September 18th 1914
This week, we see the mobile and fast paced war of the past six weeks turning into something
本周战斗升级 超出人们的想象 其恐怖 致命程度远胜战争之初最血腥的战斗
never imagined that would prove more sinister and deadly than even the bloodiest battles
of the war’s beginning. This week began the war in the trenches.
I’m Indy Neidell. Welcome to the Great War.
At the beginning of the week, the Germans were retreating from the Marne River, having
been stopped by the French and the British, but they were far from beaten, while on the
eastern front the Austro-Hungarian army was in disarray, retreating from the advancing
Russians and seemingly on the verge of collapse.
Here’s what happened next: On September 13th, there was a meeting in
在法国 约瑟夫·霞飞将军的司令部里举行了一次会议 法国在八月遭遇惨败
France at General Joseph Joffre’s headquarters. Joffre had been in large part responsible
for the French disasters of August, but he was now getting a lot of credit for the success
of September. The meeting was full of optimism, and what was being discussed was how long
it would take to push the Germans back across the border. Some thought four weeks, some thought
only three. Once again, people were talking of a war that would be over by Christmas.
可是 从实际情况来看 法国军火供给不足
However, in practical terms, the French were running low on ammunition and were not really
able to exploit the German retreat, and though the British were also advancing, they were
但推进速度慢的可怜 德国方面 在前任总参谋长精神崩溃之后
advancing very slowly. As for the Germans, their brand new Chief of Staff Erich Falkenhayn,
Prussian Minister of War was a shot in the arm after his predecessor’s nervous collapse.
And on September 13th, a bloody month of fighting began as the Germans stopped their retreat
on what is one of the best defensive positions in France- the Aisne River. The river itself
is about 30 meters wide, with flat low-lying ground stretching out for nearly 2km on either
完全没有隐藏地点 沿河岸继续往前 一座山脊骤然耸立
side with no possibility of concealment. Then, there’s suddenly a ridge over 100m high
that levels off to a plateau.
浓雾之中 距山脊数英里处 德军在河的北面开挖战壕
The Germans dug in on the north side of the river, a couple of miles from the ridge in
a dense forest, but commanding a huge field of fire.
同一晚 英军跨过埃纳河 在浓雾中行军
That night, the British crossed the river and advanced under a heavy fog, but in the
而当早晨浓雾散去时 英军遭遇扫射 损失惨重
morning the fog cleared and they were raked with fire and suffered heavy losses. By that
morning of September 14th, though, they were established on the northern bank, but the
但军队状况十分糟糕 许多人一连几天没有进食 他们全身湿透 筋疲力竭
troops were in a terrible state. Many hadn’t eaten for days and they were soaked, exhausted,
整个队伍都处于德军的视野之下 情形令人堪忧 而接下来的几周里
and overlooked along the entire line by the German army. Not good. But for the next few
德军想把英军赶回河的另一边 英军则英勇奋战 最终攀上山脊
weeks they gamely struggled to mount the ridge while the Germans tried to drive them back
to the river. Despite thousands of casualties each day on both sides, neither succeeded.
Nobody was planning on retreating though, and on September 14th 1914, British Commander
John French gave the first orders for the British to entrench. The Germans were digging
与此同时 德军也正在挖掘 这便是阵地战的开始
in as well, and this was the beginning of trench warfare.
See, the battle of the Aisne was the start of something different. The British troops
who fought there reported that it was far worse than the earlier battles at Mons or
原因很简单 战斗持续时间太长 好似永无止尽
Le Cateau, for the simple reason that the battle was so interminably long, and this
was very much the nature of the new style of warfare- battles no longer lasted an afternoon,
but could go on uninterrupted for weeks, with artillery barrages lasting for hours and hours,
and the only way for a man to survive in this war was to make himself invisible, digging
himself into the ground.
Nobody was really prepared for digging trenches, though- the Germans had spades, which they
used to dig small holes for individuals when under artillery fire, but the German equipment
was all designed to fit German battle plans- which involved a highly mobile war that could
be won in a matter of weeks. They did adapt fairly quickly, though, producing things like
为此专门造出了枪榴弹这样的新型武器 还有潜望镜 喇叭裤之类的隐蔽物
rifle grenades and converting things like periscopes and flares for trench warfare.
起初 战壕不是很深 也不相互连接
Initially, the trenches were not connected in trench lines and were not particularly
deep, but they soon became more and more advanced. Front line troops would live in underground
仓库位于墙体之内 面朝敌军 这样他们就不会被炮轰
dorms with storehouses that were built into the wall facing the enemy so they couldn’t
be shelled. There were communication trenches, backup trenches in case of retreat, eventually
a whole network across the entire front- with enemies that were often only 100 meters apart.
Commander French described the suddenly new situation on September 16th as “a stalemate
in our favor but he realized and said even then that
in this war, a spade was as useful as a rifle.
But stalemate it was in the west; as the battle raged on day after day for a month. The weather
此外天气糟糕透顶 两军士气低落 但如果他们知道自己实际上还要这样再战四年
was abysmal and spirits on both sides were at a low, but think how much lower they may
have been had they known that the front at which they were fighting would remain virtually
unchanged for the next four years. In the east, though, it was anything but a stalemate.
By mid September, the Germans realized they had to do something to save Austria-Hungary’s bacon.
German General Ludendorff went to visit the Austrian army Chief of Staff Conrad von Hotzendorf.
Conrad was one of the chief architects of the whole war, though he proved to be a terrible
leader, but still he managed to convince Ludendorff that the Austrian army was in such a terrible
state because they’d been holding off the Russians so the Germans could tackle the French.
And Conrad’s army was indeed in a terrible state; they’d already lost 500,000 men,
100,000 of them captured and the army was shutting itself in to the fortress of Przemsyl
of the slopes of the Carpathians with 120,000 men. You’d think it would have collapsed
as all the other fortresses did to modern artillery, but the mud was too thick there
to get artillery into place.
The war in the east, though, was really a logistical catastrophe. The space to cover
战场覆盖面太广 而通信又是如此的糟糕 之后的秋雨把一切都变为了泥土
was so large and communications so awful, then the autumn rains came and turned everything
to mud. There weren’t enough railways and there were just too many men to supply. In
在一些部队里 只有前线士兵才配给步枪 前线士兵阵亡后
some units, only the men in the very front had rifles, and you had to wait until someone
was killed before you could get one.
不过他们有的是人 俄军肯定是有的 而且数以百万计
But they had men. Certainly Russia did- men by the millions. Over in the west, though,
战场西面 英军的主要问题之一是 相较于法军或德军
one of the main British problems had been that her army was very small compared to those
of France or Germany, but Britain had just engaged in one of the most famous advertising campaigns in history
9月12日 英国宣布仅仅六周内 已有478000人志愿参军
…and on September 12th, Britain announced that in in only six weeks 478,000 men had
volunteered. She had managed to raise an army without any of the mandatory service the continental
armies all used. However, there were some issues with that army. Professional British
受过专业训练的英军对新兵的质量感到绝望 战争至今 一直用滑稽这样的词来形容新兵
soldiers despaired of the quality of the new units, going so far as calling them ridiculous
他们还指出 德国启用征兵制度 艰辛付出40年
and pointing out that it had taken the Germans 40 years of hard work and conscription to
create their army.
One curiosity of the new recruits is that they were mostly formed of “pals battalions”
which were entirely people from the same town or the same profession. This led to a little
side note- the British didn’t think at the time that without units being geographically
mixed, the entire male population of a whole town could be wiped out in a day in a single
battle. They would learn this the hard way.
Rarely has a mood changed in war as quickly as it did on the western front this week in
1914. At the beginning of this week, optimism was high in the British and French armies
英法两军情绪高涨 而在各方军队到达埃纳河之后 一切都变了
as the Germans retreated from the Marne, but this was before the armies all reached the
Aisne, entrenchment began, and the war of weeks long continuous battles and bombardments began.
What we see by the end of the week, is that the quality and ingenuity of the armies was
正节节攀升 即使死亡人数也在增多 尽管所有的新发明都旨在提供优势
increasing, even as the death toll mounted, but in spite of all the new advances designed
to give an advantage, none was gained by either side, and the war of rapid victories was over
东西两线 泥土中的战斗毫无进展 令人痛苦不堪
for good. The excruciating stagnant war in the mud had begun on both the Western and
Eastern Fronts. It would remain in the mud for the next four years.
If you just joined our show and you wonder how the whole thing started.
Check out our three prelude to war specials
and our very first episode right here.
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