Photos that make you think.

IMHO the military commanders (especially us Brits) performed extraordinary miracles. The British army went from c.200k colonial troops to c.3-5 million total industrial war troops in, what, six months to a year?

The weapons systems and tactics changed continuously and dramatically; commanders were having to adapt in weeks to changes that a modern peacetime army might instil over a leisurely 5-10 year career plot.

The allied commanders were also locked into an impossible strategic task. We the Brits were on highly disadvantageous vital ground (the Ypres salient) that could not be given up, the Frenchies had a huge slice of their country under enemy occupation. The allies had to try and push, the Germans had the luxury of idle defence. The unique time frame - defence at its zenith, assault at its nadir (ie no mech) - dictated the battle outcomes, almost regardless of tactics employed.

The "commanders" weren't of course just leftover colonial warriors. Huge numbers of fighting officers rose to high rank - as they had to in the vast expansion of the army (and its dreadful casualty lists). Men like Jack went from captain to Brigadier in three years. If you read his biography (""General Jack's Diary") you can see how he took combat experience into staff work, as they all did.

Ironically, even Max Hastings fluffs this point in his otherwise excellent "Catastropher, 1914", about the origins of the war. Recounting the Battle of Mons et al, he takes a typical snipe at all the commanders (both sides) for being mediocre. However, a chapter or so later he has to admit that it was not surprising, given that none of them had ever fought a multi-million man total war before....
Liking that answer.

There was of course the (realistic) view that after a week or so of continual Arty bombardment (I forget the numbers for 3rd battle Ypres but it was something like 25,000 tons of HE fired from 3,500 pieces-It was monumental what ever the correct amount) that there wasn't going to be much left of the enemy to think straight, let alone pull triggers.
 
Again ... slightly off thread .... Indeed .... see below a clip from All Quiet on The Western Front ... at ~50 seconds the Grim Reaper in the form of German Machine Gun Teams has a field day ... this film has such an element of reality about it that it in parts acquires documentary levels .... and although not a photograph it is a clip which when I first saw many , many years ago certainly made me think ...

anyway back on thread again .
Hideous. Just hideous.
 
There was of course the (realistic) view that after a week or so of continual Arty bombardment (I forget the numbers for 3rd battle Ypres but it was something like 25,000 tons of HE fired from 3,500 pieces-It was monumental what ever the correct amount) that there wasn't going to be much left of the enemy to think straight, let alone pull triggers.
The shells from an allied creeping bombardment spent in a single day on German lines, 1916.jpg

The caption says:
The shells from an allied creeping bombardment spent in a single day on German lines, 1916
 
I remember reading a book about the young men who fought in WW1. Some writer went round interviewing the guys who were well into their 80's. Some of the those young men where mere country lads. Some of the things they saw and did makes me wonder how they never cracked.
 
What’s litter? In those days people ate everything , apple cores , gristle off the chicken bones. Even in the 1950 ies some people who took their bait box to work , after eating their lunchtime sandwich, wrapped in grease paper would fold and take the paper home for the next days.

Glass bottles had a deposit on so not normally thrown away and if they were someone-else would pick it up for the deposit.

Tramps picked up dog ends for a few strands of Baccy.

Night soil, aka s**t was often collected for use as fertiliser and urine was often collected for use in the wool industry, see here Fulling - Wikipedia
But Victorian london was a bit of a s**thole as were most industrial connurbations, see this
 
Just as a complete change. For those of us who still have children at school.
View attachment 321988
A head lice clinging to a single strand of human hair.
That reminds me of my old troop staffy. We were warned for Bosnia for months, and it took quite a while for the Dayton Agreement to become a done deal. We did all the PDT and just sat round waiting. Eventually it was done and the day came. We were to report at some ungodly hour to the gym (0400 rings a bell) to get our docs, dogtags etc.

Our troop staffy turns up. He normally had a full head of hair, 1-1.5 inches long, short back & sides. Normal haircut for a squaddie. Well here he is, shaved down to the wood. Looked like he had a 5 o'clock shadow on his bonce, but that was it.

"Drinks" was a Rad Op by trade, effectively commanding a troop of RTGs and a couple of techs (one of whom was me). Completely outclassed by his JNCOs and the Tp Sgt. He did have a normal, social side which was OK, my MQ and his were fairly close and well out of town. He was fine socially, but a hand grenade at work.

So here he is with a blades haircut and we're about to deploy to Bosnia. In December. I asked him what the gig was. "Nits". One word and it all became clear. About the only sensible word I ever heard from that man at work. @JT0475 may remember!
Oh aye!!
Happy days


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And that’s a sanitised version!

That’s pretty much the point I was trying to make earlier. Anyone watching or experiencing that hideous carnage must surely have thought “stuff this, there must be a better way of fighting a war”.

Well, they did try. Hence the naval, financial, and political blockades, the effort to keep the Russian flank open, the attempt at Gallipoli, the destruction of Axis forces in the middle east, the huge efforts in new technologies, and so on. E.g from nothing at all, we invented, trialled, manufactured and deployed 1,000+ tanks into the field in just two years; thats quite unbelievable - today we'd be pushed to procure a new type of boot in that time frame.

Ultimately, though, we Brits were more sensitive about casualties than the European armies. The French, Germans, Russian, Austro-Hungarians, Turks were all still perfectly comfortable with throwing millions of men armed with a rifle and bayonet at each other.

Unfortunately we couldn't unplug from Flanders, and we couldn't just sit on the defensive and let our senior land partner take the whole cost.

The more you immersive yourself in the military and technological environment of the time, the harder it is to come up with any real alternative to the way they had to do things. Its easy enough to point out where mistakes were made, but of course they understood and acted on those at the time.
 
The more you immersive yourself in the military and technological environment of the time, the harder it is to come up with any real alternative to the way they had to do things. Its easy enough to point out where mistakes were made, but of course they understood and acted on those at the time.
I've read quite a lot lately about the 2nd Battle of Ypres, a great uncle died there.
It is difficult to see what alternative there was in that battle other than to throw thousands of young men in to the line to die.
He was in France for 5 days before he was killed with the Northumberland Fusiliers. Others didn't survive that long.

As I understand it the German gas attack had left a mile wide hole in the front line and thousands died trying to plug it. Had those thousands of men not been thrown in to die the war would have been lost right there and then.
Its very sobering and clearly many of those who condemn the way the 1st World War was run haven't looked at the cold hard realities of that war.
I don't imagine that any of the generals had any desire to see men killed in their tens of thousands for no gain.
 
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This poor fellow, a German machine gunner was killed on the 4th of November 1918 a week before the wars end. Note his tidy stash of ammo to the right above his head, also the pile of 'empties' under his MG 08. Is it a cleaning rod that he has stuck into the ground behind him? His eyes are truly 'dead,' quite something that film makers completely fail to capture when making films of murdered people. He seems to have died alone in an isolated spot, I say again, poor fellow!
View attachment 321852
Grandad on German side survived all that, then the second lot and copped it on the day Roosevelt died.
 
It's quite odd that the hull looks so pristine.
I thought the same - strange flat bottom design as well...I bet that contributed to it rolling.
 
I've read quite a lot lately about the 2nd Battle of Ypres, a great uncle died there.
It is difficult to see what alternative there was in that battle other than to throw thousands of young men in to the line to die.
He was in France for 5 days before he was killed with the Northumberland Fusiliers. Others didn't survive that long.

As I understand it the German gas attack had left a 4 mile wide hole in the front line and thousands died trying to plug it. Had those thousands of men not been thrown in to die the war would have been lost right there and then.
Its very sobering and clearly many of those who condemn the way the 1st World War was run haven't looked at the cold hard realities of that war.
I don't imagine that any of the generals had any desire to see men killed in their tens of thousands for no gain.
During the whole of the war, the Germans lost just under 3m, the French just over 3.1 m. Britain and the Dominions lost 750,000.
During 2nd Ypres, especially 6th 7th 8th May 1915 the Germans came on in their attacks in line abreast and fell mostly to rifle and machine gun fire, many of them student reservists, it was perhaps the time when they lost most in such a short time. Gen Plumer who commanded the 2nd Army at Ypres for the whole of the war used the French system of keeping an army staff in one place and fed Divisions through the system. He kept an eye on his Divs and knew when to rest them, and when to deploy them: A good man was Plumer!
Incidentally Plumer's system was deployed on Banner in NI, whereby Brigades staffs remained in position while battalions were fed through, It was originally a French Idea, but I can't spell the French name for it.
 

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OOS, I think the term you are looking for is roulemont.
 
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