World´s bloodiest battle ever?

Armed conflicts in the history of humanity from the ancient times to the 20th Century.
iankw
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Post by iankw » Fri Jun 15, 2007 2:15 pm

The table didn't format properly after I posted, I hope you can make out the relevant figures though.

Ian

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Karl Heidenreich
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:43 pm

About casualties and WWI let´s see...

From "Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War 1914-1920" (London: His Majesty´s Stationary Office, 1922) 359-62

Casualties by Nation Western Front 1914-1918

Belgium:
Deaths: 35,000
Missing: 63,000
Wounded: n.a.

France:
Deaths: 1,070,000
Missing: 314,000
Wounded: 3,481,000

Great Britain:
Deaths: 564,715
Missing: 319,824
Wounded: 1,827,613

US:
Deaths: 116,950
Missing: 4,452
Wounded: 239,787


Total Allied Casualties:
Deaths: 1,786,665
Missing: 701,276
Death+Missing:2,487,941
Wounded: 5,558,400

Germany:
Deaths: 669,263
Missing: 623,260
Deaths+Missing: 1,292,523
Wounded: 1,214,327

Analysing this information it becomes obvious that the claims of the "bleeding" of the German Army at Verdun are completly false.

As a matter of fact the final data about casualties at Verdun is:

Germany: 71,504 dead, missing and wounded
France: 160,000 dead, missing and wounded


The information about 400,000 dead Germans at Verdun is, at the light of this evidence, only of propagandistic value and shows that the German Army was far from being bled and that they, in reality, succeded avoiding new offensives from the French on the northern part of the Western Front.

Incredible, the most important quote regarding these facts came from a very notorious British Commander. He first stated that:

"Things are going quite well for the French at Verdun and they are not the least bit anxious about it... It is part of our policy to let the Germans beat themselves to death against the stone wall... the Germans have lost enormously and they can´t afford to..."
- Bernard Montgomery, in a letter dated March 1916

but later he said:

"My views on the fighting at Verdun were not in any way in accordance with the true facts."
-Montgomery´s postwar annotation of the March 1916 letter "The Making of a General 187-1947" (New York, McGraw Hill, 1981)
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:54 pm

Another important quotes that shred light about the reality, hidden for most of us, about the situation in WWI:

This is from: Marshall Galieni (France´s hero of the Battle of the Marne), recorded by Jean Galtier-Boisiére "Historie de la grande guerre" (Paris: Craupillot, 1932) 240

"Was there a battle of the Marne?"

elocuent, isn´t it?

And this one is a very good from President Poincaré recorded by Abel Jules Ferry "Les carnets secrets de´Abel Ferry 1914-1918" (Paris: Grasset, 1957) 35

"At the Generl HQ they tell me: "things are going well; in the Argonne, success"
At Army HQ they tell me: "We are advancing, but with difficulty."
At Corps HQ, General Gérard tells me: "We are losing hundreds of meters a month; the Germans are slowly devouring us, and the letters from our soldiers write home are discouraging"


The evidence suggests that if not for the United States intervention late in the war and the bringing of 2 million fresh men to the Western Front (under strict US command against what the French wanted: to use US Army soldiers as replacements for French units) the German Empire would have succeded in the 1918 offensives and the Versailles Treaty would have never taken place, saving 50 million lives twenty years later.
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RF
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Post by RF » Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:03 am

Karl,

Do the casualty figures for the Western Front include the losses suffered by other Allied countries not specifically mentioned?
For example the Portuguese suffered the loss of two entire divisions during the Kaiserschlact of March/April 1918.
I am not aware of Italian troops in that theatre, but I believe some Russian, Serbian and possibly Roumanian troops were also deployed.

On the German side, what of Austrian troops on the Western Front?
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Post by RF » Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:17 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
The evidence suggests that if not for the United States intervention late in the war and the bringing of 2 million fresh men to the Western Front (under strict US command against what the French wanted: to use US Army soldiers as replacements for French units) the German Empire would have succeded in the 1918 offensives and the Versailles Treaty would have never taken place, saving 50 million lives twenty years later.
I am not entirely convinced by this.

The true casualty figures were not known until after the war ended.

Germany was being eaten up on the inside in 1918 by the effects of British blockade, starvation, flu pandemic (over one million Germans died from flu in1918/19) and civil unrest/strikes and the threat of revolution.
The Germans, in the absence of US participation in WW1, might have defeated France in 1918, but Britain would have carried on the war and the blockade. I am far from convinced the Germans could have won and I have doubts about the French surrendering as well, even if Paris and the whole of northern France fell.
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jun 21, 2007 5:01 pm

RF:

From the sources that I have there is no mention (at least specific) of other casualties. I´m going to look for more info. Anyway in such a big conflict there have to be more casualties than those listed above. The idea was to bring attention to the fact that Germany was far from being defeated by the British-French military effort, at least until the arrival of the US.

About your position about Germany being at the verge of capitulation in 1918 without any US help I must say that the flu pandemic killed not only Germans but Polish, British, French, Belgians, etc. All sides were in very bad shape and weary. But if you see the figures it was the French Army the only one that had a mutiny and not the Germans. Maybe the British could have the posibility to kept fighting from their mainland as they did in WW2 but without US help the Germans would have won in the continent. And having beaten the Russians already I would have to say that an armistice between the two remaining contenders would have been likely. Maybe Antwerp would have been called a "Free City" or something alike but Germany would have been the predominant continental power and, with time, a friendly one to Great Britain... after all Germans and English have been friends and allies more time than enemies...
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Post by RF » Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:26 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
The idea was to bring attention to the fact that Germany was far from being defeated by the British-French military effort, at least until the arrival of the US.

All sides were in very bad shape and weary. But if you see the figures it was the French Army the only one that had a mutiny and not the Germans.
The historical evidence is that by November 1918 Germany was unable to sustain the war, as Ludendorff knew full well.
Yes, there was no major mutiny in the German Army - but there were of course the Kiel naval mutinies and indeed widespread mutiny in the High Seas Fleet, many socialist/bolshevik in nature. There were widespread civilian riots and other unrest, which led to the Kaiser's abdication on 9th November 1918. And the Kaiser and his family were not the only Germans who had fled to the Netherlands, as they were preceeded by thousands of German deserters who went into Holland to avoid the draft.
And on the western front, tens of thousands of German troops were surrendering daily to the advancing British forces, the will to fight had very largely collapsed.

Had there been no Armistice Germany would have been out of the war by being consumed by revolution, and probably would have gone communist. Who knows, the Fuhrer could in consequence have become a commie....
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Jul 03, 2007 3:05 pm

RF,

there is a problem with your argument: you say that Germany was consumed by November 1918. Of course she was: the allies with the US help stopped the summer offensive and then the US triggered their own offensive. There was a new power in the battlefield, a US Army with more than a million fighting men under Pershing in a narrow front sector that was throwing away all it´s weight against a tired German Army.
But that would not be the scenario if the USA would not have intervened: by November the war would have been over for at least two months.
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Post by RF » Thu Jul 05, 2007 10:33 am

Karl,

The historical evidence that I have seen is that it was the British forces under Haig that achieved the greatest part in breaching the Hindenburg Line, primarily with the use of tanks, with French, Belgian and US supporting flank attacks. The US forces, over a million strong, were still largely unprepared for this sort of warfare and played only a supporting role, in fact their main contribution was to bolster French morale.

The idea that the US won the war on its own is not supported by the facts.
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:30 pm

RF:

The US didn´t won the war on their own. The fact is that Germans, British and French were ALL of them worn out. The US came into play and aided one of the sides giving them an edge that the other side didn´t had.
So, it was the US intervention the one that gave the victory to the allies for several reasons:
1. The German 1918 summer offensive would have been successfull if the US didn´t intervene. Simply put the allies redistributed their forces upon less long lines because there was one new army in the field. So, even the sections in which there was no US presence were simply stronger because the allies had more soldiers there than at the beggining of 1918.
2. The US refused the criminal idea of using their soldiers as replacements for the almost defeated and mutinous French Army. Pershing was adamant that his men would fight in US led units. If the US soldiers would have been used as replacements for the French Army then nowadays Paris would been a German sight-seeing tourist atraction.
3. When the allies triggered their own 1918 offensives they did it over narrow portions of the front because, again, there was a new army in the field covering part of the front. But the US in the Argonne and everywhere they attacked produced a new effect because they learned what their allies didn´t:
- The new warfare was being decided by small groups attacking small pieces of the enemy´s trenchs.
- In order to win by attrition the use of artillery and hand grenades was priority. You must forget about bayonet charge and all that stuff.
- You must run. If you walk as the British did at Somme or the French at Woevre then you are dead meat.
- Attack the weak points. Forget Haig´s and Foch´s ideas of attacking the points where the enemy was stronger. The "overall" breakthrough was imposible because the size of the armies and the longitude of the fronts. You must seek partial breakthoughs in order to produce, eventually, a rout into the enemy.
- Before achieving strategic freedom you must seek and obtain operational freedom. In order to do that the frontal assault must be avoided.
Pershing and his officers (Patton, McArthur, Ike, Marshall, etc.) understand that and did not want to be murdered like the French and British were in the previous four years.

No: US alone did not won WWI, but the allies would have never won it without the US. As a matter of fact they would have ended losing the war to a much efficient enemy that was the German Army. After all everybody "forget" to say that Germany was alone in the Western Front while the allies were two: GB and France, that 2 vs. 1 and they still can´t win with numerical superiority and being aided by the Ruskies from behind... and forget the Habsburgs, the Germans had to aid them everywhere....

Kind regards...
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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Post by lwd » Tue Jul 10, 2007 3:56 pm

You have to be very careful using numbers from the Roman historians. They continued some of the Greek traditions of exagerating the numbers particularly of their opponents.

This might well depend on what you call a battle. For instance some of the actions invovling the Mongols were pretty bloody. If as part of the battle they wiped out the population of a city does this count?

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Jul 10, 2007 4:32 pm

There is a point in what lwd and that is about the ancient asiatic warfares: China, Mongols, etc.

Knowing the magnitude of everything China then they MUST have had their own bloodiest battles...
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Jul 10, 2007 4:37 pm

About the claim of Haig´s "victories" at the end of WWI there is something people largely ignore:

When the German 1918 summer offensive stalled the bulges it produced were largely undefensible so the Germans began a methodic retreat from them. When Haig hit those zones (that were buffer zones) he hit empty trenches and evacuated artillery zones. But, as a matter of fact, the traditional allies had never advanced so much in so little time (obvious because there was no one defending the bulges) so they claimed a stunning victory. Meanwhile the US Army was fighting their way in the Belleau Wood and producing a real "breakthrough".

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Post by RF » Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:53 am

Karl,

The British got through the Hindenburg Line - using massed attack by tanks.

That is where Guderian got his ideas from.
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Jul 24, 2007 5:55 pm

Hi RF:

you must read John Mosier´s book about WWI. There you´ll find very interesting evidence that points to the overating given to the British Tank attacks.

Look forward: http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Great-War-Mi ... 0060084332

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An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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