Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Mar 2020 14:32

Inspiration for the thread: Monty's Functional Doctrine: Combined Arms Doctrine in British 21st Army Group in Northwest Europe, 1944–45 (Wolverhampton Military Studies)

https://www.amazon.com/Montys-Functiona ... 1910777269

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Aber » 01 Mar 2020 19:43

Original PhD thesis available for free download

https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin ... hos.540781

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Sheldrake » 01 Mar 2020 22:57

Cult Icon wrote:
01 Mar 2020 14:32
Inspiration for the thread: Monty's Functional Doctrine: Combined Arms Doctrine in British 21st Army Group in Northwest Europe, 1944–45 (Wolverhampton Military Studies)

https://www.amazon.com/Montys-Functiona ... 1910777269
This is an interesting but flawed analysis. it it had not been an e book I would have flung it into the corner on several occasions. You cannot make sense of British combined arms doctrine without accurate interpretation of the Gunners. Field anti-tank and AA artillery were all components of combined arms doctrine. In the rocks paper scissors world of late WW2 tactics, unsupported tanks die against anti tank weapons, machine guns, mortars and artillery separate the infantry from tanks. Medium guns and the counter battery and mortar organisation deal with the indirect fire weapons. This does not emerge from what is a discussion about armour and infantry based on armoured corps memoirs.

Plate 4 shows a Hetzer - only in service after the Normandy campaign. The main SP anti tank gun the British faced tended to be the Stug of the SS Panzer Divisions and the thinly armoured improvisations in the 21st Panzer Division.

His analysis of the 7th Armoured division at Villers Bocage and Hinde and Erskine's tactical thinking was interesting and thought provoking. However, it is hard to reconcile ideas of the commanders still thinking about swanning with armour, with the reality that 7th Armoured were operating with combined arms groups, having re-organised on 11th June into two "square " mixed brigades each with two armoured and two infantry units. There was even a company of Rifle Brigade "panzer grenadiers" with the leading squadron on the road to pt 213. The failure seems to have been elementary recce and security, not combined arms organisation per ce.

He manages to discuss the invulnerability of German armour in Op Epsom and Op Martlet (Were there Tigers at Fontenay-le Pesnil?) while ignoring the tanks KO'd by 6 pounders with APDS on the Rauray spur.

Forrester's description of Anti-tank artillery on pp96-97 is factually incorrect. It is not true that SP anti tank guns were in short supply initially in Normandy. The initial assault force had a higher proportion of SP guns than follow on corps, as the infantry divisions were each equipped with 16 M10 SPs that were absent from the infantry division establishment. Furthermore Forrester completely misses the point about the effectiveness of the 6 pounder, which could KO anything other than a Tiger or frontal armour of a Panther, i.e. the majority of German armour they might face. As a gun it was greatly preferred by the RA units to the towed 17 pounder. Carver was not the greatest expert on integrating anti tank guns with infantry and armour.
I am not convinced that Op Jupiter is a valid case study for combined operations. Hill 112 was a tough position to take. The German positions were on the reverse slope of a bare hill that could be engaged from a 120 degree arc. The units on that sector were some of the best in Normandy. There wasn't some magic solution that could be achieved by a simple variation of British organisation or tactics.

He might also have mentioned that the Op Jupiter plan called for the 5th DCLI to be deployed in Kangeroos
about a month before Op Totalize.

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Michael Kenny » 01 Mar 2020 23:14

Sheldrake wrote:
01 Mar 2020 22:57

He manages to discuss the invulnerability of German armour in Op Epsom and Op Martlet (Were there Tigers at Fontenay-le Pesnil?) while ignoring the tanks KO'd by 6 pounders with APDS on the Rauray spur.

Have not read the paper but yes there were Tigers at Fontenay and they got their arses handed to them. At least 4 Tigers destroyed in the small area between Fontenay and Rauray. EPSOM was a disaster for the Panzers and 12th SS had 32 Pz IV knocked out and the newly arrived 9th & 10th SS were also very badly handled.
EPSOM destroyed the ability of the Germans to go on the offensive and repel the landings.

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Aida1 » 02 Mar 2020 09:51

Michael Kenny wrote:
01 Mar 2020 23:14
Sheldrake wrote:
01 Mar 2020 22:57

He manages to discuss the invulnerability of German armour in Op Epsom and Op Martlet (Were there Tigers at Fontenay-le Pesnil?) while ignoring the tanks KO'd by 6 pounders with APDS on the Rauray spur.

Have not read the paper but yes there were Tigers at Fontenay and they got their arses handed to them. At least 4 Tigers destroyed in the small area between Fontenay and Rauray. EPSOM was a disaster for the Panzers and 12th SS had 32 Pz IV knocked out and the newly arrived 9th & 10th SS were also very badly handled.
EPSOM destroyed the ability of the Germans to go on the offensive and repel the landings.
Very overblown retoric. With or without EPSOM a german counterattack was always doomed because of facing too much firepower from air and ground. Only in the very beginning could one have maybe repelled the landing but once the allies consolidated there was no way they could be thrown back in the sea.

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Sheldrake » 05 Mar 2020 16:04

Aida1 wrote:
02 Mar 2020 09:51
With or without EPSOM a german counterattack was always doomed because of facing too much firepower from air and ground. Only in the very beginning could one have maybe repelled the landing but once the allies consolidated there was no way they could be thrown back in the sea.
We will never know, because Op Epsom pre-empted German plans to launch a counter attack. However, their armoured counterstroke against the narrow salient of the "Scottish corridor" failed with heavy losses. Arguable a victory for Montgomery's concept of the Dog fight. Air had a minor role in Op Epsom was poor weather grounded much of the planned air support.

The point made in post 18 is that Forester's analysis of combined operations completely ignores the part played by the Infantry and RA 6 pounder anti tank guns and misinterprets the part played by towed 17 pounders and M10 SP antio tank guns whether 3" or upgunned as 17 pounder "Fireflys."
These were at the heart of Montgomery's plans for dealing with German armour as part of his combined operations concept.

Infantry anti tank guns and hand held anti tank weapons were the self protection for infantry battalions. RA Anti tank units were to kill German armour in killing areas. The SP Anti tank guns of the Corps and Armoured Division were, in theory, a mobile reserve. Behind them, the beachheads themselves were protected by a ring of dozens of 3.7" AA guns with a secondary Anti tank role,(as well as some 88mm guns captured on the beaches.)

However, two practical problems emerged in Normandy providing anti tank protection for ground taken. 1. The 6 pounder could not tackle Panther frontal armour or Tigers, and had a limited range. 2. The towed 17 pounder was less than satisfactory. It took a long time, c 12 hours, to dig a hole big enough to protect a 17 pounder and its detachment, and futhermore, the Field Artillery Tractor was too vulnerable to be used in forward areas.

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Aida1 » 05 Mar 2020 18:10

Sheldrake wrote:
05 Mar 2020 16:04
Aida1 wrote:
02 Mar 2020 09:51
With or without EPSOM a german counterattack was always doomed because of facing too much firepower from air and ground. Only in the very beginning could one have maybe repelled the landing but once the allies consolidated there was no way they could be thrown back in the sea.
We will never know, because Op Epsom pre-empted German plans to launch a counter attack. However, their armoured counterstroke against the narrow salient of the "Scottish corridor" failed with heavy losses. Arguable a victory for Montgomery's concept of the Dog fight. Air had a minor role in Op Epsom was poor weather grounded much of the planned air support.
The german attack could never succeed with or without EPSOM. The allied superiority in artillery firepower was enough to pin down any german attack. The situation report of the 9. SS of 2 july gives a detailed description of how devastating the effect of the artilleryfire was( Im Fuersturm letzter Kriegsjahre W Tieke Munin Verlag 1975 pp 135-136).

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Michael Kenny » 05 Mar 2020 18:57

Aida1 wrote:
05 Mar 2020 18:10


The german attack could never succeed with or without EPSOM.
EPSOM was the Allied attack. Whilst it was in progress the Germans launched their big offensive to split the Allies and reach the beaches. It was the much-delayed counter-attack that was expected to defeat the Allies.
EPSOM c 26-6-44.jpg
Forewarned by ULTRA intercepts Monty knew it was coming and he pulled back his most forward troops (on Hill 112) to prevent them being cut off and surrounded. The German attack was so effectively smothered that it took a while for Monty to realise he had defeated it. He thought the main blow had yet to be delivered when in fact the offensive has been aborted and abandoned.
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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Michael Kenny » 05 Mar 2020 19:18

This is not the only time a Commonwealth attack ran into a German counter-attack. It happened again during BLUECOAT.

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Sheldrake » 06 Mar 2020 14:45

Michael Kenny wrote:
05 Mar 2020 18:57
Aida1 wrote:
05 Mar 2020 18:10


The german attack could never succeed with or without EPSOM.
EPSOM was the Allied attack. Whilst it was in progress the Germans launched their big offensive to split the Allies and reach the beaches. It was the much-delayed counter-attack that was expected to defeat the Allies.

EPSOM c 26-6-44.jpg

Forewarned by ULTRA intercepts Monty knew it was coming and he pulled back his most forward troops (on Hill 112) to prevent them being cut off and surrounded. The German attack was so effectively smothered that it took a while for Monty to realise he had defeated it. He thought the main blow had yet to be delivered when in fact the offensive has been aborted and abandoned.
Are you sure? The German response to OP Epsom was with fewer troops i.e. not all of the panzer divisions were complete, only battlegroups of the 1st and 2nd SS took part and he 277th infantry and 3rd Parachute. It was also a different concept - a limited counterstroke east and west into the exposed British salient rather than the advance north shown in the (Rommel's? ) sketch map.

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Michael Kenny » 06 Mar 2020 15:26

Sheldrake wrote:
06 Mar 2020 14:45


Are you sure? The German response to OP Epsom was with fewer troops i.e. not all of the panzer divisions were complete, only battlegroups of the 1st and 2nd SS took part and he 277th infantry and 3rd Parachute. It was also a different concept - a limited counterstroke east and west into the exposed British salient rather than the advance north shown in the (Rommel's? ) sketch map.
Quite sure. The German planners were behind the curve and running at top-speed just to stand still. EPSOM (shorthand for all the offensives in the last week of June) disrupted the German plan and drew in the panzers piece-meal and they were unable to be concentrated for the original intent.
The1st map is one of 3 that shows how the Germans were playing catch-up constantly changing plans to suit the situation. The threat posed by EPSOM was so dire they had to go with what they had and change the objectives rather than wait until all the divisions were assembled for the original master-plan. As you know the Allies were focused on winning the build-up race and they devoted considerable resources to destroying the transport infrastructure. It was no accident that 1st & 2nd SS were delayed and fragmented and it should not be seen as a stroke of luck that it happened.

June 19th a
EPSOM a 19-6-44 a .jpg
June 19th b
EPSOM b 19-6-44 b . (1).jpg

June 26th
EPSOM c 26-6-44.jpg
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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by dgfred » 06 Mar 2020 15:37

Good stuff Mr. Kenny. Looks like a plan of hope for the most part IMO.

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Sheldrake » 06 Mar 2020 17:37

Michael Kenny wrote:
06 Mar 2020 15:26
The threat posed by EPSOM was so dire they had to go with what they had and change the objectives rather than wait until all the divisions were assembled for the original master-plan.
I suspect we are in violent agreement. The Germans changed the objectives for the two SS corps panzer army they had concentrated. What was planned on 26 June was an offensive to separate the allied armies and drive them into the sea. By 27th June these forces were committed to a defensive counter strike against an alarming breakthrough west of Caen. The big picture was that the Germans were dancing to Monty's tune.

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Aber » 06 Mar 2020 18:26

Michael Kenny wrote:
06 Mar 2020 15:26

Quite sure. The German planners were behind the curve and running at top-speed just to stand still. EPSOM (shorthand for all the offensives in the last week of June) disrupted the German plan and drew in the panzers piece-meal and they were unable to be concentrated for the original intent.
The1st map is one of 3 that shows how the Germans were playing catch-up constantly changing plans to suit the situation. The threat posed by EPSOM was so dire they had to go with what they had and change the objectives rather than wait until all the divisions were assembled for the original master-plan. As you know the Allies were focused on winning the build-up race and they devoted considerable resources to destroying the transport infrastructure. It was no accident that 1st & 2nd SS were delayed and fragmented and it should not be seen as a stroke of luck that it happened.
Excellent - some maps I've not seen before.

It is one of the major missing elements of the Normandy story - the Germans were trying to destroy the allied bridgehead and any narrative which ignores these plans, in favour of arguing the allies were slow in winning the battle, is nonsense.

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Re: Tactical innovation, CW armored forces

Post by Aida1 » 06 Mar 2020 19:55

Sheldrake wrote:
06 Mar 2020 17:37
Michael Kenny wrote:
06 Mar 2020 15:26
The threat posed by EPSOM was so dire they had to go with what they had and change the objectives rather than wait until all the divisions were assembled for the original master-plan.
I suspect we are in violent agreement. The Germans changed the objectives for the two SS corps panzer army they had concentrated. What was planned on 26 June was an offensive to separate the allied armies and drive them into the sea. By 27th June these forces were committed to a defensive counter strike against an alarming breakthrough west of Caen. The big picture was that the Germans were dancing to Monty's tune.
The offensive had been planned for the beginning of july. The events of the end of june certainly convinced the german commanders that it would not be possible anymore to break through to the coast. They were aware that the allied tried to attrit the pz div which barred their road . To avoid this and in order to retain some initiative a free hand was asked to conduct a more flexible defense including pulling out some pz div out of the front, refit them and keep them ready for offensive counterstrikes outside the range of allied naval guns. A shortening of the front was proposed to achieve this (Lagebeurteilungen of 30 june/1 july by von Geyr and Hausser supported by Rommel Entscheidung im Westen 1944 D Ose DVA 1982 pp 327-329). Rundstedt supported these proposals and got sacked for it by Hitler who wanted no ground to be given up.

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