Author Topic: Slow Erosion of Military History  (Read 8257 times)

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2016, 13:26:30 »
Two posts on reviews of the comprehensive The Bombing War: Europe 1939‑1945 by Richard Overy--first pro, second con:

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World War II: Combined Bomber Offensive Against Germany Effectively a Bust
https://cgai3ds.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/mark-collins-world-war-ii-combined-bomber-offensive-against-germany-effectively-a-bust/

World War II: Combined Bomber Offensive Against Germany Effectively a Bust–or Not?
https://cgai3ds.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/mark-collins-world-war-ii-combined-bomber-offensive-against-germany-effectively-a-bust-or-not/

Lots more here:
https://www.google.ca/search?num=100&q=review+overy+world+war+ii+bombing&oq=review+overy+world+war+ii+bombing&gs_l=serp.3...18491.20410.0.21168.6.6.0.0.0.0.151.777.0j6.6.0....0...1c.1.64.serp..0.5.628...30i10k1.gcNoyL_VLWY

In particular by Edward Luttwak:

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Opportunity Costs
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n22/edward-luttwak/opportunity-costs

Related on the USAAF:

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Movie “Command Decision” and US Strategic Bombing vs Germany, 1943
https://cgai3ds.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mark-collins-movie-command-decision-and-us-strategic-bombing-vs-germany-1943/


...

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Offline mariomike

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2016, 15:42:05 »
Two posts on reviews of the comprehensive The Bombing War: Europe 1939‑1945 by Richard Overy--first pro, second con:

I've read various reasons for target selections. Sometimes economic. Sometimes number of Germans per acre. Sometimes tactical. eg: The three raids on Revigny, France in which 41 Lancasters were shot down. Ordered by Gen. Eisenhower in support of the Army.

Sometimes political. One RCAF squadron was briefed by their Station Commander. He explained that the Nazis had convinced the German people that at the end of WW1 their armed forces had remained still on foreign soil and basically undefeated, and that they, the German forces of WW1, had been betrayed by politicians at home. "He then pointed to the cord running across the map to the city of Dresden, and said, 'There are going to be a lot of people in Dresden tonight who are going to find out that war can be a very nasty thing. Never again will any future German government be able to say that the country was fairly well intact but still defeated.' "
"Incidentally, it will show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Command can do."
Battlefields in the Air: Canadians in Bomber Command page 152.

« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 15:53:54 by mariomike »
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Online E.R. Campbell

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2016, 16:10:51 »
For a bit of context, largely from memory as I am a long way from my library, at the end of the Great War the newly created independent air forces seized upon the theory of the devastating effect of air power and the invincibility of the bomber as a way to ensure their survival as independent services and not surprisingly as a way to convince politicians to invest the air forces as a way to avoid the horrible casualties of the First World War.

That the theory of air power involved bombing the enemy's industrial base, communications, and armies and navies into submission meant that the civilian population became a target was downplayed, but it must have occurred to more than a few people in positions of authority between the wars. In my opinion it is wrong to suggest that the British civilian and air force leadership were not aware that what they were proposing was mass slaughter of non-combatants, and the same could be said of the Americans as well as the Axis powers. There was some rationalization along the lines that in 20th century warfare there was no such thing as a non-combatant. On the Allied side, there also was plenty of scope to argue that the Huns started it all, but perhaps that was a bit of justification.

In any case, look at the use of chemical weapons in the First World War, where our side retaliated in kind, and that included Canada.

Apologies for a rather wordy two cents worth.


There was, also, I think, an issue of British morale.

We always say that "Selection and Maintenance of the Aim" is the first and 'master' principle of war but we also, at least in my day, used to always list "Maintenance of Morale" second. In the summer of 1944 British morale ~ civilian and military ~ took a real beating thanks to the V1 and V2 attacks: the second "blitz." The  Brits understood, in their heads, that the war was, effectively won ... but the renewed German attacks took a toll of civilian morale and, consequently, on the morale of the fighting forces, too.

I suspect that part (only one part, and not the major part) of the rationale for e.g. Dresden was to show the British people that the German cities were bombed to bits, too. I've been told there were wild cheers in cinemas in the UK and in Canada when the newsreels were shown; it had to have been good for morale, and morale matters in war.
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Offline mariomike

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2016, 16:21:33 »
In the summer of 1944 British morale ~ civilian and military ~ took a real beating thanks to the V1 and V2 attacks: the second "blitz."

Several Bomber Command squadrons were specifically trained to carry out reprisal gas attacks against Germany. But, Eisenhower convinced Churchill that this would not be a good idea.
Harris said that even at maximum intensity V-Weapons could do less damage than a single Bomber Command attack against a German city.
Bomber Command was compelled to divert bombers to ineffectual counter-attacks against them.
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Offline Blair Gilmore

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #29 on: April 06, 2017, 12:23:37 »
I recently attended a small gathering to listen to Honorary Colonel John Boileau's take on the Canadian contribution to WW1 which included his research on Vimy Ridge. As the 100th Anniversary of the Easter battle is approaching, I reflected on my key take-aways from the lecture.

1. Canada had never seen industrialized warfare on this scale. The mobilization and sacrifice needed would be incomprehensible 100 years later to the average citizen.
2. Even with my military experience, there is no way I would be able to understand what a soldier in the trenches about to go into battle would have gone through.
3. Lastly, the sheer number of no known graves on both sides was staggering. Canadians get so worked up over a few deaths when about 20,000 Canadians from the war simply went missing.

Vimy Ridge events are being held throughout Canada so there is some recognition and education getting out to the public. I firmly believe their sacrifice should not be forgotten and later generations of Canadians should receive a solid education on our military past.

You can read my full thoughts on the matter at:

http://www.happydiver.space/?p=354

Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #30 on: April 06, 2017, 12:30:40 »
Quite right, Blair. Though I would slightly modify your first lesson to read that no one in the world had seen industrialized warfare on this scale, save perhaps the American who had some taste of it in their Civil war.

Offline Blair Gilmore

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #31 on: April 06, 2017, 13:55:50 »
Actually, while doing research for my article I came across this reference:

1874's 'Taiping Rebellion' in China saw the biggest death count, with over 20 million dead.
It was however the biggest loss of British troops with 1 in 10 dying. Over all, 700,000 out of 6 million who enlisted. (Some would argue that the 'death rate' was actually higher during the 'Crimean War'?).

The conflicts in Asia always seem to be left out of discussions on human large scale conflicts. This particular rebellion may not have had the full industrial use of 'modern' WW1 weapons but 20M dead is an industrial body count.

Offline Dimsum

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #32 on: April 06, 2017, 14:19:31 »
3. Lastly, the sheer number of no known graves on both sides was staggering. Canadians get so worked up over a few deaths when about 20,000 Canadians from the war simply went missing.

I've wondered about that before - is it possibly that due to the ease of communication and social media, we expect to be able to reach someone when back in WWI/II/Korea/etc the families would only get letters?  If a bunch of letters go missing, the family may think that something has happened to Billy but maybe that it's just that Canada Post has screwed up again?
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Offline Lightguns

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #33 on: April 06, 2017, 14:45:54 »
I've wondered about that before - is it possibly that due to the ease of communication and social media, we expect to be able to reach someone when back in WWI/II/Korea/etc the families would only get letters?  If a bunch of letters go missing, the family may think that something has happened to Billy but maybe that it's just that Canada Post has screwed up again?

It was a different time, death was treated differently and there was less expectation of loved ones coming home after going far away.  It was normal for people to go out into the world and never come back as travel was expensive and laborious. Vietnam was the first war where the dead were brought home which likely brought home the horror of war to more people.   
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Offline mariomike

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #34 on: April 06, 2017, 14:54:27 »
Vietnam was the first war where the dead were brought home 

America brought war dead home after World War One and World War Two.

http://www.historynet.com/rest-in-peace-bringing-home-u-s-war-dead.htm
IN LATE 1920, the French finally yielded to American pressure and lifted their ban on the return of bodies. The United States spent the next two years and more than $30 million—$400 million in today’s dollars—recovering its dead. The remains of 46,000 soldiers were returned to the States at their families’ request, while another 30,000—roughly 40 percent of the total—were laid to rest in military cemeteries in Europe.

But a sacred tradition had been born. After World War II, with 359,000 American dead scattered across both hemispheres, the military mounted a six-year recovery effort that yielded the remains of 281,000. (Nearly 80,000 were missing in action, most lost at sea.) In the Korean War, America redoubled its commitment to the dead. The fast-changing battle lines in that conflict left little time for soldiers to dig temporary graves, so the dead for the first time were carried from the front and shipped home even while hostilities continued. During the Vietnam War, soldiers’ remains often reached home within a week. Today, of course, the dead are whisked home in a matter of days.

« Last Edit: April 06, 2017, 19:29:20 by mariomike »
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Offline Journeyman

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #35 on: April 07, 2017, 11:58:13 »
... save perhaps the American who had some taste of it in their Civil war.
If you're including the US Civil War, then I'd add the Franco-Prussian war -- roughly the same time-frame, weapons, trains, telegraphs....
Although American writing always emphasizes the number of casualties without acknowledging the obvious, that Americans provided both 'good guy' and 'bad guy' cannon fodder.

For Naval battles, the Russo-Japanese War provided pretty obvious lessons on the way ahead for WW1

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Re: Slow Erosion of Military History
« Reply #36 on: June 30, 2017, 11:25:33 »
From CBC for Canada's 150th.....   :cdn:

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Liberals downplay military role in Canada 150 celebrations, some historians say
4 key themes for sesquicentennial celebrations are diversity, youth, environment and Indigenous reconciliation

[ Highlights only ]

- But University of Calgary military historian David Bercuson says the Liberals are making a political calculation in toning down its focus on the military around the milestone birthday....Canadian milestones like this are an important opportunity to not only remember the sacrifice of fallen soldiers, Bercuson says, but also to note the role military members played in shaping the development of the country industrially, economically and socially.

- Canada 150 is a time to reflect on the extraordinary "story of the nation," and our military history is a part of that, says military historian Jack Granatstein.... It wasn't all perfect, Lord knows. But it's worth remembering. "Military history is a part of that. More than 100,000 Canadians were killed in service of this nation, in service of values that I think we still believe in."

- Steve Harris, who oversees DND's directorate of history and heritage, said the funding gap has meant doing some things more slowly. But he said cutbacks were in lock-step with government-wide spending cuts.

- Michael Behiels, a historian at the University of Ottawa, said Harper's vision for Canada 150 was to focus on celebrating past accomplishments, including the military, and reinforcing his "brand of British-Canadian nationalism."  "Trudeau could not launch an Expo 1967-type celebration since there was no time or serious funds," he said. "What he could do — and did — was to revamp the Harper narrow, military-focused agenda into a Liberal Party agenda that reinforces the brand of Liberal Canadian nationalism."