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  • Biggest/Most embarrasing military stuffup?

    Thought this might be an interesting topic for a thread (if it hasnt been done before).

    My first thoughts about it are Cannae and Singapore, while the Romans at Cannae at least had a go, they did the wrong thing with the wrong opponent. Percival at Singapore was completely incompetant in my mind. Also, McClellan rates as a military nincompoop although many may disagree.

    What i find interesting in military history though is a commander may have a brilliant plan, but his opponent does better and wins the battle. The loser is then branded a fool, or at least his actions were foolish. Alternatively, a commander might have a crapy plan but his opponents is even worse, he ends up winning the battle and is called a great strategist. I think this fits the scenario at Cannae from what i know of it. Looking at the Romans style of warfare it looks like a fair tactic to cover your flanks with mountains/cliffs (?) to deny the enemy of a flanking manouvre. Just not a good plan against Hannibal. Theres also instances where McClellan acted too cautiously but maybe pragmatically but was outcommanded by Lee.

    However no matter how you look at it supply problems or not Percivals shitty defence of Singapore was a disgrace. Surely he had some idea what the Japs were like regarding prisoners surely he should have made a stand there and then.
    Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs...the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline - General Monash

  • #2
    Not one of the worst but one of the most famous stuff-ups belongs to Custer. He's remembered the world over because of it!

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    • #3
      battle of the Java sea comes to mind.
      French Soldier: You don't frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King," you and all your silly English K-nig-hts.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by screamer
        battle of the Java sea comes to mind.
        Was that ww2? what happened?
        Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs...the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline - General Monash

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        • #5
          a combined Dutch/australian/britisch/american fleet attacked japanese warships in the javasea and got slaughtered. japs got 1 damaged ship in total, still combat capable...............do a search on it.



          [gramps told me once about his brother who served on the flagship of that fleet, De Ruyter and sunk.]
          French Soldier: You don't frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King," you and all your silly English K-nig-hts.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by screamer
            a combined Dutch/australian/britisch/american fleet attacked japanese warships in the javasea and got slaughtered. japs got 1 damaged ship in total, still combat capable...............do a search on it.



            [gramps told me once about his brother who served on the flagship of that fleet, De Ruyter and sunk.]
            It looks like a case of being outgunned really, and it seems the action was a last act of desperation. I dont know much bout navy stuff tho.
            Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs...the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline - General Monash

            Comment


            • #7
              The failed operation of the hostages from Iran ought to be up there, There was no centaral control as all branches of the service wanted their finger in the pie and would not let any branch be in charge. A sandstorm didn't help matters but you cannot run a military operation without a decent central command.

              The maginot line should also be tossed in. WWI Germany sweeps through Belgium into France. France makes a strong point of its boorder with Germany. In WWII Germany merely calls the same play from the playbook runing an end around and by passes it.

              Pearl Harbor might be includable as the Japanese missed the US carries which was a strong part of their goal. Had they caught our carriers in port things would have deffinitly been ugly. I belive the US would have been able to ultimatly prevail in the Pacific due to its vast resource base, but I suspect our friends down under would have needed liberating.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by screamer
                battle of the Java sea comes to mind.
                See what happened the following day though!

                Saturday 28th February 1942, following the mauling of the previous night's Java Sea battle, Captain 'Hec' Waller, RAN, had no hesitation in withdrawing to the prearranged rendezvous at Tandjeong Priok (Indonesia).

                He was now in command of the last remaining ships. He had one undamaged 6" cruiser and one 8" cruiser, USS HOUSTON, with no guns aft and its ammunition seriously depleted. Day and night they had been constantly shadowed by Jap aircraft. He could only guess at the opposing forces, but thought at least six cruisers and possibly twelve destroyers and also submarines. In fact there was to be considerably more.

                Perth's Ship's Company new that there were large Japanese forces north of Java closing in on them as they sailed that afternoon from Tandjeong Priok in company with Houston.

                Both ships were critically short ammunition for their main armament and also fuel oil. The Sunda Strait was deemed to be clear of enemy shipping therefore it looked to Captain 'Hec' Waller that he could force his way through to the Indian Ocean before the Japs closed the door.

                The night sky was clear with a large moon and the sea like glass, visibility was 6 - 7 miles. At 2306 a vessel was sighted and challenged, it replied strangely and turned away making smoke, it was a Jap destroyer and unknown to Perth had launched nine torpedoes.

                Perth opened fire immediately and altered course to bring all guns to bear. More destroyers were sighted northward, then one cruiser and five destroyers. Reports indicated that the first destroyer was sunk but the fight had only just begun.

                Destroyers engaged from all directions and it was difficult to judge just how many enemy opposed them. It was soon evident that the odds were overwhelming. In fact they had run into the entire Japanese invasion fleet, consisting of at least two heavy cruisers, a light cruiser with ten destroyers. Also closing from the north were four heavy cruisers, an aircraft carrier and more destroyers. Perth's four 6" turrets went to independent control in a frantic attempt to engage as many of the enemy as possible that surrounded her. The 4" pounded out star shell in an effort to illuminate the enemy. The action was point blank.

                The Jap destroyers pressed the attack and managed to illuminate Perth at close range with their searchlights. Shellfire was heavy, the sea around her seemed to be boiling. Houston was hit first and was set afire in the bridge area, her main (8") armament ceased to fire, perhaps her ammunition already expended. Her lighter guns continued to engage, the tracer spitting out horizontally telling all that it was at very close range.

                Perth remained unscathed and she launched her torpedoes into the congested sea, multiple hits were observed, and she was taking a toll on the enemy. In an attempt to cover Houston's defenceless stern she started taking hits, by midnight the 6" ammo was all but gone.

                Captain Waller made a bid to force a passage through Sunda Straight, two cruisers and two destroyer flotillas barred the way. With the ship making 28 knots the first torpedo struck. In one hour eighty seven torpedoes had been launched at Perth and Houston and now the first hit Perth.

                Perth took a mighty blow below the water line, wiping out, apart from one, the entire forward engine room crew. Both the forward 4" mountings were wiped out to a man.

                The remaining 4" guns, now out of H.E. ammunition, continued to engage with starshell and nonexplosive practice ammo. The few remaining 6" rounds were fired. Their luck had been incredible to last this long. Another torpedo hit the forward magazine, although empty, the damage spelt the end for her, it jammed the hatches shut trapping the men inside the magazine and causing considerable casualties. Then came the order to "Abandon Ship!" A great roar erupted as a third torpedo struck, from under 'X' turret a huge geyser of water erupted, the ship gave a violent, nervous twitch. Against the ice-white light a mass of figures shot into the air, spinning over like acrobats and rag dolls, some fell into the sea others back on board, some alive, some dead. The shock waves of the explosions killing all those immersed in the water within a certain radius, crushing their insides.

                The glare of the searchlights was constant first from one ship then another, she was encircled now. From bow to quarter she was pulverized, with shells continuing to rain down upon her, causing great carnage. A fourth torpedo struck.

                Captain Waller continued on at half speed in an effort to stop the ship taking more men with her when she finally went. Then her bows dipped gently down, her stern raised out out the water, only one of her four screws still turning. It was said she did not sink but 'steamed out'. Her much loved Captain last seen in the glare of the flames, on the bridge, giving orders.

                Houston, after a similarly heroic performance also went down. Perth's total complement was 681. Of these 353 were lost in action, 4 died ashore and 324 were captured, of these 106 died whilst prisoners of war 53 of them on the infamous Burma-Siam railway.

                In all the Japanese had lost fifteen ships and could not believe that a Battleship was not present. A report in the Syonan Times in Japan in 1942 read - In the terrific battle in Sunda Strait many ships on both sides were sunk. It must be remembered, however, that the lighter Nipponese ships were fighting a superior force which included a battleship".The Japan Times made a similar admission.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by BigDog

                  Pearl Harbor might be includable as the Japanese missed the US carries which was a strong part of their goal. Had they caught our carriers in port things would have deffinitly been ugly. I belive the US would have been able to ultimatly prevail in the Pacific due to its vast resource base, but I suspect our friends down under would have needed liberating.
                  Not sure if the removal of the threat posed by the US Navy would have changed the Japanese plans or not, but their navy did want to invade Australia at one stage. The Japanese army, which called the shots, refused (the quote goes something like this) because "the patriotic nature of the Australians would have seen every man at the fire-step". This is all hypothetical of course, but by the end of 1942 we had almost 500 000 men training in various places around the country. They lacked the weapons for sure, but judging by the performance put up at Kokoda, Milne Bay and Singapore the Japs would have needed a bigger army than the 3 Corps their navy was supposedly capable of transporting. I think we would have kicked their arse!

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                  • #10
                    I believe that it was the '73 Arab-Israeki war, a Syrian general was racing towards the Golan Hieghts, which was at the time undefended, when he stops dead in his tracks. Had he continued his advance he would have captured the Golan Hieghts without firing a shot. As it was he stopped his advance which allowed the Israelis to move troops in.

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                    • #11
                      I aprecciate the insight. Naturaly I don't know all that much about Australia since it is practically the other side of the world. My point was that with the entire pacifc fleet of the US practically eleminated the Japanese could have much more focused their efforts closer to home. Now that I think about it. I would suspect you are entirely right and the Japs would have faced the same as an invasion of the US with not only military resistance but a well armed and hostile populace.

                      I wasn't trying to overplay the US's role in the PTO but the fact the Japaneese wanted to destroy the US's carriers and capital ships and totally missed the carriers which they paid for at Midway.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BigDog
                        I aprecciate the insight. Naturaly I don't know all that much about Australia since it is practically the other side of the world. My point was that with the entire pacifc fleet of the US practically eleminated the Japanese could have much more focused their efforts closer to home. Now that I think about it. I would suspect you are entirely right and the Japs would have faced the same as an invasion of the US with not only military resistance but a well armed and hostile populace.

                        I wasn't trying to overplay the US's role in the PTO but the fact the Japaneese wanted to destroy the US's carriers and capital ships and totally missed the carriers which they paid for at Midway.
                        I didn't think you were, and it's debatable what our gov't would have done if a couple of Jap carriers had parked off the East coast. Your navy definitely made all the difference, i just meant that man-for-man our blokes proved they were better than the Japs.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sharpe
                          I didn't think you were, and it's debatable what our gov't would have done if a couple of Jap carriers had parked off the East coast. Your navy definitely made all the difference, i just meant that man-for-man our blokes proved they were better than the Japs.
                          I have seen footage of mounted militia (probably ex light horse from WW1) being trained to wage a guerilla war on the japs, so there were plans to fight with what we had left.
                          Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs...the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline - General Monash

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                          • #14
                            General Burnsides attack at Fredericksburg during the American Civil War was an absoulte disaster and unnessary loss of life.

                            Thanks for looking!!

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                            • #15
                              First day of the Somme Offensive by the British in WWI? Ground churned to mud by preparatory barrage, German defenses not suppressed, barbed wire not flattened, 60,000 casualties on the first day alone, heaviest loss of British (and Commonwealth/Imperial) troops ever for the gain of a few miles.

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