US Half Tracks in British use

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by T. A. Gardner » 24 Oct 2019 22:12

yantaylor wrote:
24 Oct 2019 11:32
Wow I just had a discussion with an ex-US Army Colonel who had been a battalion Co, and he wiped the floor with me and the British army, he said that the British never managed to combine infantry and armour and they couldn’t come close to the US Armies use of ‘Combat Commands’.

I said that I was fully aware of how the US armoured divisions had three battalions of infantry, three of armour and three of artillery, which could split into three groups three. I also said that the British got their act together, somewhat in 1942 and had more infantry per armoured division then the Americans, three US to four Brits. But he dismissed and said we couldn’t combine them. He said that an American army would not send tanks into the attack without infantry and artillery, which is what the British did in 1940-42.

Now I gave up, because this guy was more up on this stuff, so maybe he was right, but if he was how come we managed to be so successful.
He also dragged Monty through the mud, saying he was a rubbish, slow and out of touch with modern armoured warfare.

I thought I was lucky to get out of the discussion in one piece :lol:

Yan
One could make the argument that the British Army wasn't very successful until almost into 1943 and even then, through the end of the war, had some serious deficiencies.

Consider:

The first British offensive of the war was in Norway. They landed a scratch force along with some French units near Narvik in Northern Norway in what amounted to an invasion of a neutral country. Germany's response was to invade Denmark then Norway and defeat the British - French forces decisively.
In France, the one serious British offensive attack was Arras. An unsupported tank brigade made what amounted to a cavalry charge into the 7th panzer division. The attack ended with the British losing a bit more than half their tanks and falling back to their starting position.
In North Africa against the Germans, the British suffered a string of nearly decisive defeats punctuated by costly offensives. It was only once the front became static, much like the Western Front in WW 1, at the Alamein position were the British able to really conduct an effective defense.
In between, there was a defeat in Greece including the destruction of a tank regiment sent, a defeat at Crete, and another in Malaya.
During this time Britain also went through like three major reorganizations of their armored divisions none of which proved particularly effective or competent.
There was the Dieppe debacle as well.

Monty was competent at the fixed piece battle but that plodding style was hardly what was needed much of the time. One might note of all the Allied armies on the Rhine in late 1944 early 1945, his was the last to get across and his operation had the highest cost in losses doing it. In Normandy, the British launched several very costly offensives that really didn't go anywhere like Hill 112 and Goodwood.

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Michael Kenny » 24 Oct 2019 23:33

T. A. Gardner wrote:
24 Oct 2019 22:12
Normandy, the British launched several very costly offensives that really didn't go anywhere like Hill 112 and Goodwood.
Let us dig a bit into that.

Hill 112 came into play during EPSOM. As a result of the threat posed by EPSOM the Germans were forced to commit 1st & 2nd SS Pz.Korps early (and piecemeal) instead of using them for their planned offensive to split the Allies and reach the beaches. This was the last German attack that had any chance of success and (for them) it was their final throw of the dice.
Here the various ways it could go from Meyer's 12th SS Book.
EPSOM a 19-6-44 a .jpg
EPSOM b 19-6-44 b . (1).jpg
EPSOM c 26-6-44.jpg
The last map above came closest to what happened but 9th & 10th SS (and the advance Units of 2nd SS) were sent east (instead of west into the US sector) to try and cut off the British forces on Hill 112.
Forewarned by ULTRA intercepts Monty recalled his troops on Hill 112 and waited for the blow. The German attack was stopped dead in its tracks and got nowhere. That is it in a nutshell but it was a major victory for Monty. EPSOM collided with the German offensive and a defeat or penetration would have been fatal. Please take the time to acquaint yourself with the German attack and the number of Panzer Divisions involved then come back and tell us Monty 'really didn't go anywhere' Normandy.
Also look at the German reaction to their failed attack and the EPSOM gains. They knew they were beaten and wanted to abandon CAEN and pull back but Hitler refused to allow it.
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Sheldrake
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Sheldrake » 25 Oct 2019 09:56

yantaylor wrote:
24 Oct 2019 11:32
Wow I just had a discussion with an ex-US Army Colonel who had been a battalion Co, and he wiped the floor with me and the British army, he said that the British never managed to combine infantry and armour and they couldn’t come close to the US Armies use of ‘Combat Commands’.

I said that I was fully aware of how the US armoured divisions had three battalions of infantry, three of armour and three of artillery, which could split into three groups three. I also said that the British got their act together, somewhat in 1942 and had more infantry per armoured division then the Americans, three US to four Brits. But he dismissed and said we couldn’t combine them. He said that an American army would not send tanks into the attack without infantry and artillery, which is what the British did in 1940-42.

Now I gave up, because this guy was more up on this stuff, so maybe he was right, but if he was how come we managed to be so successful.
He also dragged Monty through the mud, saying he was a rubbish, slow and out of touch with modern armoured warfare.

I thought I was lucky to get out of the discussion in one piece :lol:

Yan
I'd refer him to John Buckley's excellent articles and books on the subject. He was talking from ignorance and a lifetime of practicing the three Bs of the military.

The degree to which armour co-operated with infantry varied by formation as well as national doctrine. British doctrine emerged despite rather than through RAC doctrine which was all about tanks and nothing but tanks. (Have a look at the early 1943(?) training film "Tank Battle" if you can find it. No mention of infantry or artillery at any point) Here is an extract https://film.iwmcollections.org.uk/r/1701

The motor battalions (mounted in US half tracks) were well integrated with the armoured brigades of the armoured division. The British unit ambushed at Villers Bocage was the County of London Yeomanry group which included a company of the Rifle Brigade. Not that the combat team grouping did them much good... 3 RTR and 8 Rifle Brigade seized Bras from the LAH on 19th July.

During Operation Bluecoat the four divisions in 8th Corps were regrouped to suit the close bocage country with each division (11th & Guards Armd and 3rd and 15th Infantry having two infantry and one armoured brigades. The British also created the infantry battalion/ armoured regiment battle group, further pairing companies and squadrons into company/squadron groups commanded alternatively by the company and squadron commanders. (Only the British would introduce command by syndicate and make it work. Infantry commander took the lead in close country and armour led in open country ). The Guards armoured division took this a stage further. Although their initial battlegroups were formed ina hurry between the infantry and armoured battalions on the line of march, they later linked armoured and infantry battalions from the same cap badge thus the Grenadier Guards and Irish Guards battlegroups.

US combined arms record isn't perfect. The Armored formations may have practiced combined operations, but co-operation between the tank battlaions and infantry was nothing to boast about. Prior to D Day limited combined arms training and real problems tackling the hedgerow country, The US, like the British, got better. The US Armored Divisions may have had a combined arms grouping but committed lots of howlers at the Kasserine Pass and had few opportunities to demonstrate competence until Normandy. Some US Commanders were better than others. Wood's 4th AD was very good. Sylvester's 7th was not. Some of the 9th and 10th AD's taskforces were ineffective in the Bulge.
Last edited by Sheldrake on 25 Oct 2019 20:25, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 25 Oct 2019 14:31

T. A. Gardner wrote:
24 Oct 2019 22:12
The first British offensive of the war was in Norway. They landed a scratch force along with some French units near Narvik in Northern Norway in what amounted to an invasion of a neutral country. Germany's response was to invade Denmark then Norway and defeat the British - French forces decisively.
Really? I suggest you go back to your books and have a closer look. "Germany's response" was got in first! It must have been difficult to conduct combined arms warfare in northern Norway in winter - perhaps you need to check on how many British tanks were landed there.
T. A. Gardner wrote:
24 Oct 2019 22:12
n France, the one serious British offensive attack was Arras. An unsupported tank brigade made what amounted to a cavalry charge into the 7th panzer division.
Really? I'd always thought that two battalions of infantry were involved in the counter-attack at Arras. If you want to sling mud at British armoured operations during the 1940 campaign in NW Europe you should probably read about the attack by 1st Armoured Division south of the Somme. That would probably lie closer to your description.
T. A. Gardner wrote:
24 Oct 2019 22:12
Monty was competent at the fixed piece battle but that plodding style was hardly what was needed much of the time. One might note of all the Allied armies on the Rhine in late 1944 early 1945, his was the last to get across and his operation had the highest cost in losses doing it. In Normandy, the British launched several very costly offensives that really didn't go anywhere like Hill 112 and Goodwood.
Yawn... :roll: Of all the armies on the Rhine in late 1944 - early 1945, Monty commanded an Army Group which, during the Bulge included two US Armies and after the Bulge and until the Rhine had been crossed included 9th US Army. And a fine bunch of chaps he thought of them.

Apparently, and it might be a surprise to you, but there was another army involved in Normandy - the German.

Regards

Tom

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 25 Oct 2019 14:38

yantaylor wrote:
24 Oct 2019 11:32
Wow I just had a discussion with an ex-US Army Colonel who had been a battalion Co, and he wiped the floor with me and the British army, he said that the British never managed to combine infantry and armour and they couldn’t come close to the US Armies use of ‘Combat Commands’.

I said that I was fully aware of how the US armoured divisions had three battalions of infantry, three of armour and three of artillery, which could split into three groups three. I also said that the British got their act together, somewhat in 1942 and had more infantry per armoured division then the Americans, three US to four Brits. But he dismissed and said we couldn’t combine them. He said that an American army would not send tanks into the attack without infantry and artillery, which is what the British did in 1940-42.

Now I gave up, because this guy was more up on this stuff, so maybe he was right, but if he was how come we managed to be so successful.
He also dragged Monty through the mud, saying he was a rubbish, slow and out of touch with modern armoured warfare.

I thought I was lucky to get out of the discussion in one piece :lol:

Yan
Yan,

You might want to ask him about the initial combat of CCB of 1st US Armored Division in Tunisia on 2 December 1942. Sadly, not much evidence of US combined arms doctrine in practice that day.

Regards

Tom

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by yantaylor » 25 Oct 2019 20:45

I had him on Tunisia Tom, and he agreed that the US Army was caught out.

One thing I did put to him was, asking him how he thought a US Expeditionary force would have fared in Europe 1940, you know armed with Combat cars and those huge medium tanks which had around a dozen MGs plus 37mm ATGs and licenced built 75mm M1897s.
The US army may have not been fully equipped with M1 rifles in early 1940 too, so the GIs would have been on par with everyone else with bolt-actioned rifles.
I think they would have suffered the same fate as the BEF, but he never gave me an answer one way or another.

Yan

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by OpanaPointer » 25 Oct 2019 22:56

The US did send the British one half million SMLEs after Dunkirk, declared surplus.
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Michael Kenny » 26 Oct 2019 05:13

Challenger shown here at 4m:36. Says 15/19 Hussars but I have not checked it out.

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item ... 1060023954

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by yantaylor » 26 Oct 2019 12:36

Yeah deffo a Challenger Michael, can't hit on any markings though.
Screenshot_2019-10-26 THE 11TH ARMOURED DIVISION ADVANCES TO ARGENTAN [Allocated Title] (2).png
Yan
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by LineDoggie » 27 Oct 2019 01:17

yantaylor wrote:
26 Oct 2019 12:36
Yeah deffo a Challenger Michael, can't hit on any markings though.

Screenshot_2019-10-26 THE 11TH ARMOURED DIVISION ADVANCES TO ARGENTAN [Allocated Title] (2).png

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by LineDoggie » 27 Oct 2019 01:23

OpanaPointer wrote:
25 Oct 2019 22:56
The US did send the British one half million SMLEs after Dunkirk, declared surplus.
Yeah No

SMLE No.1 Mk III was NOT a US war reserve item

the .30 US Model 1917 rifle, aka P17 WAS in US war reserve stocks (and the main rifle of the Philippine Army). In UK service a 2inch wide red band painted to the forward handguards to warn users it was not .303 chambering but was .300 735K were sent to the UK

The US did Manufacture the No.4 Enfield at Savage Arms and they were stamped US Property as a canard
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by LineDoggie » 27 Oct 2019 01:41

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
25 Oct 2019 14:31


Yawn... :roll: Of all the armies on the Rhine in late 1944 - early 1945, Monty commanded an Army Group which, during the Bulge included two US Armies and after the Bulge and until the Rhine had been crossed included 9th US Army. And a fine bunch of chaps he thought of them.

Apparently, and it might be a surprise to you, but there was another army involved in Normandy - the German.

Regards

Tom
Yawn is right

Monty commanded the 1st US Army but did little in those couple of weeks commanding them. However he did order US forces to retreat from St. Vith which was nice. And he swanned about telling the press he saved the Americans
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Michael Kenny » 27 Oct 2019 02:12

LineDoggie wrote:
27 Oct 2019 01:41
And he swanned about telling the press he saved the Americans
No he did not. Find me the actual quotes where he claims he 'saved' the Americans.

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Michael Kenny » 27 Oct 2019 02:18

LineDoggie wrote:
27 Oct 2019 01:41
Monty commanded the 1st US Army but did little in those couple of weeks commanding them. However he did order US forces to retreat from St. Vith which was nice.
Indeed it was.............

Montgomery`s role is discussed objectively by Russell F. Weigly in his account, Eisenhower's Lieutenants.· The Campaign of France and Germany l944-I945 . While critical of Monty's arrogance, Weigley acknowledged that Montgomery "took hold on the north flank with the energy and verve that were as characteristic as his peacockery." Weigley defended Monty’s tactic of giving ground the better to build up his reserves, or where the benefits of holding on would no longer match the cost. He withdrew the U.S. 7th Armored Division and the 82"’ Airborne Division from their forward positions. General Robert W. Hasbrouck, commander of the 7th Armored Division, reported on December 22 that the time had come to abandon St. Vith. The defense of St Vith had dealt a crippling delay to the German's 6th SS Panzer Army drive on Leige-as important an action as Bastogne’s stand, though not as dramatic, Hasbrouck’s corps commander, however, General Matthew B. Ridgway opposed withdrawal. He was decisively overuled by Montgomery. Soon a message reached Hasbrouck from Monty, "You have accomplished your mission-a mission well done. It is time to withdraw." Hasbrouck would later go so far as to say that Montgomery "saved the 7th Armored Division."
On Montgomerys order to withdraw, Hugh M. Cole, wrote in his volume, The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge , "and here [Montgomery] showed the ability to honor the fighting man which had endeared him to the hearts of the Desert Rats in North Africa: "They can come back with all honor. 'They come back to the more secure positions. They put up a wonderful show." .........................A useful source on the epic American stand at St. Vith is that by W. D. Ellis and T. J. Cuningham, jr., Clarke of St. Vith, The Sergeant's General. General Bruce C. Clarke, commanded Combat Command "B" of the 7th Armored Division during the critical defense of St. Vith. Montgomery paid several visits to the 7th Armored front: "General Montgomery was impressive to me," Clarke later said,“Very cool in battle" Before Montgomery's order to withdraw, Clarke said, “lt looks like Custer`s last stand to me."


..........very nice indeed.

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by OpanaPointer » 27 Oct 2019 10:28

LineDoggie wrote:
27 Oct 2019 01:23
OpanaPointer wrote:
25 Oct 2019 22:56
The US did send the British one half million SMLEs after Dunkirk, declared surplus.
Yeah No

SMLE No.1 Mk III was NOT a US war reserve item

the .30 US Model 1917 rifle, aka P17 WAS in US war reserve stocks (and the main rifle of the Philippine Army). In UK service a 2inch wide red band painted to the forward handguards to warn users it was not .303 chambering but was .300 735K were sent to the UK

The US did Manufacture the No.4 Enfield at Savage Arms and they were stamped US Property as a canard
But we did send them. I apologize for the slight misinformation.
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