Missed opportunities in military history

Aug 2015
3,365
Slovenia
Stilicho not crushing Alaric after Verona.

I know he thought he could later ally with Alaric for political moves in Illyricum, but the move ultimately cost him as it was one of the reasons he was accused of being in league with Alaric and the Goths; if he had decisively beaten Alaric, maybe he could've saved face.
Another one from that period: Majorian being deposed and killed by Ricimer. He was an emperor for only 4 years and with a longer rule he could maybe restore western empire.
 
Likes: Spike117
Jan 2015
2,950
Rupert's Land ;)
Initial British estimates were pretty pessimistic about how many troops could be evacuated form the pocket , 50,000 or so. They really did not think they would be able to get so many troops off. That's the British with a lot more naval experience. With the benefit of hindsight the clock was ticking and the Germans needed to act quickly., but atthe time the Allied forces looked pretty much doomed and teh need for quick action was not obvious.
Correct!
The Germans also assumed that destroying the port by bombing would prevent the British from evacuating troops.
This was partly true, as the British could only evacuate a couple thousand a day from the ruined port.
What the Germans didn't count on was that the British could evacuate tens of thousands per day from the mole, or by the little ships.
 
Jan 2015
2,950
Rupert's Land ;)
It seems to me that many of the "opportunities" listed here , were no such thing....

Quite often they require a good dose of hindsight and information not available to the commanders of the time, and do not take into account some practical limitations (such as troop fatigue or logistical breakdowns for example - which go a long way to explain the famous "missed opportunity" of Hannibal not marching on Rome after Cannae among others) that the real life commanders had to deal with.

So as far as I am concerned, a "real" missed opportunity was one where:

  • the then commanders had the information at their disposal but failed to act upon it AND
  • conditions actually made it possible for them to act upon it

I am hard pressed to think of any at the moment.... except perhaps the extremely silly soviet deployment in June 1941
Excellent post. This amounts to "Crystal Ball planning".

Proper defence of Pearl Harbor or of Malaya might count, they had good information but it wasn't acted on.
Market Garden would certainly been another.
 
Oct 2010
7,679
Correct!
The Germans also assumed that destroying the port by bombing would prevent the British from evacuating troops.
This was partly true, as the British could only evacuate a couple thousand a day from the ruined port.
What the Germans didn't count on was that the British could evacuate tens of thousands per day from the mole, or by the little ships.
Teh Briotish wre meant to b=good at this stuff, and their estimates were they were pretty screwed., If the British were so wrong, surely the Germans should be cut some slack. the British improvosed their arses out of their but right till they actually did so they were pretty much thinking "we effiing doomed".
 
Apr 2017
2,303
Las Vegas, NV USA
Wrong.
They never stopped attacking
The halt order was given by Hitler apparently at von Rundstedt's request. Air attacks continued but they were less effective than a ground attack would have been. Rather then just saying "wrong" provide a source that contradicts this. The Germans underestimated the ability of the British to evacuate with the help of small privately owned boats.

Decisions: Hitler’s Halt Order | HistoryNet
 
Mar 2015
1,255
Yorkshire
The halt order was given by Hitler apparently at von Rundstedt's request. Air attacks continued but they were less effective than a ground attack would have been. Rather then just saying "wrong" provide a source that contradicts this. The Germans underestimated the ability of the British to evacuate with the help of small privately owned boats.

Decisions: Hitler’s Halt Order | HistoryNet
That is a terrible poorly researched article. Guderian's 1st Panzer was most unlikely to be successful in taking the Port of Dunkirk at that stage. In fact taking Dunkirk was not the aim of Halder and the OKH. The best opportunities for cutting off the the Main BEF and French III Corp were further south.

However, the formal decision was ONLY to halt the Panzers on the Aa, - attacks on the other side of the Pocket intensified. So instead of the Panzer Divisions being the hammer meeting up with von Boch's anvil at Popinghe\Messines in Belgium, Hitler and von Runstedt turned it around. Von Boch's Army became the hammer and the Panzers the static anvil. But in truth the Germans had made too many mistakes from 21st May onwards.
 
Aug 2015
3,365
Slovenia
Was Majorian known as a good leader, or did he show promise?
He has beaten three sets of unruly foederati or barbarians: Visigoths, Burgundians and Suebi (not sure for last ones) and wanted to make major changes in legislation but got killed by Ricimer because he did not take army with him to Rome. Others know much more about him, it seems he was last decent west Roman military and political leader, after Aetius and Catalaunian plains.
 
Jan 2015
5,065
Ontario, Canada
The Russians guards were not securing a retreat , there was none the Russain army was forced back, contniued to counter attack and fight for every yeard , nor was there a general rout in any sense.
Are you arguing that committing the Imperial Guard would have made the situation worse?
If so I agree, it would have made the situation worse. Giving higher casualties in that battle and also giving losses to the Guard, in a gamble that would not necessarily pay off.
 

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