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#21 Markus Becker

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 0307 AM

I cant help but wonder if the reason why they were not utilised by the American's to the same degree is that that they didnt like him, though there is no evidence of that which ive seen.


I think the reason was Dieppe. No such thing had happened to the Americans.

#22 Ken Estes

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 0624 AM

The unabidged wartime diary of Alan Brooke pretty well spells out why Boney was not used in WWII, as I recall. Don't have it in hand right now.

 

The last thing the British Army needed was a self-serving and political Guderian, btw.


Edited by Ken Estes, 08 July 2017 - 0625 AM.


#23 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 0956 AM

 

I cant help but wonder if the reason why they were not utilised by the American's to the same degree is that that they didnt like him, though there is no evidence of that which ive seen.


I think the reason was Dieppe. No such thing had happened to the Americans.

 

 

I dont buy it, I cant believe they didnt compare notes and see what worked and what did not. For one thing they were doing extensive amphibious exercises all through 1944 and they could see what was working and what did not.

 

Im not saying that certainly is the reason, but there must be some reason why they couldnt see the value of AVRE or even fascines. NIH?



#24 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 0958 AM

The unabidged wartime diary of Alan Brooke pretty well spells out why Boney was not used in WWII, as I recall. Don't have it in hand right now.

 

The last thing the British Army needed was a self-serving and political Guderian, btw.

 

I dont begrudge them not using Fuller, I think all his work had been done by the 1930's anyway, and its not like he ever commanded anything best I can recall. Hobart is more difficult to explain. He was certainly unpopular. In the convivial country club atmosphere of the Britsih army in the 1930s, I dont suppose that helped him any.



#25 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 1213 PM

but Hobart was capable, very capable.

There is a big difference between a theorist and a do-er



#26 Markus Becker

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 1418 PM

I cant help but wonder if the reason why they were not utilised by the American's to the same degree is that that they didnt like him, though there is no evidence of that which ive seen.


I think the reason was Dieppe. No such thing had happened to the Americans.
 
I dont buy it, I cant believe they didnt compare notes and see what worked and what did not. For one thing they were doing extensive amphibious exercises all through 1944 and they could see what was working and what did not.
 
Im not saying that certainly is the reason, but there must be some reason why they couldnt see the value of AVRE or even fascines. NIH?


NIH? I'm sceptical given the importance of the operation. Speaking off, so far US amphibious landings had all succeeded. Utah beach was nothing like Dieppe, it was an actual beach with plenty of dunes and few defences. Probably no need for specialized tanks there. The terrain at Omaha was worse, however fascines would not have helped with the cliffs, the conventional tanks that were deployed IMO would have. At the very least they would have drawn fire away from the infantry.

I guess they used what they considered useful.

#27 Rich

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 1021 AM

but Hobart was capable, very capable.

There is a big difference between a theorist and a do-er

 

Here we go again...

 

However, as well as being one of the most skilled, Hobart was also perhaps one of the most controversial general officers in the British Army. Originally commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1904, he had served with distinction in France where he was awarded the Military Cross, and then the Mesopotamian Campaign (Iraq), where he received the Distinguished Service Order. He was also mentioned in dispatches five times, but was captured on 12 December 1916 and held by the Turks until 2 October 1918. Between the wars he led the push for an independent and powerful tank force, supported by the likes of Martel, Basil Henry Liddell Hart and John Frederick Charles Fuller, and in the process had made numerous enemies in the War Office, partly due to his unconventional thinking, but also because of his acid tongue – he refused to suffer fools, or incompetent officers, gladly. Nevertheless on 27 September 1938 he had been given a magnificent opportunity: the task of forming a “Mobile Division” in Egypt that eventually became the 7th Armoured Division of “Desert Rats” fame, Britain’s first armored division. There he clashed with his immediate superior, Lieutenant General Henry Maitland Wilson, who believed Hobart to be “self-opinionated” and “lacking in stability”. Wilson recommended Hobart for relief on 10 November 1938 to General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander of British Forces Middle East. On 8 December 1939, barely three months into the war, he was summarily relieved and placed into the “Regular Army Reserve of Officers [age limit]”, which was effectively a forced retirement.[1]

 

In addition to the clash with Wilson there seems to be some reason for believing that Hobart was relieved because of whom he was rather than how old he was. Hobart was just fifty-four when relieved and yet the official retirement age for major generals had just been reduced by the Secretary of State for War, Leslie Hore-Belisha, to fifty-seven, in August 1938. The average age of major generals appointed to division command between the outbreak of war and 1 June 1940 was fifty-three, just a year younger than Hobart.[2]

 

Unemployed except by the Home Guard, Hobart spent fourteen quiet months until Churchill, goaded by a timely editorial from Liddell Hart in the London Sunday Pictorial, insisted to the War Office that Hobo be given an armored division to command. So on 14 February 1941 Hobart took command of the newly forming 11th Armoured Division, and was also given a position as an advisor to Winston Churchill’s “Tank Parliament”, a group the Prime Minister formed to discuss problems associated with tank production, production expansion, and organization.[3]

 

Unfortunately just a year later on 22 February 1942, he was forced to step down due to ill health and was unable to resume his post until 17 May 1942. As a result, when the War Office began to develop plans to send the 11th Armoured Division to Egypt in September 1942 to join Lieutenant General Bernard Law Montgomery’s Eighth Army (few in the Army were apparently aware that Montgomery’s late wife was Hobart’s sister) their plans did not include Hobart.[4] On 10 October Hobart was told that he was to stay in England, turning command over to Major General Montagu Brocas Burrows, and that he would again go on the retired list since he was considered too old for field service.[5] However, once again Churchill intervened and on 16 October 1942 Hobo was instead given command of the 79th Armoured Division.[6] In any event the 11th Armoured Division never went to North Africa.

 

The 79th Armoured Division had begun forming on 14 August 1942 with the 27th Armoured Brigade, which came from the 9th Armoured Division, and the 185th Infantry Brigade,[7] which had been engaged in the defense of Britain since the dark days of 1940, joining later on 8 September. Other divisional units included the 142nd and 150th Field Regiments Royal Artillery (R.A.), the 55th Antitank Regiment R.A., and the 119th Light Antiaircraft Regiment R.A. Initially the division was commanded by Brigadier George McIllree Stanton Bruce, the commander of the 185th Brigade, but he was considered too junior to be given the responsibility of division command permanently, leaving the opportunity open for Hobart.

 


[1] Maj. Michael J. Daniels, Innovation in the Face of Adversity: Major-General Sir Percy Hobart and the 79th Armoured Division (British), MMAS Thesis, (U.S. Army Command and General Staff College: Fort Leavenworth, KS, 2003), p. 5.

[2] David French, “Colonel Blimp and the British Army: British Divisional Commanders in the War against Germany, 1939-1945”, The English Historical Review, Vol. 111, No. 444 (November 1996), p. 1185.

[3] Lord Alanbrooke, War Diaries, 1939-1945 Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke, (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001), pp. 155-156. Brooke was Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS).

[4] Alanbrooke, pp. 319-320. To be fair, since there has long been intimation of a concerted anti-Hobart cabal in the War Office, Brooke specifically recorded discussing the matter with Churchill on 9 September 1942. The Prime Minister was pressing to send Hobart with his division to North Africa, but Brooke remarked that the “doctors and medical board [considered Hobart] as being a very doubtful medical case.”

[5] Hobart was given the news by Brooke personally, but the CIGS didn’t record Hobos reaction in his diary. Alanbrooke, p. 328.

[6] Hobart thus commanded, organized, and trained three of the nine British armored divisions that saw service overseas and three of the six that were in existence at wars end. Coincidentally, on the same day that Hobart received command of the 79th Armoured Division, Montgomery’s rank of Lieutenant General was confirmed.

[7] Formerly the 204th Independent Infantry Brigade.



#28 Rich

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 1028 AM

That said, Hobart was also a typical general officer, i.e., an egomanical self-serving git...to a degree. He made up the story about the "offer" of Funnies to the Americans and their "refusal" in the 79th AD history and later repeated it to Chester Wilmot for inclusion in the Struggle for Europe, and it has since been repeated ad nauseum. However, there is absolutely no basis for the story in any of its parts.



#29 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 1125 AM

Im not sure the age issue really stands up. In wartime you would expect them them to recall anyone whom was any good in emergency roles at the very least. Considering the bloody mess British AFV development was in this period, putting someone like Hobart in charge of it might have been just the tonic it needed. After all the mercurial Albert Stern achieved just that end in WW1, and he was equipped with no more training than being a Bank Manager....

 

We had General Gort commanding the BEF whom seems to have been about 53. Field Marshall Ironside seems to have been 59 when he was made Commander Home Forces in 1940. Clearly Hobart was at the wrong age to be in the role he was in. Did it occur to anyone in the War Office that could have been resolved if he had been been promoted?

 

By way of perspective, lets not forget Churchill himself was 61 in 1940.....


Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 09 July 2017 - 1131 AM.


#30 Ken Estes

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 1223 PM

Hobart did no favors when he insisted on training 7th Armored to fire on the move....some do-er!


Edited by Ken Estes, 09 July 2017 - 1225 PM.


#31 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 1343 PM

Well fair one, that is a bit silly. But lets be fair here, that was not exactly an uncommon idea prewar. And in fact even the Sherman I gather had a form of stab to allow some fire on the move capability. I gather it never worked properly and the crews were not actually trained on its use?

 

Its easy to over emphasize his importance, and yet at the least one has to give him due credit, along with 79th Armoured, at pioneering much of the engineering kit modern armies take for granted. That is a pretty strong legacy, whatever  his  flaws were.


Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 09 July 2017 - 1344 PM.


#32 sunday

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 1411 PM

Hobart did no favors when he insisted on training 7th Armored to fire on the move....some do-er!

 

Was there some anecdotal evidence of that being possible using low caliber guns, and the manual, free elevation system used in the early British tanks?



#33 Ken Estes

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 1718 PM

Not that I have seen, and the shoulder harness of the Matilda II did not build my confidence when I tried it on. Frankly, the reputations of Hobie and Boney have been long eroded post war, while that of Haig in WWI has been largely resurrected.

 

Rich, is there any credence to be given to US Army confidence in manual mine/obstacle clearance vice machines? I thought it genuine.



#34 sunday

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 1821 PM

Ok, thanks.



#35 Rich

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 2117 PM

Im not sure the age issue really stands up. I

 

Stuart, I believe that is what I said, albeit not so succinctly. :D

 

Essentially Hobo was a giant pain in the ass, utterly failing to suffer anyone he considered a fool gladly or sadly. His clash with Wilson, combined with his inability to work and play well with others, nearly ended his career. He was very lucky in a sense that ever regained divisional command after losing the Egyptian Mobile Division.



#36 Rich

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 2123 PM

Rich, is there any credence to be given to US Army confidence in manual mine/obstacle clearance vice machines? I thought it genuine.

 

The General Board recommended further development of the flail-type mine clearer and organizations to use them. There was some work done by Ordnance postwar, but it essentially went nowhere because...guess what, better tanks, guns, and munitions to stop the hoard of Soviet tanks that were just around the corner - for 45 years - was more important. Then we ran into Saddam and suddenly realized breaching a prepared line was probably best not done solely by probing and praying on your hands and knees. So we basically bought off the shelf Israeli stuff and started a crash program for Grizzly, which went nowhere, because it needed to be gold-plated and Francis Fukuyama told us we had nothing to worry about because the Bear was gone and history had ended. Then Saddam again. Except they were going to throw flowers at us. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

 

So predictable and so repeatable.


Edited by Rich, 09 July 2017 - 2124 PM.


#37 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 0902 AM

Rich, that is the value of coming here. I learn something.  I had read the "false tale" that Hobart gave and bought it.  After all, it has been in a million books.

Now we know and knowing is half the battle, Go Joe!



#38 Rich

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 0953 AM

Rich, that is the value of coming here. I learn something.  I had read the "false tale" that Hobart gave and bought it.  After all, it has been in a million books.

Now we know and knowing is half the battle, Go Joe!

 

The sad part is that Eisenhower, Bradley, et al never disputed the Hobart version, apparently either never paying attention to it or never thinking it was worth it. I suppose it may be yet another artifact of so much military "history" as it is known to the general public being created by wargamers during the 70's and 80's and then the Mythtry Channel picking it up during the 90's before turning to the more profitable history of Vegas pawn shops...



#39 bojan

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 1143 AM

Rich, history is full of those. My current pet "myth" are Winchesters at Plevna (grand total of less than 100 used in last breakthrough attempt, none used in a defensive phase). And there are primary sources, memoirs of Osman Nuri Pasha, even translated to English, through long time ago and in small numbers (~1900, about 500 printed). Yet almost whole firearms community goes with bogus story about Turkish soldiers being issued two rifles, Martini-Henry* and Winchesters and mowing down advancing Russians that used primitive Krnkas.

*Other than a fact that Turks used Peabody-Martini, similar but not identical to Martini-Henry, only about 15% of their rifles at Plevna were those. Most common were Sniders, and considerably amount (25%, more in later stages) were Springfield rifled muskets. According to Osman Pasha Winchesters were in "obsolete and not useful" category (about 10% of rifles at Plevna), used to arm only non-combat personnel in the last breakthrough attempt, along with obsolete smoothbore guns (some of them flintlock!).

Only troops that were routinely armed with Winchesters were irregular cavalry, whose contribution to the war (other than a massacres of civilian population) was next to zero.

 

Whole Winchester myth appeared in 1879 printed by Parisian journalist who was not even at Plevna, then it picked a steam in late 1880s and got repeated a lot (by Winchester sales department I suspect) and then became a "history". Most Russian and Romanian (somehow they are always forgotten) casualties (which were not that excessive for a siege) in the storming attempts were caused by Turkish artillery which was very modern for a time period, and gunners were good (this was noted also by Serbians and Montenegrins in a war 1876-77, only branch of Turkish army that always got praises was artillery)...

And a primary source is available, and matter is really technical, so prejudice and other crap should not play part... Yet we have repetitions of the myth.

I can only suspect how hard is to filter post-war (and wartime) tall tales from a real stuff when it comes to a non-technical matters like "why general A was chosen and not general B"...


Edited by bojan, 10 July 2017 - 1143 AM.


#40 Rich

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 1157 AM

Rich, history is full of those.

 

Yep. One of the books Trevor was working on before his death was the Myths of Military History. Among the chapters that I recall was "Grant the Butcher".






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