Planes, tanks, and infantry, 1918.
This will be an unofficial part two to my previous mechanization of war post.
•Infantry: At the outbreak of the war in 1914, infantry marched in columns en masse towards enemy positions, where a bayonet attack would ensue. This style of warfare quickly broke down, as commanders realized they weren’t in the 1800’s anymore. Reforms included updating uniforms to a more practical standard, allowing lower grade officers to make decisions on the battlefield, and changing tactics based on the realization that massed infantry charges will lead to more deaths on your side than the enemy. Tactics such as “bite and hold” by British General Herbert Plumer in 1917, French squad infiltration tactics, and the Sturmtruppen tactics make this evident. I would personally argue that it was a blend of the ideas of Clausewitz and Jomini, the two great military theorists of the 19th century, that lead to the tactical development during World War One. More on that later.
•Tanks: Tanks first emerged in September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, their use only being noteworthy because of the introduction of what would become a pivotal force on the battlefield. In my opinion however, tanks played little part in the war, and when they were best used in mid to late 1918, the war had already been decided. Thats not to say they didn’t help in that final victory, or in any other offensives such as Cambrai, but ultimately the use of the tank did not tip the scales in the allies favor as much as some people think.
•Planes: Despite being used in minor conflicts before, aircraft saw their potential being used to a much greater extent from 1914 onward. Initially being crude in composition and armaments, advances in material and technologies such as the interruptor gear allowed airplanes to fight amongst each other in the skies and also against enemies on the ground. The use of aircraft was not exploited as much by either side as they were in World War Two, and no side had a clear edge in the use of aircraft when it mattered, but the foundations for strategic bombing, dogfighting, and the use of planes at sea make their service in World War One noteworthy.
USS Sims, first of her class and a very potent warship with the new Type 37 Fire directors. She was launched in August of 1939 and before she even reached 3 years old she would be sunk. Another ship, the fleet oiler USS Neosho, was also launched in 1939, just 3 months prior. These two ships’ fates would meet, but first to explain. Destroyer Sims was put with Yorktown’s task force after transferring from the Atlantic. Neosho would too join that task force and helped fuel the carriers. In early May of 1942, the ships head out to sea in order to stop the Japanese in the Coral Sea, this is not an action a gasoline carrying tanker wants to be involved with, so it is chosen for her to leave. Of course she would need an escort and it is Sims that keeps watch as they steam away from the battle. On May 7th, dove bombers approached, vectored in by a scout who sighted them, and began their attack. Neosho was the first singles out and the bombs started dropping. Neosho is hit repeatedly by one set and again by another, together achieving 7 direct hits. From stem to stern she was afire and steering was knocked out. Clear the tanker was all but lost, they focused attention on Sims. The nimble destroyer avoided most bombs dropped on her, however these men were the marksman of the carrier fleet and her luck ran out as 3 bombs hit her in rapid succession. Her back broken, she jack knifed and sank almost immediately. Just as she was going under, a magazine went up in a massive explosion leaving only 13 survivors (that’s nearly 180 lost). Neosho didn’t fair much better having lost 170+ herself in the attack. On May 11th, after 96 hours adrift, destroyer USS Henley picked up the 120 survivors of the tanker and 13 of Sims then scuttled the Oiler with gun fire. #wwii #ww2 #worldwartwo #worldwarii #worldwar2 #usn #navy #destroyer #warship #ship #maritime #history #photo #bomber #battleofthecoralsea #coralsea #tanker #1939 #1942 #2018 #tragedy #explosion #lestweforget #neosho #sims
(Photo 2 is painting of the wreck, on cover of “The Victorian Titanic” by Kieth Austin) About the time Germany became a nation the Adler Line ordered in a new passenger vessel from Napier R & Sons shipbuilders in Britain. This new ship was to be 3,400 tons, 380 ft in length and could go about 13 knots. Launched in 1873, she would be named the Schiller. It wasn’t very long into this ship’s career when tragedy would befall her. It was May 7th, 1875, and Schiller was making her way through dense fog at the very southern tip of Great Britain. Suddenly the deck shook as though she was rammed by another ship, but in fact she had run straight into the Retarrier Ledges which gouged out a chunk of her hull. Two life boats managed to make it safely into the water and Schiller’s crew fired off distress canons. The other boats were either dashed to pieces on the rock’s face or failed to be launched properly, now over 300 people were trapped on board and no other way to get off. The locals hadn’t heard the canons and it wasn’t until the next morning when they set up a rescue attempted to those still clinging to wreckage after Schiller broke up in the surf over night. Of this endeavor, and the survivors in the boats, a combined total of 37 survived, leaving behind 335 to a watery grave. #tragedy #disaster #ship #maritime #history #photo #painting #art #merchantmarine #merchantnavy #german #liner #wrecked #retarrierledge #fog #1873 #1875 #2018 #adlerline #lestweforget #schiller