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Old January 30th, 2017, 01:19 AM   #521
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Originally Posted by Poly View Post
It is generally accepted that it is the best army every fielded by Britain
Without it, the French would have almost certainly been defeated in 1914.
Perhaps to the first, and a definite: No they wouldn't, to the second.

If anything the BEF was more of a liability for the French — fighting a little war unrelated to the overall French effort.

The BEF was in no way involved in stopping the German general offensive in the Toul-Verdun sector, stale-mating them on the Sambre-&-Meuse, or even in the development of the new 6th Army west of Paris, which was only possible due to the German defeat in the east, and set up the Marne battle.

All of which decided the fighting in 1914, but nothing that involved the BEF.

The BEF MAYBE could have lost the French the war in 1914 — and a good thing it was it didn't — but it didn't win it for them.
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Old January 30th, 2017, 01:22 AM   #522
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Your opinion is not supported by documented history.

Ludendorff's stated goal was to: "drive the English into the sea......we must beat the English".

The implications of course is that this would eventually lead to beating the French, but the goal of the Spring Offensive was to knock the British Army out of the land war in France and Belgium.
And he targeted the British because they were the "soft" option at the time. The British had been through the wringer of their own major offensive in the second half of 1917. The French positions were much stronger by comparison, and so Ludendorff, weighing his options, thought the best prospect of success lay in rolling up the British.
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Old January 30th, 2017, 01:44 AM   #523
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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
especially when compared to the nearly 40 divisions the French committed to the same battle.
There is something I don't understand : why there is only 39 French division at the battle of the Marne ? I mean in wikipedia, they consider only the 5th, 6th and 9th French armies (counting indeed 39 divisions). But what's weird is the 3rd and the 4th French armies did also participate to the first battle of the Marne.

And counting them, the number of French division rise up to 51 the 6th of september and 64 the 9th of september (there were divisions that were shifted from the right flank to the left one).

It's the same for the German, wikipedia does not count the 4th and 5th German Army to the first battle of the Marne whereas they did participate…

In this map, it's shown that only the 5th, 6th French armies and the BEF did have movement but it shown also that there were fighting with the 3rd, 4th and 9th French armies :
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old January 30th, 2017, 01:59 AM   #524
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[QUOTE=Henri Beyle;26897
@Pugsville : of course it was totally unrealistic for the British to field millions of men. It was to emphasize the gap between the 10 divisions and what they could have done if they had conscripted as much as in WWI. But, correct me if I'm wrong, actually the British empire disposed a bit more than 40 divisions in may 1940, mainly in the British islands, France and Egypt. How hard would have been to, let's say, train 5 more divisions and get 5 divisions from England and Egypt ? I honestly don't know.[/QUOTE]

A lot of the British divisions were forming and not exactly battle ready, there was no perception by the births of the French that it was necesary to pull every viable solider into mainland France, sure the British had various forces mourned the Empire , but so did the French.There were 17 french divisions in North Africa and the Middle East. A lot of the Divisions in the empire were (British or French) were reduced strength and not totally modern in their equipment.

It's not just the training of the infantry . You have to train officers, the British didn't have the training establishments, the training cadres. the mass production lines set up to produce weapons, uniforms etc for a army of millions. The British had to develop the infrastructure to house, equip and train the expanded army, just decided they would have a larger army and conscription does not mean you can immediately conscript a million men and start training them tomorrow. The french and German armies had always been structured from the start to be large millions of men string in the event of war, and the infrastructure physical and organisational was already in place.

In the time Frame from the introduction of conscription there simply was not time to train and equip more divisions. The British were critically short of all sorts of equipment, deployed grossly understrength divisions without much in the way of artillery and heavy weapons. The Navy, the Air force there were many demands of industry.

Decisions had to be made about the time frame for the effort and what sort of war was envisaged. You can have some forces now and some later or less forces now and more latter. The British were gearing up for longer war. Sure they could have had a crash program to get 5 divisions into the field, but at the time the decision made was it was more important to gear up to greater level, even though it would take longer.

Last edited by pugsville; January 30th, 2017 at 02:09 AM.
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Old January 30th, 2017, 10:42 AM   #525
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Having said that, about the Britsh involvment, what I meant is having the WWI experience where they had to field around 70 divisions, they could have anticipated a huge increase of the army. I'm not saying they should have had 70 divisions in september 1939.
But having only 10 more british divisions in France in may 1940 would have (I think) been enough to get an army (around 10/15 divisions) in reserve and hence stop a German breakthrough. That's all I'm saying.
Fair enough, Henri.

I think it should be noted that Britain was pretty much bankrupt as a result of WW1. More than ever the army was subordinate to the navy as we were more compelled than pre-WW1 to choose the navy at the expense of the army.

We were in the business of placing cardboard cut outs of tanks in fields in an attempt to give the Germans an impression we had something with which to fight them.

I think we began to rearm as late as 1938 when it became obvious that the policy of 'appeasement' would not be enough to deter Germany, and with money tight due to a lavish war 1914-1918, France should never have relied on Britain in a continental land war.

My Mother was born in 1940, rationing continued long after WW2, I think it ended in 1953. That should give you an idea of the precarious financial plight Britain was in during that period. We certainly didn't have the means to fund a large army.
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Old January 30th, 2017, 02:46 PM   #526
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But the pre invasion planning made it clear that Moscow wasn't to be targeted until after the bulk of the Red Army was destroyed....
Where do you get this from ?

The whole panzer warfare model (called blitzkrieg by some) was not to trade blows defeating ground forces
Moscow was always the objective:


"...Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion plan, called for the capture of Moscow within four months...."


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



Quote:
...that assumes one truly paralyzes the system and that all countries operate the same way. It's an assumption that essentially treats the Soviet Union the same as France. That what beat France would beat the Soviet Union... and THAT is incredibly flawed...
How do you know it's flawed ?

It was never done - as I said earl;ier, you can debate whether the fall of Moscow would end the war in the Germans' favor...some argue it would, others that it would not

What is not in doubt is that the German command (note: not necessarily Hitler) had Moscow as the objective


Quote:
....for all intents and purposes STALIN was the Soviet capital...
You make a case for the capture of Moscow not ending the war in the Germans' favor...you may be right. Who knows ?


Quote:
....the British made the point to criticize the moves... Germany's generals really didn't...
Oh yes they did

Hitler allowed his commanders to argue with him...and they did. But ultimately Hitler got his way - just like Churchill did


Quote:
...the BEF was not large enough to be that critical to 1914....
Yes it was...it slowed down the German advance

Without it, France would almost certainly have been defeated
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Old January 30th, 2017, 02:50 PM   #527

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henri Beyle View Post
There is something I don't understand : why there is only 39 French division at the battle of the Marne ? I mean in wikipedia, they consider only the 5th, 6th and 9th French armies (counting indeed 39 divisions). But what's weird is the 3rd and the 4th French armies did also participate to the first battle of the Marne.

And counting them, the number of French division rise up to 51 the 6th of september and 64 the 9th of september (there were divisions that were shifted from the right flank to the left one).

It's the same for the German, wikipedia does not count the 4th and 5th German Army to the first battle of the Marne whereas they did participate…

In this map, it's shown that only the 5th, 6th French armies and the BEF did have movement but it shown also that there were fighting with the 3rd, 4th and 9th French armies :
Click the image to open in full size.
It probably relates to how people view that part of the fighting... and that could be difficult depending on how they view the geography and the importance to the main effort of the battle and how they all came together for battle identification.
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Old January 30th, 2017, 04:03 PM   #528

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Where do you get this from ?
Just about any history would tell you that Barbarossa intended to destroy the Red Army before taking the capital with the intention of avoiding a Napoleonic fate...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poly View Post
The whole panzer warfare model (called blitzkrieg by some) was not to trade blows defeating ground forces
Moscow was always the objective:

"...Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion plan, called for the capture of Moscow within four months...."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Moscow
But cauldron battles are not part of Blitzkrieg. Barbarossa was intended to be a series of classic battles of encirclement. The only ones who wanted Barbarossa to be about blitzkrieg tactics were the Panzer leaders and they were largely ignored by both Hitler and the high command.

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How do you know it's flawed ?
Because it assumes that all circumstances are equal. I've yet to see any two battles in history where the circumstances of the fighting was equal or the same. Similar, maybe... but never the same.

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Originally Posted by Poly View Post
It was never done - as I said earl;ier, you can debate whether the fall of Moscow would end the war in the Germans' favor...some argue it would, others that it would not

What is not in doubt is that the German command (note: not necessarily Hitler) had Moscow as the objective
At some point. Guderian wasn't involved in the Barbarossa planning. The men who were given access to handle the nuts and bolts of the planning were all infantry or artillerymen by training and fell in lockstep with Hitler that destroying the Red Army was more important than rushing to Moscow first thing.

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Oh yes they did

Hitler allowed his commanders to argue with him...and they did. But ultimately Hitler got his way - just like Churchill did
And those that did were belittled, insulted, and often fired. And in many ways, the amount of differences that were had between Hitler and his generals was not that common and that the German generals agreed with Hitler far more than they disagreed. More often than not, the German generals argued with each other than they did with Hitler, which then required Hitler to settle the score...

El Alamein was the beginning of the end of the Axis in Africa, but that battle wasn't Hitler's fault. Rommel knew well in advance that the German army was already committing or was committed to the fighting at Stalingrad and that there could be no major redeployment to Africa until AFTER Stalingrad was won. Because of this, Kesselring practically ordered Rommel to remain in Libya where he was closer to his supply bases and had room to maneuver... Having just come off a big tactical victory at Gazala, Rommel disagreed and went over Kesselring's head to Hitler to get permission to chase the British... Hitler of course agreed, and Rommel got what he wanted.

Rommel then ran into a regrouped 8th Army on topography that Rommel's typical flanking attacks wouldn't work on. He then desperately called for reinforcements, which neither Hitler nor Kesselring could give him due to the commitments in Russia, which Kesselring had pointed out when the argument began. The only thing Hitler was really responsible for was settling the debate. Rommel bears the real responsibility for the defeat.

And this was repeated again over the defense of Normandy as Rommel clashed with Rundstedt over how to defend the coast, and in theory, it should have been one that Rundstedt won easily, but didn't.

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Yes it was...it slowed down the German advance

Without it, France would almost certainly have been defeated
Slowed the Germans down? Hardly.

In 1940, Germany defeated France in the space of 6 weeks. And with the exception of De Gaulle's followers France's war was over.

In 1914, the Germans struck at the beginning of August... they were just outside Paris by the end of the month.

Both armies covered the same amount of ground... However, in 1940, it took the Wehrmacht 6 weeks to do so. In 1914 it took the Imperial German Army roughly 4 weeks to cover the same distance... WITHOUT tanks and paratroopers that helped the Wehrmacht.

The Germans were not slowed down... not in ANY way that would have changed things.
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Old January 30th, 2017, 04:10 PM   #529
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Originally Posted by Poly View Post
Where do you get this from ?


Hitler allowed his commanders to argue with him...and they did. But ultimately Hitler got his way - just like Churchill did
Hitler had promoted non -entities and yes men into the top staff jobs in headquarters. They were pretty spineless.


Churchill was regularly talked out of mad ap ideas in ww2. Not all of them but most of the worst ones.
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Old January 31st, 2017, 10:07 AM   #530

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Hitler had promoted non -entities and yes men into the top staff jobs in headquarters. They were pretty spineless.
Even with the officers who either weren't dedicated Nazis or spineless tools, the amount of REAL difference from Hitler's camp over strategy issues is rather limited...

Rundstedt, for example, was a highly competent officer and holds a reputation for a personal dislike and distrust of Hitler and his regime. With his most famous line being, "Make peace, you fools!" as his advice to the High Command as the Normandy campaign began to get truly out of hand for Germany by July 1944. These lines give impression that Hitler did tolerate differences of opinion, as by the end of 1944, Rundstedt was once again commanding all German forces in the West, despite that line getting him sacked for "defeatism" in July... It's also something that many German WW2 veterans could point to as a point of honor after the war, in which a general officer took something of a stand against Hitler and his decisions, which by the 1950s with the specter of the Soviet Union threatening Europe... that was something that people felt was needed when West Germany and its military forces were established...

BUT while Rundstedt did dislike Hitler and frequently called Hitler the "Bohemian Corporal" behind his back, that does NOT mean that he was opposed to everything Hitler did or that Hitler superseded his decisions at the front at every point. The decision to HALT the Panzer formations in 1940 with Dunkirk in sight and the BEF and elements of the French First Army evacuating came not from Hitler but from Rundstedt. This decision often gets attributed to Hitler, because it would serve Hitler's purposes of trying to get the British to surrender and ask to join the Axis and invade the Soviet Union... and the ultimate fact that Hitler did support the decision to halt the panzers, but the reasoning for it was not about peace plans...

Rundstedt was not a panzer leader by nature and was an older officer by a wide margin. And in the days preceding the siege of Dunkirk, De Gaulle had attacked the German flank with what French armored formations that were available to the French outside of French First Army and had some success against Guderian's forces... though obviously not enough to stop the German advance, and the British had attacked Rommel's flank at Arras and gave the 7th Division a similar scare. Rommel and Guderian both managed to beat off these flanking attacks, either through getting gun lines of Flak 88s or bringing in air power to limit what damage the British or French could do, but that doesn't mean that German flanks were perceived to be safe... Given the losses the Allies had taken, the German flanks were secure, but Rundstedt didn't know that and wanted the time to regroup and consolidate before attacking again and thus the halt order...

And why that halt order serves not just political purposes that people attribute to Hitler... but also military purposes that go to Rundstedt. However, many of the judgement from later in the war or after it often focus on Hitler's end of the equation as theoretically, Rundstedt knew better, and had the training whereas Hitler did not. Thus, if a mistake was made, it was easier to lob the mistake at someone who's military experience was no higher than a corporal (and was also dead by 1946) than it was to admit that the military had made a mistake...

And that sort of thing goes into a lot of the whole "Lost Victories" argument that Manstein made after the war. Hitler was dead and thus it was easy to accuse Hitler of making all the mistakes of WW2 and that the generals were only "following orders." Yet, if one looks closely at the orders written during the war, and not just the post-war memoirs, one will find that many of the competent officers were actually writing the orders that they later claimed were entirely forced on them by Hitler.
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