Finding the Fallen

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Blackcat, May 1, 2006.

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  1. Today on Discovery civilisation they are showing the entire series of Finding the Fallen,

    caught the first one and found it very interesting viewing, have sky + it otherwise I won't get anything done today.
  2. To spare the surviving soldiers the harrowing experience of having to clear their dead out of the trenches,Chinese were brought over to do the job!
  3. Yeah the Chinese Labour Corps, had quite a reputation amongst the french civilians for being thiefs, and murderers, they had poor pay and even poorer living conditions, many were killed by the ordance they were clearing, influenza, or the pandemic of 1919.
  4. There are loads of them, buried near my house. Their headstones, seem so out of place! Most are dated 1919, probably influenza and battlefield clearance victims.
  5. I don't mind going on operations but if there was one war i wouldn't have liked to be in it has to be The Great War. Talk about not being in charge of your own destiny! Men were sent as lambs to the slaughter by a bunch of upper class mongs who mostly didn't give a fcuk how many died and suffered as long as the outcome shown them in good light. Thank fcuk our officers have improved over the years! What a waste of life.
  6. The British casualties for the Great War are much more shocking than the Second War because we weren't as heavily committed to a land war. For the units that were engaged the experience could be just as lethal and unpleasent. Statistically the chances of survival in combat werent; much different to the second world war. Per day per division casualty rates in Normandy were comparable to the Western Front. The casualty rates on the Eastern Front were often even higher.

    You might also like to read a little more about the great War before you repeat the "lambs to slaughter" mantra. The soldiers were committed to an unlimited war by a democratic electorate. The father and mothers of the soldiers sent into battle. The "upper class mongs" suffered particularly heavily. The Prime Minister who took us to war, Asquith, lost his son, who is buried fairly close to the son of the leader of the Independent Labour Party. After resigning through cocking up strategy one cabinet minister, Churchill, v9olunteered to lead a batallion on the West Front.

    Do you think that generals in the Second War, or later, have been un interested in the career implications of their decisions? Great War generalship and staffwork could be patchy, but to dismiss the leadership in a sweeping sentance is a little innacurate and unfair.
  7. Pteranadon,

    Without looking at casualty lists inWW11 I believe Britain lost about 147,000 men and women,I really can´t believe what you´ve written as over 1,115,000 british were killed, in the Great war .

    On one day in July on the Somme there were over 20,000 British casualties,I think `lambs to the slaughter`quite apt.To look at the Great War and then compare statstics with the eastern front during the 2ndWWar is pointless,as both the German and Russian`Leaders`didn´t care about casualties and readily sacrificed thousands of soldiers in futile attacks and defences.

    There was very little to be won in WW1 and not many people even understand how it started,let alone how this bloodletting carried on for 4 terrible years.

    Yes you can compare Normandy with the Great War, ie running accross open ground being maschine gunned is similiar whichever war you are fighting,but the rewards of succes were greater and tangible,to rid Europe of the Nazi´s.A lot different from being sent time after time´Over the Top`for nothing except to bury the thousands of dead afterwards.

    Britain won the war but at what cost and for what?

    The working class got the vote,the rich and the politicians gradually lost their Empire because of it.

    I suppose that we were lucky in that after the total catastrophe at Gallipolli,that Churchill didn´t take the other honourable way-out and point his pistol at his head,his experiences from WW1 served him well in that he never got the army bogged down as in WW!.

    And did the people really Vote for The War;Lots of propaganda and Jingoism got them marching merrily away,the rest is hopefully never to be repeated history?
  8. Sure. I partially agree with you regarding the objectives and results of the Great War copmpared to WW2. My fathers and grandfather's generation regarded the Great War as a futile waste, but thats the asseement made 15 years later.

    At the time the war was started it wasn't seen that way. The Germans had invaded a neutral and an ally and were threatening the balance of power in Europe. Durign the course of the war the germans committted atrocities in Belgiem and introduiced weapons that revolted the public as much as suicide bombers. (poison gas, submarines flamethrowers and aerial bombardment of British cities). Ifd you don't beleive this was a popular war listen to this recording , made in 1920 by Lady Asquith, about the day war was declared. This doesnl;t sound like a goivernment urging war on a reliuctant population. I agree that patriotism and jingoism had taken over, but probably mno more so than in post 9/11 USA. There is some merit in Tolstoy's idea that leaders ride a tide of popular emotion. Perhaps 1914 (and maybe post 9/11) are good examples of how an emotional popular fervour can leads to irrational policy.

    It is also possible to argue that the Second war only took place because the peace failed after the first. The First war firmly put the boche and their allies in their place. The victors failed to retain domination over the vanquished and the alternative mechanisms failed. If the League of Nations had been as successfull as the post 1945 UN then the Great War might have lived to its name as the "War to end Wars".

    I agree that britisan suffered its heaviest war losses in the Great War.The Great War military casualties are usually quoted as around C950k from Britian and empire according to the CWGC. You also have to take into account some other statistics.

    British Army committed to the West Front 1914-1918- 5,399,563 - peak strength 2,046,901
    Initially 6 divisions rising to C 50 divisions. In contact withj the enemy from 24 Aug 1914 to 11 November 1918

    British Army committed to the Battle of Normandy - 800,000 British and Canadian troops. Number of men and women employed in making Lancaster bombers - 1 million. Fate of RAF Bomber command airmen. 60% dead C20% survived 10% POW 10% wounded. (John Terraine Right of the Line) The Soviets lost more men in their cheapest vicotry (the August 1944 Rumania campiagn) than the Western Allies lost from D Day to VE Day. (both in the order of 250k) Soviet casualties in the battle for Berlin 350,000.

    Now compare two good British infantry units.

    18th Infantry Division - C40,000 (of which C14,000 dead) between July 1915 and November 1918, rifle company strneght = C 9,000. 1000 casualties per month 350 dead per month. (This new army formation had a reputation for taking its objectives and was used repeatedly as an assualt formation from 1916 to the end of the war.

    3rd Infantry Division - 11,084 casualties (of which 1,500 dead) between 6 June 1944 and 30 April 1945. Most of these were suffered by 4,500 troops in the rifle companies. 1000 battle casualties per month and 136 dead per month, from about half the number of riflemen.

    The casualties and deaths per 1000 infantry per month are of the same order of magintude for teh two wars. Fior the 18th Infantry in the great war its 100 battle casualties of which 36 are killed, compared to 227 battle casualties in 3 Div, of which 30 are killed between D Day and VE Day. 3% chance of dying every month in action...

    Sure, if you were born British of military age in the Second war you would have been lucky in several ways:--

    1. Britian was kicked out of France in 1940 and didn;t suffer the hemourage of four years of casualties from a long land campaign. The other theatres were much smaller than the West Friont (North Africa and Italy C 10 British and commonwealth Divisions) Long perioods of time in North Africa the army wasn't in contact with the enemy.

    2. You had a much higher chance of being assigned a safer job than being in the infantry. e.g. RAF Ground Crew, logisitcs and armour.

    3. The nature of the fighting, advances in medicine meant you were more likely to survive a wound


    1. If you were warry enough to join the infantry then your chances of survival were roughly comparable to serving in an infantry unit on the Western Front in the Great War.

    2. If you had been borne German, Polish or Russian the Second world war was much more lethal as a soldier or civilian.

    3. There are plenty of examples of bone headed tactics in the Second World war. Its just the generals didn;t have so many people to play withj. Some notable bone decisions are.. The conduct of the four battles for Monte Cassino, the pointless sacriufice ofunder equipped TA before Dunkirk (C20-40,000 lost) and commitment of the 1939/45 Eastern Division to Singapore long after it was certain to be lost.
  9. The Second World War started because the Germans were not as vanquished as most were led to believe.The German Army returned home with heads held high and marched with bands thinking that the´surrender´was actually a truce due to the stalemate and terrible losses.If you believe the German side and Churchill,they were screwed by the treaty of Verseille which basically,due to the horrendous re-payments was doomed to failure.

    Churchill actually called it the contract for the next war.

    That´s why the Marschall Plan came after WW2,it wasn´t ´charity´it was to stop the same thing happening again.

    Germany invaded Belguim,but don´t forget that the war was started by the Austrians and Serbs,with Russia joining in to help their Serbian`brothers´.

    Britain I believe used Chlorine gas first!The Germans used the more deadly Mustard Gas,every third shell,German and British were gas shells!

    Sorry but got to go to work but hard as I try,I can´t really see any sense in comparing WW2 casualties with WW1.Ok Bomber command lost as many airmen as infantry officers in WW1,but don´t forget that for every company officer there were about 200 other ranks!

    BTW in WW2 the Merchant Navy had the highest procentage of losses,followed by the Chindits who were fattened -up and then sent to fight in the jungle!
  10. You were doing fine up until you commented on the progress of the officers.
  11. Taped the entire series in one day and then my SKY PLUS decided to delete itself NICE ONE
  12. When and where did the British Army use Chlorine first? The Germans claimed that the allies used it first but they were lying.

    There are good reasons for comparing WW1 and WW2.

    - Similar situations - strategy and in some cases tactics.
    - Source of tactical and technical inspiration. WW1 = birthplace opf modern tactics.
    - Same people (in some cases) & same enemies.

    Britians' experience was that WW1 was more costly nastier - but other countries had a different experience. The West Front dominates British memory but it isn't the whole story.

    Its worth reading some of books on the Great War. The popular view is very misleading. From lions led by donkeys to its uniqueness as a slaughterhouse.
  13. By all means compare the two wars which were 25 years apart (less than one generation) and fought roughly over the same area, but please don't try to interpret how people behaved at the time using modern standards. It doesn't work.

    Try as I might, I cannot believe that my grandfather joined up to be part of the Pals' Battalions, leaving a wife, children and a successful career as an accountant behind him. But he did (as did millions of others) - and survived the War, only to die 10 years later from TB - aggravated by the gassing he suffered whilst in the trenches.

    The Generals were fighting a War like no other. Both sides made errors and both sides then bogged down in the mud that was to become synonymous with Flanders.

    At least we can talk about the Great War now (and occasionally poke fun at aspects of it, as in Blackadder). In my youth, the results of both Wars were still evident in the towns and villages where I lived, and I was always warned against talking about the War or mentioning missing limbs/bits when talking to the neighbours.

  14. Yes, those toff officers were awful. Their fieldcraft must have been appalling considering so many of them, including over thirty generals, were killed in action. Luckily today our soldiers are so much more intelligent and capable. Why I doubt one of the original "Old Contemptibles" could have told you how to fill in a NATOcars order form, apply for credit or operate a play station! :roll:
  15. Many of them were chosen as officers not from their ability but because they came from a well to do family. Being rich doesn't make you a good officer.