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Freeboy and Monty - 7/27/2004 12:43:56 AM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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Sorry for the delay, Freeboy. I have more time on my hands now.

quote:

Freeboy said:

"The strategic aim in Normandy was for Montgomery to hold the line in the east and allow the Americans to break out in the west. In general, that's how it played. He had many problems. He created a rod for his own back by assigning Caen as a target for the first day. It was 10 miles inland, and never on bearing in mind what stood before Sword beach in the city." IronDuke

I don't see this as true, and you also did not justify your claim that Monty won... and didn't Patton in this same light win?
Monty was threatened by Ike with removal, read Ambrose... at Normandy for sitting on his ass. And Goodwood, sorry about Godwin mistake was hardly a victory...

So please answer the ?, Where did monty win? I can accept you don't want to credit Patton, but really stating Monty won anything after a North Africa is absurd... again what victories are you refering too?



Freeboy,
I see a few issues here.

Exactly what Monty's plan was pre-D-Day.
Whether Caen was attainable on day one.
My claim that Monty usually won (which by the way was made to illustrate how even Average Allied Generals could not fail with overwhelming material)


Monty's plan

The crucial part of the operational planning documents is reproduced in a couple of sources:

"...assault to the west of the R. Orne and to develop operations to the south and south east, in order to secure airfield sites and protect the eastern flank of the US First Army while the latter is capturing Cherbourg. In its subsequent operations the Second Army will pivot on it's left (Caen) and offer a strong front against enemy movement towards the lodgement area from the east."

In broad outline, this happened. The problem with Monty and all his subsequent fans (a problem familiar to those who've studied Patton and his fans) is that they used this to attempt to explain everything, including things which were not part of Monty's original intention at all. In other words, their inability to admit anything bad happened, and their attempt to paint everything in gold, meant a controversy which wasn't really required got started.

To begin with Monty envisaged Second Army front to be a good 10 miles beyond Caen, perhaps as far as Falaise when it began to hold off the bulk of the German reinforcements. He also (with his inability to admit any attack he planned had problems) began to continually paint each new assault before, during and after as going well and hinting it would be the climatic battle. On the one hand he continually claimed he was merely trying to write down the enemy armour and mechanised forces on 2nd Army front, but on the other he launched large scale assaults that were clearly designed to take Caen (Charnwood) take Caen again (Epsom-albeit via envelopment) and break out in to the plain beyond Caen (Goodwood).

When these failed, and he fell back on the "tie enemy armour down" argument, Ike lost patience, because he and SHAEF felt they were being taken for fools, in addition to general dissatisfaction at lack of progress.
Had Monty just said, look, I've failed to get Caen, the basic principle remains the same, but we're going to have to adjust a bit, then be honest about what he was attempting there would have been no room for controversy.

The shame is that he called the basic operational plan right. He recognised Caen was where the reinforcements would converge; he recognised that the bulk of the German elite would deploy to meet him, because a breakthrough on his front would cut off all German forces in Normandy; and he probably realised that the fighting abilities of the two sides, together with the number of troops likely to be employed in a relatively small area fairly quickly, meant it was going to be hard going.

In refusing to admit this in case it showed weakness, he stumbled from one piece of nonsense to the next.
In other words, the battle went roughly according to plan, but no one was fooled that it had gone exactly to plan in any sense, and Monty's reputation nosedived partly because he continually asserted that everything was going completely to plan. His ego wouldn't allow him any other option.


Whether Caen was attainable on day one.

I just don't see this. The plan was clear that Caen was day one objective for Sword beach. The second wave included an armoured Brigade for this purpose if memory serves. However, 10 miles was a lot by the standards of sea borne assaults to date, and the British infantry thus far in the war had not shown any marked speed when enlarging the beachhead in the hours after landing. Indeed, in general on D-Day, a number of beaches took time to get moving inland (Utah, Omaha (albeit with some extenuating circumstances) etc, so 10 miles was a not inconsiderable distance.

There were a series of good strongpoints inland, the defences in this sector were strong compared to elsewhere in Normandy, and when the plan was developed, 21st Panzer were not head quartered on Caen. I think they arrived in May (although the info didn't reach the division whose objective Caen was, which is unusual and a little suspicious in itself) at which point the basic plan could not really be changed with D-Day only a couple of weeks away.

What's more, a battalion of them were astride the axis of advance from Sword to Caen, and in conjunction with the local strongpoints would have made this exceptionally difficult ground to cover in the circumstances.

Remember that 21st Panzer had successfully concentrated a large portion of the division at Lebisey wood by 15.00, and any serious threat to Caen would have had to go through them first. I don't think in the circumstances this is realistic. Particularly since the attacking troops had spent the previous few days cramped aboard rolling ships.

As for Monty, he won set piece battles during the African pursuit, eventually ground out victory in Sicily, taking on the strongest of the enemy positions and arriving in Messina only a few hours after you know who, although the German withdrawal dictated the speed of advance to some degree for both drives.

He lost individual battles in Normandy, in no way could Epsom and Goodwood be considered victories, but in the end he won the campaign and arrived on the Seine 2 days earlier than predicted. This was something else that was worked into the Monty legend, completely ignoring the fact that the way he reached the Seine in 90 days was nothing like the plan envisaged.

Rune makes some comments about late war operations. He eventually cleared the area around Antwerp and the Scheldt estuary, stormed across the Rhine etc. Like all late war

Regarding

quote:

Monty was threatened by Ike with removal, read Ambrose... at Normandy for sitting on his ass.


I think the problems with Ike were less that Monty was doing nothing (the casualty returns from Charnwood, Epsom and Goodwood indicate he was indeed doing something serious) but because all his efforts weren't achieving too much too quickly. Monty exacerbated the situation by refusing to admit anything was going awry. Ike was no fool, and to listen to Monty explain why his succession of stalemated battles were not as bad as it seemed only angered him as he felt he was being talked down to. He felt Monty was treating him like an idiot.

Patton did indeed win in the same fashion. He played his part successfully in the bulge, he even won at Metz after all the killing was finished. My problem with these individuals is that I don't think they won as well as they should given the advantages they had. I don't think their plans exhibited the same degree of quality as is sometimes claimed. It wasn't all about Generals, Allied tactical performance re infantry has been questioned and debated fiercely for the last 60 years as well. However, the fact that a select number of German Commanders have emerged from the war with little criticism, but hardly any (Slim springs to mind as a possible exception) of the Allied Commanders have emerged without much criticism (Bradley also has a number of critics) suggests the performance of Allied senior officers was not as clear cut as it might have been, or final victory suggests it was.

As for Monty, ultimately he commanded in Normandy. How it worked out on the ground is discernible in the plan. Had he just admitted all of this, plan was broadly right, but a lot of the detail didn't happen as I had planned, he'd have been better off because few plans of this magnitude work out the way they were intended anyway, because to quote the military maxim, they don't survive contact with the enemy. However, he and his legend demanded that everything did, and it does him a disservice, because few talk or concentrate on those things he didn't do all that badly, all talk concentrates on what he did poorly.


Regards,
IronDuke

< Message edited by IronDuke -- 7/26/2004 10:48:15 PM >
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RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/27/2004 3:15:25 AM   
Golf33

 

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ID,

I've got three main questions on this:

1. Where do you see the role of Dempsey in all this? Normandy is often talked about in terms of 'Monty stuck in front of Caen, Bradley breaking through at St Lo' but since Monty was in charge of the whole show, not just 2nd Army, wasn't Dempsey the logical equivalent to Bradley?

2. Was there a significant difference in the way Monty dealt with his British subordinates in 2nd Army, compared to the way he largely allowed Bradley to formulate and carry out plans without interference? It seems logical that if he allowed one army to operate relatively free from interference, he would have done the same with the other, but the different nationalities and relationships concerned make this something that cannot be safely assumed without evidence. I haven't got any either way, unfortunately, but it seems like a pretty important and interesting issue.

3. What do you think of the argument of Neillands that GOODWOOD was never intended to be a breakthrough battle, and that had 1st Army been in position to launch COBRA as scheduled, GOODWOOD would never have become such a controversial issue?

I certainly agree with your assessment of Montgomery's ridiculous posturing about his planning abilities. This has done enormous damage to his reputation, not only because it's unattractive in and of itself, but because it has also obscured what I see as his flexibility and initiative in changing the plan when the situation required it - something he is often described as being incapable of.

Regards
33

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Steve Golf33 Long

(in reply to IronDuke_slith)
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RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/27/2004 3:41:52 AM   
Error in 0


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IronDuke
As far as I know, all allied plans for the invasion failed to some degree. Some of this I believe can be credited as bad luck (bad weather, inexperienced glider pilots etc), but how much in the weeks following D-Day can be explained by the allied thinking they were better than they really were, or believing the germans was weaker than reality? Indeed, this was the case with the SS Hitlerjugend around Caen.

(in reply to IronDuke_slith)
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RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/27/2004 8:32:00 AM   
Ludovic Coval

 

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Golf,

quote:

1. Where do you see the role of Dempsey in all this? Normandy is often talked about in terms of 'Monty stuck in front of Caen, Bradley breaking through at St Lo' but since Monty was in charge of the whole show, not just 2nd Army, wasn't Dempsey the logical equivalent to Bradley?

2. Was there a significant difference in the way Monty dealt with his British subordinates in 2nd Army, compared to the way he largely allowed Bradley to formulate and carry out plans without interference? It seems logical that if he allowed one army to operate relatively free from interference, he would have done the same with the other, but the different nationalities and relationships concerned make this something that cannot be safely assumed without evidence. I haven't got any either way, unfortunately, but it seems like a pretty important and interesting issue.


I may be wrong but I suspect that you see Bradley being same level than Dempsey. He was not. Bradley was in command of 12 AG while Monty had the 21 AG. They had same level of command. This said, US forces were under Monty command until 12 AG activated.

LC

(in reply to Error in 0)
Post #: 4
RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/27/2004 1:19:09 PM   
EricGuitarJames

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Ludovic Coval


I may be wrong but I suspect that you see Bradley being same level than Dempsey. He was not. Bradley was in command of 12 AG while Monty had the 21 AG. They had same level of command. This said, US forces were under Monty command until 12 AG activated.

LC


Until 12 AG was activated Bradley commanded US 1st Army and so technically was subordinated to Monty. However, my reading of the situation is that in reality Montgomery's authority over Bradley was nominal and I suspect any direct orders would have had to have gone through Eisenhower.

_____________________________

It's Just a Ride!

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Post #: 5
RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/27/2004 4:27:31 PM   
freeboy

 

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JallaTryne
I agree, and the number one reason these "timetable " plans failed? My vote, hedgerow country, unlike anything the allies had seen...Had the Germans pulled troops from the channel Islands, and from Norway and give even half to the forces at Normandy.. and no German counter attack this would have been an even uglier "slowdown".. but in the end it would not have made that much difference... men material and planes overhead one the day.. but what about monty? He does not impress me in that he scraped by in Normandy and in North Africa beat a understreanth and ill supplied foe.. but thats just me.... I guess when one looks at the horrific casualties for divisions like the Regina Rifiles... ouch, but Monty was catious and a planner... and I see these as flaws when push came to shove and the attacks in Normandy where delayed... remember the Germans had to have some idea Monty'e forces would attack at Caen, and they where busy fortifying... Sicily? well again you had pretty7 pethetic Italian units, and a few Germans agains superior number and overwelming Allied air/supplies. I do not see his greatness or "winning"... I( think perhaps it was the comparrison to Patton in that "Other "thread that started this.. so lets not go down that slippery slope...

< Message edited by freeboy -- 7/27/2004 10:28:00 PM >

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RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/27/2004 4:48:38 PM   
Error in 0


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quote:

ORIGINAL: freeboy

JallaTryne
I agree, and the number one reason these "timetable " plans failed? My vote, hedgerow country, unlike anything the allies had seen...


The hegderow country was a problem for the americans. One general said they simply did not expect to be in this kind of terrain long enough to give it proper attention prior to the landing. Thus, the hedgerow country was a much more difficult problem than they believed it to be, or they simply overestimated their strength. Zetterling point out how he is surprised over the difficulties the americans faced in hedgerows. He beleives that the americans faild to use infiltration tequnices properly. If the german inf were so effective against the american pz, why did not the americans use their inf to counter this?

As far as I know, the hegderow was not the problem around Caen. Here, the 21SS was the problem. Is it wrong to say that Monty underestimated the Hitlerjugend? If so, it is rather strange. Monthy experience in N Africa that understrenght german units would still "kick ass", and this was after all a new SS division. Unless he was unsure of the presence of 21.SS east of Caen, I would say the plan of capturing Caen on the first and second day was totally unrealistic. No credit to Monty there.

Most everything failed in the Caen affair for Monthy. Yes, he did meet the strongest german forces in Normandy, as opposed to the americans in the west, but he must have expected it. It was clear that Caen was the key to Normandy, and I wonder if he had any plan B if the capture of Caen on day 1/2 did not succeed. Some of the actions in the following days gives no good indication of this, I believe. Does anyone know if a plan B was considered before D-Day?

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RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/27/2004 11:26:56 PM   
dinsdale


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quote:

ORIGINAL: JallaTryne
He beleives that the americans faild to use infiltration tequnices properly. If the german inf were so effective against the american pz, why did not the americans use their inf to counter this?


A bit like asking why those attacking trenches didn't use them as well as the defenders ;) Hedgerows favour dug-in defenders, not advancing tanks/infanty.

quote:


As far as I know, the hegderow was not the problem around Caen. Here, the 21SS was the problem. Is it wrong to say that Monty underestimated the Hitlerjugend? If so, it is rather strange. Monthy experience in N Africa that understrenght german units would still "kick ass", and this was after all a new SS division. Unless he was unsure of the presence of 21.SS east of Caen, I would say the plan of capturing Caen on the first and second day was totally unrealistic. No credit to Monty there.

Did he underestimate the problem on the field, or was the real problem the D-Day+ timetables set during the planning? Caen was an impossible deadline, which Montgomery being instrumental in planning shoulders the blame.

One thing though, suppose Caen did fall on schedule, what difference to the campaign would it have made?

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RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/28/2004 12:08:40 AM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Golf33

ID,

I've got three main questions on this:

1. Where do you see the role of Dempsey in all this? Normandy is often talked about in terms of 'Monty stuck in front of Caen, Bradley breaking through at St Lo' but since Monty was in charge of the whole show, not just 2nd Army, wasn't Dempsey the logical equivalent to Bradley?


Excellent point, Dempsey is often a bit player in what is written, yet he was Bradley's equivalent, at least until Aug 1st when 12th Army Group activated. Hasting's (although the remark is unreferenced) suggests he was said to have been treated more like A Corp Commander than an Army Commander by Monty, although he describes him as being a good judge of ground, and a reliable executor of Monty's wishes.

He was responsible for the adhoc shfting of 7th Armoured which resulted in the battle around villiers Bocage in early June (the infamous Wittman battle) and it was 2nd Army which wrote the Goodwood battle plan which Monty approved. However, certainly Epson (IIRC) was planned on the basis of an axis of advance provided by Montgomery and I get the feeling that Dempsey never had the slack that Bradley got. I think partly because Montgomery was wrestling with a whole series of issues regarding the British Army in Normandy, which he felt required his attention. This inevitably led him to take a greater interest in what happened to them. I think Dempsey was naturally going to find it hard to operate very independantly, he was working for the victor of Alamein after all. I thinkit's safe to say he didn't find the arrangement overly irritating, though.

quote:

2. Was there a significant difference in the way Monty dealt with his British subordinates in 2nd Army, compared to the way he largely allowed Bradley to formulate and carry out plans without interference? It seems logical that if he allowed one army to operate relatively free from interference, he would have done the same with the other, but the different nationalities and relationships concerned make this something that cannot be safely assumed without evidence. I haven't got any either way, unfortunately, but it seems like a pretty important and interesting issue.


Yes, I think there was. Bradley certainly thought so, writing after the war that Montgomery did not exercise command over the Americans that badly, suggesting he was tactful at all times. A meeting on 10th July perhaps illustrates this. Bradley was forced to admit that his latest attack south had failed. Monty says "Don't worry, Brad, take all the time you need." Then he merely suggests that if he were Brad, he would concentrate his forces a little more. No orders, no criticism, just a friendly suggestion. I think 2nd Army got all operations approved, and not a few of their plans "suggested". I think he treated them both quite differently.

quote:

3. What do you think of the argument of Neillands that GOODWOOD was never intended to be a breakthrough battle, and that had 1st Army been in position to launch COBRA as scheduled, GOODWOOD would never have become such a controversial issue?


Goodwood, Monty's low point, and a bad day for the British Army. Ultimately, I think the battle is all things to all people, and I think Momntgomery deliberately set it up that way. Neillands talks of Monty's staff Officer visiting Brooke in London to explain the plan to him, making it clear the objectives were as Neillands describes. Hastings, however, quotes from a letter written to Brooke which explains that Monty wants a major showdown on his flank, letting armour "loose" in the plain beyond Caen because he is worried casualties are reducing the quality of his formations and he wants to fight the big battle whilst he still has formations capable of doing it.

I think much of the debate is wide of the mark, and perhaps only controversial because of how things panned out.

Firstly, this is a typical Monty battle. He likes tidy battlefields, and the initial objectives are merely to seize the southern suburbs of Caen and secure the high ground around the Bourgebus ridges. However, I've never really understood what a battle of attrition actually is. To my mind, it's merely a normal battle that is initially stalemated, leading to both sides committing more and more forces to win it, banking the other side will run out of men and material first. These sorts of battles have normal objectives, however, as did Charnwood and Epsom. To commit half of Second Army to this operation, together with 750 - 800 tanks, and a massive heavy bomber raid backed by hundreds of guns and Naval gunfire off the coast suggests to me, that whatever the initial objectives, he was eyeing the entire plain south of Caen.

Imagine Goodwood's initial objectives are successful. Canadian infantry have secured the last suburbs of Caen behind him, he has Three Armoured divisions in the north of the plain, owns the high ground of the Bourgebus ridge, and the German divisions have only just received a massive aerial bombardment. It's a no brainer, he has to push on. I don't think it's possible to stop, and he must have realised this.

Leaving aside the operational mess that the battle began and continued as, I just don't see how he could launch this if his true objectives were so limited. You make a point about his flexibility, and you're right, Goodwood illustrates (IMHO) where the flexibility came from. Limited initial objectives, a steady advance, with plenty of operational "pauses" built in in order to re-assess. Once astride the Bourgebus Ridge, I'm sure Monty would have looked to get a feel for what was left of the Germans in front of him, but would have had to push on if he sensed (or his commanders reported) that the Germans were crumbling.

It's why I think the debate is so controversial. Writing down enemy armour can only be achieved by fighting a normal battle, with normal objectives. There is no special way to fight a battle of attrition. You don't say, go out and kill the enemy. You say, go out and capture that piece of ground. The attrition is essentially your attitude, not your strategy. Attritional battles are won like any other. In this, Neillands has it wrong, in that he claims Monty never intended to set out for Falaise. I think that was where he was eyeing when the guns started and the bombers started dropping high explosives over the German lines. Half his Army would not have been employed to capture four miles of ground and a few suburbs. This was an awfully big operation, and very bold as well, if he just wanted to tidy up. However, it was not his style to plan for Falaise, he would simply work out what to do next depending on what unfolded. Monty's style was not to paint a picture of the battle too far down the line, but to set a series of incremental objectives that gave him plenty of room to adjust if required. I think it's why everyone could come away claiming they were right (and citing evidence to prove it). Neillands points to the limited initial objectives, and everyone else points to the words he used to describe what was being attempted. I would point to how he fought his battles, together with the size of force employed. In a nutshell, he wrote orders for limited objectives, because that was his bottom line, and the way he liked to do things. However, I don't doubt what he wanted was a quick seizing of those objectives and the chance to push further down the plain. It is this enthusiasm he passed onto everyone else in his desire to improve his standing at SHAEF and in London.

The problem with Goodwood is that as the Tanks started brewing up, he never got either the sense the Germans were crumbling, nor the room (because of the constraints of the operational plan) to make adjustments. The plain just became a killing zone, and his influence zero.

quote:

I certainly agree with your assessment of Montgomery's ridiculous posturing about his planning abilities. This has done enormous damage to his reputation, not only because it's unattractive in and of itself, but because it has also obscured what I see as his flexibility and initiative in changing the plan when the situation required it - something he is often described as being incapable of.


I agree, as I've noted, I think Goodwood offers a perfect example of where the flexibility would come from. Alamein is the same, there's no real plan for a breakout, just a series of overpowering blows. I once saw it described as a classic bite and hold operation reminiscent of the first world war, and I think that's what Goodwood began as, but Monty was hoping for so much more, and it is this hope that Ike and everyone else picked up on. Either way, it was political suicide for him to allow everyone to think he was aiming for the breakthough if he wasn't.

I certainly think he was flexible, more so than he is credited for. He placed no great objectiions in Bradley's way as he marshalled the breakout, and in Sicily it was he (at a meeting in Palermo,) who suggested Patton drive along the northern coast to Messina.

Regards,
IronDuke

< Message edited by IronDuke -- 7/28/2004 12:38:30 AM >

(in reply to Golf33)
Post #: 9
RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/28/2004 12:21:41 AM   
Error in 0


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quote:

ORIGINAL: dinsdale

quote:

ORIGINAL: JallaTryne
He beleives that the americans faild to use infiltration tequnices properly. If the german inf were so effective against the american pz, why did not the americans use their inf to counter this?


A bit like asking why those attacking trenches didn't use them as well as the defenders ;) Hedgerows favour dug-in defenders, not advancing tanks/infanty.



What position does not favour defenders? The problem with hedgerows was that the tanks had to 'climb' them rather than drive through them, and this made it not possible to use the tank guns for some crucial time. And it exposed the weaker hull for enemy panserfaust and like. I am probably simplistic and naive, but under any other circumstance where your tanks are being picked off by infantery, you make sure you use your own infantery to clear the area. And the areas were not very big. It was not like the areas around Caen where Panthers and 88mm would ignite the 'tommycooker's from a safe distance. Please explain why the hedgerows were so different.

quote:


One thing though, suppose Caen did fall on schedule, what difference to the campaign would it have made?


I dont know? The germans could not hope to take the beaches if Caen fell, I believe. I am sure someone here has analyzed this 'what is' scenario.

(in reply to dinsdale)
Post #: 10
RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/28/2004 12:32:35 AM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: JallaTryne

quote:

ORIGINAL: freeboy

JallaTryne
I agree, and the number one reason these "timetable " plans failed? My vote, hedgerow country, unlike anything the allies had seen...


The hegderow country was a problem for the americans. One general said they simply did not expect to be in this kind of terrain long enough to give it proper attention prior to the landing. Thus, the hedgerow country was a much more difficult problem than they believed it to be, or they simply overestimated their strength. Zetterling point out how he is surprised over the difficulties the americans faced in hedgerows. He beleives that the americans faild to use infiltration tequnices properly. If the german inf were so effective against the american pz, why did not the americans use their inf to counter this?

As far as I know, the hegderow was not the problem around Caen. Here, the 21SS was the problem. Is it wrong to say that Monty underestimated the Hitlerjugend? If so, it is rather strange. Monthy experience in N Africa that understrenght german units would still "kick ass", and this was after all a new SS division. Unless he was unsure of the presence of 21.SS east of Caen, I would say the plan of capturing Caen on the first and second day was totally unrealistic. No credit to Monty there.

Most everything failed in the Caen affair for Monthy. Yes, he did meet the strongest german forces in Normandy, as opposed to the americans in the west, but he must have expected it. It was clear that Caen was the key to Normandy, and I wonder if he had any plan B if the capture of Caen on day 1/2 did not succeed. Some of the actions in the following days gives no good indication of this, I believe. Does anyone know if a plan B was considered before D-Day?


Jallatryne,
I think the combat performance of German and American units is a 20 page thread all on it's own. I think no one gave enough thought to the problems of what happened after the beaches. American units trained on Dartmoor when beyond the beaches were miles and miles of Bocage. Most training centred on the initial assault and the lodgement. As a result, the Americans had to pick up the tricks of fighting in the bocage on the job, and suffered horrendously as a result.

There's a lot of suspicion about 21st Panzer. It is reported as being centred around Caen in May, but the information never reached the Commanders planning the assault on Sword. Almost as if bad news was being withheld ala Arnhem.

12SS were an unknown entity, to be fair. They emerged from the campaign with a reputation second to none (in combat, not in morality) but it would have been difficult to predict this in advance. I think Caen was unrealistic given how Allied amphibious landings had gone to date, I can't think of too many examples where troops landing got ten miles on the first day. Given the forces between Sword and Caen, I agree it was unrealistic. I think the attempt had to be made, though, although I don't think Monty really expected Caen to be quite as much trouble as it eventually was.

I don't think there was a plan B, because everyone expected a steady slog, with the germans retreating to new defensive positions, week by week. That they couldn't be forced to conform to this plan by Allied forces laid out the problems.

Regards,
IronDuke

(in reply to Error in 0)
Post #: 11
RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/28/2004 12:39:15 AM   
IronDuke_slith

 

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From: Manchester, UK
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quote:

ORIGINAL: dinsdale

quote:

ORIGINAL: JallaTryne
He beleives that the americans faild to use infiltration tequnices properly. If the german inf were so effective against the american pz, why did not the americans use their inf to counter this?


A bit like asking why those attacking trenches didn't use them as well as the defenders ;) Hedgerows favour dug-in defenders, not advancing tanks/infanty.

quote:


As far as I know, the hegderow was not the problem around Caen. Here, the 21SS was the problem. Is it wrong to say that Monty underestimated the Hitlerjugend? If so, it is rather strange. Monthy experience in N Africa that understrenght german units would still "kick ass", and this was after all a new SS division. Unless he was unsure of the presence of 21.SS east of Caen, I would say the plan of capturing Caen on the first and second day was totally unrealistic. No credit to Monty there.

Did he underestimate the problem on the field, or was the real problem the D-Day+ timetables set during the planning? Caen was an impossible deadline, which Montgomery being instrumental in planning shoulders the blame.

One thing though, suppose Caen did fall on schedule, what difference to the campaign would it have made?


I think they could suit the infiltration techniques of the germans, and they could suit those prepared to fight at night. What they required though, was combined arms at a very tactical level to overcome, and I don't think the Allies always showed that. The Americans eventually brought together Tanks, engineers and infantry into small ad hoc platoon and company sized groups to take the fields one by one. However, their formations (including a number of untested ones) had to learn the skills on the job.

Had Caen fallen, I think it depends. 12SS and 21st Panzer would have launched an immediate counterattack. This could have been stopped by naval gunfire, it might not at this early stage, a lot depended on how secure the British had the place on the evening of the 6th. My guess is that there would have been no more than a battalion of armour and a battalion of two or infantry there, and I suspect the Germans would have recaptured the town, albeit at heavy cost. To have these two key German formations embroiled in street fighting so early on may have had an influence on the rest of the campaign
where the casualty levels this might have entailed would have become felt.

Regards,
Ironduke

(in reply to dinsdale)
Post #: 12
RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/28/2004 7:43:57 AM   
dinsdale


Posts: 384
Joined: 5/1/2003
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: JallaTryne
What position does not favour defenders? The problem with hedgerows was that the tanks had to 'climb' them rather than drive through them, and this made it not possible to use the tank guns for some crucial time. And it exposed the weaker hull for enemy panserfaust and like. I am probably simplistic and naive, but under any other circumstance where your tanks are being picked off by infantery, you make sure you use your own infantery to clear the area.

Sending infantry in alone caused terrible casualties. They faced entrenched Mg34 and Mg42s, and the problem with Bocage is that there is a perfect killing zone between each hedgerow, for tanks or infantry.

quote:


And the areas were not very big. It was not like the areas around Caen where Panthers and 88mm would ignite the 'tommycooker's from a safe distance. Please explain why the hedgerows were so different.

Different from open ground? Well for one the defensive positions are not as exposed to artillery or air attack in Bocage. Secondly, it's far easier to fall back to another prepared defensive position as it's completely obscured from the advancing units.

Another problem; how to know whether a hedge was held by a company with 88s and MGs, or a squad with a couple of snipers; each would take the same amount of time to advance and clear.

If you believe that bocage should not have held additional problems, then ask yourself why it was such slow going through that countryside compared to just about all other advances, including the desert (your open field killing zone.)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Iron Duke]
However, their formations (including a number of untested ones) had to learn the skills on the job.

I think that sentence sums up the problem neatly. Lack of training and poor preparation for the terrain. As you mentioned, troops trained in Southern England for D-Day, yet no one appeared to understand that French hedgerows were 4-6 feet taller than English ones. IIRC it took some improvisation attaching steel teeth to the front of tanks to enable them to break through the hedges.

Simply, the men were let down by the planners of D-Day who were so meticulous in their plans but omitted something so crucial as how to assault a very particular terrain.

quote:

To have these two key German formations embroiled in street fighting so early on may have had an influence on the rest of the campaign where the casualty levels this might have entailed would have become felt.


Might it have changed the eventual breakout strategy? Could the allies have exploited such an advance early enough to avoid slogging through bocage? Would the allies have even been able to hold it? I agree with your assesment that the Panzer divisions might have recaptured the town, but could the allies have adjusted fast enough to hold on?

(in reply to Error in 0)
Post #: 13
RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/28/2004 1:49:10 PM   
Error in 0


Posts: 239
Joined: 7/19/2004
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: dinsdale

quote:

ORIGINAL: JallaTryne
What position does not favour defenders? The problem with hedgerows was that the tanks had to 'climb' them rather than drive through them, and this made it not possible to use the tank guns for some crucial time. And it exposed the weaker hull for enemy panserfaust and like. I am probably simplistic and naive, but under any other circumstance where your tanks are being picked off by infantery, you make sure you use your own infantery to clear the area.

Sending infantry in alone caused terrible casualties. They faced entrenched Mg34 and Mg42s, and the problem with Bocage is that there is a perfect killing zone between each hedgerow, for tanks or infantry.

quote:


And the areas were not very big. It was not like the areas around Caen where Panthers and 88mm would ignite the 'tommycooker's from a safe distance. Please explain why the hedgerows were so different.

Different from open ground? Well for one the defensive positions are not as exposed to artillery or air attack in Bocage. Secondly, it's far easier to fall back to another prepared defensive position as it's completely obscured from the advancing units.

Another problem; how to know whether a hedge was held by a company with 88s and MGs, or a squad with a couple of snipers; each would take the same amount of time to advance and clear.

If you believe that bocage should not have held additional problems, then ask yourself why it was such slow going through that countryside compared to just about all other advances, including the desert (your open field killing zone.)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Iron Duke]
However, their formations (including a number of untested ones) had to learn the skills on the job.

I think that sentence sums up the problem neatly. Lack of training and poor preparation for the terrain. As you mentioned, troops trained in Southern England for D-Day, yet no one appeared to understand that French hedgerows were 4-6 feet taller than English ones. IIRC it took some improvisation attaching steel teeth to the front of tanks to enable them to break through the hedges.

Simply, the men were let down by the planners of D-Day who were so meticulous in their plans but omitted something so crucial as how to assault a very particular terrain.

quote:

To have these two key German formations embroiled in street fighting so early on may have had an influence on the rest of the campaign where the casualty levels this might have entailed would have become felt.


Might it have changed the eventual breakout strategy? Could the allies have exploited such an advance early enough to avoid slogging through bocage? Would the allies have even been able to hold it? I agree with your assesment that the Panzer divisions might have recaptured the town, but could the allies have adjusted fast enough to hold on?


I see you point. I agree that the bocage was a unexpected problem for the US, and that it was not addressed properly in D-Day planning (this I said in my opening post). I am discussing this since Zetterling find the bocage problems to be exagerated. Infiltration by US infantry would have spotted any big guns, and it has always been the danger for the Shermans that was the problem of the bocage, not inf casualties. I feel Zetterling is confused as to why it took the US so long to find proper tactics for the bocages when it could be overcomed by infiltration. Maybe the US relied too much on the use of tanks? I have heard somewhere that the bocage problem was not overcomed until the shermans were equipped with a 'spoon' at the front, so they lifted the bocage infront of the tank instead of having to drive over it.

About the fast going in open fields. I think that under the African campaign and in Normandy we have many examples of negative going in open fields. An allied advance stopped dead in the tracks and sometimes repulsed back behind starting position. It dont get much 'slower' than that . In the bocage however, when you progressed 100 m it was unlikely you would loos them.

(in reply to dinsdale)
Post #: 14
RE: Freeboy and Monty - 7/28/2004 11:48:25 PM   
IronDuke_slith

 

Posts: 1595
Joined: 6/30/2002
From: Manchester, UK
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: dinsdale

quote:

ORIGINAL: JallaTryne
What position does not favour defenders? The problem with hedgerows was that the tanks had to 'climb' them rather than drive through them, and this made it not possible to use the tank guns for some crucial time. And it exposed the weaker hull for enemy panserfaust and like. I am probably simplistic and naive, but under any other circumstance where your tanks are being picked off by infantery, you make sure you use your own infantery to clear the area.

Sending infantry in alone caused terrible casualties. They faced entrenched Mg34 and Mg42s, and the problem with Bocage is that there is a perfect killing zone between each hedgerow, for tanks or infantry.

quote:


And the areas were not very big. It was not like the areas around Caen where Panthers and 88mm would ignite the 'tommycooker's from a safe distance. Please explain why the hedgerows were so different.

Different from open ground? Well for one the defensive positions are not as exposed to artillery or air attack in Bocage. Secondly, it's far easier to fall back to another prepared defensive position as it's completely obscured from the advancing units.

Another problem; how to know whether a hedge was held by a company with 88s and MGs, or a squad with a couple of snipers; each would take the same amount of time to advance and clear.

If you believe that bocage should not have held additional problems, then ask yourself why it was such slow going through that countryside compared to just about all other advances, including the desert (your open field killing zone.)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Iron Duke]
However, their formations (including a number of untested ones) had to learn the skills on the job.

I think that sentence sums up the problem neatly. Lack of training and poor preparation for the terrain. As you mentioned, troops trained in Southern England for D-Day, yet no one appeared to understand that French hedgerows were 4-6 feet taller than English ones. IIRC it took some improvisation attaching steel teeth to the front of tanks to enable them to break through the hedges.

Simply, the men were let down by the planners of D-Day who were so meticulous in their plans but omitted something so crucial as how to assault a very particular terrain.

quote:

To have these two key German formations embroiled in street fighting so early on may have had an influence on the rest of the campaign where the casualty levels this might have entailed would have become felt.


Might it have changed the eventual breakout strategy? Could the allies have exploited such an advance early enough to avoid slogging through bocage? Would the allies have even been able to hold it? I agree with your assesment that the Panzer divisions might have recaptured the town, but could the allies have adjusted fast enough to hold on?


I think you summarise the basic problems of the Bocage very well, nothing to add.

It depends re 21st and 12th. The Allies didn't concentrate early enough or well enough, but it took the Germans a while to feed more and more formations into the line and produce a coherent front. Had those formations been dragged into an early attritional fight around Caen, it might have prevented the front congealing in quite the way it did.

That said, I don't think we can blame the Allies for what happened. I don't think you can fight an attritional battle before the bridgehead is secured so the follow on forces can land and concentrate in peace. It was just never on for Monty to go all out for Caen before he had linked with the Americans, established a continuous bridgehead and roped off the lodgement area so he could start the build up.

regards,
IronDuke

(in reply to dinsdale)
Post #: 15
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