Causes of battle casualties

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Christoph Awender
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Post by Christoph Awender » 23 Apr 2006 17:54

Hello

Just remembered this dicsussion while working on some documents. Here the notebook of the responsible medical NCO for a regiment and his detailed notes about also minor wounds which were then transferred into statistics and official documents.

\Christoph
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odddog
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Post by odddog » 24 Apr 2006 09:16

2% chemical ?! Does anybody know what would constitute a "chemical" casualty ?

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Christoph Awender
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Post by Christoph Awender » 24 Apr 2006 11:11

odddog wrote:2% chemical ?! Does anybody know what would constitute a "chemical" casualty ?


Phosphor for example.

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 24 Apr 2006 11:28

Another possibility that springs to mind is smoke poisoning.

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Graeme Sydney
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Re: Causes of battle casualties

Post by Graeme Sydney » 24 Apr 2006 21:18

Jon G. wrote:What were the causes of battle casualties in various campaigns in WWII?


The causes will be extraordinarily various depending on the campaign, the armies, their weapons, the climate, record keeping and what constitutes a combat statistic (and even what constitutes a combat death) from army to army.

Take the New Guinea campaign. 90% of IJA deaths would have been starvation and disease. Same campaign and the Australian deaths would have been 90% small arms fire.

Take the 'Island Hopping' campaign; same enemy, same climate, different weapons et al, and the IJA combat deaths might jump to 75% arty. Ditto US combat deaths.

Combat death stats would tell a story but gathering and comparing them would be fraught with potentially misleading conclusions.

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Re: Causes of battle casualties

Post by Jon G. » 25 Apr 2006 07:30

Graeme Sydney wrote:
Jon G. wrote:What were the causes of battle casualties in various campaigns in WWII?


The causes will be extraordinarily various depending on the campaign, the armies, their weapons, the climate, record keeping and what constitutes a combat statistic (and even what constitutes a combat death) from army to army.


Absolutely, and particularly for the campaigns in the Far East where medical casualties were always high. I believe the Commonwealth practice of air supplying (and air medevacuating) their troops in Burma was a very significant factor in beating the Japanese because Malaria was practically eliminated as a side-effect.

...Combat death stats would tell a story but gathering and comparing them would be fraught with potentially misleading conclusions.


...however, my original old (!) question pertained to battle casualties. I believe that differences in casualty causes by theater will tell us something about the different nature of fighting on the Eastern and Western fronts, for example. For example, the 80% quoted German casualty rate for artillery in the West (as opposed to 50% in the East) might tell that the Americans relied even more heavily on artillery than the Soviets did, and/or possibly that German casualty evacuation was better in the West due to the better infrastructure in that theater.

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Post by JamesL » 25 Apr 2006 18:26

The US Army Medical Corps published several papers dealing with wounds and their probable cause. One such paper dealing with the Italian campaign can be found at the following link.

http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs ... apter6.htm

Using that link one can find additional papers for other theaters.

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Re: Causes of battle casualties

Post by Sheldrake » 29 Apr 2013 09:07

Darrin wrote:
Shrek wrote:
Darrin wrote:
Juha Hujanen wrote:In Ambrose Citizen Soldiers is a line that 3/4 of US casualties in Normandy were caused by mortars (just started to read that book)

/Juha

The motors constiued 20% of all HE shells made for non AAA guns by the germans. It seems highly unliky that such high numbers 75% of cas were caused by just 20% of the all arty shells.
For the entire war, yes, but the percentage stated could easily hold true for a single battle. And if 75% (seems very high to me) of casualties were caused by mortars, we could maybe ascribe this to most German artillery being knocked out by shore bombardment and air strikes even before the Americans landed?




Well again the ger 7th army at the begining of jun had over a 1000 arty guns. Even during july the ger sent an avg of 500 tons of ammo a day of all types not just arty to uniits in normandy. As an example the US army used 2000 tons of arty ammo a day on avg in july. It seems the ger arty guns and ammo were prob not ineffective until augost. Even then they seemed to recovover in sep till the near the end of the war.
This is a bit of an old thread, but since it contain the information I sought (JF Ellis ww2 databook) I will contribute my comments.

There are several reasons why German artillery was reported as relatively ineffective compared to their mortars.

The biggest is that they had a shortage of artillery ammunition. Arguably one main reason why the landings on Omaha Beach were on difficulty in the morning of D Day but things got better in the afternoon is that the Divisional artillery of the Infantry Division no 352 ran out of ammunition by noon. Throughout the campaign the Germans could only afford to use artillery ammunition on really important targets.

A lot of the 7th Army Artillery pieces were captured Czech, French and Russian equipment. This was an efficient use of captured weapons and were better used than not. However, these used dozens of types of incompatible ammunition, some of which was only available in limited numbers. This was fine as long as the bluff that was the Atlantic wall was not tested. The 7th Army suffered from a shortage of transport to collect ammunition from the dumps, a problem made worse by the damage to the transport infrastructure by allied air attacks.

The allies had developed effective counter battery procedures to find and neutralize German artillery. These included air force units dedicated to Arty Recce, flash spotting and sound ranging. The allies also had the guns and ammunition to engage any known artillery positions.

German mortars were harder to detect and operated much closer to allied lines. They were cheap to produce and the logistic problem smaller. The allies were aware of the threat posed by mortars from their experience in Tunisia. The British had experimented with technology to locate mortars using adapted air defence radars before D Day. However they decided that the problem was not important enough and the technology and techniques too experimental to justify early deployment in Normandy. By July the policy was reevaluated and a counter mortar organisation resources, largely from the AA Units under used because of the ineffectiveness of the Luftwaffe.

It is also worth challenging the statistics. Where did the 70% figure come from? There was a tendency by all sides in WW2 to over attribute casualties to particular weapon systems which were highly feared. Thus a disproportionate number of German tanks were reported as Tigers and the mainly 75mm anti tank guns as 88s. Mortars were feared because the incoming round was quieter than a shell. An expert can tell a lot by analysing the remains of the shell and the crater, but that isn't always possible in a battle. A British artillery analysis from Tunisa and circulated in RA Notes came to the conclusion that many lot of reports of "enemy mortars" were in fact german artillery. So that figure may not be accurate.

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Re: Causes of battle casualties

Post by peterkolar » 13 Sep 2018 14:01

In Erich von Mantein's memoirs he mentions so-called "artillery divisions" used by the Soviets. According to his description, the late-war Soviets could easily amass 400 artillery pieces for every mile of front. If true, that's about one artillery piece every 13.2 feet!
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