Tracks To The Trenches

 

The static fronts of World war 1 created a unique logistics situation.  this was especially true due to the great numbers of troops and artillery involved and the sheer amount of material that needed to be provided. In 1914-1918 the truck was still in it’s infancy and the traditional use of horse or mule transport simply could not keep up with the demands of modern industrial war.  Standard gauge rail could get material almost to the front, but the size of standard gauge equipment and track meant that trying to get damaged track back into operation over war torn ground just was not feasible.  A different solution was needed. Enter the light rail. Here’s a video of the American AEF light rail operations.  The operations of all the combatants on the western front were similar.

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German Tank Manufacturing Strategy In WW2

 

A while back I created a post about the American tank design and development strategy.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/was-the-us-army-really-stupid-during-ww2/

Having looked at the winning side, I thought that I would look at the losing side and show why, in the end the Germans strategy comes down to “how to do it  the wrong way.”

Germany’s design strategy was rather different from the evolutionary development strategy pursued by it’s enemies.  The Wermacht started the war with tanks that, while small were adequate for the jobs they called upon to do.

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Not Making The Wrong Choices

This interesting article on the M6 tank showed up on my Facebook timeline.

https://www.thevintagenews.com/2016/04/11/little-known-us-wwii-m6-heavy-tank-40-made/2/

The M6 is one of those military options that the US Army pursued and then dropped.  Through 1940 and the beginning of the war the US Army initiated these various armored vehicle and self propelled gun project as stopgaps and in response to evolving doctrine. As the war progressed and these various vehicles proved to be redundant, the programs were reduced to a barely sustained level and then canceled altogether.  So if the question is ever asked why the US didn’t design a heavy tank, the answer is that they did. Then the Armored forces decided that the gains were not worth the resources.

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Hitler’s Supergun

I first heard of this project reading about it in Ian Hogg’s book Artillery back in the 1970’s.  That book didn’t have too many details and I’ve never really thought about it much since.  This post has most of the details and what the V3 was about.

https://theconversation.com/building-hitlers-supergun-the-plot-to-destroy-london-and-why-it-failed-51071

Apparently there is a documentary coming out about the guns and their installation.  The fact is that this thing would never have succeeded because it’s was too obvious and too big a target.  And it would have solved any of Germany’s strategic problems even if had been deployed and used. The ammunition for the gun was about the same size as the Qassam rockets that Hamas uses to hit Sredot and as about as accurate.  And Germany had no way of determining  the effect of the weapon and would be firing blind.  In the end this was a waste of resources that Germany desperately needed elsewhere

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The Great(Or Not So Great War)

A  great YouTube Series on WW1:

So far this has been a great series, distilling the event of each week into ten minute or so videos and covering all the different events of the war.  It’s great that it makes clear that there was a great deal going on outside the trenches on the Western Front and indeed that at some times the Western Front was almost a sideshow.

The more I watch this series the more appalled at how corrupt, craven and just plain stupid the leaderships of ALL the players were.  Time and again they seem determined to grab defeat out of the jaws of victory and expend the heroism of the troops and sailors  like cartridges.  Yes new technologies came into play, but as far as I can see the biggest problem so is that the governments and staffs were unwilling or unable to remove the incompetent and stupid leadership until hundreds and thousands were needlessly killed.

Here are some pics I scanned from The First World War,   A Photographic History.

They were so eager to be off to war.

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Belgium fought valiantly, not that it mattered.  Pretty much a speed bump to the Germans for the most part.

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Of course reality and casualty lists soon set in.

 

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The battles moved across back an forth across Belgium and France until settling in to a stalemate for the nest four years on the Western Front.

 

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Meanwhile the women and old men kept the factories running and the children fed the shells their pennies

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Villages all over Europe listened for the distant sound of the guns.

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Glorious victories paid for with names on the wall.

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Did the leaders know that they were paying the dots on the map with their country’s future.  Not just the Germans here, it was ALL the great powers of Europe.

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There were never enough shells.

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At least the factories kept busy.

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Of course the factories were helped by gunners that couldn’t seem to hit the target.  There’s probably a town somewhere in all those misses.

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I can understand that the people who were the leadership learned their jobs in schools during a time that steel was mostly used for swords and the primary tool was the single shot musket. Still there was willful determination to not pay attention to what had happened in the American Civil war where the rifle made itself felt and the Russo Japanese war which showed what trench warfare and heavy artillery would do could have produced some insights into how things could go and maybe come up with solutions.

The tool that would change everything. The great advantage of the machine gun was that it was cheap and with a little work an almost perfect defensive weapon.

A History Channel show on machine guns:

Here’s a Canadian site about the war.

http://ww1.canada.com/

A World War 1 blog.

http://roadstothegreatwar-ww1.blogspot.com/

War History Online’s WW1 tag:
https://www.warhistoryonline.com/tag/world-war-I

Some pics.

http://worldwaronecolorphotos.com/

And some more.

http://time.com/3803957/rare-color-photographs-from-the-trenches-of-world-war-i/

The war’s legacy still lives on in the ground.  They still find tons of unexploded shells, the soil near the trenches is toxic and people still die from encountering ordnance that didn’t function as intended in 1914-1918.

http://www.messynessychic.com/2015/05/26/the-real-no-go-zone-of-france-a-forbidden-no-mans-land-poisoned-by-war/

The bloody 20th Century started off with a bang.  For a war that was fought essentially for nothing, The consequences still live with us today. Just about all the great evils of the last century were a consequence of this war and action taken the win with some sort of glory.  The best and brightest of an entire generation were dumped  in the trenches to be shelled, gassed, shot or just inflicted by the diseases created by the unique environment of the trenches.  Most the great minds that survived the war were scarred by it.

The war destroyed governments, some who could trace back centuries  while others   were so frozen by the fear  a repetition of the war that they were unable to deal with the real monsters that arose as consequence of the war.  Anyway, watch the great series on Youtube