America played the key role in German defeat in World War I

#1
Shouldn't be controversial, but it has been the subject of a century long Eurocentric conspiracy to marginalize the accomplishment of the AEF.

Consider:

The Crisis of 1917. Russia was in chaos, the French army had just mutinied, the British had nearly butchered two armies and U boats were within 2 months of starving England out. Only Admiral Sims' destroyermen saved England by making the convoy system possible through the Mahanian principle of Maritime Presence. Just like carry permits save lives through deterrence, the USN's destroyers deterred enough U Boat attacks to keep Britain from starving. Never mind Capporetto.

1918. The Ludrndorff offensives failed under their own weight, not due to heroic French and British resistance. French's V Corps dissolved, and the word of the day in the French Army was "Les chars et les Americaines. " Only the straight shooting Fifth and 6th Marines at Belleau Wood stopped the last German offensive of the war. The Doughboys proved they would fight at Cantigny, proved they could fight at the Marne.

Then, the Argonne.

Just like Hitler shot the works a generation later at the Bulge, the Kaiser's warlords had bet the works on an all out offensive, and failed. They had done everything in human power to win, and without the AEF the results would probably have been a lot different.

But, like Bedford Forrest said, one man defending is worth ten attacking. While the Summer 1918 offensives had failed, the Germans were still dug in in the most heavily fortified and dense forest in Europe: the Argonne Forest.

Colonel George Marshall, a Virginian, along with the rest of the staff at AEF HQ had to see the historical parallel. A fresh American Army facing an outnumbered, exhausted yet still determined enemy fighting a defensive campaign on ground they had fortified and knew well. Just like their grandfathers in Central Virginia and Georgia in 1864. And just like the Summer of 1864, they HAD to know it would be a brutal slugfest; Brigadier General John Clem, the last Civil War veteran in the Army, had only retired three years before and every town in the US had its cohort of still living Civil War veterans, many of which marched through Virginia with Grant or Georgia with Sherman. The AEF grew up hearing their grandfathers' stories of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House, or Franklin and Kennesaw Mountain in the West.

The German Army didn't collapse on August 8, they collapsed in mid to late October in the Argonne under unrelenting American pressure. They boiled the water out of the Maxim guns, holding off American attacks.

And the Doughboys kept coming.

German mass surrenders started later in October and by 11 November, the German situation was untenable, almost exclusively due to the AEF. The French, like McClellan a generation before, had "a case of the slows" (Whittlesey was "lost" due to French failure to advance) and the British had become experienced at slaughtering troops for little if any real benefit at the Somme and Paschendale. The First US Army controlled both banks of the Meuse, severing the main rail line back to the Fatherland at Sedan. The Germans could not retreat, they could not be resupplied, they could not advance. The difference between this situation and surrounded is one of semantics. Unless, of course, half a million German soldiers are expected to carry all the Army's equipment cross country by hand. The American Expeditionary Force therefore was the key component in German defeat in WW1.

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Last edited:

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
7,635
#2
Shouldn't be controversial, but it has been the subject of a century long Eurocentric conspiracy to marginalize the accomplishment of the AEF.

Consider:

The Crisis of 1917. Russia was in chaos, the French army had just mutinied, the British had nearly butchered two armies and U boats were within 2 months of starving England out. Only Admiral Sims' destroyermen saved England by making the convoy system possible through the Mahanian principle of Maritime Presence. Just like carry permits save lives through deterrence, the USN's destroyers deterred enough U Boat attacks to keep Britain from starving. Never mind Capporetto.
The Rpoyal navy had some 370 destoryers in service, 30 odd USN destoyuers were 10% of the forces avaiulable (not countring french of Japanses destoryers). The Royal navy coul dhave managed without USN assitance.


1918. The Ludrndorff offensives failed under their own weight, not due to heroic French and British resistance. French's V Corps dissolved, and the word of the day in the French Army was "Les chars et les Americaines. " Only the straight shooting Fifth and 6th Marines at Belleau Wood stopped the last German offensive of the war. The Doughboys proved they would fight at Cantigny, proved they could fight at the Marne.
Hmm 40,000 off am,ericans versus 4 million britihs and French soliders., teh Entente could and would have found others to do this job. The Germans offensive was pretty much done before tje AEF became a factor,.

Just like Hitler shot the works a generation later at the Bulge, the Kaiser's warlords had bet the works on an all out offensive, and failed. They had done everything in human power to win, and without the AEF the results would probably have been a lot different.

But, like Bedford Forrest said, one man defending is worth ten attacking. While the Summer 1918 offensives had failed, the Germans were still dug in in the most heavily fortified and dense forest in Europe: the Argonne Forest.

Colonel George Marshall, a Virginian, along with the rest of the staff at AEF HQ had to see the historical parallel. A fresh American Army facing an outnumbered, exhausted yet still determined enemy fighting a defensive campaign on ground they had fortified and knew well. Just like their grandfathers in Central Virginia and Georgia in 1864. And just like the Summer of 1864, they HAD to know it would be a brutal slugfest; Brigadier General John Clem, the last Civil War veteran in the Army, had only retired three years before and every town in the US had its cohort of still living Civil War veterans, many of which marched through Virginia with Grant or Georgia with Sherman. The AEF grew up hearing their grandfathers' stories of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House, or Franklin and Kennesaw Mountain in the West.

The German Army didn't collapse on August 8, they collapsed in mid to late October in the Argonne under unrelenting American pressure. They boiled the water out of the Maxim guns, holding off American attacks.

And the Doughboys kept coming.

German mass surrenders started later in October and by 11 November, the German situation was untenable, almost exclusively due to the AEF. The French, like McClellan a generation before, had "a case of the slows" (Whittlesey was "lost" due to French failure to advance) and the British had become experienced at slaughtering troops for little if any real benefit at the Somme and Paschendale. The First US Army controlled both banks of the Meuse, severing the main rail line back to the Fatherland at Sedan. The Germans could not retreat, they could not be resupplied, they could not advance. The difference between this situation and surrounded is one of semantics. Unless, of course, half a million German soldiers are expected to carry all the Army's equipment cross country by hand. The American Expeditionary Force therefore was the key component in German defeat in WW1.

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The AEF suffered aorund 10% of cayalties duringteh hundrred days offensives and took around 10% of the German prisoners. The Idea that they were anything other than the extremeely junior partner in teh hundred days is blantent disregard for the facts. Teh British and French were doing 90% of the fighting.
 
Likes: Gvelion
#3
Readers will note this as a text book example of the conspiracy's "conventional wisdom. "
The Rpoyal navy had some 370 destoryers in service, 30 odd USN destoyuers were 10% of the forces avaiulable (not countring french of Japanses destoryers). The Royal navy coul dhave managed without USN assitance.



Hmm 40,000 off am,ericans versus 4 million britihs and French soliders., teh Entente could and would have found others to do this job. The Germans offensive was pretty much done before tje AEF became a factor,.



The AEF suffered aorund 10% of cayalties duringteh hundrred days offensives and took around 10% of the German prisoners. The Idea that they were anything other than the extremeely junior partner in teh hundred days is blantent disregard for the facts. Teh British and French were doing 90% of the fighting.
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Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,387
Australia
#4
The US contribution was useful, but not essential. It's main effect was psychological. The German high command could have persuaded themselves that they could hold on against the Anglo French forces , even though that was purely wishful thinking, but the potential inherent in the US involvement penetrated their hubris and made them realise they were on a hiding to nothing.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
12,611
SoCal
#5
The US contribution was useful, but not essential. It's main effect was psychological. The German high command could have persuaded themselves that they could hold on against the Anglo French forces , even though that was purely wishful thinking, but the potential inherent in the US involvement penetrated their hubris and made them realise they were on a hiding to nothing.
This appears to make sense. That said, though, out of curiosity--if push would have come to shove, just how many casualties would Americans have been willing to tolerate in World War I before a significant anti-war movement would have developed back at home in the US?
 
#6
It must be understood that the German Army did not collapse in August on the so-called Black Day. There was still ordered resistance and fighting retreats on full accord with warfighting doctrine until the American halt and reorganization in the Argonne in mid-October. Germany's army collapsed once it became clear that the Americans could and would FIGHT. They could kill all they wanted, as there was a Doughboy walking down the brow of a troop ship every few seconds at one point. They'd maul an American division, there was a fresh one full of "100% Americans" itching to "kill Huns," as the sayings went, ready to fight. If the war had continued into 1919, the American Expeditionary Force would have been the largest army in Europe and this conspiracy would have been nearly impossible to pull off.

It must also be mentioned that the Summer offensives collapsed under their own weight rather than from heroic French and British resistance. The German offensive halted at Belleau Wood, and they went on the defensive after the Second Marne.

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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
7,635
#9
They were not defeated by French or British military action. The advances outstripped Germany's ability to supply them.

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It was a factor in the area around the old Somme battlefield but the Germans were stopped by hard fighting by the French and British armies in the main. The High German losses are indicator of this., The Germans losses in there springoffensives did much to push the German army over breaking piont.
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,665
At present SD, USA
#10
Okay... this replay will be in parts.. Part 1

Shouldn't be controversial, but it has been the subject of a century long Eurocentric conspiracy to marginalize the accomplishment of the AEF.
There has been no conspiracy. America's actions in WWI were well respected by the French and British. One French commander DURING the war even recognized on France's part that he was proud the Americans had sacrificed men on the soil of his country. That does NOT however mean that they felt that the Americans won the war by themselves or were even the reason for the Allied victory over the Central Powers.

The Crisis of 1917. Russia was in chaos...
Russia was in chaos, but its dropping out of the war to fight a civil war did not immediately mean or automatically mean Germany was better off. The Germans had been under a state of siege since 1914 and while the collapse of Russia had presented the opportunity for that recovery, the Germans still had to get grail from the Ukraine and starve the Ukrainians and White Russians to feed the Germans. To make this effective they would need to transfer grain and material over rail links to Germany. This put Germany under the exact same trouble that Nicholas II had been under at the start of 1917, now with the added trouble that Russia's rail gage and Germany's rail gage were different. This meant that large numbers of German troops had to remain in the East to make sure that the Ukrainians and White Russians got nothing while the Germans got everything out of the Brest-Litovsk treaty, which means Brest-Litovsk is NOT the trump card that Hindenburg or Ludendorff thought it was.

The Crisis of 1917. The French army had just mutinied.
The French army also recovered from the 1917 mutinies before 1917 ended and before any number of American units even entered the lines. And in fact, Petain would send the French Army onto the offensive on the Chamin Des Dames Ridge, the very area that had triggered the mutiny in the first place, and not only took the ground intended to be taken by Petain and inflicted more casualties on the Germans than they themselves took.

The Crisis of 1917. The British had nearly butchered two armies.
First, the Somme was in 1916, not 1917.

Second, neither the Battle of the Somme nor the 3rd Battle of Ypres "slaughtered" two British armies. These battles were bloody, yes, but they did not slaughter two British armies in their entirety.

Third, neither the Battle of the Somme nor the 3rd Battle of Ypres were German victories and really did more harm to the Germans than good. There are various remarks made by the Germans in regard to the Somme with the fighting there in 1916 being the "death of the German field armies," and is reinforced by the fact that Hindenburg and Ludendorff would begin pulling the German army back to the Hindenburg Line almost as soon as the Battle of the Somme ended, which means much of its intended effect in 1916 WAS being attained. And had the weather not gone bad in late September to November 1916, it is quite possible that the German lines might well have broken under the strain they'd been put on... Largely due to the fact that Germany could NOT fight on every major front at the same time and win. In fact as 1916 went... Joffre's plan from the 1915 Chantilly Conference came remarkably close to achieving its objectives. With only the poor coordination between the French, British, and Russians to coordinate their activities together and Falkenhayn's forcing the French into the Battle of Verdun being the issue... But even there, they still served to defeat Falkenhayn's objectives. As the French managed to absorb the blows at Verdun and the attacks by Brusilov on the Austrians served to draw German power away, as would the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. But Verdun began in February, the Brusilov Offensive began in June (and Romania wouldn't join the war until closer to August 1916), and the Somme began in July. In this, much of the 1916 action was hampered by staggered starts and stops, far from the simultaneous efforts Joffre had wanted.

And while the 3rd Battle of Ypres was a battle through the mud... it was NOT something that the Germans didn't suffer through also. And losses in the battle are often disputed. Some sources claim the Germans suffered heavier losses than the British while others argue that the British suffered heavier losses than the Germans.

The Crisis of 1917. U boats were within 2 months of starving England out. Only Admiral Sims' destroyermen saved England by making the convoy system possible through the Mahanian principle of Maritime Presence.
The convoy system was not rescued by Sim's destroyers and neither did they prevent the U-boats from attacking. What beat the U-boats in WWI was the implementation of the convoy system in the first place, largely as by grouping the ships together, you now had more ships in a smaller area of ocean, which could thus be more easily defended by any and all escorts available, regardless of where they were from. Part of what made the U-boats so dangerous was that prior to 1917 many of the ships sailing to England and France were sailing alone, and this includes the Lusitania. In doing so, any escorting ships would have to be constantly sailing the convoy routes on the off chance that a U-boat will surface or at least attack in a given area... and since this was before Sonar was developed, it would make finding a submerged U-boat more difficult to find. And U-boat captains readily took advantage of this...

Once the convoy system was implemented in 1917, that advantage was lost. As the ships coming in were now closer together and thus needed fewer escorts than they would have before... and often became useful bait for ships intended to hunt the U-boats be they official warships or disguised armed merchant cruisers. In fact RMS Olympic (older sister to the Titanic) sank a U-boat by ramming it in WWI while in service as an Armed Merchant Cruiser. And this system would mean that the presence of destroyers was NOT deterring submarines from attacking. And given that the U-boat offensive had failed before 1917 even ended... it's doubtful Sims was the sole reason for the 1917 U-boat offensive's failure.

You also continue to ignore that the British Blockade was starting to starve the German people by the end of 1916. The Germans were already starving in 1916, before the U-boat campaign was resumed in 1917. And this demonstrates the effectiveness and the factor that helped maintain the state of siege Germany had been under since 1914.

The Crisis of 1917. Never mind Capporetto.
Caporetto was a major Italian defeat... but there was never any intent on the German side to push it through to the point of knocking Italy out of the war. They drove the Italian forces back and then withdrew the bulk, if not all, of the German forces to prepare for the Spring Offensive in 1918 on the Western Front. The result is that the Austrians ran out of supplies at the Piave River and the Italians recovered.