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Chamberlain or Churchill


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#21 Ken Estes

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Posted 26 October 2004 - 2114 PM

Here is the Master at work with the pros:

Meeting on standardization of arms, 1951 --

PM (Churchill): "When I was at Omdurman, I rode with a sabre in one hand and a pistol in the other."

CIGS (FM Slim): "Not much standardization there, Prime Minister"

R.Lewin, Slim (1999), p.272.

-----------------

As to the early 30s, the British policy since 1920 was that no war was in the offing for 10 years, thus no new projects would be funded. This was extended in 1930 [economic crisis, you know], the London Conferences extended the naval holiday to 1935 and hopes continued for further restraints, at the Geneva continuations. As a backbencher, Churchill could make all kinds of speeches, which he did, variously warning of Germans, Italians, colonies, [not Japan], and also the contrary, confirming in committee various times that no new defense expenditures would be needed in the forseeable future. [Andrew Gordon is particularly critical of this 'variable' record of Churchill]

Indeed, what would have been the air defenses of 1932? None existed in terms of technology, but neither had the low-wing, all-metal bomber emerged as the new danger.

Not all visionaries are right, and not all conservatives [not Tories here] are wrong.

[Edited by Ken Estes (27 Oct 2004).]
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#22 Guest_Sargent_*

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Posted 26 October 2004 - 2152 PM

Re Ken:

I am well aware of the budget constraints and the Ten-Year Rule.

However that should not have prevented the "pros" from thinking and training their men. Hobart showed what training could be accomplished with zippo budget by turning out the very professional 7th Armoured Division. A British general named Burnett-Stuart (retired in 1938) managed a lot of good training and inspired a lot of thought in junior officers. The General Staff loathed him, and the feeling was reciprocated.

The Bomber Barons of the RAF put all their eggs in Douhet's basket. Coastal Command was almost totally neglected, and Fighter Command and the Radar Direction network was almost the single-handed creation of Hugh Dowding - who was loathed by the Air Staff and retired after won the BoB.

Seemingly the only Brits who did good work were 'mavericks,' which leads to the conclusion that the mainstream system was flawed.
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#23 Ken Estes

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Posted 26 October 2004 - 2201 PM

Originally posted by Sargent:
Re Ken:

I am well aware of the budget constraints and the Ten-Year Rule.

However that should not have prevented the "pros" from thinking and training their men. Hobart showed what training could be accomplished with zippo budget by turning out the very professional 7th Armoured Division. A British general named Burnett-Stuart (retired in 1938) managed a lot of good training and inspired a lot of thought in junior officers. The General Staff loathed him, and the feeling was reciprocated.

The Bomber Barons of the RAF put all their eggs in Douhet's basket. Coastal Command was almost totally neglected, and Fighter Command and the Radar Direction network was almost the single-handed creation of Hugh Dowding - who was loathed by the Air Staff and retired after won the BoB.

Seemingly the only Brits who did good work were 'mavericks,' which leads to the conclusion that the mainstream system was flawed.



But several Mavericks have been outed for many years. Only looking at armor icons, Fuller's reputation is now far reduced, and his wackiness more highlighted; Hobart has been correctly praised and criticized as dogmatic and less original, respectively. He is responsible for training the Mobile Div/7th Armored to fire on the move, a most inadvised technique, especially if you have been inside those Limey tanks of the period, yoked like the US M2A4/M3 series. They had to learn the hard way, from the Afrika Korps about firing from the short halt. Just a sample of what we now know.

JP Harris, "Men, Ideas, and Tanks: British Military
Thought and Armoured Forces, 1903-1939" is a good counter to the hagiography Macksey did on Hobart.

[Edited by Ken Estes (27 Oct 2004).]
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#24 JohnB

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Posted 26 October 2004 - 2332 PM

Originally posted by Sargent:
Churchill could point to the success of the Germans and Japanese, who managed without the excessive tail, and whose troops didn't lie down and quit when they got a little tired**. Churchill wanted British troops to match the Axis, and he tended to regard explanations as excuses.


I've really heard it now, are you seriously suggesting the British should have imitated the Axis approach to logistics? Posted Image
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#25 JohnB

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Posted 26 October 2004 - 2344 PM

Originally posted by Sargent:
Churchill came up with some zany off-the-wall plans, but he was coming up with something when all the "pros" came up with were whines and excuses.

If Churchill had waited on Brooke & Co., the war would now be in its 65th year...


If anything Brooke didn't do enough to rein Churchills fertile mind - the Dieppe disaster, the Aegean adventure and the Arakan abortion come to mind.

I presume your opinion of pusillanimity on the part of Brooke is related to the 43/44 invasion controversy, again.
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#26 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 0231 AM

Well, that's an argument I just can't top. Since Churchill traded banter with Slim regarding his Obdurman experiences then clearly he was a substandard wartime leader.

It seems to me that the timeline post here lists Winston Churchill's efforts to be fairly consistent. It says a lot about how Churchill thought of the Nazis. In particulaer Churchill's frustration regarding Chamberlain's desire to reach an "agreement" with Hitler.

In most militaries leadership is a key trait. For better or worse Chuchill had motivational leadership skills that Chamberlain did not and never would have.

I have tried to figure out Brooke and can only come to the conclusion that he wrote only to improve himself compared to others. His constant, scathing criticisms only go so far. After all, if he was a military genius why did it take so long to win the war. Brooke was NOT a team player. I think Montgomery carried Brooke a lot more than the other way around.
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#27 Ken Estes

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 0433 AM

Well, don't get sore, just because nobody swallows your start line:

Originally posted by Tim the Tank Nut:
In the FFZ where angels fear to tread a poster related an interesting theory which I am surely misunderstanding.  That being that Chamberlain was the better man than Churchill.
<snip>
Chamberlain on the other hand was a spineless POS. 


Since that went nowhere, why can't we at least have some fun?
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#28 Scott Cunningham

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 0521 AM

Chamberlain was the Jimmy Carter of Britain. As a man he was a noble and virtuous person, but as a politician and a national leader, he was a catastrophe.

Few would compare Reagan with Carter as a politician, but both were good men on an individual level.
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#29 RETAC21

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 0526 AM

In any case it wouldn't have mattered wether the allies had gone to war vs. Germany in 1938, overawed as they were by the Wehrmacht. Check 1939. Nothing done on Germany's passive front for 7 months.
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#30 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 0626 AM

Alright, you got me on that one fair and square. I have put way to much FFZ in my Gen Mil this time around.
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#31 Lev

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 0649 AM

Originally posted by Tim the Tank Nut:

It seems to me that the timeline post here lists Winston Churchill's efforts to be fairly consistent.

He was very consistent, he always proposed (or supported) a seaborne invasion as a quick fix for the overall strategic situation.

In most militaries leadership is a key trait.  For better or worse Chuchill had motivational leadership skills that Chamberlain did not and never would have.


I don't think anyone would argue with that.
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#32 Mk 1

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 1020 AM

Originally posted by JohnB:
I've really heard it now, are you seriously suggesting the British should have imitated the Axis approach to logistics? Posted Image


I would have to agree with JohnB that suggesting an imitation of the Axis approach to logistics is pretty amazing...

I have just finished reading "Flyboys" (by Bradley). I picked this book up at the airport on my way to Japan, as I am always interested in the stories of individuals in wartime, and it seemed on first look to have a good summary history of Japan's emergence as an industrial power.

And then I read the book... it was ... "illuminating" to me.

I am very familiar with the whole topic of attrocities in Europe and the Soviet Union. I've read dozens of books, seen movies and documentaries, visited various locations in Western Europe, spoken with Holocaust survivors, engaged in debates, etc. etc.

But I guess I have never really understood nor appreciated the level of attrocities in the Pacific war.

I'd be interested in any other opinions of the veracity of some of the claims made in this particular book. It follows the stories of 8 airmen shot down and captured at Chichi Jima (where George Bush the elder would have been the 9th, but for his good fortune to be rescued offshore by a US sub). All 8 were eventually killed, and at the post-war war crimes trials it was revealed that cannibalism was involved. The author wrote the book after being contacted by a witness of those trials, who in that role was sworn to secrecy, but who, after the records of the trials had been made public, thought that the story of those flyboys should be told.

The book tries very hard to give a "both-sides" view of how the environment developed in which such gruesome events could have transpired. In doing so, the book tosses about some "facts" that surprised me.

For example:

-Japanese swords killed more civilians during WWII than American A-bombs. By a factor of maybe 10-to-1.

-About 250,000 Chinese civilians died in the Imperial Army's reaction to the Doolittle raids. Most were beheaded.

-Japanese Imperial Army units were often issued a "ration" of POWs for bayonet training of new recruits. It was viewed as a valuable part of toughening up troops to have them bayonet a live subject. Generally, a chalk circle was drawn on the chest around the area of the heart. This was a "no-stab" zone, so that the subject would not be killed too quickly, and so more recruits could be trained on fewer POWs.

-It was pretty much SOP for Imperial Army units in China to kill all inhabitants of villages in which they planned to sleep. No survivers were permitted, as that would mean someone knew WHERE the Japanese soldiers were sleeping, and so put them at risk. Villages that the soldiers marched through would be left unmolested (except the women, see below), but wherever they stopped for the night everyone had to be killed before sack time.

-It was also SOP to kill all women that were raped. Simple expedience. Japanese who participated in post-war interviews described it in very practical terms. They expected more angry relatives, thus more insurgents, if the women survived to tell the story. So SOP was to kill them.

-As civilian populations became denuded of interesting women, the Army began providing "comfort women" as a resource. This story is perhaps well known. Generally, 13 to 16 year-old Korean girls were taken for this role. They were imprisonned in Army brothels near the front lines, and "serviced" an average of 50 to 70 soldiers PER DAY. After their usefullness was used up they were generally killed, usually after several months due to visible signs of pregnancy. This was seen as a very satisfactory approach, as it kept the soldiers from wandering about looking for women, kept VD under control, AND provided for more sword-practice for the officers.

-At one point during the war, a popular newspaper in Japan (I confess that I have read it often Posted Image ) ran a "regular" feature on two young Imperial Army lieutenants who were having a contest to see who could behead 100 people first! After one of them got to that "lofty" result within a few weeks, the paper said that in good spirits they agreed to continue their competition indefinetly.

-The Imperial Army regularly sent troops to distant areas with no thought to logistics beyond supplying ammo. All else was stated as "local provisioning". In New Guinea, where the land barely supported a very thin native population, this resulted in extremes. Post-war studies document how several units kept POWs and civilian prisoners as "feed stock". Units developed the skill of carving off meat in stages, so the subject would not die for two or three days, as meat (and corpses) tended to spoil quickly in the tropics. Post war there were several survivors, particularly of commonwealth (Indian) units, who attested to this. Japanese soldiers even developed names for the native populations (black cows) to reflect their value as food sources. Rape was not common of native women, as they were seen as too useful as a source of food.

-Eating the internal organs, particularly the heart or liver, of enemy POWs was considered very "macho" by some members of the Imperial Army's officer corps. Army surgeons attested post-war to being called by CO's to remove these organs from executed POWs.


So yeah, I would suggest that emulating the Japanese approach to a log-light tail would not be exactly appropriate.

-Mark
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#33 Guest_Sargent_*

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 1339 PM

Originally posted by JohnB:
I've really heard it now, are you seriously suggesting the British should have imitated the Axis approach to logistics? Posted Image


No, I'm suggesting the CW forces could have displayed the gumption of the Axis. Aussies on Timor fell back before an inferior number of Japanese, retreated for a while, then surrendered when they were "too exhausted" to retreat further. The Japanese chasing them weren't exhausted enough to quit.

Except for two or three CW leaders in Malaya, the Japanese routinely turned out CW forces less than the strength of the attacking Japanese, and improvised a supply line that got them to Singapore. I have pictures of Japanese Engineers who didn't get their bridge done in time standing bent over in water with boards across their backs making a human bridge that the infantry double-timed over. Show me a British (or American FTM) Engineer unit with that dedication.

Monty's pursuit after Alamein lost the Germans because "rains made the ground muddy." The Axis managed to retreat through the mud. Mud only affects the pursuers, not the pursued?

Need more examples?
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#34 Guest_Sargent_*

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 1345 PM

Originally posted by JohnB:
If anything Brooke didn't do enough to rein Churchills fertile mind - the Dieppe disaster, the Aegean adventure and the Arakan abortion come to mind.


He could have reined in "Churchill's fertile mind" by producing results instead of excuses. That he (from his own words) spent the war "reining in" Churchill indicates to me that he didn't have anything to offer in the way of ideas except "it can't be done."

I presume your opinion of pusillanimity on the part of Brooke is related to the 43/44 invasion controversy, again.


1) I didn't say (this time) anything about Brooke's "pusillanmity."

2) Yes, that's part of it.

3) Among many other things.
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#35 Guest_Sargent_*

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 1351 PM

Originally posted by Mk 1:
I would have to agree with JohnB that suggesting an imitation of the Axis approach to logistics is pretty amazing...


Please note that I did NOT suggest the British copy the Axis approach to logistics.

What I SAID (or at least what I MEANT) was that even with their poor approach to logistics the Axis accomplished more than the CW forces did with a much longer logistics tail.

BTW, the length of the CW (and US) tail I have no problem with. It is the BLOAT in the tail of people sitting on the thumbs that I (and WSC and a whole BUNCH of other people) deplore.
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#36 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 1534 PM

From MHQ Winter 2002, Vol 14 Number 2
Article: Churchill's Lonely Campaign by Williamson Murray

"In 1934 Churchill wrote in the Daily Mail:' I marvel at the complacency of ministers in the face of the frightful esperiences through which we have all so newly passed. I look with wonder upon the thoughtless crowds disporting themselves in the summer sunshine and upon this unheeding House of Commons, which seems to have no higher function than to cheer a Minister; {and all the while across the North Sea}, a terrible process is astir. Germany is arming'."

"Churchill's writing and his recognition that we must see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be."

After the Czech crises was resolved in Germany's favor: "And do not suppose this is the end. This is the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first fortaste of a bitter cup..."

"What was particularly disastrous for Britain's prospects in the coming war was that Chamberlain had done vitually nothing to accelerate British military preparations between September, 1938 and March 1939... his government refused to address any of the substantial weaknesses that had appeared during the mobilization occasioned by the Czech crisis."

"Chamberlain...warned the cabinet...that he 'could not accept the services request for increased defense spending as being a purely military matter'."


Of course, we may simply dismiss Mr Murray as some sort of historical hack but that seems unrealistic. Mr Murray is a respected author and historian with a good track record. His many books include A WAR TO BE WON: FIGHTING THE SECOND WORLD WAR. The fact is Mr Murray's analysis (and my own) are dead on. Churchill was the right man for the job and Neville Chamberlain was not. His vision of the future of Nazi Germany was clear from the onset. Neville Chamberlain's personal goodness and his desire to prevent war are not the issue here. War was coming to England, choose it or not.
Ken's personal politics preclude him from giving Churchill his due simply because he is a "darling of the right". This, coupled with the notions that Hitler was a great man (see earlier post) and the idea that Germany on France's west coast was not a threat to England (see earlier post) lead me to the unescapable conclusion that this is a "Belarius Syndrome".
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#37 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 1538 PM

On the logistics issue, Sargent's point is correct. The Allies certainly could have used what they had more effectively. The rub is that totalitarian governments tend to get a little more out of their soldiers than democracies. Particularly democracies where the military is stifled by weak-kneed politicains in the years leading up to war. The Allies' material abundance did not preclude them from fighting the Axis to the end. It just made them seem a little wasteful.
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#38 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 1545 PM

Another quote from the article that shows the value of the man:
"To a young Brigadier General from the Middle East HQ who asked him if he could speak freely, he replied 'Of course. We are not here to pay each other compliments'."

And a few lines from the article again:
"Churchill himself accurately remarked that the strategic decision making system under his predecessors had represented the maximum of study and the minimum of action. It was all very well to say that everything had been thought of. The crux of the matter was-had anything been done?"

See that IS leadership. Do something, as opposed to discussing it indefinitely. Left up to many politicains we would still be discussing the viability of invading Normandy and responding to the threats by current day regimes as well. Oh for Chuchill and Patton in today's world (and a touch of Stalin for those who would idolize him from their cells).
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#39 Grant Whitley

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 1605 PM

Originally posted by Tim the Tank Nut:
The rub is that totalitarian governments tend to get a little more out of their soldiers than democracies.


I wouldn't say that's true generally. Far from being a run of the mill dictatorship, Germany was in the throes of an immensely popular revolution. By contrast, the US was at an ideological nadir in the 30s.

Particularly democracies where the military is stifled by weak-kneed politicains in the years leading up to war.  The Allies' material abundance did not preclude them from fighting the Axis to the end.  It just made them seem a little wasteful.[/i]


In the case of the US, wasn't it the populace, rather than the politicans, who caused that? FDR was all for doing as much as he could from the get go- it was the public who didn't come around until much later. You've also got to consider that both the US and Britain had a long tradition of not maintaining large standing military forces. To do so was seen as antithetical to democracy, an attitude that's shamefully gone out of style.
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#40 Ken Estes

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 2049 PM

Originally posted by Tim the Tank Nut:
From MHQ Winter 2002, Vol 14 Number 2
Article: Churchill's Lonely Campaign by Williamson Murray
  The fact is Mr Murray's analysis (and my own) are dead on.  Churchill was the right man for the job and Neville Chamberlain was not.  His vision of the future of Nazi Germany was clear from the onset.  Neville Chamberlain's personal goodness and his desire to prevent war are not the issue here.  War was coming to England, choose it or not.
Ken's personal politics preclude him from giving Churchill his due simply because he is a "darling of the right".  This, coupled with the notions that Hitler was a great man (see earlier post) and the idea that Germany on France's west coast was not a threat to England (see earlier post) lead me to the unescapable conclusion that this is a "Belarius Syndrome".



Tim, Kinda loosing it aren't you? at 12:26 "Log: Alright, you got me on that one fair and square. I have put way to much FFZ in my Gen Mil this time around." Yet by 21:34 you are at it again?

You are the one who invoked Churchill in a political fashion telling one of your FFZ colleagues that he would have voted for Chaimberlain in 1938 vice Churchill, since he was for diplomacy and not action, with reference to the present US problems. This is why I related what other sources have commented upon, that Churchill is the [unintended] darling of the NeoCons. Of course, we all know that you do not vote for PM in the Brit system, but for MPs. Anyway you are not qualified to rate me as unfit to write on Churchill because my "personal politics" preclude me. My 1984 PhD. in Modern European History makes me equally qualified as Wick Murray to comment on Churchill. Murray is not a Churchill scholar [neither am I] and he writes an iconography in MHQ using no primary source material, I would wager. MHQ is the upper tier of the three Cowles Publications in their pop history offerings [Mil Hist, SWW in declining order], and he is writing for a pop audience.

But I digress, you chose 1938 for your instance, and I was offering a healthy historical skepticism, based on years of study of the period, that it was unfair to claim Churchill was somehow the man of the hour in 1938, when circumstances dictated the govt actions.

You can offer all the lists of select Churchill speeches you want[your so-called 'timeline'], and I am telling you that the man is not so hailed as omniscient in his homeland by Brit historians, and his well-cooked 6 volume Hist of the war is considered highly self-serving. That's all.

Don't you dare to lump me with Belisarius, I never knew the man. Get a grip. This is not FFZ, as you observed above. Ken
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