Okay, you win, thread successfully derailed
I think I'll 'observe' for a while 'til Senor Kevlar wanders in and locks this one up too
I, at least, am showing remarkable restraint here . I will not be mentioning the P***** word.
A brief remark about Bastogne, it took five days of fighting to reach, and a couple of weeks to clear the Germans away from. It was the key road hub to the southern thrust of the Bulge offensive. Without it, the Germans would not achieve their Operational objectives and as such, it had to be defended to the last. This made it the correct operational objective for 3rd Army (That's as close to the P**** word as I shall come). In retrospect, the defence by 101st was such that the Germans could not take it in time to make it useful, but I don't think SHAEF would have anticipated that the 101st would have done what they did. The 101st performed exellently in Normandy, but I don't think SHAEF had a right to expect any Allied Division to hold out at Bastogne for very long, so without hindsight, the decision to go for Bastogne was the correct one.
Any offensive further east with just the three divisions used would have failed, bearing in mind how much trouble they got in the drive on Bastogne. Also, without any corresponding attack from the north (which wasn't about to come) then any drive further east would have had to go right across the base of the Bulge from north to south. It would have looked a bit like Kursk, and such a drive wasn't on. I personally think it would have stopped the German offensive as they'd have looked nervously over their shoulder, but it would have run into major difficulties as the German units which historically were withdrawn from the north to fight for Bastogne, would have been diverted against it's exposed flanks instead.
So, having not mentioned the P***** word, there is only the praise section to go. The Russians did produce several notable Commanders by war's end. Zhukov is the one that I really can't make my end up about, though. On the one hand, you have successful defences of Moscow and Leningrad, on the other the debacle in front of the Seelowe heights, the disaster of Operation Mars. etc. I sometimes think he was far too callous with men's lives. I then think maybe he realised that the only advantage the Soviets had was numbers, and that by throwing large ill trained masses against the German formations, he would wear them down and buy time, which was eventually what happened. Anyone any thoughts?
For the western Allies, I can only say I just don't get too impressed by the Army Commanders, and would look at the Corp level for the real stars. I don't think the allies produced an Army Commander rounded enough to be called great, and they produced some (eg, Clark) who really disappoint. They were saved by various things, and certainly weren't so bad that they could throw their advantages away. I just think they never made the most of the advantages they had, and it was in that that the war in NW Europe lasted 11 months.
BTW, in case you weren't aware of it, your mentioning of Bastogne and Patton has also derailed this thread.
Your explanation of Bastogne and the Bulge, as usual, is fraught with inaccuracy, and fails, as did Ike, to see the Bulge in its entirety, and where the KILLING blow SHOULD have been dealt.
As a result of the Bastogne strategy (Sarge claims the 101st didn't need to be saved) the Allies lost many more thousands of lives in pushing the Germans back in FRONTAL battles. Yet this seesm to have missed your attention.
Patton's strategy of moving east behind the German salient would have cut them ALL off from retreat; would have cut them off from supply; would have captured most of the Germans; and would have resulted in far fewer Allied casualties.
Patton never failed to accomplish any mission given to him.
Even so, Patton wanted to push for Bastogne AND get behind the salient.
But please don't let the facts stand in the way of your opinions. . .
He did quite well. However, given the fact that Stalin didn't care how many Soviet soldiers' lives it took to take objectives, I think one should approach this commander with caution.
Other European Commanders:
There were actually a lot of excellent division level commanders in the Allied armies.
< Message edited by Von Rom -- 8/30/2004 5:07:43 PM >