/ Gallipoli

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Trangia - on 23 Apr 2013
Watched this film again for the umpteenth time last night. It really is a sad film about the utter futility of war. It is almost unimaginable to put yourself in the shoes of those poor guys in the third wave who, having seen the two previous waves totally wiped out, have to endure the tension, fear and gut wrenching feeling of hopelessness whilst waiting to go over the top into oblivian. It's just like an execution, months and months, of training and build up, all to be wasted in just a few seconds of hopeless action.
Gordonbp - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia: While in no way deprecating what they went through (I'm ex-Army myself) unfortunately the commanders didn't know any better.
I saw a very interesting exercise a while ago where they tried to determine why there were so many casualties on the first day of the Somme.
They got a platoon of infantry, dressed them up in WW1 kit and used a Vickers machine gun fitted with laser kit.
They discovered that if the infantry walked, as they did on the day, 85% casualties.
If they ran (obviously not carrying the huge amount of kit) it went down to something like 45% casualties.
If they ran and zig-zagged, like we do now, the figure went down to about 15%.
Food for thought...
Minneconjou Sioux - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Gordonbp:
> (In reply to Trangia) While in no way deprecating what they went through (I'm ex-Army myself) unfortunately the commanders didn't know any better.
> I saw a very interesting exercise a while ago where they tried to determine why there were so many casualties on the first day of the Somme.
> They got a platoon of infantry, dressed them up in WW1 kit and used a Vickers machine gun fitted with laser kit.
> They discovered that if the infantry walked, as they did on the day, 85% casualties.
> If they ran (obviously not carrying the huge amount of kit) it went down to something like 45% casualties.
> If they ran and zig-zagged, like we do now, the figure went down to about 15%.
> Food for thought...

I reckon my 7 year old could have told them that.
Trangia - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Gordonbp:
> (In reply to Trangia)
> They got a platoon of infantry, dressed them up in WW1 kit and used a Vickers machine gun fitted with laser kit.
> They discovered that if the infantry walked, as they did on the day, 85% casualties.
>

They walked because "the German trenches had been totally destroyed" by 7 days of the most concentrated artillery bombardment the world had ever seen; the German wire was "well cut"; they were expecting not only to take, but to occupy the German first and second lines with ease, so they went over fully laden with supplies and ammunition weighing approximately 80lbs each, sufficient to hold the captured trenches against counter attack; the majority of the British troops were inexperienced civilians in uniform, so walking kept their formation and line disciplined and straight and they would be able to adhere to a strict pre-determined time table; they walked because if they had run, they would have outstripped lifts in the creeping artillery barrage and become casualties of their own guns.

All very neatly and painstakingly worked out by General Rawlinson's Staff, who believed the fact that the Germans might actually have survived the artillery barrage and their wire remained uncut was a totally unthinkable concept.....

The other major flaw in vitually every Great War battle was the lack of technology for instant and accurate communications. Once the attack commenced communication with HQ was lost, and the Commanders were blind to what was actually happening as is well illustrated in the film "Gallipoli". The attack on the "Neck" was a diversion to take the heat off the Sulva Bay landings which in the event were unapposed. News of this success reached Anzac HQ prior to the attack on the Neck going in, but because of poor communications HQ was unable to call off the Neck attack before it was launched.

In this day of instant radio communications it's difficult to aoppreciate just how "blind" the British commanders were, and that why very detailed attack timings, including walking, were worked out. Because of the inexperience of the front line officers and NCOs they were discouraged from taking the initiative and capitalising on success, or calling off repeated attacks in the face of complete faillure.
lfenbo - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia: the thing I remember most about the first world war was the quote "Lions led by donkeys" these days the cannon fodder or poor bloody infantry are better educated and wouldn't stand for such idiocy from there commanders. ;-)
lfenbo - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to lfenbo:
> (In reply to Trangia) the thing I remember most about the first world war was the quote "Lions led by donkeys" these days the cannon fodder or poor bloody infantry are better educated and wouldn't stand for such idiocy from there commanders. ;-)


I should add that I wasn't actually there but speak from reading books documentaries etc.

wbo - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia: Another basic issue with the 1st world war is that they'd managed to make very effective guns, but were not very good at transport so the war was very static (more time to add even more guns per km of front) and anything that was going forward needed to be man carried.

It would be all well and good zig zagging, but you'd need to be pretty quickly zig zagging back as well as you'd need to go back for food, ammo et al.

Not easy at all. Tactics improved a lot over the course of the war (for the British), but logistics were a continual problem and limit
Pero - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia: No one in Europe should have been under any illusions about the potential casualties of modern warfare in 1914 if they had studied the American Civil War, where some battles resulted in tens of thousands of casualties. And that was 50 years earlier.

It was also an indicator of what was likely to happen with two equally matched forces. The Union eventually defeated the Confederacy because they had a greater supply of men: fresh soldiers available to replace those that had been killed or injured. Otherwise, it would have been almost endless trench warfare. It lasted nearly four years as it was.
drunken monkey - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia: You'd have thought that the commanders would have learnt from this instead of sending tens of thousands of men to certain death, through total lack of tactics. The war lasted 4 years, yet they continued to send guys "over the top" into the face of machine guns. Absolute slaughter. Should the men dare take cover or stop, their own officers shot them.
jasonC abroad - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to drunken monkey:

Most of your statement is totally untrue, by the end of the war the British Army (and allies) were a very effective and tactically sound army, far removed from the army that fought on the Somme. There are very few incidents of officers shooting their own men and if they did it would not be for stopping or taking cover.

The army learn't a lot from the lessons of 1916, creeping barrages, more specialised units etc, its worth remembering that the BEF was probably the best army in the field by the end of the war, and it was the only army on the western front that did not suffer from a collapse in morale, continuing to fight through out the whole war, something the French and Germans did not manage.
elsewhere on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to drunken monkey:
The did learn and tactics did improve (eg short bombardments to maintain some surprise & tanks) but there was no lesson that could be learnt that changed the fundamentals of men on foot against men in trenches, mud, barbed wire, machine guns & artillery with no mechanised transport between the rail depot and the front line.

Postmanpat on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to jasonC abroad:
> (In reply to drunken monkey)
>
>
> The army learn't a lot from the lessons of 1916, creeping barrages, more specialised units etc, its worth remembering that the BEF was probably the best army in the field by the end of the war, and it was the only army on the western front that did not suffer from a collapse in morale, continuing to fight through out the whole war, something the French and Germans did not manage.
>
Whilst agreeing with your general point about improvements in the British army surely the fifth army effectively collapsed in the spring of 1918 (albeit for understandable reasons-post Passchendaele, undermanned etc etc) ?

Trangia - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to jasonC abroad:
> (In reply to drunken monkey)
>
> Most of your statement is totally untrue, by the end of the war the British Army (and allies) were a very effective and tactically sound army, far removed from the army that fought on the Somme. There are very few incidents of officers shooting their own men and if they did it would not be for stopping or taking cover.
>
> The army learn't a lot from the lessons of 1916, creeping barrages, more specialised units etc, its worth remembering that the BEF was probably the best army in the field by the end of the war, and it was the only army on the western front that did not suffer from a collapse in morale, continuing to fight through out the whole war, something the French and Germans did not manage.

I fully agree with you. There is too much myth surrounding the Great War, one of which is the "Lions led by Donkeys" story started by Alan Clark in 1961 who was subsequently debunked by more knowledgable historians and who eventually admitted to having made it up. The Generals were on the whole good for their times, and most certainly learned from their mistakes. It's easy for critics to sit in their armchairs with the benefit of hindsight, but this was a war of attritian between huge armies of equal ability.Given the power of artillery and machine guns the results were tragically unavoidable until the invention of tanks, specialised aircraft and All Arms Tactics - an entirely new concept for the times.
andymac - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

Interesting stuff.
Military History fascinates me.

Churchill paid a high price for the Gallipoli landings.
Read a book recently on the Grenadier Guards.
After The Gallipoli fiasco ,our Winston went off to the trenches to 'do his bit'
lfenbo - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia: your not related to general Haig or some other high ranking person are you?? cant think of any other reason to defend people that sent thousands of people to there deaths whilst slumming it in some chateau in the rear. think Blackadder just about got the utter shambles of it quite well. as for the quote about lions led by donkeys, well I don't care who first wrote it because for me its very true.
coinneach - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:


Eric Bogle just about summed it up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG48Ftsr3OI
Trangia - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:
> (In reply to jasonC abroad)
> [...]
> Whilst agreeing with your general point about improvements in the British army surely the fifth army effectively collapsed in the spring of 1918 (albeit for understandable reasons-post Passchendaele, undermanned etc etc) ?

They collapsed under the initial onslaught but eventually the Australian Division stopped the German advance and counter attacked at Villers - Bretonneux. Gough had been ordered to relinquish is command and "rest". The 5th Army was reformed into the 4th Army under the command of Rawlinson. A three month rest in the fighting followed. Then spearheaded by the Australian Corps and Canadian Corps the 4th Army launched the fional push which over the next 100 days forced the Germans right back. The final 100 days were open warfare and a blue print for combined operations which were coppied by the Germans during the Blitzkrieg of the second World War.

The British Army in those final months of 1918 was a Conscript Army and achieved the great break through (but not the break out) dreamed of during those previous years of static trench warfare.
Trangia - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to lfenbo:
> (In reply to Trangia) your not related to general Haig or some other high ranking person are you??

No just interested in the truth rather than dragging up revisionist myth.
lfenbo - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia: so 15 million dead people is a myth??
Trangia - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to lfenbo:

Where did I say that?
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knthrak1982 on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to lfenbo:
> (In reply to Trangia) so 15 million dead people is a myth??

No, but it's a little bit unfair to attribute it all to the indifference of the generals in their châteaux without considering the lack of decent communications technology, lack of defence against machine guns and Artillery, etc.
jasonC abroad - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to lfenbo:

Maybe you should read some of the more modern interpretation of the war. Haig has suffered a great deal of abuse - starting with Lloyd George, but his (state) funeral was attended by more people than attended Diana's which hardly suggests he was held in contempt by his soldiers, he fact it was the opposite. Blackadder got hardly anything right about the war, its a bleeding comedy, if your going to base your view on that do you think all Catholic priests are like Father Ted?
Bobling - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

The thing that really gets me about WW1 isn't the tactics (lfenbo with the greatest of respect you're talking out of your arse), but that we stood toe to toe with our brother nations for four years pounding seven shades of sh*t out of each other in more or less exactly the same places and no one seemed to be able to say "Hang on a minute this is crazy, what on earth are we doing?". Terrifying.
Trangia - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Bobling:
> (In reply to Trangia)
>
> The thing that really gets me about WW1 isn't the tactics (lfenbo with the greatest of respect you're talking out of your arse), but that we stood toe to toe with our brother nations for four years pounding seven shades of sh*t out of each other in more or less exactly the same places and no one seemed to be able to say "Hang on a minute this is crazy, what on earth are we doing?". Terrifying.

Agreed. Both sides desperately searching for that elusive break through. It took 4 years for the Entente, in particular the British under Haig's leadership, to find the winning formula. But they did, only to throw it all away when 1939 came round, but not the Germans who owe all their early successes in WW2 to lessons learned from Haig's victory over them in 1918.

Bruce Hooker - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to jasonC abroad:

> continuing to fight through out the whole war, something the French and Germans did not manage.

There could be another reason for that!
Bobling - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

I didn't mean so much a strategic breakthrough, rather the insanity of creating a giant mincing machine and feeding your youth into it for four years was completely bonkers and I'm amazed that we all kept it up for so long. It did occur to me last night that the Socialists were trying to point out the madness of it while it was going on, but didn't manage to carry their point.
Postmanpat on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
> [...]
>
> They collapsed under the initial onslaught but eventually the Australian Division stopped the German advance and counter attacked at Villers - Bretonneux. Gough had been ordered to relinquish is command and "rest". The 5th Army was reformed into the 4th Army under the command of Rawlinson. A three month rest in the fighting followed. Then spearheaded by the Australian Corps and Canadian Corps the 4th Army
>
But isn't that the point: the old British 5th army collapsed and the recovery was dependent on Commonwealth troops?
Trangia - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:

The Australians and Canadians certainly provided the best troops for offensive action at that stage of the war, however that is not to say that UK troops were not in the thick of the fighting and in terms of numbers employed they provided the bulk and suffered the greatest number of British casualties.

There were also French, American and Belgium Armies involved in the final offensive. In terms of German prisoners and guns captured during the final advance between 18 July and 11 Nov 1918

British (including Dominion ) 188,700 prisoners 2,840 guns
French 139,000 prisoners 1,880 guns
American 43,300 prisoners 1,421 guns
Belgians 14,500 prisoners, 474 guns*

* source Armistice 1918 CN Barclay 1968

You were right in your earlier post, the near collapse of Gough's 5th Army was a direct result of Lloyd George having starved him of men. All of his Divisions were significantly under strength and the length of line he had been expected to hold was dangerously weak as events showed. After the shock of the initial German attack it is commendable that the 5th Army recovered to the extent that it did eventually halting the German offensive, although admittedly the Germas too were exhausted.

If you are interested in examining the campaigns of 1918 I recommend Gary Sheffield's "Forgotten Victory" 2001 which explores the myths and realities of the Great War. Other informative reads are Lyn MacDonalds "To the Last Man" 1998; John Terraine's Essays to the Western Front Association on "Leadership and War", and Duff Cooper's "Haig". as mentioned in a previous post Alan Cooper subsequently admitted having fabricated the myth of "lions led by donkeys" in his 1961 book "The Donkeys" and much of what he wrote was subsequently debunked by leading historians. That book and the film "Oh What a Lovely War" which had very little historical accuracy, along with the "Blackadder" series have done untold damage to the truth and the facts surounding the reputations of the Great War Generals. Another book, heavily criticised by John Terraine for historical inaccuracies was Denis Winter's "Haigs Command".

It's unsubstatiated posts like Ifenbo's which continue to churn out the hackneyed revisionist garbage which continue to damage the Great War General's reputations at the expense of the truth

Trangia - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bobling:
> (In reply to Trangia)
>
> I didn't mean so much a strategic breakthrough, rather the insanity of creating a giant mincing machine and feeding your youth into it for four years was completely bonkers and I'm amazed that we all kept it up for so long. It did occur to me last night that the Socialists were trying to point out the madness of it while it was going on, but didn't manage to carry their point.

Well war is bonkers!

In very simple the problem was that the German army was occupying part of northern France and Belgium and was not going to go home. The French and Belgians were understandably pissed off with this, and were trying to push them out. Britain was allied to both countries so we were helping them. Unfortunately the German army was too big and powerful to be simply pushed out so millions of men died on both sides.

I agree it all seems utterly crazy, but given that the Germans were not prepared to relinquish captured land as part of any armistice deal and the French and Belgians wanted their land back as part of any deal, what other solution was there?

The politiicians couldn't agree and tasked their armies with sorting it out. That's where the Generals came in.

I repeat utterly crazy, but hardly the Generals' fault
zebidee - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

I was watching the first episode of Oliver Stone's "Untold History of the United States" yesterday while off on sick leave - the first episode was about World War II.

One of the things which it kicked off with was losses ... I always thought that World War I had the worst losses but was badly mistaken.

World War I: 16,000,000 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_casualties
World War II: 60,000,000 to 80,000,000 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties

I mean I _knew_ that the USSR took the most losses during the war but I didn't ever realise the scale of it - 24,000,000 alone compared with a 450,000 for the UK.

That was one of the things which the documentary got right ... it said something like "people think that the US won the war but it was actually the Soviet people who did."
Rob Naylor - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to zebidee:

Interesting to see the military v civilian death comparisons, too:

of the UK deaths, around 87% were military, 13% civilian. Of the Soviet deaths, around 35% were military, 65% civilian.
Tricky Dicky - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to zebidee: Just reading Max Hastings history of WW II, one 'number fact that stands out is that the Soviets shot more of their own troops than the Germans shot British troops.
Bobling - on 24 Apr 2013
Yes, and all that is understood, it just boggles my mind that variously blowing each other up, clubbing each other to death or sticking bayonets and trench knives in each other seemed the only way to sort the problem out, and that this happened only a generation or two ago between nations that, with the exception of language, were for all intents and purposes identical. I think it is the absence of any great cultural schism (cf. WWII) and the static nature of the front that underlines this for me.

With regard to the Generals, I agree to portray them as a bunch of General Melchitts sweeping toy troops into a dustpan and then sliding down a helter-skelter on Brighton pier is grossly unjust but there was a huge divide between the PBI and the Staff. I recently reread J.C.Dunn's "The War The Infantry Knew", he served with the same battalion as MO for the entire war and the Divisional Staff are more often than not derided for their lack of understanding of the conditions and tactics at the front. It's a very interesting read if you like that sort of thing.


jasonC abroad - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to jasonC abroad)
>
> [...]
>
> There could be another reason for that!

Which is?
Hat Dude on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bobling:

> Divisional Staff are more often than not derided for their lack of understanding of the conditions and tactics at the front. It's a very interesting read if you like that sort of thing.

This is reinforced by the famous comment of the staff officer who visited Passchendaele

"Good God, did we really send men to fight in that?"
Alan Taylor - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to zebidee: The Americans won that war but it took millions of Soviet dead so that they could.
Trangia - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bobling:
> >
> I recently reread J.C.Dunn's "The War The Infantry Knew",

Great book, one of the best personal accounts of the War written by a Regular rather than by civilians in uniform like Sassoon, Graves etc who also served with the RWF.

Another good read in a similar vein is "General Jack's Diary"
knthrak1982 on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

How easily could WW1 have been prevented?

I must admit a general ignorance on the subject, but my understanding is that it could just as easily not have happened. Some countries had treaties with others. Each side issued an ultimatum to the other but each refused to budge. As Blackadder put it "it was too much effort not to have a war".

If any one of the key players had said "you know what, we'll not bother" then wouldn't everyone have just stood down with little damage caused (accepting civil wars still may have happened eg in Ireland and Serbia)?

Or am I being naive and simplistic?
blurty - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bobling:
> Yes, and all that is understood, it just boggles my mind that variously blowing each other up, clubbing each other to death or sticking bayonets and trench knives in each other seemed the only way to sort the problem out, and that this happened only a generation or two ago between nations that, with the exception of language, were for all intents and purposes identical. I think it is the absence of any great cultural schism (cf. WWII) and the static nature of the front that underlines this for me.


The reason for throwing a war in Europe has often been around finding a solution to an economic recession. You can't beat a good war for kick-starting Western economies; just a shame war is so ultimately dangerous these days, otherwise our glorious MPs would be rattling the cutlasses for sure
Rob Naylor - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

Hoping to publish my grandad's diaries this year...he was a not-very-literate mill worker who'd not gone into the army during the early part of the war due to his age (30s at the war's outbreak) and being classified C4 medically. Miraculously he was reclassified A1 in 1917 and joined up as a private soldier.

The only things that have prevented me publishing them so far is that they're:

(a) quite illiterate....full of spelling and grammar mistakes

(b) actually not very interesting...there's a lot about his training and even when he gets to France it's all quite matter-of-fact: "I was on the Lewis gun today and a German sniper killed Billy Ackroyd" is as livelyu as it gets

(c) it just peters out in early 1918...no explanation or reason,. He just stopped filling it in.

I've toyed with the idea of publishing it with a few facsimile images of certain pages opposite the printed text. Still considering exactly how to do it or whether there'd be much interest in a semi-literate screed from a private soldier who didn't have much to say and could make even an artillery bombardment sound boring! I'm at least getting it typed up now, though, errors and all.
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Pero - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to jasonC abroad:
>
> Haig has suffered a great deal of abuse

Whatever abuse Haig has suffered pales into insignificance compared to the suffering inflicted on ordinary men by the Great War.
Trangia - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to knthrak1982:
> (In reply to Trangia)
>
> How easily could WW1 have been prevented?
>
> I must admit a general ignorance on the subject, but my understanding is that it could just as easily not have happened. Some countries had treaties with others. Each side issued an ultimatum to the other but each refused to budge. As Blackadder put it "it was too much effort not to have a war".
>
> If any one of the key players had said "you know what, we'll not bother" then wouldn't everyone have just stood down with little damage caused (accepting civil wars still may have happened eg in Ireland and Serbia)?
>
> Or am I being naive and simplistic?

Not at all. The problem was though in 1914 most people actually wanted a war! They had absolutely no concept as to what that really entailed, and the popular saying at the time was "It'll all be over by Christmas".


I think they envisaged heroic cavalry in splendid uniforms galloping here and there. Everyone having a really good time, not too many casualties, a bit of boundary sorting out and everybody going home feeling that honour had been satisfied. A bit like a big colonial war.

Germany was late into the Imperialistic colonisation game and wanted a share of the cake, but was scared of the Royal Navy. Germany had been spoiling for a European war for years, but wanted to avoid direct confrontation with Britain, France was keen to avenge 1870/71, the Serbs were itching to have a go at Austria, the Russians had a massive army and wanted to use it, poor little Belgium didn't know what had hit her having naively been relying on her nuetrality being recognised, Britain wanted to protect her Empire and also felt honour bond to guarantee Belgium nuetrality.

Everybody was convinced that their army was the best and would quickly knock out the opposition. In terms of training and experience (policing the Empire) Britain probably had the best army in the world but it was tiny compared to the European armies.

The opening months of the war were shocking to all in terms of casualties and it quickly became apparant that developments in artillery had completely outstriped all other weapons of war, and that human flesh and bones were helpless against it, forcing the armies to dig into trenches were they remained in a virtual stalemate for 3 1/2 years, whilst the commanders strove to find the elusive key to breaking the deadlock.

As I posted earlier it's very difficult for us with all the benefit of hindsight and modern technology to understand why it took so long, but these were not stupid men. They were products of their times trapped by the limited technology of the times. I don't believe anyone could have done any better.

Trangia - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Rob Naylor:

You definitely should try and get it published.

Soldiers were forbidden from keeping diaries whilst on active service, and although quite a few ignored this order, surviving first hand accounts, no matter how boring they may seem, are treasures to be preserved, particularly those written by other ranks. The majority of Great War memoires were written by the Public School educated officer classes, so you have some historically valuable dicuments there.
Rob Naylor - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

I could try and self-publish, but if you, with your in-depth knowledge of books dealing with the period, could suggest some potential publishers who might be sympathetic to an approach, I'd appreciate it.
Trangia - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Rob Naylor:

Try Pen and Sword publishers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pen_and_Sword_Books

Good luck, and if you do get it into print please let me know as I'd be interested in reading them!
pneame on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Rob Naylor:
I'd think that there would be quite a bit of interest - it's the tail end of an era, and if you could put his notes in context they would be poignant even if totally matter-of-fact.

My great-uncle's memoirs (self-published) were similarly matter-of-fact (although he was by no means illiterate - public school ) and I still find diving into them interesting. Part of it is the style of the times - no-one was described by first name and his relations were all described indirectly (my cousin, my brother (he had several brothers).
Duncan Bourne - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Rob Naylor:
If the diaries themselves are not riveting, as you say, then it might be good to "beef it up" with background info. Say on his life before the war and on what was happening in the war at key points in the diary. Not to "novelise" it but to give some context to his words.
Bobling - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Rob Naylor:

My first thought is the Imperial War Museum the possibility of publishing or not publishing to one side I would think that they would be interested in the diary, I assume it would be indexed and cross-referenced and fill in a tiny piece of the larger puzzle of their records.
TeeBee on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bobling:
> (In reply to Rob Naylor)
>
> My first thought is the Imperial War Museum the possibility of publishing or not publishing to one side I would think that they would be interested in the diary, I assume it would be indexed and cross-referenced and fill in a tiny piece of the larger puzzle of their records.

I was going to suggest the same thing, if the self-publishing route didn't pan out. I'm pretty sure they'd welcome the donation of 1st WW diaries.
Postmanpat on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:
> (In reply to knthrak1982)
> [...]
>
>
> As I posted earlier it's very difficult for us with all the benefit of hindsight and modern technology to understand why it took so long, but these were not stupid men. They were products of their times trapped by the limited technology of the times. I don't believe anyone could have done any better.
>
Agreed. In 1914 they were realising this was a new sort of war. In 1915 mass attacks failed so they tried massive artillery bombardments ahead of the attacks. By 1917 they had developed tanks and mining techniques and better artillery tactics. By 1918 it was over.
That's an incredibly simplified version but they were not simply repeating the same thing over and over again.

Rob Naylor - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll follow that up.

and, Duncan....yes I'll try that, I think.

And to the others who suggested the Imperial War Museuem: that thought had occurred but the children are very strong on wanting to keep them in the family. Both my son and older daughter are really into history and both read them with interest. In fact, there's been a few arguments about who should have them when we pop our clogs!
Dom Whillans on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

An Ozzy mate reminded me last night that today is ANZAC day, and thinking about my great uncle who died as ANZAC during WWII, i started looking around the web about Gallipoli. I'd never considered Ataturk before so I googled him a bit and was considerably impressed by what I saw; this quote in particular...

"Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

I've never seen anything like this from a wartime leader and coupled with the fact I had Eric Bogle playing, I was a little moist-eyed.
Trangia - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Dom Whillans:

Yes ANZAC Day.

I agree that is a most evocative quote and all the more so as it came from an enemy.

Although the fighting at Gallipoli was bitter and ferocious, there was deep respect by the opposing troops for each other.

No mans land was littered with decomposing bodies and flies. By mid May the stench and risk to health became so bad that on 24th May 1915 a 9 hour truce was agreed so that both sides could bury their dead. Turkish and British soldiers worked shoulder to shoulder digging large communal graves in No man's Land, sharing from water bottles, and exchanged cigarettes and cap badges. There are reports of British soldiers comforting Turks who had broken down on finding body of a mate, and vice versa. At the end of the truce British and Turks shook hands and wished each other good luck, then walked back to their own trenches. Then a single shot rang out and the artillery recommenced firing.

There is a report that shortly after this incident some ANZACS refused to use the gas masks issued to them. When asked why, they replied "The Turks won't use gas. They are clean fighters"

Gas was never used by either side at Gallipoli.

AndrewHuddart - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Rob Naylor:

Rob - You don't have to give it to them, you could, for instance, lend it to them for a couple of months: what have you got to lose?

You could loan it on the proviso that they neither make any commercial use of it or copies, themselves, allow access to it or copies by others for commercial gain and nor do they make any copies freely available (e.g. online).

That way, a potentially valuable historic document can be viewed and added to the research material out there (of which there is relatively little from other ranks as has been pointed out) and you lost nothing.
Trangia - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Rob Naylor:

Looking through my collection of books I see that there are a number published by the Imperial War Museum in conjunction with Tempus Publishing, so that might be worth following up. Tom Donovan in Brighton is a specialist military book dealer from whom I have bought numerous books on the Great War. He used to be a publisher, and may be worth contacting for advice. http://www.turnerdonovan.com/
John Rushby - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to lfenbo:
> (In reply to Trangia) the thing I remember most about the first world war was the quote "Lions led by donkeys" these days the cannon fodder or poor bloody infantry are better educated and wouldn't stand for such idiocy from there commanders. ;-)

The quote "Lions led by donkeys" is a fabrication. It is attributed to alan clark who in turn based it on an unverified and as he later admitted, made up conversation between Luddendorf and one of his staff.

IMHO, it has prejudiced and clouded our view of WW1 for far too long and thankfully, reserchers, academic and military strategists have moved on from it and are lookng at the war with a far more objective and critcally balanced eye.
John Rushby - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to jasonC abroad:

+1

Gordon Corrigan and Gary Sheffield are a good start for a more nuanced and objective appraisal of WW1.

Haig did make mistakes, but he was turned over by Lloyd George

Blackadder is about as historcally accurate as Mort D'arthur
Gudrun - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

Two of my grandad's brothers were killed at Gallipoli,i still have an ancient faded photo of them in their army uniforms,Glengarry's and kilts on.Was Churchill's not blamed ?
Pero - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to John Rushby:
> (In reply to jasonC abroad)

> Gordon Corrigan and Gary Sheffield are a good start for a more nuanced and objective appraisal of WW1.
>
You could argue that it is monstrous to take a "nuanced" view of several millions of men killed in action. You only have to read contemporary accounts like Testament of Youth to realise that the full horror was known and felt by many at the time.

Even the Telegraph has little time for Gordon Corrigan:

"Mud, Blood and Poppycock, as its provocative and absurd title suggests, is undermined by its own hype."
Sean Kelly - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:
> (In reply to Rob Naylor)
>
> You definitely should try and get it published.
>
> Soldiers were forbidden from keeping diaries whilst on active service, and although quite a few ignored this order, surviving first hand accounts, no matter how boring they may seem, are treasures to be preserved, particularly those written by other ranks. The majority of Great War memoires were written by the Public School educated officer classes, so you have some historically valuable dicuments there.

My sentiments. The IWM are after first hand records like this!
ads.ukclimbing.com
Dave Perry - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

My grandfather was a reservist sub lt. on, I think, HMS Moth which was told to go through the Dardanelles along with a couple of other tiny vessels, to see what the opposition was like. The ship was quickly sunk. He survived. I still have the binoculars he wore around his neck when he jumped, complete with shrapnel damage.
Trangia - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Gudrun:

You are right, Churchill was blamed. The Anglo-French Dardenelles expedition had the potential for knocking Turkey out of the war. But it depended on the Royal Navy and the French Navy being able to force their way up to Constantinople through the Dardenelles.

This plan was flawed in that in that naval fleets are designed to fight in open sea where they have freedom of movement, not narrow straits which have been mined and which are dominated on both sides by the heavy guns of shore batteries.

The plan was to land troops on the Gallipoli pennisular and on the mainland coast to take out these batteries, and secure the flank.

In the event the Gallipoli landings were a disaster. The Turkish Army had a poor reputation at the time and they had generally performed poorly in other theatres of the War, but their determination and ability to resist what was in effect an invasion of their homeland was gravely underestimated. They fought fanatically, and suffered twice as many casualties as the Entente troops.

There was never any intention to conduct a slogging land campaign all the way to Constantinople and once the Dardenelles naval push had failed, and the Gallipoli fighting bogged down, the British and French should have called a halt immediately and pulled out, but as is so often the case in Wars, the politicians and leaders lost sight of the original objective.

When the evacuation eventually took place, there was the potential for a blood bath, but it was the one great success of the campaign, and took place in secrecy under the noses of the Turkish guns with minimal casualties

After the fiasco Churchill resigned and went to fight on the Western Front as a Battalion Commander at Messines.

Have you been to visit your grand dad's brothers' graves?

That great quote of consilliation made by Ataturk (see post by Dom Whillans 08.03 Thurs) is inscribed on one of the War Memorials above Anzac Beach.

John Rushby - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Pero:

I'm aware that Corrigan has his detractors (though others like the Scotsman and various WW1 groups and commentators think the opposite), but as others elsewhere have said, it is a book which has it's merits and is good to kick start the debate and as an opener to further exploration of the subject.


Nobody is denying it was hellish and that millions died, what I am saying is that the accepted view has been accepted in it's entirety and the truth lost in hypebole for too long.

Paul Atkinson - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to John Rushby: Corrigan's book certainly raises some interesting ideas and perspectives which were new to me (though overall the book is greatly inferior to Sheffield's IMHO). Sadly though, I find Corrigan fatally flawed by his various prejudices and obsessions most notably his rabid blind hatred of Churchill and all his words and deeds which renders his second would war history almost unreadable despite its aforementioned merits. He seriously needs a more aggressive editor to protect his credibility as he does have important things to say which are badly undermined in his existing works. A shame all told, I do like his curmudgeonly sense of humour

P
John Rushby - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Paul Atkinson:

I agree -it's nowhere near as meticulous or compelling in it's argument as Gary Sheffiled's work, but you're right, he raises some interesting ideas.

I have not read second world war stuff - I'd be interested to read it bearing in mind what you said about Churchill.

Trangia - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Paul Atkinson:
> (In reply to John Rushby) Corrigan's book certainly raises some interesting ideas and perspectives which were new to me >
>



+1
Trangia - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to John Rushby and Paul Atkinson:

Have either of you read "Into the Silence" by Wade Davis, his study of The Great War, Mallory and the Early Everest Expeditions? His references to the Great War made me cringe in places and seem to have come straight of of Alan Clark's "The Donkeys", Blackadder and "Oh What a Lovely War"!

It cast doubt, in my mind, about the accuracy of his research relating to Mallory and the Everest Expeditions, which is a pity, because overall the book is a good read.
John Rushby - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:

Funny you should mention that - I was a bought a copy as a gift by my other half, and I have yet to return to it, as I was put off for that exact same reason.

I'll stick with it if the rest of the book is a good read and more accurately researched.
Paul Atkinson - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia: I haven't - funnily enough given the context I allowed myself to be put off it by various gushingly positive reviews* that went along the lines of "and I learned all about how in the first world war the British troops were lions led by donkeys and Haig walked them all in to the German machine guns kicking footballs and ignored all the clever young subalterns who wrote poetry and had much better ideas that would have prevented the slaughter etc etc". Various people have told me the climbing bits are really good and I guess I might get round to reading it but how can one take the analysis of climbing issues seriously when the first world war is so comically misread - it's like reading articles on healthcare issues where the author doesn't know the difference between a virus and a bacteria

P

*eg this (I'm "Paulo" btw, unintentionally getting myself in trouble as per)
http://forum.fellrunner.org.uk/showthread.php?18491-A-damned-good-read&p=513706#post513706
Gudrun - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Trangia:
In reply to Gudrun:
> You are right, Churchill was blamed.

My!
To say i know what you are on about Trangia would be an exaggeration as i don't know the first thing about military matters,but your last post was very enlightening indeed and thank you very much for that.I thought i remembered someone saying that Churchill was responsible for this but i wasn't sure.I must look out that old photie but it's like ancient history to me as my Grandad passed away when i was 5,so i don't remember too much about him never mind his brothers,thanks again though.
pneame on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to John Rushby:
> (In reply to jasonC abroad)
>
> +1
>
> Gordon Corrigan and Gary Sheffield are a good start for a more nuanced and objective appraisal of WW1.
>
I have to thank you for the Corrigan reference - just started reading it and it's nice to see a non-Blackadder view. An excellent introduction to the causes of WWI and why the years of trench warfare occurred.

While the human condition seems to be a long, and depressing, history of "let's go and beat up the people on the other side of the river before they beat us up", Corrigan makes it clear that one or two asinine decisions resulted in an inevitable conflict. I'm looking forward to reading this.
Paul Atkinson - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to pneame: If you're interested in the causes of the war another very interesting and controversial take on this is Neil Ferguson's in The Pity Of War. It's well argued and rich in counterfactuals although IMHO ultimately unconvincing. Both Corrigan and Ferguson are self-consciously and provocatively (and book sellingly) out of tune with the mainstream, and the mainstream is the mainstream for a reason

P
andymac - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Paul Atkinson:
Have only previously read Corrigans Blood Sweat and Arrogance-The myths of Churchills War.

Prefer Martin Gilbert.Have a copy of his 'The Battle of The Somme'.
Now and again I will read twenty or so pages .powerful stuff.and tragic.

For some reason ,will always remember the account of the severely wounded Bernard Freyburg VC,whose life was saved by a field surgeon.

Bernard Freyburg VC went on to great things.
Paul Atkinson - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to andymac: funny that you should mention Martin Gilbert - I remember a reviewer of Corrigan's WWII book somewhere pointing out that he didn't reference MG, Churchill's foremost biographer, in relation to Churchill but that he did reference the loathsome and discredited holocaust denier lite David Irving several times. Says it all really about his objectivity.

The author I re-read most on WWI is John Keegan - he wrote authoritatively and with plenty of his own ideas but without appearing to try to be too clever/controversial/ground breaking. He shows compassion and dignified restraint. It would be good to see Anthony Beevor, a superb popular historian, turn his attention to WWI and sum up the situation post recent revision without any major axe to grind

P
andymac - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Paul Atkinson:

Beevor ,and Hastings ,are excellent.

Beevors account of Stalingrad was almost too powerful for me.

Brilliant as it is ,all I could think was ,F**king Hell .! What a truly horrific battle .



pneame on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Paul Atkinson:
> (In reply to pneame) If you're interested in the causes of the war another very interesting and controversial take on this is Neil Ferguson's in The Pity Of War.

Looks like an excellent counterpoint - my reading list is getting long!
Thanks


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