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Old August 13th, 2017, 07:56 AM   #1391
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If the germans did it, they did an illegal act.
It was illegal then, and it's illegal now. A war ship can not use the war flag of another country.

Actually I think they can as long as they don't commit an act of war while flying it.

That's why our Q-ships had a mechanical device to quickly haul down neutral colours and run up a White Ensign before they could legally open fire on a U-boat.
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Old August 13th, 2017, 08:02 AM   #1392
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But you are implying that all nations were same. Diid the British line 6,000 innocent civilians which they knew to be innocent and kill them as a example? (and as it turns out for wholly imagined acts)

In WW1 the British Army wasn't operating in areas with any significant number of enemy civilians.

As to what happened when it was, I suggest looking up what happened in South Africa 1899-1902. From what I can gather, there were quite a few Boer civilians who would have had some ugly tales to tell.
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Old August 13th, 2017, 08:13 AM   #1393
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As most merchant ships were travelling alone, and in the north Atlantic ,when sunk few crewmen o passengers would be rescued .

U.S. Merchant Ships, Sailing Vessels, and Fishing Craft lost, captured, or damaged during World War I would seem to suggest otherwise. If you run down the list, you 'see that the majority of sinkings did not result in any loss of life.

Admittedly this list relates only to American merchantmen, but there is no obvious reason to think things were much different for other nationalities.

I must add, though, that it makes German behaviour in 1917 extremely stupid. Had they refrained from torpedoing just a handful of US ships (and used those torpedoes on British or other vessels) they could have destroyed an equal or higher tonnage while saving themselves a totally unnecessary war with the United States.
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Old August 13th, 2017, 01:35 PM   #1394

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Originally Posted by Mikestone8 View Post
In WW1 the British Army wasn't operating in areas with any significant number of enemy civilians.

As to what happened when it was, I suggest looking up what happened in South Africa 1899-1902. From what I can gather, there were quite a few Boer civilians who would have had some ugly tales to tell.
But the two circumstances are not the same-- in 1914 in Belgium the Germans deliberately used terror to beat down any thought of resistance.

In South Africa the British faced a guerrilla war where the local population were deliberately used by one side as its logistical base and a screen to hide behind. Even so the British did not deliberately target whole towns for execution.
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Old August 13th, 2017, 05:27 PM   #1395
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If the germans did it, they did an illegal act.
It was illegal then, and it's illegal now. A war ship can not use the war flag of another country.
"Similarly in naval warfare such a deception is considered permissible provided the false flag is lowered and the true flag raised before engaging in battle"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_flag
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Old August 13th, 2017, 05:30 PM   #1396
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In WW1 the British Army wasn't operating in areas with any significant number of enemy civilians.

As to what happened when it was, I suggest looking up what happened in South Africa 1899-1902. From what I can gather, there were quite a few Boer civilians who would have had some ugly tales to tell.
The Boers were put in concentration camps were disease took an awful toll. They didnt plan to kill them.

The germans planned to execute civilian hostages, they were lining up and shooting civilians they knew to be innocent. (and as it turns out the resistance the hostages were being executed to terrorise the population to stop was a total figment of the German imagination)

The Germans also issued orders and did target Hospital ships.
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Old August 13th, 2017, 05:34 PM   #1397
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U.S. Merchant Ships, Sailing Vessels, and Fishing Craft lost, captured, or damaged during World War I would seem to suggest otherwise. If you run down the list, you 'see that the majority of sinkings did not result in any loss of life.
And if you you removed the gunfire,bombing, setting fire to form that list you get a totally different story. For long periods German u boats did obey the Cruiser rules of warfare.
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Old August 13th, 2017, 11:04 PM   #1398
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The Boers were put in concentration camps were disease took an awful toll. They didnt plan to kill them.

True, but the practice continued even after the mortality rate was known. As one of our own MPs observed, the war was being conducted "by methods of barbarism".

Incidentally, when someone approached Lord Kitchener to urge reprisals for the atrocity at Louvain , KofK (who had been CinC in South Africa when the camps were being used) was honest enough to respond "What is the use of discussing that incident? All war is an outrage". He knew that he lived in a distinctly glassy house, and at least had the grace to refrain from throwing stones.
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Old August 13th, 2017, 11:16 PM   #1399
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And if you you removed the gunfire,bombing, setting fire to form that list you get a totally different story. For long periods German u boats did obey the Cruiser rules of warfare.

And to a considerable extent even after the proclamation of Unrestricted submarine warfare - not so much for moral reasons but because those early subs had only a limited supply of torpedoes, and faced a circuitous journey round the British Isles in order to reload. So they still needed to use their guns and/or demolition charges much of the time.

This is what really gets me. Since they would in any case have to stick to cruiser rules more often than not, it would have cost them literally nothing to do so in respect of US ships. Yet they blindly insisted on doing USW against everybody, and hang the consequences. I could stomach their wickedness (I rather expect that in wartime) but the stupidity of some German higher-ups at times makes their British counterparts appear geniuses by comparison.
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Old August 14th, 2017, 12:30 AM   #1400
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And to a considerable extent even after the proclamation of Unrestricted submarine warfare - not so much for moral reasons but because those early subs had only a limited supply of torpedoes, and faced a circuitous journey round the British Isles in order to reload. So they still needed to use their guns and/or demolition charges much of the time.

This is what really gets me. Since they would in any case have to stick to cruiser rules more often than not, it would have cost them literally nothing to do so in respect of US ships. Yet they blindly insisted on doing USW against everybody, and hang the consequences. I could stomach their wickedness (I rather expect that in wartime) but the stupidity of some German higher-ups at times makes their British counterparts appear geniuses by comparison.
Hindsight is 20/20. However try to look at this from their 1917 perspective. The goal of the campaign was to starve the UK the same way the Germans were being starved by the surface fleet blockade. The US is a huge nation that was totally capable of feeding the UK all by themselves and if the UK had left the US ships alone, the operation made a whole lot less sense. Pair that with the likelihood of the US intervening and the benefits of USW seem to be far greater than the consequences. USA had a very large German population, a President who had campaigned against entering the war and a heavily isolationist population. Furthermore a hypothetical declaration of war doesn't necessarily equal sending mass amounts troops(as other New World countries proved in WWI and WWII). Point is it made sense given their situation to do USW against US ships even though it didn't work out. Even then, the Zimmerman telegram was what pushed the US over the edge(now that was a stupid decision).

I don't think there's anything except hindsight that makes their actions look stupid. Same reason people critique the Schlieffen Plan IMO not because it was a bad plan that was destined to fail but because it didn't work.
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