History Lesson for Today

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by bruno, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    There are some things that truly stagger the imagination and should cause you to ask " How did they do this?" What kind of leadership is necessary to get men to function in the face of almost certain death or wounding?
    On this day in 1916, the British Army commenced the "Big Push" that would come to known as the Battle of the Somme. Many units suffered grave casualties on this day in which casualties totaled more than 57,000.
    Only one other battalion, however, took more casualties as a percentage of men involved than the 1st Battalion of The Newfoundland Regiment. In their failed assault on Beaumont Hamel, for which it was praised for "extreme steadiness under trying conditions," all 22 officers and 658 of 758 "other ranks" were killed, wounded, or went missing.http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=memorials/ww1mem/beaumonthamel
     
  2. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Take a visit someday to Verdun.

    Walk that battlefield.

    Check out the cemeteries...plural.

    NOBODY knows the actual casualty numbers...it's been debated for decades but MOST "learned" military historians think approximately 970,000 casualties on both the French and German armies and upwards of half were killed.

    Again, nobody truly knows.

    Oh, this was all in a 302 day period. Which if the guesstimates are correct...that means there were 3,211 casualties EACH DAY.

    And yet...they continued to charge.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  3. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    One Hundred and Forty Seven years ago tomorrow at 1:00 PM 12,500 men stepped out of the woods and marched across a one mile killing field in a small Pennsylvania town. One hour and forty five minutes later less than six thousand returned. They begged to go again. General, place your division to the rear of this hill. "General, I have no Division".
     
  4. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    General's Lee and Picket..

    Could there have been a more painful dialog?

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  5. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Two very interesting examples of history here. Even more when you consider the impact these two separate events have had on the way things turned out up to and including today.

    First case: Gettysburg, 1864. It took over 50 years after the Civil War until America was ready and willing to enter into any major conflict again. (and the fact we we're separated from the rest of the modern world by two majpr oceans helped in our self-induced isolation). By the time America DID enter WWI, most of the generation that lived through the horrors of the Civil War were gone; America didn't have the memories of Antitiem, Fredricksburg, Shiloh, and Gettysburg front and center on their collective consciousness. And we entered WWI after the Verdun debacle; we didn't have to live through THAT horror.

    Second case: Verdun (and the rest of those horrors of trench warfare of "The Great War"). An entire generation of the British and French (and German) "idealistic youth" nearly wiped out. A tragedy so horrific and implanted into the souls of the British and French, that they vowed a cruel and humiliating revenge on the people who they were victorious against. Worse, they became so fearful of repeating history, they allowed the Germans to fall under the influence a power hungry mad man, seeking peace through appeasement rather than confrontation. A timidness that bit them in the end anyway, as they were eventually forced into a conflict even larger than the one they feared repeating. All of this lead to the events of WWII, which shaped the world to today.

    And as to painful dialog, don't forget how hard Ike and the American staff fought to get the Brits to agree to the Overlord plan (the D-Day invasion). I believe Ike mentioned in his memoirs asking his Brit counterpart WHY they fought against the plan, why they were so reluctant and seemed hesitant to take the bold actions the plan required. I believe he mentions how his British counterpart simply stared out the window when asked, and said quietly in reply: "We can't afford another Verdun".

    These little stories, and the way the cause and effect of past events can be tied to current events, are why I ENJOY learning about history so much. As a future professional officer, I can only hope the young men and women can learn to share that enjoyment as well. Heaven help us if they forget the past...
     
  6. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Yes six hundred thousand casualties in the Civil war and a lost generation sixty years later in the "War To End All Wars" sickened the United States and Europe of war. The Treaty of Versaille (Which Wilson, to his credit, opposed) and its revenge guaranteed another. I think they were more afraid of another Dunkirk but they remembered the trenches and the horror.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2010

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