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British Equipment And Generals Suck, Part Deux.


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#41 Tony Evans

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1531 PM

You know, I don't know quite what the deal is with Montgomery haters. The guy certainly was a self-promoter with a perceived imperative to be faultless in the public eye. But he wasn't an incompetent general. He was certainly the master of organizing and implementing the deliberate offensive (his own plan or anybody else's). I don't even think it's fair to say that he "lost" Market Garden. He's just been judged on his unrealistic sales talk, rather than what was actually possible. The Soviets would have been satisfied to gain 60 miles at the loss of s single division. And' it's not like the ground gained was ultimately useless. Veritable was certainly made possible by Market Garden. The ground would have had to be taken eventually, for that purpose or a similar one.


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#42 Colin

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1544 PM

Er, the 6 pdr AT gun was available for production in late 1940, but it would have been 200 of them vice 600 2-pdrs.

 

 

 

The Vickers 6-ton was fine, for 1935.

Which was my point about the Dunkirk effect, my question was did the Dunkirk effect on production linger beyond when it should have?

 

I think the 6-tonner was a decent design for countries like Canada to adopt in 1935 both for their industries and armies to become accustomed to tank design, manufacture and use. I think the Ram was a very good design for it's time, despite the MG turret. Pity it was never tested at the time of it's initial issue in North Africa.


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#43 Murph

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1628 PM

Part of that Tony, is how much is real generalship, and how much is ultra and/or fabrication?  The same goes for many of the US Generals, who were less than stellar such as Bradley, Hodges, MacArthur, etc.  Great generals like Terry De La Mesa Allen were sidelined through envy, and because they were aggressive cavalrymen which made plodders like Bradley uncomfortable. 

 

But going back to the topic at hand, who were the outstanding British divisional and corps commanders of the war?

 

 

You know, I don't know quite what the deal is with Montgomery haters. The guy certainly was a self-promoter with a perceived imperative to be faultless in the public eye. But he wasn't an incompetent general. He was certainly the master of organizing and implementing the deliberate offensive (his own plan or anybody else's). I don't even think it's fair to say that he "lost" Market Garden. He's just been judged on his unrealistic sales talk, rather than what was actually possible. The Soviets would have been satisfied to gain 60 miles at the loss of s single division. And' it's not like the ground gained was ultimately useless. Veritable was certainly made possible by Market Garden. The ground would have had to be taken eventually, for that purpose or a similar one.


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#44 Tony Evans

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1636 PM


Part of that Tony, is how much is real generalship, and how much is ultra and/or fabrication?  The same goes for many of the US Generals, who were less than stellar such as Bradley, Hodges, MacArthur, etc.  Great generals like Terry De La Mesa Allen were sidelined through envy, and because they were aggressive cavalrymen which made plodders like Bradley uncomfortable. 
 
But going back to the topic at hand, who were the outstanding British divisional and corps commanders of the war?

 
I just don't find that kind of thinking to be credible. Fighting a modern battle at the army level is a corporate undertaking, and the general has to be judged on his success or failure as a corporate leader. "real generalship" is, to me, just a rhetorical stick with which to beat figures who did well as managers of armies, but who were not as dashing or colorful as some might wish them to have been. Montgomery's failure was not as a corporate leader within the organization, but as a corporate leader in his public-facing role. He wanted all of the credit and none of the blame.
 
WRT corps and division commanders, I've read plenty of books on the war and NW Europe in particular. I couldn't off the top of my head name a single corps or division commander, except for Patton, Bradley, Taylor, Ridgeway, and Horrocks -- and they're all tied together by N Africa and Market Garden.

 

Look at it this way: There were just as many Allied armies in NW Europe in 1944 as there were Union corps at Gettysburg. Similarly, there were just as many corps as divisions, and just as many divisions as brigades. The level of influence on the overall outcome that a single corps or division had just wasn't that great, and the level of performance of the average corps or division commander means much more than the level of performance of the outliers.


Edited by Tony Evans, 24 November 2013 - 1701 PM.

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#45 swerve

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1638 PM

...As for British Generals, one has to look at it from the point of view that Bomber Command lost 56000 men in combat (not all of them British it has to be said) and we were taking scarcely less significant losses in the North Atlantic. When you consider we were a nation of something like 60 million back then, and we were fighting in the Med, Far East and Europe, needing to keep some manpower back to service industry and coal extraction, its easy to see there was not an infinite amount of infantry in which we could afford to take WW1 style losses. I...

 

47.9 million in 1939 according to the National Register.


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#46 Rick

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1649 PM

Once again, what about British generalship.  Monty or Alexander?  Slim vs almost anyone else?

General O'Conner--I think that was his name--vs the Italians in North Africa?


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#47 Rick

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1701 PM

From my limited understanding, I don't think any British general could have changed the outcome at Singapore.


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#48 DogDodger

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1711 PM

Actually we did - or made a very good effort.  Keep in mind that Canada was less industrially developed proportionately than the US or UK.  In spite of that we built a large number of escorts, most of the Commonwealth's trucks, and a great deal of other equipment.
 
http://en.wikipedia....y_of_production
 
With 23% of the UK's population, Canada made:

20% of the number of tanks and SP guns made by the UK;

Just a note here, and not to disparage Canada's production contribution, but all of the engines and almost all of the transmissions for tanks built in Canada were manufactured in the US.
 

Yes, 17 pounder is a good indicator that, whatever flaws in the early war, I think by mid war we had caught up commendably quick. And whilst we might mock tanks like Challenger, at least someone in the war office decided to spec an afv commendably quick as a standby if Sherman Firefly failed to come up to scratch. That showed a foresight that was not apparent when 6pdr was being developed.

It seems it's the other way around. Pilot Challengers were under construction by May 1942, while Mark Hayward says that it wasn't until 16 October 1943, when Challenger was looking less than promising, that during a meeting it was asserted that "...the installation of the 17-pdr in the Sherman tank shows promise of being successful" and a memo from 29 October said, "...as a stop-gap measure, mount the 17-pdr in Sherman M4 tanks."
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#49 Ken Estes

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1749 PM

One would have to re-read the Alan Brook diaries in order to obtain just one man's view of relative merit of UK/CW commanders, and I have no time. Fortunately for the US, we have Ike's 1Feb45 memo in which he rated his top generals, according to the "value of services each officer has rendered in this war ...." an interesting list: It includes commanders, logisticians, chiefs of staff and aviators, demonstrating the corporate nature of an army [as per AEvans, above] and the difficulty in singling out the 'masters of the battlefield' from the essential rest of the pack.

[Chandler, The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, The War Years, Vol IV, pp. 2466-69]

    1. Bradley & Spaatz tied at 1-2
    2.        B: Quiet but magnetic leader; able, rounded field commander. determined and  resourceful; modest       S: Experienced and able air commander; loyal and  cooperative; modest and selfless. Always reliable
    3. Smith, Bedell  Outstanding as C/S of superior hqs. Firm, loyal highly intelligent.
    4. Patton   Dashing fighter, shrewd, courageous
    5. Clark    Clever, shrewd, capable; splendid organizer
    6. Truscott  Experienced, balanced fighter; energetic; inspires confidence
    7. Doolittle    Dashing, learns rapidly, enthusiastic
    8. Gerow  Good fighter, balanced, calm, excellent planner, always optimistic, selfless, a leader
    9. Collins  Particularly fine CG in a battle; energetic, always optimistic, a leader
    10. Patch         Cool fighter, balanced, energetic
    11. Hodges       Sound, able, experienced
    12. Simpson     Clear thinker, energetic, balanced
    13. Eaker     Cooperative, firm, experienced
    14. Bull   [G-3 SHAEF]   Good judgment, careful, energetic
    15. Cannon  Particularly experienced in ground support; an outstanding officer
    16. Ridgeway   [tie]Magnetic; courageous; balanced corps commanders; both fighters
    17. Brooks  [as above]
    18. Walker   Top flight corps c.g. fighter, cool.
    19. Lee         A commander rather than a supply type; extremely loyal, energetic, tireless. Places too much value on the "Engineer" label.
    20. Gruenther   Brainy, energetic, loyal
    21. Vandenberg   Studious but active; cooperative; good judgment
    22. Haislip  Fine corps c.g., fighter, cool.
    23. Quesada    A dashing, cooperative leader
    24. Devers*   Enthusiastic but often inaccurate in statements and evaluations.; loyal and energetic.
    25. Eddy    Excellent fighter; experienced
    26. Rooks   Sound planner; good judgment; loyal
    27. Crawford  Experienced in larger phases of supply organization; loyal and energetic
    28. Larkin    Able, experienced, energetic
    29. Weyland    Excellent leader; experienced in ground-air ops
    30. Norstad    Sound, able, sensible; loyal, tireless
    31. Allen, L  Fine c/s; cool, loyal, calm
    32. McLain   Shrewd, courageous, experienced
    33. Littlejohn   Best Quartermaster I know
    34. Anderson, Fred   Brainy, cooperative, experienced
    35. Huebner   [three way tie] Outstanding divisional leaders; experienced fighters. (All now commanding corps or soon to be assigned)
    36. Harmon, E   [as above]
    37. Van Fleet, J A  {as above]
    38. Nugent     Young, cooperative, experienced in ground-air operations; energetic

 

 

 

* NOTE: The proper position for this officer is not yet fully determined in my own mind. The overall results he and his organization produce are quite good, sometimes outstanding. But he has not, so far, produced among the seniors of the American organization here that feeling of trust and confidence that is so necessary to continued success.

 

Reading further, I found that Ike took input from Smith and Bradley and told Marshall his compilation represented "composite judgement.". Furthermore, in the list preamble, he remarks the following: "Position occupied and opportunity have inescapably played a certain part in determining my priorities but where, for example, a Corps C.G. has performed magnificently as opposed to only good performance by an Army Commander, then the former is rated higher." [Italics in original]

 

 


Edited by Ken Estes, 25 November 2013 - 1719 PM.

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#50 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1801 PM

Comparing the Centurion to the M47/M48 is a rather fine appraisal of a tank conceived 10+ years prior to the M47, itself an outgrowth of earlier designs. 

The M47 was the ultimate PIP of the M26/M46 which was also conceived much earlier.

 

The US tanks have all been very amenable to growth

 

Medium M2-M3-M4-M4(76)

Light M2-M3-M5

Hv/Md M26-M46-M47

 

All were basically the same chassis with improvement stacked on improvement.

 

The same could be said for the M60  which soldiered on through an extensive series of upgrades and improvements..


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#51 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1810 PM

10.  Patch

11.  Hodges

12.  Simpson

 

 

This is strange.  I thought that Ike was not much of a fan of Patch and that is why Patch was available to the Med Theater.

 

Simpson was probably the most underrated Army commander in WWII and should stand head and shoulders over Hodges.


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#52 Marek Tucan

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1815 PM

Well, maybe he wasn't fond of him but was aware of his abilities? Would make sense to leave someone competent you don't like on a remote front (where, however, you still need to fight) ;)


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#53 Murph

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1859 PM

Absolutely, after reading the Rick Atkinson trilogy, Hodges should be no higher than 15-16, and Simpson should be at least equal to Patton.  Bradley, based on Atkinson's scholarship does not come off well, and should perhaps switch places with Truscott.  Clark (Mark?) should rate in the low 100's.  I had an uncle who was one of three survivors in an infantry company at the Rapido river, and according to my dad, he never recovered psychologically from that battle where Clark slaughtered the flower of Texas youth. 

 

But getting back to the topic, is there a similar rating of British generals?  Also after reading Rude Mechanicals, I noticed that British tanks did not have the same level of growth potential as US tanks, but it seems the problem was told old hay eaters at the War Office, who could not let go of the horse, but interwar had been promoted over the promising armor theoreticians.

 

 

10.  Patch

11.  Hodges

12.  Simpson

 

 

This is strange.  I thought that Ike was not much of a fan of Patch and that is why Patch was available to the Med Theater.

 

Simpson was probably the most underrated Army commander in WWII and should stand head and shoulders over Hodges.


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#54 Tony Evans

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1959 PM

10.  Patch

11.  Hodges

12.  Simpson

 

 

This is strange.  I thought that Ike was not much of a fan of Patch and that is why Patch was available to the Med Theater.

 

Simpson was probably the most underrated Army commander in WWII and should stand head and shoulders over Hodges.

Look how high he rates the highly controversial Clark. I think this is more a list of men who were useful to Eisenhower, in his perception of his mission, not necessarily an objective rating.

 

Having said that, I don't think it's possible to objectively rate commanders in any case. No corps or army commander ever had the same tactical situation, the same enemy situation, the same collection of divisions and artillery groups, the same logistics support, etc, etc, etc. It's all a popularity contest. Which leads me to:

 

Murph...I love ya, ur my boy an all, but it's just not right to assert that British generals had the "slows" then demand people to prove they didn't.


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#55 Murph

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 2024 PM

Sorry Tony, not my intent.  Perhaps based on the terrain, and situation in NW Europe.  Although Monty got told to take Antwerp, and dragged his heels, and did not clear the Scheldt estuary until almost the end of the war instead of in 1944.  The 11th Armored did not thrust, it more like dribbled, perhaps some viagra for the diivision?

 

 

10.  Patch

11.  Hodges

12.  Simpson

 

 

This is strange.  I thought that Ike was not much of a fan of Patch and that is why Patch was available to the Med Theater.

 

Simpson was probably the most underrated Army commander in WWII and should stand head and shoulders over Hodges.

Look how high he rates the highly controversial Clark. I think this is more a list of men who were useful to Eisenhower, in his perception of his mission, not necessarily an objective rating.

 

Having said that, I don't think it's possible to objectively rate commanders in any case. No corps or army commander ever had the same tactical situation, the same enemy situation, the same collection of divisions and artillery groups, the same logistics support, etc, etc, etc. It's all a popularity contest. Which leads me to:

 

Murph...I love ya, ur my boy an all, but it's just not right to assert that British generals had the "slows" then demand people to prove they didn't.

 


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#56 R011

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 2044 PM

The point still bearing out that the m47 and m48 were evolutions of an earlier design while the cent was the original design.

 

The original Centurion had a quite different turret mounting a 17 pounder and co-ax 20 mm, so both Centurion and the M26/46/47 had much the same work done to them by the early 1950's.  I agree that the M48 and M60 were new, if based on M26 design elements.

 

I'm not saying the Cent was crap, just that it sees to have had a bit of a cult build up around it.


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#57 Ken Estes

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 2147 PM

10.  Patch

11.  Hodges

12.  Simpson

 

 

This is strange.  I thought that Ike was not much of a fan of Patch and that is why Patch was available to the Med Theater.

 

Simpson was probably the most underrated Army commander in WWII and should stand head and shoulders over Hodges.

Does raise a few eyebrows. Ike's notes are sparing but he also wrote each of his major commanders letters of praise and advice.

10.  Patch    Army Commander   Cool fighter, balanced, energetic

11.  Hodges  Army Commadner   Sound, able, experienced

12.  Simpson  Army Commander  Clear thinker, energetic, balanced

 


Edited by Ken Estes, 24 November 2013 - 2149 PM.

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#58 Tony Evans

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 0137 AM

 

Sorry Tony, not my intent.  Perhaps based on the terrain, and situation in NW Europe.  Although Monty got told to take Antwerp, and dragged his heels, and did not clear the Scheldt estuary until almost the end of the war instead of in 1944.  The 11th Armored did not thrust, it more like dribbled, perhaps some viagra for the diivision?

 

 

Well, given the underlying premises of Market Garden, diverting resources to open the port right away would have been an unjustifiable dissipation of effort. Let's not make the mistake of using 20/20 hindsight to judge men who had to make priorities based on the situation as they were given to understand it at the immediate moment.


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#59 Ken Estes

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 0223 AM

 

Look how high he rates the highly controversial Clark. I think this is more a list of men who were useful to Eisenhower, in his perception of his mission, not necessarily an objective rating.

 

 

Having said that, I don't think it's possible to objectively rate commanders in any case. No corps or army commander ever had the same tactical situation, the same enemy situation, the same collection of divisions and artillery groups, the same logistics support, etc, etc, etc. It's all a popularity contest. Which leads me to:

 

....

 

You have a good point, in that Ike would have valued most the army and corps commanders who accomplished their missions without complaint or without demanding more troops and priorities from other fronts. Still, he is incisive about the air commanders and also seems to have a sense for the good fighters, yet not elevating many of them above the senior leaders who held the greatest responsibilities.


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#60 swerve

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 0704 AM

Most of the increase over the 30 years after the war was natural, not immigration. The population reached 56 million in the early 1970s, stuck there for a while, then started growing again, slowly at first. 58.8 mn by 2001, 63.2 mn  by 2011.

 

We've had a hell of a lot of immigrants since 2001.


Edited by swerve, 25 November 2013 - 1118 AM.

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