Leon Wolff (1) (1914–)

Teoksen In Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign tekijä

Katso täsmennyssivulta muut tekijät, joiden nimi on Leon Wolff.

4 teosta 722 jäsentä 6 arvostelua

Tekijän teokset

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Northwestern University
US Army (Air Corps)
Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
Francis Parkman Prize



Interesting and horrible look at 1917 campaign on northern British front in World War One (100 years ago). Politicians should have held generals more accountable. Gen. Haig was suited for defense but not for offense where many lives were wasted in attacks that did not get much done. Rain and mud in Flanders made it a real hell for soldiers. To understand WW II it really helps to find out about WW I.
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kslade | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 8, 2022 |
A passionate well written and insightful account of this time in the Great War and of this era in general.
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charlie68 | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 9, 2018 |
This book is about the bombing of the Ploesti (pronounced Ploy-esht') oil fields by the United States Army Air Force during WWII. I was hoping the Wings of War series was entirely made up of memoirs. The several books from the series I have read so far have been but this one is a history written a veteran who was not there. However, he talked to many people who were and it appears he did a reasonable amount of research and his history appears sound.

There is some analysis about the destruction of the ability of the German military to acquire sufficient gas and oil shortened the war and limited their options for both attack and defense. The initial raids had minimal effect but eventually a great deal of damage from air raids.

He relates direct quotes from a variety of the people who were there to give the reader an idea of what it was like to be a member of the mission. I should have liked to get a bit more info perhaps on what happened to some of the men captured after they were shot down.
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Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
“Only among duller minds, by that January 1, was the war still a splendid canvas without warts.” It was 1917, and the war that had been dragging on for an eternity, had no end in sight. In was apparent that the Americans would soon be entering the war on the side of the allies, and General Douglas Haig, the British commander in chief was eager to end the war before the Americans arrived and stole his victory. He argued that a surprise attack would overwhelm the Germans and create the breakthrough that both armies had been trying to achieve for almost four years.

That he insisted on a massive two-week bombardment (nearly five tons of explosive for every yard of territory) goes to his stupidity or arrogance for it eliminated any hope of surprise. He picked Flanders for the attack, an area that has extraordinarily gummy soil when wet and the rainy season had already turned the area into a quagmire. The bombardment destroyed the drainage system that Flemish farmers had created over centuries. There was plenty of warning. The Tank Corp staff had warned headquarters about the mud and drainage problems, but typically the General Staff and Haig’s immediate operational advisors did not go near the front — a damning charge also made by Stephen Ambrose (Citizen Soldiers) and David Hackworth ( )about the American high command in WWII, Vietnam and Korea. This ignorance combined with his sense that God had picked him to lead the British to victory over the heathen Huns produced in Haig a sense of divine right. He assumed he had special powers. Unfortunately, those special powers did not translate into fewer casualties. On the first day, the British suffered 67,000 casualties for hardly any territorial gain. And this was just the beginning.

1917 was a perfect time to end the war. Both sides had virtually exhausted themselves, some 2,000,000 men having been killed. The Germans had made numerous peace overtures, and history has shown that negotiated peace agreements are more profitable for both sides. The Allies could also have blockaded the Central Powers into forcing an agreement. Once America entered the war all hope of a negotiated settlement was lost. The result was the Verdun surrender that created the conditions leading to WWII.

Geology played an important role in the battle for Flanders. The soil consisted of a pure fine-grained clay. This combined with water to create a gluey mud. Since it rained, on average, every other day, in this part of Belgium, moving troops and supplies was very difficult. Men were often suffocated in mini-landslides. They were almost always in liquid mud up to their knees. The smell was terrible. The dead could rarely be buried and usually just rotted where they fell. Ground water became polluted so fresh water had to be brought up to the trenches every day. It was a very difficult task.

In 1197 – curious transposition of numerals, Philip Augustus was trapped in the same area and the Romans had suffered similar difficulties around Ypres.

It was here that Haig consulted with geologists to see if they could tunnel under the German lines, which occupied the only raised ground – so slight they could really not be called hills – at Messines. Deep down the clay was different. Blue in color, it was much heavier and permitted mining. It was also between eighty and one hundred twenty feet deep so any charges planted would not be likely to be blown up by random shelling. They worked for two years, planting thousands of pounds of explosives under the German lines in preparation for a new offensive. The Germans did some mining of their own, and on a couple of occasions ran their own mines within inches of the British tunnels. They could even be heard talking through the walls.

When finally detonated, the explosion could be heard in London, and it completely demoralized the German troops. They were dazed. The British moved in quickly, but, following orders, failed to capitalize on the German anguish and went far forward enough only to straighten out the salient. So it began all over again.

Haig had to convince the civilians in London of the wisdom of his new offensive. They were lukewarm at best, especially in the light that Haig had difficulty articulating his objectives. How could one measure success if the objectives failed to be articulated was the reasonable question. The longer the offensive was delayed, the more likely the rains that would turn the region into a quagmire. Dredged out from the sea, farmers were heavily punished if they failed to maintain the drainage ditches that kept the area from returning to its original swampy condition. Haig intended to use – and was counting on – many of the new Mark IV tanks. The tank commanders, looking at the terrain, realized this was the worst terrain for them over the entire front. They produced maps showing the effect that shelling would have and the resulting lakes that would be formed. The response from headquarters was emblematic: “Send us no more of those ridiculous maps.”

He also overlooked the results of the abortive Russian offensive that collapsed releasing thousands of troops for the western German defense. The offensive superiority that should have been five to one was only 15% greater and dwindling quickly. A child could have foretold the result.

Other titles I have read over the years that I can personally recommend: [b:The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman|11366|The Guns of August|Barbara W. Tuchman||1884932] that describes how and why the war began; [b:The Price of Glory by Alastair Horne] that relives the horror of Verdun, and the one with the most expressive title [b:Donkeys by Alan Clark|1897272|The Donkeys|Alan Clark||1898856], a scathing indictment of the British and French generalship.

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ecw0647 | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Sep 30, 2013 |



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