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British Equipment And Generals Suck, Part Deux.


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#61 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 0907 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.

 

That is the problem with Montgomery.  He was always demanding that resources be switched from Bradley's army group to his.


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#62 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 0909 AM

 

 

...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.

 

Good lord, I didnt know it was that low. I supposed postwar immigration would have bumped it up a bit, but not that much. Well if anything, that makes what we did even more remarkable.

 

One has to be fair and say that I suspect a lot of those RAF numbers would have been personnel from the Commonwealth who were actually in the RAF, rather than operating as RAAF or RCAF. But its still some achievement.

 

A very high percentage of New Zealand's war deaths occurred in Bomber Harris's command.


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#63 Rich

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 0943 AM

 

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.  
  3. Smith, Bedell
  4. Patton
  5. Clark
  6. Truscott
  7. Doolittle
  8. Gerow
  9. Collins
  10. Patch
  11. Hodges
  12. Simpson
  13. Eaker
  14. Bull
  15. Cannon
  16. Ridgeway
  17. Brooks
  18. Walker
  19. Lee
  20. Gruenther
  21. Vandenberg
  22. Haislip
  23. Quesada
  24. Devers
  25. Eddy
  26. Rooks
  27. Crawford
  28. Larkin
  29. Weyland
  30. Norstad
  31. Allen, L
  32. McLain
  33. Littlejohn
  34. Anderson, Fred
  35. Huebner
  36. Harmon, E
  37. Van Fleet, J A
  38. Nugent

 

 

Although I am a strong admirerer of Ike, for me his list highlights both how subjective analysis of generalship is as well as how much personalities play a role.

 

3. Bedell Smith...really? But vital to Ike's role as SCAEF, so understandable.

5. Clark...wow, but I suspect it is Ike being diplomatic.

8. Gerow...seriously? But, oh, yeah, a personal friend and the integrity of friendships was a hallmark of Ike.

11. Hodges...reliable, but about the best that could be said of him, again a diplomatic inclusion.

19. Lee...seemed most interested inalmost single-handedly sabotaging the American logistics effort, again a diplomatic inclusion.

22. Haislip...about as worthy an inclusion as Gerow and for much the same reasons.

24. Devers...a travesty he's ranked so low, but because he was too smart for his own good and not afraid to let it be known.

35. Huebner...but not Terry Allen :unsure: , again yet another indication this was more about who played well with others rather than talent.


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#64 Rich

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 0944 AM

That is the problem with Montgomery.  He was always demanding that resources be switched from Bradley's army group to his.

 

 

To be fair, and vice versa. :D


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#65 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 1209 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.  
  3. Smith, Bedell
  4. Patton
  5. Clark
  6. Truscott
  7. Doolittle
  8. Gerow
  9. Collins
  10. Patch
  11. Hodges
  12. Simpson
  13. Eaker
  14. Bull
  15. Cannon
  16. Ridgeway
  17. Brooks
  18. Walker
  19. Lee
  20. Gruenther
  21. Vandenberg
  22. Haislip
  23. Quesada
  24. Devers
  25. Eddy
  26. Rooks
  27. Crawford
  28. Larkin
  29. Weyland
  30. Norstad
  31. Allen, L
  32. McLain
  33. Littlejohn
  34. Anderson, Fred
  35. Huebner
  36. Harmon, E
  37. Van Fleet, J A
  38. Nugent

 

 

Although I am a strong admirerer of Ike, for me his list highlights both how subjective analysis of generalship is as well as how much personalities play a role.

 

3. Bedell Smith...really? But vital to Ike's role as SCAEF, so understandable.

5. Clark...wow, but I suspect it is Ike being diplomatic.

8. Gerow...seriously? But, oh, yeah, a personal friend and the integrity of friendships was a hallmark of Ike.

11. Hodges...reliable, but about the best that could be said of him, again a diplomatic inclusion.

19. Lee...seemed most interested inalmost single-handedly sabotaging the American logistics effort, again a diplomatic inclusion.

22. Haislip...about as worthy an inclusion as Gerow and for much the same reasons.

24. Devers...a travesty he's ranked so low, but because he was too smart for his own good and not afraid to let it be known.

35. Huebner...but not Terry Allen :unsure: , again yet another indication this was more about who played well with others rather than talent.

 

Rich:  Huebner did a sterling job at Normandy with 1st ID.


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#66 Calvinb1nav

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 1715 PM

I wonder if instead of looking at generalship, one might look at their staffs.  After working at a staff job for the last years, I'm amazed how little staffs in DoD and the geographic combatant commands can get done in comparision to what we accomplished in WW2.  I've seen a poor general mishandle a poor staff here and a great admiral be hamstrung by a poor staff as well.  Granted, a general's/admiral's ability affects how well a staff functions but it seems like equally a staff's ability can either make or break a flag officer.

 

As to Brit tanks, I've always been curious about the design philosphies behind British mechanical engineering.  I mean, the PIAT compared to the Bazooka or Panzerfaust/Panzerschrek, come on!  The Archer TD, the Rarden cannon, etc. all seem very odd to me. 


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#67 Ken Estes

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 1724 PM

OK, I have edited Ike's list and added the comments, which should explain his sense of values and essential thinking and answer some questions already posed. Note the frequency with which he uses these terms: loyal, cooperative, enthusiastic, balanced, optimistic.  Not much room for rocking his boat!  There is also an asterisk note for Devers that may answer RIch's comment on why he was marked so low. 


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#68 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 1751 PM

The US Army had Lloyd Fredenhall, JCH Lee, Mark Clark, and Lewis Brereton (Think Dec 8...) and we are criticizing British Generals?

wow...

With regards to Monty trying to take resources from Bradley that'd be okay in my book.  Bradley lost his head in the Ardennes while Monty kept cool and made a difference on the north shoulder.

Patton could have handled D-Day fine, he got ashore in NA with a similar proportion of forces

Big Simp so much better than Hodges and Clark... "too damn slick" said George

I think Ike deferred a little too much to his air generals but all in all the Allied team stacks up pretty good against the Axis.  Much of the supposed great skills of German generals had more to do with having Hitler to blame when things went wrong and being better dressed

I know it isn't WW2 but there's one answer to criticism of MacArthur... Inchon


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#69 sunday

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 1830 PM

OK, I have edited Ike's list and added the comments, which should explain his sense of values and essential thinking and answer some questions already posed. Note the frequency with which he uses these terms: loyal, cooperative, enthusiastic, balanced, optimistic.  Not much room for rocking his boat!  There is also an asterisk note for Devers that may answer RIch's comment on why he was marked so low. 

 

That is a very nice piece of information, Ken.

 

Seems that list tells more about Ike himself than about the various generals. Perhaps it also shows the seed for the zero-defect mentality that began reigning in the US Army in the 1950s/1960s, according to Hackworth.

 

Also, Murph has written here about Ultra. Did it introduce a unfair advantage in the Mediterranean theater?


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#70 T19

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 1846 PM

I remember talking to General Radley Walters RCAC I asked why the ram had been such a faileur. He blamed the British war office. Although the Canadians wanted a bigger turret ring to take a bigger gun the British insisted on the smaller ring and 2 pounder.

He said the tank would have easily taken the 6lber and been a world beater as the drive train was reliable it needed a gun and by production time it was too late and Sherman's where avail cheap in quantity

#71 R011

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 2007 PM

The Ram did take a 6 pounder.  The first fifty had two pounders only because there weren't enough 6 pounders in the system yet.   Worthington, however, wanted a 75 mm like the one in the Lee and Sherman.  Mind you, after the war, the Dutch replaced the 6 pounders in their Rams with the British 75 mm which was designed to replace the 6 pounder in the Cromwell and Churchill.

 

The logistics of running a unique Canadian tank, though, would have meant that 75 mm gunned Rams would probably have still been replaced by Shermans in France and Italy.

 

The Ram was never going to be more than a Canadian only piece of kit.  Too much of it was sourced from the United States (engine, transmission, hull, and machine guns) and by the time we got the Ram in production, the Americans had the Sherman ready.  Given that we both started with the same M3 chassis at about the same time, that's not bad for a country that had never designed a tank before.  At about CAD $81,000, it also cost about thirty thousand dollars more than the M4. 

 

It served a valuable role in training, as an OP vehicle, and as an APC.  Converting the Montreal Locomotive Works plant to make them was not wasted as it meant there was a place to design and build the Sexton SP gun.


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#72 ickysdad

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 2008 PM

 Just how good was Australia's Sentiniel tank?


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#73 Colin

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 2042 PM

I wonder if instead of looking at generalship, one might look at their staffs.  After working at a staff job for the last years, I'm amazed how little staffs in DoD and the geographic combatant commands can get done in comparision to what we accomplished in WW2.  I've seen a poor general mishandle a poor staff here and a great admiral be hamstrung by a poor staff as well.  Granted, a general's/admiral's ability affects how well a staff functions but it seems like equally a staff's ability can either make or break a flag officer.

 

As to Brit tanks, I've always been curious about the design philosphies behind British mechanical engineering.  I mean, the PIAT compared to the Bazooka or Panzerfaust/Panzerschrek, come on!  The Archer TD, the Rarden cannon, etc. all seem very odd to me. 

The Archer was in the same vein as the German lashups "good gun meet decent chassis" = viola, we have a TD!

 

The PIAT seemed to have a decent record when it hit, but hitting anything was a tad subjective. Apparently it also made an OK indirect fire weapon.


Edited by Colin, 25 November 2013 - 2043 PM.

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#74 R011

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 2053 PM

Canada did put a limited traverse 17 pounder on a Sexton chassis which would have been a lot better than Archer, but I suspect their customers wanted the SP 25 pounder more and they could mount the gun on Lend-Lease M10's, of which they had a sufficient supply.


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#75 Ken Estes

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 2056 PM

Colin, indirect fire with an AT launcher reminds me of an entirely believable tale from a USMC tanker in Vietnam. Monsoon season  relegated all tanks to their bases, including some fire bases where they would on occasion have to do the dreaded indirect fire drill. One tank was assigned the H&I fire program, one round every one [or two? long time ago] hours. But the tank cdr did not want to clean the tube next morning, so he simply elevated an M72 LAW to 45 degrees and fired it. It gave a satisfactory 'crack' when fired, and a distant 'whump' many seconds later. Sounded fine from inside the FDC bunker.  Everybody was happy and nobody was caught.


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#76 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 2111 PM

Didn't NZ suffer the highest casualties relatively of any of the commonwealth countries? Those guys fielded a couple divisions, several warships and fighter squadrons from a population smaller than Chicago.


 


 


...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.
 
Good lord, I didnt know it was that low. I supposed postwar immigration would have bumped it up a bit, but not that much. Well if anything, that makes what we did even more remarkable.
 
One has to be fair and say that I suspect a lot of those RAF numbers would have been personnel from the Commonwealth who were actually in the RAF, rather than operating as RAAF or RCAF. But its still some achievement.
 
A very high percentage of New Zealand's war deaths occurred in Bomber Harris's command.

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#77 Rich

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 2114 PM

Richard,

 

Just what did Huebner do that was so sterling in Normandy? If you mean on D-Day, then that performance was by his regimental commander Canham; Huebner didn't come ashore until the third tide IIRC. I am not aware of any other sterling performance by the 1st Division in that campaign, but then haven't followed them much past D-Day.


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#78 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 2124 PM

I wonder if instead of looking at generalship, one might look at their staffs.  After working at a staff job for the last years, I'm amazed how little staffs in DoD and the geographic combatant commands can get done in comparision to what we accomplished in WW2.  I've seen a poor general mishandle a poor staff here and a great admiral be hamstrung by a poor staff as well.  Granted, a general's/admiral's ability affects how well a staff functions but it seems like equally a staff's ability can either make or break a flag officer.
 
 


Way off topic, but It's always been amazing to me how the Napoleonic Wars (which were basically a world war) were directed by drunk guys with quill pens, WW2 was directed by drunk chain smokers with typewriters, and if we were transported back in time with iPads we really wouldn't have done much better than they did.
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#79 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 2131 PM

On a roll! Max Hastings in Retribution claimed that Churchill thought Slim sucked, but never cited it. Slim is the UK general that US historians always pull out to show their objectivity (sort of a "some of my friends are black" thing) but would love to know more.
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#80 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 2139 PM

On a roll! Max Hastings in Retribution claimed that Churchill thought Slim sucked, but never cited it. Slim is the UK general that US historians always pull out to show their objectivity (sort of a "some of my friends are black" thing) but would love to know more.
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