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Did America really save the Allies in WWI?


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Crazedtiger77 #1 Posted 27 May 2016 - 08:18 PM

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War is that if not for their military efforts, British and French people would be speaking German right now. With all due respect to the Americans who gave their lives during the conflict, this is completely false (on the military side anyway, US supplies did win the war but this is just thinking about their boots on the ground contribution).

 

To understand whether the US did stop a German victory, first we must understand the situation when American forces arrived. On April 6th 1917 the USA declared war on Germany, nearly three whole years since the war began. However, the number of American troops in France and Flanders was only 287,000 in Spring 1918 - tiny compared to the number of British, which peaked at 2,046,901 in the same theatre. By this time, German forces had already lost the initiative after costly battles at the Somme and Verdun (amongst others) and Allied breakthrough attempts had already begun to show potential such as Cambrai (1917) where tanks were successfully used to smash through the German lines. Whilst this gain wasn't capitalised upon, it demonstrated the increasing vulnerability of the German lines.

 

The last ditch Kaiser's Offensive of 1918 is recognised as the beginning of the end for the Germans yet the Americans had little to do with its failure. Certainly, American intervention contributed to the urgent need for such a German breakthrough but the offensive would likely have occurred anyway as Axis forces were transferred from the Eastern to Western front following the fall of Russia. During this offensive American forces played a minor role with the British taking the brunt of Operation Michael, the main thrust of the offensive. In fact, US forces only occupied 17 out of 468 miles of Western Front at the time of the offensive and none of the German attacks were aimed at these areas. 

 

Furthermore, the Battle of Amiens resulted in the black day of the German army and the start of the One Hundred Day Offensive, ending the stagnation of trench warfare barely involved the Americans. Only parts of the US 33rd Division took part in the assault along with seven individual British and Commonwealth divisions.

 

Ultimately, the main role of American forces was to apply further psychological pressure to the already demoralised German forces and only began to have a major impact when the war was already won and the Allies were on the offensive. In a war where numbers were king, the number of US deaths is a reasonably fair assessment of their military contribution to the Western front. It is slightly below Belgium's death toll and far below that of Britain and France. 

 

When Battlefield One comes out later this year it is likely to overhype America's influence in the war and perpetuate the 'you'd all be speaking German' idea so just take it with a pinch of salt. However, this doesn't diminish the individual heroism of Americans who fought bravely during their time at war. 

 

Thanks for reading! Do you agree with the points presented here or think differently? Also, would you like to see this to become a series challenging misconceptions about the World Wars?



Sqn Ldr B #2 Posted 27 May 2016 - 08:22 PM

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No, not at all to be honest. By the time they joined in the Royal Navy was already blockaded the German ports and their people were beginning to starve, and they were having the stirrings of a communist revolution by that point too.

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Metalrodent #3 Posted 27 May 2016 - 08:42 PM

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They perhaps slightly sped up the war's conclusion, however they had little to no effect on the overall outcome.

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WrathofAchilles #4 Posted 27 May 2016 - 08:51 PM

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We got there in time to help and fought a few battles and the war ended so we could go home and say, "So that Europe can't do anything right so America had to get involved and once we did war over! We rule!"

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KaiserVonKrieg #5 Posted 27 May 2016 - 10:49 PM

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We are speaking Germanic but that's none of my business.

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NimoysHeadinJar #6 Posted 27 May 2016 - 11:33 PM

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I honestly have never heard anyone say WWI was won because of American forces. Even the gung-ho Americans that say that about WWII. I've just never heard it about WWI.

 

And I wouldn't sweat how Battlefield I portrays it either. Anyone who takes their history lessons from a video game would just be identifying themselves as someone who should never be engaged in a serious historical conversation. :teethhappy:


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Sqn Ldr B #7 Posted 27 May 2016 - 11:34 PM

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View PostNimoysHeadinJar, on 28 May 2016 - 12:33 AM, said:

I honestly have never heard anyone say WWI was won because of American forces. Even the gung-ho Americans that say that about WWII. I've just never heard it about WWI.

 

And I wouldn't sweat how Battlefield I portrays it either. Anyone who takes their history lessons from a video game would just be identifying themselves as someone who should never be engaged in a serious historical conversation. :teethhappy:

 

You haven't partaken in several particular discussions on this forum then, I would imagine.

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NimoysHeadinJar #8 Posted 27 May 2016 - 11:38 PM

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View PostSqn Ldr B, on 27 May 2016 - 05:34 PM, said:

 

You haven't partaken in several particular discussions on this forum then, I would imagine.

 

I'll bet my last sentence in my last post should shed some light on that. :)

 

I don't usually engage in the what-if/ alternative discussions because they are generally too vague, thus too many variables to ever come to likely conclusion.

Now, a discussion based on very specific factors would be different. Haven't seen any of those here though.


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Crazedtiger77 #9 Posted 28 May 2016 - 06:06 AM

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View PostNimoysHeadinJar, on 27 May 2016 - 11:33 PM, said:

I honestly have never heard anyone say WWI was won because of American forces. Even the gung-ho Americans that say that about WWII. I've just never heard it about WWI.

 

And I wouldn't sweat how Battlefield I portrays it either. Anyone who takes their history lessons from a video game would just be identifying themselves as someone who should never be engaged in a serious historical conversation. :teethhappy:

 

You'd be surprised, particularly on Facebook you see some Americans who believe they were the only important ones. 

 

The reason I mentioned Battlefield One is that for the masses, media is probably the only way they learn about the wars, henceforth many don't even know D-Day wasn't just an American affair (I'm looking at you Saving Private Ryan) but yes I agree. Considering Battlefield One has an American on the front, it wouldn't surprise me if it went the same way.



SlummyZeru #10 Posted 28 May 2016 - 06:24 AM

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I wouldn't mind playing a canadian in that BF1 deal cause apparently axis thought canadians were badass and they tricked them by pretending they on one flank while they moved so.

 

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KanonFyodor #11 Posted 29 May 2016 - 03:24 PM

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Okay, I am ready for the hits but let me 'splain first. No, the US did not save the allies and/or win the war. Let's get that out of the way first and foremost. However! You knew there was going to be a "However", right? However! The presence of large US "Square" divisions did play a significant role in preventing the Ludendorf offensive from succeeding in 1918. Not by virtue of skill, I hasten to add, but by virtue of being physically present in large numbers in the path of advancing German forces in a couple of vital sectors. A fresh group of infantry mass to be overcome. Now you may be right that the German offensives couldn't have succeeded anyway, you may be right. I am certain that Foche would rather have had the US forces present that not, though. The French army was still in recovery from the mutinies of the summer of '17, everyone was dispirited, exhausted, of course the Germans no less than anyone, but the forces arrayed against one anther (excluding the yanks) were nearly equal, in fact a very slight edge to the Germans in raw numbers, if I recall. Likely not enough to win but...one never knows, does one? The American forces helped to seal the deal and make a remote possibility into an impossibility. They did not win it, no, but they did play a valuable role in winning it.

KuroFelidae #12 Posted 29 May 2016 - 03:46 PM

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If WW1 was a match a WoT one could say the the British and French carried the match while America was AFK for 90% of the match.


Edited by a flappin cod, 29 May 2016 - 03:51 PM.

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RPGStylee #13 Posted 29 May 2016 - 05:55 PM

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Who's been watching the great war series on youtube? Really really good and you should check it out.

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Sqn Ldr B #14 Posted 29 May 2016 - 06:22 PM

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View PostRPGStylee, on 29 May 2016 - 06:55 PM, said:

Who's been watching the great war series on youtube? Really really good and you should check it out.

 

Got a link?

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RPGStylee #15 Posted 29 May 2016 - 07:19 PM

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View PostSqn Ldr B, on 29 May 2016 - 07:22 PM, said:

 

Got a link?

 

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGreatWar

 

It follows the war week by week. The episodes are short, but concise, and the sources seem to be checked pretty well.


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MadCat1993 #16 Posted 29 May 2016 - 08:18 PM

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I think its safe to say this topic has s*** starter written all over it.  But to add to the mess, I think its safe to say the United States has been the financial backer for Europe in multiple occasions. After WWII, The United States started using preemptive strategies and taking the initiative.

Sqn Ldr B #17 Posted 29 May 2016 - 08:48 PM

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View PostMADCAT93, on 29 May 2016 - 09:18 PM, said:

I think its safe to say this topic has s*** starter written all over it.  But to add to the mess, I think its safe to say the United States has been the financial backer for Europe in multiple occasions. After WWII, The United States started using preemptive strategies and taking the initiative.

 

Well considering that the US got their arses handed to them in the Philippines and got caught on their back foot at Pearl Harbour and spent the first part of the Pacific/Asia campaign in a fighting retreat, I don't quite think that there was much initiative or pre-emptive strategy at play there before it all kicked off.

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XLilabnerX #18 Posted 29 May 2016 - 09:12 PM

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View PostSqn Ldr B, on 29 May 2016 - 08:48 PM, said:

 

Well considering that the US got their arses handed to them in the Philippines and got caught on their back foot at Pearl Harbour and spent the first part of the Pacific/Asia campaign in a fighting retreat, I don't quite think that there was much initiative or pre-emptive strategy at play there before it all kicked off.

 

America one of the newest nations and one not familiar with War pulls off a multi ocean war and a multi continent supply and deployment and you post something about a poor start as examples of not being pre-emptive. America's impact on both wars is nothing short of extraordinary.

Sqn Ldr B #19 Posted 29 May 2016 - 09:19 PM

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View PostTinysyokums, on 29 May 2016 - 10:12 PM, said:

 

America one of the newest nations and one not familiar with War pulls off a multi ocean war and a multi continent supply and deployment and you post something about a poor start as examples of not being pre-emptive. America's impact on both wars is nothing short of extraordinary.

 

But a poor start is not being pre-emptive. Being pre-emptive is being well prepared. You're not well prepared if you get completely clobbered in the first year.

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NimoysHeadinJar #20 Posted 29 May 2016 - 09:26 PM

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In fairness, Madcat said AFTER WWII.

Is this going to be another allies vs allies argument that no allies would ever have if they were, you know, at war?

World Wars involve the world. No one did anything all by themselves.


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