jfc fuller

anonymous asked:

But Americans don't have gods? I don't understand the premise unless it's America once again stealing the heritage and history of its own ancestry from other cultures and countries because otherwise your history isn't ancient enough to have developed a plausible enough belief system like that #sorryboutit

Cool story, anon. 

But maybe, instead of holding a random stranger responsible for correcting your delightfully smug and self-righteous misconceptions about the premise of a book/TV series, let me direct you to a site where you can look up information about LITERALLY ANYTHING YOU COULD EVER WANT TO KNOW: https://www.google.com/

Early Tank Usage and Operation GY

The Western Front after 1914 was plagued by stalemates. Despite technological advances of recoilless artillery, machine-guns and aircraft, neither side was able to effect a sufficient breakthrough. Heavy artillery bombardments were designed to soften up stationary defenses but ultimately the enemy’s defenses were sufficient to withstand the punishment or sufficient reinforcements could be brought up to push back the enemy. Aircraft suffered similar difficulties in dislodging defenders, and machine-guns were proving an invaluable asset and a daunting obstacle.

When the war began, both sides had gone into the conflict expecting a war of mobility. Initially that is how the war developed. The German Schlieffen Plan and the French Plan XVII both called for a massive sweeping push through enemy territory. As such, both sides retained mounted cavalry units. However, recent conflicts and confrontations during the early stages of the First World War had shown their ineffectiveness against massed infantry, artillery, and machine-guns. Following the Allied success at the Battle of the Marne and the subsequent trench warfare, both the Central and Allied Powers retained cavalry units to exploit what they saw as an inevitable breakthrough. Attempts to use cavalry to exploit the deadlock revealed their ineffectiveness in an inescapable way and within six weeks horses were essentially gone from the Western Front. However, the horse would still play vital roles in other theaters of war, such as the middle and far East.

The problem of stalemate still remained, but in 1915, British development began on the prototype of first armored fighting vehicle named “Little Willie”. By December, it’s successor “Mother” was ready for combat and was put through trials in January 1916. Mother’s trials were so successful that an order placed 100 into production. Half were designated “male” and were equipped 6-pounder guns mounted in sponsons on the sides of the tank and the other “female” half were equipped with machine-guns. Code-named “water tanks”, they first saw combat at the Somme Offensive in September 1916. Deployed at the Flers-Coucelette. The “tanks” were poorly suited to the conditions of the battlefield. The ground was churned by artillery fire and muddied by rain. Many broke down or were trapped in the terrain. Many were also taken out by concentrated enemy fire.

Colonel JFC Fuller

The next deployment of tanks came at the Arras in April 1917. Sixty Mark I and II tanks were deployed in support of the Allied offensive there. They met with better success, six tanks captured a heavily fortified village with very little Allied losses. This success helped cement the tank as a useful weapon system. In July, the British organized the Tank Corps and deployed it to the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as Passchendaele. The tanks met with limited local successes, but failed to prove a decisive breakthrough and the offensive broke down.

The British General Staff approved the plan to deploy these new weapons en mass at a new operation in the Cambrai sector. The initial plan as designed by the Chief of Staff for, Colonel JFC Fuller the Tank Corps called for the tanks to charge through the enemy line and assault the enemy gun-line. His plans were expanded and named Operation GY by General Sir Julian Byng, commander of the British Third Army. The ultimate goal of the operation was the capture of the town of Cambrai by way of smashing through the German defenders and capturing Bourlon Wood and subsequently the town itself.

The conditions of the area around Cambrai were much more conducive to the use of tanks. The ground had not been extensively shelled, was made of resilient chalk, and was relatively flat and had been what first attracted Fuller to the area. However, German defenses were well established. The lines that would have to be breached were reinforced with dugouts, machine-guns, and the first trench and subsequent support trenches had been widened to nearly 4 meters. In response, the tanks used would carry bundles of brushwood called fascines that would enable them to cross these wider trenches with relative ease.

The plan of battle had the tanks acting in support and supported immediately by infantry. Cooperation between the Tank Corps and the infantry divisions it would be supporting was paramount. As such, the tanks and and infantry trained together extensively prior to the battle. They would be split between the III (four infantry divisions) and IV corps (two infantry divisions), and would be utterly committed to the battle. 476 tanks were deployed to the battle, alotting between 64 and 72 tanks per infantry division. The vanguard tanks chosen were the new Mark IV tanks which had been reinforced with superior armor and a more reliable and quieter engine and transmission.

At night on 19th November, heavy aircraft overflights and sustained machine-gun fire masked the deployment of the tanks to the front lines. Besides the first usage of tanks on a large scale, the Battle of Cambrai was innovative in two aspects. The covering of the noise made by the movement of the tanks allowed for their usage without the Germans realizing it before the tanks were upon them. Further, and perhaps more importantly, the innovative use of artillery had never been seen before. Prior to this conflict artillery would saturate the enemy front-lines with heavy volumes of fire in an attempt to pin or destroy the enemy defenders and enemy artillery, yet ultimately merely alerting them to the impending infantry assault. The method that the artillery was sighted in was by observing the shell-fall and making adjustments accordingly. However, prior to the assault at Cambrai, British observers both on the ground and in the air, relayed coordinates to the artillery batteries and they in turn applied ballistic formulae to “silently” range their guns. This method had first been developed by the commander of the British Artillery 9th Division, Brigadier-General Henry Tudor. At Cambrai there would be only a short sharp bombardment aimed at keeping the enemy’s heads down and guns silent while the tanks and infantry approached under cover of smoke shells. Following this, the infantry and tanks would then advance under the cover of a creeping-barrage. All-told, the British utilized nearly 1000 guns. These guns opened fire just after 9:00 am on 20th November.

A Mark IV British tank advances on German lines

The artillery bombardment succeeded. The Germans were suppressed and when they broke free they were met with the silhouettes of British infantry and tanks bearing down on them. The British quickly seized the front trenches and captured what prisoners they could and repelled desperate German counter-attacks. The far right flank saw the 12th Division succeeding in capturing Bonavis and Lateau wood which allowed cavalry to pass through. Next to them was the 20th who advanced to the St. Quentin Canal. There they captured a bridge at Masniéres, but it collapsed under the weight of a Mark VI crossing. Further along the line, the 6th Division met with similar success and captured Marcoing, but the 5th Cavalry Division could not advance much further. In the center of the line, the 51st Highland Division met with considerably less success. They captured their fist objectives, but fierce resistance from intact German anti-tank batteries slowed their advance and the 51st failed to take the village on the first day. On their left, the 62nd Division pushed 8km past Havrincourt, and the 36th reached Baupme-Cambrai Road.

The first day of fighting alone had seen spectacular Allied success. They had pushed the Germans into a salient nearly 10km long and 8km deep. The speed and low cost of this success, when compared with the stereotypically slow and exceedingly costly advances that had characterized the Western Front prior to this was stunning. The British had achieved similar gains at Passchendaele in three months and at the cost of 250,000 casualties. At Cambrai, it took 12 hours and cost only 4,000 casualties. However, these gains were not to last. The Germans recovered quickly, counter-attacking and slowing the advance the next day. On 30th November the Germans succeeded in recapturing a majority of these losses.