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

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,665
At present SD, USA
#11
Okay... this replay will be in parts.. Part 2

1918. The Ludrndorff offensives failed under their own weight, not due to heroic French and British resistance.
Which means it also wasn't defeated by heroic American resistance. If the AEF's presence at the tail end of the Spring Offensive was truly necessary for the Allies, then the Germans NEED to be a credible threat. If their offensive collapses under its own weight... it's NOT a credible threat.

1918. French's V Corps dissolved, and the word of the day in the French Army was "Les chars et les Americaines. "
Petain said this in 1917 in the wake of the mutiny, not in 1918. And regardless, the tanks he was waiting for in 1917 were French made. Primarily the Renault FT17 and the Schneider Saint-Chamond.

In 1918, the "word" of the day came from France's political leader, Georges Clemenceau... essentially vowing to wage war in ALL policies.

1918. Only the straight shooting Fifth and 6th Marines at Belleau Wood stopped the last German offensive of the war.
No, they didn't. The German offensive had already stopped. The Marines at Belleau Wood actually engaged in an offensive action, not a defensive one. The German offensive had stopped when their lines began to over stretch their supply lines... particularly as the German drive south had ignored or failed to take the necessary supply bases needed to supply the advance south. As such, even if the Americans weren't there, it's likely that the Germans would have stopped around that point as they had outrun their supply lines...

And in looking at the offensive itself, even if the Americans are to be credited with "stopping" the offensive, one needs to tell what the German end objective was. Was it to take Paris or not? Surviving German documents would indicate that Paris was not the German objective. Rather that was Amiens, where Foch had moved the Allied main reserve formations to stop the initial thrust of the German Spring Offensive and essentially stabilizing the British lines outside of Amiens. Yet, Ludendorff continued to focus on Amiens, primarily for the reasoning that if the French and British armies could be separated, the British would retreat to the sea and the French would surrender outright, but with the French reserve units at Amiens, Ludendorff did not have the strength to break through, and thus the turn south... as a bluff to lure the French reserves to the south. Yet, Foch largely ignored that drive south. The only reserves left were the Americans, and they were put in as an afterthought.

And while they won a victory at Belleau Wood, what they beat was a distraction on the part of Germany, NOT the main offensive, which would mean it wasn't critical, and given that Ludendorff had either ignored or failed to take the logistical centers that would make a drive on Paris possible, even if the Americans hadn't been there, the German drive would have sputtered out and collapsed under its own weight... and thus WASN'T a credible threat. And at the end of such a tenuous supply line, whatever forces that Foch would have had available to him might have well been able to cut them off from the rest of the German front entirely, especially if Ludendorff decided not to withdraw.

1918. The Doughboys proved they would fight at Cantigny, proved they could fight at the Marne.

Then, the Argonne.
No one has said the Americans couldn't fight. They were brave and they did fight hard, but they were not battle tested in the Spring of 1918, and the actions at the end of the Spring Offensive did not even use all of the AEF at the time. So there were STILL units untested in battle when it came for the attack on St. Mihiel in 1918 before the attack at Meuse Argonne. Shoot, some Doughboys like Christy Matthewson NEVER saw combat at all during the war... though Matthewson's case was more due to a training accident than anything else.

They had done everything in human power to win, and without the AEF the results would probably have been a lot different.
Doubtful. It's hard to do anything with a starving population, borderline riotous home front, and dropping morale among the soldiers at the Front. While they might have advanced further without the AEF there... and the war might well have lasted longer, given Germany's overall position, even by the start of 1918, they were not in a war winning position, even if no one knew it yet.

But, like Bedford Forrest said, one man defending is worth ten attacking.
That really depends on the situation...

For example, in the first few months of the Battle of Verdun (February to April 1916) the Germans actually took lighter casualties than they inflicted on the French, which is atypical, given that at that time the Germans were on the offensive at Verdun and one would expect the Germans to take somewhat heavy losses given that they were coming out of their trenches and attacking the French ones. These losses wouldn't begin to equalize until later in the battle as the Germans continued to advance on the east bank of the Meuse. And again at the end of the battle as the French launched their last counter offensives at Verdun (October to December 1916) the French suffered lighter losses than the Germans, despite being on the offensive at the time.

Simply being on the defensive does NOT automatically give one the advantage.

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.
But the Argonne wasn't where the bulk of their army was, and wasn't the strongest point of the German lines. It was strong... but the strongest positions were at the Siegfried Line/Hindenburg Line, essentially running from Vimy to La Malmaison, as they had been the positions that the Germans had built up after the Battle of the Somme ended and moved back to in early 1917. And when the Spring Offensive ended, the Germans didn't pull back to the Hindenburg Line in every position. They withdrew out of the St. Mihiel salient south of Verdun, as by that point the option of surrounding Verdun was no longer there... and since the main routes into Germany would either be a direct advance into the German lines opposite Amiens or a concentrated push up the Meuse River valley, it was unnecessary to keep troops at St. Mihiel…

The Germans wouldn't withdraw to the Hindenburg Line until after the Battle of Amiens marking the beginning of the 100 Days Offensive and the "Black Day of the German Army."
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,665
At present SD, USA
#12
Okay... this replay will be in parts.. Part 3

The German Army didn't collapse on August 8.
Not collapsing does not mean they had a chance of victory, and the French and British did not cease their offensives after the Battle of Amiens either. They would begin their own push back toward the Hindenburg line and would break through it at around the same time that the Americans were still being bogged down in the Argonne forest.

They boiled the water out of the Maxim guns, holding off American attacks.

And the Doughboys kept coming.
Repeated attacks against an enemy that is dug in is not a sign of victory. And had the German army not been starving for four years under British blockade... and not losing supplies due to the blockade as well, it's likely that the Americans in the Argonne would have suffered the same sort of losses and returns as the French and British had before them, particularly as the Americans operated under the tactical doctrines that would be more in line with 1914-1915 than the year they were in.

German mass surrenders started later in October and by 11 November, the German situation was untenable, almost exclusively due to the AEF.
The German line in France became untenable as the AEF began to reach Sedan, but don't confuse the results of one battle with the war as a whole. To a great extent, the German position was untenable since the First Battle of the Marne was lost in 1914 and put Germany in a position where they would be under naval blockade for four years and were experiencing deaths due to starvation by 1916 due to the British blockade.

And at the same time, by the time the Americans reached Sedan, the French and British had successfully completed much longer drives moving from Amiens to the Hindenburg Line, then through it and then on to the Franco-Belgian border, with some British and Belgian units advancing back into Belgium... and the British returning to the town of Mons, where they essentially started the war.

The French, like McClellan a generation before, had "a case of the slows" (Whittlesey was "lost" due to French failure to advance).
Hardly. While French units were committed to support the American advance into the Argonne Forest, that WASN'T where their main effort was to be. France's main effort was largely with Fayolle's forces directly opposite the German forces opposite Amiens and later behind the Hindenburg Line south of St. Quetin. Largely in line with Foch's overall plans for the 100 Days Offensive, simply put to make a straight push against the German forces.

And even with this... the French took over 500,000 casualties, more than the Americans did. So it's doubtful that the French just sat in their trenches and did nothing.

The British had become experienced at slaughtering troops for little if any real benefit at the Somme and Paschendale.
And thus by 1918 they knew WHAT to do. And even when compared to the Somme in 1916 and Passchendaele in 1917... Those battles were not the bloody defeats they've often been made out to be, mostly due to a couple of reasons. Poets like Siegfried Sassoon who became remarkably anti-war during his time in the trenches though he would serve until the end of the war... (And even then, Sassoon's poetry was NOT immediately popular in the years immediately after WWI. It would only be after the war that Sassoon's poetry became popular). At the same time, politicians like Lloyd George and Churchill took frequent swipes at Haig during the course of the war and immediately after the war. The result is a sort of historiography that would make it seem like Haig had no idea what an army was even to do, because men like Churchill had said, "he's never had an original idea." And people later took that to heart, not realizing that the man who put together the Gallipoli plan was operating with a political axe to grind and never presented a viable alternative for Haig's plans.

And the lessons of 1916 and 1917 is what gave the BEF the knowledge on how to combine the use of tanks, infantry, and artillery in a repeated series of attacks running from Ypres in the north all the way down to Amiens in the south when the 100 Days Offensive began. And Britain's will power hadn't really dropped either... as they would take more casualties in the 100 Days Offensive in 1918 than they would on the Somme in 1916.

The First US Army controlled both banks of the Meuse, severing the main rail line back to the Fatherland at Sedan.
They captured the southern rail link to Germany, not the northern one, which was near where Hautmont is today. The northern link was captured by the British at the end of the 100 Days Offensive. And without the French still holding the largest sectors of the Western Front, it is unlikely that either the British advance in the north or the American advance in the south could have been supported.

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.
But once the Spring Offensive was defeated, the Germans had neither the men nor the material to advance any further, and under their blockade, they wouldn't be able to replace what they had lost. Meanwhile, when the 100 Days Offensive began, the British had replaced nearly all the guns they had lost in the Spring Offensive.

And in terms of movement... the Germans probably could have, at least to some degree, as there were plenty of other roads that went through the Ardennes that wouldn't be dependent by rail traffic, and would likely be the very same roads they advanced through in 1914. The difference is that in 1914 the German army had more men and available horses to use... and the horses were in better shape. By 1918, there were fewer men, there were fewer horses and they were of poorer quality. And with the speed with which the main Franco-British thrust was coming that would only further serve to push the Germans to either surrender or run. And given the state of the German army in 1918, which probably would have happened regardless of whether or not the Americans were there.

The American Expeditionary Force therefore was the key component in German defeat in WW1.
More as to when the Germans surrendered, not if they would surrender, and there is a difference.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
7,635
#13
The existence of a large AEF and the growing long term threat into 1919 was a major factor in German decision making. The Spring Offensives were decided on in the knowledge of the growing AEF and the long term threat it represented. The Germans may well have stayed on the defensive on the western front and not launched the spring offensives which did so much to batter the German army. The Blow could have fallen on the Italians, trying to drive them out of the war. SO while the AEF may not have had a decisive influence in the actual fighting, it did have a very large influence on the strategic outlook of both sides and shaped the fighting in 1918.

Though the Central powers would have huge problems continuing the war, Turkey, Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary all folded due to other factors which would not have been effected by the US entry,. And teh German ecnomy was really struggling. The collapse of its alliance partners might have seen even a weaken Entente (by lack of US purchases) forces prevail in 1919.

The Entente was under very large economic pressure when the Americans entered the war,. Britain had funded much of the Entente war effort, foreign purchases largely in the USA provided much needed resources (though the USA was not the arsenal of democracy like in WW2 , it provided resources, and shell fillings an d the like, though at hefty prices) Without the US loans the Entente would have had an economic crisis. (though sudden stop to Entente purchases would have caused a major shock to the US economy too)

US not entering the war would have freed up a million tons of Entente shipping in supporting the AEF, reduced purchases would have freed up more shipping, which would have enabled things to be shipped longer distances and obtained from commonwealth countries at a lower cost, reduced production would gave been offset by not having to equip the very large AEF forces. If the British heavily cut back Naval construction programs, stopped maintaining the cavalry divisions in France (which were fed and replacement mounts were all being shipped form the USA)/

Both France (Clemenceau) and Britain (lLoyd George) were lead by determined leaders fixed on total victory niether of which faced any real credible political threat to their government.
 
Likes: Gvelion
#14
To a great extent, the German position was untenable since the First Battle of the Marne was lost in 1914 and put Germany in a position where they would be under naval blockade for four years
Yet somehow they incurred tens of millions of enemy casualties and lost no significant ground before the Belleau Wood and Second Marne. Impressive work.

On the other hand, Admiral W. S. Sims, in "The Victory At Sea," states uncategorically that the British were losing the war in 1917 in the chapter titled, "When The Germans Were Winning The War. " Provides plenty of charts showing more U boats sinking allied shipping than they were building.

Nice try, though.

Sent from my SM-J700T using Tapatalk
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,665
At present SD, USA
#15
Yet somehow they incurred tens of millions of enemy casualties and lost no significant ground before the Belleau Wood and Second Marne. Impressive work.
Generally sieges don't see a lot of movement in either direction. The besieged is held within a "box" and is held there until its supplies run out. The major difference between Germany's position in WWI and earlier sieges in history is the size and scale of the siege in question. It wasn't a siege of a lone army or a city but an entire nation. And that size is part of what helped enable the Germans to hold as long as they did... For the entire German population at home was able to be harnessed to the war effort providing both recruits for the army and to be fed into the machinery of the war while at the same time trying to feed the people and the armies in question.

And from a broad perspective, this generally declined throughout the war in Germany. German and Austrian citizens were beginning to starve to death from starvation in 1916 in the turnip winter, and the surrender of Russia didn't alleviate that. The Germans were still starving in 1918... something that neither France nor Britain really had to endure. Things were difficult, as many of their men went to the trenches to fight, but it was never on the same scale that their entire countries were starving to death during the war.

And as for holding the ground... it was hardly impressive. After the First Battle of the Marne, the Germans withdrew to along the Aisne River before curving up toward the town of Ypres in Belgium during the race to the sea, and was only really stopped when the Belgians opened the floodgates on the Yser River. From there the Germans dug in on high ground, often overlooking the river. This meant that ANY advance would have to cross a river and then go uphill, not something that would be easy for attacking forces to handle. It is theoretically possible, but not easy, particularly given that the French had prepared to refight the Franco-Prussian War and Britain was prepared to refight the Boer War in 1914, something that neither really got when WWI began. Thus they had to learn how to deal with their enemies defenses and put together the weapons and the plans to deal with them...

And in general, good working ideas did come about. Generals like Petain were quick to realize that much of what had limited the effectiveness of French attacks in late 1914 to early 1915 was the range of their artillery. They could hit the German first line and potentially pulverize it with ease and could at times hit the second line, but beyond that not so much because the guns they had could not effectively fire beyond that range. Thus the realization that any Allied offensive would have to be slow and methodical while at the same time being flexible while on defense. And that offensives could not be pushed until EVERYTHING was ready. Though, prior to the Battle of Verdun, Petain's commands had been so small that he was unable to demonstrate these points to men like Joffre...

But in the broader sense, it didn't matter. By 1918, Germany was beginning to reach the point where its economy could no longer sustain the war with any real chance of military success, and that the longer they fought, the more that country wide state of siege impacted them negatively, and in that... they finally reached the breaking point, which is how sieges generally work. The lines don't move until the defending force reaches the point of desperation or collapse... and occasionally both/one after the other.

On the other hand, Admiral W. S. Sims, in "The Victory At Sea," states uncategorically that the British were losing the war in 1917 in the chapter titled, "When The Germans Were Winning The War. " Provides plenty of charts showing more U boats sinking allied shipping than they were building.
And in these personal memoirs does he take time and effort to look at how many submarines were sunk? Or what Britain's own escorts were doing? What the convoy policy was and how the Germans had to change tactics from attacking lone ships to attacking a group of ships that might have a military escort or a Q ship waiting to gun the sub down? Or is it a parade of "how wonderful is me?"

And also note, that while they may have sunk ships... unless the Germans had the cargo manifests for those ships, they'd have a hard time telling if they sank a ship carrying exclusively war related material or something else. It's something that's a problem with blockade warfare that submarines, due to their small size, can't get around. The book Black May, which actually deals with WWII but the base principle is the same, is that German U-boats may have sunk ships, but the ships sunk were not always carrying exclusively war material, so claiming to have sunk ship X and state its tonnage does not necessarily mean that that tonnage was all war material. As there were ships sunk in WW2 that were coming in to Britain that were more carrying luxury items, like tea and fine china, that were in convoy simply for protection, and weren't actually carrying much in the way of actual war material...

I'd assume the problem was there for WWI as well, as it'd be doubtful that the Germans could get copies of the shipping manifests for every ship sailing the Atlantic. Even with the most famous sinking in the Lusitania, much of Germany's reasoning for sinking the ship was that they knew that the ship had the potential to be taken by the Royal Navy as an armed merchant cruiser (as her sister Mauritania already had been in 1915) and simply assumed that it was carrying weapons... Now, Lusitania was carrying weapons, but it wasn't of a sizeable amount that was going to drastically change any individual battle on the Western Front, and wasn't the type that would cause the second explosion that actually sank the ship.
 
Likes: Gvelion
#16
Re: Sims.

Like all publications by serving Naval officers of the day, Victory waa reviewed by the Navy Department and approved for publication by Secretary Daniels. It is, for all intents and purposes the official United States Navy history of WW1.

Re: Tonnage.

You're evading the point. Without a Merchant Marine, England would starve, never mind not being able to support the war effort. The Germans could count; without the US Destroyers, the RN couldn't adequately deter a German sortie from Wilhelmshaven with the Grand Fleet AND adequately escort convoys. Ships are very mobile, but can't be in two places at the same time.

Sent from my SM-J700T using Tapatalk
 
Nov 2014
1,385
Birmingham, UK
#17
German mass surrenders started later in October and by 11 November, the German situation was untenable, almost exclusively due to the AEF.
roughly speaking, taking the period July - November 1918

The British captured 190,000 german prisoners and captured 2800 guns

the French captured 140,000 prisoners, and 1900 guns

The AEF, 44000 prisoners and 1500 guns.

effectively, 7 times more prisoners captured by the British and French, and 3 times more guns captured. 'almost exclusively' due to the AEF, who merely managed to capture 1/7th the amount of prisoners their allies captured?

I think your claim of US primacy in the victory is somewhat overplayed, taking this one simple but fairly illustrative metric (as you yourself seem to judge the efficacy of Allied warmaking by the number of prisoners taken in 'mass surrenders'), the 'masses' surrendering to the Americans were dwarfed by those surrendering to the British and French.


"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".


by the way, there are significant elements to your rhetorical style that suggest a strong degree of partiality, here. just as one example, when the British and French stop a german advance, it isn't 'heroic resistance' but logistics... ah, but when the *Americans* stop an advance... it's those *straight shooting Marines*.

were you being ironic there? were Marines the only troops in theatre who could shoot rifles straight? did other forces somehow fall short of the exemplary riflemanship on the good old 'doughboys'(again, by the way, you don't call British soldiers 'Tommies' or French 'Poilus', why exactly do you wish to personalise the US troops this way, I wonder? is it deliberate rhetorical choice to openly show your bias, or do you just write like a cheerleader without realising you're doing it?)

in short I'm afraid your OP has several of the worst signs of being agenda-driven, not least in the exaggeration and rhetoric use use.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
7,635
#18
.
Like all publications by serving Naval officers of the day, Victory waa reviewed by the Navy Department and approved for publication by Secretary Daniels. It is, for all intents and purposes the official United States Navy history of WW1.
so? Official histories have always been suspect.


You're evading the point. Without a Merchant Marine, England would starve, never mind not being able to support the war effort. The Germans could count; without the US Destroyers, the RN couldn't adequately deter a German sortie from Wilhelmshaven with the Grand Fleet AND adequately escort convoys. Ships are very mobile, but can't be in two places at the same time.
Royal navy had some 370 destoyers in service. Then there 's French and Japanese. Finding another 20 odd destoyers from teh various deployments not just teh Grand fleet OR lose the war. Hmm the British are going to just roll over without a very sligt adjustment in their destroyer deployments? The Idea that the news that say 15 destroyers were no longer with the Grand Fleet means the German fleet somehow has dominance is just ludrious.

Royal Navy Organisation and Ship Deployment, Inter-War Years 1914-1918
 
Likes: Gvelion