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Nick, this could very well be the best post on WWI to ever hit the forum.

Thanks, I really enjoyed it and even learned a thing or two.

Regards

Brian

Hmmm... Brian, I respect your knowledge, logic, and views; perhaps, you can be more specific on why you think this is the "best post on WWI to ever hit the forum." I just don't see that... I'm not sure what the article hopes to achieve... I don't have a specific bone to pick with this article. On the other hand, I can see viable, logic arguments against several of his points.

It's kind of a yawner for me...

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I think its an OK article... but I think a number of them canbe considered "topics for debate".

The one I think needs a lot more work is the

"8. No-one won

Swathes of Europe lay wasted, millions were dead or wounded. Survivors lived on with severe mental trauma. The UK was broke. It is odd to talk about winning.

However, in a narrow military sense, the UK and her allies convincingly won."

Which i think is a very narrow way of seeing things. as an individual you may get into a fight and be happy that you "won" because your opponent is more bloody and beaten than you are... you can decide a broken nose and missing teeth are worth it to you to be able to say you "won".... but as a country... does a simple military victory outweigh all the other losses your country suffered?

Can Belgium say "Hey great, we were on a winning side in a war! Yeah!!!" ... and have it outweigh all the destruction it caused in the country? Was the UK better off in 1919 than it was in 1913? France regained some land... but did that make up for the hundreds of towns and villages destroyed by the war and the lives it cost?

IMHO it is a simple question... for a country to consider itself a winner, it would have to ask itself, "what did we gain? were we better of after the last shot than we were before the first shot? Did we manage to make some political/diplomatic/material gains that are worth more than the lives we lost?" ... if the answer is no, then it is a very hollow victory indeed... it is a pile of medals and a few battle honors gained for the army, at the cost of the country.

Just my humble opinion ... :-)

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Hmmm... Brian, I respect your knowledge, logic, and views; perhaps, you can be more specific on why you think this is the "best post on WWI to ever hit the forum." I just don't see that... I'm not sure what the article hopes to achieve... I don't have a specific bone to pick with this article. On the other hand, I can see viable, logic arguments against several of his points.

It's kind of a yawner for me...

Well, your opinions are based on your knowledge and education, which serves you well. Perhaps I should have said that it was a good article for those who may not be as well versed as many of our member in the area of the First World War. Many hold to those myths presented because that is what they have heard over the years time and time again.

For example, when I was a kid I was told that there were no medals given out to Japanese soldiers and that the only medal a German soldier could ever be awarded was the Iron Cross. It didn’t take long after I could read that I noticed the photos in some of the history books showed German soldiers wearing several medals...imagine my surprise.

I was not aware of the average time a British soldier spent in the front lines (provided the article is correct) so I may have learned something from the post.

So no debate this evening my friend.

Regards

Brian

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I tend to agree with Brian , in that a number of 'taken for granted' subjects and statistics are questioned and looked

at in more detail. This has been more than overdue.

However, statistics alone do not explain why,so many of our young Gentlemen were killed. One needs to go back to the

actual period and then the era of Queen Victoria. Things were so different to today, that it is hard for the modern generation

to understand the terms - Patriotism , Loyalty - and above all to be British.

Yes - we had a class system - goes back to Fuedal days, and people did live according to their place in Society. This was

normal for those times and it is probably safe to say that the greater majority were satisfied. When war was declared, every

young man tried to join - this was their sense of duty in action. My Grandfather was regular army and out of his

4 sons, 2 joined. One was injured with the Artist's rifles. The other two were too young.

The Regular Army during the Crimean War, may have had a higher casualty rate % wise. But the WW1 army was mainly

volunteeers and whole towns and villages lost great numbers of their young men. However, their loyalty to the King and to

Britain remained at a very high level. We were not the fractured Society we are today - when I was at school in Australia

everybody used to attend ceremonies for Commonwealth Day - and on Anzac Day - the whole Country mourned. The

numbers of casualties affected so many Families. Canada and South Africa suffered in the same way - but, you didn't

hear them talking of withdrawing support for the Mother Country.

Sadly, the World has changed - with so many immigrants into Britain, I am by no means sure that another serious war could

be supported. However, in my opinion - that does not detract from the British who joined in 1914 to defend their way of

life - who died in such great numbers - but, who were proud to be British and to support the British way of life. Mervyn

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Yes, the article's points are cleanly given and can raise some interesting discussions.

1. The Taiping Rebellion was a civil war, still a war but not a war between countries. Civil Wars were seemingly endless in the 19th C, the Sudan Mahdist that killed over 5M or the Congo's 4M or the Panthay Rebellion with another 1M or Venezuela with another 1M, Mfecane another 1.5M.

2. During the Crimean war the soldiers had a much larger chance of dying from disease. Of the 90,000 French dead, 60,000 died of disease, Britain's 21,000 dead was 16,000 from disease. A far larger % dead amongst the mobilised army but two thirds from disease.

3. Of course men were in the trenches for years. Front and rear trenches were under fire for long periods of time, rest periods were spent drilling, marching, training and still out in the elements lodging in broken shells of houses or canvas. So, a fighting regiment soldier who lasted the whole war was, given the article's figures, 10 days a month in the trenches. Over a 50 month war that's 500 days, sounds pretty bad to me.

4. This may have ben true in 1914, but the expansion of the peacetime army meant that most of the "junior" officers came from middle class or working class backgrounds. ANZACs were less class-ridden throughout, as were the Americans, later on. Just counting the officer deaths has no meaning.

5. Again as the article says the Canadian General worked with his men and fought in a different manner. The major French led offences in early 1918 were nothing more than they were in 1914 - throwing massed armies onto the guns.

6. Galipolli was a disaster for the ANZACs and also the allied armies. The whole enterprise was a disaster that the Kiwis and Aussies chose to quite rightly commemorate.

7. Tactics didn't change. How could they? Millions of men dug in facing each other. All the great war inventions, gas, flamethrowers, mines, tanks, bombers, stormtroopers all had limited success but were ultimately held by the opposing army until one of those armies bled to death. The Russians turned their backs, the Turks and Austrians were bled to death, the French very nearly turned away, the Allies were bleeding due to the extra German divisions released from Russia until the Americans came over and ultimately the Germans were bled to death and had to give way.

8. Devastation was inflicted onto everyone. But the invaders were eventually thrown out on their arse.

9. The treaty was extremely harsh and untenable. It is generally seen as paving the way to WW2. Keynes lays out some of the economic reasons. How could Germany survive under those conditions - Keynes says that the treaty condemned millions to starvation.

10. What! Of course everyone hated it. The women wanted their dads, husbands, brothers, sons home and safe. The men dreamed of going home, and they didn't get meat every day. Jeez. Maybe the people who made a great deal of money didn't hate it so much.

I'll go hide in my trench.

Edited by Spasm
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Mervyn

That's very good but old boy's I talked to joined up not wanting to be left behind mates have a strong pull, togetherness, a chance of a trip abroad, pull birds for a leg over even new clothes and get away from horrendously dull lives with future prospects...zero or a lifetime of same.

Most would save up for a couple of years their holiday if they could afford such a thing being a trip to Blackpool and for the middle class the wonders of Scarborough always with the family people in the south to get away from the filth and smoke more than likely probably dreamed of a short trip to England's 'Disneyland' Brighton lol!

Of course they were very proud of their country but it wasn't the main reason, that came later as part of emotional remembrances.

Eric

ps I haven't read or watched anything yet probably won't it's pc bs.

Edited by Hoss
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Yes, the article's points are cleanly given and can raise some interesting discussions.

I'll go hide in my trench.

Very succinct. My thoughts exactly; I just didn't have the facts at hand that you relate. The article is a worthwhile read, but as you point out...facts can be turned to argue either side.

I guess my gut problem with the article is the use of the word "myth." Myths by definition are "a widely held but false belief or idea." I don't see the opposing views that the article attempts to "debunk" as "false." They are simply a different view of the same facts.

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One of the few people who I know enjoyed the Great War was my great uncle Maurice (Adams), a Bristolian who served in the Boer war and was later a sniper in the Great War, he did very well out of the booty he picked up. A notorious womaniser (he claimed to have fathered a fair number of the children in Oldland Common), He died in 1975 aged 98 after falling downstairs having had far too much to drink (but just the way he would have wanted to go). Very few other enjoyed the war apart from the very poor who it released from tedious monotony and near starvation and drudgery.

Paul

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The Nations involved in WW1 called their men to arms. The men answered that call. Probably as they would today. Conscription started in Britain in 1916 well after the trenches had been dug.

I agree with Irish, the word "myth" grew from the political row between Grove and Baldrick. And I think the BBC have sort of jumped on the bandwagon by allowing their websites and programmes to be headed by a bag of other "myths".

Dan Snow historian and coming out atheist that attended the Royal wedding (dad John swingameter expert, cousin Jon newsreader and wife daughter of Duke of Westminster with seven billions of pounds) is heading these "myths" for them.

He says wars have been recounted by artists/poets/writers/film makers rather than historians. These are said to be more easily and better remembered by the public. He says he has no problem with the Enigma being shown captured by Americans or that the painting of Hannibal over the mountains is incorrect. So why do this on the 100 year anniversary of WW1, and with backing from the BBC?

I disagree with many of the points he raises. Saying that many enjoyed it and that 9 out of 10 came home is just (quoting Eric) pc bs. We can all go away and read some books and make up our own minds.

I wasn't there, but nor was he.

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It sounds like you have a dislike for the Snow family's take on history. I too have such problems with some researchers and authors but in the field of science, so fair enough.

I am assuming that your comment about Dan Snow being a "coming out atheist" is in reference to his involvement with the British Humanist Society. Lucky for us that by definition Atheism is not a religion so we won't run afowl of the rules. :lol: However I don't see the relevance.

I believe he is also related to Canadian historian and author, Margaret MacMillan,"The War That Ended Peace" and "Paris 1919", both well worth a read.

I'm making no comment about what you have said but thought I'd some additional information to your comment.

Regards

Brian

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Brian

Nothing against the Snow family. In fact I like all of their programmes as they are very easy to watch, have good content and well presented.

Dan is pushing his beliefs because he is becoming one of those 'celebrities' that all have an opinion and think that everyone has the right to hear them rather than remaining as a very good and knowledgeable presenter. Ok, that's his choice as a TV star and I can choose to watch him or not. The thing that is getting me is that both him and the BBC (who have produced some really great WW1 documentaries, one a 29 part series, with another starting this week presented by Jeremy Paxman) have decided to make a big thing about these so called myths on the back of some political row over teachers.

Look a bit more at the BBC's link

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww1

Right, back to the trench

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Just found this. A comment on the BBC's WW1 website: (not mine I hasten to add)

Quote

"Thanks Dan Snow. Now we know that it wasn't the bloodiest war, only 12% died, only a mere 30% of time was spent in the trenches so that's not too bad, the generals did a grand job and reacted swiftly to change their tactics in the face of failure, the ANZACS suffered significantly less then Brits at Gallipoli, lots of people loved the war, etc. Thanks Michael Portillo. The war didn't change much itself, but just delayed the changes which were already happening. Thanks Ian McMillan. Now we know the war poets lied or exaggerated and the millions of deaths and maimings were not so terrible after all.
Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about then. Makes you wonder why every village has a memorial. Makes you wonder why so many who took part would never talk about it. Sorry we were all so gullible as to fall for the leftie nonsense spouted about it in the 1960s. Obviously it wasn't as significant as episode as we all thought."

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Just found this. A comment on the BBC's WW1 website: (not mine I hasten to add)

Quote

"Thanks Dan Snow. Now we know that it wasn't the bloodiest war, only 12% died, only a mere 30% of time was spent in the trenches so that's not too bad, the generals did a grand job and reacted swiftly to change their tactics in the face of failure, the ANZACS suffered significantly less then Brits at Gallipoli, lots of people loved the war, etc. Thanks Michael Portillo. The war didn't change much itself, but just delayed the changes which were already happening. Thanks Ian McMillan. Now we know the war poets lied or exaggerated and the millions of deaths and maimings were not so terrible after all.

Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about then. Makes you wonder why every village has a memorial. Makes you wonder why so many who took part would never talk about it. Sorry we were all so gullible as to fall for the leftie nonsense spouted about it in the 1960s. Obviously it wasn't as significant as episode as we all thought."

Hear, hear.

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I found it a thin article. Snow's assertions were not backed up with any evidence and the whole approach was one of knocking down ideas that are widerly held... but 'doubting leads to questioning, and questioning leads us to perceive the truth' (Abelard), here doubting merely led to counter-assertations rather than questioning and analysis, so no more reason to accept them than any other idea knocking around your head.

An interesting thought I read recently was that a lot of the young men of the 'officer class' had been raised on the Classics, studying the view of warfare as presented in the Iliad and the Odessey; and that they went to war expecting much the same... and many of the poor souls were sent to meet their Maker before they could formulate a more realistic view, or having formed such did not get the chance to rise to positions of influence where they could do something about it.

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I enjoyed the article but have to disagree with point - 7. Tactics on the Western Front remained unchanged despite repeated failure. He goes on to explain how the weapons changed, which I agree with, but tactics remained the same for the Allieds. It was charge straight ahead into the enemy machine guns. Only with the introduction of the tank did tactics begin to change. I think tactically the Germans changed the most with the use of stormtroopers.

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I enjoyed the article but have to disagree with point - 7. Tactics on the Western Front remained unchanged despite repeated failure. He goes on to explain how the weapons changed, which I agree with, but tactics remained the same for the Allieds. It was charge straight ahead into the enemy machine guns. Only with the introduction of the tank did tactics begin to change. I think tactically the Germans changed the most with the use of stormtroopers.

I would have to disagree.

The French and British evolved quite well. I have a number of French small unit manuals from late 1916... they are light years away from 1914 stuff.

I think by 1917 the allies were actually doing OK. Unfortunately German defensive measures evolved as well... so the stalemate remained because, even while offensive tactics changed, defensive plans did as well...but it was not stganation.

I do remember reading that the reason the Marines suffered such heavy losses at Belleau wood was because Pershing totally ignored all the Allies tried to teach him about what they had learned in the preceeding years, and that days later the Army Regiments of the 2nd division had much greater success because they applied what they had learned from the French?

best

Chris

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As a discussion starter - here and elsewhere - the article is great. As evidenced by the posts which precede this one. I went into it expecting generalities - anything with a title like that is almost sure to be a generalist, populist view, full of highly debatable points, almost be definition IMHO.

As Brian says, not a bad starting place for non-specialists; then we can read the books and make up our own minds. OTOH, Spasm's quote sums up my reactions very well. 'Enjoyable'? Pleeese! 'Not so bad' - compared to what? Armageddon?

We do need to keep in mind that for those of the world's population not interested in/obsessed by military matters, WWI is largely as real and clear to them as Narnia or Mordor. I hope that if they read this article they'll at least ask 'What are the myths and what are the facts' and be inspired to go read something else. If this turns out to be their only read on WWI, oh, dear!

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I am always amazed at how many experts there are in the world. Some days I think that I may be the sole person left on this planet who is not an authority on...well, just about everything. As I find it always necessary, let me clarify that these comments are not directed toward any member here or any one in particular. I would not want to be the source of anyone “taking their ball and going home” which has happened in the past though not precipitated by me.

One hundred years have passed and the information we have today is probably as accurate as can be found in “The People’s War Book”, The History of the World War” or “The Pictorial History of the Great War”, all written in1919 or shortly thereafter. These and other books about the war were, of course, written by the victors, because as we know “history is written by the victors”. We take the written word, often from bias sources, and declare them as gospel. Anyone challenging those sacred writings is deemed as a heretic and they and their seed must be purged from the face of the earth. It’s like the debate over whether the large end or the small end of the hard-boiled egg is the one to be opened, apologies to Jonathan Swift. What next! Of my God, hide the women and children and surround the chicken farms with armed guards as “they” are about to burn them to the ground. I exaggerate here because the children would have to have Wi-Fi access anywhere you could possibly think to hide them and the women would be telling us to settle down and use our brains for a change. Of course that’s because that is their primary purpose in life. Without them mankind would have been extinct decades ago.

What do I know about either the First or Second World Wars? Personal experience equals zero. Conversations with veterans over the course of my lifetime would reveal that at least the Second World War was spent on leave going to pubs and dating cute British girls. Sounds pretty sweet to me (joke). Common sense (one of my lesser attributes) would tell me that everyday could not have been an “over the top boys” day, unlike what the popular media would have us believe. There just were not enough people available for the carnage to be unbroken. As I have said this according to one of my lesser attributes, that being common sense.

As far as the war being started by and directed by stupid leaders I would have to say that this is from a point of view a century after the facts. What was the last count for injured U.S. veterans? Over 400,000, according to the television. I wonder just how today’s military actions will be viewed 100 years from now. Will we be viewed as a society that could have avoided these wars and acknowledged as, not “the greatest generation” but one of the stupidest? For that answer you’ll have to check out my blog 100 years from now.

The article in question has sparked a few of us into thinking about the subject and in my less than humble opinion it has served its purpose. If any member takes offence by this response then I would point out that you have taken the time to think and express your opinion. And that my friends, certainly earns my respect.

Keep that grey matter churning.

Regards

Brian

PS: I see that Peter has posted a reply as I was composing this rant. As always he has said more with a lot less words. He is so irritating! :angry:

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PS: I see that Peter has posted a reply as I was composing this rant. As always he has said more with a lot less words. He is so irritating! :angry:

You are practised in the art of using 30 words to say 3.... you must have worked for the Govt in your youth ;-)

Indeed... a post that generates discussion is what its all about!!

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I would have to disagree.

The French and British evolved quite well. I have a number of French small unit manuals from late 1916... they are light years away from 1914 stuff.

I think by 1917 the allies were actually doing OK. Unfortunately German defensive measures evolved as well... so the stalemate remained because, even while offensive tactics changed, defensive plans did as well...but it was not stganation.

I do remember reading that the reason the Marines suffered such heavy losses at Belleau wood was because Pershing totally ignored all the Allies tried to teach him about what they had learned in the preceeding years, and that days later the Army Regiments of the 2nd division had much greater success because they applied what they had learned from the French?

best

Chris

The blackpowder-era "line of battle" was still very much in play early in the war, albeit in open order. By the end of the war, troops were manuevering more independently in squads rather than by company/regiment. The naval blockade was taking its toll by 1917, so it strained the Germans' resources.

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