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Which era would have been the worst era to be a soldier?

Discussion in 'World History' started by sendos, Oct 27, 2020.

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Which era was the worst era to be a soldier?

  1. Ancient/classical era (4000BC to 500AD) - swords, spears, bows and shields

    6 vote(s)
    19.4%
  2. Medieval era (500AD - 1600AD) - add better armor, some rudimentary gunpowder weapons

    1 vote(s)
    3.2%
  3. Renaissance (1600-1900) - add muskets, more advanced gunpowder

    3 vote(s)
    9.7%
  4. WWI (1910-1920) - trench warfare

    18 vote(s)
    58.1%
  5. WWII (1939-1945) - more dakka

    2 vote(s)
    6.5%
  6. Mid 20th century - even more dakka

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. Modern day - add drones with that dakka

    1 vote(s)
    3.2%
  1. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Deity

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    Gallipoli gets the popular attention here but Passchendaele was our biggest blood bath.

    The odds were not good for enlisted men if you joined 1914 to making it to 1918.

    Earlier wars easier to reset. It was kind of like a job. Don't want to be there leave but that could get you executed.

    That happened a lot less in WW2.
     
  2. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Deity

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    Yeah, there were a lot of Canadians and Scots there, too, I think.
     
  3. Akka

    Akka Moody old mage.

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    Or Verdun. I think Verdun might be even worse, due to its deliberate attempt to be a battle of attrition, and as such to draw out the fighting as long as possible in a purposeful slaughter.
     
    EgonSpengler likes this.
  4. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    In the classical age you'd still see - from time to time - personal combat between champions (or generals) of armies.
    One of the most famous cases being, of course, Pyrrhos, who was basically a hero apart from a great general.
     
  5. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    I'm going to buck the trend and go with the 30 Years War. All the muck of the Great War, with even more plague and without the benefit of a modern logistics network.
     
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  6. The Civs 6

    The Civs 6 King

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    I think there are statistics that basically say that if you got shot pre-Pasteur, you probably had a 20% chance of dying. Post Pasteur it was lower. But the chance of fatality from a melee weapon in pre-modern times was something like 50%, because the medicine was even worse back then.
     
  7. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Gonna say World War Two, with qualifications. IF you were a front line (rifle company) infantryman, then the doctor's rule of thumb (in both US and British Armies) was that if you spent 90 days in the front line, in contact with the enemy, 100% of the company was either killed, wounded, or crazy - PTSD, 'Combat Fatigue' or whatever you want to call it. IF, on the other hand, you were not a front line infantryman you might not ever see any combat at all: 50% to 80% of all army troops (the 50% being German or Soviet, the 80% being USA) were not in the front line at all unless things went really, really bad fr their side, so short of being run over by a tired tank or truck driver or having a crate of rations dropped on your foot, you were as safe as if you were back home.

    The sheer stress level of unrelenting front line combat in the 20th century was enough to break any human being, physically or mentally. The reason WWI isn't at the top of my list is that the armies manning the trenches on the Western Front had plenty of reserves and rotated men out of the front lines - nobody spent 90 days in contact, whereas both British and American divisions were almost all in continuous contact with the enemy in 1944 from the time they landed in France until they broke into Germany and started headlong pursuit in early 1945.
     
    caketastydelish likes this.
  8. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    I got to personally know a nobody then :lol: long deceased of course. You're off by more than three months.
     
  9. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    That was too broad and flat a statement, which I realized almost as soon as I typed it. The ideal in all armies was to rotate companies, battalions or regiments out of direct contact with the enemy on a regular basis, but circumstances altered that a lot. I know in the Imperial German Army the expectation was that normally only about 1/3 of the battalions should be in the front line in direct contact with the enemy - the situation that the military psychologists/psychiatrists in WWII found caused near-universal breakdown of the individual eventually. I am less familiar with the 'norm' that actually existed in the British or French armies, or the American Expeditionary Force once they actually got into contact with the enemy, which was mostly in the last six - ten months of the war.
     
  10. PhroX

    PhroX Deity

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    The Entente definitely rotated their units out of the frontline regularly. It's also worth noting that being on the frontline and being in combat were not the same thing. Most of the front was quiet for most of the time. Where there was fighting, it tended to be sustained, but, compared to the length of the trench lines, relatively localised. I'm sure in the past I've read estimates that British soldiers were, on average, only involved in active fighting around 1-2 days per month.
     
  11. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    The problem is not only the stress of modern combat, which is considerable, but the stress of Constant Fear of Death when there is nothing between you and thousands of men trying to kill you except a few hundred meters and some barbed wire. Added to that is the 'random' nature of both WWI and WWII Dangers, when artillery, mortars, bombs, mines, snipers all seemed to suddenly affect people with neither warning nor reason. After the war, and using data from both WWII and Korea, the US Army's medical establishment put together a book called Wound Ballistics, which essentially cataloged all the ways modern war can hurt or kill you. They had to also point out that some weapons had huge psychological effect all out of proportion to their actual effectiveness at causing physical casualties: enemy snipers, for one example, on a percentage basis hit very few people out of all the potential targets, but the Fear of Snipers at the front caused major stress, and stress-related casualties. Bottom Line: being "in contact" and under the stress of Potentially becoming a casualty was enough, over time, to produce Stress-Related Casualties and, of course, we now know that such casualties can be far more serious and long-lasting than they appear when they first manifest.
     
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