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 Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Mon 29 Dec 2014, 22:24

I know, I know it is perhaps not the best subject for the end of this year.
But always wondering even during my conscript time as soldier (15 months in peace time) how I would have reacted under real war circumstances.

I did a lot of research as of the behaviour of our Belgian army during WWII the "18 days campaign", among others on the accusations reported on a French forum that the Walloon battaillons were much more battle resistant than the Flemish ones. As for instance at the battle of the Lys were some 4000 soldiers from a Flemish army group surrendered to the Germans, while next to them the Chasseurs Ardennois made a persisted resistance....it was indirectly the cause of the atrocities of Vinkt and Deinze...the Germans were completely disorientated as on one kilometer distance they had the surrender and at the same time the harsh resistance...the difference the 4th army group that surrendered had yet before even during the mobilisation a history of undisciplinary behaviour, while the Chasseurs Ardennois were an estimated elite corps even before WWII...

I had also the stories of friends of my father and my father who told about that same 18 days campaign, were the officers, many times student call ups weren't up to their task. During my time on the French messageboards I learned also a lot about the "étrange défaite" in France and there seems not to be that great difference between France and Belgium...and yes if you had to retreat continuously that isn't that good for the moral too...

But back to the fear before and during battle of the ordinary soldier that could have been I...
I remember from the ex BBC messageboard the testimony from a contributor, a veteran in the WWII Italy campaign, how he in the early morning looked over the mountains, with birds making their concert at dawn, and knowing that this very days again some hundreds of his comrades would die...or something in that sense...it is that way that I remember it


But before I summarize my thoughts about the subject I gave some URLs that I found interesting to the subject
http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/how-did-soldiers-cope-with-war
http://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/between_acceptance_and_refusal_-_soldiers_attitudes_towards_war_germany
http://goo.gl/hvd9jf
http://goo.gl/ji0Njo


And about German soldiers under battle circumstances WWII:
http://goo.gl/hScdVV


And about these who were reluctant to fight for the fatherland:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strafbattalion
And Stalin did the same with as usual in Russian the exact equal pronunciation:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shtrafbat


And seeking for differences between conscripts and volunteers I found even this that I didn't know before:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription_in_the_United_States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription_in_the_United_Kingdom
And in Austrialia (Islanddawn?) a lottery...
http://vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au/conscription/birthday-ballot.php

And if Tim of Aclea read this I am eager to know his opinions on this question... Caro?

Kind regards, Paul.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Mon 29 Dec 2014, 22:55

Paul - The Vietnam draft in the USA was also done as a birthday lottery - I recall a broadcast by a guy is a poet and an undertaker - Thomas Lynch - who recalled that his number was sufficiently high to almost guarantee he wouldn't be drafted.

I'm sure I've pointed this one out before :- http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/i-sing-olaf-glad-and-big

Have a look, too, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friends%27_Ambulance_Unit (Donald Swan, a former member, appeared in a BBC documentary on this)

IIRC in WWI some Conscientious Objectors also served in minesweepers. Will try to chase this down.
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Tue 30 Dec 2014, 21:34

Gil,

you push me to do some research and yes the lottery wasn't indicated in the wiki article, but I found in another wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft_lottery_(1969)

And about your mentioning of the high number in the lottery by Thomas Lynch:
http://www.gaelicweb.com/irishampost/year2005/08aug/featured/featured04a.html
And about Thomas Lynch:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Lynch_(poet)
Yes that's perhaps the right combination funeral manager and poet...

To return to my approach about attitudes during battle, I think that volunteers are more motivated than conscripts? Volunteers I mean who volunteer for a "cause" and not for the money, who is perhaps in that case a kind of a mercenary? But you can see that mercenary soldier also as a professional soldier in service of the nation, as a policeman (woman) who is paid to protect the rights of a nation?
The difference between the volunteer and the conscript is described in the book that I mentioned about the Spanish Civil War.
And the motivation of the volunteer can go from nationalism over religion and social inclination up to suicide destruction by indoctrination?

But with soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances however I want to limit the question to the rather "normal" case of the conscript coming into battle in a war from nation to nation or in "peace keeping" by a regular professional army in a country in war circumstances.

And there I think, as I take my own preliminary thoughts about it, that the urge to survive and the responsability for the others in my group to let them survive would be the two big components of my behaviour on the battlefield...

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Wed 31 Dec 2014, 17:14

Paul: It always used to be said that regulars in the British Army fought for their regiment not for their country. I can sort of see that - since the largest formation which they were likely to form part of in the field, the battalion, is the right order of magnitude to form a "tribe". From personal experience, though the change to "trickle drafting" may well have altered this, a sailor is part of a ship's company first and foremost. In both cases, the larger formation - division or squadron etc. is pretty secondary, and the nation is nowhere.
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Fri 02 Jan 2015, 18:16

In the American Civil War the response of a soldier was that he "fought for his character"...in other words, his honor. Soldiers, rather than be saddled with that infamy of character, would stand and charge against grapeshot. They were certainly afraid of death as men have always been since Troy and before, but too proud to live in shame.
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Fri 02 Jan 2015, 21:56

Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Paul: It always used to be said that regulars in the British Army fought for their regiment not for their country. I can sort of see that - since the largest formation which they were likely to form part of in the field, the battalion, is the right order of magnitude to form a "tribe". From personal experience, though the change to "trickle drafting" may well have altered this, a sailor is part of a ship's company first and foremost. In both cases, the larger formation - division or squadron etc. is pretty secondary, and the nation is nowhere.

Sorry Gil for the lare response, I read it immediately, but yesterday the whole evening busy with the "art thread"...

Completely right what you say. And it transpires from all the accounts I mentioned in my previous messages. It is all worth reading but it takes you some evenings to read it all.

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Fri 02 Jan 2015, 22:35

Parallax wrote:
In the American Civil War the response of a soldier was that he "fought for his character"...in other words, his honor. Soldiers, rather than be saddled with that infamy of character, would stand and charge against grapeshot. They were certainly afraid of death as men have always been since Troy and before, but too proud to live in shame.

Parallax,

yes fighting for his honour is more a 19th century attitude as it still was for instance in the French German war of 1870, but even there as in the American civil war it was the stronger economy and industrialisation who won. Perhaps was the American civil war the first war where the greater application of new technology won it from honour and character?
I found the book I mentioned:
http://goo.gl/hvd9jf
an interesting read...

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.

PS. And thank you for the friendly response in another thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Sat 03 Jan 2015, 10:15

If you can accept my greenishness in this interesting area of discussion my contribution is to reflect on the different kinds of warfare and training. The American Civil war was one of a people taking sides; we see the nature of this revealed in such trite affairs as for instance team'gang loyalty in sport; proving one's choice in battle/a punch up perhaps colours an attitude in battle. In the UK Civil war it was training - and in one sense a kind of brain washing to jump to command that brought Cromwell success. Warfare against another people distances some of the impact of what is being done or received and intense training to follow orders surely shapes attitude.

Civillians caught up in conflict have no training - initially anyway - experience shapes  a mind set to it eventually. Though very young at the time I recall my mother's anger with wailing old women in our cellar at the time of the first air raids. I learned very early of the courage born of fear - it has served me well in my rather odd life experience.....3 wars and assorted mayhem. And when no matter how fearful you are within it is necessary to find courage to support others who look to you for it.

In my family, returning servicemen never spoke of courage but only of their fear - yet several had awards for recognised acts of bravery. And tales of those were related with great humour.
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PostSubject: Honor and Assaults   Sat 03 Jan 2015, 21:51

PaulRyckier wrote:
Parallax wrote:
In the American Civil War the response of a soldier was that he "fought for his character"...in other words, his honor. Soldiers, rather than be saddled with that infamy of character, would stand and charge against grapeshot. They were certainly afraid of death as men have always been since Troy and before, but too proud to live in shame.

Parallax,

yes fighting for his honour is more a 19th century attitude as it still was for instance in the French German war of 1870, but even there as in the American civil war it was the stronger economy and industrialisation who won. Perhaps was the American civil war the first war where the greater application of new technology won it from honour and character?
I found the book I mentioned:
http://goo.gl/hvd9jf
an interesting read...

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.

PS. And thank you for the friendly response in another thread.

PaulRyckier,

In the Civil War both sides felt the same about honor and as you stated, it was industrialization that won out. I'm not sure about honor though. During WW1 both sides just stood up and ran at the guns. Frontal assaults, which they knew from the history of the Civil War just did not work. This must mean that the troops both allied and German had honor and of course good training, as another poster mentioned.
It has been said that bravery is a common commodity in war.
One can read about the Anzacs at Gallipoli charging the Turks with empty rifles and bayonets...simply because some fool of a general had something to prove...but the troops did do it and suffered terrible losses. I think honor is still with us but not to the same degree perhaps, but it is not as dead as chivalry.

(You are welcome)
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Sat 03 Jan 2015, 23:41

I venture to suggest there is a difference in degree, possibly a difference in kind, between the different services. In the army, the main load of combat is taken by junior officers and enlisted men, the top brass being typically well away from the fighting. Air forces have a front line of junior to middle ranking officers, who probably outnumber the front line rankers, again, the top brass are chairborne rather than airborne. Navies are rather different. Although the majority of front line manpower consists of ratings, at least until late in the last century, the highest ranking officers were to be found aboard the flagships of the various squadrons and task forces and thus in the middle of the battle. We were taught that there are two types of officer, the one who shouts "Go on men" and the one who shouts "Come on lads", and the first type were considered to be lacking in "OilyQs" (Officer-like qualities) and not fit for active service. We also knew that, peacetime or wartime, our jobs were dangerous - especially for naval aviators, and the difference between the two states was not that we could be killed doing our duty, but that, in war (including low-level undeclared war) we faced that risk at a higher probability - and, the real difference, we also faced the possibility of having to kill.
Bear in mind, too, that at that time the possibility of total nuclear war faced all of us - perhaps you could exaggerate this to suggest it was an immanent if not an imminent threat (during the Cuban missile crisis it really did seem imminent, though) so the additional risks of serving in the Andrew didn't seem great - we thought that, by miscalculation, by mistake, or misinterpretation, some pillock was bound, sooner or later, to press the Big Red Button.

Not sure if any of this is germane, but I hope it may give food for reflection.
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Sun 04 Jan 2015, 17:24

Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
I venture to suggest there is a difference in degree, possibly a difference in kind, between the different services. In the army, the main load of combat is taken by junior officers and enlisted men, the top brass being typically well away from the fighting. Air forces have a front line of junior to middle ranking officers, who probably outnumber the front line rankers, again, the top brass are chairborne rather than airborne. Navies are rather different. Although the majority of front line manpower consists of ratings, at least until late in the last century, the highest ranking officers were to be found aboard the flagships of the various squadrons and task forces and thus in the middle of the battle. We were taught that there are two types of officer, the one who shouts "Go on men" and the one who shouts "Come on lads", and the first type were considered to be lacking in "OilyQs" (Officer-like qualities) and not fit for active service. We also knew that, peacetime or wartime, our jobs were dangerous - especially for naval aviators, and the difference between the two states was not that we could be killed doing our duty, but that, in war (including low-level undeclared war) we faced that risk at a higher probability - and, the real difference, we also faced the possibility of having to kill.
Bear in mind, too, that at that time the possibility of total nuclear war faced all of us - perhaps you could exaggerate this to suggest it was an immanent if not an imminent threat (during the Cuban missile crisis it really did seem imminent, though) so the additional risks of serving in the Andrew didn't seem great - we thought that, by miscalculation, by mistake, or misinterpretation, some pillock was bound, sooner or later, to press the Big Red Button.

Not sure if any of this is germane, but I hope it may give food for reflection.

Yes, there is a difference in degree amongst the services regarding hazardous duty. Naval air personnel did have high KIA rates but so did submariners. The American KIA rate for submarine sailors was about 20%. The German submarine rate was about 85%. It dwarfs all unit losses for other services. Near the end of the war the chance of a German sub returning to base was one in six!
In Honolulu, Hawaii the Royal Hawaiian hotel was always reserved for fliers and submariners. The submariners, who had found a method of straining torpedo alcohol through a loaf of bread to remove the chemical the Navy put in to make it "undrinkable", sometimes jumped from the hotel while inebriated. Torpedo alcohol was almost pure alcohol.
Submarine personnel were always voluntary in the US and Germany but towards the end of the war the Germans had to draft men from the Navy to replace losses because there were not enough volunteers. I'm surprised there were any. I have to admire those men if not their politics.
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Sun 04 Jan 2015, 21:37

Priscilla wrote:
If you can accept my greenishness in this interesting area of discussion my contribution is to reflect on the different kinds of warfare and training. The American Civil war was one of a people taking sides; we see the nature of this revealed in such trite affairs as for instance team'gang loyalty in sport; proving one's choice in battle/a punch up perhaps colours an attitude in battle. In the UK Civil war it was training - and in one sense a kind of brain washing to jump to command that brought Cromwell success. Warfare against another people distances some of the impact of what is being done or received and intense training to follow orders surely shapes attitude.

Civillians caught up in conflict have no training - initially anyway - experience shapes  a mind set to it eventually. Though very young at the time I recall my mother's anger with wailing old women in our cellar at the time of the first air raids. I learned very early of the courage born of fear - it has served me well in my rather odd life experience.....3 wars and assorted mayhem. And when no matter how fearful you are within it is necessary to find courage to support others who look to you for it.

In my family, returning servicemen never spoke of courage but only of their fear - yet several had awards for recognised acts of bravery. And tales of those were related with great humour.

 Dear Priscilla I wondered if I could spark some comments from you, especially with your "rich in events" lifetime. And see there you are.

" Warfare against another people distances some of the impact of what is being done or received and intense training to follow orders surely shapes attitude."

Yes, training is essential in modern warfare and in a sense you can call it a kind of brain washing. But in a battle it are mostly the well trained soldiers who survive. And you can as I read in the books that I mentioned in my first message, also get trained to "contain" fear...

"Civillians caught up in conflict have no training - initially anyway - experience shapes  a mind set to it eventually. Though very young at the time I recall my mother's anger with wailing old women in our cellar at the time of the first air raids. I learned very early of the courage born of fear - it has served me well in my rather odd life experience.....3 wars and assorted mayhem. And when no matter how fearful you are within it is necessary to find courage to support others who look to you for it"

Yes, civilians who haven't had yet war experience can have no fear due to ignorance. I remember a news reel immediately after the bombing of the Maas bridges in Holland 10 May 1940. Some female servant who cleaned the glass of the broken windows immediately after the bombing instead of taking shelter for the next raid...or she had to be that clever that she thought to hear the planes coming or that there would be no second raid immediately after the first raid...?
My own mother on 23 May 1940 going to search for her brother, who didn't return after going for milk to the dairy for a baby in the basement of a house used for shelter by the people of the street. My grandmother warning her to stay in the shelter, while it was too dangerous outside. And my mother saw also a few other civilians along the street, including a German soldier...and at the same time there was a shooting with cannons from the two sides over the town and many times inside the town. My mother escaped only nearly to an obus, which felt in a house next to her and was nearly hit by the cables of the streetlamp of the middle of the street, which lost to a wall that collapsed...yes irrational choices of behaviour and no time to have fear or by the exitement not having fear...?

And about the "wailing old women in the cellar" I read last night some parts of books on the subject, among others a study of the behaviour of the British population during the Blitz and there were accounts of all "kinds" of behaviour, for instance the surpressing of the own fear for the greater good of the group in which one happen to stay...

"In my family, returning servicemen never spoke of courage but only of their fear - yet several had awards for recognised acts of bravery. And tales of those were related with great humour."

Yes somewhere in the books that I mentioned I read about the several stages of adaptation of the soldier to the battle cirucmstances...but you had also cases of individuals, who got never adapted... 

"In my family, returning servicemen never spoke of courage but only of their fear - yet several had awards for recognised acts of bravery. And tales of those were related with great humour."


Yes what is courage...?
In the two last nights that I read about het subject I came also on this:
http://niemanreports.org/articles/war-teaches-lessons-about-fear-and-courage/

And yes ID and Ferval at the end of the article I found occasionaly out that Cheryl Diaz Meyer (with all those not recognizable (by continentals) names I had to wait to the "her" for Cheryl in the sentence...) was a woman...

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.

PS. Priscilla, I hope somewhere somehow we will hear even more on this messageboard from your rich life experiences, which are perhaps worth of another book...
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Sun 04 Jan 2015, 22:16

"In the Civil War both sides felt the same about honor and as you stated, it was industrialization that won out. I'm not sure about honor though. During WW1 both sides just stood up and ran at the guns. Frontal assaults, which they knew from the history of the Civil War just did not work. This must mean that the troops both allied and German had honor and of course good training, as another poster mentioned.
It has been said that bravery is a common commodity in war.
One can read about the Anzacs at Gallipoli charging the Turks with empty rifles and bayonets...simply because some fool of a general had something to prove...but the troops did do it and suffered terrible losses. I think honor is still with us but not to the same degree perhaps, but it is not as dead as chivalry."

Parallax,

"This must mean that the troops both allied and German had honor "

"honor" hmm, in a frontal assault one has to follow the group...I have the same news reel perhaps seen already a hundred times of the footage of the soldiers running on the beaches in June 1944 after the falling of the flap of the landing boat and every time the same house on the backstage so near that one thought only a few dozens of yards...and as usual running for your life...no time to have fear, just action...

But next to honor one has perhaps also the "conviction" to fight for a right case or perceived by the individual as a right case. I spoke once with a Belgian collaborator who had gone to fight for the Germans on the East front against the "Communists" during WWII and yes even years after the war he was still convinced that he had done the right thing...
The right case can also be the seeing of the ennemy as the agressor that have to be halted with whatever means...
Belgium seems to have the procentual highest number of "warriors" recruted for the IS in Iraq Syria. There is now a debate as to try via internet to make contra-propaganda to avoid recrutement. But the American experience seems to learn that this is contra productive while the would be recrutes are even more stiffened in their conviction than in the case to let it its normal evolution...
Yes, honor, fear, courage, conviction seems to be all a strange mixture...

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Sun 04 Jan 2015, 22:50

Yes, Parallax, the submariners suffered heavy losses, as did infantry and aircrew, but IIRC merchant seaman losses were higher than any of the armed services in proportion to their numbers.
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PostSubject: Highest losses.   Mon 05 Jan 2015, 13:24

Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Yes, Parallax, the submariners suffered heavy losses, as did infantry and aircrew, but IIRC merchant seaman losses were higher than any of the armed services in proportion to their numbers.
Giigamesh,

I'm not familiar with the"IIRC" merchant losses or who they were. Still, I find it hard to accept that the IIRC losses were as great as the  U-boat crews.
Merchant seamen were also paid much better than service personnel. There was that famous "Murmansk run" which was so dangerous it paid the merchant sailors a bonus of $1,000.00 per run. That's in terms of 1940's dollars!
I will research this further and share my findings.
Have a nice day. study
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Mon 05 Jan 2015, 14:01

There is actually quite a bit of resentment amongst merchant seamen that their service during the war did not receive the same official recognition as the armed forces did. Technically they were not going "into battle" but sure as hell found themselves in the firing line! The Tower Hill Memorial opened in 1928 to a huge reaction of resentful apathy on the part of those families whose men had been killed by enemy action and whose employers simply stopped pay from the day they died. In WWII things weren't much better either. If one compares this treatment to the pension scheme introduced by an impoverished Norwegian government after the war to all those who had died (Norwegian or otherwise) serving as merchant seamen on Norwegian vessels it puts British and American officialdom to shame. Even the Irish Free State managed to scrape up a pension for affected families and even extended it to Northern Irish families who otherwise would have had nothing, even though this was technically a breach of the then Anglo-Irish Treaty as revised just before the war broke out.

Curiously no one spares a thought at all for German merchant seamen during both world wars. They existed, were also the target of enemy aggression, and yet became almost invisible in the war's aftermath.

Gil's IIRC is an acronym for "if I recall correctly". It took me years to figure that one out myself. I thought it was yet another splinter group of the IRA for a long while ... Smile
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Mon 05 Jan 2015, 17:30

From a similar source that is no longer to hand, I seem to recall that infantry casualty rates were actually higher in WWII than WWI.

Parallax, I think the "war risks bonus" was $1,000.
According to http://futureboy.homeip.net/fsp/dollar.fsp?quantity=1000¤cy=dollars&fromYear=1943 that would be between $13,000 and $14,000 today. Could you tell me where you got your figure from, please?
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PostSubject: War Risk Bonuses   Wed 07 Jan 2015, 12:44

Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
From a similar source that is no longer to hand, I seem to recall that infantry casualty rates were actually higher in WWII than WWI.

Parallax, I think the "war risks bonus" was $1,000.
According to http://futureboy.homeip.net/fsp/dollar.fsp?quantity=1000¤cy=dollars&fromYear=1943 that would be between $13,000 and $14,000 today. Could you tell me where you got your figure from, please?

Gil, I don't recal where I read about the "Murmansk bonus" but it was many years ago. Reading that article misled me to think that the merchant sailors were getting paid more than their Naval counterparts...which was not the case, but it colored my thinking. My recent research indicates that merchant seamen were paid about as much as their Naval counterparts.
I'm still researching the sub vs. merchant losses. It's a slippery area data wise but I'll have a look for the Murmansk bonus also.
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Wed 07 Jan 2015, 15:43

Parallax: You are correct - Merchant Navy wages were higher than RN rates - many merchant "Johns" served under T124 and T124X agreements, particularly in requisitioned vessels, where they kept their MN pay and conditions but were subject to Naval discipline. One group were, it seems, particularly difficult to attract - trawler cooks. They were mostly older, married men, and normally had a higher share in the ship's takings than deck hands etc since they produced the "liver oil" which formed a significant part of the profits.
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Thu 08 Jan 2015, 10:42

This is a bit of dark humour based on an old nursery rhyme about the 12 S-Class sumbarines which were in service at the start of the Second World War (only 3 of them survived)

Twelve little S-boats “go to it” like Bevin,
Starfish goes a bit too far — then there were eleven.
Eleven watchful S-boats doing fine and then
Seahorse fails to answer — so there are ten.
Ten stocky S-boats in a ragged line,
Sterlet drops and stops out — leaving us nine.
Nine plucky S-boats, all pursuing Fate,
Shark is overtaken — now we are eight.
Eight sturdy S-boats, men from Hants and Devon,
Salmon now is overdue — and so the number’s seven.
Seven gallant S-boats, trying all their tricks,
Spearfish tries a newer one — down we come to six.
Six tireless S-boats fighting to survive,
No reply from Swordfish — so we tally five.
Five scrubby S-boats, patrolling close inshore,
Snapper takes a short cut — now we are four.
Four fearless S-boats, too far out to sea,
Sunfish bombed and scrap-heaped — we are only three.
Three threadbare S-boats patrolling o’er the blue,

Two ice-bound S-boats…

One lonely S-boat…
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PostSubject: The morass of history   Thu 08 Jan 2015, 16:35

Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Parallax: You are correct - Merchant Navy wages were higher than RN rates - many merchant "Johns" served under T124 and T124X agreements, particularly in requisitioned vessels, where they kept their MN pay and conditions but were subject to Naval discipline. One group were, it seems, particularly difficult to attract - trawler cooks. They were mostly older, married men, and normally had a higher share in the ship's takings than deck hands etc since they produced the "liver oil" which formed a significant part of the profits.

Gil, I cannot find anything on the $1,000. bonuses and I see where we have both reversed positions on Merchant sailors pay:) Well, that area of history seems to be poorly defined in some spots and it just does not make any sense that we both find opposing data on the same subject. It's kind of slippery in Merchant Marine history but, to date, I've found MM casualties were 9,521 dead out of 243,000 that served, or 3.9% for the American MM.
The numbers for British merchantmen were 30,000 crew losses for all causes and 2,177 ships but I cannot find the number of men who served to arrive at a % value. However, one way to look at it is that each ship that sank lost about 14 men (13.8%). (3.9% for US ...Huh?)
The following is from "Battle of the Atlantic" by the USMMorg.
The U-boat losses were 22,898 crew and about 750 submarines. This averages out to 30.5 submariners lost per U-boat so, on average, if you went on patrol on a sub your chances of returning were about two out of three or, conversely, one in three that you would be killed.
I don't know anything that even approaches those scary figures. They are surely much higher than the Merchant sailors 3.9%. This is all I intend to do on this subject because history in that area is about like what the Chinese women say... but I'll leave that unsaid Shocked
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PostSubject: Thirteen little Indians   Thu 08 Jan 2015, 16:45

Triceratops wrote:
This is a bit of dark humour based on an old nursery rhyme about the 12 S-Class sumbarines which were in service at the start of the Second World War (only 3 of them survived)

Twelve little S-boats “go to it” like Bevin,
Starfish goes a bit too far — then there were eleven.
Eleven watchful S-boats doing fine and then
Seahorse fails to answer — so there are ten.
Ten stocky S-boats in a ragged line,
Sterlet drops and stops out — leaving us nine.
Nine plucky S-boats, all pursuing Fate,
Shark is overtaken — now we are eight.
Eight sturdy S-boats, men from Hants and Devon,
Salmon now is overdue — and so the number’s seven.
Seven gallant S-boats, trying all their tricks,
Spearfish tries a newer one — down we come to six.
Six tireless S-boats fighting to survive,
No reply from Swordfish — so we tally five.
Five scrubby S-boats, patrolling close inshore,
Snapper takes a short cut — now we are four.
Four fearless S-boats, too far out to sea,
Sunfish bombed and scrap-heaped — we are only three.
Three threadbare S-boats patrolling o’er the blue,

Two ice-bound S-boats…

One lonely S-boat…

Never saw that before, but I like it.:)
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Thu 08 Jan 2015, 21:54

Herewith best estimates I can find on strengths / casualties for British forces in WWII.
Army 3,500,000 million served in WWII, fatal casualties 144,000 , 4.1%
RAF   1,208,000                                                         70,000    5.7%
RN       800,000                                                          50,000   6.25%
MN       185,000                                                          30,248  16.2%
Beware - RN total served figure is actually number serving in 1945, served in total would have been higher, and casualty percentage thus would be lower.

Found War Risk bonus figure for a 4th engineer, MN - £5/month but that isn't a "Murmansk" bonus, just standard War Risks.

(edited for clarification)
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PostSubject: Re: Soldiers' attitudes under battle circumstances.   Fri 09 Jan 2015, 15:39

The effects of shell-shock. The soldier on the left of this photo taken in a casualty station has what would later be called "the 1,000 yard stare";

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