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Go Back   The Aerodrome Forum > Archives > 2000

2000 Closed threads from 2000 (read only)

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Old 8 September 2000, 08:17 AM   #1
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I have just finished Ian Passingham's book 'PILLARS OF FIRE' (Sutton Publishing 1998) on the Battle of Messines Ridge, and absolutely excellent it is too.

In it he states that to the Germans the ridge was the "Wytschaete-Bogen". Could someone translate bogen for me in this context? Thanks.

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Old 8 September 2000, 09:34 AM   #2
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The Wytschaete-Bogen literally means Wytschaete "elbow". Wytschaete was a small village on the southern edge of the Ypres salient - thus the name. In fact, from this position, German artillery could fire towards the northeast and shell behind the British trenches in the area of Zonnebeke.
Old 8 September 2000, 12:26 PM   #3
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Greetings Vigilant: According to Langenscheidt's dictionary bogen is a bend, a sweep or a curve. German for elbow is Ellbogen. Wyshaete is a place name in the German trench system, which had a bend, or a curve, or a sweep in its design. 'wiedersehen, Billy H 09/08/00.
Old 9 September 2000, 02:12 AM   #4
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Vielen danken, meine Herren! So I suppose a fair translation would just be 'Wytschaete Salient' in the same way that the Ypres trenches were the Ypres Salient for the Brits.

The striking thing reading the book is just how complacent the German commander of Gruppe Wytschaete, General von Laffert, was. He assessed the threat from British mines as almost non-existent a month before his front line was blown apart by a million pounds of ammonal! It's just a crying shame that Haig chose not to follow up immediately while the Germans were still reeling and the weather was good. Instead he waited 6 weeks to start Third Ypres by which time the German positions were covered in more reinforced concrete than the South Bank.


"Now let's look at the land we've won in the big push! Splendid! What is the scale of this model, Captain Darling?"

"Er, one to one, sir."

"So the actual ground taken is...?"

"4 feet by 6 feet, 8 square yards sir!"

"Splendid. Baah!"
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Old 9 September 2000, 06:15 AM   #5
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Old 9 September 2000, 02:01 PM   #6
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And here I was thinking "Black Adder" was my
Hewlett Packard 10B Calculator............
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Not here is the vintage sweet;
'Tis cold as our hearts are growing,
And dark as the doom we meet.
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Old 11 September 2000, 12:36 AM   #7
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Dear Vigilant,
The Germans knew of the coming British action and knew also the correct place of the mines. Two or three times in march and april they have tryed to get more information on it. Supported by airforce a regiment made an attack on the positions of the Allies.
Besides the Germans already had reinforced their units with airtroops, artillery...
I've studied more then 6 year this period with focus on the German airforce.
Greetings. Bernard
Old 11 September 2000, 10:28 AM   #8
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That's really interesting. I am making something of a study of the RFC at the battle of Messines. I'll drop you an email - we should swap notes.

Here's what Passingham has to say on German over-confidence:

"The Commander of Artillery, Gruppe Wytschaete, was convinced that his guns would easily defeat the British in any artillery duel, although the evidence for such optimism was thin." - p.83

Passingham notes that the Germans discovered the Petit Douve Farm mine (by tunnelling) and made successful trench raids on the mine shafts at Hill 60, Trench 122 and Factory Farm. However, he writes:

"In April, he [von Fuesslein, Kommandeur der Mineure] had reported at the fateful meeting of field commanders and Crown Prince Rupprecht that his counter-mining had been so successful that a major British mining attack against the Messines Ridge was no longer possible. ... It was decided that ... a major mining attack was unlikely." - p.86

It seems like a well researched book so I'm inclined to accept this analysis.


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Old 11 September 2000, 06:59 PM   #9
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Vigilant: Go to the Civil War and study the Battle of Petersburg, VA, wherein the Union miners set off a mine (ever since called the crater) that blew a large section of the Rebel trenches; then followed with a infantry attack, in which the Union troops jumped into the crater, but could not get out (no ladders). The Rebels recovered an they killed thousands of men in that crater.
To understand WWI artillery get a book called "The Steel Wind" by Bruce Gumundsen (who was my instructor at the AMU.). THis book is the story of Oberst Georg Bruchmiller, the commander of all German artillery. The Germans called their barrages either Feuer Tanz/Walz (Fire Dance/Waltz) And Bruchmiller's fire schedules and techniques of mixing solid shot, shrapnel and poison gas were eventually copied by the tubemeisters of the AEF and are still part of the American doctrine.
VBR Billy H 09/12/00


german, translation

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