The First Tank-on-Tank Battle in History – The Zeebrugge Raid I THE GREAT WAR Week 196


Week after week in this war, something new
happens that the world has never seen before, and this week is no exception. This week sees the first tank on tank battle
in history. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week, the German Offensive in Flanders
continued, but looked like it was stalling, the Ottomans advanced in Eastern Anatolia,
and the British and the Arab Revolt took a big section of the Hejaz Railway in Palestine. Here’s what followed. Actually, something we haven’t seen very
often- an amphibious operation- followed. The British Admiralty report read (Chronology),
“a naval raid was made on Ostend and Zeebrugge… with exception of covering ships the force
employed consisted of auxiliary vessels and six obsolete cruisers. Five of these, filled with concrete, were
used as blockships… and, in accordance with orders, were blown up and abandoned by their
crews” This was a Royal Navy plan to prevent the
Germans from using the Canal there as a submarine base for attacks in the North Sea. See, 10km inland from Zeebrugge were concrete
submarine shelters impervious to allied air attack. That base at Bruges also had workshops, storage,
floating docks, everything to maintain, repair, and arm the German submarine fleet. An average day saw 18 subs and over 20 destroyers
there, since the canal was big enough for even a light cruiser to pass. Vice-Admiral Roger Keyes planned the operation
to sink ships and block the canal. The Mole guarding Zeebrugge harbor was stormed
and a lot of its facilities destroyed, the railway viaduct there was too, but the ships
in the canal were not sunk in the proper place and within two days German subs could use
the canal at high tide. British casualties were 583, Germans 24. A simultaneous attack on the canal entrance
at Ostend, which also led to Bruges, failed to block the entrance. The Royal Navy was determined to try this
new tactic again in a few weeks. And speaking of casualties, the publication
this week of “Das Neue Europa” estimates German war losses – killed, wounded, or missing
– up to last August 1st at 5 million. They had, however, one extremely notable loss
this week. On the 20th, Manfred von Richthofen, the Red
Baron, shoots down his 80th plane Northeast of Villers-Bretonneux behind German lines. On the 21st the Red Baron himself dies, shot
down above the Somme by either Canadian airman Roy Brown or Australian infantry that fired
at him from the ground. Richthofen managed to land the plane but when
the nearby Australian troops reached it, he was dead. When you think about it, the Red Baron is
probably the most well known symbol of this war, and the most recognizable name. Kids who don’t know who the Kaiser or the
Tsar were or any of the generals, still know the Red Baron, so this was a major, major
loss for Germany in terms of morale. And even in the field, they were having morale
issues. So far, German Quartermaster General Erich
Ludendorff had no real concrete achievements to show for either Operations Michael or Georgette,
the enormous offensives of the past month. The Germans were just short of Amiens, just
short of Hazebrouck, and close to the pair of Mount Kemmel and Mont des Cats that dominated
the Ypres region. Taking any one of those things would have
been a real trophy, but Ludendorff didn’t try to take one, he tried to do everything
at once. On the 24th the Germans advancing toward Amiens
took Villers-Bretonneux, and this attack featured the first ever tank on tank battle. Georg von der Marwitz’s Second Army attacked,
and the attack included 13 German A7V tanks. The A7V “Nixie” met three British Mark
IVs. Two of them were the female version that was
only armed with machine guns that could not penetrate the A7V’s armor, and they were
both forced to pull back when damaged, but the male, with its six pounder gun, disabled
Nixie and its crew had to abandon it. The Mark IV then met two more A7V’s that
retreated. There were also seven of the new British medium
Whippet tanks that came into action, running down or machine gunning the enemy. Three of the Whippets and the male Mark IV
were also disabled or destroyed that day. The next day, the British and Australian troops
recaptured Villers-Bretonneux The purpose of this operation was to make
it possible to move up more forces for a renewed attempt to take Amiens. This operation cost the Germans 8,000 casualties
for no gain. The forward edge of the Michael salient was
again static. The Mount Kemmel attacks began well the 25th,
and the Germans reached the top by 0810. The defenders had been swept away, and Mont
des Cats was right ahead and wide open. Thing is, by now Ludendorff was wary of big
unexpected success that took his men too far into worthless terrain, as we saw in Operation
Michael, so he ordered the attack to stop when it took Kemmel and then await instructions. So all day long the Germans waited there and
failed to exploit one of their best opportunities of the year. The British finally arrived and began filling
the gap late in the day. When the Germans renewed the attack the next
day, they were stopped. German General von Kuhl said that if the Germans
had taken Mont des Cats, the British would have had to abandon not only Ypres, but also
their positions on the Yser nearby. The Germans planned to resume the attack the
29th. There was one army that was just joining the
attacks, the Americans. On April 20th they were in action on the St.
Mihiel salient. (Gilbert) Two companies, 655 men, were attacked
by 2,800 Germans including many shock troops. The outnumbered Americans fell back, 2/3 either
killed, wounded, or missing. American Commander John Pershing – in spite
of the terrible odds – was angry at what he thought was terrible American generalship,
and he was only prevented from removing some senior officers by them being awarded the
Croix de Guerre by the French as a boost for American morale. But Anti-American feeling was really high
in both British and French high commands and governments. Lloyd-George wrote, “This kind of result
is bound to occur on an enormous scale if a largely amateur United States Army is built
up without the guidance of more experienced General officers.” Thing is, as we’ve seen, when the US joined
the war a year ago, its army was under 100,000 men, and of course training and equipping
and sending over hundreds of thousands of men in a matter of months was not going to
magically provide an army of the quality of experienced French and British troops that
had been fighting at the front for nearly four years. American divisions were twice the size of
the other Allies, the main reason being that they didn’t have enough officers for standard
division size. Winston Churchill though (Gilbert), whose
mother was American born, said that the real problem at the front at the moment was German
superiority. And the Germans were influencing people who
were not even really part of this war. On the 20th the details of intentions of the
Finnish White Party are published in Stockholm. 1) to defeat the Reds
2) to establish a monarchy on the German pattern 3) to control the Murman railway and have
an ice free port in the north 4) to make Finland part of a confederacy stretching
from the north cape to Baghdad. And on the 21st the United Diets of the Baltic
provinces request that Germany form them into a monarchy under the King of Prussia. That would be giving up independence, but
down in the Caucasus this week the Tiflis Diet proclaimed the independence of the Transcaucasian
Federative Republic. The head of the government, the Georgian Menshevik
Gegechkori, yielded his place to another Georgian Menshevik, Akaki Chenkeli, who was in Trabzon
as leader of the peace negotiations with the Ottomans. In the field, the two sides were fighting
near Kars, and there was a muddle when one side learned of an armistice a day before
the other. Since the conditions included the Armenians
retreating from the region, the Ottomans entered Kars the 25th. It was a few months over 40 years since the
storming of Kars under Armenian Loris Melikov. And that was the week, the death of one of
Germany’s greatest, if not the greatest, legends. Transcaucasian independence, Americans in
battle in France, a naval raid in Belgium, Germans blowing a big opportunity, and tanks
fighting tanks for the first time in history. The attack on Villers-Bretonneux was one of
the first big operations where the Germans utilised their A7V tanks. Which means that the British infantry soldiers
also had to experience fighting one of these for the first time. The following is from tank commander Ernst
Volckheim who was attacking that day with his tank “Alter Fritz”: “The enemy is only 400m in front of us,
which makes it easy to observe him… at 4:30 we climb into out Kampfwagen, which gently
roll forwards as if they knew what was expected of them… at 6:30 we – three Kampfwagen as
one group – are commencing our attack… at 6:58 we are crossing the first line… all
hatches and flaps are closed, weapons are readied. Dense fog surrounds us… multiple smaller
artillery guns are targeted and silenced… There is no noticeable enemy fire so far – it’s
eerie when our heavy colossus is rolling over machine guns and men alike. You better don’t look. But you can see the enemy so close by; only
the protecting armor is between us and him… You can close in on the enemy and he can’t
hit you with the rifle butt or even shoot at you… It’s only 7:12 when we see the houses of
Villers-Bretonneux through the fog right in front of us. We are surrounded by intense artillery fire. You can feel the impact through the air when
they are close by. Later on we find out that this was our own
barrage… (An enemy) steps outside the houses and sees
our vehicle, a German Kampfwagen for the very first time, and runs back into the village
panic-stricken. Some lay down forever because our forward
machine guns and the main canon’s canister shot are doing their work… We arrive where the infantry is being attacked
from a fortified brickyard. Rapid fire is hitting us… It’s coming down like a hail storm because
there must be almost 20 machine guns firing which we return fire on.” They took the brickyard and around 150 prisoners
and advanced together with the infantry. The men were cheering, “Hooray, tanks!” Hooray, tanks. If you want to learn more about the German
A7V tank, we filmed an episode about it at the German Tank Museum and you can find out
more about that right here. Our Patreon supporter of the week is William
Novotny. Please consider supporting us on Patreon if
you want to have more special episodes like the one about the German WW1 tanks. And don’t forget to subscribe, see you next
time.

100 thoughts on “The First Tank-on-Tank Battle in History – The Zeebrugge Raid I THE GREAT WAR Week 196

  1. The first hand account of the tank commander at the end was a nice touch, nothing beats hearing how things happen than hearing from soldiers who were there, in there own words.

  2. The red battle flyer
    Red like fire
    He sees no faces
    He's the Ace of Aces

    His British quarry flew a reckless flight
    A shot from the ground took the Red Baron's life
    He flew with honor
    He flew with pride
    In 1918 the battle flyer died

  3. just one note that you guys didnt say on the episode of "brazil on the ww1" that is worth mention. The grandsons of the emperor of Brazil ( Dom Pedro the second) fought on the war as europeans, since their family was banned from the brazilian republic, they went to the france( because of their father was the conde d'eu) and austro-hungarian(their uncle was the emperor) where they served for a few years before the war and when the war started they served the british army ( because of their parents also have british blood). After the war 2 of them died because of diseases from the war, and the third one did stay on france as a veteran of the war.

  4. I'm hoping that the great war continues into the aftermath of the first world war, such as the dissolution of Austria Hungary, Russian civil war, Turkish War against Greece, German internal turmoil and so on…

  5. kanalimda tarihten ilginc hikayeleri yayinliyorum izleyip abone olarak destek olursaniz sevinirim .**https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEyeCNgsmj2Gm_vOo7ycYEw?view_as=subscriber

  6. Hey Indy! Love the show! I have two questions. What happened to the trenches and headquarters’ right after the war? And what will happen to this channel after November 2018?

  7. As a former Canadian soldier I agree with the Australians that their bullet killed Manfred Von Richthofen. However, that would not have been possible if it hadn’t been for the Canadian airmen who faced off against the most famous ace in history in his final battle.

  8. hey guys, did you saw this old animation about the area of amiens? Also to the end you can see from where they collected the troops to hold the line of Amiens. cheers!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpDBZtFlwss

  9. in one of the movies involving Richtofen his plane was shown doing a low flying pass over Michel with the infantry chearing him etc before they got wasted by artillery fire had any planes done low flights to the point that they could be engaged by rifle fire etc?

  10. I don’t think the Red Baron is well known in modern times. I work at Walmart & whenever I see someone buying Red Baron pizza, I ask them if they’ve heard about the real Red Baron. I haven’t had a single customer say yes. For most people, he’s a pizza brand not a historical figure.

  11. I was watching black lightning, and i swear the chief douchebag of the ASA looked like Indys racist uncle. I mean no disrespect, the guy just looked familiar and i think i got my finger on it and needed to express the idea somewhere, not having any friends who are viewers of The Great War.

  12. Great channel, you have interesting conten, but why do you only cover WWI. Why not cover other wars? Is it just because WWI Is the most interesting to you or because its what your most knowledgeable in? Do you think you would ever run out of content on this war? You should do a collab with LindyBiege both you guys are very knowledgeable on what you talk about. You should also do ww2 videos also when your done talking about the great war week by week and do a week by week of ww2.

  13. Was wondering how you'd pronounce Zeebrugge, I've heard worse :p
    It's weird to me that English pronounces Zeebrugge so differently from Bruges, because Zeebrugge just literally means "Bruges at the sea" or "Sea-Bruges".

  14. an amazing series. have been watching since episode one! when I was little there were still a few people who actually fought in WW1 still around like Harry Patch. Its interesting to see the conscription side of things from the British as when history was taught at school, the theme was that the war was so great they had endless lines of people wanting to volunteer with children pretending to be older to get in, such was the enthusiasm. Please Indie could you do a special on the role of the Boy Scouts in the war. As far as I know they were just messengers, but did they have any other parts to play and how exactly did they get involved in the 1st place?

  15. It was ANZAC Day this week. The history of Villers-Bretonneaux has been very popular, the current and previous Prime Minister were in France for the commemoration.

  16. HI Indy. Was wondering if you would touch on Sir General Monash and his upcoming exploits from Le Hamel where he was the first foreigner to command American troops in battle (he used the breakdown in communication to his advantage) too his new use of tanks in battle that if hardly/never implemented before.

  17. strangely indy, so focused on the tank clash, missed the first real issue this week. the amphibious raid in Belgium. as RN vessels laid down covering fire royal marines came ashore in small craft for silence harbor defenses so give the navy time to put the block vessels in place before they all legged it. A war later this would have been called a 'commando raid' andi t really was the first such combined arms raid- hit and run- to evolve. in the later war the admiral who led it would in 1940 be given command of forming the Commando forces.

  18. If you can find it. Watch out for a documentary called "Monash and Me" From the ABC Australia.

  19. 1/365 days out of the year, and I was born on the first tank vs tank battle. Wouldn’t change the date for any other

  20. When Indie doesn't mention Sir John Monash or the fact that Villers-Bretonneux was primarily an Australian operation </3

  21. Uboats, air attacks, tank on tank battles… The British sinking their own ships in attempt to clog water ways with wreckage… Are you sure this isn't the second world war?

  22. I like your old intro, this new one is morbid and depressing (if that's what your going for then ok)

  23. I read a book many years ago about flying Aces of WWI. The author said many allied pilots flew and dropped flowers out of respect for the Red Baron during his funeral.

  24. as with Richthofen, the simplest explanation is the best:
    The canadian pilot hammered his plane and pilot so bad that he had to land (but NOT dead).
    The australian thinking he would be the national hero if HE would KILL the baddest of the HATED enemy has NO QUALMS in EXECUTING the wounded Red Baron.
    Following is a hypocrite british respectful burial of the Red Baron.
    I am SURE von Richthofen was simply shot to pieces by the infantry man (= simple folk…).

    Make no mistake, even if after the war(s) the british PRETEND to be chivalrious and sportive and "human", on the actual battlegrounds IN WAR they most CERTAINLY are NOT.
    Many examples (you have to look in books for it ..casually mentioned) in WW1 WW2 and also in Afghanistan and Iraq how common british soldiers maimed, mutilated, etc their wounded enemy ….
    Don't believe the BBC docs and Holywood movies in this respect…

  25. I have mentioned it in my long comment below, but just another plug to Indy to cover the battle of Hamel July 4 1918 where Pershing almost put the kybosh on Americans taking part under Monash.

  26. What happened to any prisoners, wounded left behind etc. Was there a 'Commando Order' such as the one in future conflict

  27. The weirdest was the turks at Siani, using thirsty camels with sacks of cement on their backs ….they were to run to the canal , drown and eventually form a bridge to Egypt….nice.

  28. 'Waltzing Matilda' sung by the children of Villers-Bretonneux in honour of the Australian Soldiers 100 years after the battle …. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctSE-luAlo8

  29. U boats are better. This is the final decision. The tanks are down there at the bottom. Box kites are a part of the joke fight.

  30. "Yeah, Tanks!" And for the past century countless numbers of men seeing tanks come down upon them have said the exact opposite.

    Tanks allowed for the killing force of armies to move faster and to inflict countless casualties on civilians. We seek a solution for one problem and create many more for the future.

  31. As a modern American Infantry Mortarman it makes me cringe watching those videos of US troops using their mortar systems! Compare that to today and they really do look like amateurs, and they were certainly not being safe; I'm sure someone lost a hand or fingers at some point! Interesting to see that the technology hasn't changed much for mortars in 100 years though…

  32. Most people today know who the Red Baron is because of Charles Schultz’s work on the comic strip “Peanuts”

  33. Didn't one of the retreating German A7V's engage one British Whippet tank? I felt like I read that somewhere.

  34. RIP The Bloody Red Baron of Germany. (From an old song).
    WW1 has become a forgotten war. Ironically, he is one of the most recognizable names from that war.
    He was a warrior. But he had class.
    While mostly seen on Pizza Boxes and referred to on Snoopy cartoons, he embodies the skill and abilities of a true fighter pilot.
    He may of died that day, but his nickname, The Red Baron, lives on. His spirit has flown on as a living legend.
    Probably having epic dog fights in Heaven with both pilots old and new.

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