tv Sea Power During World War I CSPAN September 1, 2016 8:27pm-8:57pm EDT
if you're the germans and you're looking at it, maybe things aren't so bad. you still have these problems in terms of resources but russia's not going to be a problem going forward. the french are demoralized. and the effects of the submarine campaign against the british, you know, they are producing some solid effects. i can reference the numbers in that article that went out there. the germans are having some real success. jellico, when he meets with sims, hey, we're about to break. we need more stuff, and these submarines are keeping us from getting. but -- and i'm not trying to paint the picture, it's a sea power class. it's all about the navy. the navies are contributing to something else. the most important thing that the united states can do, if you consider how bad things are in 1917, what do you think the most important contribution that the united states can make? >> open up the seas back up. >> what does that mean? >> destroyers.
>> open the seas back up for the british. >> in particular, what's going to be the most precious thing? where does this war have to be decided ultimately. >> on the ground. >> so what do you need? >> people. >> troops. >> that's sort of a long way to getting back to saying about mobilization. payton c. march, another unsung hero of world war i because march is the guy who is going to organize the draft. you're talking about an army of -- i think the united states army at the beginning before world war begins is less than 2,000 people. by the time the armistice comes about, there are about two million soldiers in europe, with another two million ready to go. we go from 0 to 4 million. that's payton c. march.
he didn't make it into any of the readings. he's somebody we should keep in mind. that's a pretty substantial task. my old boss when i was teaching at west point, general dodi wrote a book called "empyrrhic victory", a great, great study talking about the french in the first world war. and i think i referenced this in that article that you were looking at. but the fact that -- as long as you can get those troops there, first a trickle and then a flood of healthy, you know, well equipped -- reasonably well equipped. they don't look like they're battle-worn, that's for sure. sort of big, american kids coming over who are just full of enthusiasm. they haven't been broken down by three years of fighting. that's huge. that's huge. because it's -- you know, this
has become the biggest military mistake that anybody could think of. i mean, if you're the germans, you think that you're done with france in a month and a half. in 1914. here you are. a little more than a month and a half left into this war and you have millions of casualties. >> at the same time, too, while america is coming in, their alliance with austria, hungary and turkey isn't really helping them at this point. the austria hungarian army -- >> they're doing the heavy lifting. this is a tough thing. if we look at the american contribution, not only so much people here could argue over this but it's not so much that we're going to produce these key victories as it is we're going to be there to, you know, bolster the morale of our allies but, also, if you're the germans and you've got these hundreds and thousands and millions of americans showing up, it helps to convince you that, you know what, we miscalculated.
and that's a big deal. so -- but in order to do that, in order to make that effect felt, you've got to get those guys from the united states over to france. and that's -- initially, it looks like it's a dangerous proposition. sims is going to be important in all of this because he recognizes the value of this -- you know, of this technology, the u-boat and the value of destroyers to combat these things and that's something that the united states has. it's kind of an interesting -- an interesting contrast. we think about pershing and using sims as the measure and sims and his men both write pulitzer prize winning memoirs after the war, or at least their names are attached to it. i don't know if they had any assistance in the writing.
but sims in his memoir, "the victory at sea," equates his role of being analogous of that of pershing, who is the commander of the american expedition. anybody remember anything about the way pershing behaves? is pershing a big fan of his european allies? >> no. >> does he have confidence in him? >> he's a huge believer in american exceptionalism and the idea that his troops are better because of where they come from. >> he does have confidence and, yeah, american troops are going to win -- which of all of the notions that he has, that might be the one that sort of has the strongest foundation because, again, we're not beaten down by three years of war. you've got americans that are fairly enthusiastic. you can look at the performance of marines. things like the marines at belleau wood.
these guys aren't stopping. they are going to keep going. the first infantry division, the first time that they are -- americans performed pretty well. the third infantry dwoygs this day, you know, the rock of the mar, the name, the nickname that they go by is associated with their performance in this war. and so there's enthusiasm. there's not necessarily that much ability. marines, the first division, third division, sort of picking on the cream of the crop. but pershing, is he a fan of amalgamation? the europeans, what do they want with american soldiers? >> integrate them in to the units that already exist. >> it's like, hey, we've got all of these experienced officers. why don't you give us your soldiers. >> right. a lot like our framework today where they are expecting us to educate, train, equip and then
send them over to a combat and commander and hand them over. >> yeah. if you're pershing, beyond having all of this confidence, in the world in your american troops who couldn't capture pancho villa -- sorry, just a swipe. beyond having all this confidence, though, it's like what do you think about the europeans based upon anything that you've seen over the last few years? >> i mean, you're watching french soldiers just get sent to their deaths in the thousands by what you perceive as poor decisions made by these commanders. so you're not really -- you don't want the same fate to be suffered by your troops that you're sending over. >> think about the battle of -- looking at the british. the year before the americans enter the war, we come to the war, what april 6th, 1917. not even a full year before. if you go back from june to
november of 1916 and looked at the british in the battle of the somme, does that fill you with confidence? by all means, let us give you a few hundred thousand american soldiers. so pershing -- and i'm not a big fan of pershing. if we follow his performance, he winds up having to step out of command himself because he is not achieving the results that he thought he would. but i do think it's somewhat founded that he doesn't have that much confidence in the military leadership of the allies. so let's flip that over and take a look at sims. we already talked about sims when these destroyers come over and that first slide. is sims uptight or reluctant to hand over these assets to british -- i mean, the ships are commanded by americans. so at the tactical level of war, you know, it's americans. commanding american ships. it's not like we sent ships over there and the british, you know, crewed them out and everything.
but bailey is in operational command. bailey's the guy who is more or less directing them from headquarters. so does sims come across reluctant to do this? >> no. >> why not? >> he realizes the importance of maintaining unity of command in this larger war effort. he realizes that by sort of investing in the british ideas about sea power and going along with their strategy, it's going to end up getting him the best results with his force. >> does he have -- go ahead. >> i was just going to say, he also realizes that he doesn't have the experience that the british do. the british have been fighting the germans for a few years now whereas sims, they are just coming over and -- >> sims is a -- he hasn't -- >> i'm not saying he's inexperienced. i'm just saying in that situation he might. >> let me ask you a question. because this is a sea power class.
has anybody surpassed britain in terms of setting a model of excellence? >> no. >> not close. >> in that second slide that we were looking at where we went through those naval engagements, right. coronel, absolutely a disaster for the british. did they recover from it? heck yes. the falklands? the british lost, the coronel lost about 15 plus, 15, 1600 people. they get more than that back on the germans. at the falklands. they haven't relinquished anything there. it's the germans, you know, preceding that. that's the germans running for cover. dogger bank. running for cover. even if you read german comment taters on this talk
about the victory at jutland, even if they sank or do more damage to the grand fleet, the grand fleet is big enough to absorb it. so there's nothing that has happened here that would make you think that the british are somehow incapable of wages war at sea. >> his role as an observer prior to the war, he had no delusions about american capabilities at sea compared to the british. >> yeah, we talk -- that goes back sort of earlier in his career when he was in paris as an attache. he was looking at all the other news and saying wow, we are so far behind everybody else. but that's years in advance. to be fair and even this out, before the war began, sims is an anglophile. he actually gets in trouble for voicing his support, kind of like everything we do here, you know, the views expressed in this lecture are those of the
instructor, not the air force academy, the air force department of defense. he didn't offer a disclaimer. he said that this is -- the united states will stand by britain to the last drop of blood, something like this. when the navy got wind of this, they were what the hell are you doing? you're not a diplomat. so he is in a sense inclined to view the english -- or the british, pardon me, favorably. but in fairness to sims, there's a reason that you would admire the british. they've got a fairly, you know, long tradition of doing things the right way. in this class, the biggest hiccup is fighting with the dutch. but that's, you know, way back in the early portion of the age of sail. certainly hasn't followed us into the 20th century. all right. so, you know, sims, like i said, is willing to trust and it works.
because if you think about it, what are some of the weaknesses in terms of submarines at this point? we talked about they are stealthy. but what are some of the weaknesses? it is going to be hard -- even if you don't have sonar, it is going to be that hard to combat submarines at this point? >> they have to come up to get air. they have to refuel a lot more frequently than we think of today. they are not that fast or have that great of range. they are kind of limited in their capability individually. >> yeah. you don't stay submerged, right? you spend more time under or on the surface of the water? >> surface. >> so if you're thinking about this, destroyers, how disruptive could they be? because if you force the submarines to go beneath, they can't stay there very long. and, you know, the response -- and this is the other thing, the
response to this is, the british have an idea of what needs to happen. sims in his memoir, a lot of people credit sims with coming up with this idea of convoys. but sims in his own memoir says the british have it in mind this is what they need to do. they just don't have the resources to get the job done. and sims is like, all right, we can help you with the resources here. and the idea of convoys, they have been around forever. remember we talked about admiral lansing, going back to the seven years war and beyond. one of his big victories, which i guess would have been with the war -- trying to think -- it would have been the war of the austrian succession. but you still -- if you have something that's precious that's traveling at sea, i mean, the idea of convoys, it's not brand new. it's just new in the sense that the threat, instead of coming from surface radars or coming from whatever on the surface of the water, now it's coming from under the water.
the idea was, why don't we do the same things? why don't we put combatants around our merchant ships. offer more protection. and initially, i mean, as per the discussion, if you're a merchant sailor, what scares you about convoys? >> they are larger than you just sailing by yourself so there's this idea that you're somehow easier to find. >> is that true? >> in a limited sense, but -- >> not really. >> -- it's a big ocean. >> why do you say why not? >> because the ocean is so big and a concentration of maybe 10 or 15 ships isn't that much bigger than one ship itself compared to the entire ocean. >> convoys can get pretty big but yeah. and you mentioned that too. it is a big ocean. our losses -- the losses that are -- where you still suffer losses in this, as the convoys get into proximity with the shoreline, when they disperse to
send their ships to the individual ports, then they become a little bit -- they become more vulnerable. but the idea that you're going to have great, big losses because you're traveling in convoys, at least in this war and as we move forward to the next war, the germans are going to have a lot of success initially against the convoys. but at this point, not so much. it really does cut down on the effectiveness of the submarines. the convoys work. destroyers work. cooperation with the british, at least in the war at sea works. it's a success. this is a success story. sims, for his part, it's kind of stealing or answering the question in advance but, i mean, generally, yeah. but if we ask is sims effective? generally, yeah. it's -- you know, american soldiers, we get a couple million people to aid our allies
and, you know, at a time when things look as bleak as they had ever looked, forces the germans to sort of accelerate their war making against us. they come up with some great tactical fixes, it looks like they've solved the problem of trench warfare in 1918. what do they come up with in 1918? >> infiltration tactics. so, yeah, wow, that's fantastic. but operationally, they can't support it. strategically it's big. but part of that is you're pushing these guys to move as quickly as possible so that they can drive the french and british out of this thing before the united states becomes effective. so march does a great job of filling the ranks and sims does a pretty good job of making sure these people arrive safely. you know, it's a big contrast -- the british love sims. they want to give him a seat on the admiralty board where the
united states are like, no, you can't do that. he has really bad relations if we're going to go into this, really bad relations develop or exist between him and daniels, the secretary of the navy, and it becomes really kind of bitter as time goes on. but daniels and wilson both aren't keen to see sims take this position. meanwhile, pershing, he emerges as the great american hero but the allies don't have a lot of great respect for him. he hasn't really showed them that, wow, this guy really knows his business. and the big point is, i guess he didn't -- we can argue this another time but i don't think he really had to show them that. i'm sure we could get into an argument about how much fight was left in the germans but, you know, the germans -- if you look
internally, they are pretty much near collapse. i mean, the next period in german history is the weimar republic. weimar, what the heck? some little artsy town off in the countryside. but you couldn't form a government in berlin. it was risky. the germans are getting ready to fall apart and the united states would play a role in that because how do you stand up against this new entry into the war. so, again, in order to make that impact felt, you needed somebody like sims who was, you know, willing to listen to the allies and called for the application of -- maybe not the resources that everybody back in the united states wanted to see participating in this war, but the ones he understood would be the best fit to the problem. all right. so -- and then a last thing --
yeah, i think that was it. a last thing, as far as going forward, as we move out of world war i, if we think about the last few discussions that we've had, how has war at sea changed? if you're a group of planners and this war is coming to an end, what are the things that you want to see in your navy? what are the competencies that you're going to work on developing? >> it's almost becoming more unconventional by traditional naval standards. like submarines are more involved, airplanes are starting to get involved at the end of world war i so they want to start developing those. >> you're becoming -- you're looking more from sailors being
proficient with their sailing capabilities, and you're looking more at them being technical experts as far as, like, you have a lot more technology on the seas and a lot more things that work than just sails -- or not sails, but steam engines. >> but that's been coming for half a century. >> right. >> anything else? >> you can't just rely on the power of a juggernaut. you've got to be more diverse in your naval capabilities anymore because of the emergence of submarines. it's changed the game. >> spread out those really, really strong commanders. because we talked about how, like, back when nelson was there, like if you were the best, that was shown by the type of ship that you commanded which if you command a first ship with line, you made it. but now, kind of like what he was saying with all of these
different parts are starting to kind of play, like anyone can really affect anyone else. you want to diversify to all of those commanders out. >> the logistics at sea have changed also because they're moving into steam, coal-power and eventually fuel-powered ships. if i'm going across the globe, i have to worry about fuel now and supplying that fleet with fuel from either my country or another country in the area. >> there was probably a bigger problem when you had coal-powered ships. and i can see where you guys are developing these ideas but let me throw this back to you. what are the biggest naval engagements of this war? >> jutland. >> jutland. does jutland do anything if you're a naval officer to change your evaluation of what are the best assignments?
keep it in mind, we finish this by talking about sims and submarines and, you know, understanding the technology is changing the face of naval warfare, that we didn't even talk about aircraft. aircraft are going to in a limited sense involve themselves in just about the same sorts of rules that we will see in the next war. but there's not going to be a head long rush to abandon tradition. so we think about this you get a glimpse of the future but nobody or there aren't so many people. simms is an interesting character because simms is willing to adapt. and he becomes, you know, sort of a supporter, if you will, of naval aviation, maybe naut most
popular thing early in its infancy. he is willing to accept that technology will drive a lot of change. there aren't so many people out there that are. >> you are saying that going into world war ii the idea of a decisive battle will give you command of the seas? >> largely. we think about it because we will discuss this the next time out. if we look at like german, you know, german building, ship building during -- it's a brief period of time. instead of falling back on experience of submarines germans rush to build major surface combatants. there's still this thought that you know sort of pervasive that to amount to something you have to be a captain at sea in the strongest ship that you can
find. submarines aren't going to be the biggest threat that the germans offer. it will be a real problem. same thing in the pacific. nothing will sink more tonnage than submarines submarines for the americans. that is not even a threat. at the beginning of the war it is not working so well and the japanese don't really send a lot of resources. we'll take a look. this is kind of a problem. that's where it it is a good place to leave off, what is at the back of your mind and what is at the foreof your mind in terms of what makes a navy great as we move in. people are going to have to make a lot of hard choices because there is not a lot of hard money to go around. i think that is about it for time. we'll catch you guys on monday. this week during american history tv primetime we feature
our lek clurs in history series, taking you into college classrooms across the country. each night we debut a new lecture. friday a look at how the u.s. transportation system developed. we begin at 8:00 eastern with a development of parkways and freeways from an iowa state university lecture. then from the university of virginia, a look at the impact of cars on u.s. cities. at 10:30 eastern, the development of the electric rail system taken from a clemson university lecture. american history tv primetime friday. this weekend we'll explore the literary life and history of denver, colorado. on book tv we visit the tattered cover book store founded in 1971. it's considered the cornerstone of literary culture of denver.
>> the original barnes and nobel superstores were modelled on this. >> juan thompson talks about living with his father and his book "stories i tell myself." >> you know, he was born in 1936. he didn't grow up in an era where fathers were typically heavily involved in raising kids, so that was part of it. second, writing was an important thing, family was secondary, for sure. >> also this weekend as part of our cities tour, some history of denver, colorado, on american history tv. national fish and wildlife service ranger on the rocky flats nuclear site's transition into a national wildlife refuge. so we do have elk that use this area, they use the drainages for cabbing. we also have mill deer.
cocasually there's a bear in this area. >> and then kimberly field, author of the book "the denver mint: 100 years of gangsters, gold, and ghosts," talks about how the mint changed the city. >> by the 1880s, denver itself had gotten rich from mining, and it wanted to become the queen city of the plains, the center of commerce, the leader in the western united states. and the city fathers at that point decided that a mint they could be proud of was going to be part of that process. >> the c-span cities tour of denver, colorado, saturday at noon eastern on c-span2's book tv and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span 3 working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country.
next we look at how world war 1 soldiers interpreted their war experiences. profess professor ishenwood looks at ways soldiers coped to the transition to civilian life. this class is about an hour 20 minutes. >> all right. we'll go ahead and get started with today's class. today we're covering as you can see, disillusionment of the first world war disillusionment and how we should approach the topic when we examine issues of the great war's memory. i'm going to begin this class in a way i never thought i would begin a class on the first world war's memory. i'm going to begin with a