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MH-11: Year of Desperation 1917. 1917- Year of Desperation & Anticipation Strategic Overview. 1917 was a critical year for both sides: Central powers – great domestic unrest & discontent: Food shortages => health problems escalate; Allies – French Army unraveling:

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1917 year of desperation anticipation strategic overview
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
strategic overview the eastern front
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?*
tactical operational strategic situation western front
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!
tactical limitations realized
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?
submarine warfare
?______________ 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?
british blockade of germany its impact
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
allied offensives of 1917 command
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
allied offensives of 1917 coordination
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 ?__________
allied offensives of 1917 haig s plan
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?*
operational strategic objectives
Operational & Strategic Objectives
  • Haig’s Operational & Strategic Objectives:
    • Operational: German?_____ pensat Ostend & Zeebrugge
    • Strategic aim: Eliminate ?____ threat to British Merchant Ships
british operational strategy tactical objectives
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)
german response preparations
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?
arras april 1917
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?
nivelle offensive of 1917
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?
german response preparations1
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
nivelle s plan great expectations
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
nivelle offensive execution
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?
nivelle offensive results
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?
petain s main strategic objective
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
3rd battle of ypres
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?
messiness ridge execution
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…?
    • ?___________________
passchendaele
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 ?__________ ________
german response british reply
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?
american expeditionary force aef
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?
    • ?________________________
aef main challenge mobilization
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?
mobilization weapons equipment
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
amalgamation
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?)*
aef combat deployment employment
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

?___________!

aef air service
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
cambrai the final offensive of 1917
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 ?_______ _____!

tactics serving intelligence
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 ?______________________
battle plan preparations
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?
royal tank corps
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?
    • ?________________________

:::::::: []-

::::::::: []-

::::::: []-

cambrai execution
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!
friction german recovery
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
british offensive stalled
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
assessment
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
assessment 2
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)
ww1 casualties
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