Military Hall of Shame- An examination of great military blunders - Page 3




 
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October 5th, 2006  
sven hassell
 
 
I would say a military blunder worth mentioning was that nobody realised Gurkha's were too short to use standard trenches in ww1 and that if they dug their own more shallow trenches the their taller British officers would fall foul to snipers.
It is so obvious but still they were deployed as such and suffered horrendous losses because of it.
The entire Gallipoli campaign was a blunder resulting in approx 3000 Kiwis, 9000 Aussies,21000 British,10000 French and 1500 Indian and Gurkha casualties that were almost totally unnecessary
October 26th, 2006  
Damien435
 
 
Another problem for Market-Garden was that it had rained heavily shortly before the attack, British tanks would get bogged down in the fields so they had to stay in single file lines as they drove down the elevated roads on top of the dikes and levies in The Netherlands, leaving them rather exposed. But I agree about Market-Garden being a necessary gamble, it could have ended the war in 1944 and saved millions of lives.

Prior to the landing on the beaches at Normandy Allied planners gave D-Day a 50% chance of success and expected casualty rates of 50% as well. Yet that was an enormous success and Ike won the Presidency thanks to this gamble, who could say how the war would have turned out if D-Day had been a failure?
October 27th, 2006  
perseus
 
 

Topic: The Voyage of the Damned !


One of my favourite Military blunders in terms of sheer entertainment value, was the 18 000 mile voyage of the Russian Baltic fleet to face the Japanese at Tsushima in 1905. The result of the battle itself was inevitable judging by the events which took place getting there.

First of all, the battleships were fitted with various gadgets that made them top heavy, this prevented the use of secondary armaments and the weight also pushed the armoured belt below the waterline. However, the quality of the crew was their main problem. The fleet commander Rozhestvenshy had little respect for his immediate subordinates, calling his second in command a ‘manure sack’ and another as a ‘vast empty space’. Subsequent events probably supported this shrewd assessment. Rozhestvenshy also commanded a motley collection of inexperienced seamen with some mutineers and revolutionaries thrown in for good measure. However, the script would have been more appropriate for the Marx brothers rather than Karl Marx and the events were only fit for a revolution in the understanding of military psychology and ineptitude.

The first torpedo drill was greeted with the sound of snoring, this lethargy was contrasted with hyperactive paranoia at sea where every floating object appeared to be a hostile. This was probably caused by reports of Japanese boats being stationed off the Danish coast! They immediately set the tone for the mission soon after setting sail when the flagship ran aground, a cruiser lost an anchor and a destroyer rammed a battleship.

Their first shots were fired at some Russian fishermen attempting to deliver a message. Later the self appointed ‘fleet comedian’ the Kamchatka falsely reported being attacked by Japanese torpedo boats from ‘all directions’. They had barely reached the North Sea, how would they cope by the time they reached Japanese waters?

At long last they managed to find some real foreign boats to fire upon. During the firefight, the Russians thought they had been hit and boarded, so some of the crew donned lifejackets and jumped overboard, whilst others lay flat on the deck. However, Rozhestvenshy must have realised what was happened and ordered one man to be thrown overboard to stop him firing. As morning dawned the full scale of horror became apparent. They had actually hit 4 small British trawlers, as well as holing each other, with one cruiser receiving 4 strikes below the waterline. The only consolation was that the gunnery was so deplorable, with one ship firing 500 shells without a single hit.

The Russian Government apologised to Great Britain, but the Royal Navy shadowed them as far as the Bay of Biscay with a fleet of cruisers, whilst 28 battleships were readied for action. A potential mismatch of proportions probably never seen before in the annals of military warfare was only just avoided.

After a diplomatic row, the Russians were forced to leave behind the officers responsible for attack on the Trawlers at the port of Vigo. At least this gave Rozhestvenshy the opportunity to dispatch his bitterest enemy Klado. Unfortunately this did not help stop the Kamchatka attempting to widen the hostilities yet further by firing 300 shells at a Swedish merchantman, a French schooner and German trawler. This last ship was almost another unfortunate choice of target since the fleet had no friendly military ports to stop at and had to be refuelled about 30 times by a German collier line. The coal was piled onto the decks which made them even more top heavy to the point were they were afraid to raise flag signals. However, this did not prevent the Kamchatka accidentally sending the wrong signal indicating "do you see torpedo boats?" instead of "we are all right now" in the middle of a storm.

The crew went on land leave on route and formed an unofficial city with Brothels, gambling houses and saloons whilst barnacles and grass grew on the ships hulls which trailed behind as they sailed. The crew even wandered about the ships on duty in a stupor drugged with Alcohol or opium. They quelled their frustration by taking on various exotic pets such as crocodiles and poisonous snakes, as well as a goat with an affinity for paper. The ships must have resembled a fleet of Noah’s arks.

Not surprisingly at this point Rozhestvenshy suffered from a bout of neuralgia, whilst the chief of staff had a brain haemorrhage, and much of the rest of the crew succumbed to dysentery, typhoid or malaria. In sympathy, the Kamchatka fired off a shell in honour of the dead but it turned out to be live and ricocheted off another ship narrowly avoiding even more deaths.

Whilst still off Africa the fleet must have been pleased to meet up with a supply ship to replenish their ammunition. Imagine their surprise therefore to receive 1200 pairs of fur lined boots in its place! Another of their transports supplied letters to raise moral, but these turned out to be the ones they sent out themselves 2 months previously. At least they had plenty of food for the goat.

It was now time for another firing practice session in which the destroyers failed to score a single hit, whilst the flagship managed to jam up a gunnery hoist due to a Cobra wrapped around a rope. Some of the destroyers then scattered due to more code confusion. This was fortunate since all the torpedoes malfunctioned in one manner or another with one going round in circles. The Kamchatka then signalled she was sinking, unfortunately this turned out to be a false alarm caused by a cracked pipe in the engine room.

Rozhestvenshy was forced to reaccept Klado now under a new admiral who was tasked with bringing a second fleet which was a fleet of ‘old tubs’ known as the ‘sinking squadron’. However Rozhestvenshy seemed to be attempting to evade him since the admiral received instructions from high command to "rendezvous with Rozhestvensky whose route is unknown to us", perhaps it was just as well. Later Rozhestvensky also received ‘help’ from the Russian 3rd Pacific squadron known as the ‘floating dead’ before the battle.

It is hardly necessary to describe the battle itself; needless to say the achievement of the Japanese victory must have been overrated. However Rozhestvenshy managed to survive the battle after being plucked from the sea. Whilst back in Russia as a final indignity he received a telegram giving details of his own requiem. He must have surely wished he were dead!

(Edited from Geoffrey Regan’s The Guinness book of Naval Blunders)
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November 1st, 2006  
Prince
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AussieNick
The Japanese for invading Kokoda. Severely underestimating the ability of a handfull of (admitadly rag tag, poorly trained and poorly equiped) Australians. Resulting in Japan's first land battle defeat in WW2, and it became the furthest reach of their advance, from which they were soundly beaten back across the Pacific (massive over-simplification of events there).

come on aussie come on!!! we kicked ass in that one, im currently reading about that aspect of the pacific war anyway

i would say that the biggist military blunders would be some of the gaulic tribes trying to opose the roman empire during its expansion. pathetic realy cos most of the time the battles were massacres
November 2nd, 2006  
Damien435
 
 
How do you expect the Gauls and Germanic tribes to win? They only outnumbered the Roman Legions 10-1.[/sarcasm]
November 2nd, 2006  
Prince
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damien435
How do you expect the Gauls and Germanic tribes to win? They only outnumbered the Roman Legions 10-1.[/sarcasm]

haha of course...they'd just keep dying untill they killed one or two romans
January 9th, 2007  
UBIQUE
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AussieNick
The Japanese for invading Kokoda. Severely underestimating the ability of a handfull of (admitadly rag tag, poorly trained and poorly equiped) Australians. Resulting in Japan's first land battle defeat in WW2, and it became the furthest reach of their advance, from which they were soundly beaten back across the Pacific (massive over-simplification of events there).

Don't be so sure, it wasn't as clear cut as the result suggested. Try reading "A Bastard of a Place" by Peter Brune. It will give you a better idea of the campaign. MacAurthur and Blamey don't come out of it smelling of roses. MacAurthur for ignoring intelligence reports and failing to pass on current topographical information. Blamey for his "Rabbit" comments amongst other things. Both of them for not having the faintest idea what the terrain was like or the stores the troops had to fight with.

A friend of mine from my rifle club in Brisbane fought in that campaign and shared more than a few stories with me. They were the blokes that won the campaign, not the shinny bums sitting in Australia and spruking off to the media.
January 9th, 2007  
Gator
 
 
Iraq is a huge Intelligence Blunder, and has the potential to be the most costly Military Intelligence Blunder in history.
January 10th, 2007  
bulldogg
 
 
Could you elaborate a bit more? How are you measuring the cost? Not arguing, just curious.
January 10th, 2007  
jequirity
 
 
I'd say Iraq was more of a political blunder than a military one. The American military is doing pretty damn well all things considering but its fighting a war which was buggered up by the US administration from day one. The Intelligence on this one was lacking in the government but not the military.

The biggest military blunder i reckon stems from this blackadder quote

"A war hasn't been fought this badly since Olaf the Hairy, high chief of all the vikings, accidentally ordered 80,000 battle helmets with the horns on the inside."

That is quite the blunder