Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

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Richard Anderson
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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Richard Anderson » 29 Mar 2021 16:44

rcocean wrote:
29 Mar 2021 03:21
My point was that the USA had incredible advantages including 2.5 years to plan the invasion of France. there's no reason we should have had a infantry replacement problem. How that got twisted into a "Rah, Rah we won the war didn't we?" is beyond me.
The problem was it was the decisions made in those 2.5 years and the decisions made in the three years prior that determined what the problems in the infantry replacement policy were. Fundamentally, the Army operated in the dark and made best guesses on what should be done, based upon what they saw from the outside looking in at a world at war.

From the beginning, the Army prioritized airpower and technical means - armor and mechanized forces - over infantry. One consequence is they simply assumed what the distribution of casualties between the various arms would be and ended by grossly overestimating the replacement requirements of armor and mechanized forces over infantry. They also assumed that Infantry could get by with the least qualified personnel, because the more technical arms would shoulder much of the burden in combat. That was also the rational behind the ASTP - a more mechanized and technically oriented force would require a reserve of intelligent and highly trained personnel to man it, so better to pick the smart ones and educate them as much as possible in advance.

Another unintended consequence came from the decision made immediately after Pearl Harbor to accelerate the rate of activations by drawing filler personnel for newly activated divisions from Selective Service Reception Centers rather than from Replacement Training Centers, effectively making the new division cadre responsible for the 13-week basic training program. To facilitate that, most of the RTC were temporarily shuttered and personnel transferred to become cadre.

That was fine so long as divisions remained in the States training, but once deployments to combat began and casualties began mounting, it threw the system out of whack as the divisions in training became reservoirs of manpower for the divisions at the front.

Add in another decision such as that made in mid 1942 that units could not deploy from the Z/I with 18-year old personnel. They had to be an arbitrary 18 1/2 years old to POM, so every division slated for overseas began shedding personnel to other units, while stripping personnel from other units. Personnel turmoil became a hallmark of American organizations.

Its possible to go on and on, but fundamentally it was lack of experience in mobilization and mobilization planning, lack of experience in modern war, limited numbers of qualified officers and NCO, lack of facilities, and so on.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Richard Anderson » 29 Mar 2021 16:49

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
29 Mar 2021 16:28
To digress:

Rich, when the agreement to equip & supply the Free French army was reached in 1943 was that seen by Marshal or anyone else as a straight trade for US formations not being activated? That is the Us is still equipping & sustaining X number of divisions, just that some are no filled with French soldiers. Ditto for any Brazilian, Chinese, ect... It looks to me that when the extra Marines & these others are included the US is still sustaining the 114 Division estimate.
The decision for a 88 division army was made in June 1943. There is no evidence that any part of the decision involved "we can equip French cannon-fodder", or Brazilian, or Chinese, any more than Lend-Lease to Britain and the Soviets was to equip cannon fodder to replace American troops...after all, those would be foreign troops, ultimately under foreign control - de Gaulle was not under America's thumb after all.
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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 29 Mar 2021 17:15

Lol, no he certainly wasn't. Whatever the intent or plan the result was the US equipping & supporting 20+ divisions above its US Army/Marines numbers.

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by rcocean » 29 Mar 2021 18:03

Richard Anderson wrote:
29 Mar 2021 16:44

Thanks for the great analysis! I guess my problem isn't that "mistakes were made", war is made by human beings, and they make mistakes. Even Napoleon made massive errors. But, underestimating the need for infantry replacements in the ETO seems to have been a fairly easy mistake to avoid. Its not like we didn't have the men, or we didn't have the time to do the right analysis. And of course, any projection can be wrong. Its just an estimate. But given the choice between UNDER estimating the need for infantry, and OVER estimating the need for infantry, why would you err on training too few Infantry guys? What exactly was the risk in having TOO MANY infantry guys in June-Dec 1944?

BTW, we did the same thing with Artillery. We reduced artillery shell production because "hey, we won't need that many", and then in the fall of 1944, we learned we needed a lot more than we planned. I was surprised to learn from US army history that the US Generals not only had to suffer through a shell shortage in the Fall of 1944, they never really got all the shells they thought they needed until March/April 1945. Incredible, given USA industry could have produced X4 as much as we did.

The fact is that other Armies, the Germans, the Soviets, the Japanese, were always operating under constraints. They didn't have enough industrial capacity, they suffered from raw material shortages, there weren't enough men to go around, they to fight on different fronts against different enemies, they had to make tough decisions regarding who got what, and whether to just throw in everything right now or hold things back in reserve.

The US army had none of these problems. The problems mostly came about because of bad choices and bad planning. Not external constraints. And yes, we won the war. How could we have lost it?

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Delta Tank » 30 Mar 2021 00:18

Rich,

I sent your post on infantry replacements to a buddy, we were both in the Army at the same time and both instructors at the Army Officers Advance Course (AOAC) in the late 80’s. Yes, we are now both retired gentlemen!!😁 So, here are his questions.

“Several times in the note below, the ETO requested specifically x number of Infantry replacements of which, 60% or 70% or Y% be “riflemen”. Now, when I was in the Army with the exception of 11C (mortars) and 11H (TOW Gunners); Infantry was Infantry was Riflemen.

The only reason I can think of why ETO would feel the need to specify Y% Riflemen, is that there were a lot of non-Riflemen Infantry and there was enough of a difference in their training that the non-Riflemen could not perform as Riflemen without additional training.

Assuming that was the case, what were the non-Rifleman Infantry MOS’s? Mortars and Machine-gunners is all I could think of off the top of my head. I cannot imagine that the schools would be producing them at a higher proportion of the total Infantry trainees than what they would be in the unit unless we had things like Mortar and Machine Gun Platoons and Companies at Bn and above that brought their overall numbers to something like 40% of the “Infantry” ratings.

Would love to hear what this is all about from someone who actually knows!

PS. If Machine Gunners were a specific rating in the Infantry, what about the guys who manned machine guns in the Engineer, Transportation, Artillery and other non-combat units that had them assigned. Did those guys get specific training or was it simply: “here’s how to load it and fire it, good luck?””

Thanks in advance!,

Mike

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Richard Anderson » 30 Mar 2021 02:12

Delta Tank wrote:
30 Mar 2021 00:18
Rich,

I sent your post on infantry replacements to a buddy, we were both in the Army at the same time and both instructors at the Army Officers Advance Course (AOAC) in the late 80’s. Yes, we are now both retired gentlemen!!😁 So, here are his questions.

“Several times in the note below, the ETO requested specifically x number of Infantry replacements of which, 60% or 70% or Y% be “riflemen”. Now, when I was in the Army with the exception of 11C (mortars) and 11H (TOW Gunners); Infantry was Infantry was Riflemen.

The only reason I can think of why ETO would feel the need to specify Y% Riflemen, is that there were a lot of non-Riflemen Infantry and there was enough of a difference in their training that the non-Riflemen could not perform as Riflemen without additional training.

Assuming that was the case, what were the non-Rifleman Infantry MOS’s? Mortars and Machine-gunners is all I could think of off the top of my head. I cannot imagine that the schools would be producing them at a higher proportion of the total Infantry trainees than what they would be in the unit unless we had things like Mortar and Machine Gun Platoons and Companies at Bn and above that brought their overall numbers to something like 40% of the “Infantry” ratings.

Would love to hear what this is all about from someone who actually knows!

PS. If Machine Gunners were a specific rating in the Infantry, what about the guys who manned machine guns in the Engineer, Transportation, Artillery and other non-combat units that had them assigned. Did those guys get specific training or was it simply: “here’s how to load it and fire it, good luck?””

Thanks in advance!,

Mike
Hi Mike,

The MOS (actually Specification Serial Number - SSN - at the time) in high demand were 745 Rifleman and 746 Automatic Rifleman. The other Infantry SSN were 604 Light Machine Gunner, 605 Heavy Machine Gunner, and 607 Light Mortar Crewman. There was also 812 Heavy Weapons NCO and 1812 Light Weapons NCO. There were 46 slots for 745 and 27 for 746 in an Infantry Rifle Company of 192 O&EM. For 604 there was 10 and 16 607.

There were no such specialties called for in the Engineer Combat Company.

The non-Infantry SSN in the Rifle Company included:

1542 - Infantry Officer (6)
1812 - Light Weapons NCO (the 1st Sergeant)
824 - Mess Sergeant
821 - QM Supply Specialist (Supply Sergeant)
542 - Communications Chief
405 - Clerk-Typist (Company Clerk)
511 - Armorer
521 - Basic Private (17)
803 - Bugler
060 - Cook (4)
521 - Cooks Helper (2)

What they really wanted as "Riflemen" were 745 and 748, along with 521.
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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Richard Anderson » 30 Mar 2021 03:09

rcocean wrote:
29 Mar 2021 18:03
Thanks for the great analysis! I guess my problem isn't that "mistakes were made", war is made by human beings, and they make mistakes. Even Napoleon made massive errors. But, underestimating the need for infantry replacements in the ETO seems to have been a fairly easy mistake to avoid. Its not like we didn't have the men, or we didn't have the time to do the right analysis. And of course, any projection can be wrong. Its just an estimate. But given the choice between UNDER estimating the need for infantry, and OVER estimating the need for infantry, why would you err on training too few Infantry guys? What exactly was the risk in having TOO MANY infantry guys in June-Dec 1944?
The problem was they only had Great War data to work from, but they had this nifty new quasi-arm, just authorized by Marshall "For Purpose of Service Test", called Armored, and they did not have the slightest notion of what casualties in it would be, so simply made a gross and highly inaccurate assumption. Then they didn't have any real world data to go from to modify their assumptions until 1944...too late.

Note too however how quickly assumptions changed. As soon as the Infantry replacement problem was solved it was replaced by an Armored replacement problem.
BTW, we did the same thing with Artillery. We reduced artillery shell production because "hey, we won't need that many", and then in the fall of 1944, we learned we needed a lot more than we planned. I was surprised to learn from US army history that the US Generals not only had to suffer through a shell shortage in the Fall of 1944, they never really got all the shells they thought they needed until March/April 1945. Incredible, given USA industry could have produced X4 as much as we did.
Indeed, but that was a twofold problem. The United States, for better or worse, is a democracy. Piles of unused artillery rounds in North Africa, while factories continue to crank out rounds, is not a good thing, especially when the realization is the war is won, so all those factories producing "useless" items only good for war need to be prepared to manufacture consumer goods. There was a very serious fear in 1943 that the war would be won and that the winning would result in a postwar hyperinflation and economic disaster.

Something similar happened with tank production.
The fact is that other Armies, the Germans, the Soviets, the Japanese, were always operating under constraints. They didn't have enough industrial capacity, they suffered from raw material shortages, there weren't enough men to go around, they to fight on different fronts against different enemies, they had to make tough decisions regarding who got what, and whether to just throw in everything right now or hold things back in reserve.
Exactly. They knew that there were huge holes in their economies, and so all entered the war with a do or die attitude never really present, for all the "avenge Pearl Harbor" rhetoric, never present with the general public in the States.
The US army had none of these problems. The problems mostly came about because of bad choices and bad planning. Not external constraints. And yes, we won the war. How could we have lost it?
Um, the Germans had a worse problem, they started a war they had little chance of winning. And they all made bad choices and planned badly.

Anyway, for me the interesting thing is not pointing out the faults, but trying to understand why the faults occurred. It reminds me of TR's famous quote, "complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining". :D
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 30 Mar 2021 07:31

Richard Anderson wrote:
29 Mar 2021 15:56
daveshoup2MD wrote:
29 Mar 2021 05:19
Which makes it plain, the same decision could have been made in advance of the 1943 cycle of historical activations. Amazing.
Sure, except in late 1942, they weren't facing the manpower problems they faced in mid 1943, so were still expecting to have 100 divisions activated by the end of 1943 and the 14 divisions already "differed" activated in 1944. It wasn't the idea that 88 divisions or 76 divisions would be sufficient that was driving the decisions, which is what I understand you're implying. If I understand correctly, you want the War Department to conclude no later than the end of 1942 that 76 divisions would work better than the 114 divisions they still expected to activate. To me, that appears to be a bit of a stretch.

Yes, the AGF recognized manpower and unit activations were problematic, but I just don't see how they would recognize that fewer divisions was actually a good solution, when the evidence is they remained concerned throughout that enough divisions weren't being activated.
From Matloff's chapter in Command Decisions:

In mid-June 1943 General Marshall and the Secretary of War approved the committee's general report. The Chief of Staff informed the press that the activation of twelve additional divisions would be deferred until 1944. Lest this news lead the American public to overconfidence and a relaxation of the war effort, and obversely, lest the enemy conclude that the reduction signified that the United States was unable to fulfill its mobilization schedule, he requested that the information be kept in confidence. On 1 July 1943 the War Department circulated a new, approved troop basis for 1943. In accord with the committee's recommendations, it provided for 88 divisions and an Army strength of about 7,700,000. Two provisional light divisions, which were also authorized, soon were given permanent status. As a result, the new troop basis for 1943 envisaged a 90-division Army.

So the decision is made in June, which means - at the very least - the 1943 activations that historically took place in the summer of 1943 could have been stopped. Excluding the 10th Mountain and 71st Infantry (since they more or less existed as provisional formations), that frees up everybody who went into four infantry divisions, an armored division, and an airborne divisions - call it cadre and fillers for some 70,000+ billets, and another 12,000 replacements (based on the historical casualties for these six divisions). 82,000+ seems like a useful addition to in the replacement pool in 1943-44.

AUS 63d Infantry 15 June Camp Blanding, Fla.
AUS 70lh Infantry 5 June Camp Adair, Oreg.
AUS 42d Infantry 14 July Camp Gruber, Okla.
AUS 16th Armored 15 July Camp Chaffee, Ark.
AUS 13th Airborne 13 August Fort Bragg, N.C.
AUS 65th Infantry 16 August Camp Shelby, Miss.

And it's a reasonable point that there would be a pretty large number of Cat 1s and Cat 2s in this group; the initial division commanders alone are an interesting group: George Griner, Harry J. Collins, Louis Hibbs, Stanley Reinhart, John Dahlquist, and Douglass Greene.

Makes more sense than forming a division later and committing it at the point the conflict was ending.

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 30 Mar 2021 07:57

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
29 Mar 2021 16:28
To digress:

Rich, when the agreement to equip & supply the Free French army was reached in 1943 was that seen by Marshal or anyone else as a straight trade for US formations not being activated? That is the Us is still equipping & sustaining X number of divisions, just that some are no filled with French soldiers. Ditto for any Brazilian, Chinese, ect... It looks to me that when the extra Marines & these others are included the US is still sustaining the 114 Division estimate.
It sure reads that way; as per Matloff in Command Decisions:

... and the outfitting of French divisions in northwest Africa had produced shortages in equipment. When in late 1943 new demands for manpower were made to operate the B-29's, to provide for the rotation program, and to keep the Army Specialized Training Program going on a reduced basis, any possibility of organizing another fifteen divisions in 1944, as had been planned in mid-1943 and approved in the Victory Program Troop Basis of October 1943, appeared doomed.

... If, however, all current plans failed and a stalemate did occur in November, then Marshall felt new major strategic decisions would be required. A few additional divisions would probably not be enough to break the impasse. If new divisions and supporting units were now created, furthermore, "emasculating drafts" on existing divisions would result and present plans for their deployment would be upset. Thus, he reasoned, no far-reaching changes should be made in the Army troop basis until the outcome of the initial stages of the invasion was clear. "Considering the matter from all angles and with the realization of the hazards involved," Marshall concluded, "I believe that at the present time no increase should be made in the over-all strength of the Army, except as may prove to be necessary to provide replacements." Beyond "prudent" advance staff planning for increasing the troop basis, which he had ordered the War Department General Staff to undertake, Marshall was willing to stand pat. Clearly, he looked upon the Allied divisions in the Mediterranean as part of the strategic reserve for the invasion of the Continent. He was anxious to make what he regarded the surplus American and French divisions in Italy available to support the main effort in France, as earlier he had been to extract seven British and American divisions from the Mediterranean for OVERLORD.

Behind the calmly reasoned and formal language of Marshall's reply to Stimson lay one of the boldest calculations of the war. [40] How great a calculated risk was being taken was further emphasized by the concomitant willingness of General Marshall and his staff to allocate military manpower for the B-29 program against Japan, instead of investing in more divisions.


Rearming the French tells a similar story. See:

General Marshall agreed, saying that he thought it "impracticable to go halfway with the French." They must be trusted "either completely or not at all." Personally, he had "every reason" to believe that certain divisions, when equipped, would be excellent. He felt that the objections to placing full confidence in the North African forces were based on technical matters rather than on anything else. True, he foresaw difficulties as to control or command, but he was certain that such difficulties could be overcome as they arose.

So, yes, the eight French divisions (three armored, four infantry, one mountain) equipped and organized along US lines under the ANFA agreement were "bought and paid" for substitutes for as many US divisions; considering the manpower - cadre, fillers, and replacements - was already in the theater, and did not have to be shipped across the Atlantic, it was a good deal, as their record from Tunisia to the Danube - much of the time as part of the 5th or 7th army - makes clear.

The eight additional divisions agreed to under the LMP program were not all fully formed, but those that were were very useful in terms of the Atlantic pockets, the Alps, and similar places in northwestern Europe.

The Brazilian division, since it was integrated directly into 5th Army, was essentially a substitute for a US division as well. So there's at least nine or 10 US division equivalents there.

X Force and Y Force are less equivalent, since the US ground force deployment to the CBI was always going to be limited. If anything, X Force was a substitute for a couple of Indian Army divisions, perhaps...

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 30 Mar 2021 08:10

Richard Anderson wrote:
29 Mar 2021 16:49
The decision for a 88 division army was made in June 1943. There is no evidence that any part of the decision involved "we can equip French cannon-fodder", or Brazilian, or Chinese, any more than Lend-Lease to Britain and the Soviets was to equip cannon fodder to replace American troops...after all, those would be foreign troops, ultimately under foreign control - de Gaulle was not under America's thumb after all.
DeGaulle was under the British thumb in 1940-42, however. Koenig and his merry men wouldn't have had a bullet or a can of beans, otherwise.

In 1942-43, Giraud was under the US thumb, however, and in return he was the one who got the ANFA agreement, which - along with DeGaulle's acceptance of the facts of life in 1943 - led to three armored divisions and at least five infantry divisions being added to the US OOB in the ETO in 1943-45;

5th Army certainly needed Juin's corps in Italy, and I'm unaware of anyone suggesting Juin and the FEC didn't do everything the US asked and then some... same for the French 1st Army, pretty much from their commitment in DRAGOON to the end. Devers wouldn't have had an army group without them. And for that matter, the Alpine and Atlantic detachments meant that 2-4 divisions worth of American troops not having to sit on those areas, either, for most of 1944-45.

In 1943-45, the French put more ground forces - and under US command - into the field than the Canadians and Poles combined. They weren't equipped by the US for show.

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Richard Anderson » 30 Mar 2021 15:40

daveshoup2MD wrote:
30 Mar 2021 07:31
So the decision is made in June, which means - at the very least - the 1943 activations that historically took place in the summer of 1943 could have been stopped. Excluding the 10th Mountain and 71st Infantry (since they more or less existed as provisional formations), that frees up everybody who went into four infantry divisions, an armored division, and an airborne divisions - call it cadre and fillers for some 70,000+ billets, and another 12,000 replacements (based on the historical casualties for these six divisions). 82,000+ seems like a useful addition to in the replacement pool in 1943-44.

AUS 63d Infantry 15 June Camp Blanding, Fla.
AUS 70lh Infantry 5 June Camp Adair, Oreg.
AUS 42d Infantry 14 July Camp Gruber, Okla.
AUS 16th Armored 15 July Camp Chaffee, Ark.
AUS 13th Airborne 13 August Fort Bragg, N.C.
AUS 65th Infantry 16 August Camp Shelby, Miss.

And it's a reasonable point that there would be a pretty large number of Cat 1s and Cat 2s in this group; the initial division commanders alone are an interesting group: George Griner, Harry J. Collins, Louis Hibbs, Stanley Reinhart, John Dahlquist, and Douglass Greene.

Makes more sense than forming a division later and committing it at the point the conflict was ending.
Sure, except by the point of activation the cadres were already withdrawn from the parent division and were at the end of their training cycle, but sure, just send them back or put them into the replacement system. Some disruption, but still possible

However, that still does not explain why when the whole objective at the time was continuing to expand the division base, the War Department would decide to differ the activation of six additional divisions?
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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Richard Anderson » 30 Mar 2021 15:46

daveshoup2MD wrote:
30 Mar 2021 08:10
DeGaulle was under the British thumb in 1940-42, however. Koenig and his merry men wouldn't have had a bullet or a can of beans, otherwise.
Tell that to DeGaulle...and Churchill and Brooke. :lol:
In 1942-43, Giraud was under the US thumb, however, and in return he was the one who got the ANFA agreement, which - along with DeGaulle's acceptance of the facts of life in 1943 - led to three armored divisions and at least five infantry divisions being added to the US OOB in the ETO in 1943-45;

5th Army certainly needed Juin's corps in Italy, and I'm unaware of anyone suggesting Juin and the FEC didn't do everything the US asked and then some... same for the French 1st Army, pretty much from their commitment in DRAGOON to the end. Devers wouldn't have had an army group without them. And for that matter, the Alpine and Atlantic detachments meant that 2-4 divisions worth of American troops not having to sit on those areas, either, for most of 1944-45.

In 1943-45, the French put more ground forces - and under US command - into the field than the Canadians and Poles combined. They weren't equipped by the US for show.
Yeah, it does look like the U.S. was pretty Machiavellian in their exploitation of their French allies.
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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by LineDoggie » 30 Mar 2021 23:52

Richard Anderson wrote:
30 Mar 2021 15:46


Yeah, it does look like the U.S. was pretty Machiavellian in their exploitation of their French allies.
How dare those Americans want some of the people they were fighting for, to also help fight
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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by LineDoggie » 30 Mar 2021 23:56

daveshoup2MD wrote:
30 Mar 2021 08:10


In 1943-45, the French put more ground forces - and under US command - into the field than the Canadians and Poles combined. They weren't equipped by the US for show.
Some of those new French Formations in mid 44 were damned near barefoot or wooden clog wearing Maquisards given a rifle, helmet and jacket and told to hold an area. They all weren't French 2nd Armored by any means
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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Richard Anderson » 31 Mar 2021 02:09

LineDoggie wrote:
30 Mar 2021 23:52
Richard Anderson wrote:
30 Mar 2021 15:46
Yeah, it does look like the U.S. was pretty Machiavellian in their exploitation of their French allies.
How dare those Americans want some of the people they were fighting for, to also help fight
Did I need to insert a sarcasm emoji?
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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