This is coolbert:
Excerpts from " The Evolution of Cooperation " by Robert Axelrod
"The Live-and-Let-Live System in Trench Warfare in World War I"
[here is a description, thanks to Robert Axelrod, of how the phenomenon of the trench raid came to be!!]
During the early stages of what become known as the GREAT WAR [World War One], those soldiers actually occupying the trenches, enlisted and officers, ON BOTH SIDES, quickly came to a realization that there was to be no swift end to the war, and no possibility of movement in any direction, as was wished by the senior commanders.
[early stages of the GREAT WAR would have included the initial movement of armies, "The Battle of the Frontiers", "First Battle of the Marne", and "The Race to the Sea"!!]
PRIMARILY BECAUSE OF AUTOMATIC WEAPONRY [the machine gun], NEITHER SIDE WOULD BE ABLE TO PREVAIL OVER THE OTHER. THIS WAS OBVIOUS TO EVERYONE IN THE TRENCHES, BUT NOT TO THOSE GENERAL OFFICERS SAFELY AND COMFORTABLY ENSCONCED IN THEIR FANCY COMMANDEERED CHATEAUS!!
Consequently, at least until the famous Christmas truce of 1914 [and for sometime thereafter?], a modus vivendi was reached between the warring parties actually occupying the trenches. An accommodation, a compromise, a "Live-and-Let-Live System" developed, at odds with - - again - - the desires of both allied and German High Commands.
"modus vivendi - - A compromise between adversaries that allows them to get along temporarily"
A modus vivendi that became institutionalized, at least for those in the trenches. A quid pro quo understood to mean:
* If you shell us, we will shell you, otherwise, no shelling!
* If you snipe at us, we will snipe at you, otherwise, no sniping!
* Troops drawing rations are out of bounds for one hour!
* Troops out of the trenches at 0900 hours are work parties, and not to be fired upon!
"quid pro quo - - one thing in return for another. 2. something that is given or taken in return for something else"
Violations of the quid pro quo could result in swift and sure retaliation that neither side desired.
" If the British shelled the Germans, the Germans replied, and the damage was equal: if the Germans bombed an advanced piece of trench and killed five Englishmen, an answering fusillade killed five Germans."
Tit-for-tat type behavior!
Behavior of this sort on the part of the combatants COULD NOT BE TOLERATED BY HIGHER ECHELON COMMANDERS! Those general officers in command wanted action, movement, aggressiveness, casualty reports, etc.
A solution was devised to remedy the problem of accommodation and compromise. THIS WAS THE TRENCH RAID!!
"What finally destroyed the live-and-let-live system was the institution of a type of incessant aggression that the headquarters could monitor. This was the raid [TRENCH RAID], a carefully prepared attack on enemy trenches which involved from ten to two hundred men [squad to company size. Raids also may have involved battalion sized units as well??]. Raiders were ordered to kill or capture the enemy in his own trenches. If the raid was successful, prisoners would be taken; and if the raid was a failure, casualties would be proof of the attempt. There was no effective way to pretend that a raid had been undertaken when it had not."
"The live-and-let-live system could not cope with the disruption caused by the hundreds of small raids."
Christmas Truce, modus vivendi, quid pro quo, compromise, accommodation, let-and-let-live - - all went by the wayside!! The general officers got their way - - and let the slaughter begin!!
Labels: Trench Raid