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Remembered Today:

What have you read, but WOULDN'T recommend


andigger

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I think it is invariably true, that history is written by the victors.

Which is why it is scandalous that very little has been written about the ongoing effects of the Allied (British) blockade of Germany post November 11.

On the other hand, Egbert - what is your reaction to the interpretations within Germany about why the war was lost?

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On the other hand, Egbert - what is your reaction to the interpretations within Germany about why the war was lost?

I am outside Imperial Germany! Well Robert, there is not much interest in the Great War there. 2 wars turned Germany into a quasi pacifist nation, reinforced by the Anglo/American reeducation after WWII - no surprise.

Probably the main reason was all over diminishing raw material resources, to sustain the war = definitely NOT diminishing personnel resources. Some say treason in 1918, which is bull.

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Some experts say they, the Germans, could not breed enough Airedale messenger dogs to support the troops.... :ph34r:

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Probably the main reason was all over diminishing raw material resources, to sustain the war = definitely NOT diminishing personnel resources. Some say treason in 1918, which is bull.

If Germany was having no manpower problems then why did they have to resort to a two tier system of 'attack' divisions and second rate 'trench' divisions in 1918?

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Anthony read the book, I am not kidding and you will know the reason....today they call it streamlining, or "get more bang for the buck"

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As I have said I believe Mosier's The Myth of the Great War the worst most distorted book ever on the Great War. His main premises are that Germany won all the battles and that the US then entered the war and won it for the allies who otherwise would have lost.

It may seem quite a stretch to call 1st Marne & Verdun German victories but he does. Talk about revsionist! :lol: By the time the US took significant militatry action the Germans had lost the war, knew it and had admitted it to themselves, For a detailed analysis of this see http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/the...ntersthewar.htm

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Guest Filipe Décio

What are the German official history's (the one written in the 1940's) figures for losses at the Somme? I've always found the 600.000+ German losses quoted by British secondary sources hard to believe.

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I do not know what the figures were for the German forces but the British losses would have been higher on Somme (1916) because they were the attacking side. The side making the attack as a rule had higher figures then those defending. Verdun is a good example, the Germans attacked the French here with the hope of getting the French to mount counter-attacks and so bleed the French Army to death but the Germans found that they were sucked into more attacks of their own which bled them a little white too.

On the Somme in 1918, evan thou the British 5th Army fort itself nearly to the death, it must have inflicted very very heavy losses to the attacking German forces.

Annette

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While it is true that the British were the 'attackers', it should also be borne in mind that the Germans operated an aggressive counter-attack policy until late on in the battle. Thus, any British gains were hotly opposed with the intent of recapturing every piece of lost ground. This policy changed when Falkenhayn was replaced. In practice, this meant that the Germans were attackers as well. There are many accounts of heavy losses in such actions, with whole counter-attacks being broken up by retaliatory British artillery fire even before getting underway. Furthermore, anecdotal accounts from German soldiers refer to the constant effects of the British shelling. Once the original defensive lines of the Somme were broken, the Germans could not rely on the deep bunkers for protection. I can well believe the estimates of German losses.

I think the psychological impact of the German losses on their High Command was considerable. The need to create the Hindenburg Line perhaps reflects this.

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Guest Filipe Décio
I think the psychological impact of the German losses on their High Command was considerable.  The need to create the Hindenburg Line perhaps reflects this.

I.e. the German commanders learned something from the battle while the British didn't.

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I think the psychological impact of the German losses on their High Command was considerable.  The need to create the Hindenburg Line perhaps reflects this.

I.e. the German commanders learned something from the battle while the British didn't.

They probably learnt that they were not going to win a war fighting on two fronts with a depleting strength of manpower and resources, and thus had to dig in and let the enemy wear themselves out.

The British/Allied army had a policy of attack rather than defence, for various reasons and thus the lessons they had to learn were in some ways different to the Germans. Only with a change of fortunte were the Germans able to go once again on the offensive and this was when it was a do or die scenario.

The British army learnt something from all battles they participated in , whilst sometimes it took far to long for it to come into practice, most was eventually learnt and implimented.

Arm.

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i.e. the German commanders learned something from the battle while the British didn't.

An interesting observation.

I think the British did refine their methods of attack against the Germans. Yes, there were numerous mistakes but the most crucial lession was the importance of artillery superiority, including the use of neutralising rather than destructive fire to support infantry assaults and the use of effective counter-battery fire. There were many other lessons learned, and some that were not. Crucially, the Germans were beatable.

One significant difference between the British and the Germans lay in the way that lessons were learned. In general terms, the Germans opted for the creation of elite units, with stosstruppen and MG sharpshooter detachments at the pinnacle of the elite pyramid. Then came the 'assault' divisions, then the 'holding' divisions. The 'best' soldiers were drawn up the pyramid. The British on the other hand opted to disseminate best practices (for offense) throughout all divisions. The difference really showed when, during the Spring Offensives, the elite units were punished with heavy losses during the series of limited attacks, whereas the British and other Allies were then able to take the offensive across the breadth of the Western Front.

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Robert you are dead right about the German counter-attacks, they lost heavy in most of the counter-attacks that I have come across, so the German figures could be as high or evan higher then the British, just proves my point about the attacker taking heavier loses then the defender.

the German commanders learned something from the battle while the British didn't

Sorry Filipe but the British High Command did learn and may I say better then their German counter-parts. The British Artillery for example were masters of their trade during the last part of the war.

Annette

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I think John Terraine said there were something like 330 German counter attacks on the Somme. The withdrawal to Hindenburg line was not a victory but a forced withdrawal.

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Guest Biplane pilot

The aviation literature of the Great War is vast, and unfortunately about half of it isn't worth the price of the paper. Ironically (perhaps) THE least reliable writer on the subject was a participant: "Archie" Whitehouse, who spun tall tales for decades and wrote books with nonsensical titles such as "Decisive Air Battles of the First World War" (!) Stephen Longstreet's "Canvas Falcons" has been lauded as a primer but the title tells you all you need to know (canvas was far too heavy for WW I a/c.) Quentin Reynolds, a fine journalist, wrote "They Fought for the Sky" which contains a goodly amount of interesting stories, many of which are irrefutably false.

Incidentally, the aviation chapter in Lawrence Stallings' "The Doughboys" is a bow-wow in an otherwise terrific book.

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  • 1 month later...

Arch also wrote on submarines .......

He certainly wrote a few potboilers but if you find a copy of his autobiographical "The Fledgling" it is worth reading, not least in its scene setting.

Arch had emigrated before the war but returned to join up in his home town of Northampton and served initially with the Northamptonshire Yeomanry before moving in to the RFC.

Amongst my treasured items is a magnificent picture (postcard size) of him in his Yeomanry uniform and signed quite simply "Arch". Found in a batch of postcards on a local stall I was able to complete the attribution because it was addressed to a (long since deceased) relative and because the family confirmed the attribution.

His relatives live on in Northampton (he visited them in the 1960's) and one of them is a second hand book dealer and blues musician who keeps me well supplied with volumes on the Great War!

Martin

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Can I suggest that one of the great values of a book you would not recommend is that you have read it and considered the contents, given thought to the arguments and (probably) chosen to differ. The intellectual review and application of your knowledge is, in itself a worthwhile exercise. I must admit that I do not take the content of any volume as gospel truth and this has always stood me in good stead.

There are one or two "The Great War in a book" pot-boilers that I would avoid if only for gross inaccuracy and ineptness. (clipped)

That you disagree with a book is not necessarily, IMHO, a reason to not recommend it. Sometimes the author makes a good point, or offers an interesting (mind-broadening or thought provoking) hypothesis, even if you can think of a thousand reasons you think it is wrong. Otherwise we get into a game of selective censorship (which I think human beings are prone to anyway), quietly silencing the dissemination of an opinion we disagree with.

My personal dislikes are the books along the lines of "British Butchers and Bunglers of World War One." (by Laffin, I think) The shocking performance (bordering on deliberate negligence) of the British high command - and certain well-known senior figures in particular - on the Western Front has been quoted over and over until it has become a truism (with only brave souls like Terraine to hold the line), and I don't need to hear it any more, however true it might be.

The big irony here is that I haven't yet come across a book that gives the same one-sided panning to the French (whose philosophy of war in 1914 surely deserves it - cuirasseurs, for God's sake!), the Russians (famous for their 'expertise' in taking heavy casualties, though more in WW2 than WW1) or the Germans (who were surely not blameless - look what the Contemptibles did to them in the opening phase of the war). DO ANY EXIST? (Correlli Barnett's 'The Swordbearers' has a good deal to say about the evolution of flawed French tactics in its chapter on Petain, but this is far from being a dedicated study of French military errors).

On the other hand, Clark's "The Donkeys" is IMHO one of the most balanced of the genre, and didn't make my blood boil as much as others.

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