Differing views of Overlord

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
Richard Anderson
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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Richard Anderson » 30 Jun 2020 17:27

Aber wrote:
30 Jun 2020 12:57
How much difference did revisiting the underlying data make to the Italian engagements listed in NPW?
Niklas Zetterling actually sparked the review, twenty-three years ago. So if my memory is shaky on details...

http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/pdf/v1n6.pdf

Page 21 and 24.

http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/pdf/v2n4.pdf

Page 25.

The effect was to increase German artillery strength calculations by roughly 100% as Niklas notes, which would increase the overall OLI calculation for German strength. Adjusting that would actual make the German performance even better. On the other hand I found that in some cases British casualties were over-calculated and the Allied armor and artillery strengths (although Tom correctly noted I missed two batteries of British heavy artillery) needed adjusting downward as well, which would have increased their calculated performance. So, overall the result would likely be a wash.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 30 Jun 2020 19:28

Richard Anderson wrote:
30 Jun 2020 17:27
The effect was to increase German artillery strength calculations by roughly 100% as Niklas notes, which would increase the overall OLI calculation for German strength. Adjusting that would actual make the German performance even better. On the other hand I found that in some cases British casualties were over-calculated and the Allied armor and artillery strengths (although Tom correctly noted I missed two batteries of British heavy artillery) needed adjusting downward as well, which would have increased their calculated performance.
Yes, even in a battle with relatively good sources for both sides actually nailing down what was used each day and what should be included and what left out must always have been a bit of a subjective decision.

I'm also pretty sure that all the British infantry units landed with only assault scales of transport and what I'm not sure about is whether the personnel of the subsequent transport parties were included in the strength returns of the units at Salerno nor when they turned up.

I have also wondered why German half-track armoured personnel carriers don't get included in the armour totals. They must have added something otherwise why would the Allies follow suit and the British and Canadians go on to develop the Kangaroos? I note that armoured cars are included under "light tanks" but there seems to be no equivalence for the SdKfz 250 or 251s. Or was this included under some "armoured mobility" number?
Richard Anderson wrote:
29 Jun 2020 22:23
Um, yes Tom, I know, but then I didn't actually say anything of the sort, did I?
No, sorry, not entirely sure where I was going with that... :D
Richard Anderson wrote:
29 Jun 2020 22:23
Well, yeah, and no doubt the 1st ID (the US one ), 9th ID, 2d AD, 7th Armoured Division (not the "7th Division" ) felt the same.
Although they all had much longer to rest, re-organise and refit before being launched ashore again didn't they? The 168th Brigade of 56th Infantry Division was relieved in the Garigliano bridgehead on the night of 30-31 Jan and landed at Anzio on 3 Feb.

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Tom

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Richard Anderson » 30 Jun 2020 20:29

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
30 Jun 2020 19:28
Yes, even in a battle with relatively good sources for both sides actually nailing down what was used each day and what should be included and what left out must always have been a bit of a subjective decision.
Indeed. The problem with some of the original Italian engagements was that rather than dig out what the German supporting artillery dispositions likely were, the analyst(s) took the easy way out and created notional "corps artillery" groupments, which bore little relation to reality.

The problem with the British casualty figures is more problematic and I never found a good explanation for them. The actual daily reports as extracted from the records was in the engagement (paper) file, but no matter what I did I could not get the maths to work out for the engagement days. So it was either a case of bad math or bad chronology.
I'm also pretty sure that all the British infantry units landed with only assault scales of transport and what I'm not sure about is whether the personnel of the subsequent transport parties were included in the strength returns of the units at Salerno nor when they turned up.
I would think so and probably so were the Americans. The figures for personnel numbers would have been the strength reported, but whether they used a total strength or total effective strength I don't recall...and I no longer have access to those files without a cross-continent trip. When I redid them IIRC I tried to use the figures as given in the WO narrative for the assault strength of units, but I cannot tell for sure now.
I have also wondered why German half-track armoured personnel carriers don't get included in the armour totals. They must have added something otherwise why would the Allies follow suit and the British and Canadians go on to develop the Kangaroos? I note that armoured cars are included under "light tanks" but there seems to be no equivalence for the SdKfz 250 or 251s. Or was this included under some "armoured mobility" number?
The OLI of light armored units such as half-track and and full-track APC is pretty much the value of the weapon mounted times a minor mobility and light armor factor. Track them is getting into the weeds a bit. I don't honestly remember if they were tracked for either side. The armored cars were about the same, but they were included in the original analysis.
No, sorry, not entirely sure where I was going with that... :D
I know how that works...type out a bunch of really good sounding stuff then suddenly realize I've lost the thread of the point I was making. :lol:
Although they all had much longer to rest, re-organise and refit before being launched ashore again didn't they? The 168th Brigade of 56th Infantry Division was relieved in the Garigliano bridgehead on the night of 30-31 Jan and landed at Anzio on 3 Feb.
Well, they did need them after all, rather desperately by 3 February. IIRC they were just in the nick of time. The thing so many miss for some reason about Anzio is the absolutely incredible reaction time displayed by the Germans after they were caught flat footed. That and the similar experience at Salerno had a lot to do with why the NEPTUNE assault forces were configured they way they were...and of course had a major effect on the landing ship and craft requirements.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Mori » 01 Jul 2020 01:37

Richard Anderson wrote:
29 Jun 2020 22:11
Fundamentally, the arguments against Dupuy always circle back to "we won, how could we if the Germans were better (with the underlying inference that he was a traitor to the U.S. Army)" and other assorted similar red herrings and straw men.
Pffff... This is an argument never mentioned in all the above comments!

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Duncan_M » 01 Jul 2020 17:37

Richard Anderson wrote:
29 Jun 2020 22:11
That leads to a question though, how do you judge the 90th or 106th ID as "very poor divisions"? You must have some standards/method of analysis to arrive at that conclusion? You then need to be able to show how those "very poor divisions" could have been "better" or how other divisions in the same circumstance could have performed better. The problem is, you are judging them I suspect based upon very poor outcomes, both of which circumstances are pretty poorly understood by many.
I'm not a statistician but am a veteran soldier myself, I judge units on their reputation and their performance. A unit can have a bad reputation and get things done, similarly a unit can have a good reputation and fail at a mission. But a unit that fails at its mission, and has a bad reputation, warrants a red flag.

For most of the Normandy campaign, the 90th ID was a bad division. It had a poor reputation, and its performance was rather bad. Its divisional and regimental leadership was noticeably lackluster. Based on what Depuy had written about them, their stateside training was poorly executed. The 90th needed a completely shakeup of leaders being relieved, over and over, until a good team took over. Additionally, the rank and file needed to learn their jobs in the harsh school of combat, of what actually worked and what didn't, because they didn't know it beforehand. Having to learn some lessons in combat is a reality, but having to learn not to conduct marching fire in EVERY attack isn't something that is supposed to be learned in the hedgerows.

The 106th was on the line for four days. Their stateside training, whatever it was, should come with an asterisk because half the division was removed for replacement raiding after they finished and the new ones didn't receive unit training, which is a bit of a problem when we're talking about a massive portion of the division. The division CG wasn't terrible but he also didn't perform well in battle, making quite a few bad decisions with disastrous results. Unfortunately the division didn't really have the possibility to better itself before it was largely destroyed. They were definitely set up for failure, but even before the Ardenne Offensive hit them they did not have a good reputation, and the one time they were called upon to perform their duties in a legit battle, they did not perform well.
Here's a deep dark secret. Neither the 90th or the 106th performed poorly as divisions. They did pretty much exactly what their doctrine and training told them to do and they pretty much did them well. So the question is then, what were the circumstances that led to the poor results.
I don't buy this at all. They did perform badly in combat in comparison to other divisions, even other green divisions. Your statement doesn't take into account the many other divisions who weren't clown shoes in combat the first time.

Especially the 90th, they didn't just embarrass themselves their first time, but for the next month plus, until McClain took command and cleaned house.

Depuy later claimed that all his stateside training emphasized that every infantry attack was to be done with marching fire. EVERY ONE. According to Depuy, at least in his regiment, they knew no other way to conduct an attack. Fire and maneuver, despite being part of US Army infantry doctrine, and used quite well by other units the first time they were in combat, wasn't part of their SOP, they weren't even taught it. They didn't even know it existed. That was a horrific decision made by regimental/division leadership in the 90th, and was not one that affected other divisions.
Both divisions were completely inexperienced.
So were all divisions, infantry, armor, or airborne, that fought for the first time, and yet not all of them showed their ass like the 90th. Not all of them got smashed like the 106th did.
The 90th suffered through a slightly longer learning curve than most of thee other divisions in Normandy, but virtually all divisions deployed to Europe suffered similar, sometimes drastic learning curves.
AFAIK, the 90th was nearly removed from theater because it was so bad, and that wasn't after its first time in combat, it was after numerous times when it became clear there was something very wrong with it, that eventually required relieving most of the division and regimental commanders and senior staff. That is not a problem every other division experienced. They were a bad apple.
Sadly I never got a chance to look at the Gothic Line engagements, all the 88th ID engagements are from the Rome campaign.
This is the weird part. If all Trevor's studies of the 88th occurred on the Rome campaign, when it was doing rather poorly when not chasing an enemy retreating due to the work of others, then exactly how is it rated as one of the best divisions? Its better performance came later.
Yes, Sloan, like so many others, attacked the Army's long-standing individual replacement policy. The alternate, unit replacement, has been tried in the Never-ending War on Terrorism and has been found wanting as well, just as the Germans discovered.
While the overall unit replacement system was used in Iraq and Afghanistan, at least with the Army it also used individual replacements.

I know, because I was literally one of them, I showed up to my unit 3 months into a 15 month deployment. While I was an experienced sergeant (coming back in after a couple years of a break in service), I brought with me 13 privates that were all assigned with me to the same company, those kids were all straight out of OSUT (infantry basic/AIT) who had no clue what they were getting into, were set up for failure. And yet we were desperately needed to strengthen our unit and allow us to accomplish our mission (something that took many of years, and copious amounts of alcohol, for me to accept that it was the right decision, though it could have been executed quite a bit better than it did).
Um, the 88th ID endured no personnel turmoil whatsoever according to the AGF study, Zero. Zip. Nada. It was the only infantry division deployed after the 34th ID went to England, that did not suffer any turmoil. In the 14 infantry divisions deployed between the 34th ID and the 88th ID, an average of 11 months of training time was assessed as lost to such turmoil. In the 41 infantry divisions deployed after the 88th, an average of 9 months was lost.
JSB made it a point to emphasize that the 88th was stable, and its why I was only referring to the 90th.

The 88th went into combat the first time and despite good leadership, despite stability, despite top stateside training, still performed poorly in combat the first time (which really had more to do with frontally assaulting prepared defenses manned by alert enemy in terrain that greatly favored the defender).
Indeed, I know very well what Sloan's arguments were; I wrote parts of the rebuttal to his assessment in Zetterling's Normandy 1944. Among the more amusing gaffes he made was to recommend using the factor ascribed for hardened installations under nuclear attack as a defensive factor.
Yeah, I didn't quite understand the nuke stuff as Brown described it, he didn't really describe that part well as to why he was including it.

But that aside, did Trevor not factor in defensive posture? Not take into account the difference between a hastily dug defensive position tossed up in a few hours vs something like the West Wall?

The way Brown described it, it seems Trevor's formula didn't even take into account who was attacking and who was defending, let alone how protective the defenses were.
Fundamentally, the arguments against Dupuy always circle back to "we won, how could we if the Germans were better (with the underlying inference that he was a traitor to the U.S. Army)" and other assorted similar red herrings and straw men.
I'm not on JSB's side, as I don't agree with a lot of his conclusions in his book, as it seems like the 88th wasn't that good of a division (though not a bad one by far), and his opinion about the replacement system, US and German, seems way off the mark.

That said though, if Trevor's formula didn't factor in the defensive posture, the types of differences of divisions, or had too limited sampling of battles (like not following the 88th into its most successful time, the 1945 Spring Offensive campaign in Italy), then maybe there is a point to his beef. If the formula is to be used as proof that the Germans were actually better then it really should represent the above, as they are quite pertinent to the discussion.

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 01 Jul 2020 19:22

I'd forgotten that we have had much the same discussion about this topic a couple of years back:

viewtopic.php?f=56&t=230543&hilit=salerno&start=30

We talked then about sources for British and US casualties and whether they were recorded in the same way as each other and also compared to the German method.

Which led me to this site:

http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/blog/2018 ... n-battles/

Search for "Salerno" and trawl around, there is a load of interesting stuff on there and some description of the factors used in the analysis.

Chris Lawrence kindly posted up some of the background data for one of the Salerno engagements here:

http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/blog/2018 ... mber-1943/

Regards

Tom

Richard Anderson
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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Richard Anderson » 01 Jul 2020 20:04

Duncan_M wrote:
01 Jul 2020 17:37
I'm not a statistician but am a veteran soldier myself, I judge units on their reputation and their performance. A unit can have a bad reputation and get things done, similarly a unit can have a good reputation and fail at a mission. But a unit that fails at its mission, and has a bad reputation, warrants a red flag.
I understand that.
For most of the Normandy campaign, the 90th ID was a bad division. It had a poor reputation, and its performance was rather bad. Its divisional and regimental leadership was noticeably lackluster. Based on what Depuy had written about them, their stateside training was poorly executed. The 90th needed a completely shakeup of leaders being relieved, over and over, until a good team took over. Additionally, the rank and file needed to learn their jobs in the harsh school of combat, of what actually worked and what didn't, because they didn't know it beforehand. Having to learn some lessons in combat is a reality, but having to learn not to conduct marching fire in EVERY attack isn't something that is supposed to be learned in the hedgerows.
Um, how do you know it was a "bad division", when its initial performance was essentially no better and not much worse than any other divisions of its cadre landed in Normandy? The 8th ID's introduction to combat as a division on 8 July was filled with high-expectations. Its training in the Z/I was highly rated, as was that of the 90th ID, and yet it achieved nothing except high casualties and no advance for four days, at which point the Division Commander, the Assistant Division Commander, and two regimental commanders were peremptorily relieved. One of the regimental commanders in the 9th ID was also swiftly relieved, and there were others and other divisions with the same problems.

However, they did not have a divisional commander who broke down almost immediately, a regimental commander who was ambushed and killed just before his regiment was committed, and at least two battalion commanders who broke down immediately and refused to go into combat. Or a regiment whose well-liked commander was replaced by one of the CG's toadies, an incompetent sycophant, just days before landing.

Those are signs of poor leadership at the most senior level in the division (and questionable decision-making by corps and army commanders as well).

BTW, it wasn't attempting to execute marching fire that was the tactical fault the 90th had to learn, it was the stereotyped linear tactics taught by rote to divisions in training, which continued to be taught well into winter 1944, despite the so-called "lessons learned" coming from the front lines. As late as 17 December 1944, when the 2d Bn, 423d Inf executed its counterattack to relieve the DIVARTY battalions, the orders by the Bn CO, who was standing in the middle of the road they had just detrucked at, was "Company A on my right, Company C on my left, Company B and Headquarters Co D follow in reserve. Advance to contact, guiding on the road..." (or at least as close as I recall from the interview with his S-3). The only other problem, the orders from Jones were garbled and so Puett began on the wrong road and went south instead of north until realizing his mistake.

BTW, are you refer to General William E. DePuy or Colonel Trevor N. Depuy? They are two different people. I suspect you mean Bill DePuy, later a battalion commander in the 90th and much later TRADOC commander. He had the perspective of a Battalion S-3 and saw the problems with the linear tactics employed versus the well-integrated German defense dependent on well-sited light automatic firepower and helped point the way - along with Barth and others - to the tactical solutions later so well-employed by the division.

However, the critical problem in trying to implement those solutions was the devastating losses incurred in the first few days. I have the nominal casualty lists for the 357th Infantry's (or is it the 358th?, should check) first engagements...c. 75% casualties in two battalions initially engaged in its first day.

BTW, the German assessment is about the same and sounds like Napoleon's assessment of the charge of the Union Brigade at Waterloo, "it's magnificent, but it isn't war". They observed that the American manpower was excellent, but ill-used by its leadership in poorly thought out attacks characterized by stereotypical tactics.
The 106th was on the line for four days. Their stateside training, whatever it was, should come with an asterisk because half the division was removed for replacement raiding after they finished and the new ones didn't receive unit training, which is a bit of a problem when we're talking about a massive portion of the division. The division CG wasn't terrible but he also didn't perform well in battle, making quite a few bad decisions with disastrous results. Unfortunately the division didn't really have the possibility to better itself before it was largely destroyed. They were definitely set up for failure, but even before the Ardenne Offensive hit them they did not have a good reputation, and the one time they were called upon to perform their duties in a legit battle, they did not perform well.
Not exactly. No, "half the division" was not removed for replacements. The 90th ID lost four months training time due to stripping of 20% to 50% of personnel for replacements and one month due to generalized personnel turbulence, mostly due to the late ingestion to the division of some 1,000 former ASTP personnel who were used to fill the basic private T/O prior to Preparation for Overseas Movement (POM). They actually suffered considerably less from training disruptions than many other divisions.

BTW, the problem with the replacement raiding was that it forced the division's so affected to repeat training to achieve the various individual, platoon, company, battalions, regiment, and division training milestones required prior by the training, mobilization, and POM schedules. One major issue from that was that for many personnel the repeated recycling through the same training program and maneuver tests left them jaded and stale.

As an interesting sidelight on the 90th ID's training problems, it was part of the abortive "motorized division" experiment in 1942-1943, which caused considerable organizational and training confusion...except for some unexplained reason it was earmarked for POM and shipped overseas before it completed retraining and reorganization, on top of which the divisional commander who went through all that was reassigned when they shipped overseas.

Anyway, the mobilization and training issues of Americaan divisions - and especially the 90th and 106th ID - in World War II is a highly complex subject, which cannot be easily bolied down to they were "bad divisions"...especially since much of that opinion was shaped postwar by Omar Bradley's carefull guidance.
I don't buy this at all. They did perform badly in combat in comparison to other divisions, even other green divisions. Your statement doesn't take into account the many other divisions who weren't clown shoes in combat the first time.
In Normandy, both the 4th ID and 9th ID both had initial issues upon landing. The 29th ID, once it recovered from the initial landings losses, had many problems initially. I already mentioned the 8th ID, which was thought to be superb until it actually entered combat. The 35th ID and 83d ID had major problems. About the only division that did not suffer truly severe problems initially that I can think of was the 79th ID.

They were all equally "green" BTW, with the exception of the 1st ID and elements of the 9th ID.

So what "clown shoes" were those?
Especially the 90th, they didn't just embarrass themselves their first time, but for the next month plus, until McClain took command and cleaned house.
Um, McLain, not McClain, did not "clean house" when assigned command on 30 July 1944. "Hanging" Sam Williams was replaced as ADC by Bill Weaver, which was simply replacing one good assistant for another (and it was Sam that held the division together during McKelvie's and Landrum's tenures as CG).

Depuy later claimed that all his stateside training emphasized that every infantry attack was to be done with marching fire. EVERY ONE. According to Depuy, at least in his regiment, they knew no other way to conduct an attack. Fire and maneuver, despite being part of US Army infantry doctrine, and used quite well by other units the first time they were in combat, wasn't part of their SOP, they weren't even taught it. They didn't even know it existed. That was a horrific decision made by regimental/division leadership in the 90th, and was not one that affected other divisions. DIVARTY commander, CoS, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, and G-5 all remained unchanged, as did the artillery battalion commanders, two of the regimental commanders, and all of the battalion commanders IIRC?

So how did they "embarass themselves their first time"? By wearing "clown shoes"?
So were all divisions, infantry, armor, or airborne, that fought for the first time, and yet not all of them showed their ass like the 90th. Not all of them got smashed like the 106th did.
Really? And yet it seems that virtually every division I am aware of "showed their ass" - whatever that means - in their first engagements. Even the legendary Big Red One...which likely would have suffered the same fate as the 106th ID, as would have any other division, if put into that same circumstance. In similar, but not quite as dire circumstances, the 2d ID managed to get out by the skin of its teeth and by virtue of having one of the best divisional commanders at the helm.
AFAIK, the 90th was nearly removed from theater because it was so bad, and that wasn't after its first time in combat, it was after numerous times when it became clear there was something very wrong with it, that eventually required relieving most of the division and regimental commanders and senior staff. That is not a problem every other division experienced. They were a bad apple.
Actually, there is little or no evidence that was ever considered or the other usually accepted idea that it was proposed to "break up" the division was ever really contemplated. Those ideas stem from Bradley's postwar self-serving memoir. The best evidence is in Eisenhower's wartime papers, where the issue of the90th ID is treated in context with the others. Perhaps significantly, Ike did not even know who its original commander was or the circumstances of his relief. He did know Landrum and was disappointed in his performance. The only remark about the division was that they were surprised and thought it was "not brought up well", which should have been a surprise since it appears the division was specifically chosen for its early commitment because of its reputation in training. Throughout, it appears the Ike and others thought the problem was fundamentally the division commander and not the division, which was no worse than the others...I forgot that at the same time Ike was contemplating relieveing Macon due to the "poor" performance of the 83d ID too.
This is the weird part. If all Trevor's studies of the 88th occurred on the Rome campaign, when it was doing rather poorly when not chasing an enemy retreating due to the work of others, then exactly how is it rated as one of the best divisions? Its better performance came later.
In the context of its engagements it was not performing "poorly". In context, you could as well say that all the allied divisions performed poorly and just hung onto the coattails of the FEC. :lol:
While the overall unit replacement system was used in Iraq and Afghanistan, at least with the Army it also used individual replacements.

I know, because I was literally one of them, I showed up to my unit 3 months into a 15 month deployment. While I was an experienced sergeant (coming back in after a couple years of a break in service), I brought with me 13 privates that were all assigned with me to the same company, those kids were all straight out of OSUT (infantry basic/AIT) who had no clue what they were getting into, were set up for failure. And yet we were desperately needed to strengthen our unit and allow us to accomplish our mission (something that took many of years, and copious amounts of alcohol, for me to accept that it was the right decision, though it could have been executed quite a bit better than it did).
Yep. I should have probably said "unit relief and rotation" rather than unit replacement. In any case it doesn't really work, but most importantly, could not have worked for the US Army in World War II.
JSB made it a point to emphasize that the 88th was stable, and its why I was only referring to the 90th.
Sorry, I misunderstood then. However, the 90th ID was minimally affected by turmoil according to the AGF study, albeit they apparently did not consider the disruptions caused by the change from motorized division to infantry division.
Yeah, I didn't quite understand the nuke stuff as Brown described it, he didn't really describe that part well as to why he was including it.
Yeah, I've often thought he had a bee in his bonnet about Trevor, which a lot of people did, but not for reasons of Trevor's QJM/TNDM. He could be pretty abrasive and litigious...he liked to threaten to sue people and did sometimes. :lol:
But that aside, did Trevor not factor in defensive posture? Not take into account the difference between a hastily dug defensive position tossed up in a few hours vs something like the West Wall?
Of course he did. Defensive posture could be hasty, prepared, or fortified...albeit there was no factor for "prepared for nuclear strike". :lol:
The way Brown described it, it seems Trevor's formula didn't even take into account who was attacking and who was defending, let alone how protective the defenses were.
Brown was very confused. Yes, it did. Attacker and defender was always defined, even in the extremely rare case of a meeting engagement, because even then it is usually possible to determine which was which.
I'm not on JSB's side, as I don't agree with a lot of his conclusions in his book, as it seems like the 88th wasn't that good of a division (though not a bad one by far), and his opinion about the replacement system, US and German, seems way off the mark.
Sorry, that was a cri de coeur on my part, having suffered these slings and arrows of misinformed opinion on this subject for many years...and I don't mean from you BTW.
That said though, if Trevor's formula didn't factor in the defensive posture, the types of differences of divisions, or had too limited sampling of battles (like not following the 88th into its most successful time, the 1945 Spring Offensive campaign in Italy), then maybe there is a point to his beef. If the formula is to be used as proof that the Germans were actually better then it really should represent the above, as they are quite pertinent to the discussion.
Well, it does factor in different types of posture, time in combat (fatigue), experience, division "types" (since different divisions have different mixes of weapons and equipment, and so forth. However, as I've explained over and over again, the choices of engagements was partly directed by the client, but mostly was a consequence of the requirement for two-sided data. "Analysis" of an engagement that consists of data for one side and poorly informed opinion, due to lack of original sources, for the other is whimsical at best and uninformed opinion masquerading as scholarship at worst.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 01 Jul 2020 20:24

Richard Anderson wrote:
01 Jul 2020 20:04
Um, how do you know it was a "bad division", when its initial performance was essentially no better and not much worse than any other divisions of its cadre landed in Normandy? The 8th ID's introduction to combat as a division on 8 July was filled with high-expectations. Its training in the Z/I was highly rated, as was that of the 90th ID, and yet it achieved nothing except high casualties and no advance for four days, at which point the Division Commander, the Assistant Division Commander, and two regimental commanders were peremptorily relieved. One of the regimental commanders in the 9th ID was also swiftly relieved, and there were others and other divisions with the same problems.

However, they did not have a divisional commander who broke down almost immediately, a regimental commander who was ambushed and killed just before his regiment was committed, and at least two battalion commanders who broke down immediately and refused to go into combat. Or a regiment whose well-liked commander was replaced by one of the CG's toadies, an incompetent sycophant, just days before landing.

Those are signs of poor leadership at the most senior level in the division (and questionable decision-making by corps and army commanders as well).
All of which makes the travesty of Carlo d'Este's hatchet job on the British army in Normandy in a grossly biased chapter in his Decision in Normandy even more inexcusable. I must go and find that soap box I keep handy for this discussion! :thumbsup:

Regards

Tom

Richard Anderson
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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Richard Anderson » 01 Jul 2020 22:13

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
01 Jul 2020 20:24
All of which makes the travesty of Carlo d'Este's hatchet job on the British army in Normandy in a grossly biased chapter in his Decision in Normandy even more inexcusable. I must go and find that soap box I keep handy for this discussion! :thumbsup:
Yes, he basically repeated Hargest, Wilmot, and van Creveld, with a soupcon of Hastings for good measure, but he was not repeating Trevor, since Trevor never opined on the subject of British effectiveness in Normandy, since he had no engagements to measure with.

And for a while d'Este also thought he had discovered the nefarious British conspiracy by Alanbrooke to starve 21st Army Group of replacements by keeping a million or so unemployed troops in Blighty. :lol: At least he had a reasonable source he developed his error from and later admitted it IIRC?

Meanwhile Hastings made up stories about the 90th ID, which his acolyte Beevor merrily repeated, citing Hastings as the source. :lol:
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Duncan_M » 01 Jul 2020 23:34

Richard Anderson wrote:
01 Jul 2020 20:04
However, they did not have a divisional commander who broke down almost immediately, a regimental commander who was ambushed and killed just before his regiment was committed, and at least two battalion commanders who broke down immediately and refused to go into combat. Or a regiment whose well-liked commander was replaced by one of the CG's toadies, an incompetent sycophant, just days before landing.

Those are signs of poor leadership at the most senior level in the division (and questionable decision-making by corps and army commanders as well).
I agree, those are all signs of bad leadership. Leaders who supervised the stateside training and that in England, who formulated unit SOPs, who run the division and its regiments and its battalions in combat. Hence why it was a bad division. Napoleon said it and its still true, bad leaders cause bad units. The 90th was a bad unit until its leadership problem got fixed after it had spent much time in combat. Because it had been poorly trained, its rank and file needed seasoning in combat to learn through trial and error. Once that was accomplished, they weren't a bad division anymore.
BTW, it wasn't attempting to execute marching fire that was the tactical fault the 90th had to learn, it was the stereotyped linear tactics taught by rote to divisions in training, which continued to be taught well into winter 1944, despite the so-called "lessons learned" coming from the front lines.
I have nothing against marching fire as a tactic, I know it worked very well throughout the war, and in Korea too. But Bill DePuy (who started Normandy as a regimental S-3, not battalion S-3) obviously didn't care for it (he helped abolish assault fire too), but even that isn't the point. DePuy believed at least that it was the ONLY way the infantry of the 90th had been taught and expected to attack.
BTW, are you refer to General William E. DePuy or Colonel Trevor N. Depuy? They are two different people. I suspect you mean Bill DePuy, later a battalion commander in the 90th and much later TRADOC commander. He had the perspective of a Battalion S-3 and saw the problems with the linear tactics employed versus the well-integrated German defense dependent on well-sited light automatic firepower and helped point the way - along with Barth and others - to the tactical solutions later so well-employed by the division.
In the passage I'm referring to, in his oral history, Bill DePuy flat out stated that in the 90th they ONLY did marching fire.

"They (the 90th division he was with in WWII?) used marching fire as a method of attack — as the sole method of attack."

I know from other sources (Rush, Dobbler, Mansoor, as well as countless memoirs) that fire and maneuver had been taught for quite some time, and yet the 90th didn't know that apparently. So either the 90th ID as a whole, or possibly the 357th Inf Regt only (though DePuy hints it was the whole division), only knew a single way to conduct an attack, using marching fire.

There is nothing normal about that. If another division had that problem and was only taught that single TTP, they too would be a bad division. Caused by poor leaders who not only screwed up in combat, but had demonstrated during their training that they were poor in that regards too. They were responsible for members of the 90th, like DePuy, not realizing that fire and maneuver was not only a TTP they could choose to use, but since Marshall ran the Infantry School, it was doctrinally how infantry were supposed to attack.
Not exactly. No, "half the division" was not removed for replacements. The 90th ID lost four months training time due to stripping of 20% to 50% of personnel for replacements and one month due to generalized personnel turbulence, mostly due to the late ingestion to the division of some 1,000 former ASTP personnel who were used to fill the basic private T/O prior to Preparation for Overseas Movement (POM). They actually suffered considerably less from training disruptions than many other divisions.
You quoted a paragraph I wrote about the 106th, not the 90th. After it had finished its two year training cycle and was preparing to move overseas, the 106th lost 7,247 out of +13,000 strength, so over 50% of its manpower was lost. It gained replacements from the Army Service Forces, Army Air Forces, and ASTP about a month before shipping overseas, they were not trained beyond basic. Based on that, there was no way that division could be a good one until they learned how to function together in combat. They never got that chance to improve, hence why they were a bad division.
BTW, the problem with the replacement raiding was that it forced the division's so affected to repeat training to achieve the various individual, platoon, company, battalions, regiment, and division training milestones required prior by the training, mobilization, and POM schedules. One major issue from that was that for many personnel the repeated recycling through the same training program and maneuver tests left them jaded and stale.
Or in the case of the 106th, it didn't get repeat training.
In Normandy, both the 4th ID and 9th ID both had initial issues upon landing. The 29th ID, once it recovered from the initial landings losses, had many problems initially. I already mentioned the 8th ID, which was thought to be superb until it actually entered combat. The 35th ID and 83d ID had major problems. About the only division that did not suffer truly severe problems initially that I can think of was the 79th ID.
Everyone had problems, as soon as they got off the beach they encountered hedgerows which nobody had planned to fight in. Even veteran divisions like had problems too. But the 4th, 8th, 9th, 29th, 35th, 79th, 83rd, or whomeve, weren't essentially useless for their first two months in combat like the 90th was. Their problem was quite deeper than all others who weren't themselves bad divisions.
Um, McLain, not McClain, did not "clean house" when assigned command on 30 July 1944. "Hanging" Sam Williams was replaced as ADC by Bill Weaver, which was simply replacing one good assistant for another (and it was Sam that held the division together during McKelvie's and Landrum's tenures as CG).

I'm on a cell phone typing this on during coffee breaks, hence the typos. Regardless of who fired the battalion and regimental commanders, and various staff, and when, that isn't really material to my point. It took nearly two months for the command shakeup to fix the division's problems and turn it into a division that turned into a damn good one.
Really? And yet it seems that virtually every division I am aware of "showed their ass" - whatever that means - in their first engagements. Even the legendary Big Red One...which likely would have suffered the same fate as the 106th ID, as would have any other division, if put into that same circumstance. In similar, but not quite as dire circumstances, the 2d ID managed to get out by the skin of its teeth and by virtue of having one of the best divisional commanders at the helm. [/quote]

"Showing your ass" is a modern US military colloquialism that means embarrassing oneself.

I don't think anybody expects green divisions to perform stellar in combat the first time. Even veteran units regularly get their asses handed to them, war is war and the enemy get a vote.

The 90th was embarrassing itself for roughly two months. That's the point I'm trying to make. You frequently mention that there was nothing unique about the 90th, but that cannot be true, as no unit had the "learning curve" that the 90th had. At least no unit that wasn't also bad.

Bad units exist. Any historical account describes some better than others. Based on my own experience in a decade of combat arms service in the USMC and US Army, I know there are bad units and good units, and it pretty much always comes down to good or bad leadership. They affect training, combat performance, basically everything. The 90th was a bad unit because its leadership caused most of the problems they faced, between bad training and bad combat leadership. When poor leaders were replaced, it got better.

There is a reason all elite and high functioning organizations, be they military units or anything else, require total control over personnel. Being able to find quality personnel, and to remove those that don't work. Its to prevent turning into a organization like the 90th ID was in Jun 1944.
In the context of its engagements it was not performing "poorly". In context, you could as well say that all the allied divisions performed poorly and just hung onto the coattails of the FEC. :lol:
It did not perform well either, let alone well enough to be rated as one of the best.

It was assigned a difficult mission and it failed to accomplish it. But during the attempt to accomplish the mission, at least in the manner in which in his book JSB described the attack on Santa Maria Infante and the vicinity, it was more a series of disasters, that were a bit cringey to read. If an honest AAR happened, the "Improve" column would be a hell of a lot longer than the "Sustain" column. Yes, it was their first serious fight, so they were on a learning curve, but it was hardly their best performance (they seemed to do quite well in the Po).

Based on its performance in Diadem, mediocre is a good word to describe the 88th.

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Richard Anderson » 02 Jul 2020 02:48

Duncan_M wrote:
01 Jul 2020 23:34
I agree, those are all signs of bad leadership. Leaders who supervised the stateside training and that in England, who formulated unit SOPs, who run the division and its regiments and its battalions in combat. Hence why it was a bad division. Napoleon said it and its still true, bad leaders cause bad units. The 90th was a bad unit until its leadership problem got fixed after it had spent much time in combat. Because it had been poorly trained, its rank and file needed seasoning in combat to learn through trial and error. Once that was accomplished, they weren't a bad division anymore.
I agree, but what makes the case of the 90th ID so interesting is that to a large extent it was not the leaders "who supervised the stateside training"...the division commander and much of the leadership who trained the division in the States were either reassigned or relieved, including two of the regimental commanders and most of the battalion commanders. I don't think DePuy mentioned it in his oral history, but McKelvie basically wrecked the division in England in the two months they were there. What is really interesting is that it appears the early commitment of the division and giving it the critical mission of cutting off the Cotentin was a decision based upon the qualities it displayed in its final maneuvers before it POMed.
I have nothing against marching fire as a tactic, I know it worked very well throughout the war, and in Korea too. But Bill DePuy (who started Normandy as a regimental S-3, not battalion S-3) obviously didn't care for it (he helped abolish assault fire too), but even that isn't the point. DePuy believed at least that it was the ONLY way the infantry of the 90th had been taught and expected to attack.
Really, I remembered he was a battalion S-3 in the 357th? Shoulda checked, but then it probably is past time tohaul out the sources, since it is the subject of my next book after I complete the NEPTUNE Assault Forces study (For Purpose of Service Test is finally in the final edit thank god). The problem with much of DePuy's memoir was he had an axe to grind and a mission to accomplish. It is pretty evident that in some areas he exaggerated for emphasis and I suspect this is one area he did so. All divisions trained to the same pro forma. Battalion and Company tactics emphasized fire and maneuver, while marching fire was a holdover from the Great War and was emphasized by Patton, based upon what he perceived from his experience in Sicily. The 90th ID was assigned to TUSA, but attached to FUSA for NEPTUNE...while in England they probably got bombarded by TUSA circulars recommending the tactic. That does not mean that was all the division was taught or knew.
In the passage I'm referring to, in his oral history, Bill DePuy flat out stated that in the 90th they ONLY did marching fire.

"They (the 90th division he was with in WWII?) used marching fire as a method of attack — as the sole method of attack."
Yes, he did say that.
I know from other sources (Rush, Dobbler, Mansoor, as well as countless memoirs) that fire and maneuver had been taught for quite some time, and yet the 90th didn't know that apparently. So either the 90th ID as a whole, or possibly the 357th Inf Regt only (though DePuy hints it was the whole division), only knew a single way to conduct an attack, using marching fire.
Fire and maneuver were the standard tactics taught by the Infantry School in the 1930s, so yes it was taught and was part of FSR 1938/1939 and then FM 7-5 (1940) and FM 7-10 (1944). However, both teach fire and maneuver, neither mention marching fire.
There is nothing normal about that. If another division had that problem and was only taught that single TTP, they too would be a bad division. Caused by poor leaders who not only screwed up in combat, but had demonstrated during their training that they were poor in that regards too. They were responsible for members of the 90th, like DePuy, not realizing that fire and maneuver was not only a TTP they could choose to use, but since Marshall ran the Infantry School, it was doctrinally how infantry were supposed to attack.
Indeed, it is so abnormal that you might want to ask what was DePuy trying to do in his teaching moment and how much was he willing to exaggerate to make his point?

No, it was not "doctrinally" how Marshall ran the Infantry School during his tenure...a quick glance at Infantry in Battle, say chapter XVI "Fire and Maneuver, should disabuse you of that notion.
You quoted a paragraph I wrote about the 106th, not the 90th. After it had finished its two year training cycle and was preparing to move overseas, the 106th lost 7,247 out of +13,000 strength, so over 50% of its manpower was lost. It gained replacements from the Army Service Forces, Army Air Forces, and ASTP about a month before shipping overseas, they were not trained beyond basic. Based on that, there was no way that division could be a good one until they learned how to function together in combat. They never got that chance to improve, hence why they were a bad division.
Sorry, my fault, I typed 90th when I meant to type 106th. Yes, 7,247 were stripped from the 106th ID between March 1943 when it was activated and 10 October when it staged for POM. They were not all stripped at once. They were not all replaced at once and they were not replaced "about a month before shipping overseas". The influx of last minute basic privates to fill up T/O&E was normal and was a requirement for POM; typically it varied from a few hundred to a thousand mostly basic privates, although NCOs and officers could be included...it went the other way too BTW, when units POMed, less experienced officers were often transferred to units still in the training cycle, exchanged for more experienced officers - that happened to my Dad. Anyway, just about all divisions went through a variation of that when they went overseas. The experience of the 99th ID was similar, staging the month before the 106th. It was not subjected to as heavy a replacement stripping, but it did get cleaned out for the ASTP stripping.

BTW, it is just a smidge over 50% of the 14,277 IIRC T/O&E strength of the infantry division. I guess the AGF was fudging a bit.
Or in the case of the 106th, it didn't get repeat training.
Actually, yes it did. It was ten months into its training cycle and completed army maneuvers, after which it went to Camp Atterbury 28 March 1944. That is where the major stripping occurred and where the majority of replacements were received in April, whereupon the training continued June-October...four plus months of additional training.
Everyone had problems, as soon as they got off the beach they encountered hedgerows which nobody had planned to fight in. Even veteran divisions like had problems too. But the 4th, 8th, 9th, 29th, 35th, 79th, 83rd, or whomeve, weren't essentially useless for their first two months in combat like the 90th was. Their problem was quite deeper than all others who weren't themselves bad divisions.
Mont Castre did a number on many of those divisions too.
I'm on a cell phone typing this on during coffee breaks, hence the typos. Regardless of who fired the battalion and regimental commanders, and various staff, and when, that isn't really material to my point. It took nearly two months for the command shakeup to fix the division's problems and turn it into a division that turned into a damn good one.
I understand about the cell phone business, no problem. I'm finishing this after dinner on my laptop, but after a couple of glasses of wine, so comme se comme sa. :lol:

More or less six weeks, including getting hammered on Mont Castre, but it was a command shakeup and a poorly thought out one that started the process. Before the invasion.
"Showing your ass" is a modern US military colloquialism that means embarrassing oneself.
FUBAR is more descriptive. :lol:
I don't think anybody expects green divisions to perform stellar in combat the first time. Even veteran units regularly get their asses handed to them, war is war and the enemy get a vote.

The 90th was embarrassing itself for roughly two months. That's the point I'm trying to make. You frequently mention that there was nothing unique about the 90th, but that cannot be true, as no unit had the "learning curve" that the 90th had. At least no unit that wasn't also bad.
Sorry, but the 90th ID was the poster child for bad experience...how many other divisions had a division commander that broke down and hid in a slit trench one day into action? How many had a regimental commander killed the first day in action? The circumstances for the 90th were pretty unique and pretty devastating and not really matched till the 106th ID.
Bad units exist. Any historical account describes some better than others. Based on my own experience in a decade of combat arms service in the USMC and US Army, I know there are bad units and good units, and it pretty much always comes down to good or bad leadership. They affect training, combat performance, basically everything. The 90th was a bad unit because its leadership caused most of the problems they faced, between bad training and bad combat leadership. When poor leaders were replaced, it got better.
I think we're pretty close on our POV, just differing on the nuance. I see bad leadership, poor training, cookie-cutter solutions to complex situations, and a myriad of other problems, including the Germans...to rephrase an old saw, I think they had something to do with it too.
There is a reason all elite and high functioning organizations, be they military units or anything else, require total control over personnel. Being able to find quality personnel, and to remove those that don't work. Its to prevent turning into a organization like the 90th ID was in Jun 1944.
Sadly that does not reflect the realities of personnel management in the US Army during World War II.
It did not perform well either, let alone well enough to be rated as one of the best.
It makes you wonder just how poorly the 3d ID, 34th ID, 36th ID...and then so many German divisions performed, doesn't it? :D
It was assigned a difficult mission and it failed to accomplish it. But during the attempt to accomplish the mission, at least in the manner in which in his book JSB described the attack on Santa Maria Infante and the vicinity, it was more a series of disasters, that were a bit cringey to read. If an honest AAR happened, the "Improve" column would be a hell of a lot longer than the "Sustain" column. Yes, it was their first serious fight, so they were on a learning curve, but it was hardly their best performance (they seemed to do quite well in the Po).
Yep. Santa Maria Infante was a cock-up, no doubt about it. Losing a company is pretty bad, but then so is losing a battalion, or a regiment, for no good reason...but it happened over and over again. Let's stick five battalions on the wrong side of a flooding river? Cool. On the Rapido I can reliably state the German opponents probably suffered fewer than 50 casualties to effectively destroy five battalions of the 36th ID. It happened over and over in different divisions, different corps, and different armies. That sounds like a systemic problem and not an individual problem. Calling individual divisions "bad" doesn't even begin to address the problem.
Based on its performance in Diadem, mediocre is a good word to describe the 88th.
Sadly, based on most US Army divisional performances in 1943-1944, mediocre is a good way to describe them.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Sid Guttridge » 02 Jul 2020 06:36

Hi Guys,

Many years ago, in about 1980, I lent "Numbers, Predictions and War" to a very intelligent, academically gifted and combat experienced ex-US Marine friend. When I got it back he had written a critique on it of about 20 pages. Since then I have been a little wary of accepting Dupuy's methodology too uncritically..

I would suggest that it should surprise us less that some later-formed US divisions coming directly from the USA did not initially perform too well in the field than that so many other divisions held up adequately. The Army had been expanded 100 fold in four years.

It was also up against an opponent that, for all his other limitations, probably had many dozens of times more division/months of battle experience than the US Army had yet accumulated.

A question - how did the US Army disseminate the lessons it had learnt in North Africa and Italy around divisions preparing in the USA?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Richard Anderson » 02 Jul 2020 07:44

Sid Guttridge wrote:
02 Jul 2020 06:36
Many years ago, in about 1980, I lent "Numbers, Predictions and War" to a very intelligent, academically gifted and combat experienced ex-US Marine friend. When I got it back he had written a critique on it of about 20 pages. Since then I have been a little wary of accepting Dupuy's methodology too uncritically..
Well, share then. Please. :D
I would suggest that it should surprise us less that some later-formed US divisions coming directly from the USA did not initially perform too well in the field than that so many other divisions held up adequately. The Army had been expanded 100 fold in four years.
Nearly all divisions did not initially perform well, whether formed earlier or later, including those from prewar. The few that did not have major problems are exceptions to the rule and a fairly short list...101st A/B Div, 104th ID, 4th AD, 5th AD, 6th AD...to a lesser extent the 82d A/B Div and 1st ID, while the 3d ID was always pretty reliable.
It was also up against an opponent that, for all his other limitations, probably had many dozens of times more division/months of battle experience than the US Army had yet accumulated.
Indeed.
A question - how did the US Army disseminate the lessons it had learnt in North Africa and Italy around divisions preparing in the USA?
It's a bit complicated. Initially observer groups comprised of various officer ranks and branches wrote up observations, which were disseminated in the War Department General Staff, the AGF, the ASF, the AAF, and the Technical departments as was relevant. Later, various reports and observations were collected in Tactical and Technical Trends and other publications and distributed throughout the Army. Each of the active theaters also published similar as did many of the branches...Richard Stone has been posting some of those from the Armored and Tank Destroyers.

However, how much of that actual got into training is difficult to gauge. Some of it filtered through as training circulars, some of which ended up modifying the relevant Field Manual...the 18 July 1944 revision of FM 18-5 Tactical Employment Tank Destroyer Unit incorporated various lessons learned via Training Circular No. 88. Changing doctrinal thought can be traced through the various armor and TD FM, but not so much with infantry.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Sid Guttridge » 02 Jul 2020 12:03

Hi Richard,

I still have the book and Big Bill's critique of it, but both have been in storage for some 30+ years. It would take many more hours to unearth them than I am willing to spend at present. Sorry. I would then have to clear it with Bill, I guess. He is currently in Boston, I am told.

How valuable do you think the North African Campaign was as a learning experience for the US Army? Do you think it made any difference to the success of the various landings in Italy and France that the divisions used were not entirely raw? A similar question could be asked of the British.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Differing views of Overlord

Post by Sheldrake » 02 Jul 2020 14:40

Sid Guttridge wrote:
02 Jul 2020 12:03
How valuable do you think the North African Campaign was as a learning experience for the US Army? Do you think it made any difference to the success of the various landings in Italy and France that the divisions used were not entirely raw? A similar question could be asked of the British.
My 2p

By 1943-44 the British and Americans had well trained formations. They had years to see how the Germans operated and understand their doctrine. The units formed at least for the first waves had years to get to know each other and train as units and as formations. All arms training for the D Day assault itself was thorough and well practiced. Newly trained soldiers had a boldness and enthusiasm that would be lost after they had seen the elephant, casualties among comrades and suffered near death experiences.

But there were some lessons that could only be learned in combat.

1) How to read the battlefield. At an individual level what was the difference between the noisy and the dangerous. Which incoming rounds were likely to be a threat to the individual or to someone else. For commanders : how to pick out the early signs of success or failure amid the chaos as plans fell apart at first contact with the enemy or the elements. The middle of Omaha Beach was perhaps not the best place to have to work these out. Those who had done it before were best able to react.

2) Troops never practiced how close they really had to be to supporting fire to guarantee that the enemy would be neutralised and not ready to cut them down. Safety distances of 150 yards were 100 yards too long against the Germans.

3) No one knows how they will react under fire. It was useful to weed out men in key positions particularly commanders, who could not cope with the pressure of mortal danger, of having to making tactical and leadership decisions The most high profile of these was Fredendall, but at a lower level lots of officers were posted away quietly because they could not cope with the reality of command under fire.

4) Which commanders made the best team. A top sports team never pits a bunch of unknown players against the best in the world. If you want to win a serious competition you need practice matches. Normandy was the fourth campaign conducted by the Allied Senior Command team. It was the third for the big Red one who had some significant changes of command since Nov 1942.

Although only a minority of formations that were deployed to Normandy had services in North Africa and Italy, Individual officers and soldiers were cross posted to provide as leavening of expertise. While neither 2nd nor 5th Rangers had been battle before D Day, 5th Rangers was commanded by a veteran from 1st and 4th Rangers. Collins commanding the VIIth Corps (Utah Beach) had experience from the Pacific. The British cross posted an experienced an armoured regiment from the veteran 8th Armoured Brigade with the untested 27th

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