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Old September 21, 2012, 06:24 PM   #47
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Join Date: June 9, 2011
Posts: 133
Mike - looks like I may have got a bit carried away with my argument, though I would maintain that tactics were not Napoleonic and were constantly evolving, just not quickly enough perhaps. The way I see it the problem was a constant reinforcing of failure, so to use the example I used earlier, continuing wasteful attacks on the Somme long after it was clear a breakthrough was impossible. If half the attacks made by either side in that war had been ended after initial, limited success, then it would likely be remembered very differently.

The French Army mutinies are a good point, seasoned troops responding to what they saw as stupid attacks that wasted their lives for no reason - stupid wasteful attacks are not really a sign of tactical sophistication I guess! Still, the French commanders thought the creeping barrage would work, later estimating 10% casualties from friendly artillery. Like the British though, when it became clear it wasn't working, they lacked the flexibility to stop and try something new or refine it further.

Scorch - correct me if I am wrong here, but the reason US troops did not go into combat immediately in France is that Pershing refused to allow them to go piecemeal, unit by unit, into the line under Anglo-French control and insisted on fully concentrating his army to operate in its own right? Not sure about this ''pushed into menial jobs in a huge display of nationalist pride.''

I am also intrigued by these unconventional tactics etc you ascribe to the American forces. I recall a quote by German troops in 1918 that the Americans were the bravest men they had ever seen, because they attacked them head on, hey diddle diddle straight up the middle . . . exactly like all powers had in 1914, but had since learned not to. By 1918, German, British and French troops were amazed by this, since most of them would not have seen the battles of 1914. As a result the American forces suffered disproportionately heavy casualties in this period. This ''learned, adapted, overcame'' seems like rose tinted spectacles a bit.

Personally my view on the end of the war is this: I reckon the combination of the blockade and American entry meant that Germany had to gamble on ending the war in 1918. The gamble failed and the German Army was defeated during the Hundred Days Offensives - they were in that position because the home front could not sustain another turnip winter and may have actually faced mass starvation all the while facing the prospect of millions of reinforcements for their enemies.

On the rifle discussion, since we apparently can't avoid getting into WW1 history (me at least as much as anyone else ) the British attempts to bin the Lee Enfield before WW1 were misguided, and as such have no bearing on the abilities of the Enfield. They wanted to adopt a Mauser action on the basis of the experiences of the Boer War: being repeatedly shot to pieces by a Mauser-armed nation of superb marksmen operating on their own turf. They misdiagnosed the issue as one of equipment when it was not, it was one of tactics and training. Fate intervened and it was deemed expedient to keep the SMLE, which would have been the correct decision anyway.
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