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MH-11: Year of Desperation 1917

MH-11: Year of Desperation 1917

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MH-11: Year of Desperation 1917

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  1. MH-11: Year of Desperation 1917

  2. 1917- Year of Desperation & AnticipationStrategic Overview • 1917 was a critical year for both sides: • Central powers – great domestic unrest & discontent: • Food shortages => health problems escalate; • Allies – French Army unraveling: • 1917 Neville Offensive & its negative impact; • Morale plummets & mutinies soar; • Great Britain (Haig)assumes greater role as result: • 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele –Sum/Fall 1917) • High casualties to little effect

  3. Strategic Overview- The Eastern Front • Russia suffered even worse: • High losses & incompetent generalship; • Deprivation => domestic unrest => Revolution: • Spontaneous uprising in Petrograd only beginning; • Tsar advocates & soon Provisional Gov. fails; • Bolsheviks take over & make separate peace: • Breste Litovsk - Impact on allies? • West must now face more German troops – why? • Tactical, Operational, & Strategic situation is?_____________________ -Why?*

  4. Tactical, Operational, & Strategic SituationWestern Front • 1917 offensives& tactical assaults all mostly ?______________: • Horrendous casualties for very little gain • Allies must now face German’s without Russian Front: • German Army now can concentrate forces on West- and they do!

  5. Tactical Limitations Realized • Impact: Tactical reality of the war finally realized: • Sweeping breakthrough now considered too costly & impractical • More finite & limited tactical objectives are identified instead • Also prompted determined search for tactical innovation • Artillery objectives are now map surveyed (w/o long prep- why?) • Preserve tactical ?______________ • Better combined ground, arty, armor, & air coordination: • i.e. British Tank operations in Cambrai Offensive • Air recon & CAS now played akey role supporting attacks • Allies will end 1917 barely holding on until US arrives: • What prompts the Americans to enter the war?

  6. ?______________ Submarine Warfare • May 1915-Lusitania sunk: • Over 100 Americans lost • American reaction => temporary suspension of GermanSS ops • German military position? • Impact anticipated by German Army on British resolve? • ?____________ miscalculation – (But operational success) • British “stiff upper lip” • US re-supply to Britain • Negative attitude twd Germany • Why did Germany resume unrestricted SS warfare?

  7. British Blockade of Germany & Its Impact • British blockade’s impact on Germany was significant: • Food & military material running very low • Rising pressure on German leadership to act decisively: • High causalities suffered at Verdun, Somme, Brusilov offensive • Result: stalemate no longer option- something + had to be done • Hindenburg’s & Ludendorffplayed key role on SSrestart • Kaiser’s decision based in part on poor intelligence analysis: • i.e.MOE: 600K tons/month sunk => surrender in 5 months • Was above operationalMOEmet? • Britain’s response to German SS sinking of Brit shipping? • Impact on American attitude toward Germany & war? • What additional issue further inflamed US feelings? • ?______________ telegram • Tactical SS success => Op. letdown=> strategic disaster

  8. Allied Offensives of 1917- Command • Leadership changes of late 1916: • LloydGeorgebecomes British Prime Minister • Gen Haig replaces FM French • Gen Nivelle replaces FMJoffreat Western Front • Most obvious but difficult problem for allies to solve: • Lack of unified command & control: • Strong British military resistance (Haig) • Current situation: only loose operational coordination between the allies

  9. Allied Offensives of 1917- Coordination • Lloyd George’s role in resolving lack of unified Command? • Haig overruled & BEF placed at ?______________disposal • Result: Haig & Nivelle agree on plan for French breakthrough: • French Objective: • Chemin des Dames(Map) • BEF’s key support role? • Take Arras • Operational Purpose & objective? • Fix German ?_________ __________ in North • Allow French to attack without being pushed back by strategic ?__________

  10. Allied Offensives of 1917- Haig’s Plan • Haig’s follow-on plans following diversion for Nivelle? • High ground at ?______________ Ridge(Just south of Ypres) • Must be executed within tight timeframe – why? • Above only prelude to what Battle? • 3rd Battle of ?___________ • What is Haig’s main Operational objective?*

  11. Operational & Strategic Objectives • Haig’s Operational & Strategic Objectives: • Operational: German?_____ pensat Ostend & Zeebrugge • Strategic aim: Eliminate ?____ threat to British Merchant Ships

  12. British Operational Strategy & Tactical Objectives • Operational Strategy? • Conduct series of attacks in sequence along the ?____ front • Drive German RF back along Belgium coast • Capture ?_______ bases & end threat to Allied shipping; • Tactical Objectives: • Sequential attacks on: • Arras, Heights of Chemin des Dames, Messiness' Ridge, & • Then finally –Ypres (for 3rd time)

  13. German Response & preparations • In anticipation of Allied 1917 offensive: • Germans retire to Hindenburg Line(Map) – why? • (Impact of shorter ?_______s on available reserves?) • Force deployment & tactical preparations: • Reverse slope & elastic defense (?): • Fewer forward w/mutual mg/arty support points throughout • Shorten defense lines- impact? • Better able to ?______-________ to pre-emptallied attempt to reinforce initial gains • First Battle of campaign begins at Arrason 9 April’17: • What happens?

  14. Arras (April 1917) • Brits commence assault following 5 days of arty prep: • 1st & 3rd Army gain initial tactical objective as planned: • Canadian Corps heroically re-captured Vimy Ridge • (major tactical success) • Brit 3rd Cavalryunable to exploit & consolidate gains: • Make several repeated attacks without success; • NTL – Arras is considered an operational success – why? • Impact of attack on German strategic reserves in NW? • ?___________ as planned • Effect on French effort to South?

  15. Nivelle Offensive of 1917 • Nivelle’s recent success & reputation as innovative artillery officer: • “Invented” Rolling barrage& tightly controlled inf. advances; • Instrumental in recapture of Fort Douaumontat Verdun; • Douaumont advance supported by heavy arty to infantry’s front • Dec 1916–Nivelleassigned as commander of NW Front: • Starts immediate plans for breakthrough at Champagne: • Plans & Preparations: • Tactical objective: heights at Chemin des Dames; • Develops detailed plans with extensive time consuming arty prep • What is the major problem that emerges with French delay?

  16. German Response & preparations • Nivelle’s delay & poor OPSEC results in: • Loss of ?_________________and soon tactical ?___________! • Enables Germans to reorganize ?_______________ positions • Key German Changes in response: • Elastic defense – minimum # of troops forward • Reverse slope – German infantry at Chemin des Dames • Reinforced concentration at expected assault sector • Especially the Second Belt Trench line • Nivelle’s pre-execution failures: • Ignores intelligence indications of lost surprise • Ignores indications of German troop repositioning to Fr objectives • Overconfident of artillery’s impact for expected breakthrough

  17. Nivelle’s Plan- “Great Expectations” • Incorporated 4 armies: • 10th Army was to follow & exploit the gap made by the 6th & 5th Armies • Nivelle expected 10th Army to advance 15 miles by D+2 • Note: as a general rule… • Plans rarely survive the first shot • (Especially if you have poor OPSEC & the enemy has a copy of your plan) • Plans with unrealistic assumptionssuffer even more • How does Nivelle prepare for the assault’s actual execution? • 7 April: 9 days of ?_________________ preparation

  18. Nivelle Offensive- Execution • 16 April:1st wave advances – • Able to reach initial tactical objectives- why? • ?____ _______ ______in first belt- Why? • ?______________ defense • French reach geographic crest of their objective- • then what happens? • Germans concentrate ?________on troops • German preparations halt further Fr advance • Germans were not visible initially – why? • Withdrew to?____________ slope positions • German defense in depthhalts advance: • 3 days of failed attacks follow- • All preceded by arty • Heavy allied casualties result; • Nivellethen modifies plan: • Orders 5th to attack NE & 4th to attack NW: • Result?

  19. Nivelle Offensive- Results • Dismal failure at extremely high costs: • Tactical losses: 117K casualties (32K KIA); • Operational failure – • No change in tactical or operational situation at high cost • What is the Strategic Impact? • Strategic Impact ofNivelle Offensive’s failure: • Severe disappointment & despair (unfulfilled expectations) • French army begins to unravel – bad morale • Many French Units mutiny & refuse to return to the front • Nivellerelieved in disgrace by?______________ • What is ?__________’s main objective now?

  20. Petain’s main strategic objective • Stop mutinies & restore discipline & morale; • Finally able to restore confidence & morale in Army; • August: launches limited offensive with limited objectives • Conducts successful limited offensives at Verdun • Late Oct: Petain conducts offensive w/10th Army: • Tactical objective: Chemen des Dames; • Support: 14 tank companies & 1850 arty prep field for 3 days • Execution: Outflanks Germans & forces them to withdraw • Operational Result: No breakthrough – static front remains • Political fall out of Nivelle’s failed offensive: • Clemenceau takes firmer civilian control: • “War too important to be left to generals.” • Civilian leadership asserted & top down guidance on rise

  21. 3rd Battle of Ypres • Another result of Nivelle Offensives failure • British (under whose command?) assumed greater role on Western Front • Factor in decision to conduct 3rd Battle of Ypres • Also known to British as? • ?____________________: • Haig’s Strategic Objective: • Stop British ?_____ _______losses to German ?____ • Operational Objective: • Capture German ?___ bases at Ostend & Zeebrugge; • Tactical Objective: • ?_____________________ (Map p. 332) • 1st stage: break through German defenses on German LF • Where?

  22. Messiness' Ridge- Execution • Haig opens limited offensive on Messiness' Ridge: • Ridge dominated Ypres area from south • Therefore needed to be neutralized • Brits load 600 tons HE in tunnels dug under the ridge holding entrenched Germans • Assault: • 7 Jun: synchronized detonation after 17 day arty prep (all but 2 of 21 go off) • 10K Germans die in the explosion • Then 9 infantry divisions of General Plumer’s2nd Army advance to most planned tactical objectives- • Plumer urged Haig to exploit breakthrough • Haig stuck to his plan and prepared for next tactical objective to NE… which is…? • ?___________________

  23. Passchendaele • Battle Field preparation: • Conducts 2 week arty bombardment: • 3000 guns fire 65K Tons of arty shells • Little impact on German defense in depth • Few German Troops forward to impact • Attack- “Over the top” • 31 July: Brits capture initial objectives: • Next prep for main tactical objective: • Passchendaele • Friction & complications: • Heavy rain => mud=> shell holes=> delay: • Brits suspend assault to lay planks for advance • Brits resume operations: • 16 Aug: attack resumed w/little fwd progress • Series of limited attacks launched: • 20, 26 Sept & 4 Oct • How do Germans respond ? • Germans use ?__________ ________

  24. German Response & British Reply • German Response: • Germans also useElastic defenseto great effect at assault’s start • Elastic defenseinitially used then Germans revert to earlier tactics • Army HQ sends more troops forward to front tocounter-attack • British response: • Conduct massive artillery barrages against German counter-attack • Effect close coordination with Aircraft, infantry, & artillery • Bombardment seriously disrupts German counter-attacks • High casualties on both sides • 6 Nov: 2 British divisions finally occupy Passchendaele: • Able to expand hold by 10 Nov – then Haigcalls halt to offensive • Results & significance? • At a cost of 240K casualties, what was actually gained ? • What about the Strategic & Operational Objectives? • Haig is criticized for not stopping offensive much earlier • Many think he should have waited arrival of whom?

  25. American Expeditionary Force (AEF) • AEF iscommanded by whom? • General John ?______________ • US inherent advantages? • ?______________ (100M), $$$ & industry, & ?___________ • Disadvantages: • Small army (time to mobilize combat ready troops): • Must grow from 217K to 3.68M by wars end • Must recruit, equip, train, & transport to France • Transportation, logistics, & weapons shortfalls • Therefore, main challenge for US to participate in war? • ?________________________

  26. AEF Main Challenge: Mobilization • Mobilize 2 million men & transport them to France: • Clothes, train, equip, & train (coveralls & sticks) • Establish required mobilization boards & commissions: • War Industries Board • Food & Fuel Administrations • Rail Administration & Shipping Board • Purpose of above boards & commissions? • Effectively manage all of the above • How well did they do?

  27. Mobilization- Weapons & Equipment • Heavy weapons: machine guns, mortars, aircraft • Manufacture and provided by whom? • ?______________ & ?______________ • Combat loaded logistics support & distribution: • Major inefficiencies and screw ups- examples: spittoons arrive early • Transportation shortfalls & major losses fromSS attacks • Half of AEF deployed to Europe via British merchants

  28. Amalgamation • Once AEF arrived, how did allies want to use them • Assigned to more experienced Brit & Fr veteran units- Why? • Desperately needed ?______________ at the front ASAP! • Pershing’s response & objectives: ?________! • American troops should maintain ?__________ cohesion under ?_____ commanders & fight as a unit (still maintained that way) • Lloyd George’s diplomatic pressure on Wilson - Result? • 4 ?_______ _______ regiments sent to French for WWI’s duration • What area of NW front did Pershing deploy to? • Why? (strategic significance & logistic advantage?)*

  29. AEF Combat Deployment & Employment • AEF disposition: • ?____________near St. Mihiel salient • Strategic significance: • German rail LOCthru Metz for Front’s re-supply • Potential offered for capture of iron & coal mines; • Logistic advantage: • More direct logistics & re-supply route for AEF • Avoided ports used by Brits & Paris bottlenecks • Main focus of AEF until German Offensive of 1918? • US innovation to support troops? • Service to supply system • 670K troops for everything but shoot ?___________!

  30. AEF Air Service • Who does Pershing appoint to command AEF air service? • What was ?_____________’s major challenge? • US had 55 obsolete A/C to start with – so required to use whose A/C? • Also American pilots 3 years behind Europe in combat air experience • Main problem hindering Air Service’s full potential? • Shortages & lack of priority ?_____________, & ?_____________ • Who gets top priority? ?_____________ • Finally - 1st Air Squadron formed April 1918: • What was the 1st Air Squadron’sprimary Mission & capability & why? • 1st Air Squadron’s primary mission & capability: • ?_____________ & ?_____ to ?______ combat – (not strategic bombing) • Reason: • Low priority => slow progress & limited assets • (650 A/C at peak) • Nonetheless – Mitchell would exploit to fullest

  31. Cambrai – The Final Offensive of 1917 • The Blood bath continues – only with better tactics • Biggest concern of Allies during Fall of 1917? • Why does it turn out to be a legitimate concern? • ?_________take power – significance? • End of the ?__________ Front- so…? • More German troops to fight where? • Made worse by Italian defeat at Caporetto, and… • Worse: SS success against allied shipping • Result? British Operational objective? • Operational & tactical objectives: • Capture German ?_________ bases (again) • Tactical focus: • Breakthrough?_________________ Line • Concentrate attack in vicinity of Cambrai Russiawill make ?_______ _____!

  32. Tactics Serving Intelligence • Intel:What does an analysis of the terrain conclude? • Terrain viewed as ideal for what recent tactical innovation? • As a result, LTC JFC Fuller developed plan for a limited raid employing ?__________ as primary assault force • What happened as higher HQ reviews his plan? • They (Byng- 3rd Army & Haig) ?________________________! • What happened as a result? • Fuller’s limited tank raid grew to a full scale ?________ Plan aimed at breaking through ?__________ ________ • Now in addition to ?______, employs infantry, arty, air recon • All aimed at a major ?______________________

  33. Battle Plan & Preparations • Force Disposition & assigned mission tasks: • British 3rd Army (on 6 mile front) • 4 divisions on line • 1 division to follow with 4 divisions in reserve • To the rear: • 5 Cavalry divisions to exploit gap made by infantry • Haig’s romantic use of old for new situation? • (Old ways of war die hard for old generals) • Royal Flying Corps: provide air support: • Reconnaissance, combat air support, dogfights • Artillery Support: precision pre-registered targets: • What tactic allowed pre-registered targets? • Artillery Support: precision pre-?____________ of targets: • Prior “flash-bang” (?) recordings of azimuth on Battle Maps • Anything else?

  34. Royal Tank Corps • Supports 3rd Army with 3 Tank Brigades: • 476 total tanks (374 combat & Mark IVs); • Aligned w/3 tanks & infantry companies following each tank: • Tanks could cross total of 3 trenches- why/how? • ?________________________ :::::::: []- ::::::::: []- ::::::: []-

  35. Cambrai – Execution • Watch word for battle- precision & surprise: • Tactical surprise: • Key factor making it possible? • No prolonged ?____ preparation • Why & how possible? • ?___________fire (survey Maps) enhances surprise • Ludendorff’s subsequent comments on attack supported above tactic • Initial success: • By close of D-Day:Brits had punched a hole 3 miles deep; • German main defense & support line had been penetrated: • Deepest penetration since start of trench warfare!

  36. Friction & German Recovery • Brits had lost 179 tanks (of 374) by D+2 • Some cmdrs ignored Tank/infantrycoordinated tactics • MG Harper of 51st Division at Flesquieres in particular • Sent infantry forward in waves • Tanks forced to advance alone & unsupported by infantry • Hit by German machine guns & arty=> high casualties of both • Germansgraduallyrecovered from initial surprise & shock: • German resistance stiffens by reserves sent to line & counterattack • By D+3: British advance slowed

  37. British Offensive Stalled • By 30 Nov: 3rd Army cramped into 7X8 mile salient: • Germans (now reinforced) counter-attack British Left Front &Right Flank • Push Allies back to initial D-Day position • As advance stalls, old conventions & tactics resurface: • Half measures again employed • Germans exploit & attack as Allies withdraw • Result: high casualties with no operational gain • Almost 70% attrition of tanks engaged • Last major battle fought on NW front in 1917 • Alliesnow settle in to await American forces

  38. Assessment • Cambrai spurs mass production of improved tanks; • French & British suffered massive causalities by 1917: • especially at Chemin des Dames & Passchendaele • Allies learned some hard & bitter lessons: • Defense likely to prevail over offense (all else constant) • Limited offensives have better chance than breakthrough- why? • Tactical Innovationsincorporated by Allies: • Coordinated ?___________ & infantry assaults a must! • Tank & air support offer great potential support • Surprise & precision ?______ fire offer good initial advantage • Mask intentions & timing of attack by pre-registered arty bombardment

  39. Assessment- 2 • Central Powers won victories & devised new tactics: • Battle of Caporettocrippled Italian front • Battle of Rigaover Russians had major impact: • Eastern Front ceased to exist • Bolsheviks take Russia out of war (Brest-Litovsk) • Germans reinforce NW Front for 1918 ?________ Offensive • German Tactical Innovations: • Defense in depth & ?______________ defense; • Hurricane Fires(future WWII Blitzkrieg Offense)

  40. WW1 CASUALTIES • Country Dead Wounded Prisoner • Great Britain 947,000 2,122,000 192,000 • France1,385,000 3,044,000 446,000 • Russia1,700,000 4,950,000 2,500.000 • Italy 460,000 947.000 530,000 • United States 115,000 206,000 4.500 • Germany1,808,000 4,247,000 618,000 • Austria- Hungary1,200,000 3,620,000 2,200,000 • Turkey 325,000 400,000 NA