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Old December 29th, 2015, 08:56 AM   #111

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Originally Posted by Th'AnchoriticSybarite View Post
… the decisive event which led to the collapse of German resistance in 1918 was not the tank attacks on the Western Front but rather the opening of the Solonika front in the Balkans…
There were some French troops in the Balkans. A French hot-headed could name it FEF (French expeditionary force). Odd: never heard a French (not even on forums) saying that they won the WW1 with that !

Sorry, sorry, sorry. I just couldn't help jumping on it

Sorry again
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Old December 29th, 2015, 09:12 AM   #112
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Roughly 300,000 french soldiers on the Balkan Front, more or less the half of the Allied troops in 1918.
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Old December 29th, 2015, 10:55 AM   #113
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Annoying thing about the French army in WWI — there was such a lot of it around...
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Old December 29th, 2015, 10:57 AM   #114
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Let's see they spend the 17th, 18th, and the first part pf the of the 18th Centuries in a futile effort to assert their dominance over Britain as the world pre-eminent world power culminating in utter defeat at Waterloo. Not satisfied with that fiasco they then proceed to get in a century long pissing match with Germany. 100 years in which the test book definition of military incompetence is simply "France". After being slapped like a left, handed red-headed step child in 1870, they spend the next 50 yrs in 2 fruitless war against Germany depending on the rest of the world (essentially the US) to rescue them.

Having would up on the winning side, Charles le Great (De Gaulle) spends the next several decades trying to torpedo the American effort to combat Russian Communism because Ike had the temerity to threaten to arrest him if he didn't obey orders to defeat the Nazis.

Lately if I remember correctly the war in Mali is still going strong as is Afghanistan. AND not content to leave well enough alone they lead the push to depose and execute Kaddafi (who had become our best friend ever since Reagan had sent 2 of his kids to hell in the unsuccessful assassination attempt). Now Libya is terrorist central. Even if we nuke ISIS in Syria and Iraq; they are already positioned in Libya and elsewhere to continue the fight.

Thank you, thank you, thank you France.
Wow, people who make fun about French military are very impressive (in a certain way).
Sorry but you need to learn European history.
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Old December 29th, 2015, 11:19 AM   #115
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However using his own logic against him, the final piece of the puzzle which convinced the German General Staff of throw in the towel was the success of the American offensive in the Argonne. The battles of Chambrai, Champagne, and Amiens while impressive did not represent any great strategic advantage. On the other hand the American success in the Argonne was essentially Verdun in reverse. Having penetrated the Argonne forest the Americans were poised to thrust unimpeded into Germany proper. There would have been no substantial barrier preventing them from driving straight to Berlin and forcing an unconditional surrender.
The river Rhine, Metz, Koblens, Mainz and Köln (fortified towns), says it wouldn't have been that easy. The offensive would have to traverse the Eifel and Huynsruck uplands to get to the Rhine itself. Even when safely across the Rhine, there would follow the Vogelsberg Mountains, Rhon Plateau (hilly to mountaneous) and the Thuringian Forest. The terrain in Germany is not THAT easy. Unless it was all undefended of course.

And it's somehow claiming the US won the war by not piercing the German lines, making the war mobile again, like the British and French managed in their parts of the frontline, but for being positioned somewhere propitious for the continuation — which arguably might not even quite be the case...
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Old December 29th, 2015, 02:19 PM   #116

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If you read Liddell-Hart's "Strategy" he posits the theory that the decisive event which led to the collapse of German resistance in 1918 was not the tank attacks on the Western Front but rather the opening of the Solonika front in the Balkans. The culmination of the Franco/Anglo strategy finding yet another opponent to dilute German military power. first Russia, then Italy, then the US, and finally a Greek front.
And there were fairly large French forces in the Balkans contributing to that advance... and had Germany in World War I decided to fight until the bitter end, the Salonika Front might very well have broken their resistance... Of the Central Powers, Germany was the last to surrender... First went Bulgaria, the Turkey, and then Austria. And since much of this went rather rapidly and lead to Germany's surrender in history... the Balkans and the Middle East are forgotten...

But had Germany fought on, the treaties with Turkey and Bulgaria... or at least the armistice agreements would have been such that Allied troops would be allowed to move through the territory, but would not directly harm civilians or their governments... That would free up Allenby's forces for the Middle East and there would a massive Franco-British force with Serb and Greek back up that would be ready to drive directly into Austria-Hungary toward Germany from the south...

And when that happens, the Germans would HAVE to pull troops away from the Western Front... as well as those that remained on the Eastern Front after the Russian withdrawal from WWI. If not... they would have risked having French or British troops taking Munich or some other major German city from the south. If they did, they weakened their defenses on the Western Front and an invasion of Germany from the west would have faced substantially weaker defenses than they would have otherwise...

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However using his own logic against him, the final piece of the puzzle which convinced the German General Staff of throw in the towel was the success of the American offensive in the Argonne. The American success in the Argonne was essentially Verdun in reverse. Having penetrated the Argonne forest the Americans were poised to thrust unimpeded into Germany proper. There would have been no substantial barrier preventing them from driving straight to Berlin and forcing an unconditional surrender.
There are a few problems with this...

Problem 1: The Ardennes, the Hurtgen, and Eiffel forests and the Rhine and Rhoer rivers would have formed strong natural obstacles that would need to be overcome in order to get a firm foothold in Germany to even prepare a drive to Berlin from the West. And to finalize a drive on Berlin, the Elbe river would have to be crossed. Getting to the Elbe, even after everything Germany had endured in the war would have been potentially difficult...

Problem 2: The Argonne offensive was not "Verdun in reverse." While the Germans gained some surprise in their initial offensive, they were eventually ground to a halt and pushed back. If the Argonne was "Verdun in reverse" it would have ended with a German advance.

Problem 3: The American advance was not great or breaking the German army in front of them. In looking at the German formations along the Hindenburg Line facing the British and French, they caved rapidly from the moment the 100 Days Offensive began and allowed the British and French to advance rapidly from Amiens to the Franco-Belgian border and even central Belgium in some places. The American forces did not have a similar advance. The fighting in the Argonne was slow and relatively difficult for the Americans as they attacked with the same tactics that the French and British had used in 1915 and largely abandoned by 1918. Their liberation of Sedan from German control occurred at roughly the same time as the French and British reached the end point of their own advances on the Western Front in the 100 Days Offensive. And to my knowledge, at no point in the Argonne fighting were the Germans rushing troops from elsewhere to reinforce that sector of the line.

Problem 4: The American attack was largely effectively more in cutting supply lines that ran through Sedan and was not intended to lead to a drive into Germany. It cut a supply route and may well have helped persuade other Germans units not make a stand against the British and French, but that was about it. It did not destroy the German army, which meant there would still be forces to fight.

Problem 5: While the French and British attacks in the 100 Days Offensive largely drove eastward, the American drive largely went straight north. Any offensive into Germany would require the Americans to make the complete stop and then a ninety degree turn in their advance, which would have given the Germans time to recover some measure of defense.

Problem 6: Much of the idea that the American offensive "won" the war is based off of commentary given by Hindenburg to an American reporter after the war ended, in which in the end has its own flaws... especially given that Hindenburg also diminishes the effects of the Blockade which was starving Germany and to a great extent was part of the reason for the decisions that lead to the bringing of the US into the war. As such, because of the problems with Hindenburg's statement... it's likely that much of the argument is Germany trying to cover its butt for its failures in 1914 to 1917.

Problem 7: It ignores the position the Central Powers were in as a whole. Even by the Spring of 1918, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Austria were not in a particularly strong place. If the Germans fought on... they would have faced having to move substantial forces to the Balkans and Italy... where there were few American units... And as such, seeing which front was doing the most to defeat Germany would become more difficult, as any potential breakthrough on the Western Front in the winter of 1918 would surely have been made easier if not likely with the moving of troops to confront the Allies in the Balkans...

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The battles of Chambrai, Champagne, and Amiens while impressive did not represent any great strategic advantage.
Shattering the German armies that had largely held the same positions for four years and driving them pretty much out of France is not a strategic advantage?

The American capture of Sedan would have only cut off the supplies going to the southern portions of the German line. German units that were further north likely would have had supply lines that went through more northward supply routes...

And to a great extent, had the war on the Western Front continued, the French, British, and Belgians were on an axis of advance that would have allowed them to keep advancing into Germany. The Americans would have to stop and change direction in order to attack into Germany.
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Old December 29th, 2015, 02:26 PM   #117

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Annoying thing about the French army in WWI — there was such a lot of it around...
It was still there in WWII... but the fact that it was is largely ignored in the American media. The patriotic lesson that Americans are taught is that America saved Europe twice. Making mention that the French were still major players in 1918 and while in a more supporting role from 1944 to 1945... they were still important members of the Western Allies would get in the way of the intended lesson...
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Old December 30th, 2015, 02:31 AM   #118

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Originally Posted by Th'AnchoriticSybarite View Post
If you read Liddell-Hart's "Strategy" he posits the theory that the decisive event which led to the collapse of German resistance in 1918 was not the tank attacks on the Western Front but rather the opening of the Solonika front in the Balkans. The culmination of the Franco/Anglo strategy finding yet another opponent to dilute German military power. first Russia, then Italy, then the US, and finally a Greek front.

However using his own logic against him, the final piece of the puzzle which convinced the German General Staff of throw in the towel was the success of the American offensive in the Argonne. The battles of Chambrai, Champagne, and Amiens while impressive did not represent any great strategic advantage. On the other hand the American success in the Argonne was essentially Verdun in reverse. Having penetrated the Argonne forest the Americans were poised to thrust unimpeded into Germany proper. There would have been no substantial barrier preventing them from driving straight to Berlin and forcing an unconditional surrender.
No substantial barrier?
Aside from the geographical barriers, there was nonetheless an army group still holding the line at the moment of the armistice (Heeresgruppe Von Gallwitz) although depleted and two other army groups on the sides (Heeresgruppe Kronprinz and Heeresgruppe Herzog Albrecht von Württemberg), all of which with still several operational units.
Liddel-Hart, therefore one source, moreover only in English.
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Old December 31st, 2015, 01:05 AM   #119
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Those brash, upstart Amis were given the Argonne sector to teach them a lesson, Once they had made their attack and had been shown the error of their ways, they would of course defer to their older and wiser allies and let themselves be assimilated into the Allied war machine.

Funny thing happened on the way to the forum. They attacked and kept attacking, never slowing. They were only days away from Metz which the German General Staff had long considered the key to breaking into Germany itself.

Lest I be misconstrued, the Americans did not single handedly defeat Germany. I do believe that their success in the Argonne convinced the general staff that their position was hopeless.

As a strategic matter, the Anglo/French offensive further north was a great success, being the first time in the entire war that either of the allies had forced their opponent to make major withdrawals. But they could have halted, made a stand and reimposed a temporary stalemate. The victory was not on the battlefield but in the mind of the german general staff.

In 1914 a lowly Lt Col on behalf of the general staff halted the entire German advance because he arbitrarily noted that the rigid timetables of advance stated in the Schliemann Plan had not been met, the entire German Army should be halted thus snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. In a like manner in 1918 because the enemy had broken through their front.

What would have happened had the FR/BR continued their advance to the Rhine? Who would have been better situated to force a crossing of the Rhine, the BR/FR or the Americans? Given that the forces in front of the BR/FR were in full flight, do you think it likely that forces would have been withdrawn from the German Army in front of the Americans to strengthen the German forces in precipitous flight, thus making it easier for the Americans to continue their advance. And let me remind you that while the americans were still using the "discredited" tactics of 1914/15 they were not suffereing the enormous casualties for instance that the Brits had incurred at the Somme.

If you will reread my previous post, you will see that I referred to Liddell-Harts comments as a theory, not as an established fact. I will remind you that had the Brits or the French adopted his and Fuller's theories regarding armored warfare, WWII would have been a minor blip on the course of history and Hitler such an insignificant figure only the hoariest of history buffs would even recognize his name.
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Old December 31st, 2015, 12:01 PM   #120

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Those brash, upstart Amis were given the Argonne sector to teach them a lesson, Once they had made their attack and had been shown the error of their ways, they would of course defer to their older and wiser allies and let themselves be assimilated into the Allied war machine.
And in theory the brash Americans and their decision to fight their own way, regardless of the lessons and advice the French and British had, was a potential mistake. The only thing that saved them was that the Germans were running out of men and bullets thanks to four years of British naval blockade.

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Funny thing happened on the way to the forum. They attacked and kept attacking, never slowing. They were only days away from Metz which the German General Staff had long considered the key to breaking into Germany itself.
In theory they were a few days from Metz when the offensive started... funny thing... the Americans DIDN'T attack toward Metz in any serious offensive. They attacked toward Sedan.

Click the image to open in full size.

Metz was never threatened in the Argonne offensive.

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Lest I be misconstrued, the Americans did not single handedly defeat Germany. I do believe that their success in the Argonne convinced the general staff that their position was hopeless.
The German position was hopeless when their Spring Offensive fizzled out in front of Amiens. They may have waited longer to realize it, but that didn't mean that it was that later action was what won the war...

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As a strategic matter, the Anglo/French offensive further north was a great success, being the first time in the entire war that either of the allies had forced their opponent to make major withdrawals. But they could have halted, made a stand and reimposed a temporary stalemate.
The British suffered more casualties in the 100 Days Offensive in 1918 than they did on the Somme in 1916. I find it doubtful that the German army was withdrawing from France of its own accord and inflicted that many losses on the British. The French suffered lighter losses than the British, but were still over 200,000 men killed, wounded, or missing...

The Germans were clearly fighting back against the British and French... or at least trying to. They weren't withdrawing. If they were, I'd like to hear the explanation as to how the British incurred 298,000 casualties and the French took 279,000 casualties from an enemy that was withdrawing. And, given that that the British took 188,700 men prisoner and captured 2,840 guns and the French captured 139,000 men and 1,880 guns in the offensive... it's also doubtful that the Germans were running away...

Germany was broken and could not have forced a stalemate in 1918 after the Spring Offensive... especially as the other members of the Central Powers began falling before Germany did. Germany couldn't have forced a stalemate on the Western Front without sacrificing the Balkans... and that would have opened the door to the French, Serbs, and British that were in the region.

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In 1914 a lowly Lt Col on behalf of the general staff halted the entire German advance because he arbitrarily noted that the rigid timetables of advance stated in the Schliemann Plan had not been met, the entire German Army should be halted thus snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. In a like manner in 1918 because the enemy had broken through their front.
French troops under Joseph Gallieni and Ferdinand Foch had more to do with stopping the German advance in 1914 than some Lt. Colonel in the German general staff. By the time the First Battle of the Marne began, Moltke had effectively lost control of his army and was unprepared for the counter-attack that he took there.

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What would have happened had the FR/BR continued their advance to the Rhine? Who would have been better situated to force a crossing of the Rhine, the BR/FR or the Americans? Given that the forces in front of the BR/FR were in full flight, do you think it likely that forces would have been withdrawn from the German Army in front of the Americans to strengthen the German forces in precipitous flight, thus making it easier for the Americans to continue their advance.
I think you've read a little too much Mosier...

The German army was not in headlong retreat from the French and British armies in 1918. They did try to fight and did inflict losses on the French and British. Any retreat that the Germans made as a result of the Argonne Offensive would have only been at the end of the battle as American units reached Sedan and cutting the supply route to the German units on the southern part of the line being attacked in the 100 Days Offensive...

And again, because the American advance was due north, in the Argonne Offensive, they STILL would have needed to stop and turn had the offensive continued, likely giving time for the Germans to put together some defensive positions that would be ready when the offensive into the Belgian and Luxembourg Ardennes would have begun.

As for the Rhine... had the war continued... that would again depend on what Germany does in the Balkans. If the Germans DON'T send troops to stop the French, Serbs, and Italians... and if given time, likely Allenby's units from the Middle East as well... you'd likely see Allied units setting up HQ in Vienna and preparing to strike for Munich, Prague, or Dresden before anyone would have crossed the Rhine...

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And let me remind you that while the americans were still using the "discredited" tactics of 1914/15 they were not suffereing the enormous casualties for instance that the Brits had incurred at the Somme.
So... 130,000 casualties is light?

Just remember, they were facing an army running out of men and bullets after being under blockade for four years. In fact by 1918, the German people at home were starving. The fact that such an army could inflict the losses that it did against all the Allies is remarkable... Had the Americans faced the German army of 1916 or earlier... they probably WOULD have taken much heavier losses and taken much less ground.

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I will remind you that had the Brits or the French adopted his and Fuller's theories regarding armored warfare, WWII would have been a minor blip on the course of history and Hitler such an insignificant figure only the hoariest of history buffs would even recognize his name.
Probably not...

While Guderian likely did borrow ideas with regard to armored combat from JFC Fuller and Charles De Gaulle's writings in the 1930s... much of Germany's WW2 tactics that we tend to identify as "Blitzkrieg" was born more from the theories of Hans von Seeckt in the sense of avoiding strong points and striking at areas of communication and supply. Seeckt drew his theories as part of a expansion and development of the stormtrooper tactics the Germans devised in World War I. About ALL Guderian really did was remove the stormtroopers and replace them with the panzers...

And much of Fuller's and De Gaulle's ideas regarding tank tactics was more based on forcing a direct head to head engagement. This would be very different from how the Germans had developed their tactics, and the differences had little to do with what either side read or didn't read from the other...

And even with this... it needs to be noted that all Fuller, De Gaulle, Seeckt, and Guderian were developing were tactics... NOT strategy. And tactics do not win every battle... particularly when there is a poor strategy behind it...

For example... in looking at the Battle of France in 1940, Gamelin expected the Germans to repeat the Schlieffen Plan with minor alterations, which would have had the main thrust going through northern Belgium, and thus his decision to establish a defensive line along the Dyle River. Such a move would have put Germany's Panzers and France's Chars in a massive head to head battle, that the French were actually primed to win. And as seen by the results of the engagement at Hannut, had the Germans actually repeated the Schlieffen Plan, it is likely that the German attack would have been stopped.

But the German main thrust went through the Ardennes, catching the Allies by surprise and outflanking the main French and British armored forces in northern France and Belgium. Improved tactics surely would have helped, BUT if Gamelin still makes the strategic decision to go into the north of Belgium and leaving the Ardennes practically unguarded, the Germans would STILL be in an excellent position to win the battle. It's what made Hannut a tactical French victory but a strategic defeat...

And Gamelin had options to adopt a better strategy that would have nothing to do with his tactics. In fact, had he left his reserves near Rheims in 1940 rather than rushing them to join the forces on the Dyle River, he would have had the forces to crush the German flank even without updating his tactics. As the SOMUA S35 had better armor, gun, and mobility than the 1940 version of the Panzer III... and the Germans in 1940 FEARED the Char B1bis...

And France and Britain had poor tactics in 1940, sure, but their strategy was worse and gave the Germans their opening. And British tactics really didn't change all that much as the war went on. In fact they repeated the same mistakes they made in France in North Africa, and after the victory at Gazala, Rommel saw a tactical opportunity to attack toward Suez and secure Egypt. He was warned by Kesselring that Germany lacked the men and material to make such a move and gave the additional warning that the British might be in retreat, but they could surely recover. Rommel ignored the warnings and advanced anyway. In the end, the British HAD recovered and took up defensive positions near El Alamein before Rommel arrived and found the terrain unsuitable for the flanking maneuvers that had won so many battles in Libya. He had to attack the British head on, which he lacked the men and material to do... just as Kesselring warned. And in the end, Panzer Group Africa was ground down and defeated at El Alamien because "blitzkrieg" tactics were not designed to break fortified positions. Rommel's tactics were probably superior to Monty's... but Monty was by far the better strategist, and that is what won the day at El Alamien.
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