papalagi (papalagi) wrote,

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 ноя 1874 - 24 янв 1965) Part III 1916–1918 (1923-31)

To All Who Endured



Since the Armistice the facts are known; but before proceeding to detailed figures it will be well to take a general survey.

The Germans, out of a population of under 70 millions, mobilized during the war for military service 13¼ million persons. Of these, according to the latest German official figures for all fronts including the Russian, over 7 millions suffered death, wounds or captivity, of whom nearly 2 millions perished.15 France, with a population of 38 millions, mobilized a little over 8 million persons. This however includes a substantial proportion of African troops outside the French population basis. Of these approximately 5 millions became casualties, of whom 1½ millions lost their lives. The British Empire, out of a white population of 60 millions, mobilized nearly 9½ million persons and sustained over 3 million casualties including nearly a million deaths.

The British totals are not directly comparable with those of France and Germany. The proportion of coloured troops is greater. The numbers who fell in theatres other than the western, and those employed on naval service, are both much larger.

The British War Office published in March, 1922, its Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War.16 A section of this massive compilation records the comparative figures of British and German casualties on the British sector of the Western Front from February, 1915, to October, 1918, inclusive. The British figures are compiled from the official records of the War Office. The German figures have been obtained from the Federal Archives Office at Potsdam. The result of the calculation is summed up as follows: The total number of British ‘Officer’ casualties was 115,741 and of German ‘Officer’ casualties 47,256. The total number of British ‘Other Ranks’ casualties was 2,325,932 and of German ‘Other Ranks’ casualties 1,633,140. The casualties among British ‘Officers’ compared to German were therefore about 5 to 2, and of British ‘Other Ranks’ compared to German about 3 to 2.

Let us now proceed to draw the conclusions which emerge from the figures. They do not appear to have been at all appreciated even in the most expert circles. I state them in their simplest form.

During the whole war the Germans never lost in any phase of the fighting more than the French whom they fought, and frequently inflicted double casualties upon them. In no one of the periods into which the fighting has been divided by the French authorities, did the French come off best in killed, prisoners and wounded. Whether they were on the defensive or were the attackers the result was the same. Whether in the original rush of the invasion, or in the German offensive at Verdun, or in the great French assaults on the German line, or even in the long periods of wastage on the trench warfare front, it always took the blood of 1½ to 2 Frenchmen to inflict a corresponding injury upon a German.

The second fact which presents itself from the tables is that in all the British offensives the British casualties were never less than 3 to 2, and often nearly double the corresponding German losses.

In the series of great offensive pressures which Joffre delivered during the whole of the spring and autumn of 1915, the French suffered nearly 1,300,000 casualties. They inflicted upon the Germans in the same period and the same operations 506,000 casualties. They gained no territory worth mentioning, and no strategic advantages of any kind. This was the worst year of the Joffre régime. Gross as were the mistakes of the Battle of the Frontiers, glaring as had been the errors of the First Shock, they were eclipsed by the insensate obstinacy and lack of comprehension which, without any large numerical superiority, without adequate artillery or munitions, without any novel mechanical method, without any pretence of surprise or manœuvre, without any reasonable hope of victory, continued to hurl the heroic but limited manhood of France at the strongest entrenchments, at uncut wire and innumerable machine guns served with cold skill.

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