Rundstedt's central reserve

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Sheldrake
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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Sheldrake » 09 Jun 2021 10:11

Cult Icon wrote:
08 Jun 2021 15:02
Gooner1 wrote:
08 Jun 2021 12:14

"The counter-attacks came in one after another. Panzer grenadiers came creeping like cats through the corn and swarming in from the surrounding woods. A forward platoon was overrun. A field was lost. A company was forced out of a village, went stumbling forward to win it again, huddled in the ruins under ceaseless mortar fire, was driven out and won it back once more. The frightened country boys were facing troops who, man for man, were craftier and better trained, who had been reared as warriors; they were outfought at every turn; but they managed, heaven only knew how they managed, to stay where they were."
Please explain to me why British accounts have prose like this- sounds like the veteran is projecting a trope of sorts from his own culture, stemming from the popular perception of the working class tommy of the great war. Simple minded, loyal, and long-suffering... as opposed to the oppressive elitists who lead them into war and tragedy.
From the Plough is a fictionalised account based on the story of 4th or 5th Wiltshires. It is a good read and fits with many of the British memoirs.

You are correct that this depicts a British trope. That doesn't mean that it is not based on three realities.

Firstly it captures the inferiority complex instilled by first years of the war. The Germans were fitter and better trained in 1940-41. They out fought the British in Norway, France Belgium Greece Crete and North Africa. The American journalist William Shirer contrasted the bronzed fit young Germans soldiers with the physically weak flabby specimens of the British and French PoW. This is why the British Army focused on fitness and introduced battle schools, why we fight etc. It took Monty and El Alemein to deliver a level of self confidence. Even then it was based on superiority through material. The Germans might be damned good at infiltration and willing to die for the Fuhrer, but we will batter the crap out of them from five miles. The British experience was that the Germans were determined, aggressive and dangerous. My father served in the same brigade as that depicted in From the Plough. The incident he told me was that at Mount Pincon, although being firmly on the back foot, a German patrol raided their lines and stole a cart with the rations. Ballsy eh?

Secondly, the ordinary Tommy or GI new that they were selected from the bottom of the allied manpower pool. The RN and RAF had the pick of volunteers. Aggressive infantrymen volunteered to join a plethora of raiding forces - commandos, rangers, paratroops, one of the many private armies known by their MLAs (SAS, LRDG, SSRF,) and SOE. So what sort of people are left? Not exactly guaranteed to fill those left with confidence in their that position in the pecking order of fighting prowess.

Thirdly, these were national images. The NAZI state projected its armed forces the new Germany. Its propaganda showed the Germans as heroic supermen from the master race in newsreels. The British were reluctantly mobilising its population for the second time. Its soldiers are portrayed by Lancashire superman George Formby.
Compare



The image is erroneous. Arguably the British who apply a more professional approach at a national level to war than the Germans. The army though lags behind the RAF and RN in resources.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Gooner1 » 09 Jun 2021 11:45

Sheldrake wrote:
09 Jun 2021 10:11
From the Plough is a fictionalised account based on the story of 4th or 5th Wiltshires. It is a good read and fits with many of the British memoirs.

You are correct that this depicts a British trope. That doesn't mean that it is not based on three realities.
The part quoted definitely leaning towards the trope than a good fit with most British memoirs though. See Sydney Jary's of the 4th Somersets in the same brigade.
The Germans might be damned good at infiltration and willing to die for the Fuhrer, but we will batter the crap out of them from five miles. The British experience was that the Germans were determined, aggressive and dangerous. My father served in the same brigade as that depicted in From the Plough. The incident he told me was that at Mount Pincon, although being firmly on the back foot, a German patrol raided their lines and stole a cart with the rations. Ballsy eh?
Jary "In many attacks the prisoners we took outnumbered our attacking force and German units who continued to resist at close quarters were few indeed. Unlike us, they rarely fought at night, when they were excessively nervous and unsure of themselves. Where we patrolled extensively, they avoided it. I can remember only only one successful German patrol and not one successful night action."
Point 365 on Mont Pincon was seized in a night infiltration by the 4th SLI.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Gooner1 » 09 Jun 2021 12:19

Cult Icon wrote:
09 Jun 2021 08:02
Agreed. Besides this I realized the scam years ago- they can post up to 1300 posts in this subforum and not post a single pro-Axis what-if. They maliciously pass the time off of other people's backs and their biased responses should be disregarded accordingly. The area of free inquiry is more appropriate to the spirit of what-if.
Well what do you want?

Even with extra panzer divisions in the west (and what about Bagration?) the best the Germans could really expect is to turn Normandy into a stalemate. Until Operation Dragoon ... then there's still another 30-odd US divisions coming to Europe after that.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Michael Kenny » 09 Jun 2021 14:14

Cult Icon wrote:
09 Jun 2021 08:02

The area of free inquiry is more appropriate to the spirit of what-if.........
There is no spirit of free inquiry as it is 99% delusion. The whole point of this fiction is to ensure a German win in WW2 and consists mainly of giving the Germans hindsight. The most consistent assumption is that if a 'fair fight' can be rigged then the Germans will always, always always win it. Basically all the Germans have to do is get to the start line and they win.
I realise those afflicted with this type of illness can not understand how anyone can challenge this (to them) blindingly obvious conclusion but the ease with which such arguments are picked apart shows how shallow their understanding is in this area. Like the Army they worship so much they are easily and consistently defeated and seem to spend as much time complaining about their forum defeats as the Germans themselves. Perhaps we should have a separate 'What If ' section where the posting rules are rigged to give advantages for pro-German posters like they advantages they always gift the Germans in their fantasy threads?

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Peter89 » 09 Jun 2021 14:54

Cult Icon wrote:
08 Jun 2021 21:33
Juan's scenario isn't even the most aggressive one. The more aggressive versions of Juan's OPs were the Alt history topics that want Hitler/OKW to not pursue Op Citadel and then pursue a policy of mobile defense. Mobile defense would involve a lot of organized retreating and readjustment of defense lines to free up the maximum in assault reserves and minimize attrition. This would have big and complex political ramifications as well, extending all year. (The idea that the dictator would refuse to launch an offensive in the year 1943. )
I think there was no good or prudent decisions in 1943, at least not on the level of strategy.

If the Germans decide to do what you described, which is a bit against not simply Hitler's ideas about standing fast, but also against the German military tradition, I don't think that might work.

Why? Because if the Germans wait, the Allies will have more resources. If they attack, they might lose all their conserved strength. There is not always a good solution of a strategic problem.
Cult Icon wrote:
08 Jun 2021 21:33
The Wehrmacht was painstakingly rebuilt and peaked in July 43. yet in July-August the Red Army destroyed the fruits of the labor with sequential offensives. AGS became weak again. The cream of the Pz troops were destroyed once over in little over two months.
The "campaigning season" or the operational sequence of 1942 did not end until May 1943 in Africa. The very obvious decision would have been an evacuation.

I think about this a lot, because there was really nothing in NA after the Vichy collapsed. If the Germans couldn't pull off this very obvious retreat from a dangerously exposed position, I really doubt they would ever adapt a strategy of mobile defense.

But if you think about it, the Germans were already defeated in 1941/1942, and instead of pinching off salients and go on the defensive in that year, they launched a large scale attack. About half of Blau were underequipped and demotivated Hungarian, Romanian and Italian divisions.

For me, it also reveals that the German decision makers were determined to attack, to matter the odds or the resources at hand.

[/quote]
Cult Icon wrote:
08 Jun 2021 21:33
Dramatically reduce the losses of the first and second waves and the fighting value of the third wave becomes very different. The German infantry arm, which received reinforcements, also never recovered from its July-August 43 beating.
I think the buildup in early 1943 wouldn't help the Germans by a substantial margin. Don't forget that the Soviets and the Wallies were building up, too. Way faster actually.
What the Germans needed to do was an engagement where the kill / loss ratio favored them above the production ratio. To pinch off a salient might give them just that.

The question was whether they have the forces to do so, or not. The answer was no. The longer they waited, the bigger punch they could deliver, but the Soviets became stronger and their defenses more thick and elaborate.

All the same, I believe that the Germans had to be forced on the defensive. Neither Hitler nor the general staff would choose defense.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Sheldrake » 09 Jun 2021 15:08

Gooner1 wrote:
09 Jun 2021 11:45
Jary "In many attacks the prisoners we took outnumbered our attacking force and German units who continued to resist at close quarters were few indeed. Unlike us, they rarely fought at night, when they were excessively nervous and unsure of themselves. Where we patrolled extensively, they avoided it. I can remember only only one successful German patrol and not one successful night action."
Point 365 on Mont Pincon was seized in a night infiltration by the 4th SLI.
Jary joined after Hill 112 - and I think Mount Pincon might have been his first action. Jary was a good officer and his essentially optimistic confident views need to be set against those of more cynical soldiers.

I first read of From the Plough in the excellent "Caen: the Anvil of Victory" written by Alexander Mckee in 1964 and well ahead of its time drawing on personal accounts from allied and German perspectives. "The best description of 5 Wilts at Mount Pincon is in From the Plough." The account in the climax is essentially that of Colonel Pearson who walks defiantly over the the bridge crossing the stream when his battalion had sought cover. He was swinging a stick and wearing a red Minden rose in his hat. "Of course he fell, but the men got up out of the stream and went forward. They were stuck again. By this time there were 60 out of 800."

McKee's book contains a different view of the 4 SLI battle for Mount Pincon, through the eyes of Corporal D B Jones. His platoon was reduced to five unwounded, four badly wounded and nine slightly wounded men over six hours of fighting during the day on 6th August. He smoked 60 cigarettes during the fight.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 09 Jun 2021 16:36

Sources on German armored units in Normandy to understand what their counterattacks entailed, and their track record:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=242367&p=2239582&h ... w#p2239582

Also, the detailed unit histories are available in english but at a high price. These can also be cross referenced with battle histories, the records and unit histories of their opponents. Besides this, there are also detailed histories of armored sub-units and units:

116.Pz, 17.SS, 1.SS, 2.SS, 2.Pz, 9.SS, 10.SS, 12.SS, 11.Pz

Op Luttich was the most significant German attack in Normandy and it has a lot of insightful literature. The detailed "Old Hickory: The 30th Division" unit history was published not long ago. "The Fighting 30th" has personal accounts from veterans. "Saving the Breakout" is detailed and entirely from the 30th ID perspective. "Mortain 1944" osprey has some good side information and data. "Victory at Mortain" is the best operational history. "Fire Mission!" is a very insightful personal account from the point of view of a forward observer of the encircled 2nd battalion, 120th Inf regiment on Hill 314.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Juan G. C. » 09 Jun 2021 19:05

Cult Icon wrote:
08 Jun 2021 14:28
In any case, I was working out the issue of compression (the clique here finds this very offensive :lol: ) and what it would look like, tactically, not a victory in the West.
So the Germans wouldn't have been able to throw the Allies to the sea in this scenario, either?

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Richard Anderson » 09 Jun 2021 20:24

Cult Icon wrote:
09 Jun 2021 08:02
Agreed. Besides this I realized the scam years ago- they can post up to 1300 posts in this subforum and not post a single pro-Axis what-if.
I'm curious, did I miss the forum rule that requires anyone to post a "single pro-Axis what-if"? If I did, I'd appreciate a link to that rule so I could bring it up with the owner and moderators.

I was also unaware that being "pro-Axis" was a requirement for this forum. That you are implying it says interesting things about your worldview and motives.
They maliciously pass the time off of other people's backs and their biased responses should be disregarded accordingly. The area of free inquiry is more appropriate to the spirit of what-if.
This is quite possibly even more unhinged than the rest of your post. You fail, utterly, time after time, to make any sort of substantial response to questions and problems raised regarding your what-if. How is there any "free inquiry" when one side of the inquiry refuses to answer questions...or even respond with some smidge of evidence that advances their cause? Posting a link to someone else's bibliography is hardly a way of advancing proof for an argument. At best it is shotgun referencing of the worst sort.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 11 Jun 2021 01:38

Juan G. C. wrote:
09 Jun 2021 19:05
So the Germans wouldn't have been able to throw the Allies to the sea in this scenario, either?
American Interrogators asked von Schweppenburg this while he was a prisoner of war. In his FMS he said that in his opinion they could have compressed the Allies but they eventually would have been worn down by artillery and fail to destroy them all.

I recommend that you look at the Op Luttich, which is very well covered in many unit histories and literature to see where the strengths and the weaknesses of the Germans manifest. In the offensive they attritted the 30th Division somewhat and encircled one battalion, but the offensive was canceled. These limited results were achieved under extremely heavy air attack (day of the Typhoon) and artillery superiority on the US side. In my scenario they could do at least three of these attacks in close succession. If done in a 9 day period from June 16th ( Six Pz divisions with reserves coming in everyday) it would certainly achieve compression (near Caen, the British-Canadians were some 6 miles from the beaches). How much is of course not known. Meanwhile they would have to deal with counterattacks and reserves.

Destroying them in the Beach would require a total breakdown of some divisions, definitely not guaranteed and IMHO not that likely. However nowhere in the Western Front had the Allies withstood three- four attacks like this. Historical examples are lacking. I can't say it's impossible but I lean toward it being unlikely.

In some time I'll start a thread where I post interesting excerpts from Bayerlein's 20 manuscripts on combat tactics and criticism of German forces in the West Front 44-45.
Last edited by Cult Icon on 11 Jun 2021 03:12, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 11 Jun 2021 01:52

To add "Against the Panzers" is a helpful book, focused on analyzing some of the defensive battles, including Mortain, where American units operated in high- intensity defense. Also, Doubler's articles and " Closing With the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe, 1944-1945" has good analysis (also on Mortain) about tactics: artillery, infantry and air support.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Michael Kenny » 11 Jun 2021 02:59

Cult Icon wrote:
11 Jun 2021 01:38


In some time I'll start a thread where I post interesting excerpts from Bayerlein's 20 manuscripts on combat tactics and criticism of German forces in the West Front 44-45.
Why bother when for a small fee you can get the pdf :

https://www.helion.co.uk/military-histo ... -vol-1.php

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Juan G. C. » 11 Jun 2021 09:16

Cult Icon wrote:
11 Jun 2021 01:38
If done in a 9 day period from June 16th ( Six Pz divisions with reserves coming in everyday) it would certainly achieve compression (near Caen, the British-Canadians were some 6 miles from the beaches). How much is of course not known. Meanwhile they would have to deal with counterattacks and reserves.
Pardon my ignorance, but couldn't the Germans have attacked before that?
Destroying them in the Beach would require a total breakdown of some divisions, definitely not guaranteed and IMHO not that likely. However nowhere in the Western Front had the Allies withstood three- four attacks like this. Historical examples are lacking. I can't say it's impossible but I lean toward it being unlikely.
What do you mean? Is it unlikely for the Allies to withstand so many attacks, or for the Germans to cause the total breakdown of some divisions?

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Gooner1 » 11 Jun 2021 12:19

Sheldrake wrote:
09 Jun 2021 15:08
Jary joined after Hill 112 - and I think Mount Pincon might have been his first action. Jary was a good officer and his essentially optimistic confident views need to be set against those of more cynical soldiers.

McKee's book contains a different view of the 4 SLI battle for Mount Pincon, through the eyes of Corporal D B Jones. His platoon was reduced to five unwounded, four badly wounded and nine slightly wounded men over six hours of fighting during the day on 6th August. He smoked 60 cigarettes during the fight.
From Jary on taking over the platoon: "On 31st July 18 Platoon consisted of seventeen all ranks, twelve of whom were recent reinforcements. Hill 112 and Briquessard had claimed the rest"
Which rather indicates the quality of manpower the infantry received and their standard of training.
I first read of From the Plough in the excellent "Caen: the Anvil of Victory" written by Alexander Mckee in 1964 and well ahead of its time drawing on personal accounts from allied and German perspectives. "The best description of 5 Wilts at Mount Pincon is in From the Plough." The account in the climax is essentially that of Colonel Pearson who walks defiantly over the the bridge crossing the stream when his battalion had sought cover. He was swinging a stick and wearing a red Minden rose in his hat. "Of course he fell, but the men got up out of the stream and went forward. They were stuck again. By this time there were 60 out of 800."
I read it just recently, part of the IWM's republishing of 'wartime classics' https://shop.iwm.org.uk/wartime-classics He really was a very good writer, surprised I didn't get it years ago.
Still the story of a battalion in WW2 is not just that of the 800 blokes who go into their first action but also of the 1,000 who join it.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 11 Jun 2021 13:15

Juan G. C. wrote:
11 Jun 2021 09:16

Pardon my ignorance, but couldn't the Germans have attacked before that?

What do you mean? Is it unlikely for the Allies to withstand so many attacks, or for the Germans to cause the total breakdown of some divisions?
No, the Germans could not attack before June 16th. Historically, the I SS Pz Corps was so overextended (in particular, the 2nd Pz and 12 SS front lines) in mid June that they did not have reserves to launch the offensive. In the 7th Army War Diary the 2nd Pz reports after they settled in that they are holding a 15 KM line and cannot attack. They required additional formations to free up reserves to "unlock" them from defense to offense.

Causing a breakdown and rout of a division (this only happened to the US 106th Inf division in Dec ) requires infiltrating German combat groups to break into the rear of the division, cut the lines of communication and/or encircle groups. These are German combat tactics.

The Allied divisions possessed 1. vast artillery superiority and the ability to concentrate the fires all local divisions and corps artillery, immediately employed by forward observers to interdiction and defensive fires 2. numerically strong inf forces with high ammunition supply 3. vast air superiority, the ability to call down fighter bombers to interdict and suppress attacking forces 4. full motorization, meaning fairly quick to organize counterattacks and shift reserves for additional echelons of defense. 5. As a consequence of these tactical advantages the German Pz division is disaggregated and much reduced in combat power.

Bayerlein's opinion in his 1946 reports, confirmed by the literature decades since, is that the Pz division in the West was reduced to a static inf division with disaggregated infantry & tanks, and had only 25% of its potential combat efficiency. He also remarked that the SPW was worthless in combat in the West (while being highly valuable as a fighting platform in the East) and mainly used as supply vehicles. Recon battalions were defensive rather than offensive weapons.

So these are tactical issues that make attacking them difficult and requiring high expenditure of effort. This makes it less likely that infiltrating tank-infantry teams will encircle major elements and cut off the lines of communications. But not impossible, one cannot assume anything.

In the case of 30th Division at Mortain you can see the early stages of attrition forming and how much effort it really takes for the German side. The dimensions of the battle were similar to that at Caen however the terrain was bush heavy and advantageous to the defender. The XLVII Pz corps, while performing its main effort on 30th division and had to fight counterattacking, arriving, or defending American reserves from other formations like the US 3rd Armored, US 9th Infantry division and US 4th Infantry divisions on the flanks. In the case of the 30th Inf division, Germans succeed in infiltrating into close-combat range and fixing the 30th division, encircling one battalion. What follows is another What-if? If the offensive continued, refreshed by reserves. Eventually the 30th division would be heavily attritted and have to retreat from its positions, and surrender elements if not the whole unit. However the US reserves would have formed the next defensive line to the rear. So a new offensive push would be required of the Germans, perhaps in another area. This historical case depicts what is a grind. However the terrain around Caen was much more friendly to armored forces.

This is my view. It'll probably be more satisfying to you if you discover these things yourself.

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