Yes, right on the money.Sheldrake wrote: ↑30 Oct 2019 22:10Mark,
I am afraid these read as a litany of well rehearsed excuses for failure. Whatever explanations can be offered, the British Army failed to make use of heavy AA guns to cover the shortfall in anti tank guns when these were critically needed in the Western Desert.
Alanbrooke's intervention, as C-n-C Home Forces in July 1941 suggests that someone with nous could have worked it out, and someone with authority could have made things happen. No one in Middle East command sparked or extracted a digit.
The farcical programme to mount 3" guns on Churchills failed to achieve anything whatsoever. The idea of mounting an artillery piece was not difficult to implement. Alfred Becker did it in his spare time in 1940 and managed to turn out 1900 conversions before the British had built a single tracked SP anti tank gun.
This whole sad story of failed of tactical and technical innovation should be a case study on the curriculum of every staff college.
Although to add it wasn't just HAA guns Middle East neglected to use in the anti-tank role. As Oliver Lyttleton stated to Parliament on 1st July 1942
"It might be inferred from reading the newspapers that except for a small number of 6-pounders we have no weapons similar to the 88 mm. gun of the Germans, which has been so skilfully employed in the present battle. Such an inference would be wholly wrong. We actually had in the Middle East enough guns for three regiments of 4/'s, and these have a great range and are quite capable of taking on the German 88 mm., although I do not want the House to think that these 4/'s were primarily designed as anti-tank guns. The 25-pounders, although not designed as anti-tank guns, have proved particularly effective against tanks; their rate of fire is lower than the ordinary anti-tank weapon, but experience has shown that both in penetration and mobility they are very useful guns against tanks in the desert. The same applies to the 88 mm. gun of the Germans, originally put into the field as an anti-aircraft weapon. Apart altogether from the 2-pounder, the 6-pounder and the 24-pounder,"
Eighth Army had just been humbled at Gazala, Tobruk and Mersah Matruh and the Axis were now threatening the Delta itself. Middle East Command has enough guns for three regiments of 4" guns to take part in the last ditch defence so where the hell are they!
Strangely perhaps, not even Monty sought to use them and whilst he was a good enough commander to defeat the Axis attack, a few troops of 4" guns on Alam Halfa ridge wouldn't have gone amiss. It might have saved 22nd Armoured Brigades blushes at the hands of the PzIV Specials.
The earlier Eighth Army commander and the first choice successor would probably have lost that battle.
The SP saga is truly farcical. Hundreds of obsolescent guns, thousands of chassis of obsolescent tanks, a recommendation to acquire Self-Propelled anti-tank guns from the Summer of 1940 and four and a bit short years later the British finally got their first home produced model.
With the unique selling point of having its gun point backwards.
I believe the Germans actually made a few SPs using the British 3" guns, some being used in the desert IIRC.