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The forgotten father of mechanized warfare

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BerichtGeplaatst: 09 Nov 2010 21:38    Onderwerp: The forgotten father of mechanized warfare Reageer met quote

The forgotten father of mechanized warfare

Remembrance Day seems appropriate to remember the remarkable story of the French officer in the Canadian army in the First World War who invented mobile mechanized warfare.

Raymond Brutinel, who died in France at age 82 in 1964, altered forever the face of war.

An as-yet unpublished book tells how Brutinel, a reserve officer in the French army, made a fortune in Canada in Edmonton, and when the First World War started along with Sir Clifford Sifton and others financed the formation of what was to become the 1st Motor Machine Gun Brigade, (the Emma Gees), commanded by himself.

More than any of his generation, Brutinel saw the machinegun as the weapon of the future and the motorcar as offering mobility on the battlefield.

Unlike soldiers of that day, he didn’t view machineguns as a weapon supporting infantry in defence, but visualized them in batteries of four or eight, firing day and night to inflict casualties behind enemy lines. “Bullet artillery” he called it.

He had studied the 1904 Russo-Japanese war in which Japanese batteries of eight machineguns tore attacking Russian infantry to shreds. The British ignored the lesson.

Brutinel had motorcars equipped with armour-plating, mounted with Colt machineguns (later replaced by Vickers machineguns), able to move wherever necessary to plug gaps in the battle line. To harass the enemy’s rear, or to attack.

The manuscript of Brutinel’s life, plus his memoir of the war (recorded by the CBC for their archives), was written by Dominique and Jacques Baylaucq, with the support of Brutinel’s daughter, Raymonde, who was born and married in Canada.

(Jacques’ Swiss-born father-in-law, Andre Bieler, was gassed with the Princess Pats in the First World War and became a well-known artist in Canada and headed up fine arts at Queen’s University).

After the war, Brutinel returned to Canada, to find that the Montreal lawyer he’d trusted with his affairs had lost all his money, become a drug addict and committed suicide.

Brutinel returned to France and rebuilt his fortune. In the Second World War he became a significant figure in the French resistance, rescuing escaped British PoWs and downed airmen, and harassing the German occupiers.

In 1918, my father was in the Motor Machine Guns and attributed to Brutinel theories applicable to tank warfare that the Germans adopted in the Second World War.

It strikes me that the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Association (RCACA) are the logical ones to get the Brutinel book published, as it really marks the beginning of mobile armoured warfare.

Brutinel is mentioned in war histories, but usually only in passing.

Initially, high command had no idea of what to do with Brutinel’s MMG. King George V inspected them and was impressed: “This unit should be very useful, I think”

“I don’t think so, sir, it would unbalance the firepower of a division,” replied Lord Kitchener, secretary of state for war. Lt.-Gen. E.A. Alderson, then commanding Canadian expeditionary forces added: “I’m afraid Lord Kitchener is right.”

The British weren’t even making the machineguns that Brutinel wanted. His motors were orphans — their value recognized only by the Canadians (and Germans).

As British casualties climbed in 1916, the high command urged a reduction of machineguns in a division in order to maintain the balance of rifles. Brutinel argued that with shortages of manpower, machineguns should be increased to maintain firepower.

After Vimy Ridge, 1917, Brutinel persuaded Marshal Ferdinand Foch, supreme allied commander, that the Canadian Corps was “second to none” and had never lost ground they didn’t recapture, within 48 hours.

Foch used the Canadians — whom the British resented for their independence and for not integrating with them like the Australians.

In March, 1918, when the Germans broke allied lines, the Motors fought a 19-day running battle on a 56-km front, covering the chaotic retreat of the British 5th army.

In the last 100 days when the Allies broke the German lines, the Motors again led the attack. The original “brigade” of 10 officers and 124 men operating 20 Colt machineguns in eight armoured vehicles, had expanded to 422 officers and 8,343 men, in several brigades, and endured some 5,777 casualties.

When the British questioned the value of Brutinel’s “bullet artillery” and indirect fire, plus the “rolling barrage” of artillery and machinegun fire 360 metres in front of attacking allied infantry (advocated by both Brutinel and Gen. Arthur Currie, commanding the Canadian Corps),

Brutinel responded: “Don’t ask the British — ask the Germans!”

German prisoners verified horrendous casualties and damaged morale inflicted by constant machinegun fire that prevented movement, or heads above the trenches. Innumerable Canadian lives were spared by keeping the Germans pinned down.

In that last 100 days, Brutinel recalled that the Canadian Corps defeated 47 German divisions, took 31,537 prisoners, captured 623 guns and 2,842 machineguns and liberated 228 cities and towns. In the words of Marshal Foch: “An army second to none.”

Brutinel ended the war with the Order of the Bath, Distinguished Service Order (DSO), Legion d’Honneur, Croix de Guerre, six Mentioned in Dispatches, and assorted decorations.

He was far ahead of his time, and was made a naturalized Canadian by Prime Minister Robert Borden.

Largely unknown today, one of Brutinel’s armoured cars remains in working order at Camp Borden. A plaque in his memory is mounted in Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier where the first Motors were recruited, and where their only reunion was held in 1958.

A case can be made that Raymond Brutinel is the real father of mobile armoured warfare and firepower.
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Geregistreerd op: 29-10-2010
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BerichtGeplaatst: 28 Nov 2010 23:04    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ah ja, komt dat van Brutinel? Ik weet sinds kort ook van die Belgische brigade (?) die tot in Rusland actief geweest is met hun pantserwagens.

Mooi stuk!
"..nach Frankreich abkommandiert, traf ihn eine feindliche Kugel (...) der sein jugendliches Leben zum opfer fiel."
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BerichtGeplaatst: 29 Nov 2010 17:55    Onderwerp: Canadian motorgun brigade Reageer met quote

Meer over de Canadese motorgun brigade op
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den Korrigann

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BerichtGeplaatst: 29 Nov 2010 21:37    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Op Hangard Communal Cemetery liggen een paar gesneuvelden van deze brigade begraven : (rij 4, C 11 en C 12, foto 2009)

meer info over deze begraafplaats op
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