When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

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Richard Anderson
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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Richard Anderson » 24 Sep 2020 20:45

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
24 Sep 2020 20:10
Richard Anderson wrote:
24 Sep 2020 19:58
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
24 Sep 2020 19:30
EwenS wrote:
23 Sep 2020 10:40
The fast WS troop convoys continued to go around the Cape until Sept 1943.
I'm wondering what the considerations for continuing this were?
Quite probably the simple understanding that Alan Brooke's long touted "saving a million tons of sea transport" was a political and military conference bargaining tool and proved to be nothing of the sort? :lol:
After the fact perhaps. I suspect that in January the participants at the SYMBOL conference in Casablanca could not have anticipated the relative strength or weakness of the Axis forces in May. Experience in 1941-1942 did not support the idea of sending convoys past a Axis held Sardinia & Sicily.
The thing is, there were only five GTX convoys and returns, they ended in August 1943. Much more important were the 133-odd GC and return convoys from Gibraltar to Casablanca, starting in c. January 1943 and ending in April 1945. Then there were the XT series, Alexandria to Tripoli and return, 29 convoys from September 1943 through July 1944. All had specific purposes and considerations.
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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by EwenS » 24 Sep 2020 21:03

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
24 Sep 2020 20:23
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
The fast WS troop convoys continued to go around the Cape until Sept 1943.
I'm wondering what the considerations for continuing this were?
Maybe Churchill was maintaining the Egypt base to (1) convince Turkey that British forces nearby and could help if she entered, as W.allies were pressuring her to do and (2) to have an argument for his Balkans adventures (the troops are right there Franklin, let's use them there).

The Mediterranean was still a very dangerous area in mid 1943. July saw both HMS Indomitable and the cruiser Newfoundland torpedoed in the waters around Sicily. Even as late as the end of Nov the cruiser Birmingham was torpedoed off Cyrenaica.

The WS convoys shipped large numbers of personnel to both the Middle and Far East theatres, with stop offs at Gib, Freetown, South Africa, Kilindini and other ports. Presumably in the lead up to the WS33 convoy leaving the UK on 17th August the destinations of these personnel and the associated risks of each route were fully taken into account.

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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 25 Sep 2020 19:25

From Montgomery and the Eighth Army (Ed. Stephen Brooks, 1991)
p.201
Letter Montgomery to Alexander, 10 April 1943

[...]

I must have a pause for administrative reasons...

[At the Enfidaville position] I shall then be maintaining a very large Army over a 300 mile road-link from Tripoli.

p.202

12. I suggest a decision is required as to who is to play the major part in the final assaults on the enemy last positions.
There seems to be two alternatives:

A. Eighth Army does it...In this case I would have to draw very heavilyon Charles Miller, and have at my disposal all the resources in northern Tunisia.
Presumably this could be done, since First Army would merely sit tight and exert pressure.

B. First Army does it.
In this case I would sit tight, and merely exert pressure.
I could do this on my own resources as far as maintenance goes.


A day later, Alexander replied to inform Montgomery that the main effort in the next phase would be the operations of First Army and that he was required to transfer an armoured division and an armd car regiment to 9 Corps in First Army.

Regards

Tom

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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by EwenS » 25 Sep 2020 20:57

It took until 30th April for transfers of command to begin. On that day 7th Armd and 4th Ind Inf Div transferred to IX Corps of First Army, with 201 Guards Brigade following on 3rd May.

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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Sep 2020 04:54

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
25 Sep 2020 19:25
From Montgomery and the Eighth Army (Ed. Stephen Brooks, 1991)
p.201
Letter Montgomery to Alexander, 10 April 1943

[...]

I must have a pause for administrative reasons...

[At the Enfidaville position] I shall then be maintaining a very large Army over a 300 mile road-link from Tripoli.

p.202

12. I suggest a decision is required as to who is to play the major part in the final assaults on the enemy last positions.
There seems to be two alternatives:

A. Eighth Army does it...In this case I would have to draw very heavilyon Charles Miller, and have at my disposal all the resources in northern Tunisia.
Presumably this could be done, since First Army would merely sit tight and exert pressure.

B. First Army does it.
In this case I would sit tight, and merely exert pressure.
I could do this on my own resources as far as maintenance goes.


A day later, Alexander replied to inform Montgomery that the main effort in the next phase would be the operations of First Army and that he was required to transfer an armoured division and an armd car regiment to 9 Corps in First Army.

Regards

Tom
Perfectly on-point, thank you. So Monty at least considered it feasible to draw on Western-originating logistics in April. Given the recency of the linkup, April was probably the earliest such a supply arrangement was possible. There's the theoretical possibility that Monty fundamentally misunderstood the nature of logistics in North Africa but as a practical matter that seems incredible.
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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 27 Sep 2020 19:02

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
26 Sep 2020 04:54
So Monty at least considered it feasible to draw on Western-originating logistics in April. Given the recency of the linkup, April was probably the earliest such a supply arrangement was possible. There's the theoretical possibility that Monty fundamentally misunderstood the nature of logistics in North Africa but as a practical matter that seems incredible.
Why? How would Montgomery know what the "nature of logistics in North Africa" was in April 1943? I imagine he was quite busy fighting his own battles and paying attention to the nature of his logistic support from Tripoli - too busy (for once) to poke his nose into someone's business, if only because of the distance between the two and the intervening Axis forces!

He had been assigned as commander of the British forces in Torch very briefly back in August 1942 - but that would have probably been no use to him by now. Would he know how much was in First Army supply dumps?, would he know how much transportation was available? would he know where 1st Army's railheads were? I doubt it - and the fact that it only took 24 hours for Alexander to reply in the negative suggests that it would not have been a simple task.

It is worth also noting that the initial plan for the exploitation of a successful "TORCH" had Tripoli being captured from the west.

Regards

Tom

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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 27 Sep 2020 19:54

EwenS wrote:
25 Sep 2020 20:57
It took until 30th April for transfers of command to begin. On that day 7th Armd and 4th Ind Inf Div transferred to IX Corps of First Army, with 201 Guards Brigade following on 3rd May.
By this time the Axis armies were collapsing into the north east corner of Tunisia & the forward elements of the 8th Army were closer to Bone than Triploi. The Axis did not abandon the Mareth line until very late March & a solid link between the 8th Army and US II Corps did not occur until after 10 April.
Screen Shot 2020-09-27 at 2.44.48 PM.png
Part of the transfer of the IX Corps was to rationalize command arraignments. The other elements of the 8th Army were being squeezed out of the shrinking battle front, and needed to be transferred to a preparation area for the upcoming HUSKY operation. Consolidating the IX Corps and reducing the 8th Armys role in the Tunisian battle had some logic to it. Note also the French role was declining, & the US II Corps was moved from its central Tunisia position to the north along the coast.

Looks like its only in the final 25 days of the campaign units of the 8th Army have a usable overland route to draw on 1st Army supply depots.
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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Nov 2020 19:08

Digressing. Note that a combined US/British 'corps' reached Tebourba station & Djedida in December. A company of US light tanks commanded by Major Siglin raided a airfield just NW of Tunis that month. It took four months to recapture the terrain lost in latter December 1942.
Last edited by Carl Schwamberger on 05 Nov 2020 19:21, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Richard Anderson » 05 Nov 2020 19:11

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
05 Nov 2020 19:08
Digressing. Note that a combined US/British 'corps' reached Tebourba station & Djedida in December. A company of US light tanks commandeered by Major Siglin raided a airfield just NW of Tunis that month. It took four months to recapture the terrain lost in latter December 1942.
Carl, Major Siglin did not "commandeer" anything...he was commander of the company and was directed on his mission by orders from his task force commander. :D
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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Nov 2020 19:19

I missspeed. Spank me.

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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Richard Anderson » 05 Nov 2020 20:31

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
05 Nov 2020 19:19
I missspeed. Spank me.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 06 Nov 2020 22:15

Actually on further investigation I find that autocorrect says Major Siglin commandeered B Company. I'm afraid you will have to rectify the books imeadiatly.

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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Richard Anderson » 06 Nov 2020 23:08

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
06 Nov 2020 22:15
Actually on further investigation I find that autocorrect says Major Siglin commandeered B Company. I'm afraid you will have to rectify the books imeadiatly.
It's interesting that no one has asked why a US Army major was a company commander. 😁😉
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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Sheldrake » 07 Nov 2020 02:39

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
26 Sep 2020 04:54
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
25 Sep 2020 19:25
From Montgomery and the Eighth Army (Ed. Stephen Brooks, 1991)
p.201
Letter Montgomery to Alexander, 10 April 1943

[...]

I must have a pause for administrative reasons...

[At the Enfidaville position] I shall then be maintaining a very large Army over a 300 mile road-link from Tripoli.

p.202

12. I suggest a decision is required as to who is to play the major part in the final assaults on the enemy last positions.
There seems to be two alternatives:

A. Eighth Army does it...In this case I would have to draw very heavilyon Charles Miller, and have at my disposal all the resources in northern Tunisia.
Presumably this could be done, since First Army would merely sit tight and exert pressure.

B. First Army does it.
In this case I would sit tight, and merely exert pressure.
I could do this on my own resources as far as maintenance goes.


A day later, Alexander replied to inform Montgomery that the main effort in the next phase would be the operations of First Army and that he was required to transfer an armoured division and an armd car regiment to 9 Corps in First Army.

Regards

Tom
Perfectly on-point, thank you. So Monty at least considered it feasible to draw on Western-originating logistics in April. Given the recency of the linkup, April was probably the earliest such a supply arrangement was possible. There's the theoretical possibility that Monty fundamentally misunderstood the nature of logistics in North Africa but as a practical matter that seems incredible.
This is a senior officer play. If you want me to lead in Tunisia, these are my preconditions. He has pointed out that the logistics are with First Army and that if they want his army to do the work the logistics need to come to him. The sensible answer was to reinforce First Army with some of Eighth Army's troops -which is what they did. So arguably some of the Eighth Army were supported from the west - by coming under First Army Command.

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Re: When did 8th Army's logistical flow switch directions?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Nov 2020 04:49

Richard Anderson wrote:
06 Nov 2020 23:08
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
06 Nov 2020 22:15
Actually on further investigation I find that autocorrect says Major Siglin commandeered B Company. I'm afraid you will have to rectify the books imeadiatly.
It's interesting that no one has asked why a US Army major was a company commander. 😁😉
Never occurred to me there was anything odd there. But, then I spent my time in the Marines where rifle companies were commanded by pilots with current flight time, Logistics officers commanded artillery batteries, Navy officers were a fixture in HQ staff, & entire regiments existed without a single 2d Lt.

So, I'll bite why was a US Army Major commanding a company of 17 light tanks?

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