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Thread: Why is the British Military so good? ?

  1. #46
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    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.

  2. #47
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    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.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
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  3. #48
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    They got a bad army like the home guards. They got good weapons like the Lee Enfield, Sten gun.

  4. #49
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    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.

  5. #50
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    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.

    Life is short... We should then cherish every sec of it.

  6. #51
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    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.
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

  7. #52
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    Quote Originally Posted by leccy View Post
    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...

  8. #53
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    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.

  9. #54
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    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.


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


  10. #55
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    The main author of the defence at Rorke's Drift was Commisar James Dalton. Much overlooked in his time and continues to be so.


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


  11. #56
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    Quote Originally Posted by jieri01 View Post
    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

  12. #57
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankly Dude Really View Post
    fgfgfgfgfgfgfg
    What does the FG thing mean?

  13. #58
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    Quote Originally Posted by tankgeezer View Post
    What does the FG thing mean?
    It's like TG, but less complimentary.

    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.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 02-19-2015 at 10:47 AM.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  14. #59
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    It's like TG, but less complimentary.
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    Last edited by tankgeezer; 02-19-2015 at 11:49 AM.

  15. #60
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    Default Re: Why is the British Military so good? ?

    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 ).
    Last edited by 32Bravo; 02-20-2015 at 04:34 AM.


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


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