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 (1939-1945) WWII Battles
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john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/1/2019 7:12:10 PM
During the months before the Allies landed, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel argued for placing the panzers (the core of German strength) as close to the beaches as possible; he believed that the campaign would be won or lost in the first forty-eight hours,"the Longest Day" that the panzers needed to be brought in to action as soon as possible, and that Allied airpower would prevent armored forces located farther inland from reaching the beachhead quickly. Other German generals argued for a central panzer reserve hidden near Paris, which could mount a massive counterattack. This was how tanks tended to be used on the Eastern Front, and after all, the Germans did not know just where the Allies would attack.

Rommel was given 3 division, one the 21st proved to be very effective around Caen.

Was Rommel correct in his planned use of his panzers?

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/1/2019 8:03:26 PM
John, interesting question. I don't think there is any answer, though there might be a lot of conjecture.

IMHO, one key – as you note – is that the Germans didn't know where the attack would land. And without that knowledge, Rommel's argument was seen by many as a potential tactical blunder.

A second issue was Hitler's own belief that the landing would take place in the Calais region, a belief supported (and we must wonder for what reasons) by fake intel (the Patton ruse, bolstered on the day by the radar armada created by RAF 617 Squadron flying a relentless pattern to create radar misinformation).

A third point – not as big a deal as I think has been made of it in pop history – was the refusal to commit to defense without the explicit permission of Hitler ... who was purportedly asleep and had forbidden anyone to waken him.

Rommel was a pretty canny strategist. I think his instinct was correct: hit the invader on the beaches and drive him back into the sea. Even if what you face is a diversion rather than the main invasion force, destroy enemy troops and equipment, and you strike doubt into the hearts of what were, to a great extent, virgin soldiers. Keep in mind the possibility that had Omaha collapsed it was odds on that the forces on the other 4 beaches could be wrapped up. Day 1 was a near-run thing.

IMHO, the real question is: "What would Rommel have done had he been on site, or had he good communications with an on-site second-in-command he could rely on?" Would he have dared to commit without Hitler's blessing? Would he have screamed for Luftwaffe and U-boat support? Would they have made any difference? All we know is that while the Germans delayed the advance into France by weeks, D-Day did succeed.

It would be interesting to know how German military intelligence assessed the capabilities of the troops amassing in Britain? Or the quality and functionality of their ground weapons?

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
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dt509er
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
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Posts: 698

Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/2/2019 12:13:47 AM

Quote:
During the months before the Allies landed, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel argued for placing the panzers (the core of German strength) as close to the beaches as possible; he believed that the campaign would be won or lost in the first forty-eight hours,"the Longest Day" that the panzers needed to be brought in to action as soon as possible, and that Allied airpower would prevent armored forces located farther inland from reaching the beachhead quickly. Other German generals argued for a central panzer reserve hidden near Paris, which could mount a massive counterattack. This was how tanks tended to be used on the Eastern Front, and after all, the Germans did not know just where the Allies would attack.

Rommel was given 3 division, one the 21st proved to be very effective around Caen.

Was Rommel correct in his planned use of his panzers?

--john hayward



My question is, knowing the effectiveness of allied air power, what potential did allied naval guns off shore have on not allowing the panzers near by?

---------------
"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..."

I take offense to your perception of being offended!

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richto90

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Posts: 488

Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/2/2019 12:22:46 AM

Quote:
During the months before the Allies landed, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel argued for placing the panzers (the core of German strength) as close to the beaches as possible; he believed that the campaign would be won or lost in the first forty-eight hours,"the Longest Day" that the panzers needed to be brought in to action as soon as possible, and that Allied airpower would prevent armored forces located farther inland from reaching the beachhead quickly. Other German generals argued for a central panzer reserve hidden near Paris, which could mount a massive counterattack. This was how tanks tended to be used on the Eastern Front, and after all, the Germans did not know just where the Allies would attack.


There are a lot of misconceptions about what Rommel's "plan" included, what he was arguing for, and what - and who - was arguing as an alternative.

Rommel advocated for a layered, in depth static and mobile defense of the coast. He wanted to create a reserve of mobile infantry to back up the shallow coastal crust with a mobile Panzer reserve to back that up by counterattacking and eliminating beachheads. By June he had partly succeeded in creating additional mobile infantry by confiscating civilian motor transport. However, he failed to get full control of all the Panzer forces.

The opposing view was held by Geyr von Schweppenburg who commanded Panzergruppe-West, which was responsible for the administration and training of all Panzertruppen in Ob.West. He saw the threat was Allied air power rather than sea power. Convinced that the Allies had assembled a airborne force of eight divisions and the transport assets to move them in a single lift, he saw the threat was a massive Allied desant on Paris, cutting Ob.West in half. So he wanted to hold the strategic Panzer reserve to protect Paris and once it defeated the air assault, turn it on the seaborne landings.

Both though had to deal with another issue...few of the ten-odd Paner divisions in Ob.West were operational in April, when the dispute arose...and few more as late as 1 June. 1. and 2. SS-Panzer were wrecks and were only operational by late June. 116. Panzer was still being built from the remnants of 16. Infanterie-Division (mot). 11. Panzer was a wreck and didn't even arrive in theater until mid-May. The reality was only some four divisions, 12. SS-Panzer, Panzer-Lehr, 2. Panzer, and 21. Panzer were really fully ready. On top of that the organization of Ob.West was a mess. It had a single army group under its control, commanding four armies, defending the Atlantic and Mediterranean coast. The solution was to split the command, with HG-B retaining 7. and 15. Armee, while a new command, Armeegruppe-G (initially an ad hoc organization) took command of 1. and 19. Armee. The Panzer reserve was also split, with HG-B, assessed as the greater threat, assigned XXXXVII Panzerkorps with two of the ready divisions, 21. Panzer attached to 7. Armee and 2. Panzer to 15. Armee as Rommel's immediate reserve. The third division of the corps was 116. Panzer, which wasn't ready for offensive operations until July. LVIII Reserve-Panzerkorps was give the easier task of supporting AG-G, it had three rebuilding divisions, 2. SS, 9., and 11. Panzer to work with. The central reserve then became I. SS-Panzerkorps with the fully operational Lehr and 12. SS, as well as the rebuilding 1. SS and the new 17. SS-Panzergrenadier. The last was deployed with AG-G's 1. Armee to backstop the wreck of divisions in the south and also could help defend the Biscay coast.

So it was a compromise that made the best use of the resources without giving too much authority to either Rommel or Geyr.


Quote:
Rommel was given 3 division, one the 21st proved to be very effective around Caen.


Although deployed almost exactly as Rommel wished, 21. Panzer proved to be completely incapable of stopping the allied landing.


Quote:
Was Rommel correct in his planned use of his panzers?


The tactical concept was sound, certainly sounder than Geyr's flight of fancy, but like most of Rommel's concepts it ignored the reality of what assets were available and the logistical constraints that were in place.

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/2/2019 4:39:21 AM
Doesn’t the story that Hitler had forbidden his sleep to be disrupted seem tremendously implausible ?

He had a maniacal obsession with things. Knowing that a supremely critical event was about to occur, is it likely that he would insist on being left undisturbed ?

This doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/2/2019 6:46:42 AM
Not sure if this comparison is even valid but didn't the Hermann Goring Division counterattack on Sicily almost work. I do know if failed and the US Navy played a big part in the action. But it came very close to working.

As far as Hitler, it seems plausible. First time I ever heard of it was in "The Longest Day" Now it is everywhere

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/2/2019 11:25:54 AM
Good points on Rommel, lets just be thankful he wasn't on site with his Panzers!?

It wouldn't have been pretty!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/2/2019 12:15:55 PM
The Germans may have been scrambling to get organized and to move armour to Normandy on D + 1 and D + 2 but they did arrive and the action of 12th SS armour and infantry at villages like Bretteville and Putôt-en-Bessin nearly drove a wedge between the British and Canadians. If the Germans had been able to get to the beaches in greater numbers than they did, I think that that would have been problematic. And more armour right on the spot could have changed the result. But how would Rommel know that that is where he needed to concentrate his armour. The German defensive wall was very long and they could not have armour everywhere.

As I recall, the British units had not advanced quite as far as the Canadians and so the Germans were able to occupy some towns adjacent to the Canadian positions.

Still the Germans threw themselves at the British and Canadian positions, sometimes without artillery support. If they had had greater numbers of tanks and men, the situation would have been different. But it isn't as though the Germans did not have any armour at all. And there was understandable confusion among the different German elements as they struggled to communicate and get themselves organized. The fought desperately.

British artillery and naval bombardment took a heavy toll on the Germans on July 7, 8.

example: Elements of Panzer-Lehr 3rd battalion had moved into Adrieu which was supposed to have been taken by the British but they had not arrived yet. This threatened the position between the Canadians and the British. And so the Brits bombed them and they withdrew.


Quote:
We were offered a glimpse of the most horrific face of war. The enemy had systematically hacked an element of the Panzer-Lehr Division to pieces with heavy artillery. Beside the obliterated vehicles and weapons lay the pieces of our Comrades. Others hung from the trees. It commanded a dreadful silence.
. source:Oberscharfuehrer Hans-Georg Kesslar of the 3rd Battalion

I find the allied need to hold, retain and reinforce the landings with actions on June 7, 8 and 9 to be of critical importance and they did stop the German counter attack, forcing them to consolidate at Caen, which is another story.

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dt509er
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/2/2019 12:42:28 PM

Quote:
Not sure if this comparison is even valid but didn't the Hermann Goring Division counterattack on Sicily almost work. I do know if failed and the US Navy played a big part in the action. But it came very close to working.

--john hayward


Exactly John. At Gela, Sicily, US Naval ships whacked troops and panzers forcing Hermann Göring Division commander, General Paul Conrath to recall his men and panzers back from the shellacking they were receiving from naval and land guns ranging from 5", 6" and 155mm Long Toms.

Naval gun fire during the Sicilian invasion takes large credit for the success of the invasion and rightfully so.
---------------
"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..."

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George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/2/2019 2:08:04 PM
RE: Sicily

I don't believe that there was any pre-landing bombardment and the Italians had ceded the beaches and formed defensive positions farther to the rear. As well, there was a para drop as part of the landing but I don't know whether that affected the decision not to lay down a bombardment.

That doesn't mean that the US landing force wasn't taking any fire because they were. The Italians were firing MG's and mortars out into the sea, hoping to hit the landing craft.

As well, the Italians, not always known for their resolve, did put up a fight in Gela for a while on D-day.

So I presume that the discussion is about the counter attack on D + 1 at Gela?

The Italians first sent Renault tanks after the Americans and the Herman Goering division was close behind.


Quote:
Further punishment came screaming in from the USS Boise. The light cruiser’s 15 six-inch guns were equivalent to more than a battalion of 155mm howitzers. The heavy shells crashed around the Italian tanks, sending heavy chunks of shrapnel tearing through the air and into the Italian troops. Many of the Renaults were knocked out as well, too light to withstand such heavy fire.


Still about 16 Renaults got through and the infantry took care of them.

Another 24 Renaults came toward Gela from an airfield.

Once again the destroyer Shubrick went into action, firing repeated salvos of 5-inch shells at the desperate Italian force. Over half the enemy tanks were stopped, many of them burning along the roadway, but 10 of them continued toward Gela

The US Rangers in Gela will tell us that they stopped the Italian tanks with infantry tactics so I know that you navy guys are willing to give them some credit.

Next the Italians sent infantry who apparently were marching as though they were on parade grounds and infantry and naval gunfire chopped them up.

The Luftwaffe was a significant opponent and I believe that it was German aircraft that sank HMS Maddox. They also hit an ammunition ship and blew it up. US forces, land and sea, were attacked pretty heavily by Italian and German air forces.

The Herman Goring division certainly weren't the Italians at Gela. They provided significant opposition and the US had had trouble getting its armour on land. The Germans pushed back the Americans in some areas because they had no armour.

How much credit do we give to George Patton? I know that he gets a lot but is it true that he was the guy that made contact with the navy and ordered them to bring down fire on another group of Italians coming from the north. And USS Boise destroyed the Italian counter attack.

Still the Germans got in pretty close at Gela and the navy couldn't pour fire into the town because they could hit their own.

But with tanks burning, the Germans decided to retreat. And that's when the navy joined in again.

By the end of the second day, US tanks were on the ground and firing in support of the infantry.

Read this account of action by USS Boise and Savannah and assorted destroyers.


Quote:
Again the Navy plunged into the action. One of the cruisers came in so close her sailors had to take constant depth readings to ensure the ship did not run aground. Both Boise and Savannah, joined by four destroyers, savaged the Germans. Boise’s shells carried variable time fuses that caused them to detonate in deadly airbursts above their targets. Trees were shredded, grapevines torn apart, wheat fields ripped away. Amid all this devastation, human flesh was only too vulnerable, and German soldiers were killed and wounded in scores.

Within minutes over a dozen German tanks were reduced to wreckage. American soldiers could actually hear the screams of tank crewmen trapped in the fires of their burning vehicles. It was an eerie and disturbing sound, ending when the tank’s ammunition detonated from the heat, killing anyone left inside. At 1316 an observer called for naval gunfire against a group of German tanks trying to regroup for another attack. The destroyer Butler responded with 48 rounds. One of the heavy Tigers was hit on the turret by a shell, though it is unknown whether it was naval gunfire or Army artillery. The round did not penetrate the Tiger’s thick armor, but the tank’s commander recalled how rivets inside the behemoth broke off and flew around the compartment.




Sounds to me like the Battle of Gela was close run affair. I don't know whether the USN won the battle because the men on the ground certainly had their share of grief but the sailors did more than their bit.

Just wanted to add that RN vessels like the monitor, HMS Abercrombie were stationed off Gela. Was Operation Husky the first time that naval operations had been combined under one command, in this case British?





dt509er
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
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Posts: 698

Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/2/2019 3:35:35 PM

Quote:
Sounds to me like the Battle of Gela was close run affair. I don't know whether the USN won the battle because the men on the ground certainly had their share of grief but the sailors did more than their bit.


Did the USN win the Battle of Gela, IMO no but the importance of the naval guns proved themselves at Gela and more than once in Sicily, did so at the beaches of Normandy(initial assault support) and unless the Panzers stayed far enough away, the navy guns would have again at Normandy. And lest us not forget, that tank/panzer effectiveness was supported by ground troops and once the navy guns starting hitting the ground, it was those troops who took a beating.

---------------
"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..."

I take offense to your perception of being offended!

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john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/2/2019 8:40:58 PM
The Allies controlled the air and the coastline with the Navy at Normandy. Still the Germans were able to hold the Allied advance at Caen and in the bocage for some time. This was the opposite of Rommel holding them on the beaches.

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/3/2019 3:56:29 AM
Rommel didn’t like static fighting, did he ?


He was a proponent and practitioner of the bold attack, even to the point of outrageous flouting of logistical needs. His dynamism flourished in a daring surge forward : not for him the stasis of an El Alamein line, let alone the holding of an Atlantic Wall.

To put such a man in charge of marshalling a massive defense programme might be seen as inappropriate .

Why harness a race horse to a cart ?

That’s not to denigrate the prowess of the cart horse....perhaps Kesselring might have been a better choice for France in the summer of 1944 ?

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/3/2019 7:12:06 AM
Smiling Albert did a fine job in Italy. He turned that theater of the war into long painful scene

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/3/2019 7:55:40 AM

Quote:
The Allies controlled the air and the coastline with the Navy at Normandy. Still the Germans were able to hold the Allied advance at Caen and in the bocage for some time. This was the opposite of Rommel holding them on the beaches.
--john hayward


And yet it was the German armour that was destroyed, at great cost, when they attempted to destroy the British and Canadian defensive positions in the small towns.

I think that the narrative of the plodding and unimaginative "British" forces stymied by the superior tactical capabilities of the Germans perhaps needs re-examination. And it has been, by many modern historians.

Just as geography and topography had a great deal to do with the US forces and British forces being stymied in bocage country, the geography of the land before Caen and down to the Falaise gap actually became a trap for the armour of whichever army attempted to use the inviting "tank country".

When the Germans sent infantry and armour to dislodge British and Canadian forces from the small towns before Caen, they were met with fearsome fire from the infantry but also great anti-tank fire. And when the British and Canadians attempted the same, they were met with lethal fire from the German side.

This essay by noted historian Marc Milner attempts to explain how geography, both in the US bocage country and in the tank country around Caen, dictated the type of fighting.

I note that modern Canadian historians have spent their careers in trying to explain why the British and Canadian advance at Caen and later at Falaise was so difficult and to dispel the belief that it was only the superiority of the German soldier and officers plus the lack of assertiveness by the British and Canadians that slowed the advance.

He asks whether there would have been a difference had American troops been charged with the battles of Caen and beyond while the Canadians and British were in the bocage country.

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Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/4/2019 8:11:11 AM
Any opinions on where Rommel would rate as far as WWII German Commanders??

MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Killroy63
Pinson, AL, USA
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/8/2019 9:02:12 PM
Much fodder for discussion here- as is almost always the case.

To my mind, Rommel was largely wasted in his D-Day role. He had proven to be a master of the maneuver, and NW France offered precious few areas in which his talents could be brought to best use. I think any of Hitler's generals could have been a "lead contractor", overseeing the pouring of tons of cement, the placement of mines and the unspooling of barbed wire. Had the Russian Front not been a catastrophe in the making even in June '44, I'd think Rommel would have been far more effective there.

Rommel would have known the effective ranges of varying naval guns and placed his panzer reserves so as to be safely out of that range in the run-up to the invasion, and I suspect that he would have counterattacked at night so as to reduce the effectiveness of Allied naval guns (and the "Jabos" as well). I would never say that the effectiveness of Allied naval bombardment would have been eliminated, but it could have been reduced.

richto90

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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/9/2019 10:37:25 AM

Quote:
Much fodder for discussion here- as is almost always the case.

To my mind, Rommel was largely wasted in his D-Day role. He had proven to be a master of the maneuver, and NW France offered precious few areas in which his talents could be brought to best use. I think any of Hitler's generals could have been a "lead contractor", overseeing the pouring of tons of cement, the placement of mines and the unspooling of barbed wire. Had the Russian Front not been a catastrophe in the making even in June '44, I'd think Rommel would have been far more effective there.


Rommel's role was more as a motivator than as a "lead contractor", but even that was only until his HG-B took an operational role under Ob.West on 12 January 1944.


Quote:
Rommel would have known the effective ranges of varying naval guns and placed his panzer reserves so as to be safely out of that range in the run-up to the invasion, and I suspect that he would have counterattacked at night so as to reduce the effectiveness of Allied naval guns (and the "Jabos" as well). I would never say that the effectiveness of Allied naval bombardment would have been eliminated, but it could have been reduced.
--Killroy63


The problem with that is the Germans, like the Allies, could not effectively attack at night with mechanized forces, given the problems associated with command and control during night operations at the time. The British experimented with night mechanized operations with limited success in Normandy and later, but the few German attempts, such as at Maisy against the 90th ID in September, were abject failures.

The defensive problems that Rommel tried to solve with his layered coastal crust, mobile infantry, and counterattack Panzer force scheme were simply insolvable with the resources he had at hand.



OpanaPointer
St. Louis, MO, USA
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/9/2019 1:02:33 PM

Quote:
During the months before the Allies landed, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel argued for placing the panzers (the core of German strength) as close to the beaches as possible; he believed that the campaign would be won or lost in the first forty-eight hours,"the Longest Day" that the panzers needed to be brought in to action as soon as possible, and that Allied airpower would prevent armored forces located farther inland from reaching the beachhead quickly. Other German generals argued for a central panzer reserve hidden near Paris, which could mount a massive counterattack. This was how tanks tended to be used on the Eastern Front, and after all, the Germans did not know just where the Allies would attack.

Rommel was given 3 division, one the 21st proved to be very effective around Caen.

Was Rommel correct in his planned use of his panzers?

--john hayward

Both Rommel and von Rundstedt noted in their Kriegstagebuch that Allied naval gun fire, especially the battleships, was a major problem for troop movement, especially armor. If the panzers had been closer to the coast smaller ships would have been able to rain fire down on them.

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/9/2019 1:48:16 PM
Found this article on the 21st Panzer's attempted counterattack. Very interesting

https://www.historynet.com/die-another-day-counterattack-normandy.htm

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/9/2019 1:55:07 PM
[Read More]

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/9/2019 4:23:32 PM

Quote:
But was it really the Allies who inadvertently missed an opportunity to annihilate much of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s panzer strength in Normandy when the Germans speedily withdrew from the coast instead of funneling more men and armor into the gap?


Mr. Giangreco posed this question in the essay provided by Jim. I read it but I don't think that he addressed his own question, did he?

More German armour arrived within 24 hours and there were desperate German attacks on Authie and Buron, Putot-en-Bessin and Bretteville on June 7.

I don't believe that they had all of their armour in place on the 7th and certainly not on the 6th, so I don't understand his question. Weren't the bulk of the tanks still in transit?

He did allude to the fact that the allied air forces seemed to miss the bulk of the 21st's panzers. Perhaps that is what he meant by a missed opportunity.

redcoat
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/9/2019 4:49:08 PM

Quote:


He did allude to the fact that the allied air forces seemed to miss the bulk of the 21st's panzers. Perhaps that is what he meant by a missed opportunity.
--George
My reading of the article is that he's commenting on the fact that most historical accounts paint the withdrawal of the 21st Panzers from their advanced positions between the two beachheads as a mistake, while he takes the view that if the formation had remained in that position it would have been quickly cut off and destroyed.

George
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/9/2019 5:22:25 PM
Thanks Redcoat. He also characterized the German movements as "befuddled" with respect to the 21st Panzer and contends that they wasted 114 Mk IV tanks by not sending them from staging areas near Caen (Le Contest??).

So I thought that the author was saying that if those tanks had been sent to the gap between Sword and Juno that they would have destroyed British and then Canadian forces.

He seemed to suggest that Major General Edgar Feuchtinger was spooked by a huge number of aircraft arriving as he was sending tanks to the beach and so he ordered the withdrawal.

So had those tanks been dispatched would there have been sufficient British anti-tank capabilities on the beach at that time?

redcoat
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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/9/2019 5:57:21 PM

Quote:
Thanks Redcoat. He also characterized the German movements as "befuddled" with respect to the 21st Panzer and contends that they wasted 114 Mk IV tanks by not sending them from staging areas near Caen (Le Contest??).

So I thought that the author was saying that if those tanks had been sent to the gap between Sword and Juno that they would have destroyed British and then Canadian forces.

He seemed to suggest that Major General Edgar Feuchtinger was spooked by a huge number of aircraft arriving as he was sending tanks to the beach and so he ordered the withdrawal.

So had those tanks been dispatched would there have been sufficient British anti-tank capabilities on the beach at that time?
--George
The gap was an irrelevance, the German's would have quickly found themselves trapped between the two expanding beachheads, and the British and Canadians while they might have have had problems dealing with the German heavier tanks while on the offensive, had little fear of dealing with the Panzer IV's of the 21st with the anti-tank weapons they had.

richto90

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Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/9/2019 7:17:38 PM

Quote:
Thanks Redcoat. He also characterized the German movements as "befuddled" with respect to the 21st Panzer and contends that they wasted 114 Mk IV tanks by not sending them from staging areas near Caen (Le Contest??).


"Befuddled" is putting it kindly. I would describe the German movements as nearly pure SNAFU.

Consider. Everyone likes to go on about "Hitler oversleeping", which is untrue, and the "lack of a clear chain of command", which is also untrue. Most of the German problems on D-Day were caused by various issues with the German commanders on the ground.

For one, the initial actions by 21. Panzer were executed by a captain - and a reserve captain at that - who happened to be the senior staff officer (the assistant divisional adjutant IIRC, so the junior G-1 officer on the division staff) on duty when the paratroops started landing. For another, the divisional commander had used the pretext of attending the Rennes war game to hie off to Paris to spend the evening with his mistress, the Schwartz Maedel (black girl, possibly Josephine Baker).

Worse, at 0500 hours, instead of requesting permission for employment of the OKW reserve, Ob.West unilaterally assumed control of 12.SS-Pz.Div. and assigned it to HG-B, ordering it to move to the sector of the 711.Inf.Div. Then at 0624 they requested release of the reserve...and at 0645 finally released 21. Panzer to control of 7. Armee, even though it could have been released hours earlier. The hasty attempt to seize control of 12. SS (and also later Lehr) resulted in a confused series of back-and-forths between the units and the senior commanders, which confused everyone and resulted in much of the hesitation during D-Day...which after the war got conveniently blamed on Hitler.

richto90

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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 488

Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/10/2019 1:33:37 AM

Quote:

Quote:
For another, the divisional commander had used the pretext of attending the Rennes war game to hie off to Paris to spend the evening with his mistress, the Schwartz Maedel (black girl, possibly Josephine Baker).


Just checked. Nope, not Baker, so evidently another black jazz chanteuse in Paris.

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 532

Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/10/2019 8:33:16 AM
"Everyone likes to go on about "Hitler oversleeping", which is untrue,"

This story has been repeated over and over. If it is untrue, where/when did it start? And by who? As we have seen by today's activities, even great lies have a kernel of truth in them.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 919

Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/10/2019 10:51:17 AM
Rich,

I've seen the mistress described as a "South American exotic dancer" rather than Jazz singer.


---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


richto90

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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 488

Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/10/2019 12:54:16 PM

Quote:
"Everyone likes to go on about "Hitler oversleeping", which is untrue,"

This story has been repeated over and over. If it is untrue, where/when did it start? And by who? As we have seen by today's activities, even great lies have a kernel of truth in them.
--john hayward


As best I can make out, various people over the years have conflated Hitler's habits with what he actually did on 6 June 1944. Yes, Hitler was a night owl. He hate late and then liked to stay up conversing with his inner circle, often until 2 or even 3 in the morning, and then slept in until 10 or 11 in the morning. It is also well known that on the night of 5/6 June, Hitler stayed up until 2 am as usual, before going to bed. However, his personal SS adjutant, Otto Günsche, recounted that when the initial reports arrived at Keitel's OKW headquarters at Berchtesgaden, Keitel phoned Rudolf Schmundt, Hitler's Wehrmacht adjutant at the Berghof and told him to wake Hitler. Schmundt then woke Heinz Linge, Hitler's valet, who woke Hitler. According to Günsche, Hitler appeared in the great hall of the Berghof at 8 am, appearing fully alert.

The "Hitler was sleeping" story makes a convenient excuse for a number of culprits, such as Rundstedt, Rommel, Spiedel, Dollmann, Marcks, and Feuchtinger, all of whose performance on D-Day was subpar, for various reasons, to put it charitably.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 851

Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/10/2019 12:56:28 PM
Regardless of what solutions Rommel attempted, the fundamental problem the Germans were faced with was that, and certainly by this stage in the war, a well planned and supported operation on the scale of the Allied landings was going to stick. That it would be repulsed and "thrown back into the sea" was simply unrealistic. The Allies were coming ashore, and that was that. The critical phase would be expanding the beachhead to accommodate troops and material for the eventual breakout battle, and the breakout itself. The Germans were able to make this both costly and time consuming, but the final outcome would still amount to a foregone conclusion.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

richto90

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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 488

Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/10/2019 1:55:07 PM

Quote:
Regardless of what solutions Rommel attempted, the fundamental problem the Germans were faced with was that, and certainly by this stage in the war, a well planned and supported operation on the scale of the Allied landings was going to stick. That it would be repulsed and "thrown back into the sea" was simply unrealistic. The Allies were coming ashore, and that was that. The critical phase would be expanding the beachhead to accommodate troops and material for the eventual breakout battle, and the breakout itself. The Germans were able to make this both costly and time consuming, but the final outcome would still amount to a foregone conclusion.
--Jim Cameron


Indeed Jim, and it can be argued that the critical problem for the Germans was not a lack of armor or mobility, or where and how the troops were placed along the coast, but was rather a simple lack of troop density. The lack of good infantry meant that the Panzerwaffe was forced to substitute, acting both to secure the line of departure for their counterattack, as well as executing the counterattack as well. Every time they prepared for the grand counteroffensive to eliminate the beachhead, they were forced to divert resources to support a collapsing part of the line. From 6 June on the German operations were characterized by piecemeal commitments of piecemeal forces along an over-extended line.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 851

Re: Was Rommel right?
Posted on: 4/11/2019 9:54:51 AM
Or as the saying goes, they were "trying to fill a gallon jug with a quart of milk."

Also, panzers without adequate infantry support loose much of their effectiveness, and, become more vulnerable.

I wonder if part of the Germans' problem was also a function of the way their infantry was built around the machine gun. More so than with the U.S. infantry, where the machine guns supported the riflemen, in the German squad the MG did the heavy lifting, and the riflemen were there to support and protect the gun. A German infantry company could take heavy losses, but as long as the MGs were in business, it could put up a strong defense. But I suspect that it would have been a different matter for this same weakened company to shift to the attack and still be as effective.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

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