British retain a Naval and Littoral focus during WW1

Hi All,

This came up in the Victory in Europe 1944 - Effects on the British Empire and the Postwar World thread. @Carl Schwamberger asked:
Further digressing.. One wonders how that might have been avoided in the Great War. Britain seems to have lost its touch in the conduct of littoral & peripheral warfare.

When I answered with a text wall, he reasonably suggested that I spin it off into a separate thread. Which is what I am doing here.

There are kind of two issues to deal with here. One is Britain maintaining their contribution to the First World War as primarily naval, and the other is Britain re-establishing a littoral capability and focus. I will start with the first one:

The Royal Navy, the British public and both the British and French governments of the day all expected that the primary contribution of Britain to a European conflict would be naval. That only changed when the Navy was unable to put forward a coherent, well supported plan for the conduct of such a war to compete with that of the British Army.

This failure was largely down to the efforts of Jackie Fisher and Arthur Wilson. I have a lot of respect for both men as innovators, futurists (In Fishers case) and fleet commanders (In Wilson's case). But they both had serious flaws as leaders. Most relevant to this question is their commitment to centralizing war planning in their own person. Fisher was famous for creating ad hoc committees and stacking them with his own supporters so he could use them to push forward decisions more to his liking (not always successfully). This sometimes came at the expense of the nascent Naval staff that was the Naval Intelligence Division. This reached a head with Fishers feud with Beresford when it became clear that some of Beresford's figures had come from the head of the Trade Division of the NID. When the result of that Feud was that Fisher had a Naval Staff nearly forced on him he was able to assuage opinion with the creation of the Navy War Council. However the Council had basically no executive authority, meaning planning still rested directly with Fisher. It also allowed Fisher to transfer almost all planning authority away from the NID.

Fisher was noted to be a bit paranoid with his actual thoughts and plans (one reason he appears so mercurial) and this only got worse after the Beresford incident. He is noted for saying several times that the war plans of the Navy should only ever exist in the Naval Chief's head. He also claims that the only person he told any of his war plans to was Wilson. He was actually quite angry that Wilson shared as much as he did when brought before the Committee of Imperial Defence.

Wilson was equally centralizing and much worse at playing the political game than Fisher. Thus when the CID asked him for the Navies war plans he initially refused and eventually gave them the plan grudgingly and without the charisma to convince them of its feasibility. Without confidence in the Navy plan the CID decided that the Army plan of using the Army to support France on land should be investigated further.

There are probably a few ways this could be avoided. But the one I think would work best is actually twofold:

1. Create an official Naval Staff out of the NID planning division in the 1890's.
If there is an official, and established staff in place prior to Fisher coming in with responsibility for war planning then Fisher will have a much harder time centralizing all planning in himself. He may find ways to work around them but he will probably not be able to stop them from creating and expanding on plans based on the latest situation.

2. Have Prince Louis of Battenberg be accepted as First Sea Lord on Fishers retirement.
Battenberg had a mixed record as FSL IOTL but I am given to understand that this was partially as a result of the way that he got the job. He had been mooted as the obvious successor to both Fisher and then Wilson but in both cases the Cabinet were unsure both about having a Prince, technically from a German Royal House, in such a position. Thus he ended up playing second fiddle to both Wilson and Bridgeman. It seems that this got to him enough that he supported Churchill in removing Bridgeman in order to finally get the job that he had been passed over for twice. Since Bridgeman was a competent, respected and well-liked officer this move lost him most of his support in the Navy and his political support from outside of it (Including Fisher who had originally put his name up). This made him almost completely dependent on Churchill for his position and let Churchill more or less do as he liked at the Admiralty (including supporting the plan to send an Army to France).

If we avoid this by having Battenberg in the top spot after Fisher retires then you have a much more effective Battenberg in place for several years before Churchill even shows up. As a former head of the NID (Naval Staff in this instance) he is more likely to allow for the creation of a fleshed out war plan and to present that to the CID if the issue comes up, thereby probably keeping Britain on the trajectory of the Maritime war.
 
In regards to the second part, of how to have the Royal Navy retain a littoral capability:
The full story of the "Special Service Squadron of the Royal Marines is laid out in this article (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01402390.2020.1816972?scroll=top&needAccess=true).

As early as 1899 Captain Maurice Hankey of the Royal Marine Artillery, later to be one of the most powerful civil servants of the 20th century as simultaneous Secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence, first ever Cabinet Secretary and later Secretary to the Department of Defence, began investigating "warfare in the littoral" while serving with the Med fleet. He intended to write a book on the subject. He never did but he did use his investigations as the basis for several submissions, advocating for a dedicated naval amphibious capability.

The First of these was in 1904 when Hankey was attached to the coastal defence division of the NID's War Division (Headed by George Ballard, one of the NID's best war planners). Hankey laid out the benefits of using the Royal Marines as amphibious forces in seizing advanced bases for the prosecution of naval war against an opponent who had been largely confined to their ports. He laid out other operations for which such a force would be useful, and used examples both from historical and more recent wars as well as the reports of recent maneuvers conducted by the US Marine Corps in Subic Bay. At the time, Ballard was extremely busy (probably heading the committee that would produce the 1905 war plans) and he set the report aside for later consideration. This did not happen until over a year later but when it did, Ballard was extremely impressed. However he thought it would carry more weight with the Admiralty if it came from the Royal Marine authorities rather than the NID. He sent it to the Assistant Adjutant General of the Royal Marines to ask if an updated version is something that they would be willing to send to the Admiralty Board. He responded in the positive but it appears that Hankey never actually revised the report to send to him.

However, in 1905 he did push the idea when he was called as a witness before the "Committee on the Training of Junior Naval Officers under the New Scheme", saying that Marine officers wanted to study raids and the defense of advanced bases. In 1906 he wrote a paper that effectively advocated for the use of the Royal Marines as a fast response force, specifically in the seizure of advanced bases. In 1908 he co-wrote a paper on the "Organization of an Expeditionary Force" where he said much the same, that a small, well equipped force was needed that could be dispatched at short notice to seize an island, or a harbour on the enemy's coast as a temporary base, and defend that base from land attack. Finally he delivered a rough sketch of the idea to Winston Churchill in 1912.

Richard Phillimore also submitted a paper in 1906 with a similar conclusion.

However, the first serious action on the creation of such a force would take place in 1912. A few months after the removal of Arthur Wilson, Second Sea Lord Louis Battenberg would submit a minute calling for the establishment of a "Flying Corps of the Royal Marines". The name would later be changed to the "Special Service Squadron" to avoid confusion with the emerging field of military aviation. It was intended as a force that could seize an advanced base for the Fleet, either in British, Neutral or Hostile Territory. This proposal was to use 800 RMLI men from each of the bases at Chatam, Portsmouth and Plymouth and combined with 600 members of the RMA equipped with 4.7" guns on movable mountings, 12-Pounder guns on field carriages and 24 inch searchlights to create a dedicated force of 3000 officers and men. Bridgeman, the new FSL was enthusiastic, as was the Chief of Staff, Troubridge.

At the time the Navy were building up Scapa Flow. In an effort to economize the creation of an entire new naval base the navy were considering only adding fixed defenses on the largest and most easily accessible entrances and using portable equipment that could rushed to the rest in the event of conflict. It had been decided to test whether this was possible that same summer, and Battenberg felt that this would also give him a chance to test his own concept at the same time. This had the unfortunate effect of linking the use of the special service squadron with the defence of Scapa Flow. Thus when a later committee was set up to examine the squadrons role, its use at Scapa was included as something to be kept in mind (definitely a bit of Churchill ambiguity going on there). This confusion slowed down and muddied the issue and eventually during the war priority was given to the defence of Scapa and other Northern Bases and much of the strength that would have gone to the special service squadron was used in this purpose.

But, if Hankey had taken the AAG up on his offer to revise his initial report in 1905 (maybe 1904 if Ballard had been able to look at it earlier), then it is possible that the Special Service Squadron would have come into being before Scapa Flow was even considered. In 1911 Arthur Wilson put in a request to the War Office for the use of 6000 troops for the seizure of an advanced base in the event of war. This request was rejected. If the Squadron already existed and Battenberg is by this time FSL it is possible that he would simply look to expand the Royal Marines rather than try and deal with the headache of joint command. When war breaks out, it is possible that these troops are used for their original purpose, or if not, they could be useful in the defence of Antwerp. Later they could possibly be used at Gallipoli or a similar operation. Additionally, the need for further amphibious forces could be recognized which could lead to the training for further Royal Marine companies specifically for amphibious warfare allowing more than one such mission to be undertaken at the same time.

Nothing would be guaranteed of course, but it is a possible route to maintain a British littoral capability in WW1.
 
So, now that I have put out two text walls, does anyone care to comment. Does this seem viable? Am I out to lunch? Have I missed something important?

If you believe it is viable, how do you think this would have affected the First World War? Would it have been useful or changed nothing? Could it have been used for its intended purpose of supporting a closer blockade of the German North Sea coast or is it likely to end up in immediate operation in Belgium and later take large casualties at Gallipoli. Would it have made any difference in any of those operations?

What do you guys think?
 
IIUC the USMC had a similar idea to quickly throw together a defended base from a seized harbour or anchorage before WW1, complete with shore guns as well as a small infantry battalion and field artillery, but little practical progress was made for like a decade.

I like the idea of a coherent naval campaign/war plan, but even with one that includes the pre-war capability to seize advanced bases and conduct amphibious raids that during wartime could be scaled up into the capability to conduct semi-opposed Brigade or Divisional sized landings doesn't really address the security threat that evolved in the decade before WW1. As the Race to the Sea showed and books like 'The Riddle of the Sands' theorised the real security threat to Britain was the German Army/Navy camped on the Channel Coast, and even an awesome naval/amphibious campaign isn't going to effectively counter that as well as a land army of 7 growing to 10 divisions.
 
IIUC the USMC had a similar idea to quickly throw together a defended base from a seized harbour or anchorage before WW1, complete with shore guns as well as a small infantry battalion and field artillery, but little practical progress was made for like a decade.

I like the idea of a coherent naval campaign/war plan, but even with one that includes the pre-war capability to seize advanced bases and conduct amphibious raids that during wartime could be scaled up into the capability to conduct semi-opposed Brigade or Divisional sized landings doesn't really address the security threat that evolved in the decade before WW1. As the Race to the Sea showed and books like 'The Riddle of the Sands' theorised the real security threat to Britain was the German Army/Navy camped on the Channel Coast, and even an awesome naval/amphibious campaign isn't going to effectively counter that as well as a land army of 7 growing to 10 divisions.
That's true, though the actual immediate threat to Britain even in those circumstances is not necessarily fatal. WW2 showed that Britain is still unlikely to be invaded if the Royal Navy can maintain dominance.

But I think you do point to where an expanded Royal Marine force is likely to end up in the first part of WW1. Unless it is very quickly used to seize a forward base it will likely be diverted to Antwerp.
 
If the British had good doctrine for shore bombardment and littoral combat force we are likely to see a different Gallipoli and Dardanelles campaign. That said it is unlikely to be the prewar trained marines doing Gallipoli.

If you have troops trained for Littoral operations they are likely to be spent and wasted somewhere on the continent (Antwerp probably). You are not going to end up pulling off a landing on the German North Sea coast or Helgoland no matter how well focused on littoral warfare you are.

I feel that the lack of focus on littoral combat comes from focus on Germany as the main threat which is reasonable but at the same time disappointing. I wonder if British some of Britain's planning could be focused Italy as a member of the prewar central power vulnerable to Littoral warfare. It doesn't make sense to plan against the Ottomans as they were outside of the alliance system prewar.
 
That's true, though the actual immediate threat to Britain even in those circumstances is not necessarily fatal. WW2 showed that Britain is still unlikely to be invaded if the Royal Navy can maintain dominance.

But I think you do point to where an expanded Royal Marine force is likely to end up in the first part of WW1. Unless it is very quickly used to seize a forward base it will likely be diverted to Antwerp.

The situation in WW1 was different to WW2, mainly because during the interwar period the coastal shipping sector that formed a major part of the British domestic transport task in WW1 finally was crushed by the railways. This coastal shipping sector being so important was why Adml Bacon of the Dover Patrol opined that if the through Channel shipping was shit down 1/4 of London's population would have to be evacuated to where they could be more easily fed. In addition in WW1 the German navy was vastly more powerful than WW2; in 1916 they stationed 2 1/2 flotillas of fleet destroyers in a pair of tiny Belgian ports but had enough ships that if they held the real estate they could have made the Dover Narrows and eastern end of the Channel a dead zone. That would put Germany in the strongest form of warfare: strategic offensive/tactical defensive against Britain.

iOTL the Royal Marine Brigade landed at Ostend on August 27 and withdraw on August 30, then landed again with a territorial Yeomanry battalion at Dunkirk in late September before being reinforced by the Royal naval Division and going to Antwerp for the last few days of the siege. I'd imagine the RM with the capability to conduct raids and set up a forward base wouldn't be a hell of a lot bigger than OTL and not really suited to help garrison Antwerp redoubt. Even if it did then it would have ben landed on the Belgian coast, it couldn't transit the neutral Dutch waters to get to Antwerp via the Scheldt.
 
If the British had good doctrine for shore bombardment and littoral combat force we are likely to see a different Gallipoli and Dardanelles campaign. That said it is unlikely to be the prewar trained marines doing Gallipoli.

If you have troops trained for Littoral operations they are likely to be spent and wasted somewhere on the continent (Antwerp probably). You are not going to end up pulling off a landing on the German North Sea coast or Helgoland no matter how well focused on littoral warfare you are.

I feel that the lack of focus on littoral combat comes from focus on Germany as the main threat which is reasonable but at the same time disappointing. I wonder if British some of Britain's planning could be focused Italy as a member of the prewar central power vulnerable to Littoral warfare. It doesn't make sense to plan against the Ottomans as they were outside of the alliance system prewar.

The RND which included the RMB landed at Cape Helles on ANZAC day 1915, after doing the Ostend and Antwerp operations you mentioned. I don't think enough prewar trained Royal Marines were lost in these operations to lose the core skills of an opposed landing, the challenge would be to circulate these skills out of the RMB to the entire RND in the 6 months between Antwerp and Gallipoli. That said the RNDs combat experience at Antwerp would be a good primer for such intensive training, the Naval recruits blooding would allow the to concentrate on more advanced amphibious training rather than basic military skills and the fact they were Naval reserves in the first place would give them an edge over Army troops in shipboard life.
 
The situation in WW1 was different to WW2, mainly because during the interwar period the coastal shipping sector that formed a major part of the British domestic transport task in WW1 finally was crushed by the railways. This coastal shipping sector being so important was why Adml Bacon of the Dover Patrol opined that if the through Channel shipping was shit down 1/4 of London's population would have to be evacuated to where they could be more easily fed. In addition in WW1 the German navy was vastly more powerful than WW2; in 1916 they stationed 2 1/2 flotillas of fleet destroyers in a pair of tiny Belgian ports but had enough ships that if they held the real estate they could have made the Dover Narrows and eastern end of the Channel a dead zone. That would put Germany in the strongest form of warfare: strategic offensive/tactical defensive against Britain.
Possibly, though them shutting down the Channel depends on the response not being large enough to keep them from operating out of port. The British were likely even more aware of the importance of the route then the Germans were, and would have responded accordingly. It would also be more difficult to shift such units to the Channel coast if the North Sea Coast is under closer blockade (which was the whole point of seizing a forward base). Both due to the increased difficulty of moving them there (though this could probably be done), and because those units would be needed in the North Sea. Which could put the British in the position of the strategic offensive/tactical defensive.

iOTL the Royal Marine Brigade landed at Ostend on August 27 and withdraw on August 30, then landed again with a territorial Yeomanry battalion at Dunkirk in late September before being reinforced by the Royal naval Division and going to Antwerp for the last few days of the siege. I'd imagine the RM with the capability to conduct raids and set up a forward base wouldn't be a hell of a lot bigger than OTL and not really suited to help garrison Antwerp redoubt. Even if it did then it would have ben landed on the Belgian coast, it couldn't transit the neutral Dutch waters to get to Antwerp via the Scheldt.
How they are deployed depends very much on who is in charge of sending them and what plans are executed at the outset of war. IOTL Belgium was reinforced too late to make much difference. Though they would have been unlikely to turn the tide anyway.

Pre-war the Naval argument was more favourable to deployment in Belgium than the Army one was, so its possible the plan may be to deploy the Army to Belgium rather then the RM's. Or, if not, that naval forces are deployed earlier. Or that more or less the same things would happen as OTL. It depends on the strategic situation.

However, if we presume that the Royal Marines are intended to be used to seize an advanced base in the North Sea, and that that is still considered an achievable goal in 1914, then it seems like they were intended to be deployed immediately upon the outbreak of war. Additionally, the Admiralty wanted at least 6000 men, rather than the 3000 that Battenberg's proposal would bring. So there may be further recruiting in the years leading up to 1914.

IOTL the Royal Marine Brigade pulled a battalion each from Portsmouth, Plymouth, Chatham and Deal. If 6000 men was the goal they would have to expand the establishment beyond normal peacetime levels, which might be a hard sell given the naval estimates were already very high. If they managed it, further wartime increase it could mean two Marine brigades instead of one.

The RND which included the RMB landed at Cape Helles on ANZAC day 1915, after doing the Ostend and Antwerp operations you mentioned. I don't think enough prewar trained Royal Marines were lost in these operations to lose the core skills of an opposed landing, the challenge would be to circulate these skills out of the RMB to the entire RND in the 6 months between Antwerp and Gallipoli. That said the RNDs combat experience at Antwerp would be a good primer for such intensive training, the Naval recruits blooding would allow the to concentrate on more advanced amphibious training rather than basic military skills and the fact they were Naval reserves in the first place would give them an edge over Army troops in shipboard life.
The RND at was largely reconstituted prior to Gallipoli. Much of at least 1st Naval Brigade had been interred in the Netherlands and most trained men had been recalled to the fleet. The numbers had been made up from northern regiments that had been oversubscribed. 6 months is barely enough time to create a coherent force, it would probably not be enough to train specialist skills. Particularly as the Naval Brigades had no attached support units in their original formation.
 
Glad this thread was started.

The parallel development of the marines by the US Navy was noted above. That was influenced over several decades by the focus on War Plan Orange, and the Banana Wars. Those gave the US Naval planners a broad assortment of missions for expeditionary forces. A second influence was the lack of attention by the US Army to littoral warfare. I'll not touch on the reasons for that. Its enough to understand the US Army was paying little attention to the technical & operational side of littoral or amphibious warfare. There was a increasing attention to strategic issues. Those were touched on in the emerging Staff training and the embryonic War College, but precious little attention to landing operations, or command and control arrangements in a combined ground and sea combat force. This is important as during the 19th Century and earlier the ground combat force for Combined operations of both Britain and the US was of the Army. Marines remained through he 19th Century ships companies and port or base guards. Their role in intrusive operations onto land was in the form of ad hoc landing or raiding forces, that were either to be withdrawn very quickly, or relieved by a Army unit. This seems to be the general pattern for the Brits as well. No great corps of Marines operating as part of a Naval force, with the Army absent or as a following supplemental group.

On paper the US Marines as a organized landing force were in flux through the 1920s. The Expeditionary Brigades were not formally recognized until 1935, but as combined arms organizations larger than a battalion they existed from the 1920s. More than a emergency ad hoc group, but not quite something with a neat & published wire diagram illustrating the organization. The Nicaraguan battalions, or the provisional brigade of the 1927 Shanghai intervention are two examples. In this pre 1935 era the Base Defense Battalions (600 to 1200+ men) were the most formal of the lot. Rifle battalions were fairly stable, & a variety of other battery, company, and air squadrons existed. Rifle regiments or Marines were formed and dissolved as needed as were artillery battalions and regiments, or composite air groups.

It appears this effort of the RN anticipated that of the USN by a decade or two. Where the British Army stood in this is not clear. On the US side the lack or attention by the US Army to combined ops/littoral warfare drove the Navy to develop its Marines as its first use ground force. A secondary source tells by that 180 days into a war with Japan the US Army could only plan on 50,000 men for overseas service ready at that point. The need for base defense forces, and landing forces for early operations forced the USN to fill the requirement for a ready force itself. perhaps the RN felt it could depend on the Army for much of its combined arms needs? I recall the Army was practicing landing operations before 1939. The US Army participation was minimal in the 1920s. A half dozen exercises & never a larger than battalion committed. That ceased circa 1932 & its was not until October or November 1939 that division sized training in landings were ordered. The 3rd Division executed its first such in January 1940.

At this point it looks like there might be two routes for the RN to develop the technical or tactical capability. 1. Continue development with the proposals outlined above in this thread. 2. Have the Army identify a specific brigade or division as the combined arms formation & let the RN shape them in a cooperative effort. This would reflect the historical pattern of the Army supplying the ground combat component of the combined operations force for littoral warfare. Best might be a combination of the two.

Beyond all that the RN would need to better define its role in national strategy & more specifically how a peripheral & littoral strategy fits this. From that it can define & develop how & the forces required.
 
If the British had good doctrine for shore bombardment and littoral combat force we are likely to see a different Gallipoli and Dardanelles campaign. That said it is unlikely to be the prewar trained marines doing Gallipoli.

The problem here is that combining shore bombardment and a littoral combat force ideally involves the combat force being able to communicate rapidly with the guns of the shore bombardment to inform of and identify the location of targets to bombard. Without that communication, one is working with two separated functions.

The technology for that simply isn't around in 1914.

Developing a combined arms strategy requires the different arms to be able to respond to the needs of the others.
 
The RND which included the RMB landed at Cape Helles on ANZAC day 1915, after doing the Ostend and Antwerp operations you mentioned. I don't think enough prewar trained Royal Marines were lost in these operations to lose the core skills of an opposed landing, the challenge would be to circulate these skills out of the RMB to the entire RND in the 6 months between Antwerp and Gallipoli. That said the RNDs combat experience at Antwerp would be a good primer for such intensive training, the Naval recruits blooding would allow the to concentrate on more advanced amphibious training rather than basic military skills and the fact they were Naval reserves in the first place would give them an edge over Army troops in shipboard life.

One difference between the RM development & USMC is while the USN did not have formally organized groups above the battalion or occasional rifle regiment they did have a large enough pool of officers and NCOs trained in these companies and battalions to form at any time two, or more provisional brigades. To make the best use of a littoral warfare ground combat element such a unit needs to exist embedded in the Mediterranean commands much earlier. Preferably prewar. Having a brigade on hand in the Med in 1914, even if provisional or undersized, gives the RN a lot more flexibility or combat power for execution of coastal operations.
 
The problem here is that combining shore bombardment and a littoral combat force ideally involves the combat force being able to communicate rapidly with the guns of the shore bombardment to inform of and identify the location of targets to bombard. Without that communication, one is working with two separated functions.

The technology for that simply isn't around in 1914.

Developing a combined arms strategy requires the different arms to be able to respond to the needs of the others.
To be honest I was thinking more bombardment pre landing operations rather than combined arms per se.

A lot of the lessons from proper planning to provide shore bombardment were needed at the time.
 
The problem here is that combining shore bombardment and a littoral combat force ideally involves the combat force being able to communicate rapidly with the guns of the shore bombardment to inform of and identify the location of targets to bombard. Without that communication, one is working with two separated functions.

The technology for that simply isn't around in 1914.

Developing a combined arms strategy requires the different arms to be able to respond to the needs of the others.

The inability to execute 1940s technical actions is a thing, but its not a obstacle to developing strategy or operations in the context of the technology of the time. In 1898 Guantanamo Bay was seized against opposition & defended (for a coaling station) without the use of radios, gunnery radar, aircraft, or even shipboard gunnery computers (analog machines). Those things applied to the defense as well. As Grant implied in one of his observations, don't get hung up on your difficulties. Your enemy has those and others burdening him as well.

& yes I know what a FlailEx the Guantanamo landing was, but it succeeded, & served as a bit of experience to build on. Avoid it because of probable technical problems and you have neither a coaling station nor the experience.

Technical question. 1928-1933 the US Marines were directing close air support in support of platoon and company sized outposts. Vs targets as close as 100 meters. How was that done without radios?
 
To be honest I was thinking more bombardment pre landing operations rather than combined arms per se.

A lot of the lessons from proper planning to provide shore bombardment were needed at the time.

They certainly needed to be upgraded. The general principles tend to be timeless, the circumstances are always variable.
 
Technical question. 1928-1933 the US Marines were directing close air support in support of platoon and company sized outposts. Vs targets as close as 100 meters. How was that done without radios?

Oh, the British Army was using artillery in close support of advanced units back in 1918. It can be done (signals can be transmitted by means other than radio), but it needs an awful lot of training, and in 1914, the knowledge base for such simply hadn't been gained. It also involves being prepared to take blue-on-blue casualties. In 1918, it was reckoned (with some reason) that the number killed by shortfalls will be less than the number killed by enemy action unhindered by the artillery.

There's a huge learning process involved in getting effective littoral combined arms forces. One can have littoral forces, but the tempo they'll be able to achieve means that their usage is more restricted than might be thought. Take a relatively weakly held area, have the time to dig in, get supplied for further action. Those unfamiliar with such operations often limit their considerations to "get the troops ashore safely." That's only the first step. You need to be able to either exploit the landing, or be able to take the troops off. The first requires time and supply; the second turns the operation into effectively a raid.

If one is going to develop the concept, one needs to have prior experience. If you're looking at the British, then playing around with the Boer War might be the way to go. That gives time to try something out, learn the lessons, and adapt those lessons into procedure.
 
It will be less effective than might be thought. Artillery barrages without clearly identified targets usually are.

Which can trigger another deeply technical discussion between the difference and value of Neutralization vs Suppression of targets, ect.. ect.. ect...

More important might be the discussion about using your weapons as they are effective & not in some hypothetical manner they are not yet effective.

But all that devolves into the weeds of technical and tactical details.
 

nbcman

Donor
The inability to execute 1940s technical actions is a thing, but its not a obstacle to developing strategy or operations in the context of the technology of the time. In 1898 Guantanamo Bay was seized against opposition & defended (for a coaling station) without the use of radios, gunnery radar, aircraft, or even shipboard gunnery computers (analog machines). Those things applied to the defense as well. As Grant implied in one of his observations, don't get hung up on your difficulties. Your enemy has those and others burdening him as well.

& yes I know what a FlailEx the Guantanamo landing was, but it succeeded, & served as a bit of experience to build on. Avoid it because of probable technical problems and you have neither a coaling station nor the experience.

Technical question. 1928-1933 the US Marines were directing close air support in support of platoon and company sized outposts. Vs targets as close as 100 meters. How was that done without radios?
My guess that they were directing CAS by using colored smoke shells, ground panels, or something similar.

This is how it was done in WW1

Ground troops, unable to reach aircraft by radio, signaled their location or intentions with Bengal flares, Very pistols, cloth panels, mirrors, projectors and, when all else failed, by waving coats or other available garments.

And it continued into the 1930s:

Until the early 1930s pilots and ground personnel continued to rely on proven World War I methods to contact each other: dropping messages, setting out panels, flares, rockets, smoke, or whatever other imaginative means of contact they could devise

Above quotes extracted from 'HELP FROM ABOVE' Air Force Close Air Support of the Army 1946-1973 https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA439951.pdf
 
Oh, the British Army was using artillery in close support of advanced units back in 1918. It can be done (signals can be transmitted by means other than radio), but it needs an awful lot of training, and in 1914, the knowledge base for such simply hadn't been gained. It also involves being prepared to take blue-on-blue casualties. In 1918, it was reckoned (with some reason) that the number killed by shortfalls will be less than the number killed by enemy action unhindered by the artillery.

In 1929 the US Marines were using cloth panels spread on the ground to indicate the direction and range to the target. The pilots flying JN single engine bombers were able to follow those accurately. In 1984 I was surprised to learn our communications sections were still equipped with those. Signaling helicopters was apparently the primary intended use, but the Comm Chief did know how to signal target info with the panels.

In the case of Guantanamo Bay in 1898 the Naval gunfire was signaled with the common communications flags of the era. That connects to my remark about using your weapons or other assets as they are effective. in 1898 indirect fires with cannon were petty much Science Fiction, & in 1910 or 1915 very cutting edge

There's a huge learning process involved in getting effective littoral combined arms forces. One can have littoral forces, but the tempo they'll be able to achieve means that their usage is more restricted than might be thought.

Any attacking or intrusive force needs to be inside the defenders ODA loop. As much as that is depended on by successful commanders I'm unsure why its not better recognized as a foundation principle. The Ottoman Army of 1915 had limits in its operational & tactical Tempo. The presence of the Future Ataturk as a local commander stepped up their game, but thats one of the variables I referred to, & his absence during the first effort would be that too. Operating tempos for anyone are at a lower average pace in 1910 or 1915 than they were in 1940 or even 1930. The Ottoman commanders may have had telephones between CP, but as with most other armies using them for bets effect was not fully grasped by the average General, or the staff he had trained.
 
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