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 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
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BWilson

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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 11:54:16 AM
Were British generals perceived as being too fastidious about committing to battle ?

Phil,

 I suggest this all points back to the question of available manpower. Further in the campaign, 21st AG was forced to disband two divisions as well as some independent brigades.

 This is understandable as a part of the lack of sufficient infantry reinforcements to keep units up to strength. I have also read that at some point Churchill told Montgomery he would have to make do with what he had. Again, perhaps understandable, is Churchill wanting to minimize losses in NW Europe with the situation in Burma and the Pacific Theater unresolved. But what I have recently considered, and I find less easy to understand, is that at the same time 21st Army Group was receiving too few infantry reinforcements, Churchill saw fit to commit three divisions (and two brigades IIRC) to fight communist partisans in Greece.

 It makes me wonder if there was not some confusion as to priorities. Yes, a communist Greece would have been a problem. But not one-one hundredth the problem of a Nazi Germany still in existence.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 12:04:37 PM

Quote:
Daily Mail blog

"Those British officers who fancied that Goodwood would be ‘a day at the races’ were wrong. On the contrary, it proved to be a ‘death ride’ in which thousands of lives were thrown away to little purpose.


One reason for this was a failure in military intelligence. The ‘crystal- gazers’ (as the intelligence officers were known) concluded from looking at photo-reconnaissance that the enemy’s defences were less than three miles deep. In fact, there were five lines going back more than six miles.


The tank crews about to lead the charge were briefed that, as one put it, there was ‘only a thin crust ahead of us, and once through it we could just bum on’.

In the event, they were hurling themselves against brick walls."

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Jim, I was just reading a piece on Goodwood and it indicated that while the tank losses were heavy for the British armoured divisions, the loss in manpower was not as significant.

The figure that was given was that 75% of the tankers whose tanks were put out of action survived and were able to fight in another tank, of which there were many.

I haven't been able to confirm the casualty figures for the British armoured divisions so accept with caution that 75% figure.

EDIT: I did now in any way wish to diminish the significance of the loss of 25% of the manpower.

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 1:17:05 PM
George i am now well aware that you are quite capable of doing this for yourself; but this ones on me-from you know where

Simon Trew wrote that "the first estimates of Allied losses for Operation Goodwood appeared horrific, that Second Army had lost 4,011 men... ."

G. S. Jackson gave losses in the armoured divisions from 18–19 July, as 1,020 men.

Michael Reynolds quoted the 21st Army Group war diary of casualties in I and VIII Corps of 3,474 men.

Operation Atlantic cost the Canadians from 1,349–1,965 casualties.

Colonel Charles Perry Stacey gave casualties of all Canadian units in Europe, for the four days' fighting as 1,965 in all categories; 441 men were killed or died of wounds.

Trew wrote that "no conclusive assessment can ever be made" in regards to the losses of both sides.

In 2014, John Buckley gave a figure of 5,500 casualties during Goodwood and Atlantic.

Regards

Jim

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George
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 1:45:28 PM
Jim I ascribed my statistics to the wrong combat groups.


Here is the quote:


Quote:
Simonds' 2 Canadian Corps was now blooded, but it had paid a high price. The attack on 20 July was by any measure a disaster. Canadian troops had fled in the face of the enemy, but the (South Saskatchewan Regiment) could hardly be blamed for having been placed in such a tactically untenable position as they were. Unquestionably, they should have been intimately supported by tanks...Doctrine played a part here, as well as an armored corps perception that other arms failed to understand the limitations of armor, that tanks should not be expected to lead attacks against prepared enemy antitank positions. Yet, as established casualty rates of 76 percent for infantry against seven percent for armor indicate, most crews from shot-up tanks got away to fight another day.
Here, of course, the buck must be passed back to higher command for not insisting, as Montgomery did, on making armor conform even against its will. However one looks at it, Canadian troops regardless of their experience level did all, and more, that could possibly have been expected of them in the attack on Verrières Ridge


source: English, John. The Canadian Army and the Normandy Campaign



Quote:
Losses in the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division were 1,149 during Operation ATLANTIC (254 fatal), compared to 386 for the nine infantry battalions of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division (89 of which were fatal).

Losses in the British forces were considerable also; for the four-day period of 18-22 July, 1st Corps lost 1,656 men, 8th Corps lost 1,818 and 12th Corps 449.15 Adding in the 30th Corps losses for the period of 631, total 2nd Army losses since D-Day were 45,795, with 6,168 occurring in the four day period 18-22 July - or nearly 14% of the total losses of the campaign


source: Stacey. Official History of the Canadian Army.

richto90
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 1:59:14 PM

Quote:
George i am now well aware that you are quite capable of doing this for yourself; but this ones on me-from you know where

Simon Trew wrote that "the first estimates of Allied losses for Operation Goodwood appeared horrific, that Second Army had lost 4,011 men... ."

G. S. Jackson gave losses in the armoured divisions from 18–19 July, as 1,020 men.

Michael Reynolds quoted the 21st Army Group war diary of casualties in I and VIII Corps of 3,474 men.

Operation Atlantic cost the Canadians from 1,349–1,965 casualties.

Colonel Charles Perry Stacey gave casualties of all Canadian units in Europe, for the four days' fighting as 1,965 in all categories; 441 men were killed or died of wounds.

Trew wrote that "no conclusive assessment can ever be made" in regards to the losses of both sides.

In 2014, John Buckley gave a figure of 5,500 casualties during Goodwood and Atlantic.

Regards

Jim


--anemone


This is from an old study I did many years ago. Unfortunately, a few years after completing it I suffered a disk crash and it got partly corrupted...I have never gone back to recreate the corrupted parts.

"To summarize, UK forces began with approximately 139,000 men, 1,369 tanks, and at least 732 artillery pieces. Losses were 4,120 men (2.97%) (844 KIA, 2,951 WIA, 325 MIA) and 493 tanks (35%). Only 361 of the tanks were knocked out - that is, they were either written off or were so damaged as to require long-term repair, 132 were damaged - that is, they required less than 24 hours for repair. At the end of the battle tank strength was 1,047. (The actual definition given for “knocked-out” was “battle casualty of last 24 hours, not repairable within 24 hours” and for “damaged” was “out of action, repairable in 24 hours.”)

And now we can dig further into the British (or in this case, Commonwealth) casualties. The heaviest hit - in terms of whole percentages - was 2 Canadian Infantry Division. On 18 July 2 Canadian Division had a succesful day, partly clearing Louvigny, west of the Orne, and successfully bridging the Orne at two locations at Caen by 1200 on 19 July. The division suffered moderate losses of 21 KIA, 43 WIA, 3 MIA - mostly in 4 and 5 Brigade. There were an additional 43 KIA and 75 WIA suffered by the Royal Regiment of Canada in the two-day battle for Louvigny, which was not cleared until late in the morning of 19 July. Operations to cross the Orne at Caen and clear the western edge of Vaucelles cost the division an additional 39 KIA, 136 WIA, and 3 MIA on 19 July. In the first two days of the battle the inexperienced division, with minimal armor support, had achieved most of it's objectives for a loss of 363 casualties. Based on a divisional strength of roughly 17,000, which equates to about one percent per day, an unremarkable rate of attrition for a division. Even the hardest hit battalion, the Royal Regiment of Canada at Louvigny, only suffered a loss of 7.05 percent per day, less than the 9.50 percent per day norm found for battalions in World War II.

However, the picture changed on the last two days of the battle. On 20 July the reserve 6 Infantry Brigade was brought up to continue the attack south towards the tiny village of Verrieres, perched on a 88 meter height just west of the Falaise Road. The advance of 6 Brigade was up an open, gentle rise and was exposed to observation and flanking fire from Hill 112, west of the Orne, and to the German positions in Verrieres itself. To make matters worse, shortly after the attack kicked off in the afternoon, a torrential rain began. The fields were quickly reduced to quagmires, limiting vehicular movement to the hard-surfaced roads. As a result, when the Germans counterattacked from Verrieres with an estimated four tanks (which may have been Panthers since they retained some mobility off road) the leading battalion (South Saskatchewan Regiment) was unable to get AT or tank support forward and was quickly overwhelmed. The brigade reserve, the Essex Scottish was overrun in turn when it tried to recover the position. Significantly perhaps, it was only at this time that 2 Canadian Armoured Brigade was placed under command of 2 Canadian Division. The losses on 20 July were 98 KIA, 294 WIA, 50 MIA, exceeding the combined casualties of the previous two days. On the morning of 21 July, with the heavy rain still falling, the Germans continued their armored attack, inflicting heavy casualties again on the Essex Scottish and on the Camerons of Canada and the 27 Armoured Regiment at St. Andre. In the evening the division counterattacked, supported by 6 and 27 Armoured Regiments of 2 Canadian Armoured Brigade. Losses for the day were 78 KIA, 260 WIA, and 143 MIA, another very intense day of combat. These two days did tremendous damage to the infantry of the division. The Essex Scottish had only lost 11 men on 18 and 19 July. But, on 20 and 21 July, 318 men were lost or 19.09 percent per day. The South Saskatchewans, which had only lost one man earlier, lost 201 on 20 and 21 July or 12.06 percent per day. Overall, the division lost an average of 2.71 percent per day on 20 and 21 July, over two-and-one-half times the rate of 18 and 19 July.

Meanwhile, 3 Canadian Division attacked on the right flank of 8 Corps, attempting to seize the Columbelles steel factory complex on the east bank of the Orne, and then drive south towards Vaucelles. The division paid heavily for it's success, losing 60 KIA, 234 WIA, 9 MIA on 18 July, a loss of about 1.8 percent, significantly higher than the divisional norm of 1.0 percent. However, once Columbelles was captured the advance went well. Vaucelles was seized against light resistance on 19 July and only 7 KIA, 35 WIA, and 7 MIA were lost. On 20 July the division was lightly engaged in mopping up and occupying the positions seized by 11 Armoured Division, and suffered only 6 KIA and 20 WIA. It was more heavily engaged on 21 July - mostly by intense German shelling - and suffered 17 KIA, 84 WIA, and 11 MIA.

On 19 and 20 July it appears (my source, The Victory Campaign, is hazy on the actions of 10 Armoured Regiment) that 2 Canadian Armoured Brigade supported the attack of 3 Canadian Division on Columbelles with the 6 Armoured Regiment (1 Hussars), holding the 10 Armoured Regiment (Fort Garry Horse) in reserve, while the attack by 2 Canadian Division on Louvigny was supported by 27 Armoured Regiment (Sherbrooke Fusiliers). The armor units lost 7 KIA and 32 WIA, 10 tanks knocked out and 1 damaged on 18 July. After Louvigny was secured on 19 July, it appears that 27 Armoured crossed to the east side of the Orne, supporting attacks on Fleury and St. Andre. The rest of 2 Brigade supported mopping up operations in Vaucelles and Ifs. The operations on 19 July cost 1 KIA and 3 WIA, only 2 tanks were knocked out, although 10 were damaged. On 20 July, when the German counterattack so roughly handled 2 Canadian Division, 27 Armoured remained defending St. Andre, while the rest of the brigade remained in the 3 Division sector east of the Falaise Road. The brigade suffered 3 KIA and 3 WIA to German shelling, while apparently losing no tanks. On 21 July the brigade, finally attached to 2 Division, counterattacked to stabilize the division front, losing 5 KIA and 12 WIA, 17 tanks knocked out and 7 damaged.

Overall, it does not appear that the Canadian losses can be attributed to a lack of armor support or to inadequate tanks. Rather, it appears that the heavy losses on 20 and 21 July were more attributable to poor decision-making. The 6 Brigade attack was executed without armor support, even though the supporting armor was close at hand, available, and unengaged. Failing to attach 2 Armoured Brigade to 2 Division on the morning of 20 July when the attack to Verrieres was ordered is inexplicable. The apparent failure of the division commander to request armored support for an advance up the open gentle slope of Verrieres Ridge is equally inexplicable. Also, the fact that the AT guns of the South Saskatchewan's were overrun while trying to move up can only partly be attributed to bad luck. Trying to move forward the vulnerable guns and prime movers in poor visibility, in the face of the enemy was simply asking for trouble. So, would the presence of Churchill tankss have made any difference? It's doubtful, since no tank has value in combat unless it's where it can actually participate in the combat.

Organization
8 Corps (64,448 men: 255 KIA, 922 WIA, 59 MIA = 1,236; frm 8 Corps rpts 1,357 cas)
11 AD (14,389 men: 159 KIA, 531 WIA, 55 MIA = 745; frm 8 Corps rpts 930 cas)
29 Arm Bde (Start 214, End 132, KO 140, DMG 30) (2,826 men; 67 KIA, 189 WIA, 33
MIA)
2 N.Yeo. Recce Rgt (Start 72, End 46, KO 32, DMG 5) (662 men: 14 KIA, 26 WIA, 10
MIA)
159 Inf Bde (2,599 men: 55 KIA, 261 WIA, 6 MIA)
Other (19 KIA, 50 WIA, 1 MIA)
Inns of Court AC Rgt (782 men: 1 KIA, 5 MIA)
22 Dgns (Sherman Crab) & 26 Asslt Sqn RE (att frm 79 AD) (705 men: 3 KIA, 5 WIA)
7 AD (15,183 men: 39 KIA, 154 WIA, 2 MIA = 195; frm 8 Corps rpts 154 cas)
22 Arm Bde (Start 216, End 199, KO 15, DMG 33) (22 KIA, 89 WIA, 2 MIA)
8 Huss. Recce Rgt (Start 72) (702 men: 1 WIA)
131 Inf Bde (2,689 men: 6 KIA, 31 WIA)
Other (3 KIA, 19 WIA)
Gds AD ([entry corrupted]
5 Gds Arm Bde (Start 235, End 166, KO 107, DMG 21) (26 KIA, 83 WIA, 1 MIA)
2 Welsh Gds Recce (Start 68, End 66, KO 11, DMG 4) (698 men: 4 KIA, 9 WIA)
32 Gds Bde (2,723 men: 20 KIA, 104 WIA)
2 Household Cav AC Rgt (771 men: 1 KIA)
Other (4 KIA, 35 WIA)"

Well here is where my disk failed and corrupted the remaining data.

Cheers!


George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 4:28:20 PM
Many thanks Rich. Subsequent battles to finally take that ridge were also costly.

Many words have been written about the massacre of the Black Watch on July 25 during Operation Spring.

I believe that Spring led to 1500 casualties.

One company of the Royal Regiment of Canada was wiped out.

All supporting tanks of the 1st Hussars were knocked out.

Royal Hamilton Light Infantry lost 200 men.

But the worst was saved for the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada.

300 men assembled at the base of the ridge. One account said the men were displeased because they were going to be asked to head up this slope in line. One man said, "What is this, f..ing World War one".

At the start line, they were taking fire from the rear from a town that was supposedly secure but was still being cleared out.

The CO was killed and Major Phil Griffin took over. He was a junior company commander at the time but considered one to watch.
Some people think that he was scapegoated. Others say that he should have called off the attack. Some say that he deserved the VC. As it is, some peers had to fight for a "Mentioned in Despatches"

The Black Watch have a storied history. They lay claim to the WW1 nickname given them by the Germans, the Ladies from Hell.

Anyway the Black Watch unofficial motto is Never Retreat and these men did not. It was said that they moved forward through a hail of bullets.

Only 60 made the crest with Major Griffin among them lying dead among his men. They had been cut down on 3 sides by the Germans.

One of his last orders was to tell the men to make their way back on their own. Only 15 did so.


The men claimed that they had no tank support. There were tanks in the rear charged with giving covering fire but none with the troops so they may have been unaware that the Germans were taking some fire from the rear.


Historians say that Simonds was absolutely furious at the lack of progress and had passed orders down that the Canadians must press home the attack. The GOC of the division showed up to harangue the battalion commander.

So there was pressure to attack on July 25 even though Major Griffin had misgivings about the operation. He had complained about a lack of support but he was unwilling to protest enough to call it off.

This was the darkest day for the Canadian army since Dieppe.

Cheers,

George


redcoat
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/27/2017 4:03:06 AM

Quote:
Dempsy's plan for Goodwood was essentially to go for the much needed breakthrough with armour-this plan was vetoed by Montgomery who wanted
a Limited Bite and Hold Operation- this was- as we all know- a failure
--anemone

Monty seems to have remembered the battles in North Africa before he arrived, where British armour, to the delight of the Germans , kept insisting on throwing themselves at defensive positions without support.
It only ever ended one way.

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/27/2017 5:48:07 AM
I am afraid so redcoat-faulty intel- indicated only a "crust" of German armour- which ultimately proved to be at least three belts thick- presaged disaster.

Regards

Jim
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George
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/27/2017 6:41:38 AM
Would it have been possible to move British armour more quickly across the 6 bridges over the Orne River?

It is my understanding that the tanks were not massed in front of those bridges lest the Germans be made aware of the upcoming mission and so when it was time to start Goodwood, tanks made their way to the bridges and disaster.

We need to acknowledge the rather narrow area in which the British and Canadians were fighting. Canadian historians note that the congestion of British armour precluded the deployment of the Canadian Corps farther to the east where the British were.

The Canadians attacked farther to the west but the point is that the armour only attack was flawed and as we have noted, Monty should have been aware of that because of problems in North Africa.

But what other options were available. The Germans, with fewer troops and assets were able to bottle up the attack and its narrow approach.


Cheers,

George

George
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/27/2017 7:01:27 AM
[Read More]


So what should Dempsey have done given the narrow corridor and the stout though thinning German defences?

George

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/27/2017 7:55:42 AM
George you pose a very difficult question-I have looked through all my authors (6) who have covered military operations in Normandy; and none offer an opinion on what should have been the correct way to put GOODWOOD in a winning position.

I can only say that that which was wrong should be reversed -eg.a)attack on a broader front and avoid congestion-b)do not amass the armour in full view of the enemy.


Quote:
In Biddle's analysis.........
The British systematically failed to coordinate movement and suppressive fires after about mid-morning of the opening day.... The attack had by then moved beyond the reach of the British batteries on the northern side of the Orne River and the congestion in the march columns had kept the artillery from moving forward into supporting range.... The net result was thus an exposed, massed, nearly pure-tank assault pressing forward rapidly without supporting infantry or supporting suppressive fires.

— Biddle 2006


Regards

Jim
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Emanon
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/27/2017 10:53:24 PM
They could have done something like what they did in Tunisia, where they switched the focus of their main attack from a strongly defended section to a more weakly held section of the front:

'The Allied forces had reorganised and during the night of 19/20 April, the Eighth Army captured Enfidaville against the Italian 16th Motorised Division Pistoia, which counter-attacked several times over the next three days and was repulsed and the action at also Takrouna took place. The northward advance of Eighth Army had "pinched out" US II Corps' eastward facing front line, allowing the corps to be withdrawn and switched to the northern end of the Allied front. Arnim knew that an Allied offensive was imminent and launched a spoiling attack on the night of 20/21 April, between Medjez and Goubellat on the IX Corps front. The Hermann Göring Division supported by tanks from 10th Panzer Division penetrated up to 5 miles (8.0 km) at some points but could not force a general withdrawal and eventually returned to their lines. No serious disruption was caused to Allied plans, except that the first attack of the offensive, by IX Corps, was delayed by four hours from 4:00 a.m. on 22 April.[75]

On the morning of 22 April, the 46th Division attacked on the IX Corps front, creating a gap for the 6th Armoured Division to pass through by nightfall, followed by 1st Armoured Division, striking east for the next two days but not quick enough to forestall the creation of a strong anti-tank screen which halted their progress. The battle had drawn the Axis reserves of armour south, away from the central front. Seeing that no further progress was likely, Anderson withdrew the 6th Armoured Division and most of the 46th Infantry Division into army reserve.[75] The V Corps attack began on the evening of 22 April and the US II Corps launched their offensive in the early hours of 23 April in the Battle of Hill 609, in which the hill was captured, which opened the way to Bizerte. In grim hand-to hand fighting against the Hermann Göring Division, 334th Infantry and 15th Panzer Divisions, it took V Corps with the 1st, 4th and 78th Infantry Divisions, supported by army tanks and heavy artillery concentrations, eight days to penetrate 9.7 km (6 mi) and capture most of the Axis defensive positions.

The fighting was mutually costly but in the Battle of Longstop Hill, Longstop was captured, which opened the way to Tunis and Anderson felt a breakthrough was imminent.[75] On 30 April, after a failed attempt by the 169th Infantry Brigade of the recently arrived 56th (London) Infantry Division, which had just arrived over 3,300 miles from Syria, it had become clear to both Montgomery and Alexander that an Eighth Army attack north from Enfidaville, into strongly-held and difficult terrain, would not succeed. General Alexander gave Montgomery a holding task and transferred the British 7th Armoured Division, the 4th Indian Infantry Division and the 201st Guards Motor Brigade from the Eighth Army to the First Army, joining the British 1st Armoured Division which had been transferred before the main offensive.[76]

The redeployments were complete by the night of 5 May; Anderson had arranged for a dummy concentration of tanks near Bou Arada on the IX Corps front, to deflect attention from the arrival of the 7th Armoured Division in the Medjez sector and achieved a considerable measure of surprise as to the size of the armoured force when the attack began.[77] The final assault was launched at 3:30 a.m. on 6 May by IX Corps, commanded by Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks who had taken over from Lieutenant-General John Crocker, who had been wounded. V Corps, under Lieutenant-General Charles Walter Allfrey, had made a preliminary attack on 5 May, to capture high ground and secure the left flank of IX Corps. The 4th and 4th Indian Divisions, concentrated on a narrow front and supported by heavy artillery concentrations, broke a hole in the defences for the 6th and 7th Armoured divisions to pass through. On 7 May, British armour entered Tunis and American infantry from II Corps, which had continued its advance in the north, entered Bizerte.[78]'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunisian_Campaign#Allied_plans_2

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/28/2017 2:04:34 PM

Quote:
Would it have been possible to move British armour more quickly across the 6 bridges over the Orne River?

It is my understanding that the tanks were not massed in front of those bridges lest the Germans be made aware of the upcoming mission and so when it was time to start Goodwood, tanks made their way to the bridges and disaster.

We need to acknowledge the rather narrow area in which the British and Canadians were fighting. Canadian historians note that the congestion of British armour precluded the deployment of the Canadian Corps farther to the east where the British were.

The Canadians attacked farther to the west but the point is that the armour only attack was flawed and as we have noted, Monty should have been aware of that because of problems in North Africa.

But what other options were available. The Germans, with fewer troops and assets were able to bottle up the attack and its narrow approach.


George, the congestion was more problematic than that...three of the bridges were built FOR the attack and then a second problem needed to be overcome. The British had spent much of their time since 6 June perfecting the defenses of the Orne bridgehead against German attack and part of that defense was a large number of mines...which then had to be cleared, especially since many were hastily laid and poorly marked and mapped. Perhaps almost uniquely, part of the plan included 22 Dragoons and 1st Lothians using their Crabs to clear lanes for the advancing British tanks.

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/29/2017 3:27:49 AM
Sir Brian Gwynne Horrocks, KCB, KBE, DSO, MC (7 September 1895 – 4 January 1985) was a British Army general, chiefly remembered as the commander of XXX Corps in Operations Market Garden (Arnhem 1944) and Veritable (Battle of the Reichwald 1945) alongside the Canadians; and other operations during the Second World War.Market Garden was a failure whilst veritable was a hard fought battle from which the Allies emerged victorious. Horrocks was a favourite of FM Montgomery.

Regards

Jim
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redcoat
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/29/2017 3:37:19 AM

Quote:
They could have done something like what they did in Tunisia, where they switched the focus of their main attack from a strongly defended section to a more weakly held section of the front:
They were in a confined beachhead, there were no weakly held sectors.


Emanon
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/29/2017 4:13:42 AM
Actually, the lengths of the battlefronts In Tunisia on April 22, 1943 and in Normandy on July 27, 1944 were not that dissimilar.

Compare this map:

https://historicalresources.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/tunisia-taking-the-bridgehead-20-april-13-may-1943.jpg

with this map:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cobra#/media/File:Saint_Lo_Breakthrough.jpg

I estimate about twice as many miles of front in Tunisia as in Normandy, on those two dates.

In Tunisia, the front shrank as they attacked, in Normandy it expanded so that by July 31 it was about twice as long as it was on July 27.

The Western sector of Normandy was more weakly held, as the Americans did break out of it.

Monty was a subordinate as an army-level or overall ground commander in both battles, but Alexander shifted the main axis of attack to put the Axis on the wrong foot while Eisenhower did not reshuffle his forces.

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/29/2017 5:08:50 AM
Correction-8th Army was stuck fast at Enfideville after two failed attacks by 56th (London) Inf Div.-Alexander requested most of 8th Army's XXX Corps under Horrocks to Montgomery's chagrin- to bolster 1st Army's attack at Medjez-no "walk over" by any stretch of the imagination; but they finished the battle for Tunis. Monty was most displeased-as well he might-he had come a long way.

NB.The 56th Div. fiasco had decisive results for it forced Montgomery to realise that his road to Tunis was firmly blocked by the Zaghouan; and the knowledge that the 56th Division was in no way fit for battle.

Regards

Jim
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richto90
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/29/2017 1:05:04 PM

Quote:
Actually, the lengths of the battlefronts In Tunisia on April 22, 1943 and in Normandy on July 27, 1944 were not that dissimilar.

Compare this map:

https://historicalresources.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/tunisia-taking-the-bridgehead-20-april-13-may-1943.jpg

with this map:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cobra#/media/File:Saint_Lo_Breakthrough.jpg

I estimate about twice as many miles of front in Tunisia as in Normandy, on those two dates.

In Tunisia, the front shrank as they attacked, in Normandy it expanded so that by July 31 it was about twice as long as it was on July 27.

The Western sector of Normandy was more weakly held, as the Americans did break out of it.

Monty was a subordinate as an army-level or overall ground commander in both battles, but Alexander shifted the main axis of attack to put the Axis on the wrong foot while Eisenhower did not reshuffle his forces.
--Emanon


Hmmm, as of 15 April 1943, British Eighth Army had c. 188,343 men on a c. 25 mile front. However, the American II Corps and British First Army with another c. 310,00 men were on a front of about 125 miles and the entire force faced about 350,000 German-Italian troops. However, as of 25 July, the 90-odd mile front in Normandy was the arena for about 670,000 Allied and 322,000 German troops...with the Allied forces gaining in strength almost daily.

The 40-odd mile western sector in Normandy was held by some 122,000 German troops...so was only marginally "more weakly held".

BWilson

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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/29/2017 2:31:20 PM
The 40-odd mile western sector in Normandy was held by some 122,000 German troops...so was only marginally "more weakly held".

Rich,

 Thanks for the comments. Wondering about the German troop quality. Where were the Panzer and Fallschirm formations deployed ? Not to say that regular German infantry in 1944 could not still put in a good performance (Metz, Huertgen Forest), but per the historiography, the mechanized and paratroop formations seem most often mentioned as the linchpins of resistance to Allied advances.

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BW
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richto90
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/30/2017 10:28:49 AM

Quote:
 Thanks for the comments. Wondering about the German troop quality. Where were the Panzer and Fallschirm formations deployed ? Not to say that regular German infantry in 1944 could not still put in a good performance (Metz, Huertgen Forest), but per the historiography, the mechanized and paratroop formations seem most often mentioned as the linchpins of resistance to Allied advances.


On 25 July, the German forces facing FUSA included 17. SS-Panzergrenadier, 2. SS-Panzer, and Panzerlehr, along with all the Fallschirmjaeger in Normandy (6. FJR, 3. FJD, and the operational bits of 4. FJD - 13., 14., and 15. FJR) along with 352. ID, which was nearly identical in quality to 352. ID of D-Day fame, and the remnants of 352. ID. That the rest of the formations of 7. Armee were a hodge-podge of division remnants from 77. and 91. ID and mobile KG from divisions in Brittany, does not change that they were infantry in a position almost perfectly suited to an infantry defense. The Germans themselves later remarked the bocage was unsuited to armor in defense and attack, especially the Panther, and proved it themselves in the disastrous attack by Lehr at La Desert earlier in July. What caused the front to collapse was a lack of infantry and supporting arms, not a lack of armor.

Sorry, but my view is the "German troop quality" business is mostly a red herring. The quality of the German mechanized and paratroop formations varied as well and only 3. FJD in Normandy was more or less completely organized, 5. FJD was a division in name only and actually consisted of three regimental KG. Lehr was well-equipped, but indifferently led, especially at the top, and its performance was always less than stellar. 2. SS-Panzer was good at killing Maquis and civilians, but was otherwise a disorganized mess. 17. SS was newly formed and inexperienced and was roughly handled in its first action at Carentan by just as inexperienced American paratroop and armor forces.

Nor were the divisions facing the British any more spectacular, but the terrain was more suited to armor in defense and attack, which is why the bulk of the German armor was there and what made the Panthers of 1. SS, 12. SS, and 2. Panzer so deadly.

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 7/5/2017 1:43:11 PM
One theme which is of interest- is how army officers adjusted to their changed role after the fighting was over and the task of ‘winning the peace’ had begun. I’ve recently read the autobiography of General Sir Brian Horrocks, ‘A Full Life’, (first published in 1960 by William Collins; new edition published 1974 by Leo Cooper), which provides some insight into this, although he stayed in Germany for only a few months after the end of the war.

Horrocks was one of three Corps Commanders in the British 21st Army Group, who reported directly to Montgomery as Commander-in-Chief. With the rank of Lieutenant General (which is higher than Major General) the Corps Commanders were, in the early days of the occupation, the most important people in the Zone, equal if not senior in rank to the Deputy Military Governor, Sir Brian Robertson, with complete authority in their own areas of command.

According to his Wikipedia entry, Horrocks was one of Montgomery’s more successful generals, respected by both his British and American colleagues. He fought under Montgomery at the Battle of Alamein and in North Africa, and then again, as commander of 30 Corps, from the Battle of Normandy to the final defeat of the German armies and unconditional surrender in May 1945.

Regards

Jim
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George
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 7/5/2017 8:07:27 PM
Horrocks and his Corps also fought under the command of the Canadian 1st Army in the Battles of the Rhineland in February and March of 1945.

So did Crocker's Corps from July '44 to Mar. '45.

In the book reference that I provided in an earlier post, historian Delaney calls Brian Horrocks, "the Actor".

Horrocks like to display a public persona that was carefree and confident. He would crack jokes with soldiers as he went by and call out people that he knew by first name.

Delaney reminds us of the scene in the movie of "A Bridge Too Far" of a British officer in his jeep, driving past columns of men trying to make their way up the road.

He jokes and he laughs and appears not to be alarmed at developments.


But that apparently was Horrocks in public. He felt that it wouldn't do for the Corps commander to appear distressed.

Horrocks had this to say on the morning of battle at Alam Halfa in August 1942:


Quote:
“It was di cult ... to shave, dress calmly then walk over to the operations room. I would have liked to have leapt out of my valise and run over, but the appearance of an unshaven, out-of-breath corps commander would not have created a favourable impression.”


Horrocks was technically very sound but also a great motivator of men. Not all Corps commanders cans say that.

And who would have predicted it. He finished 173rd of 175 candidates at Royal Military College, Sandhurst.



anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 7/6/2017 3:43:03 AM
Thank you George-I do believe it was his charisma and blind obedience to orders which enamoured him to Montgomery.I am pretty sure that his crocodile tears over Kleve- were part of his Actor side but he was an able and well liked Corps Commander-despite his abysmal result at Sandhurst .

I do remember him and lectures on BBC in the Fifties-if my memory serves me correctly-he was a star with his hands-they were so impressive-e could put lipstick on a pig without flicking an eye.I thought him a good man-"a proper chap" as Monty would say.

PS.
Quote:
Up to 24 July, the front line remained in Normandy relatively unchanged. The next day however, the Americans launched Operation Cobra, an attack on German positions on the western end of the Contentin Peninsula.

They made considerable progress and the British Second Army launched Operation Bluecoat to support the attack and to exploit the momentum. VIII Corps, on the right flank made considerable progress but XXX Corps was sluggish. Annoyed, Montgomery sacked Bucknall and replaced him with Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks, a distinguished veteran of North Africa.

After the sacking of Bucknall, the performance of XXX Corps improved considerably and it managed to keep up with the other British Corps during the Battle for the Falaise Gap. After the German collapse, XXX Corps quickly advanced north-east and liberated Brussels and Antwerp in Belgium.
Wikipedia-indicating the circs in which Horrocks regained XXX Corps after wounding in Nth africa

Regards

Jim
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George
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 7/6/2017 6:53:52 AM
Here's a Horrocks story from a book written by Mark Zuelke.

During the preparation for Operation Veritable with British and Canadians assembling, word came down that the commander of the British Corps, Horrocks wanted to see the area in front of the Canadians.

He showed up in the area north of Groesbeek where the CDN 3rd div was assembling.

Brig. Jim Roberts of 8th brigade was notified that he was to accompany the Lt. Gen.

Horrocks arrived and immediately went to the men patrolling the sector. Some of them were brewing tea in their holes. He chatted with all of them.

Roberts was naturally concerned. The last thing that he needed was a dead Lt. Gen on his hands.


Horrocks said that he wanted to move forward. Just before getting into a jeep with Roberts he reached down and grabbed the green beret of one private soldier and plunked his general's hat with the the red trim on the head of the private.

Roberts and Horrocks got into a jeep and raced across open ground to a section of wood. Then it was on their bellies to crawl and by this time Horrocks was calling Roberts by his first name, Jim.

With the recce finished they headed back to the patrol area. Horrocks claimed his general's hat and gave the soldier his beret.

This little affair made a big impression on the Canadian soldiers and Brig. Roberts.


Horrocks was one of the few Brits who actually appreciated CDN Gen. Crerar who was a rather stiff and formal career soldier.

Perhaps not well known was that Horrocks was quite ill just prior to Veritable. Monty had even sent him home for week's rest, finding him a bit "twitchy". He wanted him fit for Veritable.

Horrocks commented that his commander at that time, Gen. Crerar, during the period of his illness, did not lose patience with him.


Quote:
the outward and visible sign was that I became extremely irritable and bad tempered, yet Crerar bore with me patiently."


Of Crerar, he considered him:


Quote:
much underrated, largely because he was the exact opposite of Montgomery. He hated publicity, but was full of common sense and always prepared to listen to the views of his subordinate commanders."



Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 7/6/2017 7:08:20 AM
Lovely story George about a General who was brave ,good with all brother officers and men;-and liked by all who came into contact with him.


Quote:
"I have always regarded the forward edge of battle as the most exclusive club in the world."

-Lt.Gen Sir Brian Gwynne Horrocks (1895-1995)
("A Full Life" 1960)

Regards

Jim
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Michigan Dave
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 7/6/2017 8:32:11 AM
George, & Jim,

Gen. Sir Brian Horrocks seems like the kind of commander, troops would follow any-where? BTW How & when was he knighted?

Thanks for sharing,
Dave
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anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 7/6/2017 10:34:41 AM
Horrocks received two further mentions in despatches for his service in north-west Europe on 22 March and 9 August 1945, and was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 5 July 1945.

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 7/8/2017 7:44:50 AM
Las but by no means least is-Field Marshal Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, KG, GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO & Bar (23 July 1883 – 17 June 1963) was a senior officer of the British Army. He was Chief of the Imperial General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, during the Second World War, and was promoted to field marshal in 1944.

As chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Brooke was the foremost military advisor to Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, and had the role of co-ordinator of the British military efforts in the Allies' victory in 1945.

After retiring from the army, he served as Lord High Constable of England during the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. His war diaries attracted attention for their criticism of Churchill and for Brooke's forthright views on other leading figures of the war.-

During the First World War, he served with the Royal Artillery in France where he gained a reputation as an outstanding planner of operations. At the Battle of the Somme in 1916, he introduced the French "creeping barrage" system, thereby helping the protection of the advancing infantry from enemy machine gun fire.

Brooke was with the Canadian Corps from early 1917 and planned the barrages for the Battle of Vimy Ridge having at his disposal the Corps artillery and that loaned from the British First Army. In 1918 he was appointed GSO1 as the senior artillery commander in the First Army. Brooke ended the conflict as a lieutenant colonel with the Distinguished Service Order and Bar.

Between the wars, he was a lecturer at the Staff College, Camberley and the Imperial Defence College, where Brooke knew most of those who became leading British commanders of the Second World War. From the mid-1930s Brooke held a number of important appointments: Inspector of Artillery, Director of Military Training and then GOC of the Mobile Division.

In 1938, on promotion to lieutenant-general he took command of the Anti-Aircraft Corps (renamed Anti-Aircraft Command in April 1939) and built a strong relationship with Air Marshal Hugh Dowding, the AOC-in-C of Fighter Command, which laid a vital basis of co-operation between the two arms during the Battle of Britain. In July 1939 Brooke moved to command Southern Command. By the outbreak of the Second World War, Brooke was already seen as one of the army's foremost generals.

Extracted from Wikipedia

Regards

Jim

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