Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hill 145 & The Pimple

General Arthur Currie

After 3 years of carnage, where the life-blood of entire generations from four continents was left in the soil of Europe, someone on the front lines was given real power to realize a plan that hopefuly would see the Allies out of four years of senceless death. That person was Canadian General Arthur Currie.

Curries plan was the logical progression of the ever increasing complexity of modern war. In order to take the 'The Pimple', the high ground that enables German artillary to dominant the great plain around Passchendaele just beyond Ypres - Hill 145 just to south and in range of the Pimple must be taken at the same time.

On Hill 145 the north and south parts of the division do well, but the center is annialated by artillary from the Pimple. By the end of the day however special forces using tactics designed specifically to take the Pimple are successful and the Canadians hold both hills. The advance through the centre is secured. Now the giant machine, ney a city swings into action to exploit the new reality.

Currie had an understanding of the bureaucratic systems and probably the logistics of the great German General Field Marshal Alfred Graf von Schlieffen; but more importantly I think, a first hand knowlege of the devastating effects of the more accurate, powerful and abundant artillary.

Currie created a mammoth information gathering and disemination system, and supply infrastructure that looked like a modern government bureaucracy. Planners ingrated real-time statistical information into battle plan. Like a coiled steel snake about to strike, it was designed to move quickly and powerfully in a synchronised fashion. It was designed not only to win battles but exploit them with powerful, rapid advances. This was one of the first successful examples of what later became known as Combined Operations.

The intricate planning that resulted in the taking of one of the flanks we all know as Flanders Fields. It's where the beautiful peom comes from, from where the Rememberance Day Poppies come from. It was the first battle in the First World War where the Lines moved Miles rather than Yards. It was the beginning of Blitzkieg, Asymmetric warfare or Combined Operations.

No credit to the Canadian Military hierarcrhy, they buried Currie after the war. Thankfully we learned his lessons again in time to contribute to the victory over Fascist Germany in the second go around, 22 years later.

If your a soldier in the Canadian Forces now, this should be compulsory reading, check it out.

Links: For King And Empire -a Great documentary, great web site, great maps!

Canadian Government Archives: War Diaries -gotta read those original sources!

The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation - West Points leading edge theory


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