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It's a battle to plan: a WW1 Case Study - Jonathan Crone
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It's a battle to plan: a WW1 Case Study - Jonathan Crone


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  • You may have heard the phrase ‘Lions Led BY Donkeys’ – perhaps unfair. Many officers led from the front and were the first to die
    But it is true mistakes happened

    Army of Conscrips – Lads Brigades

    Retired officers using old tactics

    Class structure –
    Lack of trust
    poor communication
    lack of learning/arrogance

    So why am I talking about the Somme?

    Not an historean

    Some ten years ago……………….

    The Somme is largely considered a failure or at best a means to an end. But rest assured the brave officers and troops who participated did not go there to fail – remember the cheering in the video
  • We often find pressure to start projects quickly – eg The Somme

    Or we simply find it hard to invest the time early on to set-up our controls, not just the planning, a much broader definition

    Leads to the Effective Planning Model that I have used extensively and when hearing the tale of this particular battle I recognised a lot of similarites
  • First introduced to me when working on T5

    I was drawn by its completeness and in particular how it combined strategic, tactical and human factors

    Build model
  • Does anyone recognise this date?

    The Day Canada came of age

    In comparison with Somme, Ypres, Dervil Wood and other scirmishes, it was a the first real success of WW1

    Whilst not invented in 1917, the ‘Project Manager’ of this particular battle applied all of its techniques, using his own instincts

    Will now run through the battle, using examples and at times comparing with the Somme and will demonstrate how the model could be used
  • Memorial

    Lie of Land

    German Positions

    Previous attempts had failed
    French lost 150,000 in 3 separate attacks
    British tried too
    Germans had built the strongest fortress over 2 years
    Canada would attack with 50,000 troops less than the French had lost

    First time the British had trusted a colonial army to lead a battle
  • Career Soldier
    Withdrawal plan from Gallipoli
    Different approach to British officers
    Treated troops as adults
    Byng Boys
    Learnt from the Somme
    Set direction or vision for the battle

    Can already see a cultural element in his direction

    Guess a true Vision would be something like maximum destruction of German resistance with minimum casualties

    Would have taken over the army if war had gone on much longer!
  • Not a typical soldier

    fat, bedraggled, ‘Guts and Gaiters’

    Civilian in Canadian Militia (he had to pay

    Teacher – Insurance Broker – Estate Agent

    Acknowledged as one of best tacticians

    Affinity with troops

    Attention to detail

    Not a professional soldier – no ‘fetishes’

    Learning – mistakes, open to ideas
    Planning – in detail
    Comms – everyone knew what was expected
    Trust – young officer
  • Creeping Barrage:
    No break in artillary no chance for Germans to get ready
    Needed to be accurate

    Machine Guns:
    Changed their use – light artillary

    Counter Artillary
    Two young offiicers playing with sound detection
    Not Cricket

    Currie workedo ut that men fought for their mates
    Created multi tasking teams - Luitenant,
    3 seargents,
    15 riflement
    `` 11 bombers
    11 rifle grenaders
    six Lewis gunners
    2 scouts
    1 stretcher bearer
    All with interchangeable skills
  • Training –
    Vimy Glide – 100yds/3 mins
    Mock battlefield
    Bayonet drills

    Trench Raids:
    Never wasted

    40,000 trench maps
    Details d the plan
    A private could become a corporal
  • Re-grouping:
    Interchangeable skills

    Divisional identifiers
    Planes flying overhead

  • Plus everything in view had to be hidden
  • Haig

    Some people in Canada regard themselves rather as Allies than fellow Citizens of the Empire

    On top of this:

    Currie treated all men as equal
    Trusted people to do their job
    Encouraged his officers to do same

    Created an environment for success
  • By the time of the battle Currie had the best trained, prepared and equiped troops in the Army

    Im shells – Week of Suffering
    300,000 rounds pper night per machine gun

    BATTLEFIELD – 4 segments, 4 divisions, had to work together

    During night – troops brought up into position

    5.30 Shelling stopped for a moment – guns recallibrated
    Creeping barrage started
    Mines exploded
    Troops left trenches – some got excited and walked too fast

    250,000 shells fired in 1hr 30 mins
    7m machine gun bullets

    Battle was viscous, many casualties, many acts of individual and group bravery, several VC’s, some postumous

    6.05 – black line (6.26 biplane with claxon)
    7.13 – Red line
    11.15 – Blue line
    1.30 – Brown line

    Fourth Division had worst job but by end of day even they succeeded
    That evening – Captain HS Cooper wondered how the Germans had let them do it, they had a complete field of fire
  • Transcript

    • 1. EVA 19 Jonathan Crone 19th May 2014
    • 2. • A global top-tier engineering, procurement, construction contractor and power equipment supplier • A reputation for safe, on-time, on-budget delivery of high-quality, technically advanced energy and industrial infrastructure and facilities, which start up as planned and perform reliably • 2013 operating revenues: over $3.3bn • NASDAQ-listed company with operating HQ in Reading, UK • In business for more than 115 years • Permanent offices in 30 countries, with 13,000 employees world-wide • Two business groups: – Global Engineering & Construction (E & C) Group – Global Power Group Foster Wheeler - in a nutshell
    • 3. The Battle of the Somme 1st July to 18th November 1916 750,000 men 420,000 casualties 12 km ground taken 60% officers killed 27 divisions 1,500 guns 24km front 1.6million shells
    • 4. ‘It’s a Battle to Plan’ ‘Poor Projects don’t plan to fail, they simply fail to plan’ 3
    • 5. Purpose Vision Strategy Objectives Processes Structure/ Infra. People/ Resources Culture Measures Effective Planning Model
    • 6. 9th APRIL 1917 5
    • 7. The Canadian Memorial, Vimy Ridge 6
    • 8. Purpose/Vision 7 ‘What I want is the discipline of a well trained pack of hounds. You find your own holes through the hedges. I’m not going to tell you where they are. But never lose sight of your objective. Reach it in your own way.’ Lieutenant-General Sir Julian Byng
    • 9. Strategy 8 • Learning • Planning • Communication • Trust Sir Arthur Currie
    • 10. Objectives 9 Attack Attack Attack Attack Re-group Re-group Re-group 2 ½ miles
    • 11. Processes 10 • Creeping Barrage • Machine Guns • Counter Artillery • Platoon System
    • 12. 11 People • Training • Trench Raids • Trust
    • 13. 12 Structure & Infrastructure • Platoons • Re-grouping • Clear accountabilities • Communication Structure:
    • 14. 13 Structure & Infrastructure • 30 miles of road • 20 miles of tramway • 6 miles of tunnel • 45 miles of pipeline • 600,000 gallons water per day • 87 miles cable Preparation:
    • 15. 14 Culture and Values • No ‘History’ • Self sufficient • Meritocracy • Independent • No class system
    • 16. 15 ‘The Battle’
    • 17. 16 Results Somme (Day 1)Vimy Killed 3,600 19,000 Wounded 10,600 39,000 Men in action 100,000 150,000 Dead:Wounded 1:31:4 Objectives All met None % Casualties 14% 39%
    • 18. 17 Effective Planning Model Purpose Vision Strategy Objectives Structure/ Infra. ProcessesCulture People/ Resources
    • 19. 18 Effective Planning Model (2) Purpose Vision Strategy Objectives Structure/ Infra. ProcessesCulture People/ Resources • Creeping Barrage • Use of machine guns • Platoon system • Platoons • Logistics • Training • Trench Raids • Trust • Clear Scope • PEP/Baseline • Objectives • CSF’s • Learning • Team structure • Clear accountabilities • Systems • Logistics • Training • Skills • Empowerment
    • 20. 19 So What? ‘The Vimy Ridge has been considered as a position of very great strength; the Germans have considered it to be impregnable. To have carried this position with so little loss testifies to the soundness of plan, thoroughness of preparation, dash and determination in execution, and devotion to duty on the part of all concerned.’ General Horne, First Army Commander
    • 21. ‘Lest We Forget……..’ 20 Acknowledgements: All pictures and video clips The Imperial War Museum Our freedom! The Allied Armed Forces
    • 22.