The Battle of the Somme

For discussion of issues relating to that great war
User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

The Battle of the Somme

Post by DMB » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:00 am

Today marks the centenary of the first day of the (Wikipedia)Battle of the Somme.
The Battle of the Somme
  • Began on 1 July 1916 and was fought along a 15-mile front near the River Somme in northern France
  • 19,240 British soldiers died on the first day - the bloodiest day in the history of the British army
  • The British captured just three square miles of territory on the first day
  • At the end of hostilities, five months later, the British had advanced just seven miles and failed to break the German defence
  • In total, there were more than a million dead and wounded on all sides, including 420,000 British, about 200,000 from France and an estimated 465,000 from Germany
The Battle of the Somme was intended to achieve a decisive victory for the British and French against Germany's forces.

The British army was forced to play a larger than intended role after the German attack on the French at Verdun in February 1916.

Among the worst hit were the "Pals" battalions, volunteer units of limited fighting experience.

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:01 am

Commemorating the beginning of the battle:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36674451
Commemorations are being held in the UK and France to mark the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.

A ceremony at the Lochnagar crater on the battlefield began the day's memorials, ahead of a two-minute silence to mark the start of the World War One battle.

On Thursday night, the Queen laid a wreath of flowers on the Grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

The battle saw more than one million men killed and wounded on all sides.
At a vigil in France, the Duke of Cambridge paid tribute to the fallen soldiers, saying "we lost the flower of a generation".

The Battle of the Somme, one of World War One's bloodiest, was fought in northern France and lasted five months...

...It was to Westminster Abbey that thousands went to pray during the desperate years of World War One.

It was to the Abbey that the body of one unidentified serviceman was brought back from the Western Front to be buried amid the greatest honour on 11 November 1920, two years to the day after the Armistice which ended the war.

And it was to Westminster Abbey that the Queen came to join a congregation in solemn remembrance of one of the most desperate moments of the war, the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.

There has been no more grievous day in the history of the British army, whose soldiers died in their tens of thousands as they advanced on the German lines.

In their remembrance - and in memory of all those who died - the Queen placed a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. A bugle used by the Welsh Guards at the Battle of the Somme sounded the Last Post.

And an all-night vigil was mounted, to remember those young men who - 100 years ago tonight - waited in their trenches to face their destiny...

...The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry paid their respects in France, attending a vigil at the Thiepval Memorial, located close to the battlefields of the Somme, near Amiens in the north of the country.

Prince William spoke of European governments "including our own" who failed to "prevent the catastrophe of world war".

"We lost the flower of a generation; and in the years to come it sometimes seemed that with them a sense of vital optimism had disappeared forever from British life," he said.

"It was in many ways the saddest day in the long story of our nation."

Prince Harry also spoke at the event, reading the poem Before Action, by Lieutenant WN Hodgson of the 9th Battalion the Devonshire Regiment, who wrote it days before he was killed in action on 1 July 1916...

...Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones joined members of the Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force for the start of a vigil at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff.

"Those who fought bravely for our futures should never be forgotten," he said.

In Scotland, an overnight vigil was held at the National War Memorial.

A whistle, which was sounded to lead men over the top, will be blown by Scots soldier Alan Hamilton at 07:30 BST to mark, to the minute, 100 years since the battle began. The whistle belonged to his great uncle.

And in Northern Ireland, a vigil is being held at the Somme Museum at County Down, near Newtownards. A guard of honour, which includes serving soldiers, will be present throughout the night...

...The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, and 10,000 members of the public chosen by ballot - including hundreds of schoolchildren - will also attend a service of commemoration on Friday.

The royal couple will then attend ceremonies for Northern Irish and Canadian victims of the battle at the nearby Ulster Tower and Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, respectively.

The Duchess of Cornwall will lay a wreath at the grave of her great-uncle, Captain Harry Cubitt, who was killed on the Somme in September 1916 while serving with the Coldstream Guards.

He was the eldest, and the first, of three brothers to die serving on the Western Front.

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:13 am

By the time of the Somme, the British Army had introduced conscription. See (Wikipedia)Recruitment to the British Army during the First World War.

I'm not sure, but I think that my grandfather, who by that time was the father of four children, must have been a conscript. He fought during the battle and was invalided out after being blown up by a shell. For the rest of his life he limped badly and in old age developed gangrene around shell fragments that remained in his leg.

He wouldn't ever talk about the battle, but he always expressed a hatred for Germans when I heard him talking about Germans/Germany. Mind you, by that time WW2 had started and I think that may have influenced him. I remember his anger in 1961 when I told him I had a couple of German friends that I had met in Switzerland.

User avatar
Val
Posts: 5809
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:06 am
Location: Location: Location:

Post by Val » Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:22 am

Bunch of Fokkers, all of 'em.
We who choose to surround ourselves with lives, Even more temporary than our own, Live within a fragile circle, Easily and often breached.
- Irving Townsend

User avatar
Pierrot
Posts: 1417
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:12 am
Location: London, UK

Post by Pierrot » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:49 am

World wars are only won when you destroy the other side's army, and with mass conscription that was bound to be bloody. WW1 was such a searing experience in British memory because it was the one time when the main burden fell on the British army; the French had done their best but were bled dry by 1917, the Americans were a future resource but minimal numbers by 1918 (and incompetently led by Pershing) and the Russians had been defeated.

Usually (1812-15, 1941-45) we get Russians to die on our behalf.

User avatar
Pierrot
Posts: 1417
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:12 am
Location: London, UK

Post by Pierrot » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:59 am

duplicate in error

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:18 pm

I've just been watching a commemoration of the Battle of the Somme from the Thiepval Memorial. The royal family were there in force: Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry. Various politicians were there, including David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon. There were representatives from Commonwealth countries, including South Africa (which belonged to the British Empire in those days). President Hollande was there for France and President Higgins for the Irish Republic. There were British and French military contingents and choirs. They had excellent readings from actors: Charles Dance, Joely Richardson and Jason Isaacs plus various ordinary people reading extracts from letters, diaries and poems written by people from the front.

At the end they had the usual wreath-laying but the unusual bit was the participation of 600 children: 300 from Britain and Ireland and 300 from France. They laid individual wreaths on the marked graves that are there. Of course the Thiepval Memorial itself commemorates over 72 thousand men known to be missing but whose bodies were never identified.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-36611400

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:22 pm

I took note of the fact that the Duchess of Cornwall was laying a wreath for one of three great-uncles that were lost in the war and I realised that Mr DMB and I both lost great-uncles to this war. I suppose the fact that they were our great-uncles rather than our grandfathers is significant. If you survived this war you were more likely to have descendants than those who were killed so young.

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:38 pm

[quote=""Pierrot""]World wars are only won when you destroy the other side's army, and with mass conscription that was bound to be bloody. WW1 was such a searing experience in British memory because it was the one time when the main burden fell on the British army; the French had done their best but were bled dry by 1917, the Americans were a future resource but minimal numbers by 1918 (and incompetently led by Pershing) and the Russians had been defeated.

Usually (1812-15, 1941-45) we get Russians to die on our behalf.[/quote]

The Battle of the Somme started just over 101 years after the Battle of Waterloo.

Of course, the Battle of Waterloo was a very different type of battle, taking place on a single day, 18th June 1815. But the losses were huge:
Waterloo cost Wellington around 15,000 dead or wounded and Blücher some 7,000 (810 of which were suffered by just one unit: the 18th Regiment, which served in Bülow's 15th Brigade, had fought at both Frichermont and Plancenoit, and won 33 Iron Crosses).[170] Napoleon's losses were 24,000 to 26,000 killed or wounded and included 6,000 to 7,000 captured with an additional 15,000 deserting subsequent to the battle and over the following days.

22 June. This morning I went to visit the field of battle, which is a little beyond the village of Waterloo, on the plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean; but on arrival there the sight was too horrible to behold. I felt sick in the stomach and was obliged to return. The multitude of carcasses, the heaps of wounded men with mangled limbs unable to move, and perishing from not having their wounds dressed or from hunger, as the Allies were, of course, obliged to take their surgeons and waggons with them, formed a spectacle I shall never forget. The wounded, both of the Allies and the French, remain in an equally deplorable state.

— Major W. E. Frye After Waterloo: Reminiscences of European Travel 1815–1819.


But the losses on the first day of the Somme were far worse.

User avatar
Tubby
Posts: 3744
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:32 pm
Location: USA

Post by Tubby » Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:57 pm

I've read that families set up picnics overlooking early battles in the American Civil War, to spectate. I just watched a set of World War I discs by CBS which indicated that sort of thing happened in the early WW I battles. Probably not by 1916 though!

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Fri Jul 01, 2016 1:18 pm

Re the Battle of Waterloo (which incidentally did have some onlookers):

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/belgium-goes-a ... oo-1505486
Belgium introduced its first €2.50 coin commemorating Napoleon's defeat in Waterloo this month and France is understandably, not very happy about it.

The small European nation attempted to introduce a new €2 coin commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in March, but France objected to the plan, forcing the Belgians to scrap the 180,000 coins they had already minted, The New York Times reported.

Invoking a rule that allows members to issue coins of their choosing, as long as they are in an irregular denomination. Belgium then unveiled the new €2.50 coin. According to New York Times, 70,000 of the coins, which can only be used in Belgium, have already been minted.

The coin includes a monument of a lion on top of a hill at the site of France's crushing defeat, as well as lines representing British and Prussian troops that defeated Napoleon.

Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt told reporters that the coins were not released to upset the French. "The goal is not to revive old quarrels in a modern Europe — and there are more important things to sort out," he told Agence France-Presse. "But there's been no battle in recent history as important as Waterloo, or indeed one that captures the imagination in the same way."

According to the Times, France protested the original plans for the coin saying it undermined European unity and could incite an "unfavourable reaction in France". The €2.50 coin did illicit some annoyance in France, but garnered praise in Belgium and in Britain.
But the French do seem to get quite upset by ancient history. In 1989 I was told off by a French aristocrat I knew for daring to wear a bicorne hat with cockade in commemoration of the French Revolution.

As far as spectators are concerned, don't forget that Pierre goes to view the Battle of Borodino in Tolstoy's War and Peace.

User avatar
Pierrot
Posts: 1417
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:12 am
Location: London, UK

Post by Pierrot » Fri Jul 01, 2016 1:50 pm

[quote=""DMB""]I took note of the fact that the Duchess of Cornwall was laying a wreath for one of three great-uncles that were lost in the war and I realised that Mr DMB and I both lost great-uncles to this war. I suppose the fact that they were our great-uncles rather than our grandfathers is significant. If you survived this war you were more likely to have descendants than those who were killed so young.[/quote]

My maternal grandfather died in 1918 from the effects of being gassed two years before. My mother had only one hazy memory of him. There were a lot of war widows who had to bring up children on their own.

late
Posts: 1576
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2016 1:06 pm

Post by late » Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:27 pm

I tried reading the book, couldn't get into it. Knowing what was coming didn't help.

I loved the first BBC production of Testament of Youth, depressing but so good.
I haven't seen the new version, I would be amazed if it was half as good.

If you get the chance to see the first, I give it 4 thumbs up.

https://www.amazon.com/Testament-Youth- ... B003EQ4Y8G

No, this has nothing to do with the Somme, WW1 was mindless slaughter, it is of no interest to me, but I find the interwar period riveting
(I also like the prewar period, the ending of La Belle Epoque, but I get to talk about that occasionally)

User avatar
MattShizzle
Posts: 18963
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:22 pm
Location: Bernville, PA

Post by MattShizzle » Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:36 pm

The song "1916" by Motorhead was about this battle.

User avatar
Politesse
Posts: 19647
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:28 am
Location: Chochenyo territory

Post by Politesse » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:19 pm

I've been watching, and recommend, this web series on the Great War:

(Not loaded: v48BK5CuBrY)
(View video on YouTube)

If you aren't interested in artillery, still stick with the video til the end for the reading of a truly gutwrenching letter home from the front.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:41 pm

At this morning's Thiepval commemoration, they had a whole lot of letters read out, with appropriate accents, and they were very moving. Some of the writers were heroes who got the Victoria Cross. One VC's letter was read out by his son (now 79). What really cracked me up was when the played Butterworth's The Banks of Green Willow at the end. Butterworth died in the Battle of the Somme.

(Not loaded: wxxqotHAlsI)
(View video on YouTube)
Last edited by DMB on Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
MattShizzle
Posts: 18963
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:22 pm
Location: Bernville, PA

Post by MattShizzle » Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:55 pm

The song 1916

(Not loaded: EqFoqtpUFY8)
(View video on YouTube)
lyrics wrote:16 years old when I went to the war,
To fight for a land fit for heroes,
God on my side, and a gun in my hand,
Chasing my days down to zero,
And I marched and I fought and I bled
And I died & I never did get any older,
But I knew at the time, That a year in the line,
Was a long enough life for a soldier,
We all volunteered,
And we wrote down our names,
And we added two years to our ages,
Eager for life and ahead of the game,
Ready for history's pages,
And we brawled and we fought
And we whored 'til we stood,
Ten thousand shoulder to shoulder,
A thirst for the Hun,
We were food for the gun, and that's
What you are when you're soldiers,
I heard my friend cry,
And he sank to his knees, coughing blood
As he screamed for his mother
And I fell by his side,
And that's how we died,
Clinging like kids to each other,
And I lay in the mud
And the guts and the blood,
And I wept as his body grew colder,
And I called for my mother
And she never came,
Though it wasn't my fault
And I wasn't to blame,
The day not half over
And ten thousand slain, and now
There's nobody remembers our names
And that's how it is for a soldier.

User avatar
Wizofoz
Posts: 7672
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:55 pm

Post by Wizofoz » Sat Jul 02, 2016 6:19 am

My Grandfather went to France in 1914 as a Private and came back in 1918 as a Captain- and a completely broken man.

He was injured just before the Somme, and was in England recuperating during the battle-most of his regiment died.
When it comes to truth, there is no "Opposing opinion"

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:18 pm

Life in the trenches. An extract from a long piece in The Times by Andrew MacDonald:

http://extras.thetimes.co.uk/web/intera ... 714c7.html (paywall)
Wet, mud-caked uniforms and greatcoats meant being chilled through for prolonged periods of time. ‘For warmth we had charcoal braziers in dugouts: charcoal was burned as it gave off no smoke,’ said Private Clarrie Jarman, 7th Queen’s Royal West Surreys. Hobnailed boots offered little protection from trench foot, which was an affliction that disgusted Lance-Corporal Cousins: ‘We all suffered from trench feet a condition brought on by the feet being wet for days on end. The skin seemed to swell and leave the flesh. Large blisters appeared and the stench was appalling. Body filthy, no washing, no water to wash, waterlogged shell holes were urine contaminated even reserve trenches were little better.’ Gumboots, dry socks and tubs of water-resistant whale oil to be rubbed liberally on to the feet were the solutions to trench foot, but from mud there was no escape, as Captain Upcott explained: ‘Mud will kill anything, it gets into your soul, just as it oozes into your boots and hair and under your clothes. One becomes just a sticky machine, which carries on because it has got to.’...

...Corpse-fed rats scampered over sleeping soldiers, gnawed into food stores and spread whatever filth and bacteria they had picked up along the way. They nested in discarded kits, in earthy burrows and in the chest cavities of no-man’s-land’s dead. They urinated or defecated wherever they pleased. They were in every dugout and every trench traverse. ‘In one dugout called “Vermin Villa” if a match was struck the rats would scatter,’ wrote Corporal Henry Allen, 12th Middlesex. Lieutenant Eric Kirkland-Laman, 2nd South Wales Borderers, said ‘one impudent beggar actually sat on my chest during the night.’ Some slashed at the pink- tailed rodents with spades, stabbed at them furiously with bayonets, or hurled anything to hand at them. Shooting at them was forbidden. Out of the lines, soldiers and rats alike moved into billets and tents. ‘They came in droves to the villages,’ said Private Jarman. Rifleman Cecil Tennant, 1/9th Londons (Queen Victoria’s Rifles), recalled a barn near Bray where ‘they crawled over us in search of food and anything edible disappeared.’ Controlling the rat plague was impossible: the vermin multiplied faster than they could be killed.

Body lice were equally reviled. Soldiers were ‘lousy’ within weeks of arriving at the front, whether from sleeping on old, infested straw in some dugout or barn, or from inheriting poorly cleaned clothing from the stores. ‘Our clothing after being in the line was pretty lousy. In fact we were hardly ever free from lice,’ wrote Private Jarman. Lice bites could cause trench fever, its symptoms — high temperatures, headaches, rashes and leg pains — requiring hospital treatment. Itchy soldiers scoured their clothing for these parasites and their eggs. In the trenches there was no chance of washing, but behind the lines there were tepid showers, delousing baths and ineffective uniform-fumigation services. Rifleman Henry Barber, 1/5th Londons (London Rifle Brigade), explained:

At about three week intervals our shirts and underwear were sent for fumigation but the process failed to kill the eggs which were laid in the seams of our clothing. We received a clean shirt & before putting it on a match was lit & run up & down the seams. The eggs exploded like a miniature Chinese Cracker.
And these were just the physical conditions. On top of that, they were being shelled, gassed and shot at. It is a wonder that anyone came through the experience with any remnant of sanity. It is no wonder that few of the survivors would actually talk about their experiences. Many suffered permanent mental damage.

User avatar
Tubby
Posts: 3744
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:32 pm
Location: USA

Post by Tubby » Sat Jul 02, 2016 2:49 pm

An Austrian with a mustache fighting for the German side was wounded in the leg during the Battle of the Somme. Imagine how different the world would be if trench rot led to a mortal infection...

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Sat Jul 02, 2016 5:14 pm

Another kind of commemoration:

Image

Image

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... Somme.html
Commuters were today moved to tears as 'ghost soldiers' dressed in First World War uniform broke out into a poignant anthem sung by British soldiers during the Battle of the Somme.

The live tributes were part of a series of performance commemorations carried out by imitation soldiers at railway stations, office blocks and city centre precincts across the country to mark the centenary of the battle.

The soldiers broke into renditions of We're Here Because We're Here - a rousing tune which troops sung in the trenches to reflect the futility of their situation.

The song, sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, was performed in full-throated defiance to the likely fate of the soldiers fighting one of the bloodiest battles in military history, one which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands on both sides.

When passing commuters approached the men to ask who they were, the soldiers simply handed them a card featuring the details of one of the 19,240 British heroes who died during the bloody battle...

...The scene was spotted in dozens of cities and towns across the UK, including London, Bristol, Swansea, Newcastle, Salisbury and Aberdeen.
Sites used for the performance included the National Theatre in London, London Victoria station, Scalloway Castle in Shetland and various football clubs and university campuses.

The tribute was orchestrated by Project Octagon, a group run by the National Theatre, which recruited thousands of men aged between 16 and 40 for the performance.

In London alone, there were more than 400 men taking part, many of whom are amateur actors, school students and university undergraduates.

Those taking part had to attend several rehearsals but were kept in the dark about what exactly they would be doing. The project was described as an 'one-off, large-scale theatre project' directed by an award-winning team and is thought to have involved nearly 20,000 people - mirroring the number who died in the battle.
I'm afraid the journalism of the Daily Mail's usual standard. That last sentence should end, "mirroring the number who dies on the first day of the battle. I chose the Mail because they had a lot of pictures. My understanding is that the numbers corresponded to the numbers who died on the first day, and each actor represented just one of those soldiers and distributed cards with his name.

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Sat Jul 02, 2016 5:32 pm

Wounded British soldiers on the first day:

Image

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Sat Jul 02, 2016 5:36 pm

Extract from a review by Max Hastings:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/books ... -328d67mfs (paywall)
The reputation of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, commander in chief of the British Army in France, has never recovered from the 1952 publication of his diaries, which exposed an awesome insensitivity. On July 2, 1916, he wrote: “A day of ups and downs!... I visited two Casualty Clearing Stations... The wounded were in wonderful spirits... Total casualties are estimated at over 40,000 to date. This cannot be considered severe in view of the numbers engaged, and the length of front attacked. By nightfall, the situation is much more favourable than when we started.” The next evening, he added: “Weather continued all that could be desired.”...

...The Somme offensive was launched to relieve the desperate strain imposed on Britain’s allies by the German assault on France at Verdun. Until 1916, the French bore the overwhelming burden of Western Front fighting. The most costly British day of the war — of any war — was July 1, but on August 22, 1914, the French Army had suffered worse: 27,000 dead. Our view of France’s modern warmaking has been so adversely influenced by its ignominious 1940-44 experience that it bears emphasis that French soldiers of 1914-18 displayed extraordinary stoicism and indeed heroism, at a cost in lives double that borne by Britain.

The western allies suffered relatively lightly in the Second World War not because they had better generals than Haig, Rawlinson and their kin, but because the Russians did most of the killing and dying necessary to destroy Nazism. Far worse things than the Somme happened on the Eastern Front.

British soldiers who fought at Waterloo in 1815 would mock the notion that 1916 was somehow qualitatively more terrible: Wellington lost about the same proportion of his army as did Haig on July 1, albeit for a better outcome. The truth is that all big battles are ghastly, unless one side or the other quickly collapses.

The Somme makes a more emotional impression on modern consciousness than any earlier horror simply because its participants showed themselves the most articulate and literate sacrificial victims in history, as all these books vividly illustrate.

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:48 pm

I was wondering how the losses in WW1 compared with those of the Napoleonic wars, a time of a hell of a lot of fighting. It should not be forgotten that there were considerable population differences in the two periods. At the beginning of the 19th century France was the most populous country in Europe, with almost 30 million people. Germany had around 20 million and the UK (which then included the whole of Ireland) had about 17 million. By the beginning of WW1, France had lost its demographic advantage, with a population of under 40 million, whereas Germany had grown to 65 million and the UK, including Ireland, to 46 million.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleoni ... casualties
Total dead and missing
  • 2,500,000 military personnel in Europe
  • 1,000,000 civilians were killed in Europe and in rebellious French overseas colonies.
Total: 3,500,000 casualties

David Gates estimated that 5,000,000 died in the Napoleonic Wars. He does not specify if this number includes civilians or is just military.[10]

Charles Esdaile says 5,000,000–7,000,000 died overall, including civilians. These numbers are subject to considerable variation. Erik Durschmied, in his book The Hinge Factor, gives a figure of 1.4 million French military deaths of all causes. Adam Zamoyski estimates that around 400,000 Russian soldiers died in the 1812 campaign alone—a figure backed up by other sources.

Civilian casualties in the 1812 campaign were probably comparable. Alan Schom estimates some 3 million military deaths in the Napoleonic wars and this figure, once again, is supported elsewhere. Common estimates of more than 500,000 French dead in Russia in 1812 and 250,000–300,000 French dead in Iberia between 1808 and 1814 give a total of at least 750,000, and to this must be added hundreds of thousands of more French dead in other campaigns—probably around 150,000 to 200,000 French dead in the German campaign of 1813, for example. Thus, it is fair to say that the estimates above are highly conservative.

Civilian deaths are impossible to accurately estimate. Whilst military deaths are invariably put at between 2.5 million and 3.5 million, civilian death tolls vary from 750,000 to 3 million. Thus estimates of total dead, both military and civilian, can reasonably range from 3,250,000 to 6,500,000.

User avatar
MattShizzle
Posts: 18963
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:22 pm
Location: Bernville, PA

Post by MattShizzle » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:59 pm

I've heard as high as 100 million for total killed worldwide in WWII.

Post Reply