The Man and His Plan
How ironic is it that a Brit invented “Blitzkrieg” warfare yet the morons, the Brits called them generals, had to learn it from the Germans. In 1918 no one knew how close the Germans were to collapse. Plans were being made to continue the Great War into 1919 and beyond. One British officer didn’t see the war continuing past 1919. His name was Colonel John Frederick Charles Fuller. His plan was called Plan 1919.
Fuller envisaged a combined arms approach using tanks, artillery, aircraft, infantry, and cavalry to create a breakthrough in the Hindenburg Line then exploit the opening by attacking command, control, and logistics in the German rear.
First medium tanks would attack the front at two points with no artillery prep to warn the enemy. This would create the inherent confusion a two pronged attack creates. Then heavy tanks and infantry would smash a hole in the line. This hole would then be filled with medium tanks on their way to the rear to attack the head of the enemy army. The mediums would be supported by a rolling barrage as long as possible and ground attack aircraft.
Fuller’s ideas on aircraft were revolutionary. They can be some up in his own words. “Air warfare is a shot through the brain, not a hacking to pieces of the enemy’s body.” Armored ground attack bombers and fighters were developed due to Plan 1919. He even planned to use these planes in emergency supply situations for units who had advanced to far ahead for the conventional supply system to keep up with.
Fortunately the Great War ended on November 11 1918. Plan 1919 was never implemented. Due to technological advances it never has and probably never will be used in it’s original form. It has however been studied and used in varied forms since the end of WWI.
First off the great Polish leader Józef Klemens Piłsudski used attack plans very similar to Plan 1919 on limited scales during the Polish - Ukrainian War and Polish - Soviet War during the 20’s. The limitations were more set by equipment than thinking. Pilsudski did not have a great number of aircraft or armor vehicles to work with. After 123 years of subjugation Poland had a leader and opportunity to throw off the yoke.
In another bit of irony the tactics that helped Poland gain her independence would in 1939 be used to enslave her again. As it turns out Heinz Gunther Guderian was a student of Fuller’s also. It’s somewhat comforting to know Pilsudski died in 1935 and didn’t have to see it.
Even modern generals emulate Fullers thinking. The both Gulf Wars can be seen as adaptations of Plan 1919 during their ground attack fazes. Of course modern equipment made them wildly more successful than the modest forms of WWI motor transport could have been.
J.F.C. Fuller moved on to become a Major General. He was a noted military author, fascist, and occultist. These last two and his loathing of democracy did not endear him to many of his countrymen. Trying to tell his countrymen how a war should be fought didn’t sit well after he was an honored guest at Hitler’s 50th birthday celebrations.
Skip forward to Dunkirk. Soldiers swimming towards fishing boats and equipment left on the beach. That equipment included tanks totally useless for a Plan 1919/Blitzkrieg type of attack. Yet the Brits were running from an enemy taught by one of their own how to conduct modern warfare. Fuller must have been beside himself in grief.
Did you write this? It’s a great essay, thanks for posting it
losttribe04 last edited by
Wow that was very informitive.
Jermofoot last edited by
From what I’ve read, it appears to me that B. H. Liddell Hart proposed maneuvers of warfare more like blitzkrieg than listed above (relying on initial air and artillery bombardment), but both methods are undeniably similar…
To answer your question DF yes I did write it but after re-reading it I see a mistake. I forgot to mention the cavalry was supposed to enter the breach with the medium tanks. I had been up since 3 that morning and felt like doing something. I should have had some coffee first.
ABWorsham4 last edited by
Thanks for the post.
OK now that someone is not grapping my attention thanks for the kind thank yous. Me doing this kind thing from time to time keeps my ex alive. Sir Basil was 22 when Plan 1919 was concieved. He wasn’t yet the military theorist he would become. Though as brilliant as Hart was he was well on his way. Too bad the Brits didn’t work more with him when they put him in charge of mechanizing their Army in 1937.
Another thing most people don’t know about the development of blitzkrieg is the impact Napoleon had. He didn’t have tanks so his concentration of force can in the form of artillery. Instead of shooting at the entire line like everyone else did Bonaparte massed his barrage on one point. When the men there crumbled an attack aimed at that point would begin. Punch through, roll up the lines, head to the tent for a stiff drink. This basic tactic was studied by the men who made blitzkrieg a household word around the world.