Patton .................

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
Mori
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Re: Patton .................

Postby Mori » 13 Jun 2018 11:34

Sheldrake wrote: Maybe there is a PhD in looking at American and British interpretations of WW2...


And how they spill over to non-US non-British historians.

When working on Montgomery a few years ago, I was extremely surprised at the emotional reactions of French people around me, like the controversies about Caen had almost entirely replaced the fact Montgomory won the Normandy battle and liberated half of France.

yantaylor
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Re: Patton .................

Postby yantaylor » 13 Jun 2018 14:47

Aber wrote:
yantaylor wrote:
Didn't the lack of speed of the British under Monty's command, down to supplies?


What lack of speed?

Guards Armoured crossed the Seine 29th August, liberated Brussels 3rd September; distance 177 miles as the crow flies, longest daily advance 75 miles.. :D


I must have been under the American influence of us Brits not being as cut and thrust as Patton.
I have always put it down to the terrain myself and a ruined German army with no air support.
The British and Canadians cut through Belgium and Holland whilst the US went through open ground in France, not got a map with me but which is the better terrain for rapid advance.

Yan.

Mori
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Re: Patton .................

Postby Mori » 13 Jun 2018 15:00

yantaylor wrote:The British and Canadians cut through Belgium and Holland whilst the US went through open ground in France, not got a map with me but which is the better terrain for rapid advance.


Best terrain is the one without an enemy...

The Americans also went through narrow valleys, mountains and major cities in France, at more or less the speed of those which enjoyed open ground. I'm thinking of the Provence to Vosges exploitation.

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Re: Patton .................

Postby yantaylor » 13 Jun 2018 16:28

I know that this is taking this thread of line, but after Falaise and the German retreat east, didn't the German 7th army lose most of its equipment and men during this period?

Yan.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Patton .................

Postby Sheldrake » 13 Jun 2018 20:04

Mori wrote:
yantaylor wrote:The British and Canadians cut through Belgium and Holland whilst the US went through open ground in France, not got a map with me but which is the better terrain for rapid advance.


Best terrain is the one without an enemy...


The Americans also went through narrow valleys, mountains and major cities in France, at more or less the speed of those which enjoyed open ground. I'm thinking of the Provence to Vosges exploitation.[/quote]

There is a good case for claiming that the Germans won the race to the Rhine ;) It is quite a remarkable feat, given that they many traveled on foot or horseback through hostile country populated by the FFI and Maquis, under a sky full of allied aircraft.

The argument over whether the broad or narrow front geographic strategy misses a key point. The Germans feared the loss of their remaining armies. Montgomery and Patton were aiming for the Rhine. A better objective might have been for 21 Army group to surround the 15th Army on the Belgian coast and head north from Antwerp and for Patton to prevent Army Group G escaping by heading doe the Swiss border.

Aber
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Re: Patton .................

Postby Aber » 14 Jun 2018 07:38

Sheldrake wrote:The argument over whether the broad or narrow front geographic strategy misses a key point. The Germans feared the loss of their remaining armies. Montgomery and Patton were aiming for the Rhine. A better objective might have been for 21 Army group to surround the 15th Army on the Belgian coast and head north from Antwerp and for Patton to prevent Army Group G escaping by heading doe the Swiss border.


One key decision that gets overlooked is the agreement between Montgomery and Bradley in late August to move the inter Army Group boundary eastwards, which placed Brussels in 21st Army Group's zone. Without this Montgomery would have completed a 'right hook' at the Scheldt trapping 15th Army almost completely.

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Re: Patton .................

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 14 Jun 2018 12:31

Aber wrote:
Sheldrake wrote:...
One key decision that gets overlooked is the agreement between Montgomery and Bradley in late August to move the inter Army Group boundary eastwards, which placed Brussels in 21st Army Group's zone. Without this Montgomery would have completed a 'right hook' at the Scheldt trapping 15th Army almost completely.


What was the reasoning behind this decision? Moving the boundary.

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Re: Patton .................

Postby Aber » 14 Jun 2018 15:11

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
What was the reasoning behind this decision? Moving the boundary.


Not very clear, and I'd misremembered, it was early Sept, not August.

2 September Eisenhower met with Bradley, Vandenberg, Hodges and Patton. Key decisions seem to have been:
- Priority for supplies to 3rd Army and V Corps
- V Corps to switch from the left of 1st Army to the right, south of the Ardennes towards the Saar
- 79th Division from left of 1st Army to Third Army
ie main weight of US forces south of the Ardennes

3 September Montgomery met with Bradley, Dempsey and Hodges. Key decisions seem to have been:
- cancel Linnet II airborne operation aimed at Meuse crossings
- fix the inter-Army Group boundary south of a line Brussels-Dusseldorf

This effectively gave the whole of the Ruhr to 21st Army Group with Dempsey planning to bypass to the north and start looking for crossing points between Arnhem and Wesel.

Hodges ADC recorded:
we are to push on East as settled previously and not drive north to Antwerp or Ghent as was presented as a possibility

NB 1st Army had just reached Tournai (actually in 21st Army Group sector) in time to cause cancellation of Linnet I.

Whether it was US pull southwards or Montgomery push to give him a clear avenue of approach to Germany is unclear, but the focus of everybody was on Rhine crossings, not Antwerp and logistics. Adjusting the boundary just seems to have been tidying things up.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Patton .................

Postby Sheldrake » 14 Jun 2018 16:18

The rationale for trying to press to the Rhine after Normandy was the hope that Germany might surrender before the allies crossed the German border. After all, that is what happened in 1918. The German collapse in France in 1944 was far greater on the surface than the Kaiser's army in 1918. The 20 July plot could be taken as an indication that the Nazi regime was vulnerable to a coup.

Neither Op Market Garden nor any push by the 3rd US Army was going to be strong enough to capture the fatherland. Both were gambles, betting on winning big at long odds compared to limited objectives such as a port or rounding up an army.

Some historians mention the mood of defeat that permeated the Wehrmacht at the end of August. But by mid September the Germans had recovered.

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Re: Patton .................

Postby Richard Anderson » 14 Jun 2018 17:27

Sheldrake wrote:There is a good case for claiming that the Germans won the race to the Rhine ;) It is quite a remarkable feat, given that they many traveled on foot or horseback through hostile country populated by the FFI and Maquis, under a sky full of allied aircraft.


Well, to be fair, they only had the one objective, to get to Germany...and the role of the FFI, Maquis, and air forces is consistently exaggerated.

The argument over whether the broad or narrow front geographic strategy misses a key point. The Germans feared the loss of their remaining armies. Montgomery and Patton were aiming for the Rhine. A better objective might have been for 21 Army group to surround the 15th Army on the Belgian coast and head north from Antwerp and for Patton to prevent Army Group G escaping by heading doe the Swiss border.


Well, yes, but the tyranny of logistics was taking command by the first week of September.

On the evening of 3 September, Brussels was liberated by Guards Armoured. The I Corps had invested Le Havre and the Canadians were across the Somme at Etaples. On the same day, Admiral Ramsay urgently cabled SHAEF and 21st Army Group regarding the necessity of clearing the Scheldt Estuary and approaches to Antwerp and Rotterdam. On the evening of 4 September, {OOOPS! :oops: 11 Armoured captured Antwerp...its what I get for posting before coffee] and by 5 September Antwerp and its docks are secured, but by 3 September the attention of Eisenhower, Montgomery, and Bradley were focused northeast and east to the Rhine. It isn't until 13 September that Eisenhower adds clearing the Scheldt to Montgomery's task list, but Montgomery, concentrating now on developing MARKET-GARDEN since Ike authorized it on 10 September, cheerfully ignores it. 15. Armee was never on 21st Army Group's radar.

Also by 3-4 September, Third Army was about 95 miles from the Swiss border...and about 95 miles from the Rhine, while it was about 200 miles from the Seventh Army advance at Lyon, which was pushing steadily north through Burgundy. By the end of the week (9 September) First Army reported 0.0 days of fuel on hand and Third Army 1.1, both of which included supplies allocated at rear dumps as well as what was on hand with the troops in the front line. On 8 September, the 12th Army Group fuel pipeline had reached Chartres, but did not begin operations for another week. The pipeline was sufficient to supply one-third of the Army Group's fuel requirement...and Chartres was 200 to 270 miles from the front. A week later the pipeline was operating...and First Army days of fuel was still 0.0, while Third Army decreased to 0.7. Meanwhile, the front had advanced perhaps 20 to 25 miles.

The pursuit phase is generally considered to have been from D+80 (23 August) to D+98 (12 September). In those 18 days, the allies advanced from the D+90 line to the D+350 line...they had captured territory the NEPTUNE plan expected would take 260 days. Also in those 18 days, as an example, Guards Armoured Division had covered some 495 miles and has been issued some 692,000 British or 831,000 US gallons of fuel. (BTW, straight line distance was about 285 miles, so the planning presumption that for every mile of advance, two miles of movement occur is pretty accurate.)

There simply is no way that 15. Armee or 1. and 19. Armee would get destroyed unless Montgomery's attention shifted away from the Rhine and Ruhr to the Scheldt and no way Third Army can advance to the Swiss border unless circumstances changed so that it would have enabled an advance to the Rhine as well. The first is possible and may have improved the supply situation earlier...but not early enough that it would have enabled the Allies to restart a pursuit, given that by mid-September the Germans were stabilizing on the Westwall and rapidly reinforcing.
Last edited by Richard Anderson on 14 Jun 2018 18:41, edited 1 time in total.

Richard Anderson
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Re: Patton .................

Postby Richard Anderson » 14 Jun 2018 17:37

Aber wrote:
Sheldrake wrote:The argument over whether the broad or narrow front geographic strategy misses a key point. The Germans feared the loss of their remaining armies. Montgomery and Patton were aiming for the Rhine. A better objective might have been for 21 Army group to surround the 15th Army on the Belgian coast and head north from Antwerp and for Patton to prevent Army Group G escaping by heading doe the Swiss border.


One key decision that gets overlooked is the agreement between Montgomery and Bradley in late August to move the inter Army Group boundary eastwards, which placed Brussels in 21st Army Group's zone. Without this Montgomery would have completed a 'right hook' at the Scheldt trapping 15th Army almost completely.


Um, no. The boundary change recognized what was about to occur, Brussels had fallen to Guards Armoured with 11 Armoured moving on its right. If the boundary had not shifted eastwards, then the two divisions would have been forced westward, which would have meant the route Tournai-Ghent-Antwerp. That would have entangled them more with 15. Armee, but would also have clogged the roads more, which would have likely delayed the capture of Antwerp and thus enabling the Germans to conduct their demolitions.

The only way 15. Armee could be destroyed would have been by I Corps masking Le Havre and turning over its logistics assets to the Canadians for a drive from Etapes to Bruges to reinforce the left of the Second British Army for a concerted attack on the German positions from Knokke-Heist to Terneuzen, followed by a rapid assault on Walcheren.

Aber
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Re: Patton .................

Postby Aber » 14 Jun 2018 18:28

See situation map 12.00 6th September from 12th Army Group.

Image

https://www.loc.gov/item/2004629131/

British Army
Guards Armoured has moved on from Brussels to Louvain
11th Armoured in Antwerp
7th Armoured in Ghent

Canadian Army
4th Armoured
Polish Armoured
both lagging in Pas de Calais

US Army XIXth Corps
2nd Armoured south of Brussels
30th Infantry in Tournai
79th Infantry in Tournai

Richard Anderson
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Re: Patton .................

Postby Richard Anderson » 14 Jun 2018 19:07

Aber wrote:See situation map 12.00 6th September from 12th Army Group.


Note the positions of where it was supposed 15. Armee was? Especially the neat "encirclement" at Boulogne by 2 and 3 Canadian Infantry, 4 Canadian Armoured, and the Polish Armoured divisions of 64., 85., 245., 272., and 331. Inf.-Div.

64. actually had just completed organizing and was actually at Calais, before it withdrew to form the Breskens Pocket.
85., with 85. and 353. formed LXXXI AK and was east of St Armand on 2 September and had then withdrawn north, west of Brussels, and so was probably near Bruges.
245. was also probably near Bruges.
272. was pretty much divisional services after the Falaise Pocket, the remnants crossed the Seine at Jumieges on 27 August and by 17 September was at Doberitz reforming, 1,000 kilometers away.
Similarly, the remnants of 331. actually crossed the Seine at Elbeuf after Falaise, then marched via Amiens and Lille and was west of Antwerp on 6 September.

Essentially, that vacuum of German units west and northwest of Antwerp is where most of these units, as well as many others, actually were on 6 September as they busily prepared to cross the Scheldt. This notable failure in Allied intelligence contributed to the escape of the 15. Armee.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Patton .................

Postby Sheldrake » 14 Jun 2018 19:39

Richard Anderson wrote:The only way 15. Armee could be destroyed would have been by I Corps masking Le Havre and turning over its logistics assets to the Canadians for a drive from Etapes to Bruges to reinforce the left of the Second British Army for a concerted attack on the German positions from Knokke-Heist to Terneuzen, followed by a rapid assault on Walcheren.


Joachim Ludewig the author of "Ruckzug" seemed to think that a push north from Antwerp towards Moerdijk would have done the trick.

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Re: Patton .................

Postby LineDoggie » 14 Jun 2018 20:11

Sheldrake wrote:The sources are very much part of tendency for "Mythstory" to dominate US Military History. Wild un-sourced generalisations that support a well developed national myth. It sells history books and gets your lecture on You tube

The past master is Stephen Ambrose. My particular favorite is the opening paragraphs of the chapter in Band of Brothers called "Foy." He starts by lambasting Montgomery for over caution and a lack of aggressiveness in his plans to deal with the Bulge. The rest of the chapter is spent describing the costly frontal assault by Easy Company, 506 PIR on the village of Foy apparently unsupported by artillery or armour. If this was written ironically it is not spelled out for his irony free readership. There are similar dollops of chauvanism masquerading as informed commentary in his book on D Day.

This big issue is that America did not suffer the WW1 experience. Dulcet et Decorum est is part of the national ethos and not a bitter war poem. It is seen as proper that Americans should die to wipe out the memory of being caught by surprise in the Bulge. Maybe there is a PhD in looking at American and British interpretations of WW2...
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