Jump to content

JonS

Members
  • Content count

    13,755
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    4

JonS last won the day on August 15 2015

JonS had the most liked content!

3 Followers

About JonS

  • Rank
    Sithrakian devotee
  • Birthday 01/10/1971

Contact Methods

  • Website URL
    http://www.librarything.com/catalog/JonSowden
  • Skype
    jon_sowden

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location:
    : 53 miles west of Venus

Converted

  • Biography
    Combat Mission Forum Member #8
  • Location
    53 miles west of Venus
  • Occupation
    Sifting. And Loafing. Loafing and sifting.

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. JonS

    Mine flails

    Yes, there are. “Seven winds” for one.
  2. JonS

    Mine flails

    Aka, “the Prometheus syndrome”
  3. JonS

    Jon writes about war

    Thank you The essay is about the role of technology in breaking the stalemate, and the AEF really didn't add anything to that. Tactically they peaked at about where everyone else was in mid-1917, and all the technology they used was borrowed, bought or gifted from either the French or the British.
  4. JonS

    Jon writes about war

    Technology’s Contribution to the End of Trench Warfare In the spring of 1918 four years of positional, attritional, trench warfare on the Western Front in France and Belgium suddenly came to an end. Over the final eight months of the war offensives by both the Germans and the Allies were able to achieve advances measured in miles per day, where previously miles per month had been considered good progress.1 A range of factors lay behind this return to semi-open warfare2; the cumulative effects of years of blockade on Germany, the release of large German forces from the Russian Front, political decisions that affected the size of the British armies in France, and a renaissance in infantry tactics and organisation.3 Overlaying this was a range of new technologies that restored the Principle of Surprise to the battlefield, and changed the style of war waged on the Western Front.4 From 1914 through to the end of 1917 both the Germans and the Allies faced the same fundamental problem: defensive firepower generated by well handled artillery and machine guns that exploited intelligently designed and constructed defences and obstacles could slow down an attacker long enough to ensure that sufficient reserves – travelling on the dense road and rail net of Western Europe – would arrive on any given battlefield before the attacker had been able to make a breakthrough. As a result, operations became very slow and deliberate wearing-out exercises, fought over small areas at extraordinary cost. For example, the Somme and Verdun in 1916 resulted in roughly 2 million casualties between them, although very little ground changed hands.5 The tactical and operational problem, then, was to find a way to surprise the enemy and speedily breach the entire depth of his defensive zone before reserves could arrive, and then to hold ground won against counter-attacks. It was recognised by 1917 that in order to do this all elements of the enemy’s defensive scheme – especially obstacles, MGs, and artillery – had to be neutralised swiftly and simultaneously.6 However, each part of the defence required a different solution – and different technology – to be overcome before surprise could be restored. Many technologies contributed to ending the stalemate, such as improved warships, submarines, and antisubmarine warfare. These all played their part in weakening the land armies, but their direct effect on ground operations is hard to assess. Four key areas of technological development contributed directly to opening up the Western Front. These were artillery, aircraft, tanks, and infantry firepower.7 The way all nations used their artillery in 1914 was relatively unsophisticated. Communications were almost invariably by voice, most shooting was by direct lay, and the overall aim was destruction of the enemy immediately to the gun’s front. Over the following four years the effectiveness of artillery firepower increased out of all recognition, largely on the back of new technology. Improved communication equipment meant that guns could be controlled indirectly, which improved their survivability and therefore long-term usefulness.8 Understanding, measurement, and control of variations between individual guns, ammunition lots, and the effects of weather meant that targets could be accurately engaged without prior adjustment.9 A range of new ammunition natures and fuzes provided commanders with the ability to tailor fire to the particular effects they desired; smoke could be used to shield men moving in the open by blinding defenders;10 gas was used to create confusion and considerably hamper command and control;11 high explosive with graze fuzes could smash enemy positions, equipment, and men. Advances in target detection and survey, combined with the better measurement of ballistics, meant that targets far to the rear – most importantly the enemy’s artillery – could be engaged with confidence.12 At Amiens the British counter battery programme was so effective that … hostile artillery was insignificant and several enemy batteries were captured with the muzzle covers still on the guns, showing that the detachments had failed to reach their positions.13 Taken together these artillery technology innovations meant that specific results could be achieved on selected elements of the enemy’s defensive infrastructure, and be achieved quickly for a high degree of surprise. By 1918 artillery was being used in incredibly large, complex, and sophisticated fire plans to surprise, confuse, destroy, and defeat the enemy.14 Aircraft started the war as reconnaissance platforms and it was in this role that they served most usefully.15 The primary role of fighter aircraft was to protect friendly reconnaissance assets – including balloons – or to drive off those of the enemy.16 Over the course of the war the type and nature of reconnaissance conducted changed considerably. Early in the war reconnaissance was primarily by direct observation and verbal reports. By 1918 photographic surveys of the entire front were routine.17 These surveys would be compiled into large mosaics, and then minutely examined and compared to previous surveys to identify new positions, equipment, dumps, routes, and other items of interest.18 A significant proportion of this effort was dedicated to improving the accuracy and effectiveness of friendly artillery, especially its ability to engage enemy artillery.19 In that sense, improvements in aerial technology became improvements in the artillery system.20 Aerial reconnaissance was also used to assist other arms – photo mosaics of frontline trenches were invaluable for planning attacks and determining the enemy’s intentions.21 By 1918 wireless sets were being installed in aircraft, allowing them to report information to frontline units in near-real-time.22 Night time did not provide security, since aircraft equipped with flares enabled observation of the enemy at any time.23 Air power was also developed to intervene directly in the land battle. Both sides increasingly employed squadrons to attack ground targets with machine guns and bombs.24 This role exploited the inherent flexibility to quickly and unexpectedly concentrate firepower where it was needed – attacking pillboxes, anti-tank guns, and reinforcements, as they revealed themselves during the course of a battle. In this role, too, the use of wireless greatly assisted the speed with which ground attack aircraft could intervene on the battlefield.25 Compared to the artillery the weight of munitions delivered by WWI ground-attack aircraft was modest.26 However, its immediacy – and novelty - meant that airborne firepower was seen as a valuable addition.27 Aircraft also conducted resupply on a very limited scale in 1918, something that had never been tried before.28 In theory aircraft could leap over the shell torn and muddy battlefield to deliver supplies quickly and directly to where they were needed in order to sustain advances. Whilst useful, the long lead time required and the limited quantities of supplies that could be delivered meant that the impact of aerial resupply on operations in 1918 was modest. The Somme, in September 1916, saw the battlefield debut of the tank. It had limited effect on that battle, and indeed throughout most of 1917 its effect was slight and drawbacks legion. Nevertheless, its potential was recognised. The Germans, due to their late start and stretched economy were never in a position to field effective tank forces.29 The French and the British, on the other hand, were each able to develop large armoured arms and employ hundreds of tanks on several occasions. The tank’s great contribution to mobility in WWI was its ability to crush dense obstacle belts, and carry sufficient firepower to destroy enemy defensive positions left intact by the artillery. Using tanks to deal with wire and obstacles meant that obstacles could be left intact until an attack commenced, preserving surprise, and freed the artillery to engage other targets.30 The mobility and armour of the tanks meant they were able to bring their fire power to bear at accurately at close range, thus assisting the infantry forward. Specialised models of tanks were produced to safely carry supplies, men, and drag wire for communications forward into the battle zone.31 As valuable as these niche technologies were, their effect was limited by the nature of the tanks themselves – hot, noisy, exhausting, prone to breakdown, short endurance – and the limited quantity of specialised models produced compared to the tasks required of them. These limitations also affected the battle tanks, denying them the opportunity for exploitation of their own success.32 Although the tanks were unquestionably useful in breaking the stalemate, the Germans demonstrated that similar results could be achieved without them in their spring 1918 offensives, while the British also found that significant success could be achieved without tanks in many of their attacks late in the year.33 Infantry battalions by 1918 had a distinctly modern look to them. Instead of a homogenous mass of 1,000 men, all armed with a rifle, attacking and defending en masse, they now routinely employed grenades, light and heavy machine guns, submachine guns, flame-throwers, mortars, and a variety of direct fire artillery.34 This range of weapons technology had created – and been created by – a demand for new infantry tactics. Using the new weapons and organised in small, self supporting units the infantry were able to in attack with each group working its way forward independently to flank, engage, and destroy enemy positions and achieve objectives.35 The new weapons also allowed the infantry to man positions with fewer men yet generate more firepower than previously.36 Along with these new technologies – sophisticated artillery, air power, tanks, and greatly increased infantry firepower – by 1918 there had been significant changes in the way forces were being employed. Both the Allies and Germans had come to realise that smaller, more flexible, independent and self-reliant units that were highly trained could, using infiltration tactics the new technologies and surprise, achieve better results on the attack while suffering fewer casualties.37 The success of these infiltration tactics was, however, dependant on another change. Infiltration tactics and flank attacks could only make headway where the enemy’s front wasn’t held continuously or strongly.38 The Germans had been thinning out their front lines in the face of increasing British artillery since the Somme in 1916, a practice that accelerated with the introduction by the British of their greatly improved artillery during Third Ypres in 1917.39 For the British, a similar change came as a result of the their own terrible losses suffered at Third Ypres.40 Politically motivated decisions were made to transfer several divisions from France to Italy, increase the length of front being held by the British, and tightly restrict the supply of replacements.41 All this meant that the British line in early 1918 was held much more thinly than before. In addition, the British had far less practice than the Germans at conducting defensive operations.42 The French had also suffered grievous losses in 1916 and 1917, and shared the British inexperience in defensive tactics.43 Furthermore, with Russia’s withdrawal from the war, Germany was able to transfer significant forces to the Western Front and concentrate overwhelming force at selected points. For example, The Germans concentrated 6,500 guns against the British for the opening of their offensive on March 21, 1918.44 This combination of thinly held lines, defensive inexperience, overwhelming mass plus new offensive tactics, and the new technologies to gain surprise, enabled the startling initial success of the German Spring 1918 offensives. For various reasons the Germans had concentrated their best equipment and men in a relatively few special attack divisions.45 These divisions suffered heavy losses in their otherwise successful attacks,46 while the follow on forces – wholly untrained or equipped for the new attack techniques – fared even worse.47 Also, the Allied defences evolved quickly to decisively rebuff the new German tactics and technology at Arras in late-March and Reims in mid-July.48 When the German then lost the initiative they found themselves holding unprepared positions, over a longer front, and with fewer men who were on average of lower quality than before.49 This gave the Allies the opportunity to put their own new technologies, tactics, and organisations into effect to surprise the enemy. The confluence of these factors led to the spectacular victories at Hamel and Amiens.50 The subsequent Allied successes that won WWI were in turn enabled by the further progressive disintegration of the German Army, with successive positions being repeatedly broken open by the new technologies and techniques, in a spiralling cycle of success. These thinner defences would nevertheless have been sufficient to halt the Allied advances had technology not changed over the previous years – in 1915 defences that were broadly comparable to those of mid- to late-1918 were sufficient to repulse all attacks. Similarly the well equipped but inexperienced Americans found that merely throwing new technology at the enemy without a sophisticated plan for employment could lead to disaster, as they discovered in several costly attacks.51 By 1918, then, the artillery was able to swiftly and effectively neutralise enemy defences, tanks could crush wire and obstacles and engage surviving strong points directly, while overhead the air force provided crucial intelligence, attacked point targets, and delayed reserves. This enabled the infantry to exploit surprise and swiftly and efficiently break into and through what would previously been impenetrable.52 However, these new technologies would have been unable to break the stalemate on the Western Front had they not been leveraged as part of a intelligent combined arms package, a package that also included new tactics, training, and organisations.53 Bibliography Bailey, J.B.A., Field Artillery and Firepower (London: Routledge, 2004) Bidwell, Shelford and Graham, Dominick, Fire-Power: British Army Weapons and Theories of War 1904-1945 (Winchester, Mass.: Allen & Unwin Inc., 1985) Brown, Ian M., “Not Glamorous, But Effective: The Canadian Corps and the Set-Piece Attack, 1917-1918,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Jul 1994), pp. 421-444. Campbell, Christy, Band of Brigands: The First Men in Tanks (London: Harper Press, 2007) Cook, Tim, “Dying like so Many Rats in a Trap: Gas Warfare and the Great War Soldier,” The Army Doctrine and Training Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Winter 2002-2003), pp. 47-56 Corum, James S., ”The Luftwaffe’s Army Support Doctrine, 1918-1941,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 59, No. 1 (Jan 1995), pp. 53-76. Dupuy, T.N., Understanding War, (London: Leo Cooper, 1992) English, John A., and Gudmundsson, Bruce I., On Infantry (Westport CT: Praeger, 1994) Griffith, Paddy, Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army’s Art of Attack 1916-18 (Great Britain: Yale University Press, 2000) Gudmundsson, Bruce I., On Artillery (Westport CT: Praeger, 1993) Liaropoulos, Andrew N., “Revolutions in Warfare: Theoretical Paradigms and Historical Evidence – The Napoleonic and First World War Revolutions in Military Affairs,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 70, No. 2 (Apr 2006), pp. 363-384. Lupfer, Timothy T., The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Changes in German Tactical Doctrine During the First World War, Leavenworth Papers No. 4 (Combat Studies Institute, US Army Command and General Staff College, Ft Leavenworth, Kansas, July 1981) Marble, Sanders, The infantry cannot do with a gun less: The Place of the Artillery in the British Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918, accessed via http://www.gutenberg-e.org/mas01, August 2003 NATO, Land Force Tactical Doctrine, ATP-35(B) Palazzo, Albert P., “The British Army’s Counter-Battery Staff Office and Control of the Enemy in World War I,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Jan 1999), pp. 55-74. Shimshoni, Jonathan, “Technology, Military Advantage, and World War I,” International Security, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Winter 1990-1991), pp. 187-215. Steel, Nigel, and Hart, Peter, Tumult in the Clouds: The British Experience of the War in the Air, 1914 – 1918 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997) Stevenson, David, 1914 – 1918: The History of the First World War (London: Penguin, 2004) Terraine, John, White Heat: The New Warfare 1914-18 (London: Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd, 1982) Travers, Tim, “The Evolution of British Strategy and Tactics on the Western Front in 1918: GHQ, Manpower, and Technology,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 54, No. 2 (Apr 1990), pp. 173-200. Travers, Tim, “Could the Tanks of 1918 have Been War-Winners for the British Expeditionary Force?” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Jul 1992), pp. 389-406. Van der Kloot, William, “Lawrence Bragg’s Role in the Development of Sound-Ranging in World War I,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Sep. 22, 2005), pp. 273-284. Footnotes 1 British forces advanced some seven miles in five months over the course of the Somme Offensive in 1916. On 8 Aug 1918 at Amiens the British advanced eight miles in one day. Stevenson, David, 1914 – 1918: The History of the First World War (London: Penguin, 2004), pp.409, 426. 2 Terraine, John, White Heat: The New Warfare 1914-18 (London: Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd, 1982), pp.321-322. 3 Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.399. Griffith, Paddy, Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army’s Art of Attack 1916-18 (Great Britain: Yale University Press, 2000), p.89. Travers, Tim, “The Evolution of British Strategy and Tactics on the Western Front in 1918: GHQ, Manpower, and Technology,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 54, No. 2 (Apr 1990), p195. Brown, Ian M., “Not Glamorous, But Effective: The Canadian Corps and the Set-Piece Attack, 1917-1918,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Jul 1994), p.443. Shimshoni, Jonathan, “Technology, Military Advantage, and World War I,” International Security, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Winter 1990-1991), p.205. 4 Dupuy, T.N., Understanding War, (London: Leo Cooper, 1992), p.6. NATO, Land Force Tactical Doctrine, ATP-35(B), p.1-3. Travers, GHQ, emphasises the importance of surprise. 5 Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.162. 6 Bidwell, Shelford and Graham, Dominick, Fire-Power: British Army Weapons and Theories of War 1904-1945 (Winchester, Mass.: Allen & Unwin Inc., 1985), pp.129-130. Gudmundsson, Bruce I., On Artillery (Westport CT: Praeger, 1993), pp.88, 91-93. Marble, Sanders, The infantry cannot do with a gun less: The Place of the Artillery in the British Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918, accessed via http://www.gutenberg-e.org/mas01, August 2003, Chapter 4 – “Preparing the Attack, Part II:1917-1918”, sub-chapter “1918: Amiens”. 7 Liaropoulos, Andrew N., “Revolutions in Warfare: Theoretical Paradigms and Historical Evidence – The Napoleonic and First World War Revolutions in Military Affairs,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 70, No. 2 (Apr 2006), pp. 377. 8 Bidwell, Firepower, pp.12, 68, 141-143. Marble, The Infantry, Chapter 2 – “Background through the end of 1914”, sub-chapter “1914: The test of battle”. 9 Marble, The Infantry, Chapter 5 – “The “Counter Blaster” and Counter-Battery Work”, sub-chapter “1917: The Problems Solved”. 10 Griffith, Battle Tactics, pp.140-141. 11 Terraine, White Heat, p.295. Stevenson, 1914-1918, pp.446-447. Cook, Tim, “Dying like so Many Rats in a Trap: Gas Warfare and the Great War soldier,” The Army Doctrine and Training Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Winter 2002-2003), pp.49-40, 51, 52 12 Terraine, White Heat, p.308. Stevenson, 1914-1918, pp.446-447. Bailey, J.B.A., Field Artillery and Firepower (London: Routledge, 2004), p.142. Van der Kloot, William, “Lawrence Bragg’s Role in the Development of Sound-Ranging in World War I,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Sep. 22, 2005), pp.281-282. Palazzo, Albert P., “The British Army’s Counter-Battery Staff Office and Control of the Enemy in World War I,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Jan 1999), pp. 68-72. 13 Terraine, White Heat, p.307, quoting General Birch. 14 Gudmundsson, On Artillery, pp.90-95, 99-100. Stevenson, 1914-1918, pp.375-376. Bidwell, Firepower, p.134. 15 Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.446. Steel, Nigel, and Hart, Peter, Tumult in the Clouds: The British Experience of the War in the Air, 1914 – 1918 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997), p.334. 16 Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.191. 17 Griffith, Battle Tactics, pp.137, 157. Bidwell, Firepower, p.103. 18 Bidwell, Firepower, p.103. 19 Bidwell, Firepower, pp.102-104. Marble, The Infantry, Chapter 5 – “The “Counter Blaster” and Counter-Battery Work”, sub-chapter “1917: The Problems Solved”. 20 Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.192. Griffith, Battle Tactics, p.157. 21 Bidwell, Firepower, p.103. 22 Steel, Tumult, p.334. Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.191. 23 Steel, Tumult, p.319 24 Steel, Tumult, pp.315, 317, 334, 335, 339. Terraine, White Heat, pp.289, 304. Bidwell, Firepower, pp.143-144. Travers, GHQ, pp.193-194. Campbell, Christy, Band of Brigands: The First Men in Tanks (London: Harper Press, 2007), p.358. Corum, James S., ”The Luftwaffe’s Army Support Doctrine, 1918-1941,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 59, No. 1 (Jan 1995), pp. 54-56. 25 Bidwell, Firepower, pp.144-145. 26 For example at Amiens, on 8 Aug 1918, a total of 750 aircraft from the RAF were involved, each able to drop some hundreds of pounds of bombs per day. By contrast, the British employed about 2,000 pieces of artillery, each able to fire over a ton of shells per hour. Stevenson, 1914-1918, pp.192, 305, 307, 444-445. 27 Bidwell, Firepower, pp.144-145. Travers, GHQ, p.180. 28 White Heat, p.311. Tumult, p.335. During the siege of Paris in 1870-71 small quantities of items, including letters, were spirited out of the city by balloon, but that clearly wasn’t a supply operation. “$238,625 for mail from Prussian Siege”, The Dominion Post, Wellington, 9 April 2009. 29 Campbell, Band of Brigands, p.380. Terraine, White Heat, p.286. 30 Griffith, Battle Tactics, p.164. Bailey, Field Artillery and Firepower, pp.142, 148. Travers, GHQ, pp.192-193. Marble, The Infantry, Chapter 5 – “The “Counter Blaster” and Counter-Battery Work”, sub-chapter “1917: The Problems Solved”. 31 Campbell, Band of Brigands, p.389. Bidwell, Firepower, p.137. 32 Terraine, White Heat, p.303. Campbell, Band of Brigands, pp.389, 393. Stevenson, 1914-1918, pp.189, 444. Bidwell, Firepower, pp.137-138. 33 Bailey, Field Artillery and Firepower, p.145. See Travers, Tim, “Could the Tanks of 1918 have Been War-Winners for the British Expeditionary Force?” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Jul 1992), pp.389-406 for a backhanded acknowledgement of this point. 34 Bidwell, Firepower, p.127. Gudmundsson, On Artillery, p.83. Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.186. English, John A., and Gudmundsson, Bruce I., On Infantry (Westport CT: Praeger, 1994), p.28. 35 Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.193. Griffith, Battle Tactics, p.97. Lupfer, Timothy T., The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Changes in German Tactical Doctrine During the First World War, Leavenworth Papers No. 4 (Combat Studies Institute, US Army Command and General Staff College, Ft Leavenworth, Kansas, July 1981), pp.40, 42. 36 Bidwell, Firepower, p.140. 37 Terraine, White Heat p.291. Griffith, Battle Tactics, pp.96-99. English, On Infantry, pp.22-23, 28-29. Bidwell, Firepower, p.132. Lupfer, Dynamics of Doctrine, p.40. 38 Griffith, Battle Tactics, pp.63, 195. 39 Terraine, White Heat p.220. English, On Infantry, pp.25-26. Lupfer, Dynamics of Doctrine, p.35. 40 There were 244,897 British casualties over 100-odd days at Third Ypres, Terraine, White Heat p.291. 41 Griffith, Battle Tactics, pp.89, 218. Stevenson, 1914-1918, pp.404-406. 42 Stevenson, 1914-1918, pp.402. 43 The French continued to crowd front line trenches until Reims, 15 July 1918. Gudmundsson, On Artillery, p.95. Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.423. 44 Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.399, 408. This was more guns than the British held in all of France. Comparable concentrations were achieved for subsequent attacks. 45 In principle advanced attack techniques and tactics were available to the entire BEF, Griffith, Battle Tactics, p.194. For streaming of German Army see Terraine, White Heat pp.279, 280. English, On Infantry, p.29 and note 30, p.34. Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.400. 46 The Germans suffered such high casualties among the specialist assault troops in their attacks in March and May that they were unable to continue attacking. Similarly, the British suffered 250,000 casualties during The Hundred Days. However, casualties per mile of advance had dropped precipitously since 1916, and even 1917. Terraine, White Heat p.324. Campbell, Band of Brigands p.397. Travers, GHQ, p.189. 47 Terraine, White Heat p.287. Stevenson, 1914-1918, pp.411-412, 413. Griffith, Battle Tactics, p.60. 48 Stevenson, 1914-1918, pp.411, 423. Terraine, White Heat pp.288, 299. 49 As 1918 progressed, the average quality of the German Army continued to decline, Gudmundsson, On Artillery, p.102. Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.416. 50 Campbell, Band of Brigands, p.386. Stevenson, 1914-1918, pp.425-427. 51 For example the disastrous attack by 301st US Tank Battalion and 27th US Infantry Division on 27 September 1918, Campbell, Band of Brigands p.395. Also the US fiasco at the Meuse-Argonne, also in September, Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.430. 52 General Monash commented that Hamel was “all over in 93 minutes”, Terraine, White Heat, p.314. Campbell, Band of Brigands p.384 for Hamel, and p.386 for Amiens. The crossing of the St Quentin Canal on 29 September 1918 was carried out with great dash and success, Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.431. Overall casualties suffered by the British during The Hundred Days were comparable to Third Ypres, but the results achieved were incomparably greater, Campbell, Band of Brigands p.397, Terraine, White Heat p.323, and Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.442. 53 Stevenson, 1914-1918, p.447. ... back to contents
  5. I think that chainlink fences would also be prone to a really distracting moiré pattern effect.
  6. JonS

    Fury Movie Discussion.

    Takes all sorts I guess - I thought HR was dire. And stupid. The story is fine; the film of the story is terrible.
  7. JonS

    Jon writes about war

    Kūpapa The third force in the New Zealand Wars What I shall do now is to set to work with all the Chiefs who will help me, and do all the good I can; and those who will not aid me, I shall not care for. Governor Grey, 18611 Māori warriors formed an element of the Crown forces in practically all of the New Zealand Wars, and during some of campaigns in the late 1860s and early 1870s their numbers were a significant proportion of the total force. The Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 bound the British and Māori together, and the British believed – or deluded themselves into believing – that any Māori fighting for the Crown would henceforth be primarily motivated by their loyalty to the crown. The truth appears to have been more complex. Māori fighting with or alongside the British came to be known as kūpapa. This can be either a noun or a verb – referring to the warriors themselves and their action of fighting alongside the British – and the term can be translated as being either neutral in a quarrel, colluding, or actively collaborating. The Māori Dictionary uses a more robust definition; collaborator, ally, fifth column - a term that came to be applied to Māori who sided with Pākehā opposition or the Government. There has been a shift from a general meaning of neutrality to the modern use, which now sometimes has derogative connotations, similar to such terms as 'turncoat', 'traitor', 'quisling' and 'Uncle Tom'.2 This unflattering modern translation implies kūpapa were working against their own interests, or at least selling out their fellow Māori for some illusory advantage. Again, the truth appears to have been more complex. This essay will investigate the impact of kūpapa in the New Zealand Wars, the motivations behind Māori choices to become kūpapa, and assess whether this choice was primarily due to their loyalty to the Crown. The first main cluster of reasons for Māori support of the British was for temporal reasons – either financial, or to protect Māori autonomy. The kūpapa who hunted Te Kooti through the Ureweras in the early 1870s did so at least in part for the money being offered by the Crown – in particular the £5,000 bounty on Te Kooti’s head.3 Māori along the lower Whanganui also supported the Crown for financial reasons. When they sold the land that would become Whanganui, they had good reason to be pleased with themselves. By attracting British settlers, … the real price for the town was its existence as an outlet for Maori products, a source of European goods, and the ultimate status symbol. The Maori would probably have paid to have it, … Lower Whanganui consider the town to be their property, Pakeha and all.4 In order to protect their investment they defended Whanganui against tribes from upriver in 1847 and 1864, and against Titokowaru in 1868. The British settlers directly benefited from this protection, but it was their investment the lower Whanganui kūpapa were protecting, not the settlers per se. The Northern War in 1845-46 was fought between what were effectively three sides. Hōne Heke resisted the British in order to maintain mana and rangatiratanga in accordance with his understanding of the Treaty. The British under Governor FitzRoy of course opposed them in order to maintain law and order and Imperial control. Tāmati Wāka Nene provided the third force. Like Heke, Wāka Nene also fought to maintain mana and rangatiratanga, however he felt this goal was best achieved by working with the British.5 Wāka Nene therefore resisted Heke’s rebellion in order to maintain his own relationship with the colonial government. In some ways the Northern War was almost a tribal war between Wāka Nene and Heke over whether to resist the changes that had occurred since the signing of the Treaty, or to work with them. Wāka Nene’s men were present at the major battles and supported the British, although not always directly. Indeed Wāka Nene’s men at Ohaewai fought what almost amounted to a separate action, while the battle at Te Ahuahu involved no British forces at all.6 During the course of the Northern War, Wāka Nene supplied approximately as many men as the British were able to field on each of their main expeditions – about 1,000 men each. Eventually both Heke and Wāka Nene each felt they had proved their point and established a peace, and it is notable that Heke never submitted to the British. Instead Governor Grey was invited to share the peace established between the Māori combatants.7 On the East Coast Rapata Wahawaha saved Ngati Porou from Te Kooti’s depredations by becoming actively involved in blocking his moves, then hunting him through the Ureweras. In resisting Te Kooti, Wahawaha also aligned his tribe with the Crown’s interests, thus safeguarding Ngati Porou from land confiscations.8 Further south, Te Hapuku Ngai Te Whatuiapiti and a number of other Māori chiefs fought with the British at Omarunui in 1866 against the Pai Marire there as a means of restoring the mana lost in the inter-tribal fighting a decade earlier.9 The other cluster of reasons for supporting the British was for spiritual or pragmatic reasons. Although not strictly kūpapa, and ultimately unsuccessful, both Te Ua Haumene and Titokowaru campaigned extensively for peace between the British and Māori, despite considerable provocation. Similarly, as early as 1843 Te Rauparaha sought to avoid conflict with the Crown, until it was forced on him at Wairau.10 Even so, in the subsequent conflict in the Hutt Valley Te Rauparaha sought to avoid conflict due to the influence of the missionary Octavius Hadfield and a belief that a war with the British would be too costly.11 He took this position even at the cost of his relationship with his close confederate Te Rangiheata.12 The support provided by kūpapa could be either military or non-military, or a mix. Nene also provided military support in the Northland War, although he generally fought alongside the British as a peer, rather than with them as a subordinate. The Lower Whanganui provided direct military support, as did the flying columns that scoured the Ureweras for Te Kooti. In the run up to the Waikato War these was considerable discussion amongst the various tribes, and one of the key points of difference to emerge was how to respond to Grey encroachments into Kingitanga land. Construction of the Great South Road, the use of steamers on the Waikato River, and the construction of the government building at Te Kohekohe all caused friction. The ‘moderate’ leader Wiremu Te Whēoro was reported as saying the presence of the colonial government was a ‘treasure’ and ‘a precious thing’.13 Te Whēoro did not want to lose access to the advantages that access to the government bought, and in the subsequent war he would assist the logistic effort supporting Cameron’s forces invading the Waikato by providing labour for the distribution network from the Waikato Heads to Queens Redoubt at the southern end of The Great South Road.14 Alongside Te Whēoro were several hundred other so-called ‘Queenites’ who sided with the British, out of a total government force of around 10,000 men. Regardless of the nature of support provided the reasons remained the same, to the frustration of the British. The support was conditional, and if those conditions weren’t met, then support from kūpapa tended to become reluctant or non-existent, such as when Nene established a separate peace with Heke. From the Northern War fought between Hone Heke, Waka Nene, and the Crown, in the Bay of Islands during 1845-1846, down to the final manhunt for Te Kooti in the Ureweras by Wahawaha and Major Kemp in the early 1870s, it was usual for the opposing forces in the New Zealand Wars to consist of three sides, not two. Instead of a simplistic alignment of 'crown and kūpapa allied against the rebels', it is more useful to frame the fighting as the Crown fighting with and/or against Māori. Kūpapa generally did not support the British out of simple loyalty to the crown, despite widespread respect for the person of Queen Victoria. Some leaders avoided conflict out of respect for British and their catholic faith, but when they fought it was for the advantages that accrued to them, and providing assistance to the Crown was incidental. Kūpapa didn't 'owe' the British anything. They were a third force in the New Zealand Wars, who fought on their own terms, and for their own objectives. Both kūpapa and 'rebel' Māori sought to protect their mana and their rangatiratanga, in order to protect a way of life they all felt slipping away. Bibliography anon., Te Aka Māori-English, English-Māori Dictionary, http://Māoridictionary.co.nz, accessed May 2017 Battersby, John (2000). The one day war; the Battle of Omarunui, 1866, Auckland, Reed Belich, J. (1983). The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian interpretation of racial conflict (2015). Auckland: Auckland University Press. Belich, J. (1989). I shall not die, Titokowaru’s War, New Zealand, 1868-1869. Wellington, N.Z.: Allen & Unwin Ltd. Keenan, D. (2009). Wars without end : the land wars in nineteenth-century New Zealand. Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin. misc., Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/, accessed June 2017 Moon, P. (2009). Hone Heke : Nga Puhi warrior. Auckland, N.Z.: D. Ling. Paterson, Lachy, Colonial Discourses: Niupepa Maori 1855-1863, Otago University Press, Dunedin, 2006 Riseborough, Hazel (2002). Days of darkness: Taranaki 1878-1884. Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin Taylor, Richard, Logistical operations in the Waikato War, 1863-64, Military Studies Institute Occasional Paper Series, No. 9, August 2005 Notes 1 Quoted in Paterson, Lachy, Colonial Discourses: Niupepa Maori 1855-1863, Otago University Press, Dunedin, 2006, p.174 2 http://Māoridictionary.co.nz/search?idiom=&phrase=&proverb=&loan=&histLoanWords=&keywords=kupapa retrieved 15 May 2017 3 Belich, James, The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian interpretation of racial conflict, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 2015 (1986), p.285 4 Belich, J. (1989). I shall not die, Titokowaru’s War, New Zealand, 1868-1869. Wellington, N.Z.: Allen & Unwin Ltd., p.26 5 Moon, P. (2009). Hone Heke : Nga Puhi warrior. Auckland, N.Z.: D. Ling., p.53-55, 97-104 6 Belich, James, The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian interpretation of racial conflict, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 2015 (1986), p.45-47 7 Riseborough, Hazel, Days of darkness; Taranaki 1878-1884, Auckland, Penguin, 2002, p.39 8 Steven Oliver. 'Wahawaha, Rapata', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/1w1/wahawaha-rapata (accessed 31 May 2017) 9 Battersby, John, The one day way; the Battle of Omarunui, 1866, Auckland, Reed, 2000, p.24-27 10 Keenan, D. (2009). Wars without end : the land wars in nineteenth-century New Zealand. Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin, p.135-138 11 Steven Oliver. 'Te Rauparaha', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/1t74/te-rauparaha (accessed 2 June 2017) 12 Angela Ballara. 'Te Rangihaeata', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/1t63/te-rangihaeata (accessed 2 June 2017) 13 Paterson, Lachy, Colonial Discourses: Niupepa Maori 1855-1863, Otago University Press, Dunedin, 2006, p.190 14 Belich, James, The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian interpretation of racial conflict, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 2015 (1986), p.136. Taylor, Richard, Logistical operations in the Waikato War, 1863-64, Military Studies Institute Occasional Paper Series, No. 9, August 2005, p12-13. ... back to contents
  8. I had to think for a bit ... is that 'The Somme'?
  9. JonS

    Jon writes about war

    It's probably a little overstated One specific element I believe was first introduced by the Maori was overhead cover. Artillery had come a long way since the Napoleonic wars, and bomb-proof dug outs rapidly became a feature of the Maori way of war.
  10. JonS

    Jon writes about war

    You might enjoy this http://www.radionz.co.nz/programmes/nz-wars I'm looking forward to digging in to it
  11. In the 1990s Atomic Games released the "V for Victory" series of games (Velikiye Luki, Utah Beach, Market Garden, Gold-Juno-Sword), later sequeled in the "World at War" series (D Day: America Invades, Operation Crusader, Stalingrad). They were set in WWII, and used the same WEGO system that CM uses (simultaneous planning phase, followed by simultaneous execution with no player interference), albeit in 2D and at the grand-tactical/operational level rather than 3D in the minor-tac realm. I loved and played the hell out of those games, and have been deeply disappointed that no one has yet picked up the 2D/Operational/WeGo mantle. HPS' Panzer Campaigns was a poor and pale imitation.
  12. JonS

    Jon writes about war

    Tactics on the Western Front, 1914-1918 Evolution and adaptation in technology and doctrine How to surprise, overrun, and penetrate a well-sited defence system some four miles deep, the front edge of which was only a short distance from one’s own, protected by massive wire entanglements and covered by the flanking fire of machine-guns and a wall of fire from artillery and mortars of all calibres sited in depth. Major General R.C. Money1 In 1914 the armies that would face each other on the Western Front went to war with broadly similar tactics, doctrine, and equipment. However, the three elements were badly out of step with each other, leading directly to the stalemate experienced there. In an attempt to achieve success several principles of war were first abandoned, then gradually recovered as technology, tactics, and doctrine recovered a new equilibrium, allowing offensive success and a more mobile campaign by all armies in 1918. Current New Zealand military doctrine recognises ten distinct Principles of War.2 Although modern in their description, these principles are timeless in that they are applicable to all levels of war through the ages. They can therefore be used to make sense of the changes in warfare during the course of World War One. Of particular relevance are the principles of Surprise and Flexibility. This essay will describe and explain the evolution of doctrine and technology, and their impact on tactics on the Western Front from 1914 to 1918 through the lens of these two principles. The opening battles of the war featured infantry moving in the open, supported by field artillery firing directly at an enemy they could see, and be seen by. In these early battles speed and the needs of infantry dominated all planning considerations, to the extent that attacks would proceed regardless of whether the artillery was ready or not.3 The common doctrine sought the flanks in order to encircle and annihilate the enemy. Artillery firing from open positions proved terribly vulnerable to enemy small arms fire, as the British discovered as early as Le Câteau. Similarly, the defensive firepower of the infantry alone, using only long range, quick firing rifles and very modest numbers of machine guns, came as a shock to all concerned. Casualties were high, even when attacks succeeded. As each side sought to outflank the other, the battle extended north until a continuous line from the Channel to Switzerland was formed. This continuous front was enhanced by extensive digging and wire obstacles. Trenches protected the defender from the worst of the enemy’s offensive firepower, while infantry were desperately vulnerable as they slowed to negotiate the wire. German defensive doctrine at this point emphasised holding the shoulders of any break-in, then the use of reserves to seal off the penetration and counter-attack.4 This doctrine was demonstrated at Neuve Chapelle – a brief but heavy bombardment was sufficient to get the British through the under-developed defensive positions and onto their first objectives.5 However at this point they halted, unsure what to do next, and further orders took nearly twelve hours to be disseminated due to poor communications. Meanwhile the Germans held the flanks, and moved up reserves. An attempt to continue the attack on the following day failed. Similarly, German counter-attacks failed when the roles were reversed.6 Following Neuve Chapelle attacks became characterised by larger and longer artillery preparation. In attempting to literally blast defenders out of their positions, the principle of Surprise was deliberately sacrificed. However artillery was not yet capable of delivering the effects sought. After the early battles in 1914, the guns had retreated out of sight of the enemy and began using indirect fire to engage targets. While this drastically reduced attrition amongst artillery crews and equipment, it also exposed the lack of pre-war doctrinal development. The theory of indirect fire had been under development since the late 19th Century, but few gunners were practiced in it, and few of the essential elements required had been recognised, let alone resolved.7 During 1915 the gunners sought to refine their ability to hit targets they could not see. This included the air arms supplying photographs of potential targets and for creating increasingly detailed and accurate maps.8 Ammunition was found wanting, both in terms of quantity – all armies went into the war with sufficient for only a few days firing at high rates – and also in terms of types.9 Shrapnel was a fine weapon when used by trained crews against targets in the open, but used by conscripts against dug-in positions it was practically useless.10 What was required were high explosive (HE) and gas projectiles which could destroy equipment, entrenchments and neutralise positions, and a larger number of higher calibre guns.11 Despite the evident limitations, efforts were made to better shield the infantry as they attacked and consolidated positions by the use of standing and moving barrages. When the infantry was able to move in conjunction with the barrage, the combined effect was powerful, with the infantry arriving just after the barrage and before the enemy was able to man their defensive positions.12 Barrages rapidly became a standard part of the artillery tactical repertoire, but although techniques, sophistication and coordination improved tremendously, the core problem of communication beyond the frontline remained – once the barrage became desynchronised from the infantry’s movement, there was little ability to bring them back into line again, which generally left the infantry advancing without effective artillery support.13 1916 saw the culmination of artillery used as a sledgehammer. The development and execution of the artillery fireplan dominated the planning and execution of The Somme Offensive, obviating any attempt at Flexibility.14 The fireplan was allowed to extend over eight days in a failed effort to destroy the German barbed wire obstacles. In the process any surprise was also lost.15 German artillery was somewhat more effective at Verdun since they had a greater proportion of heavier calibre artillery and HE. However the same limitation applied - planning for the battle was artillery led and therefore ponderous, allowing the French just enough time to react before a decisive outcome was achieved.16 German defensive doctrine had been undergoing steady development, and by the Somme they routinely built three separate defence lines, with reserves ready to conduct counter-attacks. The layout of defences also increasingly began to make use of reverse slopes, rather than simply digging in as far forward as possible. Use of the reverse slope made observation and engagement by all enemy systems difficult or impossible, and also meant attackers cresting the high ground could be engaged by the entire depth of the defences, whilst only having their own modest firepower to bring to bear.17 This defensive schema was fully realised when the Germans stepped back to the Hindenburg Line, constructed on carefully selected ground.18 The sanguinary lesson from both Verdun and The Somme was that artillery destruction did not work. Despite extraordinary expenditure of lives and ammunition, advances remained nugatory and the enemy undefeated. It was realised that the entire depth of the enemy defensive position must be engaged simultaneously, over a short period, in order to disrupt the enemy’s defensive scheme and to maintain surprise. In 1916 that was still beyond the abilities of the forces engaged, but the doctrine and supporting technology to enable it was being developed. By late 1916 or early 1917 the technological elements required for accurate predicted artillery fire were largely ready.19 This included the methods required to produce accurate mapping, and survey techniques to relate all guns to a common grid. Intelligence from photography had always been a primary role of the air arms, and technology continued to develop to accurately and precisely locate key enemy positions.20 This was coupled to sound ranging and flash-spotting to locate hostile batteries, and a dedicated organisation to direct the fight against them.21 Gathering metrological data became routine, and the results disseminated to all artillery headquarters. Variations between batches of propellant and shells were assessed by test firings, and the effects of barrel wear calibrated on specially instrumented ranges.22 Significant changes were also underway in the infantry battalions. A greater variety of weapons were becoming available, including grenades, more machineguns, and mortars. At the same time, platoons and companies were reorganised to increase their independence, firepower, and reduce casualties.23 These changes, allied to improved doctrine, meant the infantry was increasingly able to fight its own way forward. The inflexible waves which were the norm until the start of The Somme soon disappeared, replaced by looser, more flexible formations that made use of available cover, and conducting minor manoeuvre to overcome or avoid local enemy positions. The later stages of The Somme also saw the debut of the tank. Noisy, unreliable, blind, and slow, these first machines nevertheless carried firepower forward over bullet-swept ground to directly engage enemy positions.24 By the end of 1916 the nature of the problem on the Western Front was broadly understood; the technological means of overcoming it were increasingly in place, and doctrinal and tactical methods for employing them were being developed. During 1917 the lessons from earlier campaigns were applied in conjunction with these new technologies to produce viable, if limited, tactics. General Herbert Plumer refined the approach known as ‘Bite and Hold.’25 Following the disastrous Nivelle Offensive, the French adopted the same approach.26 This deliberately eschewed a breakthrough by limiting the maximum depth of advance to that which could be adequately supported by the available artillery. The infantry would be protected by an integrated fireplan that included a variety of barrages, and neutralised the enemy’s key positions and batteries by combinations of HE and gas shells. Hostile observation was restricted by smoke shells, and obstacles either cut by HE triggered by super-sensitive graze fuzes, or crushed by tanks. Properly prepared attacks could now be reliably expected to gain two to three kilometres of ground with tolerable casualties. Plumer proved the viability of this approach during a series of three battles on the ridges northeast of Ypres in September and early October. In each of these assaults the German defences were overrun, driving them back towards the Passchendaele Ridge, and forcing a change in their defensive tactics. The German Army was forced to thin out defences and abandon continuous trenchlines, relying instead on separated platoon and company positions located irregularly across the battlespace.27 Even so, Plumer’s continued success caused despair amongst the German High Command.28 However ‘bite-and-hold’ doctrine was self-limiting. Although each attack was a success, with the Germans suffering debilitating casualties, Plumer was not able to generate sufficient tempo to break through before the rains came in mid-October. The battle stagnated as the ground transformed into a bottomless bog, nullifying all the advances made over the previous year.29 To the south a different approach was being trialled. At Cambrai in November artillery showed it had truly come of age, and was now the decisive factor on the battlefield. To keep the Germans unaware of what was being planned, all targets were silently predicted, and all guns were calibrated before they moved into position.30 The infantry began moving at the same time that the artillery commenced firing, restoring the element of Surprise. The artillery programme supported the infantry with the usual barrages, along with a very effective counter-battery programme.31 The most celebrated feature of Cambrai was the large numbers of tanks, tasked with crushing wire obstacles and engaging the enemy at close range while the infantry infiltrated forward. Aircraft roamed overhead, attacking enemy gun positions and reserves that were moving to the battle. This was fighting in depth and across three dimensions, and broke clean through the formidable defences of the Hindenburg Line within hours.32 Thus by 1918 the major armies on the Western Front understood the doctrine, technology, and tactics required for successful offensive action – brief hurricane bombardments to suppress the enemy and protect the infantry as they advanced; close integration of all arms; and the use of small unit infiltration tactics by the infantry vanguard to work around and behind enemy positions and quickly achieve deep penetrations.33 The Germans applied also this these principles in a series of tactically successful but operationally disconnected attacks between March and July.34 Although German defensive doctrine had been studied and disseminated by the British and French, it was not widely understood and often poorly implemented.35 In particular their positions generally lacked depth. For the French this was partly due to a reluctance to cede any further ground to the invader. The British too were loathe to relinquish ground, and anyway lacked the numbers to man or even fully develop three complete defensive lines. As early as Messines some perceptive commanders were pushing back against the tendency to pack frontline positions with men, preferring instead to hold the positions with more firepower and thus expose fewer men to risk.36 The logic of this took time to sink in, and the lack of men for depth positions in early 1918 was partly due to habitual packing of the foremost lines.37 At Hamel and then again Amiens British showed they fully understood three-dimensional machine offensive warfare, successfully applying the new doctrine by integrating the various arms and technologies to enable their tactics.38 Subsequently, during the Hundred Days, increases in relative tempo meant that these blows fell more often, thereby decisively shifting the advantage in favour of the Allies.39 In the last months of the war ‘the German army was unable to match British tempo’.40 At the start of the First World War the principle of Flexibility was not a significant concern, and over the next two years Surprise was discarded as the combatants sought to achieve success through ever increasing applications of poorly guided firepower. This approach reached its apogee – or perhaps its nadir - in the twin battles of Verdun and The Somme where attempts to sweep the enemy away with massive bombardments were consistently thwarted by the time to prepare, allowing the defender time to move reserves into position. After 1916, Surprise was again seen as being key to success, and advances in artillery command and control, along with other technology such as tanks and ground attack aircraft, allowed offensives to begin with much fewer obvious preparations. Simultaneously, tactical forces were speeding up their battle rhythm and becoming more adept at employing different combinations of technology to solve tactical problems, restoring Flexibility. By 1917 it was understood by all sides that properly directed artillery fire in depth allowed tactical break-ins of two to three kilometres practically at will. During 1918 this approach was extended to allow tactical breakthroughs to become routine. The restoration of Surprise and Flexibility through the intelligent use of technologically advanced firepower restored to the battlefield the mobility which had been lost in 1914 due to the unexpected power of massed infantry weapons.41 Bibliography anon., NZ Defence Doctrine (NZDDP-D), NZDF Wellington, 2012 Bailey, J.B.A., Field artillery and firepower, Routledge, London, 2004 (1989) Bailey, Jonathan, The First World War and the birth of the modern style of warfare, Strategic and Combat Studies Institute Occasional Paper No. 22, British Army Staff College, Camberley, 1996 Bidwell, Shelford, and Graham, Dominick, Firepower, British Army weapons and theories of war 1904-1945, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1985 (1982) Boff, Jonathan, Winning and losing on the Western Front; the British Third Army and the defeat of Germany in 1918, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012 Curtis, Vincent J., The elastic defence, 1917-1943, Canadian Army Journal, vol. 8.1 (Winter 2005), pp. 53-72 Ekins, Ashley, ed., 1918, Year of victory, The end of the Great War and the shaping of history, Exisle, Auckland, 2010 Griffith, Paddy, Battle tactics of the Western Front, the British Army's art of attack 1916-18, Yale University Press, London, 2000 (1994) Harper, Glyn, Dark Journey, three key New Zealand battles of the Western Front, Harper Collins, Auckland, 2007 Harper, Glynn, and Hayward, Joel, Born to lead? Portraits of New Zealand commanders, Exisle, Auckland, 2003 Harris, Paul and Marble, Sanders, The ‘Step-by-Step’ Approach: British Military Thought and Operational Method on the Western Front, 1915–1917, War in History, 2008 15 (1) pp. 17-42 Herwig, Holger H., The First World War, Germany and Austria Hungary, 1914-1918, Arnold, London, 1997 Keegan, John, The face of battle, a study of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme, Penguin, London, 1978 (1976) Keegan, John, The First World War, Hutchinson, London, 1998 Knox, MacGregor, and Murray, Williamson, eds., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001 Lupfer, Timothy T., The dynamics of doctrine: the changes in German tactical doctrine during the First World War, Leavenworth Papers, No.4, 1981 Millett, Allan R., and Murray, Williamson, Military Effectiveness, volume 1, the First World War, new edition, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2010 (1988) Palazzo, Albert P., The British Army's Counter-Battery Staff Office and Control of the Enemy in World War I, The Journal of Military History, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Jan., 1999), pp. 55-74 Sheffield, Gary and Todman, Dan, eds., Command and control on the Western Front, the British Army's experience 1914-18, Spellmount, Gloucestershire, 2007 (2004) Strachan, Hew, The First World War, Simon & Schuster, London, 2003 Terrain, John, To win a war, 1918, the year of victory, Papermac, 1986 (1978) Van der Kloot, William, Lawrence Bragg's Role in the Development of Sound-Ranging in World War I, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Sep. 22, 2005), pp. 273-284 Watson, Alexander, Ring of steel, Germany and Austria-Hungary at war, 1914-1918, Penguin, 2015 (2014) Notes 1 Quoted in Kennedy, Paul, ‘Britain in the First World War,’ in Millett, Allan R., and Murray, Williamson, Military Effectiveness, volume 1, the First World War, new edition, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2010 (1988), p.63 2 anon., NZ Defence Doctrine (NZDDP-D), NZDF Wellington, 2012, paragraphs 4.12 – 4.27 3 Bailey, Jonathan, The First World War and the birth of the modern style of warfare, Strategic and Combat Studies Institute Occasional Paper No. 22, British Army Staff College, Camberley, 1996, p.8. Lupfer, Timothy T., The dynamics of doctrine: the changes in German tactical doctrine during the First World War, Leavenworth Papers, No.4, 1981, p.1-2 4 Keegan, John, The First World War, Hutchinson, London, 1998, p.210. Lupfer, dynamics of doctrine, p.3 5 Bailey, J.B.A., Field artillery and firepower, Routledge, London, 2004 (1989), p.131-132. Keegan, The First World War, p.210-211 6 Keegan, The First World War, p.211 7 Bailey, The First World War and the birth of the modern style of warfare, p.7-11. Bidwell, Shelford, and Graham, Dominick, Firepower, British Army weapons and theories of war 1904-1945, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1985 (1982), p.7-13. 8 Bidwell and Graham, Firepower, p.103 9 Bailey, Field artillery and firepower, p.129-130. Strachan, Hew, The First World War, Simon & Schuster, London, 2003, p.163-166 10 Bidwell, Shelford, Gunners at war, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1970, p.24, 35 11 Griffith, Paddy, Battle tactics of the Western Front, the British Army's art of attack 1916-18, Yale University Press, London, 2000 (1994), p.140-141 12 Griffith, Battle tactics of the Western Front, p.141-144 13 McCarthy, Chris, ’Queen of the battlefield: the development of command, organisation and tactics in the British infantry battalion during the Great War’ in Sheffield, Gary and Todman, Dan, eds., Command and control on the Western Front, the British Army's experience 1914-18, Spellmount, Gloucestershire, 2007 (2004), p.181 14 Bailey, Jonathan, 'The First World War and the birth of the modern style of warfare', in Knox, MacGregor, and Murray, Williamson (eds.), The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001, p.142 15 Keegan, John, The face of battle, a study of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme, Penguin, London, 1978 (1976), p.231-241 16 Herwig, Holger H., The First World War, Germany and Austria Hungary, 1914-1918, Arnold, London, 1997, p.190. Strachan, The First World War, p.184-185 17 Lupfer, dynamics of doctrine, p.7, 11-16 18 Herwig, The First World War, p.246-250. Curtis, Vincent J., The elastic defence, 1917-1943, Canadian Army Journal, vol. 8.1 (Winter 2005), pp. 56-57 19 Bailey, The First World War and the birth of the modern style of warfare, p.14-17 20 Kennedy, ‘Britain in the First World War,’ in Millett and Murray, Military Effectiveness, vol 1, p.49 21 Palazzo, Albert P., The British Army's Counter-Battery Staff Office and Control of the Enemy in World War I, The Journal of Military History, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Jan., 1999), pp. 55-74. Van der Kloot, William, Lawrence Bragg's Role in the Development of Sound-Ranging in World War I, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Sep. 22, 2005), pp. 273-284 22 Bidwell and Graham, Firepower, p.108-109 23 McCarthy, ’Queen of the battlefield’ in Sheffield and Todman, Command and control on the Western Front, p.176, 183, 188-189 24 Strachan, The First World War, p.189, 304-304 25 Harper, Glyn, Dark Journey, three key New Zealand Battles of the Western Front, Harper Collins, Auckland, 2007, p.28, 31-32. Harris, Paul and Marble, Sanders, The ‘Step-by-Step’ Approach: British Military Thought and Operational Method on the Western Front, 1915–1917, War in History, 2008 15 (1) p. 20-22, 39-40. 26 Porch, Douglas, ‘the French Army in the First World War,’ in Millett, Allan R., and Murray, Williamson, Military Effectiveness, volume 1, the First World War, new edition, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2010 (1988), p.216-217 27 Lupfer, dynamics of doctrine, p.35. Keegan, The First World War, p.392 28 Harper, Dark Journey, p.54 29 Strachan, The First World War, p.247-248. Harper, Dark Journey, p.74-76 30 Bidwell and Graham, Firepower, p.134 31 Bailey, Field artillery and firepower, p.129-130. Strachan, The First World War, p.142. Palazzo, The British Army's Counter-Battery Staff Office, p. 69-70. Bailey, The First World War and the birth of the modern style of warfare, p.41-42 32 Herwig, The First World War, p.332-333. Keegan, The First World War, p.396-397 33 Bailey, Field artillery and firepower, p.143-145 34 Watson, Alexander, Ring of steel, Germany and Austria-Hungary at war, 1914-1918, Penguin, 2015 (2014), p.514-523. Herwig, The First World War, p.392-420. Strachan, The First World War, p.285-291 35 McCarthy, ’Queen of the battlefield’ in Sheffield and Todman, Command and control on the Western Front, p.184-185 36 Harper, Glyn, 'Major General Sir Andrew Russell: divisional commander on the Western Front' in Harper, Glyn and Hayward, Joel (eds.), Born to lead? Portraits of New Zealand commanders, Exisle, Auckland, 2003, p.61 37 Terrain, John, To win a war, 1918, the year of victory, Papermac, 1986 (1978), p.48, 60, 71, 73-74 38 Strachan, The First World War, p.308-310 39 Pedersen, Peter, 'Maintaining the advance: Monash, battle procedure and the Australian Corps in 1918' in Ekins , Ashley (ed.), 1918 Year of Victory, the end of the Great War and the shaping of history, Exisle, Auckland, 2010, p.130-145 40 Boff, Jonathan, Winning and losing on the Western Front; the British Third Army and the defeat of Germany in 1918, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012, p.226 41 Bailey, The First World War and the birth of the modern style of warfare, p.11 ... back to contents
  13. JonS

    Jon writes about war

    World War One, Technology, and the Royal Artillery Modern artillery is technology intensive - radars, computers, thermal imagers, Global Positioning Systems, and many other high technology devices are employed as elements of a weapon system that can strike with great power over many kilometres. Less than a century ago, at the start of World War One, artillery technology was primitive. Few tools other than the guns themselves were in regular use, indirect fire was understood but only occasionally practised, and most armies relied on direct fire.1 Between 1914 and 1917 most of the technologies associated with modern gunnery were developed and brought into devastating use by the Royal Artillery, taking them being from an optional extra to an indispensable support arm. Early War - Problems In 1914 even primitive artillery was sufficient to halt attacks – if only just. At Le Cateau British gunners fired shrapnel rounds directly at the massed ranks of attacking Germans, inflicting grievous casualties. The battle was a defensive success,2 but at a cost of roughly 10% of the guns then in France.3 Direct fire tactics could not be sustained if the Royal Artillery expected to remain viable. The guns hastily moved back to cover and supported the infantry with indirect fire.4 From there they were able to blunt and eventually halt the Germans by generating superior defensive firepower. When the British took the offensive they discovered their artillery wasn’t effective enough to successfully support an attack, especially against a dug in and prepared defence.5 It became clear over a series of battles that the offensive firepower that could be generated was woefully inadequate.6 The varied approaches to solving this problem affected virtually all aspects of gunnery. New generations of heavier guns were designed and deployed.7 New types of ammunition were developed to supplement the pre-war reliance on shrapnel.8 While shrapnel was very effective against troops advancing in the open, it was virtually useless against entrenched troops.9 Soon vast demands were being made for high explosive (H.E.) rounds to physically destroy the enemy’s defensive positions.10 Additionally, smoke shells for screening, and gas rounds to attack the enemy’s morale and combat effectiveness, were developed.11 The most significant advance in fuzes came with the introduction of the ‘Graze’ Fuze 106, which would detonate on contact, rather than burying itself a few feet into the ground. This dramatically improved the reliability of H.E. as a tool to cut barbed wire entanglements.12 Perhaps most significantly the Royal Artillery moved towards scientific gunnery. Calibration of guns,13 and discipline in the handling of ammunition meant that variations between guns, ammunition lots, and a propellant batches14 could all be corrected for. This, plus the technology required for high quality maps, aerial photography, and flash- and sound-ranging, enabled targets to be accurately engaged even when they couldn’t be observed.15 All this meant that the Royal Artillery was able to provide effective support to attacking infantry. German infantry firepower, and other close targets, could be defeated through increasingly sophisticated barrages. Deep targets, including the enemy’s artillery firepower and reserve forces, could be neutralised by accurate predicted fire.16 Mid War – Solutions Unfortunately, that was some way in the future. The sheer number of technologies being explored required a huge amount of experimentation and development. It also meant that new technologies would not become available together. The disaster on the first day of the Somme was a direct result of this. Most of the technologies had not yet borne fruit. In particular predicted fire was not yet practical. Furthermore, the importance of German artillery to their defensive schemes was not yet appreciated. The first of the new technologies available by mid 1916 were quantities of the new medium and heavy weapons, and more ammunition.17 As a result, ‘destruction’ of the first line of trenches was the primary task, while little counter-battery effort was made.18 Thus when the British infantry went over the top at dawn on the 1st of July, German firepower – buttressed by their own artillery and infantry firing from depth positions – remained devastatingly intact. Lessons were rapidly learned. Within days the tasks and expectations of artillery had changed.19 Over the next four months additional lessons about the strengths and limitations of the available artillery technology were learnt and applied to successful effect. Also, more and more of the innovations commenced in 1915 were completed and added their bit of technology to the overall artillery system.20 Eventually, ‘destruction’ came to be seen as impractical.21 Instead ‘neutralisation’ was gradually recognised as being both sufficient to support successful attacks, and being something achievable by the available technology. This change in emphasis saw a change in the way attacks were planned and organised, with gunners and their technological system playing a full part in developing plan of attack, becoming advisors and peers, rather than mere service providers.22 The culmination of this was a series of stunningly successful attacks at Vimy Ridge,23 Messines Ridge,24 and Cambrai.25 Even at Passchendaele, the late-September series of attacks under Plumer were so successful that the Germans had run out of defensive ideas and were only saved by the appalling weather in October.26 In all of these attacks the artillery used a sophisticated combination of technologies to fire short bombardments that achieved neutralisation and maintained surprise; predicted fire, made possible by calibration plus effective aerial reconnaissance plus flash- and sound-ranging, all but silenced the enemy guns; new smoke, gas, and high-explosive ammunition and fuzes blinded the enemy, cut wire, and fatigued and demoralised the men; complex barrages, made possible by corrections for non-standard conditions, reliable communications, and consistent ammunition, assisted the infantry forward and protected them once on the objective. These attacks showed that the British could now take any German position - as long as the guns were allowed sufficient time to fully organise their support of the attack, and the objective was not too distant.27 By late 1917 the myriad artillery technology innovations had shifted the balance between offensive and defensive firepower such that British offensives would reliably succeed. Late War - Refinement Between late 1917 and November 1918 relatively few new artillery technologies were introduced. Instead continued improvement came from further advances in tactics, organisation, doctrine, and combined arms.28 Between 1914 and 1917 the Royal Artillery underwent a massive change in the way it did business, and in its power to influence the outcome of battles. This revolution was underwritten by a wide range of successfully implemented new technologies. As a result, the Royal Artillery and its technology was a powerful contributor to the success of The 100 Days. Bibliography Bailey, J.B.A., Field Artillery and Firepower (London: Routledge, 2004) Bidwell, Shelford, Gunners at War (London, Arms and Armour Press, 1970) Bidwell, Shelford and Graham, Dominick, Fire-Power: British Army Weapons and Theories of War 1904-1945 (Winchester, Mass.: Allen & Unwin Inc., 1985) Brown, Ian M., “Not Glamorous, But Effective: The Canadian Corps and the Set-Piece Attack, 1917-1918,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Jul 1994), pp.421-444. Cook, Tim, “Dying like so Many Rats in a Trap: Gas Warfare and the Great War soldier,” The Army Doctrine and Training Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Winter 2002-2003), pp. 47-56 Corrigan, Gordon, Mud, Blood and Poppycock (London: Cassel, 2003) Finan, J.S., and Hurley, W.J., “McNaughton and Canadian Operational Research a Vimy,” The Journal of the Operational Research Society, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Jan.,1997), pp. 10-14.. Griffith, Paddy, Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army’s Art of Attack 1916-18 (Great Britain: Yale University Press, 2000) Harper, Glyn, Dark Journey: Three key New Zealand battles of the Western Front (Auckland: Harper Collins, 2007) Henderson, A., Green, D., and Cooke, P., The Gunners: A History of New Zealand Artillery (Auckland: Penguin Group, 2008) Marble, Sanders, The infantry cannot do with a gun less: The Place of the Artillery in the British Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918, accessed via http://www.gutenberg-e.org/mas01, August 2003 Palazzo, Albert P., “The British Army’s Counter-Battery Staff Office and Control of the Enemy in World War I,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Jan 1999), pp. 55-74. Terraine, John, The Smoke and the Fire: Myths and Anti-Myths of War, 1861-1945 (Sussex: Sidgwick and Jackson Ltd., 1980) Van der Kloot, William, “Lawrence Bragg’s Role in the Development of Sound-Ranging in World War I,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Sep. 22, 2005), pp. 273-284. Notes 1 Marble, Sanders, The infantry cannot do with a gun less: The Place of the Artillery in the British Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918, retrieved from http://www.gutenberg-e.org/mas01, August 2003. Chapter 2 – “Background through the end of 1914”, sub-chapter “Field Artillery Tactics”. Bailey, J.B.A., Field Artillery and Firepower (London: Routledge, 2004), p. 120. 2 Bidwell, Shelford, Gunners at War (London, Arms and Armour Press, 1970), p. 28-29. 3 Terraine, John, The Smoke and the Fire: Myths and Anti-Myths of War, 1861-1945 (Sussex: Sidgwick and Jackson Ltd., 1980) notes, p. 127, that the BEF had 410 guns of all types in Aug 1914. Bidwell, Gunners, notes, p.23, that 7 of 12 batterys deployed for direct fire were battered into silence by the German artillery and machine guns, and a total of 38 guns were lost guns over the course of the day. This represented a loss of approx 10% of the BEFs total gun park in France at that time. It also represented a loss of 10% of potential artillery firepower in any future battles. 4 Bidwell, Gunners, p. 29 5 The first British attack – at Neuve Chapelle in March1915 – almost succeeded, due to an almost accidental concentration of guns coupled with a neutralisation methodology, but also because the German defences there were very immature. Marble, Infantry, Chapter 3 – “Preparing the attack: Part I, 1914-1916”, sub-chapter “1915: Neuve Chapelle”. 6 The main attacks in this period were Aubers Ridge (early May 1915), Festubert (late May 1915), Loos (September 1915). All were failures. Griffith, Paddy, Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army’s Art of Attack 1916-18 (Great Britain: Yale University Press, 2000), p.150 and Marble, Infantry, Chapter 3 – “Preparing the attack: Part I, 1914-1916”, sub-chapter “The Next Attacks: Aubers Ridge and Festubert”. 7 The overall size of the Royal artillery grew from 554 batteries in 1914 to 1796 in 1918, Corrigan, Gordon, Mud, Blood and Poppycock (London: Cassel, 2003), p. 127. Of this, 5% of guns in 1914 were classed as medium or heavy, compared with 35% in 1918, Griffith, Battle Tactics, p. 147-148. 8 1914 and for most of 1915 only shrapnel was available for the 18-pr, which made up the bulk of the BEF’s gunpark, Bailey, J.B.A., Field Artillery and Firepower (London: Routledge, 2004), p. 122. Production and expenditure figures given in Griffith, Battle Tactics, p. 139 and 148-149, indicate that in 1916 slightly more shrapnel than HE/smoke/gas were being used. By 1917-18 this ratio was more than reversed with over two HE/smoke/gas rounds were being fired for every shrapnel round. 9 Essentially, this meant that shrapnel rounds were really only effective when the British were on the defensive, as they were in the opening months of the war. Against troops in any kind of protective cover it was little more than a nuisance. Shrapnel would, however, find favour again later in the war as a component of complex barrages to suppress the enemy since it was very effective at keeping the enemies heads down – i.e., neutralising them - yet when properly employed it presented little danger to friendly troops advancing. Bidwell, Shelford and Graham, Dominick, Fire-Power: British Army Weapons and Theories of War 1904-1945 (Winchester, Mass.: Allen & Unwin Inc., 1985), p. 84 and 97. 10 Monthly production of HE/smoke/gas shell rose from 800,000 in Mar 1916 to 5,600,000 in June 1917, a seven-fold increase in just 15 months. Griffith, Battle Tactics, p. 139. 11 Cook, Tim, “Dying like so Many Rats in a Trap: Gas Warfare and the Great War soldier,” The Army Doctrine and Training Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Winter 2002-2003), pp. 47-56, makes the case that while gas caused relatively few casualties, it greatly reduced the effectiveness of troops being gassed by forcing them to fight in gas masks, which made command and control exceptionally difficult, and rapidly fatigued troops so encumbered. For tactical use of smoke see Griffith, Battle Tactics, p. 140-142. 12 Bidwell and Graham, Fire-Power, p. 124. 13 Van der Kloot, William, “Lawrence Bragg’s Role in the Development of Sound-Ranging in World War I,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Sep. 22, 2005), p. 280 14 Marble, Infantry, Chapter 8 – “Training and Schools”, sub-chapter “What to Teach”. 15 Van der Kloot, “Lawrence Bragg”, p. 279-280. 16 Palazzo, Albert P., “The British Army’s Counter-Battery Staff Office and Control of the Enemy in World War I,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Jan 1999), p. 62. 17 Although shrapnel was still the overwhelmingly the most common round, accounting for the majority of the 1.5 million rounds fired in the week before 1 July, Corrigan, Poppycock, p. 262. Nevertheless, ammunition production had moved from being a virtual cottage industry to full scale mass production, with all the ancillary and supporting technologies that implied, Corrigan, Poppycock, p. 273. 18 Marble, Infantry, Chapter 5 – “The ‘Counter Blaster’ and Counter Battery Work”, sub-chapter “1916: Grappling with Organization”. Palazzo, “Counter-Battery Staff Office”, p. 60 notes that in one of the Corps preparing for 1 July Counter Battery ranked seventh of a list of ten missions allocated to the artillery. 19 The second phase of the Somme campaign began on 14 July at Longueval. The bombardment was drastically shortened compared to that for 1 July to retain surprise, and the creeping barrage used exclusively HE (rather than a mix of HE and shrapnel). The attack at Longueval was a success. Corrigan, Poppycock, p. 281-283. 20 A lot of the technology was developed on quieter parts of the front. With ammunition and quantities of guns generally constrained, and the big offensives have first call on what was available, “[a]ccuracy—through all the technical aspects of gunnery—was the goal, since the few shells available needed to be used to greatest effect … scarcity in the quiet sectors encouraged accuracy and good gunnery.” Marble, Infantry, Chapter 5 – “The ‘Counter Blaster’ and Counter Battery Work”, sub-chapter “1916: Grappling with Organization”. See also Finan, J.S., and Hurley, W.J., “McNaughton and Canadian Operational Research a Vimy,” The Journal of the Operational Research Society, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Jan., 1997), pp. 10-14 for the development of sound-ranging in quiet areas. 21 Indeed destruction of selected targets at a reasonable expenditure of ammunition has, to all intents and purposes, remained beyond the reach of artillery until very recently with the introduction of the XM982 “Excalibur” round by the US Army. 22 Marble, Infantry, Chapter 3 – “Preparing the Attack: Part I, 1914-1916”, sub-chapter “1916 – The Somme: Planning”. 23 Finan and Hurley “McNaughton” 24 Henderson, A., Green, D., and Cooke, P., The Gunners: A History of New Zealand Artillery (Auckland: Penguin Group, 2008), p. 122-125. 25 Palazzo, “Counter-Battery Staff ”, p. 69-70 26 Corrigan, Poppycock, p. 354. 27 Harper, Glyn, Dark Journey: Three key New Zealand battles of the Western Front (Auckland: Harper Collins, 2007), p.54 and 103-104, discusses two attacks by the NZ Division at Passchendaele in October 1917. The first, with excellent artillery support, succeeded. The second, with poor artillery support, was a ‘disaster.’ 28 See, for example, Brown, Ian M., “Not Glamorous, But Effective: The Canadian Corps and the Set-Piece Attack, 1917-1918,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Jul 1994), pp. 435-436, discussing the various combat elements combined for the very successful attack at Amiens, 8 August 1918. ... back to contents
  14. JonS

    Jon writes about war

    The Command Style of Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park during the Battle of Britain in 1940 If ever any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did. I don’t believe it is realised how much that one man, with his leadership, his calm judgment and his skill did to save not only this country, but the world. Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Tedder, GCB, KCB, CB February 1947 In mid-1940 a resurgent Nazi Germany rapidly defeated France in an astonishingly successful campaign, leaving Britain to face the Wehrmacht alone. Germany attempted to end the war by mounting an aerial campaign to destroy the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a precursor to invasion. This aerial campaign was met and ultimately defeated by the RAF’s Fighter Command. During the Battle of Britain particular responsibility fell on 11 Group, and its New Zealand born leader Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park, in the south-east of England.1 Never before or since has the responsibility for such a critical battle been borne by a New Zealand commander.2 The aim of this essay is to analyse Park’s conduct of the Battle of Britain against Keegan’s ‘Masks of Command’ leadership model in order to determine his command style, and how that style contributed to his success.3 Park enlisted as a private soldier in New Zealand in 1914 and saw action at Gallipoli, where he was soon commissioned, and on the Western Front until he was wounded in late 1916.4 Throughout this period Park showed initiative and physical courage, and observed leadership traits in action that he would later either emulate or avoid, such as relaxed authority and lack of pomposity.5 After recovering Park transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). His timing was fortunate. The RFC was in the process of becoming more professional about the way it prepared pilots for combat. As a result he was far better prepared than earlier pilots.6 After training Park was posted to a fighter squadron, where he was largely left to his own devices, but he learnt quickly and soon became an ‘ace.’ Park also paid unusual attention to his aircraft and his ground crew. In mid-1918 Park gained command of his own squadron, and started developing his own ideas. He introduced new tactics, and often flew alone to observe his men in action. Park also proved adept at the staff work needed to get the best out of his unit. Between the wars Park held an increasingly senior series of command and staff positions, perfecting his craft as a fighter commander. In the late 1930’s Park worked intimately with Dowding, head of Fighter Command to develop the command and control systems that he would later use. Park fully grasped Dowding’s intent, and the two of them were able to integrate the Observer Corps, intelligence, balloons, anti-aircraft artillery, RDF7, and the high-performance Hurricanes and Spitfires coming in to service, into a powerful and flexible air defence organisation, the principles of which are still in use.8 Park was often seen as been dogmatic or abrupt by others, particularly peers or superiors he disagreed with,9 and was not prone to small talk. But this view was not shared by his subordinates, who demonstrated a remarkable degree of affection for the man.10 It did, however, cause strained relations between himself and Sholto Douglas at the Air Ministry and Trafford Leigh-Mallory at 12 Group. Park’s inability to resolve these differences would cause him tactical difficulties during the Battle of Britain, and eventually cost him his job.11 When Keith Park took command of 11 Group in mid-1940 he was uniquely qualified to command the premiere fighter group in RAF, and to take responsibility for the major part of the forthcoming battle with the German Luftwaffe. He had long personal experience as a pilot and commander of fighter squadrons, and was intimately familiar with the detailed functioning and intent of the British air defence system. Furthermore, he was able to gain the confidence of those who served under him by his demonstrated professionalism and attention to their needs. In 1940 Park’s Group was one of four defending Great Britain. Located in the south-east it was thus closest to German-occupied France, covered any likely invasion beaches, and astride the shortest route to London. Commensurate with this it was numerically the largest Group, with nearly half the modern day fighter squadrons.12 RAF pilots were generally well trained, but as a group they lacked combat experience and were wedded to Fighting Area Attack tactics, which required more time spent trying to maintain formation than in looking for the enemy.13 Some pilots and squadrons ignored the official tactics14, but others adhered to it and suffered badly.15 Park directed that squadrons use looser formations during the Battle once he realized the old tactics were still being used.16 The Luftwaffe also heavily outnumbered Fighter Command.17 The only way that Park, and Dowding, could expect to a win in a protracted battle was to make the best use of their slender resources. The principle employed was that instead of standing patrols that relied on luck to find and engage the enemy, Park would keep his fighters on the ground until needed then only send aloft sufficient to meet and defeat actual raids. This avoided unnecessary fatigue on both pilots and aircraft, and ensured that enemy raids would be met with sufficient strength before reaching their target. While simple in concept, the challenge was that it took only a few minutes to fly across the English Channel, and about 20 more to get to London, while Park’s fighters required 15-20 minutes to get off the ground and gain altitude. The key was early warning, continuous monitoring, rapid reporting and dissemination of information, coupled with prompt and accurate orders. This was the system Park and Dowding had perfected together before the war. RDF stations picked up enemy aircraft while still over France, and with practice the operators learned to tell the difference between fighters and bombers, and to count the approximate number of aircraft. This advance warning gave Park the crucial time he needed to get his fighters into the air. Then the web of Observer Corps posts across south-east England to reported the location, height, direction, speed and strength of raids as they moved inland. All this information passed back to Park’s headquarters where it was filtered and presented to him as a simple but richly detailed visual display. From this, and his own experience as a pilot and commander, Park could send his fighters into battle at the right time and place. This command and control network was the vital force-multiplier that other air forces crushed by the Luftwaffe had lacked.18 Park’s force consisted of the pilots, their aircraft, and the network that controlled and guided them in the air. In 1940 the RAF possessed the world’s most sophisticated – in many ways the world’s only – integrated air defence system. The fighter squadrons were undoubtedly the cutting edge, but without the whole system their efforts would have been ultimately in vain. Within 11 Group command and control was handled at three levels. Park’s headquarters at Uxbridge looked over the whole of the Group’s area, issued orders to the seven Sectors, and liaised with 10 and 12 Groups on the flanks. Each Sector had its own area of responsibility and three or four fighter squadrons, gave the orders for squadrons to ‘scramble,’ and then directed them in the air. Each Squadron, once in the air, took general direction from its Sector but the Squadron Commander had the responsibility of getting his aircraft into position, and deciding when and how to attack. Authority was thus progressively delegated downwards, from Fighter Command under Dowding at Bentley Priory, to Park at 11 Group, then out to the Sectors, and finally to the Squadron Commanders.19 So, for example, Park might identify a raid heading towards Croydon and order Biggin Hill Sector to scramble a squadron and get it over Maidstone to intercept. The Biggin Hill Sector Commander would select a squadron that was ready to take off, scramble and vector it towards Maidstone, giving a direction, altitude, and word picture of what they would be engaging. Finally, the squadron commander would chose a formation, make use of the sun and any clouds to maneuver into position, then attack to destroy the cohesion of German formations - and of course the aircraft. But simultaneously Park would also be juggling other raids, the other 20 squadrons in his Group, and calling for reserves from the flanking Groups. This style of mission command relied on Park trusting his subordinate commanders to do the right thing, and they in turn trusting that the information and orders they were getting was accurate, sensible, and timely. Park pushed his controllers to get the fighters into position quickly by scrambling them in sufficient time, and he felt that any sortie that did not result in an engagement was a sortie wasted. Park pushed his Group not to waste any. Park’s staff at all levels were well trained and drilled, and the whole Group achieved a very high pitch of efficiency as the fighting progressed. Although Fighter Command was a vast operation, information from the sensors flowed up for a decision then back down to squadrons as coherent orders within a matter of minutes. Park commanded his battles from his headquarters. This was the only place where he had the necessary machinery to receive and make sense of the plethora of information coming in, and from which he could reliably and rapidly communicate with his superiors, his peers, and his subordinates. Typically raids would start in the late morning, and continue till the early evening, and throughout that time Park would be watching, assessing, estimating and judging to decide exactly when, where and in what strength to commit his forces.20 Park produced regular reports that summarised lessons learned and deduced new tactics.21 In fact, Park’s tactics changed quite noticeably over the course of the Battle, as he tried to stay in step with changes in Luftwaffe tactics and manage the growing strain on his own forces. Initially raids were numerous but small and he tended to send flights of three to six fighters to engage, but as the raids grew in strength so Park responded by scrambling full squadrons. When it became clear that the Me-109 was superior to the Hurricane he stipulated that Spitfire squadrons be used to engage and draw off the German fighters, while the Hurricanes concentrated on the bombers.22 Later still, as the Luftwaffe resorted to fewer but larger raids, Park instructed controllers to send squadrons up in pairs. Regardless of these changes, Park maintained an approach of attacking enemy raids early and repeatedly to minimise damage to the target. He didn’t try to mass his own fighters and then send them at the enemy, instead Park to selected locations he wanted to engage then directed fighters to mass at those times and spaces. The RAF pilots often felt they were attacking alone, but were actually part of a continuous grinding machine that wore down German formations from the time they crossed the coast, all the way to the target, then back to the coast. Park regularly flew himself around to command his men in person.23 He went to see and talk to his pilots and ground crews, explain how he thought the battle was progressing, and outline their role in it.24 He also listened intently to their views, and the way they said it, and thus determine their morale for himself.25 Park also used these highly informal meetings to pass on bits of information26, and to confirm that directives he’d sent out were actually reaching the squadrons and pilots. Park further motivated his Group in a number ways, such as authorising medalic recognition generously and quickly,27 and organizing such entertainments as string bands to visit airfields and “remove some of the drabness.”28 Throughout the long months of the Battle of Britain, Park maintained a relentless focus on Dowdings intent to prevent the destruction of Fighter Command while inflicting maximum damage on the Luftwaffe.29 Park couldn’t know how long the battle would continue, only that he had to keep meeting raids as long as the Luftwaffe sent them. As a fighter pilot, Park perceptively intuited that his pilot’s claims were unreliable, and that those claims became increasingly unreliable in proportion to the size of an aerial battle.30 He knew he was hurting the Luftwaffe, but not how much. On the other hand, he knew exactly how much his own force was hurting, and constantly strove to decrease the later even as he increased the former. Air Vice Marshall Keith Park’s command style during the Battle of Britain was anti-heroic. Park answered the question of “in front sometimes, always, or never?” with a resounding … sometimes. Fighter Command’s command and control system meant he could only effectively fight battles from his operations room at Uxbridge, but he also knew that he needed to command his men, and the only place he could do that was out on the ground or in the air. Park used this to achieve success in battle by making the best possible use of his slender material resources, and inspiring his men with the knowledge and determination to succeed. Although ignominiously shunted off to a training command immediately after winning the Battle of Britain, history has vindicated Park and his leadership and there is now a statue of him in London, looking anti-heroic, pulling on his flying gloves as he transitions from commanding the battle to commanding his warriors.31 Bibliography Addison, Paul and Crang, Jeremy A. (eds.), The burning blue; a new history of the Battle of Britain (London: Pimlico, 2000) Avery, Cass (Producer). (2010). The Kiwi who saved Britain [documentary] New Zealand: Greenstone Pictures Bishop, Patrick, Fighter boys; saving Britain 1940 (London: HarperCollins, 2003) Bungay, Stephen, The most dangerous enemy; a history of the Battle of Britain (London: Aurum Press Ltd, 2009) Churchill, Winston S., The Second World War; Volume II; their finest hour (London: Cassell & Co Ltd, 1949) Deere, Air Commodore Alan C., Nine lives (Manchester: Crécy Publishing Ltd, 2005) Ferris, John, “Fighter Defence before Fighter Command: The Rise of Strategic Air Defence in Great Britain, 1917-1934,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 63, No. 4 (Oct, 1999), pp. 845-884. Harper, Glynn and Hayward, Joel (eds.), Born to lead? Portraits of New Zealand commanders (Auckland: Exisle Publishing Ltd, 2003) Johnstone, Air Vice-Marshall Sandy, Spitfire into war (London: William Kimber & Co. Limited, 1986) Keegan, John, The mask of command; a study of generalship (London: Pimlico, 2004) Orange, Vincent, Sir Keith Park (London: Methuen, 1984) Overy, Richard, The Battle of Britain; the myth and the reality (London: Penguin Books Ltd, 2001) "Fourth Plinth RAF hero unveiled”, BBC News, 04 Nov 2009. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/8341772.stm on 10 Apr 2010 Notes 1 Park ultimately rose to be Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park GCB, KBE, ME, DFC, DCL. At the time of the Battle of Britain Park’s rank was Air-Vice Marshal. 2 Bungay, Stephen, The most dangerous enemy; a history of the Battle of Britain (London: Aurum Press Ltd, 2009), p.392-393 3 Keegan, John, The mask of command; a study of generalship (London: Pimlico, 2004). The four facets of a commander that Keegan’s model examines are; 1) the commander’s background, 2) his army or in this case air force, 3) his staff, and 4) his routine and conduct of battle. 4 Orange, Vincent, Sir Keith Park (London: Methuen, 1984), p.6-14 5 Orange, Park, p.10 6 Orange, Park, p.16-17 7 Radio Direction Finding. Later in the war RDF would become – and remain – known as radar. Bungay, The most dangerous enemy, p.61 8 Bungay, The most dangerous enemy, p.60 9 Harper, Glynn and Hayward, Joel (eds.), Born to lead? Portraits of New Zealand commanders (Auckland: Exisle Publishing Ltd, 2003), p.92 10 Orange, Park, pp.136-37 11 Addison, Paul and Crang, Jeremy A. (eds.), The burning blue; a new history of the Battle of Britain (London: Pimlico, 2000), pp.66-67 12 Bungay, The most dangerous enemy, Appendix II 13 Bungay, The most dangerous enemy, p.250 14 Bungay, The most dangerous enemy, p.261 15 Bungay, The most dangerous enemy, p.294 16 Orange, Park, p.108 17 Exact numbers of any military force over a period are notoriously tricky to pin down, however it is generally accepted that the RAF fought the Battle of Britian with about 700 Hurricanes and Spitfires, while the Luftwaffe had roughly the same number of single-engine fighters plus about 1,200 bombers. Overy, Richard, The Battle of Britain; the myth and the reality (London: Penguin Books Ltd, 2001), pp.34-41 18 Ferris, John, “Fighter Defence before Fighter Command: The Rise of Strategic Air Defence in Great Britain, 1917-1934,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 63, No. 4 (Oct, 1999), p.883 19 Interview with Stephen Bungay in Avery, Cass (Producer). (2010). The Kiwi who saved Britain [documentary] New Zealand: Greenstone Pictures. Bungay refers to “devolved authority” throughout Fighter Command. Dowding and Fighter Command HQ were not involved in the minute-to-minute conduct of the aerial battles. 20 Churchill, Winston S., The Second World War; Volume II; their finest hour (London: Cassell & Co Ltd, 1949) pp.293-297 for a vivid description of Park in action. 21 Orange, Park, p.102 22 Deere, Air Commodore Alan C., Nine lives (Manchester: Crécy Publishing Ltd, 2005), pp.168-169 23 And women. WAAFs made up a significant proportion of 11 Group’s strength, with 200 WAAFs at Biggin Hill alone. Bishop, Patrick, Fighter boys; saving Britain 1940 (London: HarperCollins, 2003), p.325 24 Bungay, The most dangerous enemy, p.382 25 Bungay, The most dangerous enemy, p.382 26 Johnstone, Air Vice-Marshall Sandy, Spitfire into war (London: William Kimber & Co. Limited, 1986), p.150 27 Orange, p.117 28 Overy, The Battle of Britain, p.84 29 Deere, Nine lives, p.171 30 Bungay, The most dangerous enemy, p.382 31 “Fourth Plinth RAF hero unveiled”, BBC News, 04 Nov 2009. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/8341772.stm on 10 Apr 2010 ... back to contents
  15. JonS

    Jon writes about war

    Thanks. Esdaile; nope. To paraphrase one of the great statesmen of the 21st Century; as you know, you go to the typewriter with the bibliography you have, not the bibliography you might want or wish to have at a later time
×