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jieri01
12-19-2013, 10:52 PM
The British had the biggest empire in History covering more than 1/3 of the worlds land surface,we stopped Napoleon in his tracks in the battle of Waterloo, In ww2 Britain stood against Germany and the Axis and defeated them in the Battle If Britain even though they were Outnumbered and Outgunned, same story goes with the Falklands, yes Britain has lost some wars but why is it the British military tends to pull it's weight above the world,

tankgeezer
12-20-2013, 02:32 AM
Its the Magic of Black Pudding, does it every time. ;) :)

Rising Sun*
12-20-2013, 03:22 AM
In ww2 Britain stood against Germany and the Axis and defeated them

No, it didn't.

Germany won in Europe and expelled the British forces.

Britain had no hope of invading Europe on its own.

Britain made a major contribution to the defeat of Germany, but a much greater contribution was made by the USSR and the USA, and in the USA's case in industrial as well as military contributions as without the American industrial contribution Britain would have had a lesser ability to fight.

The country that punched well above its weight in WWII was Germany, even if it was eventually defeated by substantially superior forces of countries with a far stronger industrial base.

As for defeating Japan, Britain didn't. It suffered the greatest defeat in British military history in Malaya / Singapore and was then expelled from Burma by the Japanese.

The major contribution to defeating Japan was made by the USA in its naval and land engagements in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific theatres. Again, Britain had no hope of defeating the Japanese or even regaining lost territory without the American contribution.


why is it the British military tends to pull it's weight above the world,

I don't think it does.

British military forces are as competent as those of any other developed nation. They've had their fair share of victories and losses, but if you want to start with the British Empire as evidence of the superiority of British forces, how did Britain manage to lose its American colony to a bunch of local insurgents who didn't even have a standing army at the start of the revolution?

leccy
12-20-2013, 07:06 AM
British military forces are as competent as those of any other developed nation. They've had their fair share of victories and losses, but if you want to start with the British Empire as evidence of the superiority of British forces, how did Britain manage to lose its American colony to a bunch of local insurgents who didn't even have a standing army at the start of the revolution?

Damn French lol

pdf27
12-20-2013, 09:18 AM
When it comes to small wars, the answer is in the fact that British armies have historically consisted of long-service professionals rather than conscripts. In wars like the Falklands, that can prove decisive.
In larger wars, the answer is in the propensity of the British to form alliances and use the "Cavalry of St. George (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Cavalry_of_St_George)" to persuade others to fight for us.

Rising Sun*
12-21-2013, 08:48 AM
In larger wars, the answer is in the propensity of the British to form alliances and use the "Cavalry of St. George (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Cavalry_of_St_George)" to persuade others to fight for us.

And in the case of the Jewel in the Crown, being India, until a bit after the middle of the 19th century the nominal British army was in fact the private army of a commercial corporation, being the East India Company, which goes back to Clive of India etc.

Which leads us into the next step about the British Empire, which is that it was not necessarily the consequence of military conquest but occupation of other lands unable to resist that occupation (and I live in a rather large version of one of them) and subtle or even sneaky diplomacy which, like the Roman Empire, enabled a small nation to control a part of the globe out of all proportion to its size, albeit backed by superior military and naval force.

Nickdfresh
12-21-2013, 11:24 AM
....

British military forces are as competent as those of any other developed nation.

Correct...


They've had their fair share of victories and losses, but if you want to start with the British Empire as evidence of the superiority of British forces, how did Britain manage to lose its American colony to a bunch of local insurgents who didn't even have a standing army at the start of the revolution?

It should be noted that many of those colonists had extensive military training and there were militia units that were active duty during the French and Indian Wars. I believe Gen. George Washington got his start as a "wunderkind" major in the Virgina colonial militia and had had extensive experiences in combat and in handling troops. I think the ongoing conflicts with Native Americans also contributed to the steeling of American forces in the war and influenced their Southern Strategy of avoiding large set piece battles...


Damn French lol

By the same token, while the French set enormous aid to the Americans, and while French infantry were also storming British positions in the final battle of the war at Yorktown while their fleet cut the Brits offshore, some of the war's most decisive battles had little to to with them directly. Possibly one of the greatest strategic defeats a British army ever suffered was at the conjoined Battles of Oriskany & Saratoga in New York, which convinced the French to forge an alliance with the fledgling U.S.

leccy
12-21-2013, 07:45 PM
British Colonial strength (and indeed how they won in many of the post war Brush Fire Wars or Small Wars) was the ability to divide and conquer.

They were good at getting the disparate peoples who often had long standing rivalry's and feuds to do most of the actual fighting for them, this enabled relatively small professional British forces to control huge swaths of the world.

The US were quite successful with this tactic in the Indian Wars if I recall - many nations hated each other more than the white man.

Rising Sun*
12-22-2013, 03:40 AM
British Colonial strength (and indeed how they won in many of the post war Brush Fire Wars or Small Wars) was the ability to divide and conquer.

They were good at getting the disparate peoples who often had long standing rivalry's and feuds to do most of the actual fighting for them, this enabled relatively small professional British forces to control huge swaths of the world.

The US were quite successful with this tactic in the Indian Wars if I recall - many nations hated each other more than the white man.

The Romans did the same and controlled, by the transport and communications etc standards of the day, a more impressive empire than Britain. Both the Romans and British installed local governments responsible to their respective head offices but didn't need a constantly oppressive police or military force to maintain their possessions. Indeed, if one looks at India, the Indians were in many cases enthusiastic participants in that administration, not to mention the army of the East India Company.

Which provokes the thought that the Roman and British empires, along with the Dutch, (don't know enough about the Portuguese, Spanish and French) were exploitative but not especially oppressive and lasted for hundreds of years, but other empires and regimes which were especially oppressive as well as exploitative didn't last all that long, notably the Nazis, USSR and, less dramatically and more slowly, the People's Republic of China.

The skill of the Romans and British in acquiring their empires was undoubtedly based on military conquest or the threat of it, but once acquired they maintained their empires by an administrative system which didn't require the huge and oppressive secret police / military apparatus of the Nazis, Soviets and Chinese, albeit with occasional harsh military and civil action such as that following the Indian Mutiny.

How did the Romans and British manage this?

JR*
01-08-2014, 06:40 AM
This is a complex issue. The British acquired the empire they enjoyed at its peak at different times, in differing circumstances, and by a variety of methods. Furthermore, the form of their "occupation" varied from the establishment of colonies composed of British nationals (for example, America, Australia) through slave dominions run largely on commercial lines (West Indies) right over to the 19th century "informal empire". In most cases, a degree of local government autonomy was involved; this, however, varied considerably in degree and form, depending on the circumstances of the dominion. In most cases, strong British influence over the mechanics of government was involved, again varying with circumstance. The answer to this question would appear to call for a different answer for each colony or dominion. Over all, the possibility of severe military response to outright rebellion was an important factor. Such responses often occurred - the American war of independence, the Indian mutiny, and the Boer Wars are major examples; there are many others, major and minor.

The major expansion of the British empire in the 19th century generally involved the establishment of informal or semi-informal dominions or hegemonies. In most cases, military action required to establish these entities was limited; the opposition was, usually, militarily weak. The observation of the fictional Captain Blackadder, that the opposition fought by the British Army in the colonial sphere in the late 19th century generally consisted of a lot of natives armed with spears, in opposition to the increasingly deadly modern rifle and the Maxim gun, is not far of the mark. Whether this phase of British expansion could, in that period, have succeeded in the face of better armed opposition, or in the absence of the diplomatic framework in which the Powers played the game of carving up the world, is questionable. By the time of Queen Victoria's great Jubilee, when the Empire was, in territorial terms, at its peak, Britain had probably overreached its ability to hold it; the cultural dominance of the various administrative systems of the dominions and colonies was as important in holding the whole complex entity was probably at least as important as the threat of the Tommy's gun in maintaining the Empire at that stage. The confrontation with Captain Blackadder's "two million heavily armed Germans" in 1914 initiated the disintegration of the Imperial illusion. Best regards, JR.

Rising Sun*
01-08-2014, 07:17 AM
The observation of the fictional Captain Blackadder, that the opposition fought by the British Army in the colonial sphere in the late 19th century generally consisted of a lot of natives armed with spears, in opposition to the increasingly deadly modern rifle and the Maxim gun, is not far of the mark.

Spears worked rather well at Isandlwana against a well armed British force. Although the tide turned later.

JR*
01-09-2014, 11:40 AM
True, Rising Sun - but Isandlwana was, for the British, one of the greatest cock-ups in their military history (the highlight of the comprehensively cocked-up first British invasion of Zululand in 1879), all the worse because it was a result of the planner of the very sound overall strategy determined for the campaign ignoring his own perfectly sound specifications in this instance.

The British commander, Lord Chelmsford, does appear to have been an arrogant clot, but his overall strategy for the campaign was simple, and perfectly sound. The objective was to force the Zulu armies to battle (rather than fade back into the veldt to look after their cattle and allotments), where they would charge to their destruction in a hail of bullets from the Brits' Martini-Henry single-shot breech-loading rifles (with, where available, Gatling guns). In order to achieve this, three British columns invaded Zululand, the principal of which was commanded by Chelmsford in person. The intention was that when threatened by Zulus, the columns would laager their wagons for protection, and to establish secure firing positions from which the vastly outnumbered British and Colonial troops could blast away the attackers at leisure. Since the Zulus were armed principally with assegais (thrusting spears) and knobkerries (Zulu equivalent of the Irish shillelagh), along with a bewildering range of obsolete trading muskets and other such firearms, for which they were woefully deficient in training and, indeed, in ammunition), it was far from unreasonable to expect that this approach would result in the usual massacres of natives, and the eventual capture of the Zulu royal krall. Game, set and match.

Unfortunately, at least for the British, none of the columns were entirely successful in the laagering business, least of all the main, central column led by Chelmsford himself. On arriving on the plain beneath Isandlwana, Chelmsford deemed it unnecessary to laager the camp, ostensibly because it would take too long, but more likely because he underestimated the fighting abilities of the Zulu army and misjudged the speed at which it could move (and therefore its proximity to his force). He then compounded the error by splitting his force, leading about half of it to pursue a Zulu force with which contact had been made, but which turned out to be a minor unit placed at some distance either as a deliberate decoy/lure or accidentally due to disputes among the Zulu prince/generals. To make matters worse, he left the camp under the command of Brevet Colonel Pullene, a lifelong staff officer with no combat experience. Following Chelmsford's departure on his wild goose chase, Pullene seems to have seen no need to amend his chief's decision regarding laagering. Pullene was little helped by the arrival of a force of colonial cavalry under Brevet Colonel Anthony Durnford, an old colonial soldier who claimed seniority over Pullene; Chelmsford had left no definitive order as to who should command the Isandlwana position in such an event. Durnford insisted on taking a position far forward of the camp, an action that turned out to be a liability as the battle developed.

The battle commenced when a British cavalry patrol accidentally discovered the main Zulu army in a valley on the far side of Isandlwana. The Zulu main army - about 20,000 strong, immediately attacked, adopting their usual "horns of the buffalo" enveloping tactic (this came so naturally to them that it was initiated without question or confusion). However, because the Zulu wings were concealed from Pullene by the bulk of Isandlwana mountain and by relatively high ground between the Natal-side wing and the British camp, and in the absence of a laager, he sent forward a firing line to hold a linear defensive position; with later reinforcement, this eventually involved most of his combat infantry. The accurate rapid fire of the British infantry pinned the Zulus down for a considerable time, and inflicted significant casualties. However, tiredness, (possibly) difficulties with obtaining ammunition top-ups, and the arrival of the outflanking Zulu right wing from the mountain side eventually forced the British back on their indefensible camp, where they were enveloped and overcome by sheer weight of numbers. As I recall, some 1,300 British and colonial soldiers were killed; few men without a horse escaped. Even these escapees had to deal with the Zulu left "horn", which swept down on the area between the Buffalo river and the battlefield, cutting off (and cutting up) many of those who had managed to get away from the battlefield. One Hell of a cock-up, indeed.

Other engagements - notably, in the course of the more seriously-undertaken and reinforced second invasion of 1879 - indicated the basic soundness of the approach originally planned by Chelmsford. As, indeed, did the action at Rorke's Drift, in which some 150 British infantrymen, in a far-from-ideal, but enclosed defensive position, repelled some 3,000-4,000 Zulu warriors of regiments of the largely unengaged left "horn" that had crossed the Buffalo in contravention of their king's orders, inflicting fatalities (not casualties - fatalities) on their attackers that may be conservatively estimated at 12 to 15 per cent. Ultimately, when properly employed, the Martini-Henry trumped the spear any time. The problem at Isandlwana was that it was not properly employed. Best regards, JR.

pdf27
01-10-2014, 01:06 AM
Indeed. Rorke's Drift is frequently described as two rather unimaginative junior officers following the book that their seniors ignored, and winning as a result.

Rising Sun*
01-10-2014, 04:08 AM
(possibly) difficulties with obtaining ammunition top-ups

Can't decide now whether this vague recollection is from history or some fictional / film source, but wasn't there some bureaucratic idiocy / obstructionism by quartermaster staff and or problems with correct tools to open ammunition boxes, which caused delays in distributing ammunition at Isandlwana?

leccy
01-10-2014, 09:18 AM
Can't decide now whether this vague recollection is from history or some fictional / film source, but wasn't there some bureaucratic idiocy / obstructionism by quartermaster staff and or problems with correct tools to open ammunition boxes, which caused delays in distributing ammunition at Isandlwana?

There was a documentary that looked into this - the packaging crates were screwed together and there was claims that the boxes were not opened before the fighting began (in Zulu you see the QM slowly undoing each box but the soldiers smash them open with the butts after a short while).

The documentary team visited the battlefield and found parts still there from the battle and the conclusion they made was it would have had no effect on the battle as the troops disposition was bad and they were surprised (they actually found several of the battle lines that were formed).

pdf27
01-11-2014, 12:57 AM
There was a documentary that looked into this - the packaging crates were screwed together and there was claims that the boxes were not opened before the fighting began (in Zulu you see the QM slowly undoing each box but the soldiers smash them open with the butts after a short while).
From memory they've also unearthed evidence at some point that the boxes were designed to be bashed open with rifle butts in seconds, so the idea that them being screwed together was an issue sounds suspiciously like a modern idea of "they were all stupid back in the day".

Rising Sun*
01-11-2014, 04:43 AM
There was a documentary that looked into this - the packaging crates were screwed together and there was claims that the boxes were not opened before the fighting began (in Zulu you see the QM slowly undoing each box but the soldiers smash them open with the butts after a short while).

The documentary team visited the battlefield and found parts still there from the battle and the conclusion they made was it would have had no effect on the battle as the troops disposition was bad and they were surprised (they actually found several of the battle lines that were formed).

Thanks.

I think I saw that quite some time ago, which is probably why I wasn't sure whether my recollection was reasonably based in some historical knowledge (which is unlikely given my scant knowledge of the Zulu Wars) or something I'd seen on television.

I have a somewhat better recollection of a similar documentary about Custer's Last Stand, where battlefield debris allowed the historians to reconstruct the final hours.

Rising Sun*
01-11-2014, 05:02 AM
From memory they've also unearthed evidence at some point that the boxes were designed to be bashed open with rifle butts in seconds, so the idea that them being screwed together was an issue sounds suspiciously like a modern idea of "they were all stupid back in the day".

Don't know what the ammo boxes were in the Zulu conflict, but I'm inclined to suspect that they were rather sturdy as that was the nature of the age.

If not, the design idea of being able to smash them with rifle butts might have been lost by WWII. I used some WWII .303 ball boxes for tool boxes for many years. I've also used the .303 SMLE in the distant past. I've never tried to smash an ammo box open with anything, but the tool boxes I had were pretty sturdy.

Then again, my recollection of their construction was that they were braced with thicker cleats in various parts, so the main case might have been only about half inch rather than my present impression of it being three quarter inch. The former is in the range of being able to be smashed open a lot more readily than the latter. But I can't see why anyone would need to smash them open in action as they had perfectly openable suitcase type latches, unlike the apparently screwed ones during the Zulu period.
Perhaps the latch opener was a consequence of difficulties, whether during the Zulu or other periods, in opening the boxes quickly and easily.

The 7.62 ball boxes during my service were metal and would probably only be deformed rather than opened by belting them with the SLR, although that would have been unnecessary as the clips were easily operated.

leccy
01-11-2014, 06:56 AM
The 7.62 ball boxes during my service were metal and would probably only be deformed rather than opened by belting them with the SLR, although that would have been unnecessary as the clips were easily operated.

The stupid lockwire was more of a problem than the actual lock clip - days before leathermen so most of us RE at the time carried pliers as well as jack-knife

Rising Sun*
01-11-2014, 07:29 AM
The stupid lockwire was more of a problem than the actual lock clip - days before leathermen so most of us RE at the time carried pliers as well as jack-knife

We had bayonets.

Not much that can't be opened with a bayonet.

If it can't be opened with a bayonet, attach bayonet to rifle for more leverage and try again

If is it still can't be opened with bayonet attached to rifle, attach rifle to Trooper Smith (man mountain) and try again. :D

On the issue of breaking ammo boxes and other things open with rifle butts, the SMLE and SLR butts were decent timber and could deliver a fair whack, certainly if used in a linear stroke alone the line of the barrel. Probably more susceptible to breaking if used sideways and swung by the muzzle, but still a very effective club against people if things got desperate. Unlike plastic butts.

Chunky
01-11-2014, 08:06 AM
Don't know about them having trouble opening ammo box's, but what I do believe, is that after the massacre at Isandlwana, and the victory at Rorke's Drift, which was needed to keep the public back home happy, well their modern army was massacred my a bunch of savages dressed in cowhide or leopardskin, cowhide shields, and held weapons, then after they captured Cetshwayo kaMpande, and put him on show for Queen Victoria. While all this was happening, the British went further into Zulu land, to wipe-out, exterminate a proud Zulu nation.

leccy
01-11-2014, 09:15 AM
Don't know about them having trouble opening ammo box's, but what I do believe, is that after the massacre at Isandlwana, and the victory at Rorke's Drift, which was needed to keep the public back home happy, well their modern army was massacred my a bunch of savages dressed in cowhide or leopardskin, cowhide shields, and held weapons, then after they captured Cetshwayo kaMpande, and put him on show for Queen Victoria. While all this was happening, the British went further into Zulu land, to wipe-out, exterminate a proud Zulu nation.

The British (with a large amount of native help as well as Boers who really started the antagonism that led to Chelmsford invading without authority) did not really wipe out or exterminate the Zulu Nation, it split it up between puppet chiefs/chiefs that could see better deals or had axes to grind against Cetshwayo.

This of course led to tribal wars between the various factions and chiefs opposed to and supporting the old king Cetshwayo.

As a note

One of the columns stayed in Zululand at Kambula and defeated a large attacking Zulu force (bigger than the one that attacked Rourkes Drift) causing many of the Chiefs to take their warriors home.

burp
01-11-2014, 12:30 PM
From what I had read, the British Infantry cannot open more than one ammo crate at a time because of strict regulament. And for the same reason there is a shortage of tools for crates opening.
So when the fight began, the Britains didn't prepare themselves with the crates already opened. That can explain why Zulu can conquer about 400.000 rounds of ammunition.

Chunky
01-11-2014, 02:37 PM
The British (with a large amount of native help as well as Boers who really started the antagonism that led to Chelmsford invading without authority) did not really wipe out or exterminate the Zulu Nation, it split it up between puppet chiefs/chiefs that could see better deals or had axes to grind against Cetshwayo.

This of course led to tribal wars between the various factions and chiefs opposed to and supporting the old king Cetshwayo.

As a note

One of the columns stayed in Zululand at Kambula and defeated a large attacking Zulu force (bigger than the one that attacked Rourkes Drift) causing many of the Chiefs to take their warriors home.

Its not the first time, and is still happening, when you take out the main power, you are left then with a lot of minority parties who want to take over, the country his left then with no structure, the country then falls apart, ruining what once was a proud Zulu Nation/People.

Rising Sun*
01-12-2014, 03:50 AM
Thanks to the marvels of Google, it seems that there was no problem with ammunition supply due to a pedantic quartermaster or inability to open the ammunition boxes without a screwdriver.


The Ammunition Boxes at iSandlwana
Submitted by Ian Knight on Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:40
Martini-Henry ammunition box
Opening of Martini-Henry ammunition box
Peter Vaughan in Zulu Dawn

The disastrous British defeat at iSandlwana is still sometimes attributed to a failure of ammunition on the part of the unit most involved in the defence - the 24th Regiment.

This is variously ascribed to the unwillingness of Quartermasters to issue rounds without due paperwork, to the difficulties of opening the ammunition boxes themselves - which were supposedly bound tight with copper bands - and even to a lack of screwdrivers with which to do so.

In fact, any careful analysis of the evidence doesn’t support any of these claims. While it is true that some of the Colonial units - those under the independent command of Col. Durnford - did run out of ammunition and have difficulty replenishing their supplies, there is no evidence whatever to suggest that shortage of ammunition influenced in any way the tactical decisions of the officers of the 24th Regiment, whose men constituted the main element in the British firing line.

There were huge quantities of rifle and carbine ammunition in the camp at iSandlwana - about 400,000 rounds in all. General Lord Chelmsford had taken the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment, out on reconnaissance, but left their reserve of ammunition in the camp, with orders that it be made ready to send to him if he requested it. The camp was guarded by the 1st Battalion, 24th, whose reserve supply was also in the camp. The ammunition itself was stored in the Mark V ammunition box, which was a stout wooden thing, lined with tin, and held together with two copper bands. Obviously, such boxes were designed to take rough treatment on campaign - no point in them bursting open every time they were dropped - but access to the rounds was via a sliding wooden panel in the centre of the box. This was held in place by just one screw, and in an emergency it could be opened by the highly unorthadox method of giving the edge of the panel a hefty clout. This had the effect of splintering the wood around the screw.

When the battle first began, one of the Staff Officers collected a number of men not engaged in the fighting, and set about ferrying ammunition out to the firing line - this was the standard procedure at the time. One rather over-enthusiastic young officer attempted to requisition the 2/24th’s supply, but was sent away with a flea in his ear by the quartermaster, who was quite rightly mindful of his responsibilities to Lord Chelmsford. At that stage, the camp was not in serious danger, and in fact fresh supplies were organised from the 1/24th’s reserve. Later, when things started going badly, the 2/24th’s supplies were also broached, so that when - at the climax of the battle - the 24th companies abandoned their forward positions and fell back on the tents, they were still firing heavily. The reports of survivors - including half a dozen Zulu eye-witnesses - were unanimous on this point.

Once the Zulus penetrated the British line and over-ran the camp, however, there was no possibility of anyone renewing their supplies. The various groups of 24th - and others - therefore stood back to back and fired off what ammunition they had, after which the Zulu closed in. And therein lies the origin of all those reports which refer to the 24th being ’overwhelmed when their ammunition was expended’.

Of course, even now it is far easier to believe that a modern, Western, industrialised army could be defeated through some folly of its own, rather than that it could be out-generalled by a part-time civilian army armed primarily with spears - an army, moreover, consisting entirely of Africans.

But such a view is based on false assumptions of racial and technological superiority, and a misunderstanding of the tactical realities. In a funny way it slights the memory of the 24th - suggesting that, experienced battalions though they were, they had not managed to work out their own resupply, nor open their own ammunition boxes - and it is a view which denies the tactical skill, discipline, and sheer raw courage of the Zulu people. The battle of iSandlwana was more than just a British defeat - it was, after all, a Zulu victory. http://www.ianknightzulu.com/node/6

See also http://www.1879zuluwar.com/t165-ammunition-boxes

The ammunition boxes were, from the final post in the last link, indeed made of sturdy wood and as shown in a picture in the first link were banded with metal, but as explained in the first link the boxes didn't need to be broken open, only the slide held by a single screw.

I'm pretty confident from these links that I got my idea about a difficult quartermaster and or problems in opening the boxes from the film Zulu Dawn, despite having no recollection of seeing it.

muscogeemike
01-12-2014, 06:01 AM
My opinion as a non Brit: As a US Army NCO I was fortunate to spend some time with the Brit. Army in Germany during the 70’s and I have great respect for the professional Brit. NCO. Their traditions have been developed over centuries and they are serious about maintaining them. The Brit. Officer, lately, is highly professional as well - but that is relatively new, historically speaking.

JR*
01-13-2014, 11:22 AM
The story about the ammunition boxes problem at Islandwana seems to have obtained currency originally from the observations of the future general and senior WW1 commander, Horace Smith-Dorrien who, by virtue of having a horse, escaped the battlefield (with great difficulty - he was recommended for a VC for his conduct in attempting to save fellow fugitives, but it was never awarded). Smith-Dorrien observed that, as demand from the firing line increased, it became necessary to open additional ammunition boxes, which were robust wooden boxes bound with two copper bands, each held in place by, I think, 7 screws. The process of opening the boxes was slow enough; delays, according to Smith-Dorrien, were compounded by the unwillingness of quartermasters of the individual companies to issue ammunition to men from other companies, even as the pressure on the British position increased. Smith-Dorrien - who was no fool - attributed to the ammunition box problem a significant portion in the blame for the centre column's defeat.
The movie "Zulu Dawn" followed the views of historians who put weight on Smith-Dorrien's account.

Other historians have questioned Smith-Dorrien's opinion in the matter, and have rather laid emphasis on the disastrous positioning of the British firing line, which was positioned too far away from the camp, and the supply wagons, to allow rapid resupply of ammunition. As it was, soldiers ended up running back to their companies with helmets full of bullets. This situation clearly had a major influence on the outcome of the battle, one with which Smith-Dorrien, in the camp, may not have been well placed to observe. That having been said, I see no reason to question the accuracy of his observations in relation to the distribution of ammunition from the wagons, difficult ammo crates and all; nor would I question that this had at least some significant influence on the outcome of the battle. In this regard, it should be noted that the British introduced more user-friendly ammunition boxes in the later part of the war. Also significant, I think, is the fact that when they became aware of the approach of Zulu impis, the men at Rorke's Drift took the step of opening a large number of ammunition boxes in anticipation of the pending attack. Best regards, JR.

Laconia
03-06-2014, 01:13 PM
Ummmm, not one rebuttal from the person who started this thread. From all the answers I've read, it seems the British military while competent and having a great military tradition, wasn't so good after all. They've certainly lost their share of engagements.

leccy
03-11-2014, 05:10 PM
Ummmm, not one rebuttal from the person who started this thread. From all the answers I've read, it seems the British military while competent and having a great military tradition, wasn't so good after all. They've certainly lost their share of engagements.

Who has not

Kilroy
03-17-2014, 09:56 AM
I don't thing they were ""great"" they were okay. The way some things were set up were very ineffective and quite noticeable

pdf27
03-17-2014, 01:04 PM
History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
- Winston Churchill

Laconia
03-17-2014, 01:49 PM
You have to wonder sometimes what they were thinking. I know it was the style back then, but walking around the green wilderness of North America in the 18th century in red tunics?

Nickdfresh
03-17-2014, 07:22 PM
You have to wonder sometimes what they were thinking. I know it was the style back then, but walking around the green wilderness of North America in the 18th century in red tunics?

Perhaps something about the maximum effective range being about 100m, so who gives a ****?

Kilroy
03-17-2014, 08:46 PM
Yet when they were would shoot and run. Then do it again. (American troopers) It proved pretty effective

pdf27
03-18-2014, 03:17 AM
Yet when they were would shoot and run. Then do it again. (American troopers) It proved pretty effective
Hardly unique to American troops - the British had their Light troops and the Rifle regiments, the French had the Voltigeurs, etc. There are however two simple reasons that this could never be more than skirmishing/harassment tactics:
1) Cavalry. Infantry who can't form a square to see off cavalry - or who aren't in terrain so bad cavalry can't operate - are dead. The Americans got away with it on occasion, but had they tried it somewhere like Saratoga they'd all be dead.
2) Rate of fire/range at which it can be applied - which is related to (1). Until the rifled musket came along infantry might get two effective volleys against an oncoming column before it hit them, and maybe one against cavalry. Therefore, tactics relied heavily on the shock effect of massed volleys and upon the bayonet. Dispersing your troops in a skirmishing formation loses all shock effect from the volleys and means you will probably lose any bayonet attack you launch against formed troops.

As for red tunics, that dates back to Cromwell and the New Model Army. You need bright colours to see your own troops amid the thick powder smoke of a 18th and 19th century battlefield, and red was the cheapest bright colour available.

JR*
03-18-2014, 02:18 PM
A number of very good points in the last few posts - not so much about the effectiveness of British forces, but more regarding the very uneven evolution of musketry between the late-17th and late-19th century. I believe that this is a major subject in itself - perhaps for its own thread ? Best regards, JR.

burp
03-19-2014, 05:58 AM
For me the British didn't get the aftermath of Revolutionary wars. They still relied on massed volleys of gun fire from lines of muskets. War is evolving, and they don't keep in touch with advancement of gun technology and tactics. US generals constantly encouraged their men to practise their shooting and backwoods skills, and always advised them to shoot to officers. This deeply unsporting concept was not embraced by the British who believed that the specific targeting of officers should not be normal practice for the common soldier in battle, being against the principles of common etiquette required to conduct gentlemanly warfare. Also skirmishing tactics of Americans are viewed by most high officers British as cowardice. British tried to adopt the new type of gun, the rifle, and a new type of uniform, a green one, but when the only direct supporter of this advancements, Patrick Ferguson, died in the battle of Kings Mountain the British generals briefly drop out any attempt to modernise their infantry. Remnants of
this attitude remained very much in the British military mind until well into the 20th century. That for me explains serious losses, like in the Boers Wars and against Zulu.

Rising Sun*
03-20-2014, 04:46 AM
For me the British didn't get the aftermath of Revolutionary wars. They still relied on massed volleys of gun fire from lines of muskets.

So did other successful armies in their range of tactics, such as Napoleon until he encountered more successful massed volleys from the British squares at Waterloo (although Napoleon also used squares) and the Union Army in the American Civil War which by then was using largely rifled bores rather than smoothbores as the main infantry weapon which allowed engaging the enemy at significantly greater ranges than in the Revolutionary War, but the problem remained that reloading single shot rifles took time and that two or more ranks allowed one rank firing while the other rank(s) reloaded, thus putting a good deal of fire into the advancing enemy. Fire and movement in anything vaguely like the modern form was impossible until the advent of repeating rifles.

If your criticism of British failure to learn from the American Revolutionary War is correct, then it follows that the French were equally guilty of the same fault as they also had ground troops fighting with the Americans.


That for me explains serious losses, like in the Boers Wars and against Zulu.

The Boer and Zulu wars were quite different.

The Boer War demonstrates the difficulty conventional armies always have in fighting irregular forces.

The Zulus were defeated at Ulindi, and the Zulu War concluded, by a British force which used a mixture of tactics which included decisive massed rifle fire from a large force using fluid movement tactics in a large defensive square, which I think was a tactic not used and which may have been unknown as a tactic in the American Revolutionary War because of the limited range of muskets in that era.

The British, like all armies, have their share of failures and refusals to adapt to changed circumstances, but the expansion and defence of the British Empire between the American Revolutionary War and WWII demonstrates that the British were generally better than their opponents.

Nickdfresh
03-20-2014, 09:21 AM
The American Continental Army was only on occasion able to defeat the British Army on a field of battle and hold it at the end of the day. When they did so at places like Saratoga, Yorktown, and The Cow Pens, those victories could be pretty dramatic and detrimental to the British cause in key strategic areas of significance. Saratoga thwarted the British strategy of dividing the Northern New England colonies from the rest of North America while The Cow Pens pretty much destroyed the most mobile parts of the British forces in the South eliminating their ability to forge and gather intelligence, resulting in their siege at Yorktown. But it should be noted that there were few illusions about defeating the British Army everywhere because the well trained Continental Army was always in short supply and fundamentally unreliable and panicky militia had to be relied on for numbers and to create the notion of a 'peoples' war'. The Americans, like Gen. Washington, knew they simply won by not being destroyed and remaining a cohesive fighting force. If that meant avoiding engagements or running from them so be it. That's where the American penchant for using riflemen as snipers, pickets, and harassment came from --the inability to field a European style army that could hold the field until very late in the war and the unreliability of state militias to stand for very long after volleys of fire had blooded them or they saw Redcoats charging them with cold steel. As the Continental Army gained experience, funding, professionalism, etc - they were bucked up with the presence of well trained and funded French regular Army and significant French monies coinciding with an increasing unpopularity of the Crown and diminishing numbers of Loyalist volunteers pledging allegiance to it.

As far as snipers targeting officers, the British Army certainly responded in kind. In fact, one British sniper whose name escapes me had shot several Continental officers in a single engagement when, being weary of the fatigue of battle, he had a "most gallant" officer on horseback in his sights almost presenting himself as a trophy. He was tall and noble looking and the sniper felt he had already taken his pound of flesh that day and decided not to kill this older, distinguished looking gentleman on horseback he took for a middling, overage commander. That gentleman was none other than General George Washington.

The British also fielded large elements of American Loyalist militias and formal units that often fought unconventionally and of course their Native allies and adversaries also played a significant part in the fighting. Suffice, I think it's a tad over simplistic to say the Americans waged a guerrilla war while the British fought back unsuccessfully using ridged conventional tactics. Both sides fought a conventional European style land war as well was engaged in unconventional guerrilla and terror tactics. The British certainly had much experience in this type of mixed warfare dating from the French and Indian Wars. In the end, it just wasn't worth their while to hold the United States original 13 colonies as they still would have access to goods via trade without occupation costs...

JR*
03-20-2014, 11:51 AM
I agree that the American War of Independence can mainly be profiled as a conventional war of the period. Naturally, in the circumstances prevailing, there was much irregular activities on both sides. Nevertheless, the war was basically conventional for the period, and the key issue, for a long time, was the ability of the Continental Army to survive. They were lucky to do so, as they suffered many serious disadvantages. Apart from the lack of fully trained manpower, the Americans had a severe supply issue. A most important aspect of this was their lack of gunpowder. The Brits had plenty of the stuff. They had ample access to the critical raw materials, and the product could easily be shipped to them from British powder mills. The Americans, by contrast, had limited access to the raw materials, and limited production facilities. Before the war, they would have relied substantially on British imports to meet the normal demands of a frontier state; they had a very great difficulty in increasing production to meet the demands of a conventional shooting war, especially in the early stages. This is, in fact, the origin of the contemporary maxim of holding fire "until you can see the whites of their eyes" - whether by musket-rifle, musket or (particularly) cannon, powder could not be wasted by whanging away on a hope and a prayer. In the end, the Americans only got by through raids by irregulars on local British powder magazines - and even then, powder supply was tenuous, to say the least.

It is not clear that the Brits fully appreciated this. Their leadership does appear to have been afflicted by a combination of excessive caution, arrogance and complacency. Had a more forceful British command launched a determined campaign against the Continental Army early in the war, they would very probably have run the American forces out of gunpowder, and left the Americans in the situation of finding out how effective the "queen of the battlefield" (the bayonet) was effective in the absence of any realistic firepower. A guess - the British artillery would have found an occasion to wipe them out. Thanks to British bumbling and French intervention, it did not work out like that. Yet more "might have beens ...".

By the way - the notion that Britain was slow to respond to the potential of the rifle in military use does have some basis in terms of their military thinking - but not in practice. Looking forward to the French Revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars, they were actually pretty advanced in practice. That, however, is not saying much. However, there were very good reasons why conventional armies were reluctant to adopt rifled muskets as a weapon of common use, and this reluctance was far from confined to the British. This is really an interesting topic in itself, worth a thread of its own. I will start one soon - not today. Best regards, JR.

leccy
03-20-2014, 02:54 PM
Not sure where this - the British were slow to adopt rifles - they were one of the first armies to adopt muzzle loading rifles when the Baker rifle was introduced, equipping whole regiments with them from 1800.

Previous attempts were made to adopt rifles but with a lack of robustness for general issue and rapid training of recruits they tended to be issued in small numbers to Battalions.

The British Forces themselves were at the time spread out round the world protecting various interests in Africa and fighting several wars in India, as well as a one over several years against the Dutch, insurrection's in Ireland.

France, Spain and Russia were seen as major enemies and a lot closer to vital British interests (and Britain) than the 13 colonies of the United States (who tried to invade and take Canada if memory serves but were defeated). So British power was spread thin and not as some seem to imply that the US (with alot of help from the French) beat the might of the British Empire in a vacuumn.

pdf27
03-20-2014, 02:56 PM
Had a more forceful British command launched a determined campaign against the Continental Army early in the war, they would very probably have run the American forces out of gunpowder, and left the Americans in the situation of finding out how effective the "queen of the battlefield" (the bayonet) was effective in the absence of any realistic firepower. A guess - the British artillery would have found an occasion to wipe them out. Thanks to British bumbling and French intervention, it did not work out like that. Yet more "might have beens ...".
There is supposedly a Russian saying "Infantry is the Queen of the battlefield, and Artillery is the King of War. And we all know what the King does to the Queen." That seems rather apt in such a situation.

pdf27
03-20-2014, 02:56 PM
Had a more forceful British command launched a determined campaign against the Continental Army early in the war, they would very probably have run the American forces out of gunpowder, and left the Americans in the situation of finding out how effective the "queen of the battlefield" (the bayonet) was effective in the absence of any realistic firepower. A guess - the British artillery would have found an occasion to wipe them out. Thanks to British bumbling and French intervention, it did not work out like that. Yet more "might have beens ...".
There is supposedly a Russian saying "Infantry is the Queen of the battlefield, and Artillery is the King of War. And we all know what the King does to the Queen." That seems rather apt in such a situation.

JR*
03-21-2014, 08:11 AM
Regarding the Baker rifle - the Baker muzzle-loading rifle was adopted by the British early in the French Revolutionary Wars, but on a very limited basis. Its use was confined to specialist rifle units and skirmishers - I do not believe there was any question of extending its use to general line infantry. This was a forward-looking move - but it responded to a particular situation thrown up by the fighting methods of the early French Revolutionary armies, which tended to attack in fairly undisciplined "massed columns". This proved surprisingly effective but, to get the best out of the method, an unusually large number of junior officers and senior NCOs had to be deployed forward to exercise some control over the charge. This made these commanders vulnerable to skirmishers and riflemen - even if the range of the Baker was not great by later standards. The Baker was a difficult weapon to load and reload (at least by smoothbore musket standards). To use it effectively, a rifleman required a considerable investment in training - not to mention considerable natural ability as a marksman. Since training costs time and money, and considerable natural ability to shoot a tricky weapon like the Baker was actually rare enough among British (or any) males, and setting off the limited advantages over the smoothbore "Brown Bess" in terms of range in particular against the lower rate of fire, it is hardly surprising that it was not regarded as a suitable weapon for general use. The French Revolutionary/Napoleonic wars were over for over two decades before technological advances produced muzzle-loading rifles suitable for general use by line infantry.

An interesting question is whether even the limited adoption of the Baker would have occurred had the future Duke of Wellington been influential at the top of the British military at the outset of the French Revolutionary wars. Wellington was, in a number of respects, an advanced thinker and practitioner of infantry tactics, and battlefield tactics in general. However, in some respects, he was very cautious and traditionalist, believing in the virtue of the well-established bayonet charge in attack and close-range massed musket fire, followed by a bayonet melee in defence. By the time he arrived as a significant figure on the scene, specialist rifle units were already part of the scene in the British Army (as well as the small armies of some of Britain's allies). To be fair, Wellington made good use of them. Best regards, JR.

Rising Sun*
03-21-2014, 09:01 AM
Regarding the Baker rifle..... it responded to a particular situation thrown up by fighting methods of the early French Revolutionary armies, which tended to attack in fairly undisciplined "massed columns".

Allowing that I'm not a student of those wars, my understanding is that the column advance under Napoleon was a very effective tactic for getting a large number of troops to the front anticipating or under fire compared with trying to assemble a line facing the enemy, and that this tactic was used by, among others, the Americans in their Civil War at times and the British elsewhere.

As with most tactics, the same ideas can be found in classical armies ranging from columns to phalanxes etc, but with different weapons and on different scales applied to relevant cirsumstances.

Massed volley fire resisting cavalry and infantry assaults isn't that different to classical spear fronts blunting the assault in an earlier era, any more than Guderian's drive around the French fortifications in WWII is different to earlier flanking and enveloping sweeps.

There are only so many ways that infantry can advance, with or without artillery and air support, but they all come down to a few basic ideas which revolve around frontal assaults; flanking assaults; envelopment; and infiltration (in the last two of which the Japanese excelled in WWII, without the Allies ever achieving any comparably effective skills in those areas).

Sometimes an army becomes proficient in a range of tactics which surprise and defeat their enemies, as the Japanese did in WWII in their advance phase from Malaya onwards, but as wars are rarely (if ever) won in the first battle the victory or defeat is usually related to a range of other factors, notably logistics and everything that involves the many factors behind the troops in the field of a given nation.

I can't think of any major conflict in which Britain, or for that matter America, were defeated because their admittedly run down armies at the start of the conflict were overwhelmed and defeated by massed volley fire or other battlefield tactics which overcame their ability to produce materiel and munitions to sustain a long war in which they prevailed.

JR*
03-21-2014, 09:31 AM
Rising Sun - not sure I would disagree with any of your most recent comment. We have strayed into a very large topic - but I have to say I am enjoying it ! Very best regards, JR.

Rising Sun*
03-21-2014, 10:06 AM
Rising Sun - not sure I would disagree with any of your most recent comment. We have strayed into a very large topic - but I have to say I am enjoying it ! Very best regards, JR.

Well, if I put on my prosecutor's, or is it defendant's, wig (actually, I have neither, as I worked for a living as a solicitor), could I contradict my most recent, and earlier and probably future, comments?

Easily.

The very large topic is, I think, at heart a fairly small one.

Leaving aside almost unique events like Gulf War 1 where Bush Senior had the sense to do what his idiot son lacked the sense to do in Afghanistan, wars are not won until an infantryman puts his boot on and holds conquered soil, and his nation supports it.

The tactics, and everything behind them from productive capacity to national morale which supports the military effort, which allow that soldier to put his boot on the conquered soil are all that matter, are fairly basic and readily employed, if somewhat surprisingly unsuccessful at times as the French found at Dien Bien Phu.

The British military wasn't always inherently better than any of its opponents in the couple of centuries to the post-colonial period in which it lost its empire after WWII. Britain won and kept its empire as much by clever diplomacy at times as by military successes. But diplomacy is as much a part of victory as military success. And much of that diplomacy came out of the barrels of British soldiers on or potentially on the ground of the other party.

AikeUSA
03-21-2014, 12:17 PM
They got a bad army like the home guards. They got good weapons like the Lee Enfield, Sten gun.

JR*
03-21-2014, 12:41 PM
Well ... the evolution of musketry between 1815 and 1900 is an important topic in technological history, one that had an important influence in warfare in the period. It is a bit difficult for an foot soldier armed with a spear and cowhide shield to hold his ground when faced with an opponent armed, for example, with a Snider/Enfield rifle. He will tend to end up in the ground rather than on it. This may not be a large topic, viewed in a broad political and strategic context - but it is worthy of some attention. Again, not really disagreeing, but ... Best regards, JR.

Kilroy
03-21-2014, 01:21 PM
Thats a bit prejudging. I the Brits army didn't suck just the tactics they used made them ineffective. True they did have excellent weapons too but I disagree with your first comment AikeUSA.

leccy
03-22-2014, 08:22 AM
Regarding the Baker rifle - the Baker muzzle-loading rifle was adopted by the British early in the French Revolutionary Wars, but on a very limited basis. Its use was confined to specialist rifle units and skirmishers - I do not believe there was any question of extending its use to general line infantry. This was a forward-looking move - but it responded to a particular situation thrown up by the fighting methods of the early French Revolutionary armies, which tended to attack in fairly undisciplined "massed columns". This proved surprisingly effective but, to get the best out of the method, an unusually large number of junior officers and senior NCOs had to be deployed forward to exercise some control over the charge. This made these commanders vulnerable to skirmishers and riflemen - even if the range of the Baker was not great by later standards. The Baker was a difficult weapon to load and reload (at least by smoothbore musket standards). To use it effectively, a rifleman required a considerable investment in training - not to mention considerable natural ability as a marksman. Since training costs time and money, and considerable natural ability to shoot a tricky weapon like the Baker was actually rare enough among British (or any) males, and setting off the limited advantages over the smoothbore "Brown Bess" in terms of range in particular against the lower rate of fire, it is hardly surprising that it was not regarded as a suitable weapon for general use. The French Revolutionary/Napoleonic wars were over for over two decades before technological advances produced muzzle-loading rifles suitable for general use by line infantry.

An interesting question is whether even the limited adoption of the Baker would have occurred had the future Duke of Wellington been influential at the top of the British military at the outset of the French Revolutionary wars. Wellington was, in a number of respects, an advanced thinker and practitioner of infantry tactics, and battlefield tactics in general. However, in some respects, he was very cautious and traditionalist, believing in the virtue of the well-established bayonet charge in attack and close-range massed musket fire, followed by a bayonet melee in defence. By the time he arrived as a significant figure on the scene, specialist rifle units were already part of the scene in the British Army (as well as the small armies of some of Britain's allies). To be fair, Wellington made good use of them. Best regards, JR.

The Baker was in widespread service with British Rifle Regiments forming complete Brigades which fought on occasion as a Brigade - they were also issued widely to Portugese units when their army was rebuilt along British lines.

Many Line Battalions aquired Bakers to supplement the muskets in their light companys for the skirmish lines.

They were difficult and expensive to produce and much harder to train men with than a standard Musket, slower rate of fire as well 2-3 rounds a min as opposed to 4 with a musket.

They were accurate at much greater range 200m being the standard (muskets having a 25-30% chance at 100m), good shots were reported being able to shoot over 550m (French General claimed at that range iirc).

Skirmish lines were very vulnerable to cavalry and the baker was a very short rifle neccesitating a very long bayonet to make it effective in recieving a Cavalry charge (the famous sword bayonet).

French Columns were formed that way as they generally could hammer their way through a line before taking too many casualties (recruits at the front the better troops towards the rear) - the British though by thinning out their line and spreading it further out, being more proficient at rapid fire than most nations could actually pour more rounds a min into the column than other nations and often stopped them.

Nickdfresh
03-22-2014, 09:23 AM
Not sure where this - the British were slow to adopt rifles - they were one of the first armies to adopt muzzle loading rifles when the Baker rifle was introduced, equipping whole regiments with them from 1800.

Previous attempts were made to adopt rifles but with a lack of robustness for general issue and rapid training of recruits they tended to be issued in small numbers to Battalions.

The British Forces themselves were at the time spread out round the world protecting various interests in Africa and fighting several wars in India, as well as a one over several years against the Dutch, insurrection's in Ireland.

France, Spain and Russia were seen as major enemies and a lot closer to vital British interests (and Britain) than the 13 colonies of the United States (who tried to invade and take Canada if memory serves but were defeated). So British power was spread thin and not as some seem to imply that the US (with alot of help from the French) beat the might of the British Empire in a vacuumn.

On the contrary, I think the fundamental part of American strategy was based on Britain's far flung empire and simply making it not worth their while to control the 13 colonies when they had much greater, more direct interests in places like the Caribbean. I could be wrong, but I think the colonies were becoming a bit more of a burden on British administration anyways and they inevitably would have access to American resources via trade.

The U.S. did indeed invade Canada - at the beginning of the war in 1775-1776. They were naive, inexperienced, and for the most part poorly led and planned ventures based on the hope that the Quebecois would be unenthusiastic about defending the possessions of their Anglophone colonial overlords and would join with the Americans. They were in fact, but they were even less impressed and enthusiastic about the Yankees becoming their overlords...

JR*
06-12-2014, 11:18 AM
The advantages of rifle technology had been appreciated at least from the mid-17th century in Europe and, at the upper end of the arms market, hunting rifle-muskets and pistols became fairly common. The hunting rifle was extensively used by irregular and militia units in the American War of Independence and, indeed, earlier conflicts with Native Americans and the French (la longue carabine, etc.). There were, however, difficulties in adopting rifles for general military use. Doctrine at the time called for the "muskets" of a particular army to fire standard-sized lead spherical balls - understandable at least in logistical terms. This presented a problem for the rifle. Mass-fire smoothbore muskets could employ a fairly loose-fitting ball without undermining their effectiveness as short-range volley-fire weapons. Rifles, on the other hand, required the ball to fit tightly into the barrel, so that the rifling could grip the ball and impart spin. This was a difficult trick to bring off with spherical lead balls. The process of loading a "tight" ball was longer and more taxing than loading a smoothbore musket, and that was only the beginning of the problems. Spherical balls were highly prone to a phenomenon called "stripping" - whereby the spherical ball, rather than accepting spin in the grooved barrel, simply blasted itself straight out like a smoothbore ball - in which case it was likely to be even less effective than the smoothbore. Furthermore, the additional benefit of the rifle was pretty modest over the smoothbore and, to realize it, the rifleman had to have above average natural ability as a shooter, and had to have received elaborate training well beyond that afforded to the average, musket-bearing soldier of the line. Little progress had been made in addressing these problems by the time of the Napoleonic Wars. The problem of "stripping" had been alleviated to some extent in the Baker Rifle by enclosing the ball in fine wadding of chamois leather or some similar material - but it was not an advance sufficient to allow the rifle to be adopted as the rule in military musketry. Its use, while common, was confined to sharpshooters and specialist "Green Jacket" units. The same, I think, was true of the armies of Britain's German allies.

The advent of rifles as a general feature of military musketry awaited the development, in the 1830s/'40s, of a new form of projectile - the "Miniť Ball - which was designed fit relatively loosely on loading but, on firing, to deform and "spread" into the grooves of the rifle, allowing spin to be imparted with little risk of "stripping". The new "Miniť Rifle" remained difficult to fire with any accuracy - this was a feature of all low-muzzle velocity black powder rifles through the relatively short period of their predominance. However, they did prove to have superior effective range, even if this was not always best utilized by inadequately trained or inexperienced troops. The Miniť Rifle, and its immediate descendants, were still used primarily for volley fire (although this, to be fair, was partly a matter of the conservative military mind). Nonetheless, it had a profound influence on the fighting of wars in the mid-19th century, principally the Crimea War (in which British units were extensively armed with Miniť and Miniť-type Enfield muzzle loaders) and the American Civil War (the only war in which muzzle-loading rifles predominated in the front line on both sides). Then, of course, things moved on ... Best regards, JR.

32Bravo
07-06-2014, 07:10 AM
I'd opt for neither. It was more to do with stoppages caused by overheating breach blocks and a rather significant number of Zulu warriors.

32Bravo
07-06-2014, 07:19 AM
The main author of the defence at Rorke's Drift was Commisar James Dalton. Much overlooked in his time and continues to be so.

Frankly Dude Really
02-19-2015, 05:30 AM
The British had the biggest empire in History covering more than 1/3 of the worlds land surface,we (no, not alone, far from being singelhandedly) stopped Napoleon in his tracks in the battle of Waterloo, In ww2 Britain stood against Germany (for roughly 11 months 1940-1941..and it didnot punch shit) and the Axis and defeated them in the Battle (no it didnt) If Britain even though they were Outnumbered and Outgunned, same story goes with the Falklands (Argentines were poor adversary) , yes Britain has lost some wars but why is it the British military tends to pull it's weight above the world,
fgfgfgfgfgfgfg

tankgeezer
02-19-2015, 09:52 AM
fgfgfgfgfgfgfg
What does the FG thing mean?

Rising Sun*
02-19-2015, 10:34 AM
What does the FG thing mean?

It's like TG, but less complimentary. ;) :D

I'm looking forward to FDR's (the current poster, not the real one as he's been dead for some time) erudite elucidation supporting his contradictions that Britain stood against Germany 1940-41 and won the Battle of Britain.

In particular, I look forward to to FDR's elucidation, of the previously unknown in military history circles, failure of Britain to 'punch shit' 1940-41.

tankgeezer
02-19-2015, 11:44 AM
It's like TG, but less complimentary.

32Bravo
02-20-2015, 04:30 AM
It almost appears that the British begin their campaigns with a retreat: Coruna, Mons, Dunkirk, Burma - to name a few. Usually due to a lack of preparedness on account of those that think the British Army is somehow superior to their opponents - until the lessons have been learned.

Colonial wars were not always fought against thems with spears. The Boers were pretty well kitted out, and gave the British one heck of a bloody nose. So much so that the British Army, particularly the infantry, then became superbly trained. Training which enabled them to delay and escape the German advance at Mons.

Arguably, the British Empire was held together by the Royal Navy. In the days of empire, particularly French, Dutch, German Spanish and British, it was their ability to protect trade routes etc. which enabled them to expand and project power.

Recently heard of the burning of the US presidents home in Washington, which later became known as the White House. Apparently the British officers had dinner their after defeating US forces. A dinner prepared for US officers by the presidential staff to celebrate the anticipated defeat of British forces by them (sorry, allowed a little anglophilia to creep in :) ).

Rising Sun*
02-20-2015, 06:48 AM
It almost appears that the British begin their campaigns with a retreat: Coruna, Mons, Dunkirk, Burma - to name a few. Usually due to a lack of preparedness on account of those that think the British Army is somehow superior to their opponents - until the lessons have been learned.

I think you're being a bit hard on Britain.

I'd suggest that Dunkirk had a lot more to do with mistakes and poor leadership at the highest levels of the relatively huge French army and poor morale at lower levels in various elements of that army than whatever failures there were in the relatively small British Expeditionary Force. And perhaps even more to do with the ability of the Germans to capitalise on the static and mobile mistakes of their enemies and exploit rapidly the opportunities given them as their advance evolved.

As far as Burma is concerned, it was much more the case that Britain simply lacked the numbers to defend successfully as Britain was stretched to the limit on land in North Africa and after the loss of Malaya had nothing of significance left on land in proximity to Burma (apart from the returning Australians which Churchill foolishly tried to divert to Burma, which would have seen them lost and almost certainly would have given Japan victory in Papua and potentially over Australia.) And, as with Germany, the Japanese were a superior adversary in their advance phase in Burma (and still bloody good in their later defence phase against all Allies everywhere).

Although your point about the British (in the sense of training, intelligence and other officers, including in many cases their Australian equivalents in Malaya) thinking they were superior to the Japanese and learning hard lessons, has been amply documented.

32Bravo
02-21-2015, 11:04 AM
Wasn't intending to be hard on the British.

I'd argue that the BEF entered France/Belgium expecting a re-run of 1914, for which they were well prepared. I doubt that the BEF high command were prepared for the speed and finality of the success of the German blitzkrieg even if they had considered a move through the Ardenne as viable. They would also have been hard put to, to repulse a German assault through Belgium, as anticipated, given the collaboration between German air and ground formations. Then there is of course the way in which the Germans used their armoured divisions etc. It seems the British trained for the battlefield of WW1, whereas the Germans had taken the lessons of Spring 1918 and developed means of improving on them.

I didn't mention the retreat through Malaya (as was) to Singapore as that campaign ended in total defeat. Very few British forces and undergone any form of jungle training. The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, some Royal Marines at the eleventh hour, and Spencer Chapman's stay behind forces. The Argyll's had a fair amount of success in delaying the Japanese advance here and there by use of ambush, but they were too few.

The British barely escaped from Rangoon, and would have been completely trapped had a local Japanese commander not stuck rigidly to his orders and lifted a block from the their escape route which he had put in place. Slim's eventual intervention pulled their nuts out of the fire on that particular retreat.

The thread question appears to imply that British soldiers are unquestionably 'good' regardless of the situation. I would say that they have the potential to be, but it isn't always the case.

I'd argue that what makes any soldiers 'good' is the quality of their training, leadership, generalship and political will - not forgetting a bayonet with a bit of guts behind it.

Time for a pint of ale methinks.

Frankly Dude Really
02-23-2015, 06:39 AM
What does the FG thing mean?

nothing...I edited the Quote, and hit "reply"...and it was disallowed, as its message was supposedly less than the minimum (wtf ?).
So, with a curse , I rammed some letters and hit reply again...then it worked... :)

Frankly Dude Really
02-23-2015, 07:16 AM
It's like TG, but less complimentary. ;) :D

I'm looking forward to FDR's (the current poster, not the real one as he's been dead for some time) erudite elucidation supporting his contradictions that Britain stood against Germany 1940-41 and won the Battle of Britain.
(1)

In particular, I look forward to to FDR's elucidation, of the previously unknown in military history circles, failure of Britain to 'punch shit' 1940-41.
(2)

Look, no question we owe it to the Brits/churchill(!!) to keep the war going against Germany in the months that Russia and America were off side.
Had UK (under Chamberlain ;) ) made peace or at least a truce in july 1940 then things would have surely gone much worse for Stalin in 1941.
But that doesn't mean I or we should share an adulation for the Brits for being "so (?) good". Especially not if the poster includes obvious mistakes in his claim.

(1) The air dominance (!) battle over britain in 1940 to win is one of a defensive nature. Typically for the defenders and specially in the war years to call it a victory. But effectively, it isn't.
Wasn't it Churchil himself (even then in 1940) that said that wars aren't won with defending an island successfully ?
So in essence it is not a victory or a win of the british; it is : the germans did not win, or gain their objective.
The only proper battle win was over the italians in Libya (that the British sadly didn't capitalize on by sending troops away to Greece) in that period.
(2) Punch shit is regrettably a bit strong word but I was equally irritated by the naive poster claims.
Anyway, to most of us I guess it is clear that "the" British in ww2, ww1 and during Napoleon era only started winning IN AN ALLIANCE.

Apart from the Falkands in 1982 (which is something special circumstances, not the least becoz of Thatcher), the last time the british were succesfull on their own on a proper battlefield on either UK or the enemy home country against a complete warring nation was .... I dunno ? France 17th century ?
All the colonial wars in India , invasion in Ireland, the Boers in SA, the American independence, the French in Canada, all were technically skirmishes with an adversary that was weak (not something to boast about, but which is exactly the most efficient way to wage a war..picking the weak opponent*)


*which reminds me of something comparable of the adulation of a certain poster about a top german ace on the russian front.
Looking only at the number of his kills, but not at the flattering conditions; such as the much longer service and flying hours, but especially the note: "he was careful to SELECT his fights; only when he was SURE to be on the upperhand (many more wingmen, or going after straddlers) he went for the kill" ..no wonder he can accumulate a top score. Still a good score, but not something to conclude that this pilot is out of this world..any top pilot from the west under the same conditions would have been equally succesfull.

tankgeezer
02-23-2015, 01:27 PM
nothing...I edited the Quote, and hit "reply"...and it was disallowed, as its message was supposedly less than the minimum (wtf ?).
So, with a curse , I rammed some letters and hit reply again...then it worked... :)
The system requires at least 5 characters for a post, so if it was less, then it will not allow the post. If you have been signed on for some time, your session may have timed out, and this would also prevent you from posting. You can remain signed in by checking the "remember me" box just below your user name when you sign in.

32Bravo
02-27-2015, 07:27 AM
@FDR: I could go with much of that. However, there are very few examples of wars fought where the contenders didn't form alliances, whether British, German, U.S, French etc. etc. Civil wars might be an example of such things. The Battle of Britain took part in the air, and was, indeed, a battle. Strategically, it left the British in command of the skies (the field) over its territories during the daytime (The technologies of the time restricted its ability to control them by night) and foiled any German intentions to launch an invasion. In doing so it enabled Britain's armed forces to concentrate on taking the fight to the enemy in Europe. In the first instance, via means of a strategic bombing campaign.

Of course battles can be fought, and won, fighting defensively e.g. Waterloo, Gettysburg. I find Gettysburg a particularly interesting example as it began an encounter battle. The general rule of thumb as to the victor of a battle, is ownership of the field at the end.

I would argue that Churchill was speaking in terms of 'war' as opposed to 'battle' when speaking of defence and offence. It was a piece of propaganda on his part to galvanise the British people for the fight ahead, rather than a military academy lecture on the art of war.

32Bravo
09-10-2016, 11:36 AM
Here is the true reason why the British military is so good - Captain Hercules Hurricane!

7751 7752

7753 7754

tankgeezer
09-10-2016, 02:12 PM
Was he related to the ginger, Bowler wearing Corporal Dugan of Sgt. Fury's group?

32Bravo
09-10-2016, 05:01 PM
As I understand it, Dougan wears a brown 'Derby', but I could be wrong as I'm not American. Hurricane, being British I doubt he's related to the afore mentioned Irish-American, but I could be wrong.

Might also be wrong about Dougan turning up in some Captain America film in recent times?

tankgeezer
09-10-2016, 06:52 PM
Depending on what site one visits, the names are able to be used interchangeably, with Derby the preferred name in the U.S. No idea if that is truly true, or just internet true. Dum-Dum was one of my favorite Graphic Novel characters in my wayward youth. :) Yes there is a live action Dum-Dum, and the graphic version for comparison. Though honestly, I don't know if the Character is an American, or from the U.K. In America there were a chain of Restaurants called the "Brown Derby" in, and around the Los Angeles area. The Hollywood location was very popular with the movie stars, and Studio people back in the 30's-40's

32Bravo
09-11-2016, 03:44 PM
That's interesting. I always assumed he was American on account of the Derby as opposed to Bowler. The colour brown is also a bit of a misnomer with bowler. Also, I guess, the ginger hair and moustache led me to think of him being Irish-American. Difficult to say now as I haven't looked at those comics for some fifty years or more - wouldn't mind revisiting them though. I seem to recall a similar commando group, a couple of brothers who were gymnasts. Used to tree-jump form planes without the use of parachutes. Broke their fall by doing somersaults and the like - this also enabled them to dodge bullets.:)

32Bravo
09-11-2016, 03:47 PM
I think this fella was one of the stars of Band of Brothers?

7761

tankgeezer
09-11-2016, 11:08 PM
IMDB shows Neal McDonough played "Buck Compton" on Band of Brothers in 2001 the man has an impressive Filmography.
As for Dum Dum, this according to Wiki.
" Dum Dum Dugan was originally portrayed as a British citizen in Sgt Fury #1, but later retconned to be born in Boston, Massachusetts. During World War II, while working as a circus strongman, Dugan helps Nick Fury and Sam "Happy" Sawyer escape the Nazis during a mission, recounted in issue #34. Dugan joins the British Army, and when Sawyer is charged with creating Fury's First Attack Squad, formally listed as "Able Company" and nicknamed the Howling Commandos, Sawyer invites Dugan to transfer into the US Army and become Fury's second-in-command. Dugan's exceptional strength saves the day in several of his adventures in the Sgt. Fury comic books. Dugan is an enlisted man with the rank of corporal, and wears the chevrons of his rank on the front top of his trademark bowler hat throughout WWII.

Dugan leaves the U.S. Army before the Korean Conflict, but rejoins during the Korean War as Second Lieutenant under the promoted First Lieutenant Fury, once again as his second-in-command of the reformed Howling Commandos. Fury had already received a battlefield promotion to Second Lt. earlier.[1] Dugan remains with Fury when Fury continues his military career into the Vietnam War, as shown in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos Annual #3 and 4, and later into espionage work. Dugan's exact rank is not stated, but is he addressed as "Captain" at one point. He remains with Fury when Fury goes into the CIA and later into the original S.H.I.E.L.D."
Now that I think about it, He had points up Chevrons on his hat, which would have placed him in other than British service.

32Bravo
09-12-2016, 05:37 AM
That's an interesting biography from what was a comic character - I feel nostalgia coming on.

Yes, noticed the chevrons. I usually look for that as an indicator in most things when I'm uncertain of the supposed nationality of characters.

Thanks for the info. Very interesting. Don't think I ever saw the Korean War issues.

tankgeezer
09-12-2016, 07:38 AM
I was a big fan of Sgt. Rock, Weird War, Sgt. Fury, and the Haunted Tank when I was a kid, read them all through the military as well. Haunted Tank may still be in publication too. The ghost of General Stuart transferred his flag to an Abrams last I saw.

Nickdfresh
09-12-2016, 02:52 PM
I was a big fan of Sgt. Rock, Weird War, Sgt. Fury, and the Haunted Tank when I was a kid, read them all through the military as well. Haunted Tank may still be in publication too. The ghost of General Stuart transferred his flag to an Abrams last I saw.

I'm sure they are, graphic novels are huge now that entire TV series are based on them...

32Bravo
09-13-2016, 05:02 AM
Just to take us even further off topic, didn't I see something by Nick on the Centurian tank somewhere?

Nickdfresh
09-13-2016, 10:22 AM
I knocked the Cent thread (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php/3366-Centurion-Tank) up...