Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Discussions on WW2 in Eastern Europe.
Volyn
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Volyn » 24 Jul 2020 16:50

Gooner1 wrote:
24 Jul 2020 12:24
The Western Allied logistic situation was such that they could support far more combat power in Italy and the Mediterranean then they could in the Ukraine.
Yes, assuming we are comparing the full MTO force, but a small sized task force can be supplied in the Ukraine without issue.
EwenS wrote:
24 Jul 2020 12:37
I would never say that logistics were never a problem for the Allies.
I did also say that it would have been challenging, but it was definitely not impossible.
Volyn wrote:
23 Jul 2020 22:33
It would be a challenge, however, a formation as large as an Armored Corps could have been equipped and fought within the USSR.
Why is it assumed that an Allied task force sent to the USSR would need American or British equipment and supplies? These were trained professionals who could easily be cross-trained on any new weapon platforms, and they would become fully competent in their use. Are Soviets weapons incompatible with Western hands?

The point about logistics is that by 1943 the Soviets could have met most of the supply requirements for a task force up to at least a Corps (rations, weapons, ammunition, armored vehicles, tanks, fuel, winter uniforms, Soviet and American aircraft, etc). The Allies could bring along whatever else they felt they needed.

The example of the French Normandie-Niemen fighter group is that they exclusively used Soviet aircraft. They arrived in Moscow on 28 NOV 1942 and were trained on the Yak-7 from 2 DEC 1942 - 14 MAR 1943 (3 months and 12 days), afterwards they were engaged in battle using the Yak-1 and Yak-9 on the Eastern Front from 22 MAR 1943 until 8 MAY 1945.
EwenS wrote:
24 Jul 2020 12:37
Shipping was always at a premium and that was particularly so until US shipyards began to crank out merchantmen in huge numbers. It is only from about 1943 that new shipping joining the merchant fleets exceed losses to enemy action. Until well after D-Day there were never enough LSTs. British efforts in the Far East were constrained by lack of shipping until 1945 along with efforts to support the BPF.
This line of thought is only relevant to a massive task force (100,000+), and as I said above most of the supply requirements can be met by the Soviets if it is a smaller group.
EwenS wrote:
24 Jul 2020 12:37
What Stalin wanted was a Second Front in France to force the Germans to divide their forces. He certainly had little interest in having British & US forces on Soviet soil. Evidence of that is the lukewarm support given in the summer of 1944 to the shuttle bombing operations from the U.K. and Italy to the Poltava area of the Ukraine, Operation Frantic. And also the less than warm (and not just the weather) reception for RN personnel in northern Russia.
He was not lukewarm to the idea in 1942 when he requested 25-30 Divisions, if the Allies had sent him a small task force by 1943 his attitude towards the Allies would have changed. I mentioned previously that he held a grudge against the West precisely because in his view they did nothing for 3 years; he did not consider the invasion of Italy qualified as a 2nd front.

Operation Frantic was a failure from the outset because it was not aimed at helping the Soviets where they needed it, and it began 1 year later then it should have. The Soviet's attitude towards the West soured as their own losses kept mounting from 1942-1944 without seeing the Allies accomplish what they wanted. If OF had been initiated in 1942 or 1943 and it was focused on helping the Soviets with tactical combat instead of strategic bombing far from the front, it would have made a difference. The Soviets are not guiltless, they were not as receptive as they should have been earlier, but if the French could get a force to fight there so could the US.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Sheldrake » 24 Jul 2020 23:00

EwenS wrote:
24 Jul 2020 12:15
Sheldrake wrote:
23 Jul 2020 21:25
I stumbled on another reason the Americans might not send their boys to the USSR. The allies suffered one of their largest loss of armour and aircraft north of the arctic circle. Some 5,000 tanks, 7,000 aircraft and 200,000 tons of supplies were lost in merchant ships sunk on the arctic route. 7% of ships sailing were lost, compared to 0.7 of global sailings. Sailing an army of 500,000 might cost 35,000 men. A hard one to sell in Peoria.
While you have the percentage of ships lost in convoy to Murmansk and the return journey correct at approx 7% this represents only just over 100 ships sunk both en route there and back of which about 86 were sunk before the end of 1942. So only part of that number were carrying lend lease supplies TO the USSR. However, I believe your figures grossly exaggerate the losses of tanks and aircraft even allowing for the fact that only about 25% of total lend-lease supplies went via that route.
My source was Dirty Little Secrets of World War II: Military Information No One Told You... James F. Dunnigan That is the S&T team so I didn't check primary sources.

reedwh52
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by reedwh52 » 25 Jul 2020 03:50

There were numerous reasons, forces were not committed. However, the primary one was that Stalin did not want Allied soldiers to fight alongside Soviet soldiers or in Soviet territory.

A joint US-UK tactical air force of nine fighter, fve mediun/light, four heavy and four transport squadrons to initiate activity in the Caucasus in early 1943 was proposed to Stalin in 1942. Discussions to implement this began in November 1942.

As noted on pages 329-336 of "United States Army in World War II ; The War Department; Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1941-1942"

"On 22 November, the day after its arrival in Moscow, the mission held its first meeting with Soviet representatives, Lt. Gen. Fedor Y. Falalaeyev, Chief of Staff, Red Air Force, presiding. It quickly became evident that the Soviet Government had no intention of accepting the offer of an air force in the Caucasus. Soviet representatives proposed instead that in place of an air force, Great Britain and the United States would send planes to the Soviet Union in addition to those already scheduled to be sent. They gave several reasons. Lend-lease supplies to the Soviet Union would be decreased by the amount it would take to support a British-American force in the Caucasus. Soviet air units, which could be shifted according to operational needs, would make more effective use of the planes than could a British-American force, which would be restricted to a limited area. British and American troops would find it hard to get used to the primitive facilities of Soviet units. The Soviet representatives made the mission aware, moreover, that the Soviet Government did not want Allied soldiers to fight alongside Soviet soldiers or in Soviet territory. Adler reported that the Soviet representatives made it "quite clear" that from the Soviet point of view fraternization might have "a deleterious political effect" and the presence of Allied forces in the Caucasus "might give a future hold on or near their oil resources."


There is brief further statement on this on page 16 of "United States Army in World War II ; The War Department; Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1943-1944":

"With the launching of TORCH at the end of 1942, the first stage in the search for a strategic plan against Germany came to an end. 1941-42 had been the period of defensive strategy and a strategy of scarcity. The basic fear was the fear of defeat; the great concern, the survival of the Soviet Union. By the close of 1942 it had become apparent that, though the Western Allies were still not agreed on strategy, their plans were tied to the outcome of the struggle on the Eastern Front. But Stalin had turned down the offer of Roosevelt and Churchill to send an Anglo-American air force to support the Soviet forces in the Caucasus. He made it unmistakably clear that Western military forces were not wanted in Soviet territory to fight beside Soviet soldiers. From the West Stalin wanted only more lend-lease and a second front."

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 25 Jul 2020 10:01

This is entirely down to Soviet will. They simply didn't want independent Allied forces on their soil because they didn't trust them.

The only Allied forces on their soil they equipped themselves.

Without Soviet will that this should happen, the idea is a non-starter.

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 25 Jul 2020 12:02, edited 1 time in total.

Art
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Art » 25 Jul 2020 11:03

reedwh52 wrote:
25 Jul 2020 03:50
The Soviet representatives made the mission aware, moreover, that the Soviet Government did not want Allied soldiers to fight alongside Soviet soldiers or in Soviet territory. Adler reported that the Soviet representatives made it "quite clear" that from the Soviet point of view fraternization might have "a deleterious political effect" and the presence of Allied forces in the Caucasus "might give a future hold on or near their oil resources."
Hm, getting wasted with RN crews at Murmansk didn't have a fraternization effect? That was obviously some sort of interpretation or even speculation rather than a direct quote.

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Yuri
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Yuri » 25 Jul 2020 13:25

Sid Guttridge wrote:
25 Jul 2020 10:01
This is entirely down to Soviet will. They simply didn't want independent Allied forces on their soil because they didn't trust them.

The only Allied forces on their soil they equipped themselves.

Without Soviet will that this should happen, the idea is a non-starter.

Cheers,

Sid.
Hi Sid! I will try to describe the events as they were in reality: both in time and in space. It is possible that after this you will adjust your opinion on this issue.

1. In May-June 1942, following the visit of the people's Commissar for foreign Affairs V. Molotov to London and Washington, the Anglo-American allies committed themselves to land their troops in France (operation “Sledgehammer”/ in Russian "Kuvalda") no later than the autumn of 1942.

2. In August 1942, the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Winston Churchill) arrives in Moscow and declares that the allies will not fulfill their obligations under this agreement and that operation “Sledgehammer”/”Kuvalda” is postponed to the spring of 1943, and possibly to the autumn of 1943. The Chairman of the Council of people's Commissars (com. Stalin) declares a protest. The Prime Minister of his Majesty's government (Mr Winston Churchill) reiterates that there will be no"Sledgehammer"/" Kuvalda", while at the same time stating that deliveries via the Northern route are being stopped.

3. The Chairman of the Council of people's Commissars of the USSR (com. Stalin) proposes to place 20-30 divisions of the Anglo-American allies on the Soviet-European front, in the Caucasus. These troops will be under the full operational control of the Anglo-American command. The Prime Minister of His Majesty's government (Mr. Winston Churchill) refuses this offer.

4. The Prime Minister of His Majesty's government (Mr. Winston Churchill) offers assistance in the form of several aviation squadrons stationed in Baku.
The Chairman of the Council of people's Commissars of the USSR (com. Stalin) declared that there was no German in Baku and that the Germans were now in the Kuban and at Stalingrad.
The Prime Minister of His Majesty's government (Mr. Winston Churchill) says that British pilots in Baku could replace those Soviet pilots who are now guarding the Baku area.
The Chairman of the Council of people's Commissars of the USSR (com. Stalin) declared that the Red Army does not need help to protect the airspace of Baku because there is no front in Baku. The Red Army needs help on the Soviet-European front, which is located far away on the Don, Stalingrad and Kuban.
(to be continued)

Now here is a reference for distances (in kilometers in a straight line on the map):
from Rostov to Baku-1112 ;
from Novorossiysk to Baku-1100;
from Krasnodar to Baku-1027;
from Stavropol to Baku-832;
from Ordzhenikidze (Vladikavkaz) to Baku -520;
from London to Berlin-930;
from Dunkirk to Edinburgh – 650;
from Tunis to Rome-620;
from Rome to Berlin-1160;
Between Baku on the one hand and Rostov, Novorossiysk, Krasnodar, Stavropol, ordzhenikidze on the other hand lies the Caucasus mountains up to 5000 meters high.
Ordzhenikidze(Vladikavkaz) is the nearest point to Baku (520 km) where German-Romanian-Slovak troops were able to approach in November 1942 when “Uranus” launched.

reedwh52
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by reedwh52 » 25 Jul 2020 14:47

The quotes in the text concerning the Russian fraternization concerns were taken from messages concerning the UK-US-Russian discussions on establishing the UK-US air force in Russia. These were the impressions gathered by both the US and UK representatives in the meetings. These were noted in the txt at footnote 35 as: 1)Msg, Gen Adler to Gens Marshall and Andrews, 25 Nov 42, CM-IN 11066 (11/26/42). (2) Msg, same to same, 27 Nov 42, CM-IN 12335 (11/29/42). (3) Msg, Br Air Ministry to Marshall, 29 Nov 42 (Air 585), Item 11, Exec 1. (4) Msg, Adler to Marshall and Andrews, 2 Dec 42, CM-IN 1346 (12/4/42).

With regard to the lack of need for US-UK air units, this is an entire letter from Stalin to Roosevelt on December 20, 1942:

Stalin to Roosevelt December 20, 1942 (From the FDR library Map Room Files)
I am grateful to you for your readiness to help us. As to the Anglo-American air squadrons with personnel, at the moment the necessity of having them sent to the Transcaucasus has passed. Now the major battles are and will be developing at the central front and in the Voronesh area. I shall be grateful to you if you expedite the delivery of planes-especially fighter planes-without the personnel which is now extremely necessary to yourself, to be used in the above mentioned areas.

The peculiar state of Soviet aviation is that we have more than enough fliers but not enough planes.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 25 Jul 2020 17:25

Hi Yuri,

You post: "3. ThI e Chairman of the Council of people's Commissars of the USSR (com. Stalin) proposes to place 20-30 divisions of the Anglo-American allies on the Soviet-European front, in the Caucasus. These troops will be under the full operational control of the Anglo-American command. The Prime Minister of His Majesty's government (Mr. Winston Churchill) refuses this offer."

I had never heard of this. What is the source and date? Autumn 1942 would make most sense.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Art » 25 Jul 2020 19:19

Sid Guttridge wrote:
25 Jul 2020 17:25
I had never heard of this. What is the source and date? Autumn 1942 would make most sense.
Stalin's private and confidential letter to Churchill from 13 September 1941.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 25 Jul 2020 19:31

Hi Art,

Thanks

Could you double check the year? The US wasn't in the war at that stage.

Cheers,

Sid.

Art
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Art » 26 Jul 2020 09:08

Stalin wrote about 25-30 divisions from "England". Naturally there was no discussion about US expeditionary force at that moment. I don't remember any similar proposals made later, i.e. in 1942.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 26 Jul 2020 10:09

Hi Art,

It is interesting that Stalin thought "England" had 25-30 divisions available. That would be easily the biggest single force ssembled by the UK abroad throughout WWII.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Art » 26 Jul 2020 11:34

Yeah, comrade Stalin was always lightweight when it came to Allied military capabilities. It is quite possible, however, that this proposal was just a lever meant to secure more assistance in the form of weapons and materials or other.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by EwenS » 26 Jul 2020 14:48

But are we comparing like for like? Was Stalin talking in terms of Soviet units or British units?

A British infantry "division" would have 13-18 thousand men depending on the period in WW2 and an armoured "division" c15,000 in 1944 and 290 tanks. A Soviet rifle "division" only had about 10,000 men. A Soviet "Tank Corps" only had about 10,500 men and 189 tanks, so smaller than a British "Armoured Division".

So 25-30 in Soviet terms is a lot less in British terms. Maybe he thought we could mobilise on the Soviet scale and reduce war production.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 27 Jul 2020 13:05

Hi EwenS,

Stalin probably plucked what he considered a plausible figure out of the air. In any event, he would have realised that the British were hardly likely to change their force establishments just to accommodate him.

Cheers,

Sid.

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