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  #46  
Old 07 Apr 12, 08:10
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I believe there was also a willingness on behalf of the German decision makers to "go ugly early".

For example, as far as I know there was never a reluctance to start the war with unrestricted submarine warfare, which had long been declared "illegal". The internal discussion would only revolve around neutral shipping, particularly the USA.

The ferocity of the campain in Poland seems to have caught many by surprise, with the bombing of cities from the outset.

The Germans were fighting "total war" from the outset. Some of their opponents took time to adopt the mindset.
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  #47  
Old 07 Apr 12, 08:18
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Originally Posted by Full Monty View Post
All the major armies of WW2 had inadequacies that were there to be exploited. Early German successes only masked their own whilst exposing those of the others.
Now that, I really like. Simple, but accurate and very well put.

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  #48  
Old 07 Apr 12, 09:54
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Originally Posted by Gooner View Post
The Defence Requirements sub-Committee, chaired by Maurice Hankey.
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/c...quirements.htm
Crossed wires.

I meant which "key assumption"?
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  #49  
Old 07 Apr 12, 11:40
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Originally Posted by Full Monty View Post
Hmmmm, this remained true to a degree for most of the war (there are plenty of reports from Normandy that allude to this), although this refers to offensive operations. Indeed Churchill is demonstrating a touch of hypocrisy since he issued orders to the effect that casualties had to be kept to a minimum. But this isn't 'a reluctance to fight and an eagerness to pack it in' on the part of the British (and Tobruk, for example, was garrisoned by a South African division in 1942 and there are question marks over their enthusiasm for the cause as against the Australians who had held the port under siege for many months in 1941!) at all. I can point to the fighting in Calais and St Valery in 1940 where British troops fought on until they ran out of ammunition. But as I pointed out earlier in the thread, German doctrine was very 'mission orientated' where casualties were less important than the objective. This sits perfectly with their concept of fighting short and decisive campaigns but poorly when fighting a lengthy war. Come the last year the British/Commonwealth forces were able to conduct a series of offensive operations where they repeatedly inflicted more casualties than they took. Does that show that the Germans were reluctant to fight and eager to pack it in? And before you (or anyone else) answer, yes it is a complex issue.
A touch of hypocrisy on Churchill´s part? Perhaps. Logically he should have approved of Montgomery´s style of fighting a battle, which involved avoiding unnecessary casualties at all costs. But surely there´s a difference between a prudent policy of avoiding superfluous bloodshed and laying-down one´s arms when further resistance would clearly bring dividends.

I´ve had a quick look at some of Patrick Delaforce´s divisional histories and Charles MacDonald´s Last Offensive of WWII as a reminder as to how very hard many Germans were still prepared to fight in April 1945. So the newsreels of columns of German POW´s trudging into captivity was only one side of the picture.

It was a risky business for a German town mayor if he got it wrong and hung out the white flag a tad too early, before the diehards had been put of action or left town.
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  #50  
Old 07 Apr 12, 12:01
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Crossed wires.

I meant which "key assumption"?
That the British Army would prepare an expeditionary force for service on the Continent.
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  #51  
Old 07 Apr 12, 12:13
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I never knew that "unrestricted" submarine warfare was illegal?
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  #52  
Old 07 Apr 12, 12:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenTiger View Post
A touch of hypocrisy on Churchill´s part? Perhaps. Logically he should have approved of Montgomery´s style of fighting a battle, which involved avoiding unnecessary casualties at all costs. But surely there´s a difference between a prudent policy of avoiding superfluous bloodshed and laying-down one´s arms when further resistance would clearly bring dividends.
There is, and I'd like to see good evidence of the latter involving the British during WW2.

Quote:
I´ve had a quick look at some of Patrick Delaforce´s divisional histories and Charles MacDonald´s Last Offensive of WWII as a reminder as to how very hard many Germans were still prepared to fight in April 1945. So the newsreels of columns of German POW´s trudging into captivity was only one side of the picture.
There were some who would resist whatever. It only takes a few fanatics equipped with some powerful weapons dug in somewhere suitable to inflict heavy casualties, especially on mobile columns who have outstripped their artillery support and air cover. But you're referring to the last month of the war whilst I'm referring to the last twelve.

Quote:
It was a risky business for a German town mayor if he got it wrong and hung out the white flag a tad too early, before the diehards had been put of action or left town.
Well yes, and let's not forget that the Germans were fighting on their own soil, somewhere that usually inspires armies to greater exertions than ever!
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  #53  
Old 07 Apr 12, 12:25
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I never knew that "unrestricted" submarine warfare was illegal?
You've learned something new then.
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  #54  
Old 07 Apr 12, 12:57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KICK View Post
I never knew that "unrestricted" submarine warfare was illegal?
And reaffirmed as such as recently before the war as 1936:

" ... Rules

(2). In particular, except in the case of persistent refusal to stop on being duly summoned, or of active resistance to visit or search, a warship, whether surface vessel or submarine, may not sink or render incapable of navigation a merchant vessel without having first placed passengers, crew and ship's papers in a place of safety. For this purpose the ship's boats are not regarded as a place of safety unless the safety of the passengers and crew is assured, in the existing sea and weather conditions, by the proximity of land, or the presence of another vessel which is in a position to take them on board..."


http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/330?OpenDocument

(The root document of Article 22 leading to things like the list of signatories: http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/INTRO/330?OpenDocument )
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  #55  
Old 07 Apr 12, 18:52
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There were some 5,530,000 German military deaths all along WW2; some 80,000 of them were reportedly KIA of the Wehrmacht previous to Barbarossa (i.e. < 1.5 %) http://www.feldgrau.com/stats.html.
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  #56  
Old 08 Apr 12, 00:31
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I am new to this forum and of course this thread.
I was compelled to join up upon seeing this particlular topic.
An excellent book on this subject is Len Deighton's
"Blood, Sweat, and Folly" an amazing history from a man best
known for thrillers. It chronicles the almost incredible incompetence
of the Western Allies at the beginning. So much of what we learned as
history were attempts by various people who somehow survived the war
to cover their collective asses. It is much like how so much
"history" of the Russian Front was German generals attempting
to explain their defeat and fix the blame on somebody else.
When I went to see Les Invalides in Paris a few years ago the section
on 1939-1940 was closed off. A friendly guide explained to me that
some more people had to die before it could be opened.
dan
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  #57  
Old 08 Apr 12, 06:54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Longdan View Post
I am new to this forum and of course this thread.
I was compelled to join up upon seeing this particlular topic.
An excellent book on this subject is Len Deighton's
"Blood, Sweat, and Folly" an amazing history from a man best
known for thrillers. It chronicles the almost incredible incompetence
of the Western Allies at the beginning. So much of what we learned as
history were attempts by various people who somehow survived the war
to cover their collective asses. It is much like how so much
"history" of the Russian Front was German generals attempting
to explain their defeat and fix the blame on somebody else.
When I went to see Les Invalides in Paris a few years ago the section
on 1939-1940 was closed off. A friendly guide explained to me that
some more people had to die before it could be opened.
dan
The latter part is true of the British archives. It will be 2040 before almost all is revealed!

As for 'incompetence' there are several books that excoriate the British and French but they're all written with hindsight. Just like the books that have recently been published about the British Army's performance in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade they can have you banging your head against the wall in frustration and despair. But it's important to understand that decisions about recruitment, deployment, development, procurement and production are made on the basis of information that is often incomplete and always wrong somewhere. It's then filtered through the prejudice of those who make the decisions based on the conflicting advice of the 'experts' they turn to. Finally we have the always thorny subject of cost as politicians juggle the conflicting demands of the economy, prioritising according to their political creed and the demands of the voters whose support they feel they need. It's a wonder anything ever gets done at all let alone properly!!

An essential read for this forum is 'The Wages Of Destruction' by Adam Tooze. It deals with the economic history of Nazi Germany but touches so many other aspects in the process that you come away with a much better understanding of why WW2 progressed the way that it did. Referring back to something I posted earlier regarding 'inadequacy' what Tooze shows is just how incompetent the Nazis were at managing their own war effort, only their incompetence manifested itself in different ways and, in the longer term, was far more damaging than that of their opponents. It's a well worn cliché, but wars are won by those who make the least mistakes.

Welcome to the forum btw, I hope your stay here is a long and productive one.
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  #58  
Old 08 Apr 12, 11:55
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[QUOTE=Full Monty;2214933]There is, and I'd like to see good evidence of the latter involving the British during WW2. QUOTE]


How about Singapore for starters?
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  #59  
Old 08 Apr 12, 12:23
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Full Monty View Post
There is, and I'd like to see good evidence of the latter involving the British during WW2.

How about Singapore for starters?
How about it? The troops were nearly out of supplies and it was felt that to continue fighting would only lead to excessive civilian casualties. The troops fought well but they were poorly led.
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  #60  
Old 08 Apr 12, 12:31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Longdan View Post
So much of what we learned as
history were attempts by various people who somehow survived the war
to cover their collective asses.
You are essentially describing here in a nutshell > 90% of known History ; after all, writing History has always been a hard job, and covering the own ass has always been a powerful incentive.
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For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all Parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history.
Winston Spencer Churchill
(Speech in the House of Commons, 23 January 1948)

(Often misquoted as: History will be kind to me. For I intend to write it)
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