[quote="Qvist"]" A reply from Rich Anderson basically saying theat there were definatly some differces between the total ger str definitions and the US numbers zetterling uses. "
Well, not many surprises in what rich writes really. The basic point IMO is this:
""Darrin, the German strength that Niklas uses are usually Istsstaerke, although sometimes he references Tagesstaerke or Verpflegungsstaerke, all of which can be very different things. "
True enough as far as the narrative in general is concerned, although this does not much affect the strength ratio issue. This issue turns up at two points - firstly, in the chapter dealing with German strength on 1 June, secondly, in the ratio calculation for Cobra. He may be criticised for not making it clear exactly which term he relies on in the second case - the first, as Rich writes, includes ALL ground troops, with the stated exceptions, under OB West. Note furthermore that these numbers are not discussed as strength, but just used to derive a relative ratio between the manpower emplyed in divisions, GHQ combat units and higher echelon support and supply respectively. IMO, it can be assumed that his number for Cobra relies on Iststärke, because Tagesstärke was a term that was unfortunately rarely utilised in German reports, and it seems very unlikely that sufficient information in this category was present to allow a conclusion on strength on this basis. Actually - the number given, even if likely based on Iststärke, is a modified one that would in practice be closer to Tagesstärke, because he factors in casualties minus replacements - remember that Iststärke includes short-term sick and wounded. He then of course fails to take account for any troops with minor injuries who had by then returned to duty. However, the possible variations here seem quite unlikely to be of magnitude to significantly affect the issue, which is the main point for a sort of comparison which can rarely if ever be made with absolute accuracy.
"Assigned strength in US parlance is probably close to the german definition of Ist, but there are variations. "
The question then is how significant these variations are. Of the ones he mentioned, this struck me as the most interesting:
"I do not know for sure whether or not Niklas count of Commonwealth strength includes the RAF Tactical Air Forces on the continent, although I suspect it does."
If it does, then this is certainly something that should be taken into account for an accurate force ratio.
Then there is the Verpflegungsstärke-issue, which certainly IS of a magnitude that would be significant in this regard. This brings up the question "what is relevant to include in a force comparison"? I believe three questions are of importance in this respect:
1. Equivalence - i.e. are the same type of elements included on both sides?
2. Relevance - i.e. did this personnel category support the fighting in Normandy in a way that makes it menaingful to include?
3. Impact - i.e. would inclusion significantly affect strength ratios, and in which direction?
note: Zetterling makes it clear that his allied numbers refer to troops BROUGHT TO THE CONTINENT. Unless we want to assume that he is telling a barefaced lie or has fatally misunderstood his sources, this must underlay the discussion.
Another key point IMO is this: For the Germans, the zone of operations were the the front and immediate hinterland in Normandy. Beyond this, there were the whole of occupied France and Benelux, also containing large numbers of different personnel with various tasks. The allies at this time controlled so little territory on the continent that there is no hinterland to speak of on the continent, and in practice, a large part of the organisation supporting the combat efforts in Normandy was still based in England. Thus, the more inclusive the definitions of strength and the more you include personnel types more faintly connected with the efforts in the operational zone, the less relevant the number of allied soldiers on the continent becomes - the kind of services you find in Eastern and Central France for the Germans, you find in England for the allies.
To go through some of the categories:
1. Air Force air- and ground crew. Not included in German strength. If Rich's suspicion is right, possibly partially included in allied strength. If this is so, it would improve accuracy to take these out of the allied total. Considering that only a relatively small portion of allied air forces were operating from France at this time, it is unlikely to be of great significance. If the LW organisation would be included, we would also need to include the allied air forces supporting the fighting in France but based in England, which would in all likelihood significantly increase the force ratio in the allied favour.
2. Navy personnel. Not assumed included on either side AFAICS. You could make a stronger argument for including it on the allied side than the German, as Naval forces were providing direct fire support to ground troops and naval forces constituted an essential logistical link between what was effectively the zone of operations (Normandy) and theater supply services (in England). Seems most reasonable to me to leave them out however. Would further increase the force ratio in the allied favour if included.
3. LW FLAK (except III FLAK Korps). Not included. Zetterlings argument is that they were overwhelmingly static, and employed along the lines of communication, not intended for ground combat. Which I think is debatable, but on the whole reasonable, and likely not too significant numerically. If we want to nit-pick: However, it seems likely that Zetterlings allied numbers include AA units guarding the beachheads, which would be an equivalent to some of these units. I see three solutions to this: 1. Factor out those AA units, 2. Factor in LW FLAK situated with reasonable proximity to the front line, 3. Include all LW FLAK in France/Benelux and all allied AA in Normandy and Southern England.
4. Units of the Training and Replacement army. Many such were present in France, due to the German decision to perform training in the occupied territories rather than at home. They are however, as the name indicates, training units, not units with an operational role. If they were converted to such, on an emergency or permanent basis, they became part of the field army, and turn up through normal reporting channels. Yo could of course count them, as well as llied training units ituated sufficiently close to Normandy to be theoretically utilised as stopgap units (Which they never were). Better IMO to include them as and when they formed or were converted to combat units, of which there were numerous instances in Normandy. They would also provide replacements. In both forms, they must already be considered included in Zetterlings numbers.
5. OT personnel, auxiliary civilians
No equivalent on the allied side. Additionally, to be reasonably included their general function should be one that supported the operations in Normandy. Even if some may be said to have done that, it seems clear that the their tasks were generally other. Piet mentions civilian personnel assisting in supply and construction tasks in the actual operational area - I find it hard to believe that this was a very significant phenomenon, although I am always ready to be convinced by facts of whom I was unaware. See also next point.
6. Military and civilian administration. There were naturally large numbers of such personnel, tasked with the daily functioning of occupied areas. While they may of course be said to contribute to the operations in Normandy in the most indirect sense, these contributions clearly do not merit inclusion in the force ratios at the time of Cobra. Furthermore, they have no significant allied equivalent. In the summer of 44 there was precious little France for the allies to administer and secure. If we were looking at the numbers at the end of the year, this would be different. They may be assumed to constitute a resident military/civilian infrastructure, on whom the German strategic supply effort depended. But equally, the allied strategic supply effort depended on large numbers of personnel not included in the allied total. Furthermore, this infrastructure were countered by categories of forces not included in the allied total - medium range air forces and the French resistance. Regarding OT/auxiliary personnel: Apart from those who happened to be situated within what became the zone of operations, these would mainly be connected with these structures.
7. Rear area supply services - i.e. above the divisional level.
On the allied side, this includes only those present on the narrow strip of land in Normandy. On the German side, even Darrin would agree that at least some are included - they are after all by Zetterling assumed to constitute 16% of German ground forces in Western Europe. It is of course conceivable that there are theater supply units not included here - the info in the book does not in itself really allow us to discuss this meaningfully. Although I find it difficult to see why any such would not be included in the 880,000 number. It might be prudent to differentiate between supply units and anyone assisting somehow with supplies, such as French and German railroad personnel. Supply units in Normandy is what is being counted on the allied side, and, I think it can be assumed with considerable confidence, on the German side (or rather, an amount of those present in the OB west area, not just Normandy, proportionate to the present divisional/combat unit strength). You might argue that other personnel mattered, but then again, you might argue that so did the crews of allied ships bringing supplies across the channel, not to mention the huge number of people in Southern England involved in loading, moving, guarding and processing them. In this sense, it can actually be argued that the German figures for higher echelon supply and support could be more inclusive than the allied, as the German figure refers to the entire OB West area, whereas the allied includes only elements present on the small strip of land taken in Normandy, which in logistical terms is the equivalent of the zone of operations on the German side.
In conclusion, I think Zetterling has struck a reasonable if far from undebatable balance of inclusion, and that an equitable extension of inclusive criteria seems as likely to produce an even more favourable allied force ratio as the opposite. I am also quite sure that it is possible to point out flaws or omissions in the above, for which i shall only be grateful.