1917; Any of you history nerds seen this yet? Well Done! Bravo!

Bill Hicklin

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In fact, almost a third of the "British" troops in WW1 were from India. And France had a fair number from Senegal and their other African colonies.
 

Bill Hicklin

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Dan Carlin hardcore history podcast will inform you. AWESOME detailed NOT boring dry history.

The killing of Franz Ferdinand was pre-ordained in some twisted way.

DC breaks it done in other than mainstream history would tell you.

It was the war where colonial tactics met modern weaponry, and the first change in military tactics changed in 600 years.

That's not entirely accurate. 600 years? 1314? A bit of an exaggeration.

In fact it was precisely the colonial officers who had been trying to tell the top brass about the effects of machine guns. They had been using them (at Omdurman 1898, for example), and knew what they could do. The British Army, however, had been misled by the nature of the fighting in the 2nd Boer War (1900-1902), which was a highly mobile war that featured cavalry and long-range near-"sniper" riflery. Looking back in Europe itself, not only was there the carnage of the American civil war, which spelled the end of Napoleonic tactics, but there had been the Austro-Prussian war in 1866 and the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, all of which presaged WW1 to a certain extent... yet those remained essentially mobile wars, wars of maneuver.

So what changed? It wasn't machine guns, or repeating rifles, or breech-loading heavy artillery, or barbed wire, certainly not trenches, none of which were new: it was troop density. The mass-mobilization systems created by all the Powers and even the small nations (except Britain) meant that when the war happened, suddenly the Western Front packed some 4 to 5 million men into 430 miles (700 km) of front. No room to maneuver, no 'thin points' or potential breakthroughs; nothing for it but frontal assaults into defenses in depth. Nobody knew how to defeat that kind of defense in 1914, and it took until late in the war to figure it out- by bloody trial and very bloody error.

It's a misconception, indeed something of a slander, to suggest that commanders in the West didn't care about casualties.* They were dealing with the knowledge that anything they did was going to come at a high cost, but that doesn't mean that they were monsters, butchers, or willing to throw away two battalions for nothing. (in fact, late in the war the US went to some extraordinary efforts to rescue just one battalion).

*Well, except maybe Falkenhayn
 

Hamtone

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That's not entirely accurate. 600 years? 1314? A bit of an exaggeration.

In fact it was precisely the colonial officers who had been trying to tell the top brass about the effects of machine guns. They had been using them (at Omdurman 1898, for example), and knew what they could do. The British Army, however, had been misled by the nature of the fighting in the 2nd Boer War (1900-1902), which was a highly mobile war that featured cavalry and long-range near-"sniper" riflery. Looking back in Europe itself, not only was there the carnage of the American civil war, which spelled the end of Napoleonic tactics, but there had been the Austro-Prussian war in 1866 and the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, all of which presaged WW1 to a certain extent... yet those remained essentially mobile wars, wars of maneuver.

So what changed? It wasn't machine guns, or breech-loading heavy artillery, or barbed wire, certainly not trenches, none of which were new: it was troop density. The mass-mobilization systems created by all the Powers and even the small nations (except Britain) meant that when the war happened, suddenly the Western Front packed some 4 to 5 million men into 430 miles (700 km) of front. No room to maneuver, no 'thin points' or potential breakthroughs; nothing for it but frontal assaults into defenses in depth. Nobody knew how to defeat that kind of defense in 1914, and it took until late in the war to figure it out- by bloody trial and very bloody error.

It's a misconception, indeed something of a slander, to suggest that commanders in the West didn't care about casualties.* They were dealing with the knowledge that anything they did was going to come at a high cost, but that doesn't mean that they were monsters, butchers, or willing to throw away two battalions for nothing. (in fact, late in the war the US went to some extraordinary efforts to rescue just one battalion).

*Well, except maybe Falkenhayn
The amassing army on field of battle had been the same for 600 years in varying degrees. We're here, you're there, full formation battle had been the same. The few occasion where unconventional war tactics had been used, was mostly from indigenous people's and the Americans (to a larger scale) but the grand armies of Prussia, Great Britain, France etc, were slaves to it. They had large armies, and the most efficient way to move, maneuver, and control was in the fashion they always used. Open field battle with an amassed army or siege warfare. This is what I was getting at, the tactics and ideas had not yet evolved for cover and move, decentralize command, and small units. They (initially) were working from the premise of open field tactics that were the same for about 600 years.

In the EU theater WW1 with the advent of machine guns, and other repeating rifles, and breach loading arty, stymied this, so, they cut trenches, which then made it a stalemate war.

Obviously there is so much more detail, but for the guitar forum and time, this is broad brushed content.
 

Ermghoti

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It's a misconception, indeed something of a slander, to suggest that commanders in the West didn't care about casualties.* They were dealing with the knowledge that anything they did was going to come at a high cost, but that doesn't mean that they were monsters, butchers, or willing to throw away two battalions for nothing. (in fact, late in the war the US went to some extraordinary efforts to rescue just one battalion).

*Well, except maybe Falkenhayn
The truth might be nearer the middle. It's certainly true that there was a greater tolerance for casualties due to the scope of the fighting and the tactics available. However, Haig's belief that the virtual eradication of the first waves of an attack on the Somme (IIRC, but it might have been Passchendale) was within the acceptable range was delusional at best, albeit fueled by false reports of progress.

The detachment between the brass' assessment of the battles and reality in no man's land was another problem that is understandable once or twice, but not for years. The higher up the chain of command, the less likely it was to have literally any interaction with the actual front. In 1916 in the Somme, there was the story of some attache sent to investigate the lack of progress by some regiment; the man blanched at the flooded, shattered landscape, and exclaimed "we sent men to fight in this?" The reply was to the effect of "no, where the fighting is, it's much worse." To spend two years on essentially the same strategy in the face of relentless disaster was absurd. As the saying goes, Ypres was a tragedy, the Somme was a crime.

While it's true the scope of trench warfare was exponentially increased, the mechanics of driving an attacking force through a dug in force didn't change much. There was no belief to my knowledge that a line that extended across the entirely of Europe could be flanked (although Gallipoli was in essence such an attempt), it was the belief that gaps could be made by massed, daylight, ordered advances that led to the fruitless massacres.
 

Bill Hicklin

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Well, the tactics did evolve, from Ypres to Loos to the Somme to Cambrai. There was no shortage of theories as to how to solve the tactical Gordian knot, but until they were tried there was no way to know whether they worked. Walking barrages, mines, longer and shorter arty prep, shell type (what cuts wire best?), aerial observation and later on, tanks. This was not a case of just trying the same damn thing over and over. Let's also not forget that new tactical approaches often "worked;" Loos was a success; it's overlooked that in many sectors the Somme was a success. For a given definition of "success", of course. At all times the WWI battlefield was hampered by the fact that in the first industrial war, C3 had hardly evolved beyond that available to Wellington (which is what the movie is about, really): in particular, once the troops went over the top, HQ had no bloody idea what was happening, until it had already happened and it was too late to react- and this is why even successful offensives stalled out once they got into the first or second trench line.

Ultimately it was the Germans who figured it out, but even there let's keep in mind that the success of Operation Michael was due to the massive numbers of men transferred from the east as much as it was due to Hutiertaktik.
 

Guy Named Sue

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Same cinematographer, Roger Deakins
It was good but not as good as Dunkirk. Not comparing stories of course. I like how Nolan did that, three different timelines told in a linear fashion. First storyline is from the troops on ground, second is the boat captain with his son and third the pilots in air. The tension built up and the noises of the bombs going off, the ship getting attacked by a torpedo missle, it felt like I was there, I saw that one on IMAX, emotional experience to say the least.
 

Tone deaf

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Hc history has been my favorite thing on biz road trips. I think the one on ww1 is 22hrs long.
I have a 6-disc, college-level course (Univ of Tenn, IIRC) on genocide and violent movements of the 20th century in my car, waiting for a road trip.
 

Sct13

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They didn't portray the gas weapons.....

and there was plenty of diversity, the writer included a few soldiers from abroad. There was a Sikh and men from the French and British colonies of Africa. So he was careful to include what he could.
 

Sct13

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It was good but not as good as Dunkirk. Not comparing stories of course. I like how Nolan did that, three different timelines told in a linear fashion. First storyline is from the troops on ground, second is the boat captain with his son and third the pilots in air. The tension built up and the noises of the bombs going off, the ship getting attacked by a torpedo missle, it felt like I was there, I saw that one on IMAX, emotional experience to say the least.

For the movie Dunkirk you had to have the historical background or the story and its weight get lost. History / war historians, went in knowing the basic jist of the battle/evacuation. I found myself explaining scenes or events that confused some. Many didn't and couldn't understand the movie to its fullest.

One thing they both share, that I thought was interesting, ….minimal exposure to the Germans....in Dunkirk the only time you see a German soldier is in the very last scene....(not including the 109's) Which were painted wrong for the time and location.

In 1917, you see the enemy a few more times, but mostly what they had done ...after the fact....

Which in movies …..its hiding the monster.....I thought its was a pretty good move...
 

Bill Hicklin

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However, it was anachronistic to show the Sikh and the black soldiers serving with whites. In reality, they were in segregated units.
 

Bill Hicklin

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.(not including the 109's) Which were painted wrong for the time and location.
That was a conscious error. They tried them in summer 1940 paint and found it was hard to tell them from the Spits, so they went back and added later-period yellow noses and wingtips.
 




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