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Old March 8, 2014, 08:36 PM   #26
James K
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Some good points, Mike, but I still believe that walking (not running) toward entrenched machineguns, while firing rifles that would have seemed to make no noise would not have kept anyone's heads down. Nor is there any evidence that Russian SMGs did so, either; the Russians used sheer numbers, plus artillery and rockets to overrun German defensive lines.

As to money for the military in the 1920's and 1930's, it was very tight, and the decision later to adopt and produce the M1 (Garand) rifle was heavily criticized. Still, by 1936, it was pretty apparent that the Great War was likely to be renamed World War ONE, and not too far in the future.

I just hope our current rush to cut our defense forces does not come back to haunt us; I don't often agree with Hillary, but her recognition that "protecting our people" was a line used three times by Hitler to excuse aggression at least showed she knew some history, which is more than a certain other leader does. (She goofed on Romania, though; Hitler moved in to "protect" Germans in Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Poland.)

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Old March 9, 2014, 09:36 AM   #27
Mike Irwin
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"Mike, but I still believe that walking (not running) toward entrenched machineguns, while firing rifles that would have seemed to make no noise would not have kept anyone's heads down."

No, the artillery would have done that. By late 1917-1918 walking barrages were becoming a primary tactic for infantry assaults. Gone were the days of the 3 week "softening up" barrage on the front lines. All that did was signal to the Germans where the assault was going to take place and allow them to stack reserves in that sector.

The most successful attacks of the war were done with barrages that lasted only, at best, a few hours, designed to force the Germans into their bunkers and cut holes in the wire to clear the path of advance.

The intent was that once the assault troops were close enough to the trenches that the barrage would either lift to rear areas or cease, they would be close enough for the Pedersen devices to provide adequate levels of fire to deal with the Germans as they began to recover and come out of their bunkers.

You have to remember, the Pedersen fired what was essentially a pistol cartridge with an effective range of, at best, 150 yards. It wasn't intended to provide walking cover over the entire expanse of No Man's Land.

It's also very doubtful that in battlefield conditions individual rifle fire, either from a Pedersen device or a full power round, would have been distinguishable at all. Sort of like the "the ping of the Garand clip hitting the ground cost many American GIs their lives..." myth. Battlefields are incredibly noisy places.


" Nor is there any evidence that Russian SMGs did so, either"

Conversely, there's no real evidence that they didn't, either. See my point about how artillery support was being used in 1917-1918.

"Still, by 1936, it was pretty apparent that the Great War was likely to be renamed World War ONE, and not too far in the future."

Uhm... No. Certain people, like Churchill, were predicting another general war (and he was, even that late viewed by many to be a war-mongering idiot), but even in 1936 it certainly wasn't a foregone conclusion. Diplomacy was still seen as being an effective bar to another war, at least amongst the allied powers in Europe. Remember, Chamberlain's "Peace in Our Time" from the Munich Agreement happened in late September 1938. The British, who had started something of a rearmament program in 1935-36, even considered shutting that down because diplomacy had won out. Or so it seemed.

As for the United States, where most in the military and government apparently considered US participation in any potential war questionable, at best, by 1936 work on the new Garand was showing such promise that everyone realized that it would be silly to abandon it, so money was appropriated in increasing amounts to both finish it and field it.
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Old March 9, 2014, 10:19 AM   #28
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In retrospect, the Pedersen Device, and the "marching fire" concept sounds more like an idea that sounded good on paper to those who had no actual front line battle experience.

I believe a similar idea was previously hatched in Mexico for troops that were issued the Mondragon repeaters. The idea was that, supposedly, when the rifle was in one of three modes, it had a provision to allow "slam fire." The soldier was to cycle the action at each footfall of either the right or left foot (forget which) and thus fire the rifle as the they advanced.

Or so the story goes.

Bottom line: There's the right way, the wrong way and the military way.

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Old March 9, 2014, 12:23 PM   #29
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"In retrospect, the Pedersen Device, and the "marching fire" concept sounds more like an idea that sounded good on paper to those who had no actual front line battle experience."

Actually, it was in response to a kind of warfare that no one had ever experienced -- trench warfare.

Look at how many different innovations (some old, some new) were devised during World War I just to try to overcome an advance over no man's land against an entrenched enemy.

Literally hundreds of different ideas were tried, from personal armored push carts to massive underground mines, and virtually none of them did anything to break the stalemate or shorten the war. Walking fire and the Pedersen device were just two more ideas.
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Old March 9, 2014, 01:59 PM   #30
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Quote:
Walking fire and the Pedersen device were just two more ideas.
Exactly! Ideas from the same tired old Ordnance Board members who decided that the Chauchat was a much better gun than the Lewis, based on a personal dislike.

Like I said: It sounded good on paper... LOL!!!!
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Old March 9, 2014, 03:39 PM   #31
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The WWI trench lines usually included machinegun emplacements with head logs and firing slits. Unless an artillery strike took out the position, enemy soldiers would be behind their MGs in a few seconds after the barrage let up and ready to mow down the attacking infantry.

Of course, Pedersen did not originate the idea of marching fire; it was fairly common and equally suicidal no matter what rifle the attackers carried. But with full power rifles, at least there would be bullet noise to let the enemy know they were being fired at. With the Pedersen round, there would be little noise and no muzzle flash; it would look like the advancing troops were not even firing, so why would anyone duck? Even if some of the enemy were hit, no one would have even blinked, let alone cowered in the bottom of the trench. And anyone struck by one of those little bullets sprayed in shooting from the hip while walking would have been extremely ungl├╝cklich, to say the least. They would just have kept feeding those MG.08's and killing the idiotic Americans.

In the annals of a war which was all foolishness and stupidity, the Pedersen device was probably one of the most foolish and stupid.

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Old March 9, 2014, 06:25 PM   #32
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I think the Liberator Pistol would also be at the top of the list, along with the Fire Dragon ( British ) and the round war ship ( Russian ). The list goes on and on. Oh yes, how about the ideal of the Ice Berg aircraft carrier, that was a cool ideal ( pun intended ).
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Old March 10, 2014, 08:42 AM   #33
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And let's add the Bangalore torpedo and the Panjandrum.
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Old March 10, 2014, 09:14 AM   #34
Mike Irwin
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"Unless an artillery strike took out the position, enemy soldiers would be behind their MGs in a few seconds after the barrage let up and ready to mow down the attacking infantry."

And yet, in the latter part of the war, in which such barrages were used, they were successful. At least, far more successful than the earlier tactics of 3 weeks of barraging followed by a slacking off for an hour or two, followed by a leisurely walk across no man's land.

Once again, you're absolutely discounting how noisy a battlefield is, and you're assuming that the Germans:

1. Having just been through an artillery barrage, are able to hear.

2. That they're able to hear firing from approaching troops that are varying distances away while their own machine guns are chattering away and while the men spaced every few feet on either side of them are keeping up a continuous fire.

The entire purpose of a creeping barrage is to allow assault troops to get as close to German lines as possible. At the point at which the barrage would lift, the assault troops would go from a walk to a charge to cover the gound in as little time as possible, hopefully before the Germans could set up their machine guns (which were taken into the bunkers at the commencement of a barrage).

For 3 years troops advancing across no man's land had been doing so while firing full-power rifle rounds, which apparently had little to no deterrent effect on the defenders.

To say that muzzle flash, smoke, and noise from the guns of the assault troops would somehow be a critical decisive factor completely ignores that inconvenient truth.

What the Pedersen device did was give a far higher rate of firepower and, with it, a better chance at hitting some of the people who are firing at you.

Once American troops got inside the trenches, that advantage in firepower would have been devastating.


"In the annals of a war which was all foolishness and stupidity, the Pedersen device was probably one of the most foolish and stupid."

In a way yes, but in a lot of ways, no.

The foolish aspect of it was its application. To use it you had to remove the bolt from your rifle, empty the main magazine, install the Pedersen device, and install the magazine.

Too many parts and pieces and too long to convert the gun.

As a firepower concept, no, it wasn't stupid or foolish. It was an interesting step in showing the way forward, and it was an interesting solution to what seemed to be an intractible problem.


100 years after the fact I suppose it's really easy to pass judgement and say "I FIND THIS LACKING!"

Since you have so declared, you must have a solution (that was also readily available to those involved at that time) that would have allowed the Allies to sweep forward from their trenches and in three days take Berlin without the loss of a single man.

Do tell.
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Old March 10, 2014, 09:17 AM   #35
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"Exactly! Ideas from the same tired old Ordnance Board members who decided that the Chauchat was a much better gun than the Lewis, based on a personal dislike.

Like I said: It sounded good on paper... LOL!!!!"


So, I offer you the same think that I offer Jim, the chance to be a hero (100 years after the fact) and end the war by coming up with THE idea and putting it into execution.

The only catch is that it had to have been available to the commanders 100 years ago.

So no nuclear weapons, no thermobaric devices, etc.

It's easy to judge in hindsight, completely insulated from the reality of what was.

It makes for interesting fiction, but it's absolutely ****ty history.
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Old March 10, 2014, 11:35 AM   #36
gyvel
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The only GOOD solution is to avoid the war altogether. LOLL!!!!!!

I do agree with you that "Monday morning quarterbacking" is easy, but that's human nature. The point is that, at the time, these ideas seemed good on paper to Generals and Ordnance Board members who had no front line experience, but in reality, would have, in all likelihood, been disasters.

It's certainly not the first time it's happened, and certainly (sadly) not the last. After all, Agent Orange seemed like a good idea at the time, yes?
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Old March 10, 2014, 11:46 AM   #37
Mike Irwin
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Wrong answer.

The obvious answer (geezsh, how could everyone have been so dumb as to not see this?) is a gun firing unicorns that fart rainbows.



"The point is that, at the time, these ideas seemed good on paper to Generals and Ordnance Board members who had no front line experience, but in reality, would have, in all likelihood, been disasters."

I'll remind you that it was Generals and Ordnance Board members, with no front line experience, who came up with the concepts that actually did break the stalemate -- creeping barrages, and tanks, among others.

Front line experience doesn't give anyone unimpeachable credentials to solve anything.

Sir John French, Lord Kichner, Sir Douglas Haig, Winston Churchill ALL had significant levels of frontline combat experience in the Sudan, the Boer Wars, and elsewhere in the empire, and that didn't prevent them from majorly screwing up.

Hell, Kitchener was one of the first combat commanders in the world to make successful use of the machine gun in combat, and he still, in 1915, said that anything more than 2 Vickers gun per division in France would be a "luxury."

David Lloyd George, Minister of Munitions (who had NO combat experience at all) had to illegally overrule Kitchener. He ordered that British divisions be armed with 64 Vickers guns.

The way Churchill planned and politicized the Dardanelles Campaign was near criminal.
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Last edited by Mike Irwin; March 10, 2014 at 11:59 AM.
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Old March 10, 2014, 12:11 PM   #38
gyvel
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Quote:
Wrong answer.
It was an "ironical humor" answer.

Again, the main point is that ideas are hatched up by people who have no concept of actual realities and make decisions based on how something sounds on paper, and don't bother to "scratch" the surface. 1914 and 1915 campaigns were disasters to the Brits, because they were planned and organized by some fatass general back in England who had not even bothered to visit the front lines. Gallipoli is another example.

American Doughboys advancing across "No Man's Land" firing pistol cartridges out of their rifles? Give me a break.

Edit: Irrelevant comment removed.

Last edited by gyvel; March 11, 2014 at 10:14 AM.
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Old March 10, 2014, 01:39 PM   #39
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Hi, Mike,

I am confused as to which side you are taking vis-a-vis the Pedersen device. I agree that nothing fired by advancing troops would make a bit of difference to a defensive force behind entrenched machineguns. The fact that men were sent to attack under those circumstances only served to emphasis the backwardness and total lack of imagination of the military leaders of the day.

I didn't invent the idea that "marching fire" would keep the enemy's heads down, that was the whole assumption behind it; Pedersen (who AFAIK had no combat experience) did not invent the idea either, he simply gave the generals what he thought would be needed if/when the tactic was used. My point was that the "device" would have been even less effective at that job than the standard infantry rifle.

As to those great ideas, there have been many. One, the great Panjandrum, was plain silly. The Liberator pistol was based on a fiction story that was based on the idea that every person in an occupied country is eager, willing, able, and fearless enough to fight the enemy. No student of psychology would have agreed.

Then there was the glove gun, the pen gun, and dozens of other neat gadgets that were rejected without costing too much money.

My personal favorite, dating from c. 1900, was the electric cannonball. A hollow ball containing a battery, it could be fired out of a cannon and on striking an enemy a switch would close, electrocuting him. Anyone who thinks about that for more than 3 milliseconds and still considers it sensible, needs professional help.

Jim
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