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#1 John_Ford

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 1214 PM

   Destroyed the better part of four U S Divisions by the time it was over.  4th, 8th, 9th, and the 28th Infantry divisions were bled white by the Germany Defenses during the Period from 19 September until 16 December when "Wacht am Rhein" kicked off.  The Forest wasn't taken until February when the 83rd Infantry Division finally pushed through the Forest.  

 

Simple Question, Why?   



#2 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 1257 PM

aside from the fact the Hodges and Bradley were visionless to the point of incompetence and Eisenhower was never going to come down on his fair haired boy?

 

another answer:

Patton wasn't in charge.

 

Blumenthal has a withering piece that he wrote about the First Army and the Forest



#3 Rich

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 1334 PM

aside from the fact the Hodges and Bradley were visionless to the point of incompetence and Eisenhower was never going to come down on his fair haired boy?

 

another answer:

Patton wasn't in charge.

 

Blumenthal has a withering piece that he wrote about the First Army and the Forest

 

Yep...plus the myopia that tends to take over many commanders in the same situation. Why did the Germans continue to funnel divisions into Stalingrad? Why did the French and Germans do the same at Verdun? Why Pickett's Charge? Why send in the Guard at Waterloo? And so on. Sometimes the stubbornness works and sometimes it doesn't. When it works we say the commander "persevered", but when it fails we say they were idiots. "Patton" may not have been the answer either; look at Metz. :D


Edited by Rich, 09 October 2017 - 1335 PM.


#4 RETAC21

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 1458 PM

Would they dare not to try if maybe the next push would do it?



#5 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 1546 PM

Well at Metz Patton knew he had missed his time frame (the unforgiving minute of history and all that) and and discussed it with his staff.  I think he was fully aware that the attacks were hopeless even when they were taking place.  The bit about the prestige of 3rd Army was just so much window dressing.

If Patton had the resources to go around he would have.  Bradley and Hodges had the resources to do whatever they wanted and kept pounding in.  The worry about the dams was absurd.  The flooded ground would have allowed concentration in other areas

 

Retac21, they said that stuff in WW1, too.  Sometimes it is best to try something different.



#6 John_Ford

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 1626 PM

aside from the fact the Hodges and Bradley were visionless to the point of incompetence and Eisenhower was never going to come down on his fair haired boy?

 

another answer:

Patton wasn't in charge.

 

Blumenthal has a withering piece that he wrote about the First Army and the Forest

Got a link?  



#7 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 1644 PM

no, it is in a book

 

in any event it was Martin Blumenson, not Blumenthal after I think about it a bit

 

I know MHQ did a sweet article on it a few years back, too.

Carlo D'Este quoted a bunch of Blumenson's work, too

 

I bet it was in Breakout and Pursuit where I saw it the first time.

 

Blumenthal was probably a damn German staff officer or some such!



#8 Markus Becker

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 1910 PM

"Would they dare not to try if maybe the next push would do it?"

If only they had stopped after the first "next push".

#9 R011

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 1917 PM

I do believe it was said in a thread here that this was a symptom of Marshall's teachings to his coterie of protégés prewar, including Bradley and Hodges? It was said that as a group, they tended to be quite mediocre.

#10 rmgill

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 2013 PM

Could it be that one of the issues were that the senior officers just didn't understand how disorienting the terrain was in the forest?

 



#11 bojan

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 0232 AM

Could it be that one of the issues were that the senior officers just didn't understand how disorienting the terrain was in the forest?

 

This might be one of the keys as history is rich in examples where smaller forces used forest to effectively stop (and sometimes even defeat) much larger forces.

It is very hard to achieve concentration of forces and logistics in forest are murderous (especially for a at least partially motorized/mechanized force), further limiting ability to concentrate troops.


Edited by bojan, 10 October 2017 - 0232 AM.


#12 rmgill

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 0934 AM

I've gone hiking in dense pine woods in the south in winter. Even on flat terrain it's easy to get turned around. Having to lead a platoon through that to hit a pillbox that's been concealed by 2-3 years of forest growth isn't going to be easy. It's one thing when you can see where it is. It's another thing when you're going to trip over it the hard way and in the process encounter defilade fire from the two others that interlocking the first one.  



#13 Daan

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 1352 PM

I lived quite close to the Huertgen Wald a few years ago. It is peculiar terrain: dense forest and shrubs on plateau like hills traversed by steep gullies and ravines. Vehicles will have major problems leaving the few roads available. 



#14 RETAC21

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 1441 PM

Could it be that one of the issues were that the senior officers just didn't understand how disorienting the terrain was in the forest?

 

 

Map planning too. Prior to surrounding Aachen one of the US divisions set up a rather elaborate plant to cross a river, with engineers, assault boats, etc. Turned out the river was a rather modest stream that proved no obstacle at all to crossing on foot.



#15 Andres Vera

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 1723 PM

 

Could it be that one of the issues were that the senior officers just didn't understand how disorienting the terrain was in the forest?

 

This might be one of the keys as history is rich in examples where smaller forces used forest to effectively stop (and sometimes even defeat) much larger forces.

It is very hard to achieve concentration of forces and logistics in forest are murderous (especially for a at least partially motorized/mechanized force), further limiting ability to concentrate troops.

 

Teutoburg forest, though that was an ambush rather than a battle like Hurtgen, and in both times it was Germans against a superior enemy force. A proud military tradition apparently.

 

Considering the failures happening during the time frame, the common factor is the underestimation of German military capabilities. Everyone wanted it to be over by Christmas. Bradley screwed up but if you consider the factors of the rest of the Theater, with the rather simultaneous failure of Market Garden the end of Nazi Germany was going to be an attrition battle no matter what the allies did or didn't do, seems to me that a better battlefield would only have changed the kill to casualty ratio in the allies favor.

 

Where exactly in the blame ratio is Ike on this? He was Supreme Commander after all. I personally think he was too close to Bradley, and I think people are too harsh on Bradley, not even MacArthur gets the level of criticism he gets at some point, and got bogged down in the politics of command. The exponential decrease in allied momentum at the time was directly proportional to allied momentum. I don't think this was just logistics, rather the ego, drive and ambition of the Allied commanders.

 

It never ceases me to amaze me that Bradley is considered a moron for this, but Montgomery definitely was not one over Market Garden, but I have learned that even in history people have their favorites.



#16 rmgill

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 1744 PM

"It never ceases me to amaze me that Bradley is considered a moron for this, but Montgomery definitely was not one over Market Garden, but I have learned that even in history people have their favorites."

How long do you continue rushing the same defensive line expecting the same sort of attack to have a different result ala WWI? 

Market Garden was from the 17th to 24th of September. The Battle of the Hurtgen Forest lasted from 19 September to 16 December. 



#17 Andres Vera

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 1815 PM

Yes but Market Garden was the keystone. Had it worked in its grandiose optimism, Hurtgen and Aachen would have never happened, in the case of Hurtgen, not in the scale it did.

 

How long do you continue rushing the same defensive line expecting the same sort of attack to have a different result ala WWI?

 

The whole Italian front was pretty much this. Even Anzio ended up as a battle of attrition in the end. While this battle should not have been fought, or more accurately, not fought this way, I don't get the hate with Bradley that is all. Halsey does not get this over Leyte, or Mac for surrendering PI. Some of the criticism is no different that the one thrown at Haig in the earlier war.

 

At any rate, Bradley did make a horrendous mistake.



#18 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 0845 AM

Hodges competes with Buckner for the title of the most mediocre US field army commander of WWII (Hodges, Patton, Clark, Krueger, Patch, Eichelberger, Simpson, and Buckner)



#19 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 1209 PM

Ole Simp was actually pretty good.  Patton liked him.

 

Andres, Bradley put MacArthur's ego to shame...



#20 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 1659 PM

Ole Simp was actually pretty good.  Patton liked him.

 

Andres, Bradley put MacArthur's ego to shame...

Simpson and Patch were quiet, but very competent.  They also didn't burn thru corps and division commanders like Hodges and Bradley did.  Patton gave his commanders some slack too.






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