Tom from Cornwall wrote: ↑
07 Jan 2022 16:17
TheMarcksPlan wrote: ↑
30 Dec 2021 23:59
I'm beginning to accept, however, that to have such discussions I'd have to enter a degree program or something.
As pre-reading for your dissertation and hoping to provide some context to these questions:
So far the comparison I see as most promising is between British and Commonwealth units in WW1. There the military systems and combat conditions are broadly similar; the differences in pre-adult living standards significant. We see, for example, the Australian divisions performing to a very high standard (relative to British) and probably the Canadians as well. If there's a case in which to confirm my posited effects, this is the best and clearest I can think of so far.
More research would be needed, however. It's possible, for example, that Commonwealth units were elite in terms of their manpower quality because the Commonwealth mobilized a lower percentage of its men. OTOH, if the elite status coincides with demographic measurables (height, education, measured intelligence) then this only further confirms the hypothesis.
I'd recommend Douglas E. Delaney's The Imperial Army Project: Britain and the Land Forces of the Dominions and India 1902 - 1945
He makes a very strong case for the there being almost total adherence to the use of British doctrine thereby allowing Dominion and Indian formations to slot relatively comfortably into British army formations. It's worth noting that this worked both ways and there are plenty of examples of British units being commanded by "Imperial/Dominion" formations.
Probably be worth considering that the British ground forces in 1939-45 resulted from a mass mobilization using conscription; the vast majority of "white Dominion/Commonwealth" manpower were volunteers for overseas service (as opposed to home defense); that changed for some of these "national" forces over time, but the differences between Canadians in the European Theater and NRMA at home, the AIF vs the AMF, the "Africa Oath" South Africans vs home defense, etc. is pretty clear.
The Indians and African/other colonial troops were (essentially) all volunteers, but economic realities drove an element of that as well, of course.
The Axis armies were conscripts as well, of course, but in terms of British/Commonwealth/Imperial/Colonial/etc. forces, there's a pretty significant differential.
Given the above, the "differences" (if there really were any) in combat effectiveness between Commonwealth "volunteer" and British "elite" formations seems less obvious.
The British armoured divisions (Guards, 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th), the "regular" British infantry divisions (1st-6th/70th), the airborne (1st, 6th) and other specialist infantry formations (36th, 52nd, 70th converted to the LRP role, 78th, RMD) seem quite comparable to the best-regarded Commonwealth formations, and more than a few of the British "mobilization" formations (50th and 51st, for example, but there were others) were regarded as very effective, high quality organizations - and, to be charitable, some of the Commonwealth volunteer formations did not exactly cover themselves in glory, although that often had as much to do with the circumstances of how they were committed to combat, especially in 1939-42.
So it really seems sort of a questionable concept.