Saturday, June 9, 2018

History Lessons

Two Wehrmacht officers posing with a knocked out French Somua S35 tank.
The officer on the right is a tanker, as evidenced by his black uniform and insignia.

(Source)
A friend of mine over on the Book of Faces commented on yesterday's post that -
I have to agree with the wag who said he learned more about what happened at Dunkirk in the last five minutes of The Darkest Hour, than he he did in two hours of Dunkirk.
Which, I am given to understand, is a common complaint concerning the film Dunkirk, the audience sees what happened, they don't see why it happened. Being fairly steeped in the history of the Second World War, especially in Europe, I was rather astounded that people didn't know the "why" of Dunkirk.

Which I should have found no more surprising than why most people have no idea what BIT* 3 on the AN/APQ-109A Weapon Control System on the F-4D Phantom is meant to test. I mean, I know that, why doesn't everyone else? Well of course, if you hadn't studied that, or been taught that, how on Earth could you possibly know?

Back in the day**, if you had asked most Americans when World War II started, they would have answered "December 7th, 1941. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor." Well, the overt participation of the United States in that conflict began that day. I say overt because the U.S. Navy was already escorting convoys destined for Britain before that date. This was not generally known by the American people. USS Reuben James (DD 245) was torpedoed by a German U-Boat on the 31st of October, 1941, a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor. She went down with a hundred of her crewmen (including all seven officers), for the men of Reuben James, the war had already begun.

Europe, well parts of Europe, had been at war since September of 1939 when the Nazis invaded Poland. After the Soviets had stabbed the Poles in the back, the fighting went silent. Though Britain and France had promised to aid Poland, they sat on their hands. Realistically, there wasn't much they could do. The British Army was small and the French Army was built to defend France, not attack Germany.

Though if France had moved forward when the Germans were involved in Poland, things might have been very different. As it was, the French army moved into the Saarland, cutting off a small piece of Germany. But in the main, the French and British remained in their defenses. The British called it "The Phony War," to the Germans it was "Sitzkrieg," sitting war." With the exception of the expedition to Norway, the Allies were content to wait for the Germans to make the next move.


On the 10th of May, 1940, the Germans made their move. Six weeks later, their was no fighting between major ground formations on the Western Front until D-Day, the 6th of June, 1944. The British had been driven off of the continent, the French had surrendered.


In the winter of 1939 to 1940, the Germans were planning their attack on France. The German generals, like generals in every generation, were planning the attack as if it were August 1914 all over again. Generals always seem to plan for the last war don't they?

However, a liaison aircraft carrying a German officer who was carrying the attack plan for the invasion of France, had to make an emergency landing in Belgium. Though the officer tried to destroy the documents he was carrying, the Belgians quickly stomped out the fire and recovered the documents. (I note that throughout history staff officers don't believe the rules apply to them. "Don't carry secret documents with you near the border. Or flying near the border in bad weather." Staff pukes, what are ya gonna do?)

So the plan had to be changed. A group of officers with more imagination than some, had a plan to drive a lot of German armor through the Ardennes. A rough area which runs through Belgium, Luxembourg and along the German border. Deeply cut with ravines, rivers, and heavily forested in many places. Conventional wisdom was that you couldn't drive armored columns through there. Roads are too damned narrow! (And they are, I've driven on them.) So the place was lightly defended.

Now the British and the French plan was to drive into Belgium to meet the German armies (who were expected to repeat what they did in 1914 and still stick to the plan which the Allies had captured from the downed liaison aircraft). Imaginative of them, wasn't it?

At any rate, when the Germans launched their attack into the Netherlands and the northern part of Belgium, the Allies launched themselves into Belgium.

See the blue lines going into Belgium? Those are the French Seventh, First, and Ninth Armies, along with the entire British Army in France, the British Expeditionary Force, or BEF. Those red lines are the Germans, heading into the Netherlands and northern Belgium. Coming out of Germany and heading into Luxembourg and driving for the Meuse River is Panzergruppe Kleist, an armored group with tanks, motorized infantry, and some very talented generals, one of whom we'll hear about later in the war, fellow named Rommel.

They went through the light forces covering the Ardennes and over the Meuse in mere days. A few days later they had reached the English Channel near Calais, cutting off those Allied troops who had driven headlong into Belgium. Around this same time, the Chamberlain government in Britain fell and a fellow named Churchill became Prime Minister. (This period of the war is nicely covered, and superbly acted, in the film Darkest Hour.)

There were many in Britain who wanted to sue for peace. Churchill and the king were not in that group. A plan was needed, a plan was offered, the BEF would be evacuated from the Channel ports around Dunkirk by the Royal Navy and as many civilian boats as could make the trip. As many French troops as could be gotten off  would be evacuated as well, to be subsequently brought back to France to bolster the front.

The evacuation succeeded, but the army which returned to Britain had none of its heavy equipment. The trucks, the tanks, the artillery were all left on the Continent. All the men had was whatever equipment they carried with them. Many had nothing. But new trucks, tanks, and cannon could be built, the Army, that trained body of men had survived.

As for the French? Quite honestly, the country had never recovered from the bloodletting of the First World War, which had ended only twenty-two years before the Germans invaded France again (for at least the fourth time in 125 years: 1814, 1870, 1914, and 1940, five if you count the Prussian advance after Waterloo). They surrendered, some wanted to fight on, and many did. De Gaulle and the French who went to Britain rather than surrender, the Maquis in the countryside. Not all the French collaborated, in fact the collaborators were probably a minority.

But France did fall to the Germans.

Dunkirk was a defeat, not a victory. But it did rescue the core of the British Army and kept the West alive. For if Britain had fallen, most of Europe would probably still be governed by the Nazis. Or the Soviets. Neither choice would appeal to me.

Abandoned equipment, dead soldiers, Dunkirk, 1940.
The Germans march down the Champs-Élysées, June 1940.
(Source)
The French react to the German parade.
(Source)
And that is the why of Dunkirk. Whereas the film Dunkirk tries to show us what it must have been like to have been on those beaches in 1940, this brief article tries to show how it came to that. I hope that helps explain things.

When the evacuation ended on the 4th of June, some 338,226 French and British soldiers had been evacuated from the area around Dunkirk. It was a defeat, yes, but it allowed the British Army to arise from the ashes of 1940 and return over other beaches south of Dunkirk - Gold, Juno, and Sword. Four years and two days after Dunkirk.

We had our own parade through Paris a couple of months later.


It was much bigger than the German parade. Much happier too.





* BIT = Built In Test
** When schools still taught such things.

72 comments:

  1. Agreed with you. 99%. But, I would have to add. The German armies participation in the Spanish revolt. Creating a "younger" upper staff. Leading them to better integration of the air forces, and use of communications equipment that the British had to learn in the deserts of Libia. But spot on.

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    1. Yet some of them still wanted a replay of the Schlieffen Plan. But yes, the younger generals prevailed.

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  2. And isn't that the fascination with history? The 'behind the scenes' stuff that most people don't know or have never heard of! It sucks me in every time!

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  3. Having had a Pacific orientation almost all my life (I was 18 months old when first assigned to Okinawa), I'm going to say that WWII started well before Sept '39. The Japanese invasion of China had started well before that, so well that the infamous "Rape of Nanking" occurred in 1937.
    One of the most well done exhibits in the National Museum of the Pacific War is the first section, Leadup to War. Most people race through there, but a little time spent there is very educational.

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    1. "Having had a Pacific orientation almost all my life (I was 18 months old when first assigned to Okinawa." Excellent way to start the paragraph!

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    2. What you said, Juvat. The Pacific and Japan haven't been considered "The War" by people since, well, the war was over. Still to this day when I ask people who were our enemies in WWII, they know the NAZIS (but many can't really tell you who they were) and maybe the Fascists (again, far less know who the fascists are) but Japan? We fought Japan? (No, dummy, we just dropped the first two atomic bombs on a totally neutral country because we as a nation are (5 letter word for multiple male reproductive parts that stick out of the body and start with the letter "D.") And China? Aren't they our friends? (No. Never have been, really. We screwed the pooch when FDR supported the communists over the nationalists. Great friends, aren't we?)(FDR - hwwack-ptoooiee!) Heck, I have trouble finding people these days who know what happened on December 7th, 1941 and how did those wily NAZIs get all the way into the Pacific and attack us with rented Japanese ships? (I hate our current school system.)

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    3. Juvat - you were 18 months old the first time you went to Kadena? Wow.

      And yes, WWII started long before Poland was invaded.

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    4. Ron - Juvat can sure turn a phrase can't he?

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    5. Beans- a good illustration of why one does not let progressives run the school system. Or anything for that matter!

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    6. Yes. A school system where only veterans can be teachers, and had some control over the curriculum. Maybe not ideal, but far better than the current systems in place.

      Kinda like that described in Robert Anson Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" (the book, not the horrible cruterfruck of a movie, Paul Veerhoven, you have much sins to pay for!!!)

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    7. Not sure that only veterans can be teachers.

      Some of us are rather a rough lot.

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  4. The photo of the French tank reinforces the French fighting ability. Why else would they paint a bullseye on the rear of their turret?

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    1. Heh.

      Thing is though, the Germans did something similar. In Poland the crosses painted on their tanks were plain white. The Poles thought they made great aiming points. So in France the crosses were filled in with darker paint leaving a white outline.

      Also, that Somua was in some ways a better tank than most of the German tanks. But, one man turret crew, lack of radios, tendency to spread the armor around in "penny packets" (as the Brits called them), and generally misuse them. Much as most folks don't care for De Gaulle, he had some good ideas as to employing the tank in battle.

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    2. And the emphasis on 'infantry guns' vs 'anti-armor guns.' The Germans actually liked a lot of the French tanks.

      French armor design was weird. A turret would be made by one company, and it might or might not be used on that company's tank or used on another company's chassis.

      The turret rings were big enough for 2 man use, and strong enough for more powerful guns, too. The crew compartments tended to be not so crowded, so there would have been room for retro-fitting radios, at least in the chassis, if not in the turret (mounted like in the M3 Lee vs the M3 Grant, for those who follow US tanks.)

      What could have been, if France had not been so wasted mentally and physically from WWI. Same with their planes, many designs as good or better than the Germans, just not enough and not used well. C'est la vie.

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  5. That last photo brings back memories (no, I was not there). However, as a young lad I grew up on a ranch, and we had a surplus jeep that I learned to drive at about age 8. We also had a surplus trailer. When I did my Army hitch in the mid-70's, I was one of about three people in our company who could back a jeep-trailer combo in a straight line.

    I also own one of these--

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1917_Enfield

    --that still has the red paint applied by the Brits.

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  6. The sad fact of history is that the true start of World War II is found in the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, peace document signed at the end of World War I by the Allied and associated powers and by Germany in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, France, on June 28, 1919. The incredibly repressive terms imposed on Germany by the victors guaranteed that the political stage that would result in Germany turning to Adolph Hitler.

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    1. Bingo! Dave's got bingo!

      Clemenceau and Lloyd George virtually guaranteed the rise of Hitler.

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  7. Nice post Sarge- again. :) Funny how even at this stage in life I still learn fundamentals of history that had eluded me. VDH's Second World Wars have facts and perspectives that I either had not known of, or had not considered.

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    1. Hanson is brilliant, I love his perspective on things. (I learn a lot from guys like him.)

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  8. Blogger ate my brilliant comment, da**it.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. Don't feel bad, it just ate one of mine. Blogger must have skipped breakfast today.

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  9. So, for your next career, when you retire from your current (paying) job, are you going to start writing history books?

    I think you could help the current classroom texts hugely!! I know I learn more about history from reading here than I did in High School, which, ok, was a while ago...and I like history so I do read lots, but wow!! You have a real talent of getting in the important facts, and doing it in a succinct manner! Do more!! Please :)

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    1. I plan on continuing to write about history. Once I retire from the paying gig, I do want to write a book or two, probably what I like to call "historically accurate fiction." I like highlighting the "little" folk who make history happen by their hard work and sacrifice.

      Expect more, I'm in a history-writing mood lately.

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    2. Very cool!! I will start saving pennies to trade in exchange for historically accurate fiction...my favorite type of fiction!

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    3. Hahaha!

      Chant readers will get a discount, I'm sure.

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  10. About France, you hit it on the nail. The 'warmongers' who wanted France to rearm and get more modern were, in a lot of instances, held back by those within and without the military who had just had enough war.

    A good example would be the Lion of Verdun, Marshal of France during WWI, who just gave out. Philippe Petain himself, who would become a curse word to many Americans during WWII, right up there with Victor Quisling. But, well, I think Petain was just done with it. He wanted to do the best for France in a bad situation, which he did. Does that change our feelings towards him? Dunno. Maybe. Maybe not.

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    1. Interesting perspective Andrew. My first thought was "hawk, ptooie, Petain." Then I dug a little deeper, Petain was old and tired, he had warned the civilians but they didn't listen. Whatever else can be said about him, he served France.

      Maybe someday history will look more kindly on him.

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    2. Yeah, I also grew up vilifying Petain. And then I read some WWI history, where he was a forward thinking, kick-ass, man-of-the-troops kind of guy. And watched his country's youth die in his hands. And you're right. He tried to get his country to pay attention to the Nazis and to try to break the stagnation of the French manufacturing system (nothing wrong with their tech, just in the way they sluggishly made stuff (kinda like, oh, say the US naval procurement system.) They were warned about issues with their tanks, they knew how to fix it, how to make it better, but "Well, we've got 3 years already planned of X product, we'll get around to it" seems to be their way then, and even now, of how to do things. National Socialism wasn't just for the NAZIs, the French also suffered from overly-governmentally controlled manufacturing.

      Now, Vidkun Quisling (sorry, got his first name wrong in previous comment, hate making simple mistakes)? He was an ass. Of teutonic proportions.

      You can tell how bad Quisling was by his fate, executed by his people after a national trial, whereas Petain, though found guilty of collaboration (which, in France, was a sentence of death) only died in prison in 51, being seen as a 'yeah, he collaborated, but he did the best he could.'

      Reviewing Petain's imprisonment and death by senility (and other issues that sound suspiciously like Alzheimer's) is sad. He voluntarily surrendered to the French authorities, rather than seeking asylum in Germany or Switzerland. He stood trial for his crimes and sins.

      Dammit, France, You need to re-inter him at Verdun! Dammit. Please?
      You can t

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    3. Forgiveness for his sins in WWII due to his outstanding record in WWI.

      I like it.

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    4. Thing is, he collaborated in order to reduce damage to France. That's one of those "He's guilty, but..." things, like a convicted felon using an illegally obtained gun to stop a madman.

      Many world leaders, Truman and Churchill included, wanted France to pardon him, or at least live in exile (Truman offered to put him up in the USA.) But the French, in general, wanted someone to pay, so Petain took it in the neck, so to speak.

      The more I read about him, and the more I think about it, the more Petain reminds me of some of the great Indian (feather) leaders who suffered because of either things their people did or things they did because there was no other thing to do.

      Sad. Just goes to show you that History is rarely, if ever, black and white. Shades of grey, run through with more shades of grey.

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    5. I didn't know that. After WWI the French were vindictive, same goes for after WWII.

      There's a lesson there.

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  11. The convoys the US Navy were escorting were full of tanks and other military assistance, due to the "Lend Lease" act of March '41, where FDR was narrowly skirting the will of his isolationist nation to defend against the inevitable.

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    1. Indeed. We also occupied Iceland to free up British troops for service in the combat zones.

      FDR got that much right. Lend Lease was the right thing to do.

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    2. But... maybe not for the Soviets. I always wondered if helping the USSR as we did was such a great idea, considering that they would imprison our personnel and seize our equipment, and actively spied and worked against us when supposedly we were 'friends.' Ah, well, FDR was a putz who never met an international socialist he didn't like.

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    3. Well, the Soviets were keeping the bulk of the German army tied down on the Eastern Front. That was nice of them.

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    4. Yes, but the Soviets could have kept the bulk of the German army tied down on the Eastern Front without our help, which would have still, most likely, resulted in them surviving, but in a far worse state and not in the position to openly stick a very large dagger in our back (again, thanks FDR, you piece of fewmet.)

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    5. Many, if not most, of the trucks the Russians used to motorize their forces were made in Detroit.

      We also supplied them with boots, clothing and food. I don't think the USSR would have survived without outside help, but who knows?

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  12. WWII started, as a full-blown world war, on December 8th 1941 with Hitler's declaration of war on the US. Prior to that there were two distinct regional wars being fought in Europe and Asia respectively. The US was an unofficial combatant in the European war (one could argue that the Flying Tigers made us an unofficial participant in the Asian war) but in December 1941 we bace official combatants in both and fused the two wars into one. That, at least, is an American perspective--the British might quibble but only slightly. The Russians regard WWII as something that happened to someone else, although they joined in against Japan in 1945; for them the real war was the Great Patriotic War....

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  13. Arrghh!! "Bace" is actually "became"....

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  14. I think Roosevelt's decision to pursue a "Germany first" strategy arose out of our undeclared war against the German Navy in support of Great Britain and later Lend-Lease to the British and Russians. I don't believe the US deliberately pushed Japan into war with us but that we had to deal with the Japanese as a matter of expedient necessity.

    Japan initially looked to conquer land and resources in mainland Asia; particularly China and Siberia. This was the "Strike North" strategic faction, and it included most of the Japanese Army, the Kwantung Army in particular. The Navy favored a "Strike South" strategy focusing on Southeast Asia and the surrounding Pacific; it's worth noting that since at least the Meiji Restoration the Japanese army and navy were respectively dominated by rival old samurai families. The "strike North" strategy was foiled when the Japanese came up against the Russians at Lake Khasan and then Nomonhan/Khalkin Gol, leaving only the "Strike South" option. That's what forced the Japanese to preemptively attack us....

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    1. Well, some, okay, many of the sanctions and actions taken diplomatically again Imperial Japan, starting about 1925 and getting increasingly worse after their invasion of China, did a far-too-good job of painting the Imp Japanese into the corner. To Japan, the Chinese invasion and the push north and south were all about getting access to materials that, well, We kept from them. Didn't help that, oh, around 1933, a rather unfriendly towards Japan government took over in the USA, especially in the State Department. And it didn't help that an already USSR infiltrated US State Department became even more soviet friendly, if not downright controlled by the Soviets. (Many people forget that Sen. McCarthy's original information on Soviet traitors within the US government was from internal investigations by the US State Department on 'communist' infiltration.)

      The reasons for Japan doing what it did are legion. And we are responsible for some of it. Not totally our fault, but some of the blood is on our hands.

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    2. Beans, some more good points. Commies were everywhere from the 30s to the 50s.

      Bastards!

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    3. Yeah, I don't like how the Soviets used our State Department to screw over Japan and National China, starting, oh, so conveniently, about 1925...

      And as to the 50's? What, you don't call KGB infiltration of our journalism schools and education system until they fell in the 80's as part of 'everywhere'?

      And now, according to a news report I saw, they have Russians working at Oak Ridge without security clearances. Starting around 2009. Gee, I see no connections.... Nope... None at all. (We really lucked out last presidential election. Whew.)

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    4. Yes, that kinda crap infuriates me.

      My company wants to sell stuff to the Republic of China (not the PRC). So one day I see a sign out front welcoming the "Taiwan Navy." My thought was, "Are you sh!tting me? Do we think that will but them in a buying mood? Some dumb ass in a suit no doubt."

      Someone must have pointed that out to the suits, the next day the sign welcomed the "ROC Navy." Better but...

      Effing State Department.

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    5. How about the FCN? Free Chinese Navy? Or RCN, the Real Chinese Navy? Or how about the NCN - the National Chinese Navy?

      Well, whatever you call them, they will buy from us, holding their thoughts in, as the ChiComms have done a wonderful job of blackmailing everyone about dealing with the Nationalist Chinese, Free Chinese, whatever.

      Mayhaps that will be the next political landmine that Trump will gleefully dropkick in order to gain better deals with the ChiComms. "Ya wanna play, well, we'll just recognize China as those people living on Taiwan, and de-recognize y'all…" Hmmm. That will open up a whole can of badly flavored worms. But somebody has to fix the fruckups of FDR's State Department.

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    6. Won't happen overnight though.

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    7. Closet commies can still be found amongst in-laws, damn it! Descended from old German 1848'ers, believe it or not.

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    8. Well, the revolutions of 1848 contained a lot of proto-commies. Not surprised that they fled to the US after those revolts were suppressed.

      Hhmm, 1848 in Europe, I wonder how many Americans know the significance of that year. You've given me an idea for a post Larry, POCIR. Thanks!

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  15. U-568 torpedoed USS KEARNY on 17 OCT 1941. But she survived. LIVERMOREs were tough DDs!

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  16. Fabulous post, Sarge. I knew about Dunkirk, but not the events leading up to it. I never knew the Allied forces were cut-off by another German advance.

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    1. Many people don't know that.

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    2. drjim,

      There's a lot of back-and-forth discussion about why Hitler let Goering play Airwar. Much of it centers around the capabilities of the German forces around Dunkirk and their readiness levels. Some research shows that the Germans were spent, and needed to rearm, repair and resupply before making the final dash. Others say that they were waiting for other forces to arrive. My dollar is on a combo of both. Hitler would want an overwhelming show of force to match the speed of the troops, and his commanders had spent their forces on the quick drive forward (remember at this time much of Germany's transport was still horse-based, except for forces on the tip of the spear. The tip overreached the supply chain, in some places badly, and as nice and wonderful as the German machines were, they were all a maintenance nightmare (especially compared to US equipment of the time (and it seems we've caught the German disease today with our armed forces.))

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    3. Would the BEF and the French been able to stop the Germans at Dunkirk if Hitler didn't allow Goering to play Airwar? Wouldn't it been better for the German Army to continue the push even if most of their units needed to rearm, repair and resupply? Even if the German Army was spent they probably would still have been potent with the Luftwaffe having air superiority (did they?) and excellent close air support capability. Just wondering.

      Late reply as we have no Net access at home during the weekend.

      - Victor

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    4. Thanks, Beans. I know a fair amount about WWII German armament, and I agree; outrunning the supply chain was a constant problem for them. And they went gonzo designing and building their weapons systems. A case of designer hubris, I think.

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    5. Anonymous at 6:09PM - Probably not, if the Germans had gotten refitted quicker. The Airwar was really meant to keep the BEF and Allied troops busy, off-kilter and demoralized. Any break in the attacks would allow officers and nco's to re-establish command, consolidate troops and get defensive lines set up. And then the Brits pulled off the impossible and the final ground assault. As it was, the entrapment was so disorganized, the Germans captured tons of equipment, including cannon, that they then turned right around and used in the Atlantic Wall.

      drjim - Oh, yeah. German attacks had this tempo of surge, pause, surge, pause due to their WWI level logistics. You see the same thing in Poland, and they worked real hard not to do the same thing when they went after the Soviets. One of the reasons the North African campaign was so successful and so fast moving was that basically it was just along the coastline, so could be resupplied via powered barges and mid-sized ships. And you see the same thing in the Bulge offensive in late 44. They had no 'Red Ball Express' keeping them running like what America set up.

      As to gonzo designing and redesigning and building systems, well, have you looked at DDG1000 or the LCS fiasco lately? It's bad when the Coast Guard has better sailing, better equipped, better modularity ships than the Navy can currently field.

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    6. In my five years on the Iowa I had the pleasure of meeting and working with dozens of vets and some currently active USN folks. I know all about the LCS, et al!

      And having worked a good chunk of my career for Hughes Aircraft and Boeing, I'm also familiar with how some of these projects get (more accurately, are allowed to) get damn near out-of-control.

      My Dad was an island-hopping SeaBee in the South Pacific during WWII, and he told stories of "the endless pipeline of supplies" from the States to BFE.

      Of course, that was after the SeaBess built the bases....

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    7. After reading the US Army's history of the attack on Makin Atoll and the Marine attack on Tarawa, the first thing they did in the post-mortem was to determine that the amount of supplies landed had to be increased in both amount and in tempo of landing.

      Usually after an island was conquered, one whole side would turn into a massive supply depot, as the SeaBees or the Army equivalent built or rebuilt airstrips, fuel depots and everything else. Crazy amounts of supplies.

      Also, the concept of seizing islands in the perimeter of the primary objective and just sinking those islands with artillery and observation units was implemented. Absolutely crazy amounts of artillery ammo were expended. Some pictures show bulldozers just pushing huge mounds of casings into either holes or into the reefs around the islands.

      The Brits complained that we used trucks to support trucks to supply trucks to... But, in my opinion, the best supply is a constant supply.

      And those SeaBees were some crazy dudes. Read about one group on Tinian who finangled a Marine Sherman to use AP rounds to 'drill' holes in coral outcrops for use in leveling and gravelling. Ingenious.

      The SeaBees also devised, after the Gilberts but before the Marshalls, an A-frame crane that fit on a DUKW truck, which allowed quick unloading of palletized cargo from said trucks and other DUKWs and Amphibs. Smart guys, clever smart guys.

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  17. Q - Why are the streets in Paris lined with trees ? A - So the German troops can march in the shade. Just so you know........

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    1. Sigh, a very old joke. It actually applies to the trees lining many French roads in the countryside.

      The trees in Paris are so that the Germans can sit in the shade while drinking their wine and eating croissants.

      ;)

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    2. And here I thought it was for the more prosaic reason of providing the raw material to make replacement wagon parts out of. Shade, wine, and cheese! Now I know why I disappoint my honey so!

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    3. Well, the raw material for wagon parts and artillery limbers was a side benefit.

      And dammit, I forgot to mention the cheese.

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  18. American Heroes Channel has a series, Greatest Tank Battles. Today they are showing The Battle of France covering the German's charge thru The Ardennes and the French attempt to stop them out manned and gunned against the German Panzer Mark IIIs. They didn't stand a chance.

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    1. Very light forces positioned in the Ardennes, didn't really have any anti-tank capability because hey, the "experts" said you can't use tanks in the Ardennes.

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  19. Martin Van Creveld's book Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton addresses the "shoestring" approach that the Germans took toward logistics in WWII, particularly during Operation Barbarossa. He commented that the only country that could have fielded the logistical network needed to successfully invade Russia was the US; left unsaid was the Soviet counteroffensives that pushed the Germans out of Russia were supplied by US-made trucks ("Studybekker--ochen khorosho!!!). He then segued into a nice piece on the Red Ball Express....

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    1. Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)