46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

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Carl Schwamberger
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 23 Dec 2020 15:17

Tom
I feel better knowing there was FOO team with each bn. Makes it all look a bit more robust.

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Richard Anderson » 23 Dec 2020 16:06

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2020 11:21
Not sure to be honest Rich, I'll see what I can dig up.

Edited to add: yes, the LCS are probably these or perhaps the Mk II with an enclosed superstructure:
Indeed, they are, since there are photos of them during AVALANCHE.
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American Thunder: U.S. Army Tank Design, Development, and Doctrine in World War II
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Tom from Cornwall
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 23 Dec 2020 17:51

Richard Anderson wrote:
23 Dec 2020 16:06
Indeed, they are, since there are photos of them during AVALANCHE.
Thanks, not seen those but will keep eyes more open in future! :D

Regards

Tom

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 29 Dec 2020 19:17

Much is often made of the impact of Allied air support on the German army in the later stages of the war, but this was not always available at the point of most need. The early stages at Salerno being a good case in point. This extract from the 167 Inf Bde Op Order for the invasion (WO169/8966):
BIGOT – AVALANCHE
MOST SECRET

Appendix B to 167 Bde OO No. 1

AIR SUPPORT AND RECCE AVAILABLE AND METHOD OF CALL.

1. Role.
In the opening stages the main task of the RAF will be to destroy the enemy’s Air Force and maintain air superiority. Few aircraft will be available for direct support and calls must therefore be kept to a minimum.
Regards

Tom

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 29 Dec 2020 19:38

Any air support is better than none. With good planning, good target selection in the moment, and the usual luck factor a few well place attacks can make a important tactical difference. Of course doing everything right is not always the case.

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 30 Dec 2020 12:38

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
29 Dec 2020 19:38
Any air support is better than none.
I agree completely. But the first mention of any air support in the 167 Bde war diary isn't actually until 14 Sep 43:
1130 Fortresses bombed EBOLI.
1230 60 Fortresses attacked BATTIPAGLIA.
Regards

Tom

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 30 Dec 2020 20:31

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
29 Dec 2020 19:38
Any air support is better than none.
Carl,

I thought you might be interested in the following appendix to 167 Bde's Op Order for Avalanche (WO169/8966):
BIGOT – AVALANCHE
MOST SECRET

Appendix B to 167 Bde OO No. 1

AIR SUPPORT AND RECCE AVAILABLE AND METHOD OF CALL.

1. Role.
In the opening stages the main task of the RAF will be to destroy the enemy’s Air Force and maintain air superiority. Few aircraft will be available for direct support and calls must therefore be kept to a minimum.

2. Calls for Support.
(a) One tentacle 2/5 AASC will land in the first flight of LSTs. Until it lands calls will be made from Bde HQ on the support wave direct to the HQ ship (HMS HILARY), for transmission to Army/Air HQ in the normal manner.

(b) Once the tentacle has landed, it will take over and calls will be made direct to Army/Air HQ as normal.
In both (a) and (b) Bns will apply to Bde HQ for support, giving relevant details.

[sub-paras (a) and (b) are struck through on the original and amended as follows:]

[2. (amended)
(a) Calls for Support.
(i) Before tentacles are landed calls for support can be passed over normal army channels to Div HQ for retransmission on Support wave. Alternatively calls for support can be made from Bdes ashore via Navval WS 22 at Bde HQ on BCW which works directly back to 10 Corps HQ ship.
(ii) As soon as tentacles land they will open on Support wave. When XII AASC set has landed with 1st Ech V US Army orders will be given for tentacles to close on Support wave + open on AASC frequencies o XII AASC ashore.]


(c) When indicating targets the ref given in paragraph 11 will be used. Bns will apply to Bde HQ for support giving relevant details.

3. Tac/R.
(a) Demands will be submitted to Bde HQ for transmission to “G” at Div.

(b) Results will be broadcast in the normal manner, estimated times being given over AASC tentacle.

4. Photo/R
Demands will be submitted to Bde HQ for transmission to “G” at Div.

5. Arty/R
Arty/R will not be possible until a Tac/R Sqn has been established on the mainland. When this has been done units will be informed.
The signals log is available (once the archives re-open) so that will be my next port of call to see if any applications were made for close air support by the Bde.

Regards

Tom

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 31 Dec 2020 01:57

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
30 Dec 2020 20:31
... Carl,

I thought you might be interested...
DUH

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 01 Jan 2021 19:52

I found these details of casualties suffered by 64 Fd Regt in and around Battipaglia on 10 Sep 43 in the regiment's war diary (WO169/9488) - can anyone read the bottom line?
64 Fd Regt losses 10 Sep 44.JPG
1 Stuart Tank
1 Carrier
And is that "WSCC"? If so, can anyone identify what that is? A wireless set?

Regards

Tom
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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Gooner1 » 05 Jan 2021 13:07

Hi Tom, I came across this letter from Monty to Alan Brooke in 'Montgomery and the Eighth Army' edited by Stephen Brooks.

14th October 1943
"Another factor is that 46 and 56 Divs have both had very severe casualties since 9 Sept – 10 Corps have had some 8,000 casualties, nearly all in 46 and 56 Divs. A Division that suffers such losses requires time to absorb its new drafts, to build up the broken teams, and so on. From what I here of 46 Div it requires a good period for rest and training. I doubt if Dick McCreery understands the Infantry Division."
Do you think that a fair assessment?

The crossing of the Volturno, simultaneous to the letter, proved to be another bloodletting for 10 Corps amd largely avoidable.

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 05 Jan 2021 16:45

Gooner1 wrote:
05 Jan 2021 13:07
I came across this letter from Monty to Alan Brooke in 'Montgomery and the Eighth Army' edited by Stephen Brooks.
Thanks for highlighting that letter for me. By coincidence I’ve been transcribing the war diary of one of the Hampshire Bns which landed with 46 Div at Salerno and they seem to have spent about 3 weeks in November 1943 out of the line resting and reorganising. Alongside a trickle of wounded coming back to the Bn the diary records a series of drafts of reinforcements coming to the bn over that period.There are plenty of ‘Training Notes’ and ‘training programmes’ referred to and lectures on Tank-Infantry co-operation from an armoured division officer.

McCreery was certainly parachuted in to command 10 Corps at short notice after Horrocks had been wounded (arriving to join his Corps on 28 Aug 43 according to the British OH as his troops were assembling for embarkation), would not have been able to influence the landing plans and, as far as I know, did not have experience of commanding a division in combat. I think he was probably selected by Alexander and it may well be that Montgomery felt he had better candidates for the job and was miffed about not being consulted (that’s a guess obviously). Taking a broader view, it was probably good that 10 Corps had a commander well-know to Alexander as that would provide useful support if there was a need to push back against some of Clark’s excessive demands.

Regards

Tom

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Gooner1 » 06 Jan 2021 11:40

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
05 Jan 2021 16:45
Thanks for highlighting that letter for me. By coincidence I’ve been transcribing the war diary of one of the Hampshire Bns which landed with 46 Div at Salerno and they seem to have spent about 3 weeks in November 1943 out of the line resting and reorganising. Alongside a trickle of wounded coming back to the Bn the diary records a series of drafts of reinforcements coming to the bn over that period.
Hopefully the reinforcements didn't still consist of returning sick and wounded from 50 and 51 Divs at this stage?
McCreery was certainly parachuted in to command 10 Corps at short notice after Horrocks had been wounded (arriving to join his Corps on 28 Aug 43 according to the British OH as his troops were assembling for embarkation), would not have been able to influence the landing plans and, as far as I know, did not have experience of commanding a division in combat. I think he was probably selected by Alexander and it may well be that Montgomery felt he had better candidates for the job and was miffed about not being consulted (that’s a guess obviously). Taking a broader view, it was probably good that 10 Corps had a commander well-know to Alexander as that would provide useful support if there was a need to push back against some of Clark’s excessive demands.

Regards

Tom
Yes, bit unlucky with corps commanders at that time, Horrocks wounded in an air raid, Crocker wounded in a PIAT demonstration, Harding still recovering from wounds and in England. Allfrey GOC 5th Corps and designated for of 8th Army, was, I guess available. as was Oliver Leese of 30 Corps who was spare. Choosing McCreery, whose only previous field command was the brief and inglorious episode of 2nd Armoured Brigade in France 1940, seems a little odd (but perhaps typically Italian campaign) as none of the US commanders had any experience either!
With hindsight it probably would have been better to let McCreery learn the ropes under Monty first. Indeed it would have almost certainly been better to give 8th Army the Salerno job.
I think Clark did a better job of resisting Alexander than McCreery did of resisting Clark.

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 10 Jan 2021 20:39

One of the challenges that I have found difficult has been nailing down just what artillery support 56th Division had when it landed at Salerno. Something that has eluded me for a while but I think I've finally cracked it. I had assumed (dangerous I know!) that the division would have landed at full strength in both field and medium artillery (understanding that the latter was provided by an attached medium regiment which would later revert to either 10 Corps or AGRA command). However, this was not the case as shown by these details from the CRA 56 Div war diary (WO169/8815):

On landing at Salerno, 56 Div had under its command:

64 Fd Regt, 65 Fd Regt, 113 Fd Regt.
67 A Tk Regt
100 LAA Regt
69 Medium Regt
506 (SP) Bty (of 142 Fd Regt)

9 September 1943:
6 x 5.5
8 x 4.5
4 Bishops (SP 25 pdrs)
56 x 25 pdr
32 x 6-pdr
16 x 17 pdr
54 Bofors.

4 Bishops had been lost at sea and 16 x 25 pdrs were still at sea.

No further reinforcements were received until 16 Sep 43 when 8 x 25 pdrs and 2 x 5.5" landed.

Then, finally, on 18 Sep 43, 8 further 25 pdrs landed to take the Divisional artillery up to its full strength (well almost - it had lost two 25 pdrs during the fighting) and also a further 4 6 pdrs were landed that day.

Both 65 and 113 Fd Regt were therefore short of a battery on landing and during the initial critical stage of the fighting.

Regards

Tom

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 08 Jun 2022 21:25

Going back to the discussion on the 1st page of this thread about which type of British SP guns were used at Salerno I’ve now found references to Priests also being present in the beach head. I’m still trying to clarify when they arrived and how many - so far it’s just one battery’s worth and not until a few days into the battle.

Regards

Tom

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Re: 46 and 56 British Infantry Division at Salerno

Post by Geoffrey Cooke » 07 Sep 2023 09:59

Richard Anderson wrote:
01 Jul 2020 22:25
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
11 Dec 2018 16:04
That does deserve some expansion. The writer is not making it clear how this makes a difference, & I'm not versed enough in statistics to make a guess.
Somehow I missed this.

The Germans often did not report "lightly wounded" personnel in the 10-day reports through the operations section (the Ia IIRC?), but only through the medical section (the IVb IIRC?). Similarly the Americans distinguished between "lightly" and "severely" wounded in medical reporting (including "Carded for Record Only" - CRO - those so lightly injured that they were immediately returned to combat), but normally lumped them together in G-1 and G-3 reporting. So there can often be a mismatch in looking at the two.

The extreme was in the USMC, which literally reported everyone, including CRO, as "wounded". That is why you find the USMC KIA to WIA ratios so much different from the Army in WW II.
Does that mean the Heeresarzt 10-day reports (since its medical) did in fact include the lightly wounded? How can someone tell if it does in the cases where the lower level reports don’t exist--late war June 44-May 45, its hard finding an existing IVb record on BA/MA's invenio search for that period, at least at the Corps and Division-level, not even for Panzer-Lehr which is in better shape than most. I know LVIII PzKorps was more intact (at least the main war diary) and copied at NARA but don't know where else to look.

The only meaningful discussion on German medical practices in English-language sources I can find is the U.S. Army Medical Department History, "Medical Service in the Mediterranean and Minor Theaters", Appendix D(https://achh.army.mil/history/book-wwii ... dices-appd), but thats not about casualty reporting really.

I'm not sure about the WW2 practices but in WWI I know Edmonds in the British Official History claimed that German losses didn't include lightly wounded in higher-level loss reports in WWI, and concluded 30% should be added as a rule of thumb, but that was eviscerated by Churchill and the Reichsarchiv statisticians themselves way back when.
https://winstonchurchill.org/publicatio ... e-somme-2/
Edmonds was not convinced. He warned Churchill that 30% should be added to all German casualty figures because they did not include the lightly wounded while the British figures did, and he supplied Churchill some statistics from the German VII Army Corps, which he claimed proved his point.13 Churchill did not accept this argument. He told Edmonds that if 30% were added to the German figures it would destroy the one soldier killed for every two wounded, which was deemed common for all three armies on the Western Front throughout the war. Nevertheless, Churchill was sufficiently worried by Edmonds’ argument to write again to the Berlin Embassy. He told them: “I am founding a considerable argument on these figures which in their present form bear out all I thought and wrote at the time in Official memoranda about what was taking place at the front. I am extremely anxious to be on the right side in all these calculations to make assurance doubly sure.”14 The Embassy replied a few days later enclosing a letter from the statistical experts at the German Reichsarchiv. In that letter they emphatically denied that the lightly wounded had been excluded from the figures. In response Churchill sent his figures to the Reichsarchiv for verification and they assured him that they were as accurate as any likely to be obtained.15 Hence Churchill’s conclusion in The World Crisis was that “in all the British Offensives the British casualties were never less than 3 to 2 and often nearly double the corresponding German losses.”16

Although I suspect that he was looking a mistake by compared higher level German loss reports (for the whole Western Front) to the Corps level ones he found lacking — I remember in the ACSDB report Edmonds/the British method was specifically mentioned in a credible manner, so apologies for being cautious on these points.

Michate posted this (post #26) in the American casualty proportion to German thread where you also posted a long time ago, from an extract from a loss compilation report for army group A on Eastern front during the time July 1944 - January 1945 (quoted in Magenheimer, "Abwehrschlacht an der Weichsel").
Additionally, in the calculation of the manpower gap 10% were subtracted from the bloody losses figure and in the comments to the calculation, it stated that "normally 10% of "bloody losses", remain with the troops". (Again in the more narrow definition, dead and wounded, which would actually translate in a little over 10% of just wounded)
So clearly German losses being subtracted from "dead and wounded" because they “remained with the troops” just as you’ve stated many times, but from the wording in this case its not so apparent to me what that implies as far as army-level heeresarzt 10-day reports, e.g. that those are excluded from 10 day reports to the Army Surgeon, because if it is subtracted for calculating remaining manpower AFTER the bloody losses have been reported that wouldn’t be true.

Finally on the casualties in the PzD and PzGD meldungs: for 2. PzD for January 1945, for example (RH10/141), I see losses in that month give a ratio of roughly 1-to-3 killed/wounded, and even more missing. The "missing column" is almost certainly mostly captured, many of would have been wounded themselves, so I don't think the dead would be inflated in relation to the wounded by that alone. So it seems at first that maybe, if the American ratio was 1-to-4 KIA/WIA by comparison, German losses don't include lightly wounded. However, the problem is that the German term used for "killed" here (and in other lages of this nature) isn't "Killed in action" at all (Gefallen), its simply "Dead" (Tot), infact not only does it likely include died of wounds, but from the terminology deaths from ALL causes (especially since sick and "other" are also listed). Taking that into account, I'm afraid I don't see a real difference in KIA/WIA ratios from the American practice. That being said, I guess it would make sense for “losses to the unit” to only include those actually evacuated, and not those wounded but “remained with the troops”.
loss-lage-2pzd.jpg
(I promise I didn't cherry pick, it's just that I have the copies of 2. PzD already saved to my computer.)
Not trying to be annoying, legit trying to correct my thinking if needed but I want to understand how exactly this works in terms of how it effected the reporting pipeline, because the info I see is contradictory, if someone with better understanding could explain.
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Last edited by Geoffrey Cooke on 07 Sep 2023 22:03, edited 2 times in total.

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