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" Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Discussions on all aspects of the First World War not covered in the other sections.
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby glenn239 on 24 Feb 2010 18:48

So your only evidence is a total war .... wow

WW1 was not a “total” war, and the poster alleged that the British had never carried out a policy of deliberate starvation, when indeed they had.

If you want to know whether I care that the British did this or not, the answer is no, I don’t.

Did you mean 'Germany' rather than 'Europe', ie the ongoing effects of the British naval blockade of Germany after the signing of the Armistice?


Specifically Germany, the territories of Austria-Hungary, and the Balkans.

The US record in the Philippines was not too good, so with relatively few colonial areas to judge other than this


Right, but the US was pretty good overall. The Brits were also top-shelf, but had problems in Iraq for example. My gut hunch is that the British Empire was quite benevolent in comparison to other imperial powers of its era.
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby The_Enigma on 24 Feb 2010 19:09

glenn239 wrote:
So your only evidence is a total war .... wow

WW1 was not a “total” war, and the poster alleged that the British had never carried out a policy of deliberate starvation, when indeed they had.


Care to explain why all the other historians are wrong then? I would love to know what your definition of total war is, if the Great War wasnt one ... :?

See your entire point is a strawman argument; we have been discussion the likes of the famines in India, the holocaust - deliberate policies of genocide. Attempting to stave your opponent out of the war doesnt really seem to cut it with what has been discussed nor does it appear to be the smoking gun.

To be honest i am generally intrested if such events, i.e. delibertate polcies of genocide, did take place during the Empire - i am not sitting here playing Mr blinkered. I am just attempting to be fair.
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby Attrition on 24 Feb 2010 19:31

My point is that there was a policy of genocide in the Nazi empire as well as the generic butality of empire and that to ignore the far greater lethality of the conventional methods the nazis used (starvation and famine, mass shooting, slavery, disease and neglect) tends to exempt other empires from culpability. It's a myth that the British empire was an exception.

As it happens I hadn't thought about Britain's wartime blockades. Despite this it's still a good point :P Most of what I know of the effect on Great War Germany comes from Avner Offer (The First World War: An Agrarian Interpretation) who thinks that famine was short term (the Turnip Winter and a period in mid-1918) and added to the attrition being inflicted on Germany as a going concern rather than being decisive. Of course for German Europeans to be treated like Indians, Irish and Tanzanians was an indignity too far. There's a view that no country in the Great War did fight a total one because things didn't go that far before it was ended.

'Great War, Total War: Combat and Mobilization on the Western Front, 1914-1918' (Publications of the German Historical Institute) by Roger Chickering and Stig Förster might be worth a look.
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby glenn239 on 25 Feb 2010 01:07

Care to explain why all the other historians are wrong then? I would love to know what your definition of total war is, if the Great War wasn’t one ...


A total war first requires civilian deaths to outnumber battle deaths, or at least be a certain high percentage (40% or whatever). That would be my definition.

See your entire point is a strawman argument; we have been discussion the likes of the famines in India, the holocaust - deliberate policies of genocide.


So in your world the British empire cuts food shipments to 150 million European citizens without the intention of causing mass starvation? Did the British think Eastern Europe had gotten fat and needed to diet?
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby Terry Duncan on 26 Feb 2010 22:50

See your entire point is a strawman argument; we have been discussion the likes of the famines in India, the holocaust - deliberate policies of genocide.


Except the famines in India were not deliberate policies of extermination, something you keep failing to show even slightly.

Did the British think Eastern Europe had gotten fat and needed to diet?


As the British did not administer these areas, the responsibility for anyone going short of food needs to be placed with the governments in question who decided to risk war with Britain.
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby The_Enigma on 27 Feb 2010 00:12

Terry i think you got me mixed up their; i havent argued that about India ;) Although greanted I did misword that post a bit - there should have been the word comparison in there between the two events mentioned i.e. the famine in India - a natural event - compared to the deliberate act of genocide; the holocaust.

Glenn what 150 million people would these be exactly, i was under the impression Germany prior to the Second World War didnt have a population half of that - granted they lost some lands in the east. In "my world" the war was a total war with both sides attempting to starve the other into surrender - both nations were basically under siege; i guess the Germans thought we needed to get off our fat asses and diet too eh?

And your definition of total war is a novelty considering historians argue the toss of weather wars prior to the 20h century could be counted as such due to them being defined as the complete mobilisation of resources and the line between combatant and non-combatabt being blurred.
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby glenn239 on 27 Feb 2010 15:30

Glenn what 150 million people would these be exactly, i was under the impression Germany prior to the Second World War didnt have a population half of that


65 million Germans plus 51 million Austrians, plus what I assume to be maybe another 35 million in the Balkans region (Rumania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey).

In "my world" the war was a total war with both sides attempting to starve the other into surrender


It was stated that Great Britain never engaged in policies of mass starvation, when in fact it has. This business about India, I know nothing of and don't really care.

And your definition of total war is a novelty


Protest duly noted.
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby Attrition on 27 Feb 2010 23:37

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of ... nd_revenue

British destroy India's manufacturing economy to subsidise growth of manufactures in Britain and increase the old Mughal land tax. India becomes a raw material exporter. Predictable consequence of reducing food production for indigo and opium ignored.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of ... ritish_Raj

More of the same.

The Desmond Rebellions (1569–1573 and 1579–1583) took place in the southern province of Munster, when the Fitzgerald Earl of Desmond dynasty resisted the imposition of an English governor into the province. The second of these rebellions was put down by means of a forced famine, which may have killed up to a third of Munster's population.

the Parliamentarians based in Cork devastated the Confederates' territory in Munster, provoking famine among the civilian population.

The death toll of the conflict was huge. William Petty, a Cromwellian who conducted the first scientific land and demographic survey of Ireland in the 1650s (the Down Survey), concluded that at least 400,000 people and maybe as many as 620,000 had died in Ireland between 1641 and 1653. The true figure may be lower, but the lowest suggested is about 200,000.

The bishop of Cloyne wondered "how a foreigner could possibly conceive that half the inhabitants are dying of hunger in a country so abundant in foodstuffs?". In the 1740s, these economic inequalities, when combined with an exceptionally cold winter and poor harvest, led directly to the Great Irish Famine (1740-1741), which killed about 400,000 people.

In 1906 a radical, allegedly Mahdist, Muslim uprising [in Nigeria] that received the support of many fugitive slaves was brutally crushed. In the south, slaves legally could be forced to return to their owners until 1914.

It's all right though, if you don't murder your victims in a factory.
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby Attrition on 03 Mar 2010 12:32

monk2002uk wrote:Prior to Third Ypres, ie during the lull after the Battle of Messines, the Germans strengthened their existing positions. The work was carried out under the directions of von Lossberg, who was the defensive expert that helped stabilize the German defences in the latter phase of the Battles of the Somme and Arras. Numerous concrete blockhouses and pillboxes were created, and the defensive lines were increased in depth. The counter-attack tactics were formulated and practised for each sector.

During the battle, Kronprinz Rupprecht wrote about the growing concern as the Anglo-French advance continued. A new defensive line was delineated to the east of the Passchendaele ridge. Had this line been breached, the Uboat bases at Ostende and Zeebrugge/Brugge would have been untenable in Rupprecht's opinion.

Robert


I've just finished OH 1917 II, p. 140 fn 1.

'On 25th June, General Ludendorff had proposed a withdrawal from Pilckem Ridge to to the Third (Wilhelm) Line, east of the Steenbeek before the British offensive, leaving only outposts in the Second (Albrecht) Line.The matter was discussed at a Fourth Army conference at Courtrai on 30th June and a counter-proposal by Fourth Army headquarters to hold the existing position was agreed to.'
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby monk2002uk on 06 Mar 2010 16:16

The reference relates to something different. There was a partial withdrawal from the German front lines on the British left of the attack just prior to the Battle of Pilckem Ridge. The British detected this and attempted to probe forward in case the thinning of the line was more significant. The Germans resisted this, but during the Battle of Pilckem Ridge the Guards Division was able to make rapid progress in this area.

My comments related to a possible German withdrawal from the whole area. This was in response to the advances made during September and October.

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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby Attrition on 07 Mar 2010 17:33

I know, the quote I found again was the one I was referring to. The partial withdrawal you mention was separate.

Apropos, have you read Andrew Green's book 'writing the great war'? Any good??

Imagine my excitement when I found that 1917 II has a map sheet, then the dismay about it being harder to read than the maps in the text.
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby Attrition on 08 Mar 2010 12:30

Apparently the idea of a withdrawal was mooted before the Messines operation too.
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby Attrition on 22 Apr 2010 13:35

Monk's been a bit quiet lately but he managed to plant the germ of an idea in my mind before he went.

There has been much criticism of British methods on the Somme between the big set-piece attacks. It seems to be an exercise in the obvious that the side which is outgunned and outnumbered benefits when it is attacked by small forces on narrow fronts, because it can concentrate its lesser firepower in a small area rather than being forced to distribute it over a wide front or to sacrifice covering fire in some areas so as to concentrate it in others.

Monk wondered if that was the only reason for the apparently reduced effectiveness of British attacks in late July and August.

Naturally I thought that the German defenders who tended by then to have been pushed onto reverse slope positions benefitted from the inability of guns to engage them and that the job could only be done by the smaller amount of howitzers. The redundancy of guns in some areas would obviously hamper the attack. Poor weather limiting air reconnaissance and artillery observation would also add to British difficulties as would the technical difficulty of using large number of airborne wireless transmitters in the same place.

I had a look in Prior and Wilson recently because I wanted reasons for the prevalence of small attacks other than incompetence or obtuseness by the British commanders. Curiously, after excoriating Haig and Rawlinson P&W write that of 20 out of 28 German divisions engaged by the British (15 July-12 September), only one called its losses light. "The others range from percentages (none less than 50%), to... 'terrible losses', 'very heavy losses', 'considerable losses' and 'exhausted'." (The Somme 2005, pp.189-190). Clearly the British were doing something right despite the cost.

P&W say that there were 150 attacks by the British in battalion strength or more and 90 by the Germans. I wonder if the British felt constrained to attack frequently (despite ammunition shortages, transport difficulties, poor flying weather and increased difficulty in gunlaying) because the resources that the Germans put into hasty counter-attacks would otherwise be available for bigger and better planned counter-attacks which would be harder to resist?

The RAF OH II does make the point about poor weather frequently hampering its operations over the Somme but I haven't seen anything to show that British methods on the Somme were also determined by the supply and transport of ammunition. Henniker may shed some light but I don't have a copy yet. Can anyone comment on the possibility?

I do find it rather odd that what seem to be similar practices by the British and Germans get judged differently. It also crosses my mind that it is unsurprising that the British had hgher losses than the Germans, when they had more troops in the area to become casualties.
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Re: " Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme..."

Postby Attrition on 24 Apr 2010 10:20

Hmmmm, there are a couple of appendices in OH 1916II (separate volume), which is a pity because I don't have it.

Appendix 30. Distribution of artillery with the British armies in France July-November 1916.

App'x 31. Receipts and expenditure of gun ammunition, British armies in France 1916.

Can anyone put the data on here? Thanks.
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