Quotulatiousness

November 17, 2017

The End Of Passchendaele – Fighting in Petrograd I THE GREAT WAR Week 173

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 16 Nov 2017

The Anti-Bolshevik forces in Russia are trying to fight back last week’s revolution. The Battle of Passchendaele ends after 3 months of fighting and at least 500,000 casualties on both sides. The British are still advancing on Jerusalem and the Italians set up defences behind the Piave river.

November 10, 2017

The Russian October Revolution 1917 I THE GREAT WAR Week 172

Filed under: History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 9 Nov 2017

After the turmoil of the past weeks in Petrograd, the Soviets and the Red Guards seize the opportunity and topple the provisional government under Alexander Kerensky. Their first goal is to pull out of the war. The Italians were still in full retreat during the Battle of Caporetto and the British Army was still advancing in Palestine.

November 6, 2017

The end of the battle of Passchendaele, 1917

Filed under: Cancon, Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The Canadian Corps under Lieutenant General Arthur Currie began the final phase of the battle on 6 November, 1917:

By 6 November, the Canadians were prepared to advance upon the Green Line. The final objective was to capture the high ground north of the town and to secure positions on the eastern side of Passchendaele Ridge. Again, according to Major Robert Massie: “The third attack … was the day when the First and Second Divisions took Passchendaele itself. On this occasion, the attack went off the most smoothly of any of the three. They had fair ground to go over, and especially those that went into Passchendaele itself had pretty fair going, and the objectives were reached on time.”

After early hand-to-hand fighting, the 2nd Division easily occupied Passchendaele just three hours after commencement of the attack at 0600 hours. The 1st Division, however, found itself in some trouble when one company of the 3rd Battalion became cut off and was stranded in a bog. When this situation eventually righted itself, the 1st Division continued toward its objectives. Well-camouflaged tunnels at Moseelmarkt provided an opportunity for the enemy to counterattack, but they were fended off by the Canadians. By the end of the day, the Canadian Corps was firmly in control of both Passchendaele and the ridge.

The final Canadian action at Passchendaele commenced at 0605 hours on 10 November 1917. Sir Arthur Currie used the opportunity to make adjustments to the line, strengthening his defensive positions. Robert Massie summed up the thoughts of many participating Canadians as follows: “What those men did at Passchendaele was beyond praise. There was no protection in that land. They could not get into the trenches which were full of mud, and you would see two or three of them huddled together during the night, lying on ground that was pure mud, without protection of any kind, and then going forward the next morning and cleaning up their job.”

[…]

The Canadians had done the impossible. After just 14 days of combat, they had driven the German army out of Passchendaele and off the ridge. There was almost nothing left of the village to hold. Altogether, the Canadian Corps had fired a total of 1,453,056 shells, containing 40,908 tons of high explosive. Aerial photography verified approximately one million shell holes in a one square mile area. The human cost was even greater. Casualties on the British side totalled over 310,000, including approximately 36,500 Australians and 3596 New Zealanders. German casualties totalled 260,000 troops.

For the Canadians, Currie’s words were prophetic. He had told Haig it would cost Canada 16,000 casualties to take Passchendaele – and, in truth, the final total was 15,654, many of whom were killed. One thousand Canadian bodies were never recovered, trapped forever in the mud of Flanders. Nine Canadians won the Victoria Cross during the battles for Passchendaele. While the human cost had been terrible: “Nevertheless, the competence, confidence, and maturity began in 1915 at Ypres a short distance away, and at Vimy Ridge earlier that spring, again confirmed the reputation of the Canadian Corps as the finest fighting formation on the Western Front.” So wrote esteemed Professor of History Doctor Ronald Haycock at the Royal Military College of Canada for The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in 2004.

Haig proved to be true to his word. By 14 November 1917, the Canadians had been returned to the relative quiet of the Vimy sector. They had not been asked to hold what it had cost them so much to take. However, by March 1918, all the gains made by Canada at Passchendaele would be lost in the German spring offensive known as Operation Michael.

General Sir David Watson praised the Canadian effort: “It need hardly be a matter of surprise that the Canadians by this time had the reputation of being the best shock troops in the Allied Armies. They had been pitted against the select guards and shock troops of Germany and the Canadian superiority was proven beyond question. They had the physique, the stamina, the initiative, the confidence between officers and men (so frequently of equal standing in civilian life) and happened to have the opportunity.”

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George was even clearer when it came to the Canadians: “Whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line they prepared for the worst.”

November 5, 2017

Breakthroughs and Setbacks – Fall 1917 I THE GREAT WAR Summary Part 11

Filed under: Europe, Germany, History, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

The Great War
Published on 4 Nov 2017

The Battle of Passchendaele begins on the Western Front, whilst the climate grows steadily more unstable in Russia, where General Kornilov hopes to seize power. Operation Albion is launched by Germany in the Northeast, and the French enjoy some successes, including at Malmaison. The tide is turned in the Battle of Caporetto. The death toll climbs ever higher, in yet another dark period of the Great War. We cover all this and more in our recap of Fall 1917.

November 3, 2017

Battle of Beersheba – Canadian Frustration – Balfour Declaration I THE GREAT WAR Week 171

The Great War
Published on 2 Nov 2017

On the Western Front this week, the Canadians under Sir Arthur Currie attempt to advance once more, whilst Haig remains optimistic about an imminent breakthrough. Following Caporetto, the Italian retreat continues, whilst the British Army enjoys success on the Palestine Front, with a little help from mounted ANZAC troops. With Lenin’s return, the revolution looms over the Russian capital, whilst the Balfour Declaration is issued in Britain.

October 27, 2017

The Battle of La Malmaison – Breakthrough at Caporetto I THE GREAT WAR Week 170

Filed under: Europe, Germany, History, Military — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 26 Oct 2017

The French score a morale boosting victory over the German at La Malmaison, but the Canadians were not so successful elsewhere on the Western Front. Whilst the Germans continue on through the Estonian Archipelago and onto the Russian mainland, the 12th Battle of the Isonzo takes place on the Italian Front. Unlike the 11 battles that came before it, this one was initiated by the Central Powers and was their biggest breakthrough yet on that front.

October 24, 2017

German Defensive Strategy and Tactics At Passchendaele I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Britain, Germany, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The Great War
Published on 23 Oct 2017

Hindenburg Line Poster: http://bit.ly/HindenburgLinePoster

The Hindenburg Line, which was developed in early 1917, was designed to have depth and flexibility. Pillboxes, bunkers and machine gun nests all played vital roles in the system, as did the counter-attacking Eingreiftruppen. Since its conception, it had been effective when used properly, but Passchendaele would be where the Siegfriedstellung would face its toughest test yet. Allied superiority in artillery and aircraft, unrelenting bad weather and exhausted soldiers all put a huge strain on the German defence system, but would they be its undoing?

October 20, 2017

Operation Albion Concludes – Allied Failures In Belgium I THE GREAT WAR Week 169

Filed under: Europe, Germany, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 19 Oct 2017

100 years ago this week, Operation Albion comes to a successful end for the Germans, as revolution is on the horizon in Russia. The Allies aren’t faring quite so well on the Western Front, where the weather continues to worsen and the death toll climbs ever higher. Haig believes a breakthrough is imminent and German morale is tested. The stalemate continues, but sooner or later the Battle of Passchendaele must come to an end.

October 13, 2017

Operation Albion – Passchendaele Drowns In Mud I THE GREAT WAR Week 168

Filed under: Britain, Germany, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

The Great War
Published on 12 Oct 2017

The situation for the German Army on the Western Front looks grim, but in the East they have the upper hand and this week begin to put pressure on the Russians in Operation Albion – an amphibious landing operation in the Estonian archipelago. At the same time, the battlefield at Passchendaele is turning into a muddy swamp.

October 6, 2017

Sabotage In The Desert – Battle of Broodseinde I THE GREAT WAR Week 167

Filed under: Britain, Europe, History, Middle East, Military, Railways — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The Great War
Published on 5 Oct 2017

While the regular British forces were advancing towards Jerusalem and Baghdad, T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt were causing havoc behind the lines. This week 100 years ago, they were continuing to attack the important Hejaz railway which was one of the vital supply routes for the Ottoman Army. On October 4, the Battle of Broodseinde was fought near Ypres and the costly British victory there caused real headaches for German general Erich Ludendorff.

September 29, 2017

Battle of Polygon Wood – Betrayal At The Italian Front I THE GREAT WAR Week 166

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The Great War
Published on 28 Sep 2017

The British and Australian forces under Sir Herbert Plumer continue to advance at Passchendaele. Plumer’s new tactic comes with a high price in men and material but it also gets results. German flying ace Werner Voss fights his last legendary fight and on the Italian Front, some Austro-Hungarian officers want to end the war sooner than later – and not in their countries’ favour.

September 22, 2017

British Advance At Passchendaele I THE GREAT WAR Week 165

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Germany, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 21 Sep 2017

Herbert Plumer had a cunning plan to crack the German defences at Passchendaele, he would “bite and hold” only small pieces of the German Hindenburg Line instead of aiming for the big breakthrough. It was still a costly tactic but it achieved results and the Germans under Ruprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, were worried.

August 18, 2017

The Battle of Hill 70 – Mackensen Advances in Romania I THE GREAT WAR Week 160

Filed under: Britain, Cancon, Germany, History, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 17 Aug 2017

The Battle of Passchendaele has turned into a muddy mess, the weather conditions take a toll on both the defenders and the attackers alike. The Canadians relieve some pressure on the British Army in the Battle of Hill 70 south of Ypres. Meanwhile, August von Mackensen is fighting back the Romanian offensive that was unleashed last week.

August 16, 2017

Canadian War Museum highlights the six Canadian VCs won at the Battle of Hill 70

Filed under: Cancon, France, History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

On August 15th, 1917, the Canadian Corps began a planned attack on German positions near Lens in northern France, to relieve pressure on the larger British and Imperial operations at Passchendaele. During the vicious fighting around the feature designated as “Hill 70”, the valour of six Canadians was deemed deserving of the highest military honour the British Empire could bestow, the Victoria Cross. From the institution of the medal in 1856, only 96 Canadians have been awarded a VC. David Pugliese reports for the Ottawa Citizen:

IWM caption : Hill 70 (Lens) 15-25 August: A group of Canadians, standing with mugs at a soup kitchen set up on boards “100 yards from Boche lines” during the push on Hill 70 (via Wikimedia)

The Canadian War Museum is marking the centenary of the Battle of Hill 70 with a special display highlighting the six Canadian soldiers who received Victoria Cross decorations as a result of their courageous actions. The Battle of Hill 70, which includes portraits of the recipients and some of their medals, will be on view from August 15 until Remembrance Day, according to the Canadian War Museum.

“Sir Arthur Currie described the Battle of Hill 70 in August 1917 as ‘altogether the hardest battle in which the Corps has participated,’” Stephen Quick, Director General of the Canadian War Museum, said in a news release. “It’s remarkable that this 11-day battle, fought four months after Vimy Ridge, resulted in six Canadian soldiers of varying backgrounds and ranks being awarded the highest honour for military valour in the British Empire.”

Here the Canadian War Museum also provides details about the battle and the Victoria Cross winners:

The Canadian Corps, under the command of Sir Arthur Currie, launched an attack on the German-held city of Lens in northern France on August 15, 1917. His strategy was to capture the high ground overlooking the town, forcing the enemy to counterattack. This prevented German units from reinforcing formations facing Allied troops struggling to gain ground at Passchendaele in Flanders. By August 25, the Canadians had withstood 21 failed counterattacks and suffered 9,000 casualties at Hill 70, but they had killed, wounded or taken as prisoner about 12,000 Germans. It was a significant and costly tactical victory for the Allies.

The Battle of Hill 70 introduces visitors to Sergeant Frederick Hobson, Corporal Filip Konowal, Private Harry Brown, Private Michael James O’Rourke, Acting Major Okill Massey Learmonth and Sergeant-Major Robert Hill Hanna. They are among only 96 Canadian recipients of the Victoria Cross since its introduction during the Crimean War in 1856.

August 11, 2017

Despair Everywhere – Battle of Mărășești I THE GREAT WAR Week 159

Filed under: Europe, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Published on 10 Aug 2017

This week Russo-Romanian forces clash with the Central Power´s counteroffensive in the Second Battle of Oltuz. The failure of the Kerensky Offensive disheartens the Russian army and radicalizes the homefront. While the Bolsheviks were calling for “Peace, Bread and Land”, the new commander of the Russian army Lavr Kornilov strives to become a strong authoritarian figure for the political right. And the Battle of Passchendaele reveals a scarred, broken battlefield of mud and destroyed equipment. Despair is everywhere.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress