Don Juan wrote: MarkN wrote:
Don Juan wrote: Hobart was simply typical of the period. He compiled a 100 page training report for the Mobile Division(Egypt) in 1939 which went into meticulous detail on every single aspect of armoured operations except that which was most important - overhaul.
Whilst you believe that the overhaul was the "most important ... single aspect
", I disagree entirely. I'd argue that to a large extent it was pretty irrelevant in wartime and with the equipment then available - as proven by the British forces time after time.
Well, you be you, Mark.
What is the point of an overhaul? It is to extend the life of a piece of equipment beyond the manufacturer's original (useful) life expectancy.
An overhaul is a peacetime habit to save money by keeping expensive bits of kit alive for years and years and years without having to buy new. The British 'front-line' pantser at the beginning of 1939 was the Vickers Medium Mk.II built in the 1920s. Pantsers kept alive through the overhaul, but of no operational use when the time comes.
When war comes, military equipment is expendable. That includes tanks. Military equipment is often destroyed or 'lost' long before ETO - just look at all the British pantsers left in France in 1940!
Additionally, when big, industrial war is taking place, a tank is beyond it's sell by date before it reaches its ETO - if it hasn't already been 'lost'. The pantsers replacing the Vickers Mediums (Cruiser I, II, III and IV) were overmatched as soon as the German's up-armoured and up-gunned their pantsers post Fall Rot. How many of those 560 odd early Cruisers actually went through an overhaul and had a productive post-overhaul life?
Moreover, overhauls didn't solve the distance problem, transporters and tanks with longer initial lifespans did that.
And, to add to the almost irrelevance of the overhaul system in wartime, the early British pantsers could barely make a 50 mile march without needed major maintenance work.
Hobart can be accused of many things when it comes to armoured doctrine, but ignoring the 'overhaul' is not one that had any major significance or consequence.
Don Juan wrote: It was partly a product of the colonial policing mentality, but it was mainly a product of the "limited liability" doctrine in which the British Army would avoid being embroiled in a Continental war. I don't think it is widely enough appreciated just how cobbled together the British Army was in 1940/41. For example, the 1st Armoured Division hadn't undertaken a single Brigade or Division level exercise prior to embarking for France. 7th Armoured Division aside, British armoured formations had minimal experience in controlling themselves, let alone combining with the other arms of service. Even if the British had had a combined arms doctrine, I think they would have had great difficulty implementing it during this part of the war.
The 1st Armoured Division was thrown away in France by the very highest ranking officers through utter incompetence. Officers who had not the slightest clue as to how the Division should be employed, what it was (and was not) capable of and who had more interest in saving face and the old-boy network than offering meaningful resistence to the German advance. What I'm saying is, you are quite correct in your appreciation of what didn't occur before it deployed, but even if it had been perfectly trained, it would have resulted in the very same outcome.