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RE: Why was Patton so great?

 
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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/20/2004 4:40:09 PM   
Von Rom


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Culiacan Mexico

quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom
Culiacan Mexico:

Excellent summary

And of course you make very valid points.

You are not stirrig the pot, when what you say is true.

Most of all the early German victories; most of all the fame the German armies gained; much of the reputation gained by German generals; was done against weaker, poorer, and inferior forces in Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, France, Norway, etc, etc. . .

Cheers!
In my previous post, I was perhaps being a little more critical than I truly fell.

Regarding early victories, the German reserve units called up in 1939/1940 were not much better than the French reserves, but the combat and operation experience gained by these men in there victories over inferior force was invaluable. I believe this is why the German units became very capable (1940-43): a core unit of competent experienced NCOs and junior officers. They made mistakes and adapted, becoming very good in the process, unlike the upper leadership which made numerous mistakes and never seemed to change.

As for fame, I agree for the most part. The fame of the upper crust of German leaderships came from beating hapless opponents, yet when these advantages were lost… they faltered.


I was perhaps being a bit over general in my description, but I think you are essentially correct - German troops learned a great deal in their early conquests, and therefore, were far better prepared when they attacked France in 1940.

You are also correct, I think, in believing that just comparing numbers between opposing forces is not enough to define which is the better force, especially in the Battle of France in 1940.

When an old house is given a fresh coat of paint, it may look new, but it is still an old, ramshackle house. This is the state the French army was in when Germany attacked in 1940.

Because of France's "Maginot" mentality, its poor leadership, its out-moded tactics, its "defeatist/defensive" mindset, its poorly trained troops, its lack of aircraft pilots, etc, France was defeated before the Germans even attacked in 1940. It was, as you rightly state, a modern, well-trained army (Germany) pitted against a less modern, less trained army (France).

Here are just a few thoughts:

* In France, most of the Allied armies were never engaged against the Germans. While there was some fighting, essentially German armoured speaheads merely bypassed most resistence and raced for the channel to trap the Allied Armies. With the bulk of Allied forces forward in Belgium and without any operational reserves, the French were unable to contain the main German offensive pouring through the lightly-defended Ardennes region. By the evening of 15 May, the Germans had ruptured the Allied front completely. By 20 May, the German panzer corps had reached the English Channel and had successfully entrapped the Allied armies in Belgium. After the frantic withdrawal of the Allied forces through Dunkirk, the rest of the campaign was a stroll for the Germans. Although there were some initial tenacious resistance, the French defences soon collapsed. On 22 June 1940, just six weeks after the invasion, France capitulated.

* In essence, the French military degenerated into a tragic state of inertia after the Great War. In this state of inertia, the French military minds were closed to new innovations and new tactics. Technological advances, which had made possible faster planes, heavily armoured tanks and radio communication, were received with much scepticism. Other than the conversion of five infantry divisions and a cavalry division into light mechanised divisions, the French military of 1940 had virtually shown no progress since the last war.

* For France, the Great War was practically a brutal demonstration on the effectiveness of modern firepower. In that war, France lost 1.4 million soldiers. Another 4.2 million were seriously maimed. Following these terrible losses, post-war France was bent on abandoning the philosophy of offensive à outrance in favour of a more balanced emphasis on defence. The French were determined that the holocaust of 1914 to 1918 caused by excessive emphasis on the offensive should never again be repeated in future wars. Moreover, the 10-month battle at Verdun in 1916 had convinced the French that a continuous line of trenches and an immense amount of firepower could hold out against any attack. These lessons had convinced post-war France that defence was the only feasible strategy, not only to win the next war, but also to prevent the mindless slaughter of her youths.

Consequently, the terms of military service were reduced in 1921, 1923 and 1928 to two years, 19 months and one year respectively. This effectively halved France's standing army from 41 divisions in 1922 to only 20 divisions in 1928. With only a small standing army, the French army could only hope to hold back any surprise German invasion while awaiting the mobilisation of its reservists.

* France was prepared to go to war with doctrines formulated based on her WW I experience. In short, the French military in 1940 was organized, equipped and trained to fight a war similar to that of the western front in 1918. Naturally, the French doctrines, which emphasised static defence and "methodical battle", were ill-suited and too rigid for the hectic and often intense pace of mobile warfare that the Germans unleashed upon them in 1940.

* An indispensable part of the French doctrine was its step-by-step approach to battle, termed the "methodical battle". The "methodical battle" closely resembled the WW I procedures. Under this method, all units and weapons were carefully marshalled and then employed in combat according to strictly schedules timetables and phase lines. Under the "methodical battle", decision-making was centralised at higher level command so as to co-ordinate the actions of the numerous subordinate units. There was little need for decentralisation and lower-level officers were expected to display obedience rather than initiative and flexibility. Therefore, the French military leaders were simply too slow to respond to "Lightning" warfare.

* After siphoning off a disproportionate share from the military's coffers during the lean depression years of the 1930s, the Maginot Line turned out to be no more than an engineering feat of questionable military value in the 1940 Campaign. The trouble with the Maginot Line was that it was in the wrong place. In the 1940 Campaign, nearly HALF of the French Army was deployed in support of the Line, and they remained there only to be bypassed by the Germans attacking through the Ardennes. Therefore, the German forces never engaged HALF of the French troops that were available.

* Unfortunately, the quality of the French soldiers in 1940 was a far cry from that of their forefathers who had died willingly by the thousands in the infernos of the Great War. Poor training, inadequate battle preparation, inept leadership and complacency resulting from the "Maginot Line complex" had adversely drained the morale, cohesion and discipline of the troops.

* The key difference between the two countries was not in the quantity or the quality of their tanks, but rather, the tactical employment of these tanks. Although, France recognised the tank as one of the most important weapons indroduced since WW I, they firmly believed that the primary function of the tank was to augment the firepower of the infantry. The first two French armoured divisions were created in January 1940, while a third was only added in April 1940. Unfortunately, these hastily formed divisions suffered a lack of equipment and training. Not only were these tanks dispersed in "Penny Packets", but they also lacked radios and co-ordination.

* As with the tanks, the French failed to develop a viable doctrine for the deployment of airplanes. Little thought had been given to air co-operation with the ground forces. Probably, the most serious fault with the French air doctrine during the inter-war period was its failure to appreciate the importance of dive-bombers despite the lessons from the Polish Campaign. As at May 1940, France possessed a mere 50 dive-bombers.

* While France had a large number of aircraft, there were not enough aircrews or ground crews to man them. Thus the air force was not organized for battle. The regular air force had only half again as many units as during its peacetime nadir in 1932. As the battle opened, 119 of 210 squadrons were ready for action on the decisive northeastern front. The others were reequipping or stationed in the colonies. The 119 squadrons could bring into action only one-fourth of the aircraft available. These circumstances put the Allied air forces in a position of severe numerical inferiority vis-à-vis the Luftwaffe.

* As a consequence of the political struggles between the officer corps and the political left, between the army and the air force, and between the air force and the government, the French Air Force entered combat with an incomplete ground infrastructure, insufficient personnel to man its aircraft, and a doctrine so completely at variance with the army's doctrine that the two services were destined to fight largely independent wars.

* Finally, the French leadership was horribly demoralized. For example, in the book, "The Collapse of the Third Republic", the author notes that the top two leaders of France were convinced of the ultimate defeat of France by Germany long before it became feasible for Germany. And of course civilian leadership was completely lacking both during Hilter's move into the Rhineland, and later during the German occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia. In the 30's, both far left and far right forces were convinced that the Third Republic had to be taken down and were actively undermining it. Finally, there were many French (in positions of power) who welcomed the German occupation. Apparently it was widely thought that rule under a German tyranny was better than under the old Republic.

Ultimately, the French defeat in the 1940 Campaign is attributed to her ill-conceived strategy which was based on fallacious assumptions, her poorly-led military forces, and her obsolete tactical and operational-level doctrines which were inadequate for the mobile war Germany thrust upon her in 1940.

< Message edited by Von Rom -- 7/20/2004 3:06:34 PM >


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Post #: 421
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/20/2004 10:07:25 PM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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As an ex-member of the Patton thread, I have never-the-less felt driven to re-post some comments I made which are buried amongst the vitriol on page 11 which might help the current discussion on Liebstandarte.

quote:

Most SS units had titles. 1st SS Panzer Division was actually called "1ST SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler". It grew out of his personal body guard unit.

"Der Fuhrer" in SS Terms referred to the Panzergrenadier Regiment no 4, which fought in 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, a completely different formation.

Liebstandarte (that's 1st SS Panzer) did indeed come south at the very end of December 1944. However, a second feature of your arguments is a lack of perspective (exactly what you accuse me of). SS Liebstandarte had by this time been in action since the beginning of the Bulge. These attacks were carried out by two Kampfgruppes. One made up of around 30-40 tanks and some Panzergrenadiers, the other from what was left of the Divisions Panzergrenadiers. Some of the Divisional Jagdpanzers also seem to have taken part. All in all, the strength was maybe two Battalions worth of Panzergrenadiers and about 50 armoured vehicles. In percentage terms thats about a third of the divisional infantry and a quarter of it's tanks. It's artillery was hamstrung by a lack of ammunition.


I calculated the strength of this unit to be about 1400 Panzergrenadiers and 40-50 armoured vehicles. Jochen Peiper took no part in this action.

Regards,
IronDuke

(in reply to Von Rom)
Post #: 422
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/20/2004 10:09:13 PM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Golf33

According to J-P. Pallud, The Battle of the Bulge: Then and Now, 1.SS-Pz.Div. was assigned to 5.Pz.A. on 28 December after being savagely mauled in the fighting of the northern sector. It was assigned to Decker's XXXIX (39) Pz.Korps, which was to attack from the East in the direction Eschweiler-Lutrebois. To quote from Pallud on the condition of the Korps:

quote:

On the eve of the operation against the corridor, the forces comprising the eastern pincer directed on Assenois were even more disorganised than those on the west. The 1. SS-Panzer-Division had lost most of its striking power in the Kampfgruppe Peiper venture and the remaining units had become bogged down moving south across the main lines of communication feeding the divisions fighting to the west. The 167. Volks-Grenadier-Division had experienced a number of problems assembling for the attack as its units had detrained far from the area, some of them east of the Rhine! Although the two divisions were to be supported in the attack by the Panzer-Lehr-Division's Kampgruppe 901 and F.S.Rgt. 15 of the 5. Fallschirm-Jäger-Division, in the line south-east of the town, the offensive value of these units was very much lessened by the losses they had sustained in the fighting so far. The assorted armour of 1. SS=Panzer-Division, extricated from its service with 6. Panzer-Armee, included those Tigers from the regiment's attached s.SS-Pz.Abt. 501 and the few panzers of SS.Pz.Rgt 1 that had not moved north of the Ambleve with Kampfgruppe Peiper. These presumably included a large proportion of the Panzer IVs belonging to the regiment's 7. Kompanie, and, in the same way, a sizeable number of the Jagdpanzer IV/70s of SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 1. Added to these were the remaining Panzer IVs of a company assigned to the Panzer-Lehr-Division's Kampfgruppe 901.


From Jentz, Panzertruppen vol II, we get the starting strength of 1.SS-Pz.Div (e.g. prior to the destruction of KG Peiper):

quote:

SS-Pz.Rgt. 1
s.SS-Pz.Abt.501: 45 PzVI
I.: 37 PzIV(lg), 42 PzV, 4 LlakpzIV(2V), 4 FlakpzIV(37)
3 Dec 44


Peiper took basically the whole SS-Pz.Rgt. 1 with him, so what you're looking at there is most of a single company of PzIVs, most of two companies of PzJg IV/70s, and a handful of PzVI. Add to this whatever was left of the single company of PzIVs that comprised the tank strength of KG 901 at the start of the battle (e.g. for the initial attack) and you can see that the total is something like a single understrength battalion of mixed PzIV and PzJg IV/70 with a few Tigers thrown in.

Of course none of these came into contact with Thrid Army until after it had reached Bastogne, so it has no bearing on Patton's performance in the drive to relieve the town.

Regards
33


33,

Do you recommend Jentz? It's been on my Amazon wish list for quite a while. What sort of detail are we talking about inside it?

Regards,
IronDuke

(in reply to Golf33)
Post #: 423
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/20/2004 10:19:45 PM   
Kevinugly

 

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Sorry this has taken some time to post but I wanted to produce a definitive answer as to the activities (if any) and the location of the Leibstandarte after 23rd December 1944. Once Peiper's KG had run out of fuel and heavy ammunition at La Gleize the remnants abandoned their tanks and heavy weapons and made their way back to the Divisional positions around Wanne early on the 25th (Charles B. MacDonald - 'The Battle of the Bulge' - p.463). Here they remained until 1st January 1945 when they were withdrawn to positions in the rear (Gordon Williamson - 'The Blood Soaked Soil' - p.174).

However, this doesn't answer exactly who the 35th Division ran into south-east of Bastogne at the end of December. Ordered to take Bastotgne, Manteuffel put together two large battlegroups. One of these consisted of 167th Volksgrenadier Division, the 3rd Panzergrenadier Division and the Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade. The latter was reinforced by a small Kampfgruppe (battalion size) scraped together from the Leibstandarte with a motley assortment of some 50 armoured vehicles that were either repairs or replacements (MacDonald - p.606). I believe this explains the use of the name 'Der Fuhrer' in the divisional history as well as the erroneous belief that the Leibstandarte was heavily involved in the fighting around Bastogne. As I said earlier, the best that they could have managed was a few 'ad hoc' units - as it turns out they could barely scrape together one and that subordinated to another unit.

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Post #: 424
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/20/2004 10:43:37 PM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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quote:


At Sedan, the cream of the German Army with the full support of the Luftwaffe face second rate French reserve units. German mechanized tactics relied heavily on the concept of “concentration of force” and Erich von Manstein plan was based on the belief that not only would Sedan bring this force where it was least expected, but because of this face a lesser foe.

In 1928 Seeckt published Thoughts of a Soldier (1928). In this book he questioned the value of huge conscript armies and predicted "the whole future of warfare appears to me to lie in the employment of mobile armies, relatively small but of high quality, and rendered distinctly more effective by the addition of aircraft…” Heinz Guderian's book Atchung, Panzer further illustrated the need to concentrate the mechanized force in one force and focus it on a single point: “Mass not driblets”.

The Germans believed that high quality combined arms mobile forces were what counted; and the number of tanks, men, and guns was meaningless if not used effectively. Quality and good tactics can beat numbers, especially if those numbers are handicapped by low experience, morale, leadership, etc.

The German victory in 1940 is that of a modern military over one that was not. Yet years later when face with opponents who now had adopted similar tactics… German fortunes changed. The advantages needed for victory were long gone.


If we continue to debate in such pleasant terms, I think Vic is going to kick our a%^ of this thread, so lets turn up the heat a little shall we?

quote:

At Sedan, the cream of the German Army with the full support of the Luftwaffe face second rate French reserve units. German mechanized tactics relied heavily on the concept of “concentration of force” and Erich von Manstein plan was based on the belief that not only would Sedan bring this force where it was least expected, but because of this face a lesser foe.


Absolutely, so the German plan concentrated their strength at the enemy's weakness, sounds like a recipe for genius to me. As I said:

quote:

Therefore, the reason the German defeat of France was one of the finest victories of it's type, was that they created the conditions for the victory themselves. They correctly anticipated the battle plan of the enemy, (The Breda variant), then struck along the Meuse in overwhelming strength, massing their own forces (land and air) to create a battlefield on which they did have superiority, in the middle of a war in which they didn't.


The original plan for the west (changed when some German officer carrying a copy crashlanded in Belgium) called for a traditional sweep through Belgium ala Schliefen. Of course, a first class plan only allowed superior doctrines and troop quality to affect the battlefield at the crucial point, so shouldn't be underestimated in the scheme of things.

quote:

In 1928 Seeckt published Thoughts of a Soldier (1928). In this book he questioned the value of huge conscript armies and predicted "the whole future of warfare appears to me to lie in the employment of mobile armies, relatively small but of high quality, and rendered distinctly more effective by the addition of aircraft…” Heinz Guderian's book Atchung, Panzer further illustrated the need to concentrate the mechanized force in one force and focus it on a single point: “Mass not driblets”.


Good point, but the Wehrmacht was ultimately beaten by a huge conscript army in Russia.

At Kursk we see all the traditional elements of German doctrine in a concentration aiming at encirclement, but it failed, because ultimately the Operational plan was flawed. The battle was unwinnable. Likewise, Operation Blau carried all the hallmarks of German doctrine, but failed because the plan called for too few to do too much, in probably the wrong order. Better doctrine does not save a poor plan, and better trained forces do not defeat the big battalions for ever. In the second world war, German operational doctrine was never bettered, and the best of their forces stood out until early/mid 44. However, this merely lengthened the war, not change the result.

Sedan stands out because Manstein correctly anticipated the enmy response to a feint on the right flank. He then concentrated the best he had at a juncture in the enemy line which he felt would be poorly defended. Once through, the best of the Allied armies were suddenly travelling into a huge trap, their communications severed. I don't see where this doesn't qualify for genius.

quote:

The Germans believed that high quality combined arms mobile forces were what counted; and the number of tanks, men, and guns was meaningless if not used effectively. Quality and good tactics can beat numbers, especially if those numbers are handicapped by low experience, morale, leadership, etc.


Yes they did, but they weren't impervious to mistakes. There is also a threshold in relative force sizes below which quality can only do so much. I would also be reluctant to credit the Germans with too much mobility. Only around 20% of the German force at it's peak in June 1941 was motorised or mechanised.
The Russian Forces which destroyed Army Group Centre in 1944, or the Allied forces that followed the Germans across France in 1944 had far more mobility. Most German soldiers marched into battle, their supplies carried on horseback.

quote:

The German victory in 1940 is that of a modern military over one that was not. Yet years later when face with opponents who now had adopted similar tactics… German fortunes changed. The advantages needed for victory were long gone.


1940 is probably a fair assessment, although had the Germans followed their original plan, a stalemate was the most likely outcome. It is in this that Manstein's plan comes to the fore. The British Expeditionary force executed the most difficult of manouevres, a fighting withdrawal, all the way back to Dunkirk, so there were substantial elements in the Allied forces capable of giving the Germans a hard time. The Germans may well have won regardless, bearing in mind the patchy state of french morale and training, and the dreadful inertia that emanated from the top down. However, Manstein's plan gave the Germans an operational edge.

Regards,
IronDuke

(in reply to Culiacan Mexico)
Post #: 425
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 12:18:02 AM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Culiacan Mexico

quote:

ORIGINAL: IronDuke
quote:

ORIGINAL: Culiacan Mexico
In my opinion, German commanders as a group are overrated by most people…

I'd take the opposite track to this. I thought the Germans seem to have produced any number of good commanders…
Rommel commented in France on much of the German leadership when he said (paraphrased) that in the early part of the war they never believed in mobile warfare when it was possible, but now when that era had long past they wanted to try it: reserve Panzer Divisions hundreds of miles from the beaches.


Rommel in France was a strange fish. As Germany's most famous armoured warrior, he decided (quite correctly, I believe) that the Armoured divisions should lose their mobility and room to manouevre and instead be concentrated near the beaches. His remarks may have been prompted by the fact that the High Command had sided with Rundstedt against him. He complained bitterly about this throughout his tenure as Commander of Army Group B.

However, when you look at the German campaigns, from France, through the Balkans to Russia 41, I don't think they display a lack of ability on the German part. You can name only a few Senior practitioners (I'd add people like Hoth, Hoepner, not Kleist who was a convert) but also men like Manteuffel and Eberbach.
However, by 1941, they were massing them into armies, so they're only ever going to be a few famous names, as the senior commands were limited. Their list of divisional and Corp commanders is very good. Langkeit, Hausser et al. Rommel's comment is in part caused by the fact there were only ever a small number of Panzer Divisions available. Most German Generals commanded infantry formations.


quote:

Captain B.H. Liddell Hart was correct with regards to Field-Marshal von Manstein of the commanders not trained in the tank army he best understood mobile warfare, but most never did. Most German Generals were ridged, divorced from the average soldiers (aristocratic in nature), and inspired little loyalty or motivation in the men. There were exceptions of course Guderian or Rommel being one of the most notable, but they were exceptions. When one examines the performance of the German troops, one finds a common thread throughout… German units (pre-1944) we remarkable able, and while quality did vary somewhat, one is left with the impression that either all Generals were equally qualified or that the strength of the German units lied less with the General and more in other factors, such as training, experience, equipment ,and tactics.


True, but they also had many commanders at the other end who were quite the opposite, particularly in the Waffen SS. Men like Meyer. I'd also say this was only true of the Senior Officer Corp that took the Germans through to 1943. At small unit level throughout the war, the Officer/enlisted men relationship was good. These were the men who took command at the very end (men like Balck, Heinrici). It was the relationship at platoon, company and battalion level that made the German tactical advantages so useful.

You are, of course, right to point to German training and tactics, and also to experience. Small arms quality is another good factor. However, I think that this creates victorious battles, but not victorious campaigns. That comes from the quality of th strategic plan.

quote:

At the small level German tactical abilities (qualitative) could make up for being out numbered, but at the strategic level the Germans were repeatedly beaten. German leadership repeatedly made poor decisions, but since early in the war they had major advantages, they got away with it… later they were not so lucky
.

This is an exellent point. I think the war was clearly prolonged by German tactical abilities that caused problems even when the end was in sight and the manpower barrel was being scraped. However, the late war debate essentially concerns Hitler. From around September 1941, the majority of the major decisions concerning strategy are essentially being made by him. Armoured practitioners like Rommel are essentially being tied to defensive battles they cannot win by orders demanding no retreat. this deprives the Armour Generals of the right to manouevre. I think the later the war, the less able you are to discuss the German High Command since so much of the strategic realm had been removed from them.

Exellent post, Sir.
Regards,
IronDuke

(in reply to IronDuke_slith)
Post #: 426
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 12:34:52 AM   
Von Rom


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Joined: 5/12/2000
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quote:

ORIGINAL: IronDuke

quote:

Most SS units had titles. 1st SS Panzer Division was actually called "1ST SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler". It grew out of his personal body guard unit.

"Der Fuhrer" in SS Terms referred to the Panzergrenadier Regiment no 4, which fought in 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, a completely different formation.

Liebstandarte (that's 1st SS Panzer) did indeed come south at the very end of December 1944. However, a second feature of your arguments is a lack of perspective (exactly what you accuse me of). SS Liebstandarte had by this time been in action since the beginning of the Bulge. These attacks were carried out by two Kampfgruppes. One made up of around 30-40 tanks and some Panzergrenadiers, the other from what was left of the Divisions Panzergrenadiers. Some of the Divisional Jagdpanzers also seem to have taken part. All in all, the strength was maybe two Battalions worth of Panzergrenadiers and about 50 armoured vehicles. In percentage terms thats about a third of the divisional infantry and a quarter of it's tanks. It's artillery was hamstrung by a lack of ammunition.


I calculated the strength of this unit to be about 1400 Panzergrenadiers and 40-50 armoured vehicles. Jochen Peiper took no part in this action.

Regards,
IronDuke


This all sounds pretty much in line with what has been recorded in several books and the Official History.

Here is a question:

What was the the make-up of those 40-50 tanks that headed south?

Some sources I read indicate several King Tiger tanks. And if so, they would more than level the playing field against Shermans and TDs.

Is this correct? And could King Tigers have made it to Bastogne in the time allotted?

Cheers!

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Post #: 427
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 12:37:18 AM   
Von Rom


Posts: 1705
Joined: 5/12/2000
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Kevinugly

Sorry this has taken some time to post but I wanted to produce a definitive answer as to the activities (if any) and the location of the Leibstandarte after 23rd December 1944. Once Peiper's KG had run out of fuel and heavy ammunition at La Gleize the remnants abandoned their tanks and heavy weapons and made their way back to the Divisional positions around Wanne early on the 25th (Charles B. MacDonald - 'The Battle of the Bulge' - p.463). Here they remained until 1st January 1945 when they were withdrawn to positions in the rear (Gordon Williamson - 'The Blood Soaked Soil' - p.174).

However, this doesn't answer exactly who the 35th Division ran into south-east of Bastogne at the end of December. Ordered to take Bastotgne, Manteuffel put together two large battlegroups. One of these consisted of 167th Volksgrenadier Division, the 3rd Panzergrenadier Division and the Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade. The latter was reinforced by a small Kampfgruppe (battalion size) scraped together from the Leibstandarte with a motley assortment of some 50 armoured vehicles that were either repairs or replacements (MacDonald - p.606). I believe this explains the use of the name 'Der Fuhrer' in the divisional history as well as the erroneous belief that the Leibstandarte was heavily involved in the fighting around Bastogne. As I said earlier, the best that they could have managed was a few 'ad hoc' units - as it turns out they could barely scrape together one and that subordinated to another unit.


Thanks for the reply Kevinugly.

That throws a bit more light on the subject.

Just wondering if you have any sources that indicate the make-up of those 40-50 tanks?

The Official History is silent about this, and one source I have indicates several King Tigers.

Any thoughts?

Cheers!

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Post #: 428
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 12:46:41 AM   
Von Rom


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Kevinugly:

The Official History seems to indicate that the Fuhrer Brigade had its own armour that was separate from the 1SS Panzer.

Here is the quote:

quote:

Manteuffel counted on the Fuehrer Begleit to carry the main burden of the counterattack south of Bastogne. The brigade had about forty Mark IV tanks plus an assault gun brigade of thirty tubes, and its infantry had not been bled white as in the rest of the armored formations. In addition, Manteuffel had been promised the beat-up 1st SS Panzer Division, the 3d Panzer Grenadier Division, and the Fuehrer Grenadier Brigade, parts of these formations being scheduled to reach Decker on 28 December. Advance elements of the Fuehrer Begleit did arrive that morning, taking station in the Bois de Herbaimont north of the MarcheBastogne road, but the Allied Jabos were in full cry over the battlefield and Remer could not bring all his troops forward or issue from the forest cover. Time was running out for the Germans. As early as the night of the 27th Rundstedt's staff believed that unless Remer could make a successful attack at once it was "questionable" whether the Bastogne gap could be sealed. Manteuffel later would say that this job could have been done only by counterattacking within forty-eight hours" (p.614).


If this is correct, than the Fuhrer Brigade would have had 40 tanks, and the 1SS Panzer would have had 40-50 tanks.

Or, are we talking about the same tanks here for both groups?

Any other sources to clear this up?

Anyone have the OoB for the Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade in the Ardennes?

< Message edited by Von Rom -- 7/20/2004 11:32:29 PM >


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Post #: 429
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 12:56:15 AM   
Von Rom


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Here is what it says about this southern attack force of the 1SS Panzer (from German Tanks of WWII by Dr.'s Hart & Hart, p.141):

quote:

"The German Army now redeployed the Leibstandarte, with its remaining 17 King Tigers and solitary Tiger I, to Bastogne to help German efforts to encircle the town."


This may not be the best source.

Is this correct?

What I have so far would indicate:

1) The Fuhrer Brigade had 40 PzIVs, plus several TDs.

2) The 1SS Panzer had 40-50 tanks, with several (up to 17?) King Tigers.

How accurate is this?

This quote from the Official History again seems to confirm two separate attack forces with their own armour:


quote:

The eastern assault force comprised the much understrength and crippled 1st SS Panzer and the 167th Volks Grenadier Divisions; its drive was to be made via Lutrebois toward Assenois. The attack from the west would be spearheaded by the Fuehrer Begleit advancing over Sibret and hammering the ring closed. The 3d Panzer Grenadier Division was to advance in echelon to the left of Remer's brigade while the remnants of the 26th Volks Grenadier Division and 15th Panzer Grenadier Division screened to the west and north of Bastogne. The timing for the arrival of the incoming reinforcements-the 12th SS Panzer, the 9th SS Panzer, and the 340th Volks Grenadier Divisions-was problematical (p.619).


and this:

quote:

The Fuehrer Begleit advance was geared for a one-two punch at Sibret. The battalion of Remer's panzer grenadiers, which had clashed briefly with Task Force Collins in Chenogne the previous evening, moved out over the snow-covered fields to pry an opening on the north edge of Sibret, while the Fuehrer Begleit tank group-carrying a battalion of grenadierswaited in Chenogne to move forward on a parallel trail which passed through Flohimont and entered Sibret from the west. A dense ground fog covered the area for a few hours, masking the opposing forces from one another. The grenadier battalion made some progress and drove Task Force Collins back toward Sibret, but the battalion commander was killed and the advance slowed down. Remer's tank group was nearing Flohimont when the fog curtain raised abruptly to reveal about thirty American tanks (p.620).


< Message edited by Von Rom -- 7/20/2004 11:33:00 PM >


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Post #: 430
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 1:05:22 AM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom

quote:

ORIGINAL: IronDuke

quote:

Most SS units had titles. 1st SS Panzer Division was actually called "1ST SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler". It grew out of his personal body guard unit.

"Der Fuhrer" in SS Terms referred to the Panzergrenadier Regiment no 4, which fought in 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, a completely different formation.

Liebstandarte (that's 1st SS Panzer) did indeed come south at the very end of December 1944. However, a second feature of your arguments is a lack of perspective (exactly what you accuse me of). SS Liebstandarte had by this time been in action since the beginning of the Bulge. These attacks were carried out by two Kampfgruppes. One made up of around 30-40 tanks and some Panzergrenadiers, the other from what was left of the Divisions Panzergrenadiers. Some of the Divisional Jagdpanzers also seem to have taken part. All in all, the strength was maybe two Battalions worth of Panzergrenadiers and about 50 armoured vehicles. In percentage terms thats about a third of the divisional infantry and a quarter of it's tanks. It's artillery was hamstrung by a lack of ammunition.


I calculated the strength of this unit to be about 1400 Panzergrenadiers and 40-50 armoured vehicles. Jochen Peiper took no part in this action.

Regards,
IronDuke


This all sounds pretty much in line with what has been recorded in several books and the Official History.

Here is a question:

What was the the make-up of those 40-50 tanks that headed south?

Some sources I read indicate several King Tiger tanks. And if so, they would more than level the playing field against Shermans and TDs.

Is this correct? And could King Tigers have made it to Bastogne in the time allotted?

Cheers!


A number of Liebstandarte's armoured vehicles had become dispersed during Peiper's drive. He had only a small number of tanks with him when his force broke out from the La Gleize area and struck out for German lines. Probably no more than 7 Panthers were left behind. Many seem to have become stuck the other side of the river at Stoumont further back. Others had become immobilised through lack of petrol after being sent on detours, still others sent to the rear, as he recognised his drive was over, and he dug in. Many were knocked out.

Theoretical strength before the LAH set off for Bastogne was around 16 Panthers, 26 MK IVs, 33 Tigers and 18 Jagdpanzer IVs. We know half the Tigers were in the workshops. Since large numbers of vehicles on strength in German Panzer units were often found in the workshops, we can assume that a good number of the others were as well.

There is little evidence that the Tigers actually fought in the Bastogne area. Some US after action reports for early January mention Tigers, and one historian has suggested a KG Mobius was operating east of Bastogne at this time, comprising appox 15 tanks. No reliable information exists concerning this unit however, although it seems likely it was there, The Tigers were attached to the Liebstandarte at this time, and it is the best guess for what they were actually doing.

IronDuke

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Post #: 431
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 1:15:11 AM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom

Kevinugly:

The Official History seems to indicate that the Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade had its own armour that was separate from the 1SS Panzer.

Here is the quote:

quote:

Manteuffel counted on the Fuehrer Begleit to carry the main burden of the counterattack south of Bastogne. The brigade had about forty Mark IV tanks plus an assault gun brigade of thirty tubes, and its infantry had not been bled white as in the rest of the armored formations. In addition, Manteuffel had been promised the beat-up 1st SS Panzer Division, the 3d Panzer Grenadier Division, and the Fuehrer Grenadier Brigade, parts of these formations being scheduled to reach Decker on 28 December. Advance elements of the Fuehrer Begleit did arrive that morning, taking station in the Bois de Herbaimont north of the MarcheBastogne road, but the Allied Jabos were in full cry over the battlefield and Remer could not bring all his troops forward or issue from the forest cover. Time was running out for the Germans. As early as the night of the 27th Rundstedt's staff believed that unless Remer could make a successful attack at once it was "questionable" whether the Bastogne gap could be sealed. Manteuffel later would say that this job could have been done only by counterattacking within forty-eight hours" (p.614).


If this is correct, than the Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade would have had 40 tanks, and the 1SS Panzer would have had 40-50 tanks.

Or, are we talking about the same tanks here for both groups?

Any other sources to clear this up?

Anyone have the OoB for the Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade in the Ardennes?


The Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade was a separate formation. It had no connection to Liebstandarte, it was Wehrmacht not Waffen SS.

It contained an armoured battalion (33 Panthers and 11 Jagdpanzers); a motorised infantry Battalion and a Mechanised Infantry battalion. There werer also have been support elements (flak, pioneer and SIg companies), and a Bicycle Battalion seems to have been attached to the Brigade shortly before the Ardennes offensive started.

IronDuke

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Post #: 432
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 1:21:37 AM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom

Here is what it says about this southern attack force of the 1SS Panzer (from German Tanks of WWII by Dr.'s Hart & Hart, p.141):

quote:

"The German Army now redeployed the Leibstandarte, with its remaining 17 King Tigers and solitary Tiger I, to Bastogne to help German efforts to encircle the town."


This may not be the best source.

Is this correct?

What I have so far would indicate:

1) The Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade had 40 PzIVs, plus several TDs.

2) The 1SS Panzer had 40-50 tanks, with several (up to 17?) King Tigers.

How accurate is this?

This quote from the Official History again seems to confirm two separate attack forces with their own armour:


quote:

The eastern assault force comprised the much understrength and crippled 1st SS Panzer and the 167th Volks Grenadier Divisions; its drive was to be made via Lutrebois toward Assenois. The attack from the west would be spearheaded by the Fuehrer Begleit advancing over Sibret and hammering the ring closed. The 3d Panzer Grenadier Division was to advance in echelon to the left of Remer's brigade while the remnants of the 26th Volks Grenadier Division and 15th Panzer Grenadier Division screened to the west and north of Bastogne. The timing for the arrival of the incoming reinforcements-the 12th SS Panzer, the 9th SS Panzer, and the 340th Volks Grenadier Divisions-was problematical (p.619).


and this:

quote:

The Fuehrer Begleit advance was geared for a one-two punch at Sibret. The battalion of Remer's panzer grenadiers, which had clashed briefly with Task Force Collins in Chenogne the previous evening, moved out over the snow-covered fields to pry an opening on the north edge of Sibret, while the Fuehrer Begleit tank group-carrying a battalion of grenadierswaited in Chenogne to move forward on a parallel trail which passed through Flohimont and entered Sibret from the west. A dense ground fog covered the area for a few hours, masking the opposing forces from one another. The grenadier battalion made some progress and drove Task Force Collins back toward Sibret, but the battalion commander was killed and the advance slowed down. Remer's tank group was nearing Flohimont when the fog curtain raised abruptly to reveal about thirty American tanks (p.620).



The Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade and the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade were separate formations. The Fuhrer Begleit had a mechanised infantry Battalion, a motorised infantry battalion and the 829 bicycle battalion. It had around 40 Stugs, 30 Panthers, 15 Jagdpanthers and some self propelled Paks.

IronDuke

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Post #: 433
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 1:29:44 AM   
Von Rom


Posts: 1705
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quote:

ORIGINAL: IronDuke

quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom

Here is what it says about this southern attack force of the 1SS Panzer (from German Tanks of WWII by Dr.'s Hart & Hart, p.141):

quote:

"The German Army now redeployed the Leibstandarte, with its remaining 17 King Tigers and solitary Tiger I, to Bastogne to help German efforts to encircle the town."


This may not be the best source.

Is this correct?

What I have so far would indicate:

1) The Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade had 40 PzIVs, plus several TDs.

2) The 1SS Panzer had 40-50 tanks, with several (up to 17?) King Tigers.

How accurate is this?

This quote from the Official History again seems to confirm two separate attack forces with their own armour:


quote:

The eastern assault force comprised the much understrength and crippled 1st SS Panzer and the 167th Volks Grenadier Divisions; its drive was to be made via Lutrebois toward Assenois. The attack from the west would be spearheaded by the Fuehrer Begleit advancing over Sibret and hammering the ring closed. The 3d Panzer Grenadier Division was to advance in echelon to the left of Remer's brigade while the remnants of the 26th Volks Grenadier Division and 15th Panzer Grenadier Division screened to the west and north of Bastogne. The timing for the arrival of the incoming reinforcements-the 12th SS Panzer, the 9th SS Panzer, and the 340th Volks Grenadier Divisions-was problematical (p.619).


and this:

quote:

The Fuehrer Begleit advance was geared for a one-two punch at Sibret. The battalion of Remer's panzer grenadiers, which had clashed briefly with Task Force Collins in Chenogne the previous evening, moved out over the snow-covered fields to pry an opening on the north edge of Sibret, while the Fuehrer Begleit tank group-carrying a battalion of grenadierswaited in Chenogne to move forward on a parallel trail which passed through Flohimont and entered Sibret from the west. A dense ground fog covered the area for a few hours, masking the opposing forces from one another. The grenadier battalion made some progress and drove Task Force Collins back toward Sibret, but the battalion commander was killed and the advance slowed down. Remer's tank group was nearing Flohimont when the fog curtain raised abruptly to reveal about thirty American tanks (p.620).



The Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade and the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade were separate formations. The Fuhrer Begleit had a mechanised infantry Battalion, a motorised infantry battalion and the 829 bicycle battalion. It had around 40 Stugs, 30 Panthers, 15 Jagdpanthers and some self propelled Paks.

IronDuke


Ok, that all helps to sort through what we have.

Thanks for all the info in the last three posts and for the distinction between those two brigades

I'll edit my posts so people don't get confused over it.

Helps to give us a much clearer picture now.

Cheers!

< Message edited by Von Rom -- 7/20/2004 11:31:32 PM >


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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 2:00:25 AM   
Kevinugly

 

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The whole situation around the end of December near Bastogne is very confused (regarding the German side especially). 5th Panzerarmee had been ordered to take Bastogne and various formations were allotted to Manteuffel's command, but these were often ad hoc collections of men and vehicles 'cobbled together' into Kampfgruppe, launched into the fray under one commander, reinforced by another group under another, possibly senior, commander. The Germans were improvising in the way they had been on the Eastern Front for some time.

Reading through various histories of the battle, it seems relatively easy to piece together an account of the 'Bulge' up to the time of the relief of Bastogne by Patton's Third Army. The accounts of the battle to eradicate the salient following this are much less satisfactory. Even MacDonald's work (supposedly the 'definitive' account) falls away at this juncture of the battle. Of the 620 pages he gives to the battle (ignoring the epilogue and the appendices) less than twenty are concerned with 'Erasing the Bulge' (as he entitles the chapter) despite the fact that it deals with nearly a month of fighting. The first hundred 'set the scene' and the other 500 deal with around ten days of fighting.

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Post #: 435
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 3:00:35 AM   
Golf33

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: IronDuke

33,

Do you recommend Jentz? It's been on my Amazon wish list for quite a while. What sort of detail are we talking about inside it?

Regards,
IronDuke

Recommend? That depends very much on what you want to get from it (them actually, there are two volumes - 1933 to 1942, and 1943 to 1945 - both of which deal exclusively with tanks, containing nothing about infantry or panzergrenadier).

Jentz seems to have a pretty good reputation as definitive. He claims to have based his book entirely on primary material, although since he doesn't actually give sources in enough detail to be able to track them down it would be difficult to absolutely verify this.

The detail varies a bit. The book is full of a wealth of details of all sorts of small units, obscure units, individual companies, combat reports, statistics, strength reports and so on. It's largely focused on the lower levels - there are lots of accounts of small engagements that were part of a wider battle - and some aspects don't get treated in any depth at all.

For instance the whole of the Ardennes counteroffensive gets just five paragraphs of text, none of which deal with the course of the battle, but there are a number charts showing the organisation and strength of the panzer regiments involved (though it's not clear to me on first reading whether this includes all vehicles or only those in combat-ready condition). On the other hand, pages 74 to 101 deal exclusively with ZITADELLE, including a number of company-level accounts, maps, the starting organisation and strength of all panzer regiments involved, charts showing the overall operational status of Pz-Abt. 21, Pz-Rgt. 11, and s.Pz-Abt. 503 from 4 to 20 July, and another chart showing the status of operational panthers from 5 to 17 July (although it doesn't say exactly which units are included, so the reader has to presume that it refers to all Panthers assigned to units involved in the operation).

There are various diagrammatic representations of the KStN (equivalent to American TO&E) tables for the various types of tank unit that were authorised during the war and some discussion in various places of how closely different units conformed to these. There's also a neat chart of the tank strength by type of all panzer units on the Eastern Front at 15 March 45, showing total and operational strengths. There are solid appendices showing the formation of Heer, OKH, SS and Luftwaffe panzer units (with dates and in most cases showing parent units), statistics of various tank types by month showing inventory, gains and reported losses, technical specs for American, British, German and Soviet tanks including quite a bit of detail (things like ground pressure, suspension details, armour for hull and turret for each main facing - though not slope of armour I notice), the penetration of German tank guns, and of French and Russian guns tested by W.A.Prüf., a brief recommended reading list that sadly doesn't detail the actual sources used for the book itself, and a reasonable glossary of German terms. There is no index though this is somewhat offset by the organisation of chapters ("Defeat in North Africa", "Reorganisation of the Panzertruppen - October 1942 through December 1943", "Defence of Italy", "Formation of the Last Units" to name a few) which makes finding specific information a matter of searching through several pages rather than the whole book.

It's not an easy book to read due to the format (it's all sans-serif typeface, unit names are in bold, combat reports in italic) and in any case doesn't seem to be written for a reader who likes to start at the beginning and finish at the end. There are, as I've said, lots of lovely charts, tables, KStN diagrams, Pz-Rgt. organisational and strength charts, and heaps of black-and-white photos which all appear to be captioned and are clearly printed. It is definitely a reference book rather than a narrative history.

Regards
33

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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 3:32:31 AM   
Golf33

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom

If this is correct, than the Fuhrer Brigade would have had 40 tanks, and the 1SS Panzer would have had 40-50 tanks.

Or, are we talking about the same tanks here for both groups?

Any other sources to clear this up?

Anyone have the OoB for the Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade in the Ardennes?


Total operational tank strength (according to Jentz) "in all units in the West" (he could mean all units involved in the offensive, or actually mean all units in the West which would include those designated for Nordwind or in static defence elsewhere) for 30 December:

quote:

StuG: 335
PzIV: 345 (including PzIV/70(V), PzIV/70(A), FlakpzIV, and Sturmpanzer)
PzV: 240
PzVI: 58 (including Tiger I, Tiger II, and Sturmtiger)


Führer-Begleit-Brigade started the offensive with:
quote:

4 FlakpzIV(2V), 4 FlakpzIV(37), 24 PzIV(lg), 43 PzIV/70(A)


Führer-Grenadier-Brigade started the offensive with:
quote:

4 FlakpzIV(37), 11 StuG, 7 PzIV(lg), 32 PzV, 12 PzIVIV/70(V)


All the units that had PzVI (in Jentz this normally includes VIE and VIB but the total at least gives a ceiling):

quote:

s.SS-Pz.Abt. 501, att to SS-Pz.Rgt. 1 of 1.SS-Pz.Div "LSSAH": 45
Pz.Abt.(Fkl) 301: 27
s.H.Pz.Abt 506: 42, with 6 replacements in transit at 10 Dec 44


So the total Tigers available at the start of the offensive was 114 with a further 6 en route, I am sure I've seen a few sources that mention a "handful" of Tiger II amongst these but I haven't seen anything suggesting there would have even been a full company of those monsters. Also, the Tiger II was distinctly unsuited to operations in terrain like the Ardennes, due to its high ground pressure (258 kg/sq.cm as opposed to 238 for the Tiger I, 142 for the Panther G, 140 for the Panther D-A, and just 87 for the PzIV), bulk, and unreliability. In dense wooded or urban areas the 88mm/L71 gun was also at a disadvantage to the 88mm/L56 of the Tiger I, due to its greater length which caused problems trying to traverse when close to trees or buildings.

According to Jentz, the total inventory (I believe this is for all German forces) of Tiger II was 174 on 1 Dec 44, and 195 on 1 Jan 45, while the inventory for Tiger I was 274 and 276 for those dates respectively. The reported losses on those dates were:
quote:

Tiger I: 1 Dec 44, 2; 1 Jan 45, 62; 1 Feb 45, ??
Tiger II: 1 Dec 44, 30; 1 Jan 45, 11; 1 Feb 45, ??

I interpret this to indicate that Tiger II were relatively uninvolved in the Ardennes fighting during December as their losses were marginal during that month compared to the losses of Tiger I. This is of course all complicated by these figures which are not for any particular battle or even front, but are overall stats for the whole tank fleet.

I think that the absence of reported losses for Jan probably indicates the near-total destruction and complete disorganisation inflicted on the German army during the misbegotten disaster that was the Ardennes.

Regards
33

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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 3:05:11 PM   
CCB


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Only seventy more pages to go.

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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 3:34:16 PM   
Kevinugly

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: CCB

Only seventy more pages to go.




That's one more post in the direction although I have no idea what you're referring to

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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 4:14:22 PM   
Belisarius


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom

quote:

ORIGINAL: Culiacan Mexico

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kevinugly
… those commanders we wish to elevate to 'greatness' need to show they apply other principles too…

Finally, Patton never fought a battle where he didn't have materiel superiority on the ground and the air, where he was fighting a battle where he had to hold ground rather than take it. It's very difficult to make a case for him to be compared with WW2 commanders like Manstein and Slim who showed their capacity to successfully apply all of the principles of warfare even in the most adverse of situations. It's even more difficult to place him with the greats of all military history.
Interesting. I disagree in some areas.

The Germans did well when they had air superiority and numerical/qualitative superiority, and when they didn’t they faired poorly. So what? Should the accomplishment of the Germans in 1940 against France be dismissed because they attacked second rate troops with overwhelming force, while having air superiority?

In my opinion, German commanders as a group are overrated by most people, and Erich von Manstein is no acceptation. He understood the nature of armored warfare during this period, a rarity among German commanders, but was not a miracle worker. When in a tactically disadvantages situation he achieve no radical victories, and while his handling of Panzer forces was very good, his command of infantry forces was adequate. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t brilliant, just that his victories were achieved under similar circumstances you dismiss so easily in your post.



1. He did well with 56th Panzer Corps in 1941 with a superior force and air superiority, against a surprised and poorly lead Soviet troops.

2. His handling of 11th Army in the Crimea can best be described as adequate, but before Sevastopol fell his Army was spent.

3. His action while commanding forces attacking Leningrad can hardly be called brilliant.

4. His command of Army Group Don was not successful.

5. The counter attack in the winter of 1942/43 was excellent, but it was concentrated German armor against an exhausted, strung out and poorly supplied Soviet force.

6. His commander of Army Group South consisted of a failed offense and endless retreat.



"Field-Marshal von Manstein had proved the ablest commander in the German Army. He had a superb sense of operational possibilities and an equal mastery in the conduct of operations, together with a greater grasp of the potentialities of mechanised forces than any of the other commanders not trained in the tank army. In sum, he had military genius."

Captain B.H. Liddell Hart


PS. I am not comparing the abilities of any general, just pointing out that the “circumstances” that are dismissed when helping an Allied victory were also used by the Germans.



Stirring the pot.


Culiacan Mexico:

Excellent summary

And of course you make very valid points.

You are not stirrig the pot, when what you say is true.

Most of all the early German victories; most of all the fame the German armies gained; much of the reputation gained by German generals; was done against weaker, poorer, and inferior forces in Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, France, Norway, etc, etc. . .

Cheers!


HAHAHA!

A valid statement, but oh my that's simplifying the picture. So we should interpret the tactics by looking at the final result only? No wonder Patton is so popular. He's invincible!

On the tactical scale, the German army could take on prepared and well organized defenders and beat them, even in adverse weather conditions. Luckily for us, logistics and strategic planning left much to be desired.

But saying that they always failed if the opponent wasn't weaker? Nah.

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Post #: 440
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 4:32:23 PM   
Von Rom


Posts: 1705
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Kevinugly

The whole situation around the end of December near Bastogne is very confused (regarding the German side especially). 5th Panzerarmee had been ordered to take Bastogne and various formations were allotted to Manteuffel's command, but these were often ad hoc collections of men and vehicles 'cobbled together' into Kampfgruppe, launched into the fray under one commander, reinforced by another group under another, possibly senior, commander. The Germans were improvising in the way they had been on the Eastern Front for some time.

Reading through various histories of the battle, it seems relatively easy to piece together an account of the 'Bulge' up to the time of the relief of Bastogne by Patton's Third Army. The accounts of the battle to eradicate the salient following this are much less satisfactory. Even MacDonald's work (supposedly the 'definitive' account) falls away at this juncture of the battle. Of the 620 pages he gives to the battle (ignoring the epilogue and the appendices) less than twenty are concerned with 'Erasing the Bulge' (as he entitles the chapter) despite the fact that it deals with nearly a month of fighting. The first hundred 'set the scene' and the other 500 deal with around ten days of fighting.


Thanks for the info

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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 4:33:46 PM   
Von Rom


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Golf33

quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom

If this is correct, than the Fuhrer Brigade would have had 40 tanks, and the 1SS Panzer would have had 40-50 tanks.

Or, are we talking about the same tanks here for both groups?

Any other sources to clear this up?

Anyone have the OoB for the Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade in the Ardennes?


Total operational tank strength (according to Jentz) "in all units in the West" (he could mean all units involved in the offensive, or actually mean all units in the West which would include those designated for Nordwind or in static defence elsewhere) for 30 December:

quote:

StuG: 335
PzIV: 345 (including PzIV/70(V), PzIV/70(A), FlakpzIV, and Sturmpanzer)
PzV: 240
PzVI: 58 (including Tiger I, Tiger II, and Sturmtiger)


Führer-Begleit-Brigade started the offensive with:
quote:

4 FlakpzIV(2V), 4 FlakpzIV(37), 24 PzIV(lg), 43 PzIV/70(A)


Führer-Grenadier-Brigade started the offensive with:
quote:

4 FlakpzIV(37), 11 StuG, 7 PzIV(lg), 32 PzV, 12 PzIVIV/70(V)


All the units that had PzVI (in Jentz this normally includes VIE and VIB but the total at least gives a ceiling):

quote:

s.SS-Pz.Abt. 501, att to SS-Pz.Rgt. 1 of 1.SS-Pz.Div "LSSAH": 45
Pz.Abt.(Fkl) 301: 27
s.H.Pz.Abt 506: 42, with 6 replacements in transit at 10 Dec 44


So the total Tigers available at the start of the offensive was 114 with a further 6 en route, I am sure I've seen a few sources that mention a "handful" of Tiger II amongst these but I haven't seen anything suggesting there would have even been a full company of those monsters. Also, the Tiger II was distinctly unsuited to operations in terrain like the Ardennes, due to its high ground pressure (258 kg/sq.cm as opposed to 238 for the Tiger I, 142 for the Panther G, 140 for the Panther D-A, and just 87 for the PzIV), bulk, and unreliability. In dense wooded or urban areas the 88mm/L71 gun was also at a disadvantage to the 88mm/L56 of the Tiger I, due to its greater length which caused problems trying to traverse when close to trees or buildings.

According to Jentz, the total inventory (I believe this is for all German forces) of Tiger II was 174 on 1 Dec 44, and 195 on 1 Jan 45, while the inventory for Tiger I was 274 and 276 for those dates respectively. The reported losses on those dates were:
quote:

Tiger I: 1 Dec 44, 2; 1 Jan 45, 62; 1 Feb 45, ??
Tiger II: 1 Dec 44, 30; 1 Jan 45, 11; 1 Feb 45, ??

I interpret this to indicate that Tiger II were relatively uninvolved in the Ardennes fighting during December as their losses were marginal during that month compared to the losses of Tiger I. This is of course all complicated by these figures which are not for any particular battle or even front, but are overall stats for the whole tank fleet.

I think that the absence of reported losses for Jan probably indicates the near-total destruction and complete disorganisation inflicted on the German army during the misbegotten disaster that was the Ardennes.

Regards
33


Excellent break down of forces.

Thanks for the work

Cheers!

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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 4:40:36 PM   
Von Rom


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Belisarius

quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom

quote:

ORIGINAL: Culiacan Mexico

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kevinugly
… those commanders we wish to elevate to 'greatness' need to show they apply other principles too…

Finally, Patton never fought a battle where he didn't have materiel superiority on the ground and the air, where he was fighting a battle where he had to hold ground rather than take it. It's very difficult to make a case for him to be compared with WW2 commanders like Manstein and Slim who showed their capacity to successfully apply all of the principles of warfare even in the most adverse of situations. It's even more difficult to place him with the greats of all military history.
Interesting. I disagree in some areas.

The Germans did well when they had air superiority and numerical/qualitative superiority, and when they didn’t they faired poorly. So what? Should the accomplishment of the Germans in 1940 against France be dismissed because they attacked second rate troops with overwhelming force, while having air superiority?

In my opinion, German commanders as a group are overrated by most people, and Erich von Manstein is no acceptation. He understood the nature of armored warfare during this period, a rarity among German commanders, but was not a miracle worker. When in a tactically disadvantages situation he achieve no radical victories, and while his handling of Panzer forces was very good, his command of infantry forces was adequate. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t brilliant, just that his victories were achieved under similar circumstances you dismiss so easily in your post.



1. He did well with 56th Panzer Corps in 1941 with a superior force and air superiority, against a surprised and poorly lead Soviet troops.

2. His handling of 11th Army in the Crimea can best be described as adequate, but before Sevastopol fell his Army was spent.

3. His action while commanding forces attacking Leningrad can hardly be called brilliant.

4. His command of Army Group Don was not successful.

5. The counter attack in the winter of 1942/43 was excellent, but it was concentrated German armor against an exhausted, strung out and poorly supplied Soviet force.

6. His commander of Army Group South consisted of a failed offense and endless retreat.



"Field-Marshal von Manstein had proved the ablest commander in the German Army. He had a superb sense of operational possibilities and an equal mastery in the conduct of operations, together with a greater grasp of the potentialities of mechanised forces than any of the other commanders not trained in the tank army. In sum, he had military genius."

Captain B.H. Liddell Hart


PS. I am not comparing the abilities of any general, just pointing out that the “circumstances” that are dismissed when helping an Allied victory were also used by the Germans.



Stirring the pot.


Culiacan Mexico:

Excellent summary

And of course you make very valid points.

You are not stirrig the pot, when what you say is true.

Most of all the early German victories; most of all the fame the German armies gained; much of the reputation gained by German generals; was done against weaker, poorer, and inferior forces in Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, France, Norway, etc, etc. . .

Cheers!


HAHAHA!

A valid statement, but oh my that's simplifying the picture. So we should interpret the tactics by looking at the final result only? No wonder Patton is so popular. He's invincible!

On the tactical scale, the German army could take on prepared and well organized defenders and beat them, even in adverse weather conditions. Luckily for us, logistics and strategic planning left much to be desired.

But saying that they always failed if the opponent wasn't weaker? Nah.



quote:

A valid statement, but oh my that's simplifying the picture. So we should interpret the tactics by looking at the final result only


This is what some Patton critics do to Patton.


quote:

On the tactical scale, the German army could take on prepared and well organized defenders and beat them, even in adverse weather conditions.


Oh?

I seem to remember the Germany Army outside the gates of Moscow in Dec/41 was not only stalled, but it was beaten back.

At Kursk, the German armoured forces simply impaled themselves upon multiple lines of heavily prepared Soviet defenses and they had to withdraw. . .

What about Stalingrad?

Or El Alamein?

Or Bastogne?

Or. . . .

quote:

But saying that they always failed if the opponent wasn't weaker? Nah.


Some critics knock Patton's victories because they feel his opponents were weaker.

This was to show that the same can also be said about early German victories.

< Message edited by Von Rom -- 7/21/2004 2:45:22 PM >


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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 5:09:21 PM   
Von Rom


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Patton and Combined Arms - His Early Experiences

Patton was a great believer in Combined Arms. The information below is presented to show the reader about Patton's early thoughts and successes in Combined Arms.


NOTE: In part the following excerpts have been extracted from The Secret of Future Victories by Paul F. Gorman, General, U.S. Army, Retired; Combat Studies institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 66027-6900; Feb, 1992



In early 1939 Patton read a translation of Guderian's writings, and was powerfully stimulated by Guderian's suggestion that, precisely opposite to U.S. doctrine, infantry ought to be used to assist the advance of tanks. Patton's voluminous notes to himself on Guderian reflect the tactical style for which the American later became famous, well-summed in these sentences: "Mobile forces should be used in large groups and [be] vigorously led. They must attempt the impossible and dare the unknown."

It seemed possible to Patton that tanks in conjunction with closely supporting airplanes, self-propelled artillery pieces, and motorized infantrymen could break defensive lines and roam at will through enemy rear areas, completely demoralizing outflanked and confused combat troops, and paralyzing command nerve centers.


Tennessee Maneuvers, 1941

GHQ maneuvers scheduled for 1941 offered Patton, who was itching to use his new instrument of war, his first opportunities to show the Army what an armored force could accomplish.

In Tennessee, Patton and the 2d Armored division... launched a well-reconnoitered night attack, followed by a four-pronged exploitation that by 9 a.m. had captured the enemy commander and his battle staff, and forced the umpires, at 11 a.m., to stop the exercise well ahead of schedule. Major General Lesley McNair witnessed this feat of arms.

In the next phase of the maneuvers, Patton's forces knifed through the defenders with such speed that the umpires stopped the action after nine hours instead of the allocated two days. And for its finale, the 2d Armored Division swept wide around the defenders, disrupted their rear area, and captured its assigned final objective several hours ahead of the planned end to the maneuvers. Secretary Stimson was a witness to that triumph, and Patton was able to point out to him that although the division had covered long distances, "in some cases over 110 miles, every fighting vehicle in the division, except two tanks and a scout car, got to the place it was supposed to be in time to deliver the attack. . . ." Patton emerged from the Tennessee maneuvers as the rising star of the Army.

Nonetheless, on 27 November General Marshall took time to fly down to Carolina to watch the conclusion of the maneuvers, and was once more favorably impressed with Patton's willingness to dare, and with the appearance and evident high spirits of the soldiers in his division. Later, after Pearl Harbor, one Senator questioned Marshall's judgement for leaving Washington on that day with war clouds plainly in sight. Marshall's rejoinder was that the trip had enabled him personally to confirm Patton's abilities, and to decide to promote him.


In May 1941, Patton mailed to friends a copy of remarks he had made to his division:

quote:

"An armored division is the most powerful organization ever devised by the mind of men.... An armored division is that element of the team which carries out the running plays. We straight-am, and go around, and dodge, and go-around.... We must find out where the enemy is, we must hold him, and we must go around him.... One of the greatest qualities which we have is the ability to produce in our enemy the fear of the unknown. Therefore, we must always keep moving, do not sit down, do not say "I have done enough," keep on, see what else you can do to raise the devil with the enemy. . . There are no bullets in maneuvers, and things sometimes get a little dull. But play the game ... the umpires have the job of representing the bullets ... Try above all things to use your imagination. Think this is war."What would I do if that man were really shooting at me?" That is the only chance, men, that you are going to have to practice. The next time, maybe, there will be no umpires, and the bullets will be very real, both yours and the enemy's."



Within a few weeks, Patton's units were undertaking their first extensive exercises in the desert, and shortly thereafter Patton initiated a steady stream of correspondence on "lessons learned" from operations. No experiment was unworthy of his attention, no detail too small, if he thought it might improve readiness for battle. Patton was tireless in observing his units; he spent much time on a solitary hill between the Orocopia and Chuckwalla Mountains that the troops dubbed "The King's Throne," a point of vantage from which he could watch units moving about the plains below. Any slightest departure from march discipline, or any minor prospect for improving a formation or a tactic, would elicit a radio call from the "Throne." He also spent much time aloft in his light plane--he had flown his own Stimson Voyageur out from Georgia for the purpose--similarly observing and criticizing. He told his officers that "if you can work successfully here in this country, it will be no difficulty at all to kill the assorted sons of bitches you will meet in any other country."


Patton also kept in close touch with Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers, head of the Armored Force, who was responsible for armor materiel, manuals, and training techniques. Patton wrote of a three-day exercise in which his entire corps had been deployed, culminating in a "battle" between two opposing forces. He urged Devers to look into installation of a compass in the tank, and to adopt a heavier gun for the light tank, and he endorsed Devers' campaign for a better medium tank. Patton sent him ten sheets of diagrams of armor formations he had evolved by trial and error, noting that they were not perfect, but "viewed from the air and from the ground, and I have done this on every occasion, they certainly present targets practically invulnerable to aviation."

Soon, Patton had reduced what he had learned to his own manual of sorts, entitled Notes on Tactics and Techniques of Desert Warfare (Provisional), July 30, 1942.38 In it, Patton was quite didactic about air support operations, dispersed formations, and road marches. But command in battle, he asserted, was an art-form, and while he was willing to define battle's phases, he emphasized use of combined arms, and left the rest to the initiative and imagination of the commander on the ground. That commander should cope flexibly with the unexpected, relying on massive fires and maneuvers to bring fire to bear from the enemy's flank or, preferably, rear:


Some of Patton's thoughts:

quote:

Formation and material are of very secondary importance compared to discipline, the ability to shoot rapidly and accurately with the proper weapon at the proper target, and the irresistible desire to close with the enemy with the purpose of killing and destroying him. Throughout training, these things must be stressed above all others....

The force commander can exercise command from the air in a liaison plane by use of the two-way radio. He should remain in the plane until contact [with the enemy] is gained, after which one of his staff officers should be in the plane, and he himself on the ground to lead the attack....

[Reconnaissance and advance guard units] acting as ordered by the higher commander always remembering that they must never lose a chance of hurting the enemy. Sitting on a tank watching the show is fatuous--killing wins wars....

As the fight progresses, and dust clouds prevent observation, the reserve tank unit should move out to encircle the enemy and attack him from the rear. When its in position to make this attack, it should signal the force commander so that a synchronized assault may be executed....

[When attack aviation notifies it is ready] the fronts of our main assault and encircling force are outlined by clouds of specially colored smoke produced either by grenades or by artillery. This smoke gives the air a datum line as they are then able with safety to attack the narrow zone of the enemy front between the two lines of smoke....

As soon as the air attack is complete, the final assault from the front and rear is ordered. In this assault the tanks move rapidly forward to close with the enemy, while the enveloping tanks attack him from the rear. The armored infantry, moving in their carriers, follow the tanks until they are forced to dismount by hostile fire, and then rushing forward mop up and secure the spoils of victory. I repeat that the foregoing description is a great generalization. For example, in the situations where the enemy is covered by a minefield or we have been unable to locate and destroy his guns the infantry will attack first supported by the fire of all guns--Tank, Artillery, Tank Destroyer, Dual-Purpose Anti-Aircraft, and by the Air Force.



Patton held that there ought to be very little difference between the design of an infantry division and the design of an armored division, except that in the former, "the purpose of supporting weapons--primarily tanks--is to get the infantry forward. In an armored division, the purpose of the infantry is to break the tanks loose."

< Message edited by Von Rom -- 7/21/2004 3:18:24 PM >


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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 5:24:22 PM   
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Patton and Combined Arms - The Battle of the Bulge

The following article will show the reader Patton's belief in Combined Arms, and will use the Battle of the Bulge as an example of how this was employed.


NOTE: the following article is taken from Combined Arms in Battle Since 1939, Roger J. Spiller General Editor, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Press; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 1992



Flexibility

The U.S. Third Army at the Battle of the Bulge, 1944

Dr. Michael D. Pearlman



On 15 December 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, gave Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, commander in chief, British 21st Army Group, permission "to hop over to England" to spend Christmas with his son. Meanwhile, intelligence reports on the German Army were identifying more than normal amounts of railroad movement by the enemy, signs of engineers with bridging equipment, and requests for aerial reconnaissance around the Ardennes Forest. Nonetheless, the Allied high command remained confident that the Germans were doing nothing truly significant. On his part, Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley, commander of the U.S. 12th Army Group, expected just a local "spoiling" or a "diversionary attack" by the Germans and went off to visit Eisenhower for a game of whist.

At dawn the next day, 16 December, two German panzer armies... launched an attack on the U.S. VIII Corps and the right wing of the V Corp at rest in front of the Ardennes Forest. This onslaught, according to Adolf Hitler's plan, would split the British and the American forces in the European Theater of Operations (ETO); isolate the British and Canadians in the north; and open a corridor to Antwerp, the principal Allied port in northwestern Europe (see map 14). Hitler told his subordinates that a great victory on the Western Front would "bring down this artificial coalition with a crash."

The Allies were shocked. "No Goddamned fool would do it," said Bradley's G2 (assistant chief of staff for military intelligence). Not everyone, however, was completely astonished. In August 1944, when Eisenhower's own G2 was writing that "the end of the war in Europe [is] within sight," the G2 of the U.S. Third Army, Colonel Oscar W. Koch, remained cautious and alert. According to Koch, the withdrawal of the Wehrmacht from Normandy "had not been a rout or [a] mass collapse." He warned that the Germans would "wage a last-ditch struggle in the field at all costs."

In the succeeding months from August to mid-December, Koch kept his eyes on quiet sectors adjacent to the U.S. Third Army. He and its commander, Lieutenant General George S. Patton Jr., recognized that inactivity can foreshadow an enemy assault. Because the Germans were not under attack in front of the Ardennes Forest, it was the very place where they might choose to build up their strength. Koch, at a staff meeting on 9 December, specifically said that the Germans might be concentrating their combat power opposite the VIII Corps at the Ardennes.

Koch's boss, Patton, had no interest in heading north toward the VIII Corps, since Germany, his objective, was due east. For months, he had been planning "to go through the Siegfried Line [Germany's border fortifications] like **** through a goose." Nonetheless, after Koch's briefing on 9 December, he tasked his staff members to "be in a position to meet whatever happens." Thereafter, they began to survey the road net and bridges leading from Third Army's sector north to the Ardennes.

Patton, despite his own premonitions and plans, initially underestimated the strength of the German offensive launched on the 16th. He had been angry and embarrassed that elements of the First Army, to his north, and the 6th Army Group, to his south, had already reached Germany before his own troops. (They "made a monkey of me," he complained.) Now that he had finally battered his way through the defended towns of the province of Lorraine and the forts of the Maginot Line, he wished to move in only one direction, straight across the Saar River into enemy territory. Nonetheless, on 18 December, after Bradley showed him the extent and size of the German penetrations in the Ardennes, Patton responded that he would send one of his four army corps north within twenty-four hours. That contingent (III Corps) had been a planning cell removed from direct contact with the enemy. Now Patton would transfer three divisions to its command, approximately 50,000 men, to contain the German onslaught on the southern shoulder of the bulge. Meanwhile, Patton also planned to send another corps, an additional 50,000 men, northeast to cut the enemy salient at its base and trap the Germans, preventing their escape.

Not the least of Patton's many contributions during this operation (which Americans would call the Battle of the Bulge) was his style of leadership and his manner of command. Patton, according to Bradley, "naturally radiated unbound confidence and dogged determination." It was now his outspoken conviction that Germany's surprise attack was not a defeat for the Anglo-American coalition but, instead, a great opportunity for the Allied armies. In mid-August, the Allies had failed to destroy the entire German Seventh Army in France when they allowed [tens of thousands of]... enemy soldiers to escape through the Argentan-Falaise gap in Normandy. After that, supply shortages (especially gasoline fuel), constant rain, and stubborn German resistance on broken terrain dramatically limited mobility. It took Patton's Third Army sixteen miserable weeks to fight its way across Lorraine (approximately seventy-five miles wide). Now, in December, as the Germans moved out from behind their fortifications, exposing their combat assets and logistical tail, a brand new chance at a decisive victory existed-if the Allies were fast, daring, and aggressive. (Bradley later called it "a 'Falaise Gap' on a far grander scale. But this time we would have to act with much greater speed and boldness" than the Allies had done in August.)....

Between 19 and 23 December, in winter storms, the line and staff of the U.S. Third Army relocated 50 to 150 miles north. On unfamiliar roads and quagmires (after five weeks of steady rain from November to December), they deployed 133,178 motor vehicles; a new network of depots and dumps for 62,000 tons of supplies; 20,000 miles of field wire for a new communications network; numerous field and evacuation hospitals; and thousands of new terrain maps for troops entering a brand new sector. "It was," said a syndicated newspaper correspondent then serving on Patton's staff, "all wrought quietly and efficiently by a teamwork without parallel in the ETO, a teamwork rooted deeply in great know-how, in great confidence in itself and its Commander, and in great fighting spirit."

Patton, however, was not satisfied just moving his army north. His comment about letting the Germans go to Paris was only half in jest. If he had the authority, he would have let the Germans drive another fifty miles west and then cut the base of their salient. Eisenhower, having other responsibilities, could not be quite this daring. He already had committed the only strategic reserves he had, the U.S. 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions, to hold the transportation hubs and bottlenecks at the northern and southern shoulders of the German bulge.

The 82d, at St. Vith, was in the First Army's area of operations. The 101st, at Bastogne, was Patton's responsibility. Meanwhile, Hitler declared that his panzer armies "would crush everything in their path."

Patton, always looking to strike a decisive blow that could end the war then and there, would have preferred to bypass Bastogne and head straight for St. Vith, where he could rope off and destroy the entire German salient. Eisenhower, however, insisted that the 101st be rescued, although many of those cocky paratroopers later claimed that they were doing quite well on their own. (One said, "So they got us surrounded again, the poor bastards!") Whether the airborne divisions needed help or not, Patton, under orders, dispatched the 4th Armored Division, his favorite division, to relieve Bastogne.

What Patton was to the operational art of war, the 4th Armored Division was to tactics: the U.S. Army's most skillful practitioner of flexibility, initiative, and agility. "Speed, speed. Obsessiveness with speed permeated our lives," recalled a division sergeant; "no one even had to tell us; there were no orders from Patton to move faster." The 4th was one of only two divisions in the ETO to win a Presidential Unit Citation, the other one being the 101st Airborne Division, largely for its own exploits at Bastogne....

Under Wood's tutelage, the [4th Armored] division had developed an extremely flexible form of command and control that today is called "mission type orders." "Due to the swift movement of events" between July and September, "it was necessary," according to 4th Armored Division personnel, to "permit a latitude of decision to staff officers and subordinate commanders that at first appeared radical. On closer examination, however, the advantage of this system became apparent. It permitted the officer on the spot ... to make a decision quickly and take action when it was most needed and when it would do the most good."

This flexibility was necessary during the 4th Division's passage to Bastogne, 150 miles north. The lead unit of its relief column was the 37th Tank Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Creighton W. Abrams, a future Army chief of staff (1972-74). In World War II, Abrams won two Distinguished Service Crosses, two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, and an accolade from Patton: "I'm supposed to be the best tank commander in the Army, but I have a peer-Abe Abrams."

Although Time magazine called the 37th Tank Battalion "a fearsome weapon of destruction," it was far from being at its best in late December 1944. When dispatched to Bastogne, it was short 230 men and 34 tanks-one-half of its organic firepower. It might never have arrived near Bastogne at all without close air support from the XIX Tactical Air Command and its P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bombers, each plane armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, rockets, and bombs to suppress German tanks and artillery.

The Army Air Forces (AAF) in World War II took great pride in flexibility, its capstone manual claiming that "the inherent flexibility of air power is its greatest asset. This flexibility," it continued, "makes it possible to employ the whole weight of the available air power against selected areas in turn." At the beginning of the war, the AAF had virtually no capability for accurate and effective close air support. By 1944, however, it had developed and fielded the best fighter-bombers (P-47s) in any arsenal. It had also perfected a surface-to-air communications system that enabled tanks and planes to maneuver together, identifying targets of opportunity for one another as they appeared without warning on the battlefield. This, by comparison, was a far more flexible system of close air support than any the Germans had ever fielded, the Luftwaffe being used in prearranged missions for prepared breakthroughs on static enemy positions.

The 4th Armored Division, despite close air support, was still out gunned on the ground by the time it arrived within striking distance of Bastogne, but the Americans maneuvered their weapons with greater rapidity. Therefore, Abrams' immediate superior decided to skirt heavily defended enemy positions by taking secondary roads-a more time consuming but less-direct procedure. Abrams was about to proceed as directed when he observed C-47 aircraft dropping supplies on Bastogne. Convinced that American troops there were in desperate straits, he immediately changed his approach plan to the direct route (forgetting, however, to inform his commanding officer). After the first tanks of the battalion fought their way into the outskirts of Bastogne on 25 December-the day after Patton said they would arrive-Abrams received a radio inquiry from his superior: the colonel asked him to consider a breakthrough attempt and linkup with the paratroopers that night.

One would have liked to end the story of the Battle of the Bulge with the linkup at Bastogne. The airborne troops' resistance and their relief by U.S. armor was surely one of the great exploits in the history of the U.S. Army. Unfortunately, as Patton recognized from the beginning of the entire operation, Bastogne was just a road junction at the waist of the bulge. As such, it should not have become the ultimate Allied objective. Instead, the decisive point of the campaign should have been a linkup from the north and the south somewhere at the base of the German salient. There, the Allied armies could trap all the Germans they had not killed or captured. However, the Allied high command, especially Montgomery, chose a more cautious but less-rewarding plan pushing the Germans out of the bulge back into Germany.

Patton thought this plan made no sense: "If you get a monkey in the jungle hanging by his tail, it is easier to get him by cutting off his tail than kicking him in the face." Nonetheless, Patton did not get his way and was not allowed to begin his drive into the base of the bulge until 18 January. By that time, most of the Germans had escaped.

To be sure, the Bulge was a victory. The Allies killed or captured at least 100,000 Germans and destroyed 800 tanks and 1,000 planes. In the words of the German Army's official historian, the Ardennes offensive of 1944 "broke the backbone of the western front." Still, most of the German soldiers and approximately half their equipment slipped through the noose that Patton would have tied around their neck if the entire Allied force had been as flexible as his command.

The Army's capstone manual, FM 100-5, Operations (1986), says the following about flexibility:

The commander must foresee developments as far as possible. However, he must also expect uncertainties and be ready to exploit opportunities.... The defender must be agile enough to counter or evade the attacker's blow, then strike back effectively.... Reserves prepare to move anywhere in sector and make counterattack plans to cover all likely contingencies. Once the attacker has been controlled, the defender can operate against his exposed flanks and his rear.

At the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, the U.S. Army fought one of the greatest battles in its history. It did not, however, completely fulfill the high standards its doctrine now sets for itself. It blocked the enemy's main avenues of attack and rushed reserves into the critical sector, but it did not act quickly against the enemy's exposed rear areas.


Bibliography


Blumenson, Martin. Patton: The Man Behind the Legend, 1885-1945. New York: Morrow, 1985.

Bradley, Omar Nelson, and Clay Blair. A General's Life: An Auto biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983.

Farago, Ladislas. Patton: Ordeal and Triumph. New York: L Obolensky, 1963.

Franke, Nat, and Larry Smith. Patton's Best: An Informal History of the 4th Armored Division. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1978.

MacDonald, Charles Brown. A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge. New York: Morrow, 1985.

< Message edited by Von Rom -- 7/21/2004 3:54:40 PM >


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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 6:34:24 PM   
CCB


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom
Some critics knock Patton's victories because they feel his opponents were weaker.

This was to show that the same can also be said about early German victories.


D'oh! I was about to post something along those lines and you beat me too it. Oh well.

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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 7:22:59 PM   
Von Rom


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quote:

ORIGINAL: CCB

quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom
Some critics knock Patton's victories because they feel his opponents were weaker.

This was to show that the same can also be said about early German victories.


D'oh! I was about to post something along those lines and you beat me too it. Oh well.




And what also should be remembered by Patton's critics is that when Patton took charge of Third Army in England in 1944, it was basically an inexperienced, green army. In contrast, it would be facing enemy soldiers who had been at war for five years. . .

As Patton stated when he took command of Third Army: he had to start all over again, in training, discipline, toughening up the men, etc. . . before they landed in Europe.

< Message edited by Von Rom -- 7/21/2004 5:43:19 PM >


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RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 7:26:44 PM   
Von Rom


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The 4th Armored Division of Third Army, was quite the outfit.

It alone is worth reading about.

Some highlights:


Fact Sheet of the 4th Armored Division



TYPE OF DIVISION: Regular Army

NICKNAME: “Breakthrough” Division. However, no nickname has ever been officially adopted; troopers have preferred to be known simply as members of the 4th Armored.

SHOULDER PATCH: Triangular design divided into three area: red (representing Field Artillery), blue (representing Infantry), and yellow (representing Cavalry). Superimposed on three area, in black, are the track of a tank and a cannon. A bolt of lightning, in red, is superimposed on these. The Division’s number appears in the upper portion of the triangle.

ACTIVATION DATE: 15 April 1941..

INACTIVATION DATE: 26 April 1946 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

COMPONENT UNITS: Hq Co; Res. Com.; CCA; CCB; 8, 35 and 37 Tank Bns; 10, 51 and 53 Armd Inf Bns; 24th Armd Engr Bn; 25th Cav Rcn Sq (Mecz); 144 Armd Sig Co. Division Artillery: 22, 66 and 94 Armd FA Bns. Division Trains: 4th Armd Med Bn; 126 Ord Maint Bn; MP Platoon; Band.

TRAINING: Upon activation the unit was assigned to the Armored Force and stationed at Pine Camp NY. From 14 Sep through 26 Oct 1942, it maneuvered under the Second Army in Tennessee. In Nov 1942, it was transferred to Camp Young CA and participated in Desert Training Center maneuvers from 1 Dec 1942 through 22 Feb 1943. From 19 Apr to 10 Jul, it took part in further Desert Training Center maneuvers and then moved to Camp Bowie, TX, under the VIII Corps, Third Army.

DEPARTED U.S. FOR FOREIGN DUTY: 29 December 1943 from Boston..

OVERSEAS TRAINING: The Division conducted training in England prior to seeing combat on the continent.

DATE ENTERED COMBAT: Division 28 July 1944, First Elements 17 July 1944.

COMBAT DAYS (DIV): 230.

RETURNED TO U.S.: 25 April 1946.

BATTLE CREDITS: (Division) Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe.

SUCCESSIVE COMMANDING GENERALS: Major General H W Baird from April 1941 to May 1942; Major General J S Wood from May 1942 to December 1944; Major Genera l H Gaffey from Dec 944 to March 1945; Major General W M Hoge from March to July 1945; Major General F B ****ett from September 1945 to inactivation in April 1946.

CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS: 1st Lt James H Fields, Houston TX. He led his platoon in the seizure and defense of a vital hill position near Rechicourt, France, 27 Sep 1944, though greatly weakened and speechless from a serious head wound. He so inspired his depleted platoon that it faced an overwhelming rush of Germans in a stand that grabbed victory from the grasp of the Nazis.

Sgt Joseph J Sadowski, Perth Amboy NJ, for heroism near Valhey, France 14 Sep 1944. AS his unit, 37th Tank Bn, pressed towards the town under heavy fire, Sgt Sadowski’ tank was disabled, and burst into flame. He ordered his crew to take cover, but one member was unable to dismount. In the face of almost certain death, the sergeant returned to the tank and tried to pry open the turret, being killed during his efforts.

S/Sgt James R Hendrix of Lepanto AR, Company C of the 53rd Armored Infantry Bn, for wiping out two enemy artillery positions and saving the lives of three of his wounded comrades on 26 Dec 1944.

DISTINGUISHED UNIT CITATION: The division became the first Armored Division to receive the Distinguished Unit Citation, given the entire personnel for “extraordinary tactical accomplishment” from 22 Dec 44 to 27 Mar 45 in spearheading the Third Army across France into Germany.

FOREIGN AWARDS: Awarded the French Fourragere for 27 July to 11 August 1944 action at Avranches and 12 to 29 September 1944 action at Nantes and the Moselle area, France by French Decision #272, dated 22 July 1946.

COMBAT HIGHLIGHTS: From the time the 4th ArmdD entered combat on the Normandy peninsula, 17 Jul 1944, its action was nearly continuous during long trek through France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia. First real test of the Division was the battle for the city Coutances, France, on 28 Jul.

Coutances was taken the day it was attacked, and from there the Division started a marathon sprint that carried it across France to the German border in an unending chase. From Coutances, the unit swung south and lopped off the Brittany peninsula in a lightning thrust. The outfit then swung due east and Combat Command “B” drove 264 miles in 34 hours to reach Prunay, south of Vendeme, France. In mid-September the 4th smashed across the cold, swift Moselle River and drove into the heart of the Germans’ winter defense line. Two columns of steel flanks the French City of Nancy and the famous old city fell as the Germans fled to the east.

Three weeks after the 4th’s crossing of the Moselle River it saw some of the toughest fighting the Division ever encountered. The Germans counterattacked with two Panzer brigades and a Panzer Div, supported by Grenadiers. All attacks were repulsed w/o loss of ground, and at the end of three weeks men of the 4th ArmdD counted 281 German Panther and Tiger Tanks littering the hills.

On 18 Dec 1944, tankers of the organization had heard vague reports of a 2 day German offensive in Belgium & Luxembourg. Suddenly that night orders were issued for the outfit to march north against the breakthrough. Elements raced northwest thru Morhange, crossed the Moselle at Pont-a-Mousson, turned north to Briey and Longwy, then into Belgium to Arlon, before arriving at an assembly area at Vaux-les-Rosieres. The 151-mile march had been made in 19 hours. For 4 days, 22-26 Dec, the 4th pounded away at von Rundstedt’s offensive from the flank and finally on 26 Dec, the first Sherman tank lumbered the last few hundred yards over the mine strewn Arlon – Bastogne highway to signal the relief of the 101st AbnD which occupied besieged Bastogne.

After six weeks of waiting for another German attack that never materialized, the 4th plunged into action again.. This time it went thru the Siegfried Line in the wake of the 90th InfD, drove to the Kyll River, paused briefly and then took off on a historical drive that carried to the Rhine River – - 66 miles in 58 hours. Enroute the outfit had surged across the Moselle River at Trois and made a non-stop trip to the ancient city of Worms on the Rhine, after capturing Simmern, Bad Kreuznach and a huge total of Nazi prisoners.

This time the outfit passed thru the 5th InfD’s bridgehead and crossed the Rhine 24-25 Mar. The Division advanced all night and by morning straddled the Main River south of Hanau, w/4 bridges intact. From here it was a lightning advance all the way to Chemnitz and into Czechoslovakia. After V-E Day the Div was given an occupational mission at Landshut, Ger until departure for the US and inactivation. Some elements of the Div were redesignated as Constabulary units to remain in Ger as occupation forces.



These fact sheets are from The Information Section, Analysis Branch, Hq Army Ground Forces, Washington 25 DC, 1 Mar 1947, as found in the records of the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 407, Archives II, College Park MD. Not all of the Division’s Fact sheets have survived and they are being presented here in random order as new ones are found.

< Message edited by Von Rom -- 7/21/2004 10:33:30 PM >


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(in reply to Von Rom)
Post #: 448
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 8:25:58 PM   
Kevinugly

 

Posts: 438
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From: Colchester, UK
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Err, 'Hell on Wheels' was the nickname of the 2nd Armoured. They have a website - http://www.2ndarmoredhellonwheels.com/ - which is well worth a visit.

I'm presuming this was a 'slip of the keyboard' since the rest of what you posted refers to the 4th Armoured.

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(in reply to Von Rom)
Post #: 449
RE: Why was Patton so great? - 7/21/2004 8:52:10 PM   
Kevinugly

 

Posts: 438
Joined: 4/2/2003
From: Colchester, UK
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Von Rom


quote:

A valid statement, but oh my that's simplifying the picture. So we should interpret the tactics by looking at the final result only


This is what some Patton critics do to Patton.


quote:

On the tactical scale, the German army could take on prepared and well organized defenders and beat them, even in adverse weather conditions.


Oh?

I seem to remember the Germany Army outside the gates of Moscow in Dec/41 was not only stalled, but it was beaten back.

At Kursk, the German armoured forces simply impaled themselves upon multiple lines of heavily prepared Soviet defenses and they had to withdraw. . .

What about Stalingrad?

Or El Alamein?

Or Bastogne?

Or. . . .

quote:

But saying that they always failed if the opponent wasn't weaker? Nah.


Some critics knock Patton's victories because they feel his opponents were weaker.

This was to show that the same can also be said about early German victories.


'Could' but not 'would' is the appropriate word up there. At 'Kursk' the Soviets knew exactly what the Germans were going to do and prepared accordingly. Hitler delayed the offensive in order to deploy more tanks giving the Soviets even more time to build up their defences. When the Germans attacked they had none of the advantages an attacking force needs - surprise, materiel superiority, attacking at a 'weak spot'. Much the same can be said of Rommel at 'Alam Halfa' (I presume this is what you are referring to when you write 'El Alamein') after which his army was forced onto the defensive. I understand the point you make about Patton's critics but the brilliance of the 1940 German campaign in France (to serve as a suitable example) is in the planning - attack where the enemy is weakest (Sedan) and then maintain the initiative, never allowing the opposition the opportunity to recover and counter-attack. Manstein was its architect and you have to give Hitler some credit for approving it against the advice of his senior commanders in the West.

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