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

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steve248
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by steve248 » 27 Jul 2020 20:32

Strange as it may seem, I have been to Baku and gave two papers at an academic conference.
I was asked to give a paper on British participation in the protection of Baku should the Germans approach in 1942.
I knew nothing about this particular idea and found nothing to substantiate it in National Archives Kew which caused some minor uproar among Baku historians who believed the British would come to save them as they did in 1919-1921. The British Army had no "spare" Divisions in the Middle East; all available fighting forces were in the desert approaches to Cairo waiting for the call to fight back in El Alamein.
Negligible army units in Iraq as I recall; nothing that could be called back from the Far East/Japanese front.
Just where were these mythical British Army Divisions going to come from?

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

Post by Max Payload » 28 Jul 2020 09:41

Art wrote:
26 Jul 2020 11:34
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.
That would seem to be a likely explanation given what Bodin related to Tyulenev in August. Bodin at that time had had regular meetings with Stalin, hearing directly Stalin’s opinion on the matter, and it seems unlikely that Stalin would have had reason to deceive the most senior members of his own General Staff at such a critical time.

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

Post by EwenS » 28 Jul 2020 10:53

steve248 wrote:
27 Jul 2020 20:32
Strange as it may seem, I have been to Baku and gave two papers at an academic conference.
I was asked to give a paper on British participation in the protection of Baku should the Germans approach in 1942.
I knew nothing about this particular idea and found nothing to substantiate it in National Archives Kew which caused some minor uproar among Baku historians who believed the British would come to save them as they did in 1919-1921. The British Army had no "spare" Divisions in the Middle East; all available fighting forces were in the desert approaches to Cairo waiting for the call to fight back in El Alamein.
Negligible army units in Iraq as I recall; nothing that could be called back from the Far East/Japanese front.
Just where were these mythical British Army Divisions going to come from?
Perhaps not the “British Army” but have you looked at the “British Indian Army” divisions? 6,8 and 10 Indian infantry divisions an 31 Indian Armoured divisions all went to Iraq/Iran in late 1941 and 5th British infantry division was en route before the war with Japan broke out. 56th joined later. These were all under command of British Tenth Army. The RAF also maintained a presence.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenth_A ... d_Kingdom)

As time went on and the war moved away from the Middle East most of these units were transferred out to other areas and theatres. 31Indian Armoured however remained until the end of the war, albeit in reduced form.

There would also be units in Ninth Army in Palestine/Jordan. This area was also used to rest RAF squadrons between tours in the Western Desert.

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

Post by Art » 28 Jul 2020 12:47

To the best of my knowledge the British didn't ever consider sending ground forces elements to Caucasus in 1942. Establishing a screening force in north Iran was their most ambitious plan according to an official history ("Grand Strategy" by Howard)

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

Post by reedwh52 » 28 Jul 2020 14:19

Perhaps not the “British Army” but have you looked at the “British Indian Army” divisions? 6,8 and 10 Indian infantry divisions an 31 Indian Armoured divisions all went to Iraq/Iran in late 1941 and 5th British infantry division was en route before the war with Japan broke out. 56th joined later. These were all under command of British Tenth Army. The RAF also maintained a presence."

Tenth Army was established as the occupation force for Iraq and Southern Iran. Northern Iran was occupied by Russian forces which remained until 1946.

During the last half of 1941, the Commonwealth forces in the Mideast, including Palestine, were engaged in the defence of Egypt, occupying Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Beginning in 1942, the war in the Far EAst and the defence of India became significant considerations. For instance, the 6th & 7th Australian Divisions returned from the Mid-East to Australia (or Ceylon, or in part, Java), 18th Division (enroute to Middle EAst) was diverted to Singapore, etc.

Given the strategic constraints, any force for the Russian Front would have had to come from the UK. As of Middle E

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

Post by Volyn » 28 Jul 2020 14:53

All of the UK forces were tied up in 1941 to mid-1942, and Stalin's initial troop request was obviously wishful thinking or a negotiating tactic.

However, from mid-1942 to 1943 the US had plenty of squadrons operating in the UK and at least one or more could have operated on a rotational basis along the Eastern Front. The French Normandie-Niemen fighter group made it to the USSR because:
In 1942, de Gaulle, recognizing the importance of French soldiers to serve on all fronts of the war, decided to engage forces on the Eastern Front. He envisaged first to send a Mechanized Division (the future 1st Free French Division of général de Larminat) on the Eastern front, however British opposition added to the difficulties of this project and the view of général Valin, commandant of the Free French Air Forces, made him opt to send an air unit instead of a Division.

Yves Courrière, Normandie Niémen. Un temps pour la guerre, Paris, Presses de la Cité, 1979, p.35 and Roland de la Poype, L'épopée du Normandie-Niémen, Paris, Éditions Perrin, 2011, p.100.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escadron_ ... ite_note-3
Clearly the British tried very hard to avert any real use of Western Allied military forces in the USSR, as there are others instances of their opposition as well. It seems that the UK had their own agenda and plans for the liberation of Europe and neither the US or USSR would be allowed to alter it.

The invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Italy were the UK's idea, and Churchill even wanted to send US soldiers to invade the Greek island of Rhodes in the hope that the UK would be able to keep it afterwards. Gen. George Marshall finally had enough of their Mediterranean strategy, so he told him he would never allow Americans to participate.

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

Post by Sid Guttridge » 29 Jul 2020 08:24

Hi Volyn,

I suspect de Gaulle wanted to escape total dependence on the Anglo-Americans and saw the USSR as the only possible counterweight. That was why he wanted a Free French force on the Eastern Front. He was still playing the same game when he withdrew France from the NATO military command in 1966.

Cheers,

Sid

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

Post by Max Payload » 29 Jul 2020 13:24

Art wrote:
28 Jul 2020 12:47
To the best of my knowledge the British didn't ever consider sending ground forces elements to Caucasus in 1942. Establishing a screening force in north Iran was their most ambitious plan according to an official history ("Grand Strategy" by Howard)
The suggestion seems to have come from Churchill on his mid-August visit to Moscow (with Harriman and senior military staff) where, "like carrying a large lump of ice to the North Pole," he had to inform Stalin that there would be no Second Front that year.

According to the US Army Document - STRATEGIC PLANNING FOR COALITION WARFARE 1941-1942 (Maurice Matloff and Edwin M. Snell P330), prior to Churchill’s visit, “Anxious to offset the announcement of the change in their plans for a second front in 1942, the President and Prime Minister were eager to do something to show that they were still determined to defeat Germany as quickly as possible, and were convinced that it would require the combined efforts of all three nations to do so. One means of doing so would be to establish direct military relations with the Soviet Union in the field, in an area in which the Soviet forces were adjacent — the Middle East — by committing small British and American forces to the direct support of Soviet forces in the Caucasus.”

It is unclear whether Churchill made reference to ground forces in his discussions but according to Matloff and Snell,
“A proposal to send a British-American air force to the Caucasus was introduced by the Prime Minister into his conversations with Stalin of mid-August. He suggested transferring air forces from Egypt to the Baku-Batumi area. His offer was contingent on the success of operations in the Libyan Desert. Stalin did not reject this proposal, but nothing was settled at the time, beyond an agreement in principle that once a definite offer had been made and
accepted, British air representatives should go at once to Moscow and thence to the Caucasus to make plans and preparations.”

Staff-level discussions didn’t take place until November, by which time the frontline in the Caucasus had stabilised. Again quoting Matloff and Snell,
“On 22 November, the day after its [the Drummond-Adler mission] 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 should send planes to the Soviet Union — in addition to those already scheduled to be sent. ...
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’. ...
On 13 December Molotov informed Air Marshal Drummond that, since the United States and Great Britain were apparently not going to accept the Soviet views as a basis for discussions, the Soviet Government was unwilling to proceed.”

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

Post by Volyn » 29 Jul 2020 17:02

Max Payload wrote:
29 Jul 2020 13:24
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’. ...
On 13 December Molotov informed Air Marshal Drummond that, since the United States and Great Britain were apparently not going to accept the Soviet views as a basis for discussions, the Soviet Government was unwilling to proceed.”
If the Soviets were not going to allow the Allies to fight in the USSR then how did de Gaulle get the Normandie-Niemen fighters there on 28 November, what were the conditions required of them, was there a double-standard?

It seems that the issue of French fraternization and its potential ‘deleterious political effect’ were not a concern during their 2.5 years fighting there. It is understandable that a large US or UK force was not sent, but a small task force should have been welcomed by both sides.

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

Post by Sid Guttridge » 30 Jul 2020 08:38

Hi Volyn,

Why would a small task force be welcomed by both sides? For the Western Allies it would be be a token gesture and a logistical nightmare to maintain.

For the USSR it would be too small to have military significance and was never, as it turned out, needed. On the other hand it would look as though the USSR couldn't look after itself and exposure to Western affluence might undermine popular confidence in the Soviet system (as later happened). It might provide the "threat of a good example".

The Free French situation was entirely different from the Anglo-Americans. They had no country at the time and needed as much leverage as possible to avoid total subordination to the Anglo-Americans. Thus having a unit not under Anglo-American command had leverage and propaganda advantages.

For the USSR a very small unit like the Normandie-Niemen Squadron was no threat as it was entirely subsumed into the Red Air Force. Given the size of the Red Air Force, it added very little to Soviet strenth, but it had high propaganda value and offered post-war advantages as it challenged Anglo-American monopoly in France, where there was a strong Communist Party.

Small Anglo-American forces on the Eastern Front would simply be expensive gesturism without compensatory military value.

Cheers,

Sid.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 31 Jul 2020 06:15

sheldrake wrote:Logistics. The resources that could be sent to the USSR were limited by the extreme distances and shipping capacity.
As usual on AHF, be very suspicious whenever anyone says "logistics." Have they substantively analyzed the logistics or is this just a hand-waive?

The distance traveled by shipping is only ~60% longer (NYC-Murmansk/Archangel vs. NYC-Liverpool). But distance was only part of the tax on resources: turnaround time for a transatlantic ship was 60 days, only ~half of which is spent in transit and the rest in port. A 60% longer trip means only a ~30% greater usage of shipping.

Furthermore, Murmansk is only 20% farther from NYC than Algiers, implying 10% extra strain on shipping.

Merchant shipbuilding occupied 8% of American production so covering the extra demand would have been well within their resources.

Had the Wallies wanted to deploy divisions to the USSR in 1941/2, they surely could have.

I'm interested in reading more about the political calculations.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 31 Jul 2020 06:38

sheldrake wrote: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.
Notice the slight of hand: How many troopships did the Allies lose during WW2 to the Germans? IIRC it was one. So it's a bit ridiculous to assume that 35,000 American troops would be lost, as this assumes they'd have been travelling on slow merchants instead of fast, safe troopships.

This also ignores that the Allies could have - would have - devoted many more resources if the Arctic route is supplying their own armies. Just for example, they could have taken Northern Norway with a force smaller than that used in Torch. That makes the Arctic quite safe by removing the LW from the picture.
Volyn wrote: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).
But that comes from somewhere, i.e. from Red Army resources. They didn't have much to spare.
EwenS wrote:Until well after D-Day there were never enough LSTs.
LST's are irrelevant to an Eastern Front taskforce. They didn't do trans-atlantic shipping, at least not efficiently (I'm sure they carried stuff with them went they went to Europe but they weren't designed for this task).

If the Wallies deploy a big army in Northern Russia, take Norway, bring Finland on side, they might never need many landing craft in the ETO: Move from Norway into Denmark, bring Sweden on side or at least cooperative to logistics, and they can supply via Baltic ports.

In later '43 and '44, the US spent around as much on landing craft as on shipping. It doesn't need as many landing craft if it goes all-in in SU, meaning it would easily have much more shipping.
reedwh52 wrote: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."
Thanks.

I suspect that this, combined with Stalin's earlier request for British forces in 1941 explains the whole thing:
  • In 1941 when Stalin was desperate and afraid of destruction, the British were unwilling to send a small army into what they viewed as a losing cause to fight alongside an untrustworthy ally.
  • From '42 on, when Stalin was confident and no longer desperate for foreign soldiers on his soil, his suspicion of the West made him unwilling to accept direct assistance.
Had Stalin remained desperate in '42, perhaps things might have gone differently.

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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 » 31 Jul 2020 14:55

The Commander of The Air Force of Far-Long Action - Golovanov
http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/gol ... ae/16.html

One day in August [1942], I was summoned by Stalin from the front, which happened often. Arriving at the headquarters of the ADD (Long-Range aviation), I, as always, took up the accumulated cases. The phone rang. When I picked up the phone, I heard Stalin's voice. Asked how things were going, he said:
— Clean yourself up, put on all your decorations, and come back in an hour.
There were frequent beeps. And before that, it happened that Stalin, after calling and saying Hello, gave some instructions, and then immediately put down the phone. This was already habitual. The Supreme leader was in the habit of opening a question at once without any preliminaries. But I have never received instructions to put on orders and clean myself up in a year of working together.
I usually did not wear any insignia, and I had to work hard to properly attach the orders to the tunic, clean it (since there were no second sets) and sew a new collar.
When I arrived at the appointed hour, I was completely baffled. Poskrebyshev directed me to a room on the same floor as St. George's hall. K. E. Voroshilov, V. M. Molotov, A. S. Shcherbakov and two or three other people were already there.
Stalin entered, not alone. Next to him I saw a tall, plump man whom I recognized as Winston Churchill, and a military man who turned out to be the chief of the British Imperial General staff, Alan Brooke. Stalin introduced Churchill to the audience, and when it came to me and he named my rather long-sounding position, giving the appropriate certification, I felt myself blush. Churchill looked at me very closely, and I could read in his eyes a certain amazement: how could such a young man hold such a high and responsible position? Since I was the youngest, I was the last to greet Churchill. After the introduction to Churchill and the handshake, Stalin invited all of us to the table.
If I am not mistaken, there were ten people present at this meeting, or perhaps a little more. The table was small, but everyone sat down. I found myself opposite Kliment Efremovich Voroshilov, who had a bottle of vodka with a red pepper pod in front of his plate. It was, he claimed, his stomach medicine. On the right hand of Voroshilov sat Brook, then Churchill, next to him Stalin, then Molotov and others. Stalin poured Churchill wine and proclaimed a toast in honor of the allies. Immediately after this, Voroshilov took the bottle in front of him, pushed two solid-sized glasses, filled them, and handed one of them to Brook with the words:
— I offer you a toast to the gallant armed forces of the Great Britain and the Soviet Union. According to our custom, such toast is drunk to the bottom, if, of course, the person who is offered agrees with it. - And drank his glass to the bottom.
The Englishman had no choice but to follow the example of Klement Efremovich. He tipped the glass into his mouth, but the "pepper" was evidently well infused, and I watched with great curiosity to see if the Englishman could manage it, for it was evident from his face that there was a terrible struggle of conflicting emotions going on in him: an obvious desire to swallow the vodka and an equally obvious instinctive reaction of the body. Finally, willpower won, the vodka was drunk, but tears began to flow down his face. The subsequent good-natured offer of Kliment Efremovich to continue toasts with pepper was met with a gallant but resolute refusal.
Meanwhile, I saw a bottle of Armenian cognac in the hands of the British Prime Minister. After examining the label, he filled Stalin's glass. In response, Stalin poured the same cognac for Churchill. Toasts followed one another. Stalin and Churchill drank level. I had already heard that Churchill was capable of consuming large quantities of intoxicating drinks, but Stalin had no such ability. Will something happen?!
I don't know why, but I was uneasy. There was a lively conversation at the table, Russian and English were spoken. Assistant Pavlov translated the conversation between Stalin and Churchill with such ease and speed that they seemed to understand each other perfectly without an interpreter. For the first time, I saw that it was possible to talk in different languages as if there were no translator.
Churchill pulled out a cigar so large that I wondered if they were custom-made for him. Churchill's speech was slurred, as if he had taken a mouthful of porridge, but Pavlov never asked him again, although the conversation was very long.
Pavlov was holding a notebook and a pencil: he was also taking shorthand. I already knew Pavlov, since we had flown him on Asyamov's plane to London. A small, fair-haired young man with a remarkable skill as a translator.
The toasts continued. Churchill got drunk in front of our eyes, but nothing changed in Stalin's behavior. Apparently, as a young and inexperienced person, I was too openly interested in the state of two great political figures: one-a Communist, the other-a capitalist — and I was very worried about how it would all end...
Finally, Stalin looked at me questioningly and shrugged. I realized that it was not proper to show such obvious curiosity, and turned away. But this did not last long, and I looked at them with the same Frank, youthful curiosity.
It seemed that Churchill was beginning to say something superfluous, for Brook, trying to make it as inconspicuous as possible, kept tugging at Churchill's sleeve. Stalin, taking the initiative, poured more cognac to the interlocutor and himself, clinked glasses, and together with Churchill drained the glasses, continuing to conduct a conversation that seemed to interest him very much.
The meeting came to an end. Everyone stood up. After saying good-bye, Churchill left the room, supported by his arms. The others also began to disperse, and I stood as if spellbound and looked at Stalin. Of course, he saw that I was watching him all the time. He came up to me and said in a kind, good voice: "Don't be afraid, I won't drink Russia. But Churchill will be tossing and turning tomorrow when they tell him what he's said here..." - after a Little thought, Stalin continued: "When big state Affairs are being done, any drink should seem like water to you, and you will always be on top. Good day." And with a firm, unhurried step he left the room.
From various accounts of Churchill, I knew that he had in his service a certain person named, I believe, Thompson, whose chief duty it was to drink with Churchill when it came to him, for not every man could drink with him. During this visit to us, the British Prime Minister lived in Stalin's dacha, had at his disposal a sufficient amount of Armenian cognac, after consuming a decent dose of which he arranged a fight on the carpet with his partner. I only mention this to emphasize how difficult it was to compete with such a person and still leave him with a mess.
How great was the British Prime Minister's predilection for our alcoholic beverages, can be judged by the fact that various gifts sent by Stalin through Churchill to Roosevelt — black caviar, balyk, fish - were delivered intact, but vodka and cognac were drunk on the way, as Churchill himself informed Stalin, adding his apologies...

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

Post by Volyn » 31 Jul 2020 18:29

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
31 Jul 2020 06:15
sheldrake wrote:Logistics. The resources that could be sent to the USSR were limited by the extreme distances and shipping capacity.
As usual on AHF, be very suspicious whenever anyone says "logistics." Have they substantively analyzed the logistics or is this just a hand-waive?

...I'm interested in reading more about the political calculations.
Exactly...
I think the Allies decision was entirely based on a series of political calculations pushed by the UK in order to prevent, or attempt to obfuscate any sustained Allied combat participation on the Eastern Front. I would like better understand why they were against it, what was it about a potential joint task force that bothered them so much?

The US effectively followed the UK's lead in the war until D-Day, then they were forced into a lesser role; this might have been the British fear all along, and it still came to pass anyways. The UK did not want a USSR/US led effort in 1942, this would have sidelined them sooner in the war and effectively relegated them in the ETO to the Atlantic/Arctic campaigns, night bombing over Europe and mopping up the Axis in North Africa.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
31 Jul 2020 06:38
Volyn wrote: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).
But that comes from somewhere, i.e. from Red Army resources. They didn't have much to spare.
I would not consider it spare resources, they would be allocated what a Soviet unit would have received, the Soviet soldiers that would have received those supplies would sit in reserve or disperse to other units.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
31 Jul 2020 06:38
If the Wallies deploy a big army in Northern Russia, take Norway, bring Finland on side, they might never need many landing craft in the ETO: Move from Norway into Denmark, bring Sweden on side or at least cooperative to logistics, and they can supply via Baltic ports.
Correct, the strategies would have changed accordingly and it probably would have been easier to invade Norway, and sustain the forces sent there than the MTO was.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
31 Jul 2020 06:38
I suspect that this, combined with Stalin's earlier request for British forces in 1941 explains the whole thing:
  • In 1941 when Stalin was desperate and afraid of destruction, the British were unwilling to send a small army into what they viewed as a losing cause to fight alongside an untrustworthy ally.
  • From '42 on, when Stalin was confident and no longer desperate for foreign soldiers on his soil, his suspicion of the West made him unwilling to accept direct assistance.
Had Stalin remained desperate in '42, perhaps things might have gone differently.
I tend to agree that Britain did not want to join a losing cause in 1941, and Stalin most likely interpreted their actions the same way. However, I would say that Stalin's confidence did not rise above desperation until after Stalingrad was completed, there was a window for the Allies to take advantage of the situation by sending forces to the USSR and they missed it.
Sid Guttridge wrote:
29 Jul 2020 08:24
I suspect de Gaulle wanted to escape total dependence on the Anglo-Americans and saw the USSR as the only possible counterweight. That was why he wanted a Free French force on the Eastern Front...
Sid this might be motivation for de Gaulle to send some fighter pilots East, however, this does not explain the British opposition to his plans. Why would the British care if a small French fighter group is engaged in combat in the USSR?
Sid Guttridge wrote:
30 Jul 2020 08:38
Why would a small task force be welcomed by both sides? For the Western Allies it would be be a token gesture and a logistical nightmare to maintain.
The logistics issue is a red herring, and if the French were welcomed in 1942 so would an Allied task force of some sort, if one were seriously offered. Please see TheMarcksPlan post #72 for further explanation.
Sid Guttridge wrote:
30 Jul 2020 08:38
For the USSR it would be too small to have military significance and was never, as it turned out, needed. On the other hand it would look as though the USSR couldn't look after itself and exposure to Western affluence might undermine popular confidence in the Soviet system (as later happened). It might provide the "threat of a good example".

The Free French situation was entirely different from the Anglo-Americans. They had no country at the time and needed as much leverage as possible to avoid total subordination to the Anglo-Americans. Thus having a unit not under Anglo-American command had leverage and propaganda advantages.

For the USSR a very small unit like the Normandie-Niemen Squadron was no threat as it was entirely subsumed into the Red Air Force. Given the size of the Red Air Force, it added very little to Soviet strenth, but it had high propaganda value and offered post-war advantages as it challenged Anglo-American monopoly in France, where there was a strong Communist Party.

Small Anglo-American forces on the Eastern Front would simply be expensive gesturism without compensatory military value.
I think the fraternization issue is exaggerated, from 1941 to mid-1943 there would have been no issue, but afterwards the Soviet attitude had changed completely after Kursk and it only went downhill towards the Allies from there. Remember the mindset of Stalin, he holds eternal grudges; his impression was that the West would allow the USSR to be bled white in the hope that the Nazis and Communists would destroy each other.

From 1943-1945, the Normandie-Niemen conducted 5,240 missions and in 896 aerial combat engagements they downed 273 enemy planes + 37 enemy planes probably downed, along with 47 enemy planes damaged, 132 destroyed trucks and 27 trains destroyed. Would you say that this is 'expensive gesturism without compensatory military value'?

All of this was done by a single fighter regiment, any US or UK counterpart could have replicated or exceeded these feats. Killing the enemy and joining in comradeship of arms are the compensatory military and propaganda values. Destroying the Axis in the East would force them to bring replacements from the West, thus weakening the German occupation force in France.

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

Post by Sheldrake » 31 Jul 2020 21:18

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