WW1, how would you cut the death toll in half?

Discussion in 'History' started by Von Axel, Mar 8, 2004.

  1. DeSeRt RaT UK Registered Senior Member

    Like others have said, I think to be on the way to cutting the death toll came down to basic infantry tactics, even down to platoon size. Seem to remember reading up about the first day of the Somme: A commander in the north ignored Haigs idiotic order to work across No Mans Land with full pack and actually broke the line but he had no support as the rest of the front followed his order, thus eventually failed after German counter attacks.

    Having adaptable, not blind idealistic leaders stuck in the past, would help. Not goons like Haig who placed more merit on the calvarly than a machine gun.
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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    By not starting the war to begin with, or not entering the war after it was started.
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  5. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

    Russian were suckers of WWI. Had no big (or even medium) reasons to enter the war, had nothing to fight for. Result - total collapse of the Army and society.

    Americans were suckers too. 100 something thousands died essentially for nothing. It would have been better for all of us if the USA would have stayed away from WWI.

    Romanians were suckers too but at least they had something (big piece of Hungary) to fight for. >50% of Romanian troops were KIA. It's all time record. Even WWII era soviet troops have not "achieved" 50% KIA.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2004
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  7. crazy_chick_4206988 Registered Member


    frell yeah i agree :m:
  8. cato less hate, more science Registered Senior Member

    Better airplanes, if we could drop more/bigger bombs we would have economically devastated them and they would have been broken due to lack of supplies instead of lack of soldiers. Casualties on both sides would be lessoned.
  9. Fistface Registered Member

    Use everything they have all at once. Deceive the Germans into thinking a major attack is coming in another part of the line than it actually is. Take the most feared shock troops on the western front and move them to a part in the line where the Allies could drag heavy chains behind tractors in order to simulate the sound of tanks. The shock troops would be allowed to be viewed by the Germans who will as usual prepare for an attack. Then under cover of darkness move the troops to another part of the line and hide them in the forest during the day. Open the attack with a barrage that slowly goes farther and farther into the German lines. Follow the barrage with the shock troops who would be experienced and skilled in modern warfare tactics supported by hundreds of tanks. Use all the planes available to support the offensive and follow up with armoured cars with machine guns for rapid advance and deep penetration of the enemy positions leaving strong points to be dealt with by following mop up units. Cover the flanks of the main spearhead with huge armies on both the left and right flanks. This powerful main thrust provided by the shock troops and (blitzkrieg) could start a momentum which would cause the left and right lines to follow and flow resulting in the Germans falling back along a large front and possibly farther back than any time in the war. Shift the main shock troops to another part of the line to again catch the enemy by surprise and repeat attacks keeping up the pressure and breaking through of all the German defensive lines with the continual gaining of territory, prisoners and war equipment all the while followed by the left and right flanks steadily following the momentum of the powerful main spearhead and fighting back the Boche. If troops are available a skirmish could be fought far from the main advance in the lines to pester the enemy. The massive loss to the Germans of this huge offensive by the Allies could result in returning back to even where the war began in 1914 and could only persuade the Germans to acknowledge that the war is lost. All would be home by Christmas 1917 therefore avoiding all the war deaths of 1918 and the deadly influenza that was spread around the world at that time.
  10. Xylene Valued Senior Member

    Launch a D-Day style invasion of the Pomeranian coast (the Baltic coast of Poland/Prussia as it was then) and land 250-500,000 men on Germany's back doorstep, forcing the collapse of the eastern and western fronts as German troops are pulled back into Germany to support the motherland. Alternatively, land on the coast near Hamburg, directly on German territory, presenting an immediate threat to the Ruhr industrial complex. Wermacht troops would have to have been pulled back into Germany to counter the threat of a march on Berlin or any of the major cities of the northeast.
  11. RAW2000 suburban Registered Senior Member

    Piss off

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    ... In victory Germany would have then gone on to fuck things up in the Middle east just as much as we all did and with twice the mustard gas.
    And America not getting involved wouldn't definitely mean a German victory, the fresh american troops were more like the straw that broke the donkeys back in the case of WWI, with out the involment of the US the war was still anyones to win.

    Any way the best way to have speeded up the war would have been more tunnel bombs, the lazer guided missile of their time, instead of the small scale use that gave away the surprize element, there should have been a plan to blow a path all the way to Berlin in one fell-swoop.
  12. Avatar smoking revolver Valued Senior Member

    If tanks weren't available to me I'd use on a massive scale good 'ol fashioned catapults with enchanted range and filled with burning petrol and oil, and toast the trenches with everything in and around them.

    I'd also apply the 'ol Mongolian method and put bodies of those dead from plague and other nasty illnesses on those catapults and scatter them all over the enemy lines.
    Infections would soon spread making the enemy battle incapable and/or dead.

    p.s. The Mongolian armies in the middle ages did so with cities they had sieged.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2006
  13. Hurricane Angel I am the Metatron Registered Senior Member

    Do you even know anything about WW1 or just everything that your highschool history teachers want you to think?

    First off, the Russians had to attack in order to prevent a future invasion of Russia courtesy of the Germans. Germany had long wanted to drive towards the east and expand Prussia, but Russia knew this was coming and made the appropriate call. And if you wanna call a revolution a "breakdown in society", well....

    Secondly, America didn't become a superpower by remaining isolationist. Maybe you should stop contradicting what was best for America, because you obviosly don't know the mechanics of your own nation.

    Thirdly, Romania was retaking land from Austria-Hungary that it had lost centuries before. Suckers? Shutup.
  14. Hurricane Angel I am the Metatron Registered Senior Member

    LOL, yeah.. because the Chunnel was dug in several years with high-tech machinery, they could definetly have dug under Germany all the way to Berlin in WW1.
  15. Xylene Valued Senior Member

    Of course, everyone should have just pissed off back home after the Christmas Truce of 1914--that would've solved a few problems and saved a few million lives.

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  16. Fistface Registered Member

    The Allies may have thought of that also. The Germans still had their navy and U boats to protect the coast and landing and supplying 250,000 or more men might have been a logistic impossibility in WW1. Gallipoli was a real sore spot. A third front sounds like a good idea but on German soil it may have failed or resulted in another trench warfare front.

    In my opinion Xylene’s ideas are the best ones in this thread and sound like a good strategy if they were possible to carry out. (Not that my opinion counts for anything.)
    I still think the way I said in my earlier post would have shortened the war. We all know how successful blitzkrieg was in WW2 and everything was available to the Allies in WW1.
  17. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

    Sorry but this is yet another yank with the stupid and completely incorrect view that "The US won WWI"....that is a load of crap. The British (and its Commonwealth, particularly the ANZAC) and the French sacrificed millions of lives bringing that war to an end. The British invented the tank for crying out loud. The yanks just came along at the end with their stupid hats to claim all the glory. Even Canada probably did more.

    I am sick of this crap.
  18. Xylene Valued Senior Member

    Thank you, Fistface, for your confidence in my strategic abilities, even if their implementation was before their time.

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    Another idea occurred to me--that if the British et.al. had sent convoys up around the scandinavian coast to Arkangel like they did in WW2, and supplied the Russians with guns and troops, they could have pushed into Germany via the back door.

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    Therefore, no Russian Revolution--not then, anyway--and Germany gets taken out of the war from behind. Not to say that the English et. al. would've any more intelligent tactics on the eastern front than on the western trenches. If you want to know how bad the war was, read John Terraines book on the subject--it's just called 'the Great War'.
  19. Fistface Registered Member

    That sounds like a good strategy Xyelene. Another idea of yours or are you cheating?

    There were convoys sent to Russia in WW1. The stockpiles of war material in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk were piling up in 1917 after Russia pulled out of the war. Troops from Britain and the Commonwealth, France and the US were sent to prevent the supplies from falling into the hands of the Germans as well as rally a Czech army wondering around Russia and the anti Reds to fight against Germany via the back door. The Allies first had to fight the Bolsheviks, who as a consequence to the Allies supplying Russia against Germany were fighting with the same US made guns that the other side had.

    It’s anyones guess if sending more troops earlier to Russia wouild have prevented the revolution. I also wonder if the Russian revolution would have been prevented if it wasn’t funded from America.

    Why are people always so hard on the British. What about American tactics? There are people who think of Belleau Woods as some kind of great victory. It was a battle that did not need to be fought with 8500 US troops who made many unsuccessful attempts to remove about 1200 Germans from their place in the woods. Casualties were high, planning was piss poor and attacks were launched without any artillery shelling of the woods, something that was done later with the proper results. (something the other Allies always did) After the battle for the wood was over they discovered the many dead US troops in front of all the German machinegun nests. Other Allied armies by that time and earlier were practicing their troops to attack machinegun nests where some would lay down a covering fire while others would move around and attack the machineguns on the flanks. It wasn’t until much later after Belleau Wood that Pershing finally issued the order for US troops to stop rushing machinegun nests.
    Later the Meuse Argonne offensive nearly ended in disaster because of US tactics and a major screwup.
    WW1 was a war where modern tactics had to be learned the hard way. By 1918 the Allies had already learnt many lessons. Unfortunately the inexperienced Americans who came in at the end of the war had much to learn and a lot of catching up to do.

    No one doubts that the British were lacking in tactics which resulted in a high death rate it’s just that the Americans were no different.
  20. Fistface Registered Member

    Even Canada probably did more?

    At the end of the war there was a victory parade in France. The US paraded their troops through the streets behind a big sign that some of them had made up that read “WE WON THE WAR” The US troops were followed by the Troops from Canada who made up their own little sign which read “WE HELPED” The humour and irony of that statement has been lost through the generations of the past but at that time the people who were there knew the score.

    I sometimes think that if doughboys had the reputation of Canadian troops in WWI and the role that they had in the last 100 days of the war then we all would be hearing a lot more of the “America won the war crap.”

    The Canadians had such a reputation in WW1 that it made a lasting impression.

    Winston Curchill once said “Give me an army with British officers, Canadian soldiers and American equipment.”

    Although the Canadians in WW2 had big boots to fill from WW1 and they did live up to that reputation its pretty safe to say that Churchill made the statement with the history of WW1 in mind.

    During WWII Goebbels made a radio broadcast saying that if the Allies really wanted to capture Berlin, they would give each Canadian a motorcycle and a bottle of whiskey, and declare Berlin to be off limits to Canadian troops, and they would be there in 48 hours.

    That’s not because they were undisciplined and drunks but because Canadians were known everywhere to consist of shock troops second to none on the western front and were frequently used as the spearhead with which to pierce particularly tough parts of the enemy defenses. The enemy said that the Canadians fought like devils as well as being their toughest opponents in the war and when a Canadian attack was sounded they would say their goodbyes to each other.

    The victories at Ypres, Passchendaele, the Somme and Vimy Ridge gave Canadian soldiers an early reputation as a formidable fighting force that was able to overcome the most difficult obstacles. Canadian troops and their officers gained not only experience, but pride in their fighting ability, and glory from the recognition by other countries that they were the best storm troops for leading attacks.

    At Ypres they were battered by shrapnel and machine-gun fire, hampered by rifles which often jammed solid, and violently ill from gas and gasping for air through mud-soaked handkerchiefs or for those who had the good fortune of hearing some advice from a Canadian officer who just happened to be a chemist in his previous life, pissed on their handkerchiefs to neutralize the effects of the gas. Their lines were destroyed but they held on until reinforcements arrived.

    The Somme had cost Canada 24,029 casualties, but it was here that the Canadians confirmed their reputation as hard-hitting shock troops. "The Canadians", wrote Lloyd George, "played a part of such distinction that thenceforward they were marked out as storm troops; for the remainder of the way they were brought along to head the assault in one great battle after another. Whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line they prepared for the worst."

    Many historians and writers consider the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge a defining moment for Canada, when the country emerged from under the shadow of Britain and felt capable of greatness. Canadian troops confirmed their reputation as formidable, effective troops because of the stunning success that was made possible from rehearsing the attack before the battle and the innovative tactics that they used, many of which were developed by the two greatest Generals of World war I. An Australian, General Monash and a Canadian, General Curry.
    British military historian Sir Basil Liddell Hart would later call the Canadians "matchless attacking troops" he also said “Regarding them as storm troops the enemy tended to greet their appearance as an omen of a coming attack."

    The beginning of the last Allied offensive August 8-11 1918 was the battle of Amiens. For Amiens it was more important to conceal from the enemy the intentions of the Canadian Corps than any other formation. The Germans were used to anticipating where the attack would be launched based upon where the Canadians were located.

    The Germans were deceived into thinking that the Canadians, who had shown themselves, had moved to one part of the line further North of Arras. The Allies dragged heavy chains around to simulate the sound and dust created by a large tank concentration. Fake wireless traffic was also used as they knew the Germans were able to listen in. While the Germans were preparing for an attack the Canadians were secretly moved farther south to Amiens.

    Amiens was the fist battle to use the power of combined-arms warfare with infantry and artillery, machine-guns, tanks, aircraft and armoured cars. British historians have said that the innovative Canadian tactics for rapid attack and this use of combined arms influenced the Blitzkrieg tactics that Germany used in WW2.
    The Canadians spearheaded this attack with the Australians, who were also known as shock troops, on their left flank. On the Canadian right was the French army and on the Australian left was the British.
    The Allied forces won a major victory. The 4 Canadian divisions defeated parts of 15 German divisions, routing 4, at a cost of some 9000 casualties. Sir Julian Byng, a British general, said that the Canadian performance at Amiens was “the finest operation of the war.”

    In the first day at Amiens the Canadians gained 13 kilometres, the Australians 11, the French 8 and the British 3. I should say here that the Americans also had a part in the beginning of this last great offensive. Unfortunately some US battalions who were attached to Australian divisions to gain experience were taken out of the line by Pershing who thought that they were not yet ready to be committed to a battle. Another US unit attached to a British reserve division did see action. But as so many times later in WW2 and so happens to this day with the US military it was a friendly fire action. A handful of Australians assisted by some British took a hill and had already captured German prisoners and were leading them down when the doughboys opened up on them. The prisoners fled and the Aussies hit the dirt. Some things never change.

    The Germans lost 27,000 men and 400 guns as well as hundreds of mortars and machine-guns on that first day. The Canadian’s penetration of the enemy line was unequalled: no other engagement on the Western Front up to that time had achieved this kind of success as the result of a single day’s fighting.
    The German General Ludendorff, said that August 8, 1918 was “the blackest day of the German Army in the history of the war.”

    This Allied success initiated the "hundred days" which threw the Germans back all along the Western Front, The Canadians had more casualties then any other British or Commonwealth army but their morale was high and they continued to fight as the Allies spearhead almost continuously all the way to the end of the war. Taking up the attack again on August 23 and onto the Queant-Drocourt line on September 3 and 4 which was considered the most difficult of the Hindenburg defensive lines by both Allies and enemy alike. They continued to push the enemy farther back through many battles with the Allied armies until from October 26th to November 2d the Canadians had the signal honor of capturing Valenciennes being the first troops to break through the fourth and last Hindenburg line.

    On the last day of fighting the Canadians were in the city of Mons on November 11 1918, the city where the British started their war in 1914.

  21. Roman Banned Banned

    Old thread, but this caught my attention:
    From what I understood in history class, America played a relatively small part in WWI. We only entered in the last year of the war, and only serious numbers of American troops arriving in the last 6 months.
  22. houseofknowledge house of knowledge Registered Senior Member

    who agrees that the war was caused by Germany as the treaty of versaille demanded that Germans take the blame for ww1 when that is entirely false. It was the arms race between England and Germany. Not only was this happening but Austria-Hungary owned almost all of eastern europe. This upsetted the serbians and all that was needed was a spark to ignite the war. The spark that I Believe started the war is the assasination of Archduke Franz Fernidand. In which Gavrillo Princip executed. Doesn't anyone agree with me?
  23. glenn239 Registered Senior Member

    The dreadnought race was petering out several years before the war. The British had come through the most dangerous 'window' of vulnerability, and were increasingly confident of permanent superiority based on both numbers and the formidable quality of their pending Q and R class 15" bruisers.

    The Serbs seemed to have a problem with quite a few nations and ethnic groups before the war. Croats, Albanians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Italians. It wasn't so much that the Serbs were "upset" by Austria-Hungary, for they had ambitions along multiple avenues of advance. Rather, it was the fact that the Entente powers were willing to back Serbian ambitions towards Austria-Hungary, while giving the cold shoulder to Serbia when she advanced in other directions - vs Albania.

    As for Princip's actions creating the "spark": The Serbian army murdering the no. 2 man in the Austrian Empire on any day between 1890 and 1914 would have caused a war between Serbia and Austria, more or less instantly. So yes, this was the origin of the conflict.

    American finance was crucial to Entente morale and staying power. In the latter half of 1918, more than 2 million Doughboys were in France. The effect this had on the German army was to gravely undermine its will to fight, since it was perceived that the war was lost.

    Yes, we rock.

    Proper Entente strategy, generally speaking, was to increase the fighting frontage of the German and Austrian armies, such that Central Powers resources were spread more thinly, thus facilitating Entente offensives and hindering the massing of reserves for C.P. counterattacks (which tended to be more effective affairs).

    This leads to the problem of access - fighting front was difficult to increase because of communications in north and southwest Europe (the prime candidates for an expansion of the front). I see two potential solutions to the problem: in the Baltic, and in the Black Sea.

    Black Sea: Entente strategy was greatly hindered by the fact that it was an offensive alliance. Russian ambitions in violation of Turkish sovereignty precluded any possibility of the most effective solution to the dilemma posed by the original poster. Should the Entente have successfully wooed the Ottoman Empire onside as a friendly belligerent, then the position of the Central Powers would have been gravely weakened. In all probability, the ability of French and British forces to deploy directly into the Ukraine and Rumania by way of the Straights, in conjunction with the fielding of Turkey's not-inconsiderable army, would have swung both Rumania and Bulgaria into the Entente camp. This in turn would have prevented the 1915 collapse of the Entente position in the east when Serbia was overrun and Russia fell back to the east.

    Baltic Sea: A poor second choice to the Ottoman Empire. As noted by another poster, the Royal Navy fondled its Baltic scheme with the insatiable regularity of a porn-crazed teenager. The problems were twofold: First, German rail communications and the improbability of capturing really good ports on the Pomeranian coast meant that any landing in Prussia would probably be "Galipolied" in its infancy. Second, it was possible that the Germans would "slam the door" behind the British by invading Denmark and blocking the Belts. Should the Royal Navy be committed in strength in the Baltic at that moment, the result would have been an unmitigated disaster.

    If the Entente had invaded Denmark, it might have been beneficial to their cause. The Danish had mobilized something around 50,000 men, concentrated mainly around Copenhagen. The rest of the country was fairly open to invasion. The Germans would have had to send reinforcements to cover the narrow neck of the Danish-German border (presumably Entente forces would try to push for the Kiel Canal by way of Denmark), and HSF forces to contest the Belts. But with the capture of at least one nautical passage into the Baltic by the Entente, it should have been possible for the RN to isolate Copenhagen and force a Danish surrender.

    Simply by possessing Denmark, the Entente would force Germany to permanently disperse considerable forces along her long Baltic coastline to guard against an invasion. From Copenhagen, the Allies could achieve the second of the original poster's visions and increase the effectiveness of the blockade; this by interdicting Swedish and Norwegian communications with Germany. Finally, an option would exist for the French and the British to land expeditionary forces in the Baltic. Not necessarily in Pomeriania (too dangerous, best to leave this threat unblown), but in Russia proper. 10 or 20 Entente divisions on the Eastern front would provide the Russians much needed elite shock troops to spearhead their offensives. Not to mention a division or two of sturdy BEF boys in St. Petersburg maybe causing a slightly different course in 1917...

    Central Powers strategy to reduce casualties was probably more realistic, more attainable than for the Entente; the CP had to keep other countries from joining the war against them. The list of potential "converts" from the Entente camp included Russia, Japan, Italy, United States:

    Russia: Bethmann-Hollweg wakes up and smells the coffee. Germany begins to back Russian ambitions against the Ottoman Empire, tacitly encouraging the Russians to take the lead in the game to partition the old girl. If the opportunity subsequently presented itself, Germany should gladly have fought anyone that Russia was willing to fight on the road to Constantinople.

    Japan: The happiest thing the Germans could possibly have seen in the Pacific Ocean was a Japanese flag flying over Rabaul, a Russian flag at Tsingtao, and an American flag at Truk. Some combination of change, at any rate. The empire (undefendable) should have been raffled for the purpose of causing untold mischief, and oooohhhh what mischief there was for the offering....

    Italy: It was important to keep Italy neutral and friendly as a method to break the blockade, and to reduce pressure on Austria. This could have been accomplished by dropping the obsession with the Western Front and making certain that Serbia was done like a TV dinner by the end of 1914. When the Schlieffen Plan failed, the GGS should have reverted to the defensive in the west and sent the reserves expended in the October offensives to the Balkans to knock Serbia out of the war. Bulgaria then comes in earlier, and Italy is probably deterred into remaining neutral in 1915. When Russia collapses in 1915, Italy stays neutral, perhaps into 1917 or beyond.

    United States: Pretty obvious, I should think.

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