The Great Debate: The Soldiers' Perspectives?




 
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August 4th, 2004  
David Hurlbert
 

Topic: The Great Debate: The Soldiers' Perspectives?


Military historians have long tried to debate the most difficult battles in world history from a soldier’s perspective. For example, would it have been more difficult to be a Finnish soldier fighting the Soviets in one of the Battles of the Winter War, a Confederate soldier at the Siege of Vicksburg, or a Wehrmacht soldier at the Battle of Stalingrad? Such topics of interest do not equate to the bloodiest battles or those battles with the most wounded because historians already know the numbers. In addition to the intensity of combat, many times the difficulty of any particular battle might be determined by extreme environmental conditions, supply shortages, and/or unit stress/moral (to include length of the combat, number wounded, equipment, etc.). I know it is difficult to assess what any warrior in any particular battle felt or how difficult it would be to find yourself in any give battle throughout history as a warrior. However, as most warriors will likely tell you, combat is generally a horrific situation to experience, especially when you are on the receiving end. Most seasoned combat warriors who have been on both ends have developed a great deal of respect for all soldiers, regardless of the uniform they wear or even those who are considered the enemy. So while the point of this topic is purely fantasy, I am very interested in starting a discussion of ideas on what battles throughout history do you think would have been the most difficult to fight in as a soldier and why? Please try to examine your answer and your justification as a soldier participating in the conflict identified or at least from a soldier’s perspective? Even those individuals without military experience are invited to join this discussion.
August 4th, 2004  
ENRG
 
I can't remember what that battles is called now, but I think it was when outnumbered Roman Legioners faced thousands of Atilla's Huns.

They won, but with many casualties.

Or the fight between Scotland and England (William Wallace's time)
Scotish Farmers with swords and hay-forks versus trained English soldiers with armory, knights and a key-weapon, the longbow. If I was a Scotsman I would proberly be frighten like hell.
August 4th, 2004  
David Hurlbert
 
Although I am not that familiar with the military history on Roman battles, I can certainly relate to Sir William Wallace, the commander who led his country against the English occupation of Scotland and was victorious at eh Battle of Stirling Bridge. Incidentally below is a good Website on Sir Wallace:

http://www.electricscotland.com/history/wallace.htm

I was misled by the movie “Braveheart” which left me thinking they were hundreds possibly thousands of soldiers in this battle. I think I did not discover until years later in a history magazine that this battle actually included about 50 or 60 Scottish soldiers battling about 220 English soldiers (if my memory is correct).
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August 4th, 2004  
ENRG
 
Well I don't know the exact numbers, but yes, it wasn't that many soldiers, but at that time.. I would still be scared s***-less..
August 4th, 2004  
David Hurlbert
 

Topic: A Nightmare!


Although I am still thinking about this topic, I could not help but think of how horrible it would have been to have been a sailor aboard the USS Indianapolis when it entered the battle with an Imperial Japanese submarine while returning after delivering the components of the Atomic Bomb. These sailors not only had to deal with the battle that sank their ship, but also the fact they were left defenselessly and aimlessly floating, some with self-made life preserves, in oil polluted and shark infested waters. Some with severe injuries, the survivors of the battle now had to hopelessly watched their comrades die from shark attacks for almost a week before they would be accidentally discovered and rescued? As a soldier, I proudly and respectfully salute all the crew who were aboard the USS Indianapolis on that most sad and unfortunate day!
August 4th, 2004  
ENRG
 
Yeah.. Never thought of that..

Imagine being at Pearl Harbor on the USS Arizona..

Getting woke up by torpedos and bombs raining down on you, being trapped under water..
August 4th, 2004  
Jagdverband
 
The way I look at it, any place a war is fought is a bad place to fight a war.

That said, there are some battlegrounds that make the firy pits of hell look like a cosy armchair by the fire by comparison. When I think of harsh battlegrounds, my mind springs to places like the Somme Front in 1916, Ypres in 1917, Stalingrad in 1942/3, and Bastogne in December 1944. But everytime I read of a battle, I can't help but think that the Kokoda track in New Guinea would hold a special place on that list. There may not have been snow, but constant rain, mud, mountains, jungle disease to name but a few obstacles would have taken a toll on a person. Throw in the fact that even the seasoned veterans who joined the battle after two weeks of constant retreat by raw militiamen (who had little training in the soldier's art) had to learn how to fight a new style of war on unfamiliar terms.
August 5th, 2004  
silent driller
 
 
I think I'll fast forward a few centuries to the Island Hopping Campaign of WWII. The soldiers and Marines fighting against well dug in and well hidden Japanese, machine guns, snipers, disease, etc. had quite a hard time.
August 5th, 2004  
LeatherNeckRVA
 
Vietnam seems to have the worst repercussions on soldiers mental health, so i'm going with Vietnam.
August 27th, 2004  
David Hurlbert
 
Vietnam was certainly a conflict that I would not have wanted to find myself as a soldier on either side. However, I would rather do two tours in Vietnam that to be on the receiving end of B-52 carpet-bombing. I think the American B52 bombers about 60 missions, dropping more than 1000 tons of high explosive in sorties against Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard in both Iraq and Kuwait. I remember over 13 years ago the 39-day B-52 campaign around the clock in the Gulf War. I saw some of those POWs who were found in fetal positions. These were the “lucky survivors” to be on the receiving end of these B-52 campaigns. I will also tell you that from 30 miles away it was like being in a combination earthquake and waterfall for all the noise and all the movement that you feel and regardless of the hour that direction also kept a sunset appearance all night.

Initially, the human reaction is to flee – but where? So, instinctively you fall to the ground or look for a hole. Upon the first bombs falling onto your position, you are deaf from the explosions. Soon your frantic efforts to move stop and you find yourself in a truly hopeless and helpless position where your body can no longer muster the energy to even move even if you were one who was not injured. You have eliminated and urinated on yourself and you are reduced to assuming a fetal position in which food or any other human need is no longer acknowledged. From here it takes weeks just to recover form the physical aspects from surviving such countless bombings. I am unsure that anyone would ever fully recover from the psychological aspects of such an event.