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Data on causes of mortal casualties in conflicts

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Domen View Drop Down
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    Posted: 14 Feb 2010 at 09:02
45. Infanterie-Division participated in the Invasion of Poland in 1939. During the campaign the division fought just 2 - 3 major battles and suffered 518 bloody casualties (158 KIA including 6 KIA officers and 360 WIA), vast majority of all losses of the division (ca. 90% but I've not yet counted it precisely) were suffered on 15 IX and 16 IX (battle of Oleszyce) and on 18 IX (combats near Tomaszow). Battle of Oleszyce was fought against remnants of Polish 21st Infantry Division.

Here is an interesting data on causes of losses of the division during the Polish Campaign (taken from "Gefallene der 45. Division. POLEN 1939, FRANKREICH 1940"). Numbers in brackets are soldiers where column Todesursache (reason of death) was empty, but they were listed below soldiers who have some Todesursache given, thus I assumed that when column was empty it meant "as above" (contrary to question marks inside Todesursache columns, which must mean "unknown reason"):

? - 12

Kopfschuss (Headshot) - 52(8)
Bauchschuss (Bellyshot) - 16(1)
Herzschuss (Heartshot) - 7
Kopf-u Bauchschuss (Head and Bellyshot) - 6
Brustschuss (Chestshot)- 4
Kopf-u Halsschuss (Head and Throatshot) - 2
Halsschuss (Throatshot) - 2
Kopf-u Ruckenschuss (Head and Backshot) - 2
Beckenschuss & Ruckenschuss (Backshot) - 3
Drei Bauchschusse (Three Bellyshots) - 1
Bauch-u Halsschuss (Belly and Throatshot)- 1
Gewerschuss (shot from a rifle)- 1
Schulterschuss (Shouldershot) - 1
Schulter-u Oberschulterschuss (Upper shoulder shot) - 1
MG Garbe (MG Series) - 1
Kopfschuss MG (MG Headshot) - 1
Brust-u Bauchschuss (Chest and Bellyshot) - 1
Lungen-u Armschuss (Lungs and Arm shot)- 1
Leberschuss (Liver shot)- 1

Gefallen (Killed in Action) - 3
In einem Haus verbrannt (Burnt in a house) - 1

Unfall: Fenster (Fell out of window) - 1

Handgranate: Kopf, Brust (Hand grenade: Head, Chest) - 1
Handgranate: Brust (Hand grenade: Chest) - 1
Handgranate: Kopf (Hand grenade: Head) - 1

Gr Split (Grenade Splinter) - 3
Gr Split: Rucken (Grenade Splinter: Back) - 1
Granattreffer uber Kampfwagen (Grenade hit in a car) - 1
Granaternschlag (Shell / Grenade Blast) - 1

I.G. Nierenverschuss (Infantry gun Kidney shot) - 1
I.G. Kopfschuss (Infantry gun Headshot) - 1
Art Gesch: Kopf (Artillery fire: Head) - 6(1)
Art Gesch: Beine (Artillery fire: Legs) - 4(3)
Art. Volltreffer (Artillery hit) - 2
Art Gesch (Artillery fire) - 2
Art Gesch: Brust u Bauch (Artillery fire: Chest and Belly) - 2
Art Gesch: Oberschenkel, Knie (Artillery fire: Thigh, Knee - 1
Art Gesch: Becken, Mastdarm (Artillery fire: Back, Rectum) - 1
Art Gesch: Kopf u Brust (Artillery fire: Head and Chest) - 1
Art Gesch: Kopf u ? (Artillery fire: Head and <cannot read>) - 1
Art Gesch: Brust (Artillery fire: Chest) - 1
Art Gesch: Oberschenkel (Artillery fire: Thigh) - 1

Fliegenbombe: Brust (Air Bombs: Chest) - 2(1)

Kraftfahrzeug Unfall (Car Accident) - 1

Ruhr (Diarrhea) - 1

Total: 158

I haven't yet made a similar breakdown for the French campaign, but after just briefly reading the data it is yet clear that much more losses (much greater percentage) was caused by artillery and much smaller percentage were fatalities caused by Headshots. I wonder what were the causes of mortal casualties in other conflicts and what causes most of casualties in modern wars?


Edited by Domen - 14 Feb 2010 at 09:40
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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb 2010 at 09:22
If you are interested, here is a link to US war casualties analyses:
 
If you search the site even further you will find detailed WWII casualties to the divisional level.
 
Al-Jassas


Edited by Al Jassas - 14 Feb 2010 at 09:23
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drgonzaga View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb 2010 at 09:22
There is one statistic that is missing: death through communicable diseases, infections, and poor hygiene or indifferent medical care.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb 2010 at 09:26
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Domen View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Domen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Feb 2010 at 09:42
Thanks for this data my friends!
 
Btw - during the Afghan war headshot percentage for Soviet KIA was 16% (two times lower than in 45. Inf.Div. during the Polish Campaign).
 
But this data also indicates that Polish artillery fire was weak and not very efficient (only 15 - 20% mortal losses caused by artillery & mortars).


Edited by Domen - 14 Feb 2010 at 10:02
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Sparten View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2010 at 23:04
Remember a lot depends on the era and the medical treatment available. As the war went on, treatment got better. What was a mortal wound in Poland 39, was a something that put you out of action for a week in Poland 44.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2010 at 00:17
Originally posted by Sparten Sparten wrote:

Remember a lot depends on the era and the medical treatment available. As the war went on, treatment got better. What was a mortal wound in Poland 39, was a something that put you out of action for a week in Poland 44.
 
I don't think so. Most modern battlfield medicine was developed during the Korean war and after when MASH units were first used. Diagnostic equipments like ultrasound and portable X-rays were also developed after WWII. The best diagnostic tool back in WWII was surgery which is tricky for a soldier who already lost too much blood.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Birddog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2010 at 07:47
There was at least one major medical leap forward during WW2. The first mass production of penicillin occured during WW2 (to treat Allies soldiers with VD in Italy was it's first large scale use, VD was a large scale problem). But the use of penicillin to fight post operative infection first occured towards the end of WW2.
 
As to the MASH units in Korea, another major life saving device used during that conflict was the the helocopter to get the wounded to the doctors faster than ever before. Even towards the end of WW2 if a man made it to Doctor's and the aid stations his chance of survival increased dramatically. In Korea they got the wounded to the doc's that much faster.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2010 at 08:23
Yes, penecellin was a huge leap forward it increased the survival rate among WIA at least by 50-60% and it was developed exactly during WWII. It's interesting that the Soviets and the Allies have developed different formulas of penecellin separately. But Americans were able to produce it in large numbers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2010 at 13:05
Penecillin was discovered and widely experimented on by different militaries before WWII started. Other classes of anti-biotics (mostly sulfa based) which were also widely used in WWII were all developed before WWII. During WWII there was developement but it was used after the war ended.
 
I also agree with Birddog about the effectiveness of the Helicopter in medievac situation. In all cases in WWII once a soldier reaches a military hospital as soon as possible after his injury his chances got high regardless of the injuries.
 
A look at the Soviet WIA in the eastern front just tells you that. As war progressed less and less soldiers died from wounds because evacuation was much faster and big well established military hospitals were nearer. The exact opposite happened to the Germans whose supply lines collapsed in the last months of the war and suffered from high deaths among WIA because most were never evacuated.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2010 at 13:58
Penecellin wasn't used at all until the middle of WWII and the first succesful trials were conducted only in 1942. 
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