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Thread: History's Greatest Military Defeats

  1. #91
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    Having read the thread, may I offer some views.

    A defeat can be catastrophic, but less so towards a state with the resources to absorb it.

    I would define a defeat as one which results in long-term damage to a political entity.

    Carrhae and Teutoberg? Bad defeats, but Rome could deal with the losses, and neither destroyed the Empire.

    Myriokephalum? A defeat, but the Turks took heavy casaulties, and a large portion of the Byzantine army remained intact, and returned home. In later campaigns Byzantium still secured the Anatolian frontier and defeated several Turkish raids.

    How about the battle of Tenochtitlan? A great defeat because it dealt a lethal blow to Empire that was powerful only a few years before, and long-term result was disintergration and submission.

  2. #92
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    Is Myriokephalum meant to be Mezikrit??

    if so going by Edward Gibbson's history, that battle though unknowingly to both the caesar and Alp Arslan at the time, yielded Asia Minor to the Seljuks ... therefore definitly decisive
    Last edited by xerxes; 08 Jul 07, at 03:12.

  3. #93
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    Gallipoli

    There is some msiconception about Gallipoli..... We have some Turks here that call it a great militry victory for them, and keep 'shouting' about it as such.

    Have they ever actually twelved into it as such....it was not a great military victory led by a great miltry leader with sound stratergy...but the f'uckups we brits ensued in that disasterous campaign.

    it is a bit long but make an intresting read...and sorry for the spelling mistakes, I had to write this out.....


    -----
    World War 1 begun in August 1914, and by the end of the year, all along
    the weastern front, the British and French were caught in a deadly stalemate
    with the Germans. meanwhile, though, on the eastern Front, Germany
    was badley beating the Russians, allies of Britain and France. Britians
    militry leaders had to try a new stratergy, and their plan, backed by
    First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Chruchhill and others, was to
    stage an attack on Gallipoli, a peninsular on Turkeys Dardanells Strait.
    Turkey was an ally of Germany's and the Dardanelles was the gateway
    to Constantinople, the Turkish capital (Instanbul). If the Allies
    could take Gallipoli, Constantinople would follow, and Turkey would
    have to leave the war. In addition, usuing bases in Turkey and the Balklans,
    the allies could attack Germany from the southwest, dividing its armies
    and weakening its ability to fight on the weastern front. they would also
    have a clear supply line to Russia. Victory at galipoli would change the
    course of the war.

    The plan was approved, and in March 1915, general Sir Ian Hamilton
    was anmed to lead the campaign. Hamilton, at 62, was an able
    stratergist and an experienced commander. He and churchiil felt certain
    that their forces, including Australians and New Zealanders, would
    out-match the Turks. Churchill's orders wer simple: take Constantinople.
    He left the details to the gerneral.

    Hamilton's plan was to land at three points on the points on the southwestern
    tip of GalLipoli peninsula, secure yhe beaches, and sweep north. The
    landings took place on April 27. From the beginning almost everything
    went wrong: the army's maps were inaccurate, its troops landed in the
    wrong places, the beaches were much narrower then expected. Worst of all
    the Turks fought back unexpectedly fiercely and well. At the end of the
    first day, most of the allies 70,000men had landed, but they were
    unable to advance beyond th beaches, where the Turks would hold them
    pinned down for several weeks. It was another stalement; Gallipoli had
    becom a disaster.

    All seemed lost, but in June, Churchill convinced the government to
    send more troops and Hamilton devised a new plan. He would land
    20,000 men at Suvla Bay, some twenty miles to the north. Suvla was
    a vulnerable target, it had a large harbour, the terrain was low-lying
    and easy, and it was defended by only a handfull of Turks.
    An invasion here would faorce the Turks to divide their forces, freeing
    up the Allied armies to the south. The stalemate would be broken,
    and Gallipoli would fall.

    To command the Suvla operation Hamilton was forced to accept the
    most senior Englishman available for the job, Liutenant eneral
    Sir Frederick Stopford. Under him Majour General Frederick
    Hammeresley would lead the Eleventh Division. Neither of these
    men was Hamilton's first choice. Stopford, a sixty year old militry
    teacher, had never led troops in war and saw artillary bombardments
    as the only way to win a battle; he was also in poor health.
    Hammersley, for his part, had sufered a nervous breakdown the
    previous year.

    Hamiltons style was to tell his officers the purpose of an
    upcomming battle but leave it to them how to bring it about.
    he was a gentleman, never blunt or forceful. At one of their
    first meetings, for example, Stopford requested changes in the
    landing plans to reduce risk. Hamilton politely deferred to him.

    Hamilton did have one request. Once the Turks knew of the
    landings at Suvla, they would rush in reinforcements, as soon
    as the alies were ashore, then Hamilton wanted them to advance
    immediately to a range of hills four miles inland, called Tekke Tepe,
    and to get there before the Turks. From Tekke Tepe the Allies would
    dominate the peninsula. The order was simple enough, but Hamilton,
    so as not to offend his subordinates, expressed it in the most
    general of terms. Most crucially, he specified no time frame.
    He was sufficirntly vague that Stopford completely misunderstood
    him: insetad of trying to reach Tekke Tepe " as soon as possible",
    Stopford thought he should advance to the hills, "if possible".
    That was the order he gave Hammersley, And as hammersley,
    nervous about the whole campaign, passed it down to his colonels
    the order became less urgent and vagour still.

    Also despite his defrences to Stopford, Hamilton overrulled the
    lieutenant general in one respect: he denied a request for more artillery
    bombardments to loosen up the Turks. Stopford's troops would
    outnumber the Turks at Suvla ten to one. Hamiltons replied; more
    artillery was superfeous.

    The attack began in the early morning of August 7. Once again much
    turned bad: Stopford's changes in the landing plans made a mess.
    As his officers cam ashore, they began to argue, uncertain about
    their positions and objectives, they sent messengers to ask their next
    step: Advance? Comsolidate? hammersely had no answer. Stopford
    had stayed on a boat offshore, from which to control the battlefield-
    But on that boat he was impossilbe to reach quickly enough to get
    prompt orders from him. Hamilton was on an island still further away.
    the day was fittered in argument and the endless relaying of messages.

    The next morning Hmailton began to sensce that something had
    gone very wrong. from recce aircraft he knew that the flat
    land around Suvla was essentially empty and undefended; the way to
    tekke tepe was open, the troops had only to march, but they were staying
    where they were. Hamilton decided to visit the front himself. Reaching Stopford's boat late that afternoon, he found the general in a self congratulatory mood:- all 20,000 men had gotten ashore. No, he had not yet ordered the troops to advance to the hills, without artillery he was afraid the turks might counterattack, and he needed the day to consolidate his position and to land supplies. Hamilton starined to control himself:- he had heard an hour earlier that \Turkish reinforcements had been seen hurying towards Suvla. The Allies would have to secure Tekke Teppe this eavening, he said, but Stapford was against a night march. Too dangerous.
    Hamilton retained his cool and politely excused himself.

    In near panic, Hamilton decided to visit Hammersley at Suvla. Much to
    his dismay, he found the army lounging on the beachas if it were a bank
    holiday. He finally located Hammersley:- he was at the far end of the bay,
    buisly supervising the building of his temporary HQ. Asked why he had failed
    to secure the hills, hammersley replied that he had sent several brigades for
    the purpose, but they had encountered Turkish artillery and his colonels had
    told him they could not advance without more instructions, Communication
    between Hamersley, Stopford and the colonels in the field were taking
    forever, and when Stopford, had finally been reached, he had sent the message back to Hammersley to proceed cautiously, rest his men, and wait to advance until the next day. Hamilton could control himdelf no longer: a handfull of Turks with a few guns were holding up an array of 20,000 men from marching a mere four miles. Tomorrow morning would be to late; the Turkish reinforcements were on there way. Although it was already night. Hamilton ordered Hammersley to send a brigade immediately to Tekke Tepe. It would be a race to the finish.

    Hamilton returned to a boat in the harbour to monitor the situation. At sunrise
    the next morning, he watched the battlefield through his binoculars:- and saw, to his horror, the Allied troops headlong retreat to suvla. A large Turkish force had arrived at Tekke Tepe 30 min before them. In the next few days, the Turks managed to regain the flats around souvla and to pin Hamiltons army on the beach. Some four months later, the allies gave up their attack on Gallipoli and evacuated their troops.

    Interpretation
    -------------------

    In planning the invasion at Suvla, Hamilton thought of everything, He understood the need for surprise, deceiving the Turks about the landing site,. he mastered the logistical details of a complex amphibious assualt. Locating the key point Tekke Tepe from which the Allies could break the stalemate in Gallipoli, he crafted an excellent stratergy to get there. he even tried to prepare for the kind of unexpected contingencies that can always happen in battle. But he ignored the one thing closest to him, the chain of comand, and the circuit of communications by which orders, information, and decisions would circulate back and forth. He was dependent on
    that the circuit to give him control of the situation and allow him
    to execute his stratergy.

    The first links in the chain of command were Stopford and Hammersley. Both
    men were terrified of risk, and Hamilton failed to adapt
    himself to their weakness; his order to reach Tekke Tepe was polite, civilised,
    and unforecful, and Stopford and Hammersley interpreted it according to
    thier fears. They sae Tekke tepe as a possible goal to aim for once the beaches were secured.

    The next links in teh chain were the colonels who were to lead the assult on
    tekke tepe. they had no contact with hamilton on his island or with Stopford
    on his boat, and Hammersley was too overwhelmed to lead them. they themselves were terrified of acting on thier own and maybe messing up a plan they had never understood; they hesitated at every step. Below the colonels were officers and soilders who, without leader ship, were left wandering on the beach like lost ants. Vagueness at the top turned into confusion and lethargy at the bottom. Success depended on the speed with which information could pass in both directions along the chain of command, so that Hamilton could understood what was happening and adapt faster than the enemy. Tha cahin was broken, And Gallipoli was lost.

    when a failure like this happens, when a golden opportunity slips
    through your fingers, you naturally look for a cause. Maybe you blame
    your incompetent officers, your faulty technology, your flawed intelligence.
    But that is to look at the world backward; it ensures more failure.
    the truth is that evrything starts from thr top. What determines your
    faliure or success is your style of leadership and the chain of command
    that you design. if your orders are vague and halfhearted, by the time
    they reach the field they will be meaningless. Let people
    work unsupervised and they will revert to thier natural selfishness;
    they will see in your orders wgat they want to see, and their behaviour
    will promote theri own intrests.

    unlless you adapt your leadership style to the weakness of the people
    in your group, you will almost certainly end up with a break in the
    chain of command. Information in the field will reach you too slowly.
    A proper chain of command, and the control it brings you, is not
    an accident; it is your creation, a work of art that requires constant
    attention and care.
    Ignore it at your peril.!
    RG

  4. #94
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    I havent read much of Gallipoli that I remember, though I do remember that Lord Fisher was pretty pissed of Sir Winston and very seriously threaten to resign should the august HMS Queen Elizabeth was lost in the minefield.

    But the objective of the Angol-French mission was bold: to seize Contantiople by coup de main and knock out the Ottomans from the War, very much the sameway sometimes later Imperial Germany would swiftly knock out Rumania out of the war. That objective was not meant. I think it is safe to assume without being pro-Turkish, that Sir Winston's objective were not met and infact it was a debacle. Perhapes for the Turks it was a great victory, because of the very few that they had in that war.

  5. #95
    Actus Reus Senior Contributor sparten's Avatar
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    Battle of Nations in 1814. Napoleons would be on the defensive for the rest of his career.
    "Any relations in a social order will endure if there is infused into them some of that spirit of human sympathy, which qualifies life for immortality." ~ George William Russell

  6. #96
    FreeGeneral Senior Contributor Big K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simullacrum View Post
    There is some msiconception about Gallipoli..... We have some Turks here that call it a great militry victory for them, and keep 'shouting' about it as such.
    Simmulacrum....

    it was a great victory because this is the only war that land forces(Ottomans&Germans) fought against NAVY and Land Forces at the same time...

    when you take a closer look to the map of Gallipoli you can see that all the peninsula is in the range of NAVY's devastating guns...



    so only this makes it a great victory....but this is not the point...i or other Turks never "shouted"...this as a great victory..


    the greatness is coming from the friendship born during and after the war between Australians, New Zealand and Turks...

    theres many memorys written by ANZAC's which sad that they were misinformed about "AbdulTurk" but it was the gentlemen "Mehmet the Turk"...

    many acts of gallantry were seen from each side Anzacs and Turks...

    did you ever read the Ataturk's words?...

    read an learn my friend...read and learn how we treat an enemy who came to invade us...


    Visit Gallipoli | The Anzacs | Australians in war | World War 1

    oh! look is this a Australian site???....yes...

    and stop "shouting" against Turks...



    this is a picture of Turkish Soldier with a wounded ANZAC Officer in his arms...carrying him to the "enemy" lines...he carried him and gone back...no one shooted at him...

    other Turkish Soldiers...shows you differences between ANZACS / BRits and Turks...


    ONLY THIS!!! MAKES IT A GREAT DEFEAT!!!...

    i also advice you to read the picture below... read and quit ignoring...



    they became our sons too...
    Last edited by Big K; 09 Jul 07, at 09:39.
    Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none; be able for thine enemy rather in power than use; and keep thy friend under thine own life's key; be checked for silence, but never taxed for speech.

  7. #97
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    Have they ever actually twelved into it as such....it was not a great military victory led by a great miltry leader with sound stratergy...but the f'uckups we brits ensued in that disasterous campaign.
    Nice excuse. The fact is that in every BIG defeat there is a great military leader and a ****up. If one of these two factors fails, you have a not-so-big defeat. This can apply, for example, to your beloved Trafalgar (the ****ups here was the french leader of the combined navy), and the route of the Invencible (big navies coordination ****up on the spanish side) along with the nice performance of the brit leaders. Remove one of the two factors here... and remove too the big defeat.

  8. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesman View Post
    Losing a fleet at the Nile meant that Napoleon lost an army in Egypt, and eventually an empire.

    Losing a skirmish at Freeman's Farm meant the British lost a battle at Saratoga, and eventually the most valuable colony in the history of the world.

    THOSE are big goddam' crushing losses, folks.
    the USA was not a particularly profitable colony for Britain, far more money was gained from the Caribbean sugar plantations and the slave trade. America only became as wealthy as it did because it was able to establish itself as a young independent nation that attracted immigrants and had bountiful resources, because the British government was not really interested in the western expansion that made America the country is today.

    btw the answer should surely be Germany in WW2, it was utterly defeated and remade in the image of its conquerors (allies and soviets)

  9. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kansas Bear View Post
    Battle of Sarikamis, Dec 29, 1914-Jan 2, 1915.
    Turkey shall never forgive incompetence and ignorance of the commanders who lost tens of thousands troops even without fighting. After a winter winter offensive which was carried on with nearly no logistic support and prepration Russians found our soldiers frozen boddies huddled together.


    Dardanelles would be a crushing defeat for English if we could have prevented the evacuation or at least inflict serious casaluties but this was not the case.

  10. #100
    FreeGeneral Senior Contributor Big K's Avatar
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    TTL,

    dont take it offensively but i believe we dont need to recall this topic anymore...
    Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none; be able for thine enemy rather in power than use; and keep thy friend under thine own life's key; be checked for silence, but never taxed for speech.

  11. #101
    WAB Resident Historian Senior Contributor Kansas Bear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTL View Post
    Turkey shall never forgive incompetence and ignorance of the commanders who lost tens of thousands troops even without fighting. After a winter winter offensive which was carried on with nearly no logistic support and prepration Russians found our soldiers frozen boddies huddled together.


    Dardanelles would be a crushing defeat for English if we could have prevented the evacuation or at least inflict serious casaluties but this was not the case.
    Amazing how you found a year old post!

  12. #102
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    well this is the history forum afterall :D

  13. #103
    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
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    Battle of Karansebes
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  14. #104
    WAB Resident Historian Senior Contributor Kansas Bear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTL View Post
    well this is the history forum afterall :D

    Clearly explains your tenacity to find a certain post by a certain person........NOT!

  15. #105
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    I was just searching through the forum for topics that seem interesting, nothing deliberate

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