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Today 100 years ago: Archduke Ferdinand assassination



  • The spark that ignited the First World War was fired today a hundred years ago today.

    Who was your favorite WWI commander? Favorite WWI ship? Battle? WWI infantry weapon? Favorite plane?



  • Not sure why anyone cared about some crusty royal prince…

    My favorite battle?  Gallipoli, baby!  Loved the movie.

    There’s a new series on TV called WWI: The First Modern War.  Check it out.



  • @robbie358:

    Not sure why anyone cared about some crusty royal prince…

    My favorite battle?  Gallipoli, baby!  Loved the movie.Â

    There’s a new series on TV called WWI: The First Modern War.  Check it out.

    I’ve watched two of the three episodes, mot impressed. Only discusses the Western Front no mention of the other four fronts.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 '13 Moderator

    Morning Worsham.
    Am on holiday in Devon, as Maddy is 5 today(29th).signal not great.
    Fokker Dr1, of course.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Who was your favorite WWI commander?
    My pick would be General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, one of the most brilliant guerrilla commanders of all time.  His campaign in German East Africa – which spanned the entire war and even outlasted it by a couple of days – successfully achieved its objective of tying down disproportionately large numbers of Allied troops (by a ratio of better than 20-to-1) who would otherwise have been free to serve on the Western Front.

    Favorite WWI ship?
    I’d say the German battlecruiser Goeben, on the grounds of sheer dash, gutsiness (to the point of effrontery) and geopolitical impact.  She and the light cruiser Breslau evaded and outran a British force of 25 warships – including three battlecruisers – in a spectacular chase across the Mediterranean, to the great humilation of the two pursuing British Admirals (one of whom was later court-martialed).  The German commander, Admiral Souchon, then took refuge in neutral Turkey and negotiated a clever deal to avoid internment: he, his crew and his ships nominally became part of the Turkish Navy.  Not long afterwards, he conducted a raid against the Russians in the Black Sea, and the rulers of the Ottoman Empire – who had been dithering over which side (if any) to join in WWI – found themselves dragged into the war on the side of the Central Powers, much to German’s satisfaction.  The Goeben survived WWI and, indeed, served up to the end of WWII and remained afloat (though decommissioned) until 1971, when she was scrapped.

    Battle?
    On land: Tannenberg, an Eastern Front operation involving the kind of large-scale maneuvering that makes for a refreshing contrast with the trench warfare which the Western Front settled into after the Marne.  It was characterized by tactical brilliance on the German side and a good deal of stupidity and incompetence on the Russian side, with predictable results.  Hindenburg and Ludendorff were able to use successfully the Napoleonic principle of concentrating most of their strength against one part of the enemy’s divided forces, then doing the same against the other part.  On the Russian side, where coordination of effort would have been invaluable, there’s a (possibly apocryphal) story which says that the two Russian commanders, Rennenkampf and Samsonov, hated each other and had even once gotten into a fistfight on a railway platform in Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese War.  Their boss, War Minister Vladimir Sukhomlinov, was also a problematic character: he apparently believed that he had learned everything there was to know about war in a cavalry charge he had led against the Turks in the 1870s, and was allegedly proud of the fact that he had not read a military textbook in 25 years.

    At sea: Jutland, the biggest dreadnought clash in history, even if the main action only lasted a matter of minutes and was conducted in the failing light of early evening through a haze of engine smoke and cordite fumes.

    WWI infantry weapon?
    I’m not sure if “favourite” is the right word, but arguably the most significant one was the heavy machine gun.  It greatly increased the length of front that a squad of men could hold from a protected (i.e. entrenched) position.  Multiply that amount of frontage by the millions of men that the mass armies of the time could deploy, crammed into the relatively cramped geography between the Alps and the North Sea, and you end up with a front that can’t be flanked and that can’t be taken by conventional assault because its defensive powers have become vastly superior to the offensive strength of foot soldiers (especially once they’ve gone beyond the range of their supporting heavy artillery, which wasn’t self-propelled in those days).

    Favorite plane?
    This isn’t an area about which I know enough to make an informed choice, so I’ll go with the Fokker Dr.I triplane as the only WWI plane I could identify without the help of a museum sign.



  • @robbie358:

    Not sure why anyone cared about some crusty royal prince…

    The War was going to happen, all that was needed was a spark. Several crisis concerning Morocco nearly caused the War.

    Having a Serbian national assassinate a heir to a thrown, caused Serbia, Austria-Hungarian and Russia to mobilize. Once that happened fear whipped into a fury the alliances and war preparations.



  • @robbie358:

    There’s a new series on TV called WWI: The First Modern War.  Check it out.

    Disappointed in the show, no mention of the Russia, Italy, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria or Japan.


  • 2019 2018 2017

    @ABWorsham:

    The spark that ignited the First World War was fired today a hundred years ago today.

    Who was your favorite WWI commander? Favorite WWI ship? Battle? WWI infantry weapon? Favorite plane?

    My knowledge of the military events and equipment of World War I is insufficient to answer your questions, but for the record: the assassination took place on June 28, not July 28.

    I don’t think that World War I was inevitable at all. Franz Ferdinand was even in favor of greater autonomy for the Serbs, and without the murder, the sequence of events that followed could very well have been avoided.



  • @Herr:

    @ABWorsham:

    The spark that ignited the First World War was fired today a hundred years ago today.

    Who was your favorite WWI commander? Favorite WWI

    My knowledge of the military events and equipment of World War I is insufficient to answer your questions, but for the record: the assassination took place on June 28, not July 28.

    I don’t think that World War I was inevitable at all. Franz Ferdinand was even in favor of greater autonomy for the Serbs, and without the murder, the sequence of events that followed could very well have been avoided.

    Wow, what an embarrassing error on my part. I knew the event was approaching so I marked it on my personal calendar, I marked July 😠⁉


  • 2019 2018 2017

    Never mind - I appreciate the attention for World War I anyway. The whole period was a bit confusing when it came to dates: for example, the Russian 1917 “October Revolution” actually happened in November, according to our modern calendar.

    And July 28, 1914, was an important date anyway: this was when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, which started the whole cascade that culminated in a global war.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 '13 Moderator

    Nice. Thanks Herr KaLeun.
    WW1 is not my thing, but the 100th year anniversary is inspiring me to learn.
    Always liked aerial combat. Watched Aces High this morning, as I picked it up for £4.


  • Customizer

    Great movie. I’m brilliant in it.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 '13 Moderator

    I knew I recognised you old chap.
    Secretly, I prefer Uncle.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 '13 Moderator

    Here in England we have one hour (10pm-11pm) with lights out, to commemorate the 11pm entry into a state of war. Candles are lit in the house.



  • @ABWorsham:

    The spark that ignited the First World War was fired today a hundred years ago today.

    Who was your favorite WWI commander? Favorite WWI ship? Battle? WWI infantry weapon? Favorite plane?

    Commander: D’Espery, the dashing chap that he was. Aggressive, had a damn good head on his shoulders. His successful showing during the crucial month of August, and his war winning offensive in Macedonia are often over looked.

    Follow ups: Joffre, Foch, Mangin (only army level commander that went over the top with his men, even if he was a hard SOB). Oh, and Yudenich, the brilliant Russian general whose success against the Ottomans is overlooked by just about everyone.

    Ship: Gonna have to agree with the Goeben for the reasons mentioned earlier.

    Battle: The Russian offensive into Galicia at the start of the war. Absolutely destroyed the Hapsburg armies to the point of no return a few months into the war. Made Tannenberg look like childs play in terms of men captured. The Hapsburg army would fight on for four more years, but would never recover from the blows.

    Also, Verdun, because it’s Verdun.

    Also, honorable mention to Jutland. If I could pick one moment to go back in history, it would be to watch the Battle of Jutland.

    Favorite weapon: The tank good chap, in all it’s wonderful landship forms. Though I have a particular soft spot for French Saint-Chamond  tanks.

    Favorite plane: The SPAD S.XII flown by (probably) the best ace of the war, Rene Fonck. Why this plane in particular you might ask? Because it had a hand loaded 37mm canon mounted in the propeller, that he used to shot down 11 German planes with. That’s why.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 '13 Moderator

    Did not know that about Fonck. I am surprised he thought he needed a 37mm cannon though; the planes were flimsy enough as it was. I have only ever read a biography of The Red Baron. I do love planes and have seen many WW1 ones here in England.



  • @DarthShizNit:

    @ABWorsham:

    The spark that ignited the First World War was fired today a hundred years ago today.

    Who was your favorite WWI commander? Favorite WWI ship? Battle? WWI infantry weapon? Favorite plane?

    Commander: D’Espery, the dashing chap that he was. Aggressive, had a damn good head on his shoulders. His successful showing during the crucial month of August, and his war winning offensive in Macedonia are often over looked.

    Battle: The Russian offensive into Galicia at the start of the war. Absolutely destroyed the Hapsburg armies to the point of no return a few months into the war. Made Tannenberg look like childs play in terms of men captured. The Hapsburg army would fight on for four more years, but would never recover from the blows.

    Awesome choice of battles.

    That early Russian offensive into Galicia forced the Hapsburg Army to sacrifice many of its elite Austrian and German units to plug the holes the Russians chewed into the line.



  • Favorite commander Admiral Graf Spee. The man had an impossible task, navigating his German Far East Fleet from the fleets of Japan, France and England. This task was made more difficult by his ageing armor cruisers and his delivery of England first naval defeat in a hundred plus years. Upon his victory at Coronel, he was given a bouquet of flowers by pro German Chileans, his response was " this will look good on my grave."

    Favorite ship: U-35

    Favorite infantry weapon: German Mauser 13.2 mm anti-tank rifle

    Battle: Battle of Caporetto

    Plane: Albatros D.V


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @wittmann:

    Did not know that about Fonck. I am surprised he thought he needed a 37mm cannon though; the planes were flimsy enough as it was.

    I didn’t know about Fonck either.  I imagine that his motive for using a 37mm cannon was that, unlike a machine gun, it fired explosive shells, which would have a greater chance per hit of damaging something vital (like the pilot or the gas tank) than simple bullets.  From the fact that it was hand-loaded I assume that it was a single-shot weapon rather than an autocannon, so it’s astonishing that it was able to score any hits at all against an airplane in flight – but Fonck was apparently an exceptional marksman who could typically bring down an enemy plane with a single short machine-gun burst.



  • It was a single shot, hand loaded weapon. They hollowed out the propeller shaft and put the gun there, with the loading mechanism extending back through the engine to appear in the cockpit.

    As for why he did it? Propbably just because he could. Fonck is noted for his using a single burst from his machine gun of around 5 rounds to kill his opponent. He almost never got in dogfights, he would fly off alone and high above the battlefield, spot his target from “impossible distances” as his comrades put it, and then kill them. So honestly, he probably only used the 37mm because he could. Frances other leading ace, Georges Guynemer, whom everyone liked more than Fonck, was the first to use the 37mm in his place (The French army as a whole made massive use of portable, one shot 37mms, that famous picture of American troops prone in a burning forest during the offensive has them loading a French 37mm) and was able to down two German plans with it.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 '13 Moderator

    Hi Worsham. Caporetto is where Rommel earned his Pour le Merite. He is always pictured with it as his throat (very pretty medal). Of course, it must have been a bit insulting to the Italians with whom he later spent his better known years.

    Thanks again DarthShizNit for the explanation.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @wittmann:

    Caporetto is where Rommel earned his Pour le Merite. He is always pictured with it as his throat (very pretty medal).

    It’s quite a coincidence you mentioned this because just last evening I was watching a documentary from which I learned that Rommel had served at Caporetto in WWI.  It was an episode from the five-part series “Apocalypse: World War One”, which I picked up on DVD last weekend.  It was co-produced in France (script, footage editing and digital colorization) and Quebec (music, sound effects and narration), and it was shown on TV earlier this year (http://natgeotv.com.au/tv/apocalypse-world-war-i/episodes.aspx?series=1).  The DVD has both French and English versions of the narration.  I also have the other two sets in the collection: “Apocalypse: Hitler” (mainly covering the inter-war years and “Apocalypse: World War Two”.  The WWII series was actually produced first and the WWI set came out last, so one of these days I’ll sit down and watch the three series back-to-back in the proper order.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 '13 Moderator

    I can’t decide if the adopted German in me can override the native Italian. Have never looked much into Caporetto, as it was such a bad defeat and reverse for Italy.
    WW2 is safer for me: both were on the sane side!

    Not edited for the mistyped “sane”……Quite like it!


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @wittmann:

    I can’t decide if the adopted German in me can override the native Italian. Have never looked much into Caporetto, as it was such a bad defeat and reverse for Italy. WW2 is safer for me: both were on the sa[m]e side!

    Only up until 1943, as illustrated by what happened to the battleship Roma.  Anyway, if it makes you feel better, just think back to the early 19th century when France and Britain were mortal enemies and when, at one point, Britain teamed up with Prussia to fight Napoleon!


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 '13 Moderator

    Infamy!
    We only pretended to be allies in those two wars. Just wait until the next one!
    I miss the Middle Ages and our glorious victories against the ignoble and cowardly French.
    As for Prussia, no nobler nation ever existed.

    Have just been to a castle over the border in Wales, so am definitely feeling medieval. And English. We gave Maddy a  bow for her birthday last week. I only hope she will be a long-bowman(woman) one day. She pretended to fire an arrow at her mother through the guardroom slit at Goodrich on Sunday too.


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