in Flanders correct? This map has a mixture of nowadays spelling intermingled with the then-used French spelling and some spelling outright mistakes (Dixmunde and Dunquerque to give two examples)...

And: I don't see why these two squadrons of cavalry mentioned on the map did have such an impact? The Battle of Tournai on 24 August 1914 of HKK 2 did have a huge impact though.

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On 12/03/2022 at 14:14, joerookery said:

Britain, in fact, lost the Battle of Mons and should have lost the war on 23 August.

This kind of statement makes me very wary...

Even as someone who studies a lot of German sources, this makes no sense ("should have lost the war on 23 August"). Yes, the Battle of Mons 1914 is represented wrongly by the British and yes, the German losses were a lot less than what is always said, but the German simply didn't manage to even threaten to encircle the British (partly because of HKK 2 was going in the "wrong" direction). Why? Well, the difficult relation between AOK1 and AOK 2 is to blame, as well as the HKK 2 being subordinate to AOK2 and difficult observation circumstances. It is of course easy for us, armchair generals, 100 year later to oversee everything in hindsight and without the fog of war. The presence of the British army around Mons was not a certainty for the Germans at that point and a possible threat from a joint British-French force coming from the Lille or Kortrijk area (British troops possible being transported to Oostende or Zeebrugge and from there heading towards Kortrijk and threating the German flank) was definitely possible and had to be taken into account by the Germans. 

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2 hours ago, AOK4 said:

This kind of statement makes me very wary...

Even as someone who studies a lot of German sources, this makes no sense ("should have lost the war on 23 August"). Yes, the Battle of Mons 1914 is represented wrongly by the British and yes, the German losses were a lot less than what is always said, but the German simply didn't manage to even threaten to encircle the British (partly because of HKK 2 was going in the "wrong" direction). Why? Well, the difficult relation between AOK1 and AOK 2 is to blame, as well as the HKK 2 being subordinate to AOK2 and difficult observation circumstances. It is of course easy for us, armchair generals, 100 year later to oversee everything in hindsight and without the fog of war. The presence of the British army around Mons was not a certainty for the Germans at that point and a possible threat from a joint British-French force coming from the Lille or Kortrijk area (British troops possible being transported to Oostende or Zeebrugge and from there heading towards Kortrijk and threating the German flank) was definitely possible and had to be taken into account by the Germans. 

....the German losses were a lot less than what is always said

 

Indeed.  Claims of six to ten thousand are bandied about in the British accounts.  The reality, according to Zuber, was 1,900. 

Let it be stressed, though, that these were virtually all killed or wounded, whereas the British loss of 1,600 contained a very high proportion of prisoners.  So, in terms of actual bloodshed, the British did probably achieve a two to one superiority in the effect of firepower in disabling the enemy.  On the other hand, of course, men taken prisoner are irrecoverably lost, so the exchange rate is pretty bad, especially when a precipitate retreat ensues that results in thousands more prisoners being taken.

 

I look forward to reading this book, especially following on from the earlier ones dealing with the failure of German arms in Belgium.  They constitute a valuable addition to the historiography of the Great War.  How can we ever do justice to that wonderful tour de force THE  GREAT WAR DAWNING that this committed and scholarly team brought to us ?

There's a frightening topicality to this story of a hubristic and presumptuous militaristic institution that embarked on an onslaught, and when thwarted, resorted to atrocious conduct.

Phil

 

Edited by phil andrade
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One question: why can't anyone ever get the names of places in Flanders correct? This map has a mixture of nowadays spelling intermingled with the then-used French spelling and some spelling outright mistakes (Dixmunde and Dunquerque to give two examples)...

I think this is valid criticism. The authors team included a Flemish author but as a disclaimer at the start of the book says we are dealing with French, Flemish, German, and even sometimes English spellings of the same place. There are Maps from the time frame that have absolute mistakes in the spelling. No excuse just amelioration. It would be wonderful do you have some sort of standardize sourcing of the spelling or even the locations. Valid point.

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 but the German simply didn't manage to even threaten to encircle the British (partly because of HKK 2 was going in the "wrong" direction). 

I disagree. Looking at the disagreement between Kluck and Marwitz and the attempts by Kluck to force the decision shows that it was a near miss thing. A decision by Marwitz blew the opportunity. Very interesting Exchange between the leaders which paints Bülow in a very poor light.

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22 minutes ago, joerookery said:

I think this is valid criticism. The authors team included a Flemish author but as a disclaimer at the start of the book says we are dealing with French, Flemish, German, and even sometimes English spellings of the same place. There are Maps from the time frame that have absolute mistakes in the spelling. No excuse just amelioration. It would be wonderful do you have some sort of standardize sourcing of the spelling or even the locations. Valid point.

Either one uses the WWI era names as they were on British maps (when writing for an audience that knows these best) or one uses all current day names (meaning: French for the places in France and Wallonia and Dutch for the places in Flanders).

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15 minutes ago, joerookery said:

I disagree. Looking at the disagreement between Kluck and Marwitz and the attempts by Kluck to force the decision shows that it was a near miss thing. A decision by Marwitz blew the opportunity. Very interesting Exchange between the leaders which paints Bülow in a very poor light.

It is not up to us to say how things should have gone back then. We should only try to describe what happened then and what led to it. "What if" is irrelevant.

Anyway, I don't see how HKK 2 could have intervened in time on 23 August to encircle the BEF as 1. the French 88 Territorial Division was approaching and 2. the British had most of their cavalry behind their western flank. The German westernmost infantry also only reached the British lines along the Canal Mons-Condé by nightfall.

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Mm

It is not up to us to say how things should have gone back then. We should only try to describe what happened then and what led to it. "What if" is irrelevant.

I disagree again. I would say that most readers would like to approach this as a case study. Not just a regurgitation of the facts. However, it is hard to put Up a point without everyone having ReadThe exchanges.

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23 minutes ago, joerookery said:

I disagree again. I would say that most readers would like to approach this as a case study. Not just a regurgitation of the facts. However, it is hard to put Up a point without everyone having ReadThe exchanges.

I see them in the online preview of "The German Failure in Belgium" in google books. However, I can't see the references. (Chapter 9, notes 38 and 39 if I see correctly). What are the sources exactly?

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Sorry to say I am in my car heading towards the convention for the society of military history. I won’t be there until Thursday so I’m sorry to say I can’t look up the sources right now..

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