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American Contribution to WW1?


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#1 Kaiser Heer

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 01:07 PM

hi all,

i was wondering if i could have some of your opinions on the role and contribution of america in ww1.

from what ive read americas role is always either overplayed or underplayed. from "america saved the allies in ww1" or "americas troops started fighting when germany knew they were going to lose"

my opinion has always been that america DID tip the balance of power when they entered ww1 but in more of an economic and psychological way rather than in a military way.

by the time US soldiers arrived in large enough quantities the german spring offensive of 1918 was largely over and the german army was pretty much depleted and had ran out their supply line. however they did particpate in some important allied offensives in 1918, e.g meuse-argonne offensive.

But it was the thought of millions of fresh US troops fighting on the allied side which had the Germans scared and doing what they did to win the war as soon as possible before they could arrive.
Also i think it was american military aid in the form of equipment and weapons etc which kept the allies in the war when attrition had left their economies and resources stretched and beginning to exhaust.

its a fairly controversial subject among historians and its always been "america saved europe" or "america came to late"

i was wondering what other people thought on this?

Kaiser Heer

[ 19. December 2003, 07:17 AM: Message edited by: Kaiser Heer ]
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#2 Friedrich

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 04:36 PM

The United States' contribution in WWI was very important but NOT DECISIVE. It's is rather disgusting when you have to read post by ill-informed people who claim that "the US won WWI"... graemlins/no.gif

Their main contribution was economical and financial. Without that money, French and British weaponry factories couldn't have kept working. Their second contribution was in morale. With the USA in the Allied side it resulted obvious that, sooner or later, the Allies were going to win the war.

And their last - but not least - important contribution was its fresh troops in the AEF which made possible such and advance as Foch's offensive in WWI.

Nothing beyond that is true. The German Army was military defeated in summer and spring 1918 almost entirely by French, Dominion and British troops.
"War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau." - Jean Dutourd, French veteran of both world wars

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#3 KnightMove

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 05:06 PM

I agree with you both, with one objection (see below). I think the topic is more insightful if you ask it as a What if...?


What if the USA would not have declared war on Germany and stayed formally neutral?

Especially (this is the point you didn't mention yet):

Will the British solve the U-boat problem without full American support?
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#4 Erich

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 05:13 PM

Km that answer would have to be no as well as the British winning the air war single handedly. The German Jasta's were just too strong along with the new Fokker DVII in the air, things were going quite well for the Germans.....

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#5 Friedrich

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 05:32 PM

I don't think that if the USA would have remained out of the war the outcome would have been different.

The Germans did not have that many submarines to really force Great Britain to starve. There were alternatives to end the submarine threat like using the fleet to bomb its bases and therefore force the German fleet into another great battle. Technology also didn't allow to attack convoy with full coordination.

And about the air war. It was not that decisive back then and certainly the Allies still had many planes and pilots to engage the German squadrons.

Germany could not win the war after 1914.
"War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau." - Jean Dutourd, French veteran of both world wars

"A mon fils: depuis que tes yeux sont fermes les miens n’ont cessé de pleurir." - Mère française, Verdun

#6 Erich

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 05:37 PM

Gottfried, if you had been able to talk with some of the air vets of the great war concerning 1918 your opinion might have changed. The German war machine was quite decisive in the air at this time.....in fact according to a couple of vets once the British and Americna back was broken, which is wasn't the Germans were going to go over to a major ground attack campaign which sounded quite ridiculous to me some 35 years ago and still does. A light weight fighter equipped with underwing bombs.........yikes a slow easy bird to pick off from the ground.
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#7 KnightMove

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 05:38 PM

Originally posted by General der Infanterie Friedrich H:
The Germans did not have that many submarines to really force Great Britain to starve. There were alternatives to end the submarine threat like using the fleet to bomb its bases and therefore force the German fleet into another great battle. Technology also didn't allow to attack convoy with full coordination.

This is incorrect. The submarines 1/4 of all ships sailing to the British Isles, most neutral powers had stopped trade with Britain, and in the mid of 1917, British food reserve only lasted for a few weeks any more. :eek:

You're maybe right about the convoy, but don't forget that it was introduced AFTER Americas entry to the war, which had no direct, but many indirect influences on this decision.
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#8 Friedrich

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 05:45 PM

I've never questioned how a great threat the submarines were for the British Isles and I perfectly know that the situation was critic, Knight.

But, we are talking about a very large attrition war and Great Britain was in a better position to sustain it than Germany. And how can you say that the British alone wouldn't have come up with the convoy idea themselves?

Besides, the Mediterranean had the French, Italian and British fleets to protect trade, there was Gibraltar, Suez, Malta, Marseille, French railroads, the Channel, English railroads...

There was no chance for the British to really surrender by starvation in WWI.
"War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau." - Jean Dutourd, French veteran of both world wars

"A mon fils: depuis que tes yeux sont fermes les miens n’ont cessé de pleurir." - Mère française, Verdun

#9 Mahross

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 05:49 PM

The only serious contribution america made to ww1 is in financial terms. Militarily they contributed little. this was partly the fault of Pershing who would not become part of a centralised command structure. He did not want to commit his troops piecemeal, when they would have been very useful, but as a national entity. to this end they would not seriously contribute to the allied effort until 1919.

#10 No.9

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 06:25 PM

I agree with you Freddy of the food situation, I can’t see why there should be any myth about ‘starvation’? When rationing was introduced, first or second war, not everything was rationed. Predictably items like tropical fruits (bananas) are going to all but disappear, but foodstuffs for a basic diet never disappeared?

People in the countryside were OK and shortages portrayed in old films, (typically showing people queuing and ‘tomorrow’ signs up in shops), were in the cities. But, they were not stating there was nothing to eat, just certain items were temporarily out. All the restaurants and cafes didn’t close!

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[ 20. December 2003, 02:31 AM: Message edited by: No.9 ]

#11 The_Historian

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 08:40 PM

Knight,
Gotta disagree on the convoys. The Royal Navy came up with this idea in 1916, not America. It took so long because the RN Officer classes refused to believe the all-powerful RN was incapable of defending against U-Boats.

Regards,
Gordon
Regards,

Gordon

#12 KnightMove

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 02:30 AM

Originally posted by The_Historian:
Knight,
Gotta disagree on the convoys. The Royal Navy came up with this idea in 1916, not America. It took so long because the RN Officer classes refused to believe the all-powerful RN was incapable of defending against U-Boats.

Regards,
Gordon

I did not say that America invented the convoy. Read again: I said the US war entry "had no direct, but many indirect influences".

Fact is that the USA entered the war on April 6, 1917, and Admiral Jellicoe gave his blessing to the first transatlantic convoy on April 27, 1917.

In between of these happenings, there was a visit of US Admiral Sims, who was shocked that the British had no solution to the U-boat problem. Some influental British personalities helped the concept to succeed (Rear-Admiral Duff, Minister Hankey...). But still they convinced the Admirality in regard of the USA being able to give support for convoy protection.

If I'm wrong and the US entry had NO influence on the British decision for convoys, is it just accidental that these happenings were only 3 weeks apart?

[ 19. December 2003, 08:32 PM: Message edited by: KnightMove ]
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#13 Kaiser Heer

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 07:37 AM

Originally posted by General der Infanterie Friedrich H:
The United States' contribution in WWI was very important but NOT DECISIVE. It's is rather disgusting when you have to read post by ill-informed people who claim that "the US won WWI"... graemlins/no.gif

i agree. i think its even worse when you hear things like "we saved france's ass twice" or "we won both world wars" which can really get on my nerve sometimes.

i remember something which my history teacher said back when i was in high school and according to her the german army essentially 'broke their own back' during the german spring offensive of 1918.
having advanced further in those few months than they had in the entire war, where they could actually see the eifel tower in the distance, according to her, the germans moved way to fast and their supply lines were unable to keep up, whereby troops at the frontline were unable to be supplied properley thus resulting in them being unable to advance any further.
in addition to that the troops had been burnt out and exhausted as well by the advance.

She said that the spring offensive was the last chance for them to win the war, which they almost did and they blew it.
i think it was hindenburg or ludendorf who called it the 'black day of the german army.' both sides from then on knew germany was going to lose.
and after that is when the american troops started getting into the action.

in john keegans book 'the first world war' he says that in 1918 (cant remember when during that year) that only a third of germanys troops at that time were battleworthy. the rest were just there to make up the numbers.

ive always believed that what she said was one of, but not the main reason germany lost the war.

i agree with everyone else, like i said in my first post, america contributed financialy but very little militarily.
sometimes the ww1 statistics charts which show that america mobilised 4.5 million men can be very misleading. most of those troops didnt see combat.

[ 20. December 2003, 01:48 AM: Message edited by: Kaiser Heer ]
"The bayonet has always been the weapon of the brave and the chief tool of victory"
- Napoleon Bonaparte

#14 The_Historian

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 12:23 PM

Originally posted by KnightMove:
if I'm wrong and the US entry had NO influence on the British decision for convoys, is it just accidental that these happenings were only 3 weeks apart? [/QB]

YES, IMHO!

Regards,
Gordon
Regards,

Gordon

#15 KnightMove

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 01:01 PM

AFAIK there is no detailed record of the talk between Sims and Jellicoe, but isn't it a little intrepid to state that it had NO influence at all on Jellicoe's decision?
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#16 The_Historian

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 08:30 PM

That's me-intrepid to a fault! :D
Dare say it had some influence, but I doubt if it was an overriding factor.

Regards,
Gordon
Regards,

Gordon

#17 KnightMove

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Posted 21 December 2003 - 02:56 PM

Originally posted by The_Historian:
Dare say it had some influence, but I doubt if it was an overriding factor.

Again: I didn't say this. I am a wise man and for good use I said "indirect" influences. ;)

The American entry to WW1 was at least a flap of a butterfly's wing influencing the following happenings, including the British decision to build convoys. smile.gif
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#18 The_Historian

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Posted 21 December 2003 - 06:38 PM

ok, ok! :D
We'll agree to disagree on the extent of that influence though! tongue.gif

Regards,
Gordon
Regards,

Gordon

#19 Friedrich

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 06:24 PM

he german army essentially 'broke their own back' during the german spring offensive of 1918.

They did so in late 1914 and 1915 during 1st and 2nd battles of Ypres and in 1916 at Verdun. Not to mention the 800.000 casualties the German Army held in the first 3 quarters of 1918.

having advanced further in those few months than they had in the entire war

They actually made greater advances in 1914.

the germans moved way to fast and their supply lines were unable to keep up

Supply lines were not that much the problem, but that there were almost no supplies at all! The men were exhausted and when they attacked, they used to attack food depots instead of ammunition ones.

i think it was hindenburg or ludendorf who called it the 'black day of the german army.'

It was general Von Ludendorff.

after that is when the american troops started getting into the action.

Thanks to Pershing's stubborn insistence in having US units fighting under US command and his AEF lack of training and equippment.
"War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau." - Jean Dutourd, French veteran of both world wars

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#20 KnightMove

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 07:55 PM

Ok, for the question above, I better post a new poll in the What-If section...
If someone tries to remove the speck in your right eye, will you turn to him the other also?




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