Dying In The Mud – Autumn Is Taking Its Toll I THE GREAT WAR – Week 10


October 2, 1914 The Great War has raged for two months with
hundreds of thousands of soldiers losing their lives in some of the bloodiest battles in
history but a new and unforseen factor now entered the war and would play a huge part
in determining its course: with the October rains came the mud. I’m Indy Neidell. Welcome to the Great War When we left off, the British, French, and
German armies in the west had reached a stalemate at the Battle of the Aisne, and in the search
for new advantages the trenches had begun growing to the northwest in the Race to the
Sea. The Russians were pushing the Austro-Hungarian army back into Austria and were also heading
north into Poland to engage the Germans, and both the war in the air and the war at sea
were getting serious. It was now autumn in Europe, and one thing
we see that was a regular feature of the war was mud. Endless mud. The Austrian army had barricaded itself in
the fortress town of Przemsyl, 120,000 strong, now entirely behind Russian lines, and the
Russians began a siege on September 26th. The Austrians had always planned and determined
to hold Przemsyl, but the preparations were typical of the last minute ramshackle efforts
of Emperor Franz Josef’s army- half of the guns were out of date pieces that still used
black powder and loads of the shells turned out to be duds, and though they did build
a whole bunch of last minute defenses, including 30 miles of new trenches, they never got around
to chopping do wn the trees near the fortress town, which the Russians had the pleasure
of using for concealment, but the Austrians at least this time had the mud on their side. You might except the fortress to fall fairly
quickly since so far this war no fortress on either front had been able to hold out
against the power of modern artillery, but the Autumn rains had turned the ground outisde
the fortress to mud for many miles, and it was too heavy and too deep for the Russians
to bring their artillery close enough, and the initial Russian attack would do nothing
except produce 40,000 casualties. The Russian General Ivanov was not pressuring
them with his whole force, though. He had send 30 divisions to the north a week ago.
He now decided he wanted to re-group all of those forces on the east bank of the Vistula
River to launch an invasion of Germany. This turned out to be a stunning piece of incompetence
on Ivanov’s part as it resulted, seriously, in weeks of marching and no fighting at all,
with men and horses starving to death and falling by the roadsides during the march
through the muddy Polish autumn. So you have one army digging in and one army
on the move, which on the surface sounds similar to the western front, with some men stuck
in the trenches, while the others were on the move. There the race to the sea continued, with
the Germans and the French trying to outflank each other and the trench lines growing and
growing toward the coast. Now, on September 26th, the Germans began
bombarding the forts around Antwerp. Liege and Namur had fallen and Antwerp was the last
bastion of Belgian resistance. Thing is, the allies seriously needed as long a resistance
in Antwerp as possible. Once the Germans conquered it, they could quickly move to the ports of
the English Channel, which would force the British to retreat to western France, and
which would represent a very real threat to Britain herself. If Antwerp could hold out
for even just a week, the British could get in place a defensive line in Flanders blocking
the coast, and from there could ideally launch an offensive to liberate Belgium and push
the Germans back across their own border. The Belgians by this point were understandably
demoralized and began sending their archives and national treasures to Britain. On the evening of October 2nd, came a meeting
of British giants- Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener, Foreign Secretary Edward
Grey, and Winston Churchill, who you probably remember more from the Second World War than
this one, but was at this point First Lord of the Admiralty. Realizing that continued
resistance in Antwerp as long as possible was essential for the war effort in France,
Churchill himself would go to Antwerp and spend the next three days in the trenches
or meeting with the Belgian government. But trying to get them to continue to resist
in general was an uphill battle- and one big reason is that the Belgians could not dig
trenches for protection; the ground between the forts and the city had been deliberately
flooded and digging trenches was impossible. Once again, we see the mud of October determining
the direction of the war. It was dire straits in Antwerp indeed. Imagine being Belgian in 1914. Your little
country, your neutral country had been overrun and turned into a war zone and your cities
bombed and in some cases burned, and you had nowhere to run. While the war at home in the
other warring countries might not have been in such a state of crisis, it was very much
in a state of flux. Think about it- you suddenly have all sorts
of new rules and regulations on your life, rules which would continue for over four years.
Germany, for example, banned speaking English in public while Russia banned the German language.
Even speaking German on the phone was a 3,000 ruble fine and you were liable to be sent
to Siberia for speaking German in person. Yep, Siberia. Soup kitchens were established in towns throughout
Europe to provide for families who’d suddenly lost their source of income. France did a
good thing here: they imposed a moratorium on rents and paid an allowance to the families
whose breadwinner had gone to the army that was in many cases more money than the family
had made before the war. The French government considered the price worth paying to sustain
morale. But if you were fairly poor and relied on
some form of consumer trade for a living, you were out of luck, and the pawnshop was
probably your new best friend. You can also really see the social divisions
in, for example, Britain in labor issues. Trade unionists who had made truces with employers
when the war broke out were now seeing many of those same employers making tons of new
profits and wondered why they weren’t getting a share. The friction that arose from this
would lead to dramatic work stoppages, and by 1915, three million working days would
be lost in Britain because of industrial disputes. New industries sprang up like lightning to
create nouveaux war rich: spades, shells, canvas, leather, explosives, canned food and…
pencils and paper. See, most Europeans were literate by 1914
and the war produced a colossal amount of correspondence. If you look back at the Franco-Prussian
war 40 years earlier, during the entire war the Prussian army received about 500,000 pieces
of mail. In 1914, the German army received 9.9 million pieces of mail EVERY DAY. Here’s a weird fact that I got from the
pages of Max Hastings’ book “Catastrophe” about Lord Kitchener: There’s an industry that you might not expect to boom during wartime goat farming. Everybody was playing some part in the war
effort, at home, at work, or on the battlefield, and in the colonies of the empires things
were no different. The German colony in what is now Namibia was
probably their most profitable colony, right? With both diamond and copper mines. Well,
this week saw the Battle of Sandfontein. The brilliant German general Heyderbreck,
with a force of 1700 mostly native riflemen, sprung a trap on the South African forces,
surrounding and overwhelming nearly twice his number of men, after cutting the phone
lines so that backup could not be called in. Funnily enough, after the South Africans surrendered,
both sides all hung out together, and Heyderbreck and Colonel Grant, the leader of the South
Africans, congratulated each other and discussed the battle. By 1915 the Germans would be forced to surrender
in southwest Africa, but they won a string of victories in 1914 that were really important
in tying down South African troops and preventing them from heading to Europe to help the allies
in the major battles that fall. So at the end of the week, the Russians were
wandering around the Polish mud and laying siege to the Austrians in the Austrian mud.
The French and Germans were still shelling each other in the trenches at the ongoing
battle of the Aisne, but the Germans were now pushing to take Antwerp, the last free
city in Belgium, and the British were rushing to defend it, while in Southwest Africa the
Germans were being exceptional and tying down the South African troops. In September 1914, the war of rapid victories
ended as the war of continuous battles in the trenches began, and as October began the
autumn rains turned the battlefields of Europe to mud in both the east and the west, making
marching excruciating and making life in the trenches torture. Over the next four years,
millions of men would die in the filthy mud of Europe, many of them nameless, faceless,
and unsung. See you next week. If you want to know more about the early weeks
of war, check out our first episodes from July 28. Please recommend our show to your
friends or even to your history teacher and let us know what you think in the comments.

100 thoughts on “Dying In The Mud – Autumn Is Taking Its Toll I THE GREAT WAR – Week 10

  1. I read "The Guns of August" by Barbara Tuchman years ago. Reading this book gave me a different perspective on everything in the series up to now. I like how you mentioned Max Hastings' book "Catastrophe" at 7:05. I'll read it. I believe that hearing the same history told by at least two different narrators is both the best way to determine the most relevant facts (because they'll be repeated), and the best way to assess the historiography (was there a whole new chapter in the newest story?). An example is the French revolution, I've heard the story of the French revolution 5 times, 4 times focusing on France, once focusing on San Domingue/Haiti. 4 times I've heard about how the Gironde were reasonable businessmen with a modern worldview and the Jacobin were crazy radicals. And once I've heard about how the Jacobin could read the writing on the wall and the Gironde were greedy fools living in the past. Do you have a recommended reading list about WWI? Secondary sources please (though I was a history major I do not have the time to research primary sources).

  2. Pause at 9:18 and you will see a dead soldier wearing a wedding ring. So sad that this man would never return home to see his wife and children ever again.

  3. I just want to say amazing channel, keeping track of all this events is something wonderful.

  4. Just a thought here. After the race to the sea was over, why didn't the British just bombed the shit out of the Germans behind the line in northern Flanders with their dreadnoughts?
    Naval guns are more powerful than field ones, right? and the Britons had naval superieroty.

  5. hahaha black powder?? Get it together Austria! They're like the pot smoking drop out child of the central powers.

  6. I've just found this channel, great work. Will you be doing for WW2 starting 2019? (this week 80 years ago)

  7. Siberia isn't a bad place. In Mexico there's a kind of restaurants called 'La Siberia'. You can taste Tacos, tostadas and chicken soup.

  8. 8:02 Man! This is the kind of anecdotes for which I love "old school" wars.

  9. it is amazing how many original "films" you were able to obtain for this series, I really appreciate you making the effort for a youtube video, and therefore preserving, what might have been lost in history. Thank you, and not just you, you handsome bastard, but the whole crew of your channel 🙂

  10. i really wish i had known about this channel from the beginning it is one of the best channels on you tube

  11. And here we see the military industrial complex getting serious taste of riches.

  12. "3 million working days" is at least 8200 years. Is that statistic right?

  13. To be completely fair the germans asked for passage to France which was literally all they wanted but Belgium refused now i think Germany did heavily over do it but it could of been easily avoided

  14. E non era ancora finita. Durante la seconda guerra mondiale, agli immigrati tedeschi (e francesi dell'Alsazia) in America che ancora parlavano tedesco fu proibito di parlare i loro lingue e dialetti con grandi manifesti che dicevano: "Non parlate la lingua del nemico! Parlate americano!"

  15. Anyone here watched Joyeux Noël (English: Merry Christmas)? It's one of the reasons why Mystic has long since been interested in this conflict. A heart warming movie that questions the humanity of those involved in war ;P

  16. This is truly a terrific channel. This medium, especially with the short, digestible, well-organized episodes, would be perfect for a high school section on the war. The supplemental material could be customized to fit the standardized curricula across districts. We would have a country with kids who respect the gravity and import of this conflict, and you guys would be rewarded with fat loot from educational contracts. Make it happen!

  17. Will these videos ever be available on blue ray or DVD?

  18. Try being a Belgian in ww1? Try being an Estonian or Latvian or Lithuanian in ww2!

  19. Heiderbreck sounds like one helluva guy, just imagine that aftermath though lol. Just chilling after the battle and dishing out punditry instead of punishment. Proper gentlemen

  20. And it's hard to use a trench tool, in the cold October Rain. G&R

  21. it's like a good tv show the bad part is you already know who's going to win

  22. how d hell is it possible that u did something this quality for free. thats historical

  23. Top show, indie and co! You do great work for the benefit of us all!

  24. Its crazy how one game (Battlefield 1) got me interested in WW1…I learn alot about WW2 but knew almost nothing about WW1 except when it started and when it ended. I love this channel thank you!!!!

  25. Fazit: nächstes Mal Österreich angreifen und Frieden mit allen anderen halten…
    (next time attack Austria and keep peace with all the others)

  26. Was the ban on speaking an opposing nation's language introduced to make it easier to find spies?

  27. As someone whose interested in archives I appreciate the archival work that went into this with videos and primary documents. Thank you.

  28. You rock keep it up you should cover the new world war three with North Korea U.S China Syria and Iran

  29. I love this channel, awesome work. I would like to see a series like this on the Spanish civil war and the American Civil war. Interested?

  30. a little bit of local WW1 history relating to those same Indian troops. It doesn't matter when you go there, there's always flowers of some sort placed there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chattri,_Brighton

  31. Churchill was a flunked lawyer and politician and then a drunk for a few years before joining the military and what he was known for in ww1 and ww2

  32. I really enjoyed the talk of the economic policy of France and what was happening with industry. I study economics so I really enjoy looking at history with a focus on that.

  33. Fracking Austria. How did it become an Empire I ask you? :0

  34. When I first started watching this channel I knew a ton on World war 2 but almost nothing about the Great War. I love your show and your channel is the best educational channel on YouTube with the possible exception of military history visualized. Best thing about your channel is your are for the most part unbiased

  35. I love this channel and this series it is just great. Well organsied, well researched and well executed. But on Sandfonetin you're well off Indy. Joachim von Heydebreck wasn't a General he was a Lieutenant Colonel also only a very very small fraction of the german forces in german southwest africa where natives. Most where germans and actually served in the german army from where they volunteered for service in the Schutztruppe in southwest africa. There where about 140 officers and 2000 NCOs and others ranks as regular schuztruppe members in 1914 after the beginning of the war about 2500 reservists (german citzens living in gswa) where called to arms and about 600 boers volunteered for service (about 200 of Heydebrecks 1700 men at Sandfontein where boers) there might also have been a few austrians living in the colony that have served in the schutztruppe. But in gswa there where only three units with natives during the war (that I know of) a company sized unit of the back then so called rehobot baster a understrength company sized units of former members of the cameroon schutztruppe that where exiled to gswa after a revolt in cameroon at the beginnign of the war they where promisted their freedom to return home in return for their service (a promise the british kept sending them home in 1917) and an about half company sized unit of Nama. All of these 3 company/half company sized units where kept away from action, used for 2nd line duties and where all disbanded before the end of the campaign. However in other german colonies like german east africa and cameroon the schutztruppe was made entierly of native other ranks lead by german Officers and NCOs.

  36. 7:40 Oh no. Namibia wasn't as profitable as you thought. Diamonds weren't mined there yet.

  37. As a Michigander the best comparison to Belgium would be like if Wisconsin fought New York with us in between

  38. what about Italy? have they even been mentioned thus far in the series?

  39. this channel is awesome
    isn't there a new show rather than this? I'm about to finish it

  40. Best rendition of "The Great War", yet! Nidell (probably originally Nydahl, Swedish) is a great narrator and makes this series truly interesting!

  41. Yeah my great-grandfather paid for seven farms (actually more than seven) and ended up owning most of the old downtown area of nearby Boling, Texas during WW1– he got rich selling hay to the government to feed horses and mules for the Army at $1 per bale… which was HUGE money back then!

    Later! OL J R 🙂

  42. One thing I learned from other sources is how many young men died of gangrene from infected wounds. The British for one had fought in the more-or-less sterile soil of South Afrika in their latest war; French and Belgian farmers had used manure for fertilizer for centuries, so the churned up soil and mud was rich in bacteria.

  43. a British, a French, and a German walked into a bar…. all three were covered in mud

  44. I don't understand the logic in forbidding speaking your enemy's language. Yes, I understand the anti-espionage element of it, but there's also a great advantage in having a number of people who can understand what the enemy is saying.

  45. "Even your history teacher!" I literally learned about this channel when some guy in my history course brought it up to the teacher. I'm glad he followed this suggestion.

  46. One thing in any war that doesn't change, fighting a modern war with tactics and weapons from the previous war!

  47. That's kinda funny: two enemy forces fighting each other, surrendering, and then having a grand ol' time reminiscing…..I mean, didn't people die during this battle? huh…

  48. Austrians weren't worth a damn at all. Garbage led by idiots, friends of the emperor.
    Germany should have learned not to ally with a country having a weak, incompetent military.

  49. What these poor soldiers went through……I'm astounded, amazed, inspired and very sad.

  50. The French had a much more compassionate system by paying families whose husbands, sons etc went to war a monthly sum and their reasoning for it is sound. Soup kitchens and burnt out buildings in Belgium 🙁 gosh that's sad. They copped it indeed. Today its so beautiful and the Somme is a very peaceful yet eerie place to visit.

  51. The Guns of August
    The Spades of September
    The Mud of October
    …this could go on a while.

  52. Banning English in Belgium is one thing, but banning German in Germany? What? What is the populace supposed to speak? Most of them probably only know German.

  53. I looked how many videos you have about THE GREAT WAR : 209. Thanks these fantastic videos and pictures..I will be watched all in two weeks..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *