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What is the most overlooked, undervalued, underestimated aspect of WWII?

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  • Michele
    replied
    Originally posted by MarkV View Post

    There was quite a mix in the Italian theatre - on the Allied side

    American
    Australian
    Brazilian
    British
    Canadian
    Czech
    French
    French North Aftican (Gouams)
    Indian
    Italian (co belligerants)
    Nepalese (Gurkha)
    New Zealand
    Polish
    South African
    plus various volunteers including Irish citizens in the British Army
    Also worth mentioning:
    Greeks (a mountain brigade)
    Jews (a British army infantry brigade made up of volunteers from Palestine)

    and on the Axis side

    Germans
    Italians (RSI)
    Russians (used mainly for anti partisan and internal security)
    Ukrainians (used mainly for anti partisan and internal security)
    Russians and Ukrainans were of Soviet citizenship. If we start counting ethnic groups, then you'd need to count separately the 162. ID made up of Turkmen and Azeris, and the Cossack cavalry units deployed by the Germans in North-eastern Italy against partisans. Naturally, those same partisans also fielded units of at least company strength (often called "battalions" or something else, naturally) which were made up of Soviet citizens who had deserted from their german-led HiWi units.

    By the same reasoning, mentioning "American" units wouldn't be enough if we don't stop at citizenship distinctions, since the US Army also had a policy of segregated units in Italy: they fielded the 92th Division (mainly white officers, African-American rank&file) and the 442nd Regiment/RCT (Japanese-American personnel).

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  • MarkV
    replied
    Originally posted by lcm1 View Post

    Yes I can give myself a reason for a number of them but Brazil is certainly an offbeat member. Unless of course I am forgetting something? If so we can always blame it on old age can't we! lcm1
    Brazil entered WW1 and WW2 for the same reason. - German unrestricted submarine warfare was sinking Brazilian ships. In both wars Brazil provided naval forces and offered the services of a Brazilian expeditionary force. However they specified that this force should be used somewhere dry and warm. In 1917 it was offered to General Allenby for use in Palestine. Allenby was already having problems with a force that contained speakers of English, Arabic, Urdu, Italian, French and Armenian and considered that he could do without adding Portuguese and said no thank you. In 1943 someone made the error of thinking of "sunny Italy" and so the Brazilians were pointed in that direction. Unfortunately up in the mountains in the winter it was anything but dry and warm, mud and rain being the order of the day.

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  • panther3485
    replied
    Originally posted by lcm1 View Post

    Yes I can give myself a reason for a number of them but Brazil is certainly an offbeat member. Unless of course I am forgetting something? If so we can always blame it on old age can't we! lcm1
    I knew Brazil was on our side during WW2 but wasn't really familiar with the details. I found some basic information with a quick search:

    Brazil was officially neutral to begin with but developed an increasingly active relationship with the USA, which included allowing the US to build air bases in Brazil in exchange for American support to help develop the Brazilian iron industry. Brazil had already broken off diplomatic relations with Germany, Italy and Japan.
    Starting from early in 1942, the Germans responded by using U-boats to attack Brazilian merchant shipping. At least 36 Brazilian ships were sunk, resulting in almost 1,700 drownings and over 1,000 other casualties.
    These attacks, combined with the obviously increasing ill will and other factors, led to a Brazilian declaration of war against both Germany and Italy in August 1942. From that moment, they were officially fully committed to the Allied side in WW2.

    From a pool of about 25,000 men, three battalions were raised to be integrated into the organizational structure of the US Army. Although their active participation in ground fighting was somewhat delayed, once they entered combat they were very successful. Over a period of 8 months of fighting in Italy, the Brazilian Expeditionary Force captured a total of 20,573 Axis soldiers. Their losses were 13 officers and about 450 other ranks. Even taking into account that this was late in the war, it's still quite an impressive record.

    https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br..._World_War_Two
    Last edited by panther3485; 23 Aug 18, 03:47.

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  • lcm1
    replied
    Originally posted by MarkV View Post

    There was quite a mix in the Italian theatre - on the Allied side

    American
    Australian
    Brazilian
    British
    Canadian
    Czech
    French
    French North Aftican (Gouams)
    Indian
    Italian (co belligerants)
    Nepalese (Gurkha)
    New Zealand
    Polish
    South African
    plus various volunteers including Irish citizens in the British Army

    and on the Axis side

    Germans
    Italians (RSI)
    Russians (used mainly for anti partisan and internal security)
    Ukrainians (used mainly for anti partisan and internal security)
    Yes I can give myself a reason for a number of them but Brazil is certainly an offbeat member. Unless of course I am forgetting something? If so we can always blame it on old age can't we! lcm1

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  • MarkV
    replied
    Originally posted by lcm1 View Post

    Well I'm damned!! That is something I've never ever heard of!!! lcm1
    There was quite a mix in the Italian theatre - on the Allied side

    American
    Australian
    Brazilian
    British
    Canadian
    Czech
    French
    French North Aftican (Gouams)
    Indian
    Italian (co belligerants)
    Nepalese (Gurkha)
    New Zealand
    Polish
    South African
    plus various volunteers including Irish citizens in the British Army

    and on the Axis side

    Germans
    Italians (RSI)
    Russians (used mainly for anti partisan and internal security)
    Ukrainians (used mainly for anti partisan and internal security)

    Leave a comment:


  • Half Pint John
    replied
    I hope all is well with you Sir!

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  • Half Pint John
    replied
    Operation[edit]

    In November 1944, the 1st Expeditionary Division of the Brazilian Army (DIE) deviated from the battle front Serchio River, where it had been fighting for two months ahead of the Rino River, on the Northern Apennine Mountains. General Mascarenhas de Moraes had established his forward headquarters in the town of Porretta Terme, which was in front of the mountains under German control. This perimeter had a radius of approximately 15 km (9.3 mi).

    German artillery positions were considered privileged, subjecting the Allies to constant vigilance, hindering any progress towards Bologna and Po Valley. Estimates were that the winter would be harsh, complicating the situation that had already degenerated due to the rains and bombing, turning the roads in quagmires.

    Despite the situation, General Mark Clark, Commander of Allied Forces in Italy, through the troops of IV Corps (of which the Brazilian division was part), had planned to free the 8th British Army's path towards Bologna, before the first snows began to fall.

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  • lcm1
    replied
    Originally posted by MarkV View Post
    Oft forgotten is the Brazilian Expeditionary Force some 25,000 strong which fought well in Italy against a number of German defensive positions 1944/45.
    Well I'm damned!! That is something I've never ever heard of!!! lcm1

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  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Probably the most over-hyped US contribution to the war is the Navajo Code Talkers.

    Sure, it was a neat idea. Very clever one. But, not all that useful as it turns out.

    Only the USMC used this particular practice. It was used almost exclusively with tactical / battlefield communications late in the Pacific War. The Japanese had no real means of listening in on US tactical radio transmissions in any case. The USMC by that time primarily used FM radios. The Japanese were using almost exclusively AM radios. Many US radios were also of higher frequency than the Japanese even had a means to detect.
    An early example of this was TBS on ships. This UHF line-of-sight tactical radio for Talk Between Ships (TBS) allowed secure radio chatter among a task group with little or no chance of detection by the enemy. The Japanese using lower frequency AM sets had to maintain radio silence to keep from being detected.

    Anyway, the Code Talkers while a nifty idea really didn't change the outcome of anything, nor did they really keep an enemy that was already very short on enemy intelligence data, from gaining information they didn't already have. Yet, they are celebrated as if they won the Pacific War single handed.

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  • MarkV
    replied
    Oft forgotten is the Brazilian Expeditionary Force some 25,000 strong which fought well in Italy against a number of German defensive positions 1944/45.

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  • lodestar
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    Interestingly, many Black units in the US military have been overlooked for the kind of hyped up fame ones like the Tuskegee airmen got:

    Such as the USS Mason DE 529

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Mason_(DE-529)
    You raise a very interesting point because I wonder how the US 442nd Infantry Regiment (Nisei) should be regarded?
    Overlooked oroverhyped?
    It was of course the most decorated unit in US history and was composed of American -born Japanese (Nisei) or was it Americans of Japanese extraction born in the USA, or was it 2nd generation Japanese-Americans or ???? Oh! You know what I mean.!

    If the rest of the US infantry arm had been up to their standard, had their motivation and their élan the Western allies would have reached Berlin in Mid November 1944.

    They did have a couple of movies made about them, many decades apart. Also McHale's Navy had a Japanese deserter 'Fuji', as a de-facto crew member who was passed off at one time as Nisei when the TV series locale was re-set for a while in while in the Med.

    Still many people are not at all aware of their contribution to the War in the ETO and MTO.

    Other overlooked and undervalued units are the Soviet female (combat) and "Night Witches (light bombers) pilots.

    Regards
    lodestar

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  • Michele
    replied
    Schnee and Suhren, who follow Lemp in the record rankings, don't seem noticeable. One of them has two sinkings with no survivors, but in a convoy attack and to stay and machine gun survivors in that case would not have been useful at all, quite the contrary.

    The next one is Moehle.
    Out of his 21ships sunk, 8 (38%) had no survivors. And one had one (1) survivor.
    Of the 8 ships sunk with no survivors, 8 (100%) were either unescorted or had straggled from a convoy.
    And of these 8 ships, 4 (50%) were neutrals.
    None (0%) were tankers or carried ammunition or explosives. They carried iron, coal, paper pulp, sundry general cargo, and 3 were in ballast.

    Here we do see a statistical aberration or, as MarkV wrote, a "clump".

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  • Michele
    replied
    Following this up, I've begun looking at the track records of U-Boot commanders.

    Hartenstein, the one I started with because he sank the Laconia, has no no-survivor sinking in his tally. And note that while most sinkings took place in convoys, most of the sinkings of Hartenstein, on the contrary, were of unescorted merchants. There always were at least some survivors.
    The only interesting detail about Hartenstein is that he never attempted to tow boats aboard which there were Aliled merchant crewmen. He did this once - in the well-known case when the vast majority of the people aboard the boats were Axis soldiers.

    Lemp is the following U-Boot commander in the list, when it comes to total tonnage sunk. Most of his sinkings were of ships in convoys, and almost all of them saw a few survivors.
    However, there is one different case. I will just list the sheer facts, no allegations.
    - The merchant ship, the Angele Mabro, was sunk while unescorted, and no Allied ship witnessed the event.
    - The ship was a neutral merchant.
    - The ship was sunk South-West of Brest, on 6 July, 1940.
    - The German operational zone that included most of the Bay of Biscay was declared on 17 August, 1940.
    - The submarine log states that the ship went down quickly, with no survivors.
    So to sum this up, the ship should never have been attacked, as a neutral, under international law; and even under the German POV, the area would become a legitimate hunting ground including for neutrals only a month later. It was, whichever way you want to look at it, a mistake - and the one occasion in which there were no other witnesses and in which a sinking by Lemp left no survivors.

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  • Michele
    replied
    Originally posted by MarkV View Post
    I am checking to see if there are any suspicious patterns such as particular clumpings of no survivors /no witnesses incidents around particular U-boat commanders but so far have found none.
    Good idea, in theory. In practice, given the survival rates of commanders and U-Boote, it's unlikely that you can come up with a statistically significant sample.

    Consider Eck, the one who went under trial for war crimes. He carried out exactly one patrol, the same is true of his U-boot, sank exactly one ship, the Peleus, then got captured.

    Or let's look at the U-Boot that sank the Holmstein. It carried out three patrols, during the last one was just sunk with all the crew being lost. It sank a total of three other ships apart from the Holmstein; one was a warship so no special care had to be paid. Another was a Belgian steamer, in exactly the "loner" status you discussed above, but while Kell did not order the survivors to be machine-gunned, he did not try to assist them in whatsoever way, either. This hints that the Holmstein was an exception, but with a sample of just 3 ships, only 2 of which were in the "loner" status, it's hardly definitive; the reverse could also be true, i.e. that the Belgian steamer was the exception.

    The Noreen Mary was sunk and machine gunned, according to not entirely reliable evidence, by Matschulat of U-247; again, this was the one victim of this commander and of this sub, which carried out a total of all of two combat patrols.

    The Antonico was sunk by U-516, and while this sub carried out six patrols, sinking several ships, only two of these patrols were under the commander who ordered the firing on the Antonico, Wiebe.



    Whilst I have so far found no evidence of direct brutality I have found some of incredible callousness for example when a survivor was taken on board from a life raft for interrogation and then returned to the life-raft and abandoned which I think was definitely a breach of the relevant conventions.
    Totally.

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  • MarkV
    replied
    Originally posted by lcm1 View Post
    May I say that the brutality of the German U boat crews was popular meat for the British wartime Media so it was lapped up by the black and white movie makers and Dirt sticks! lcm1
    In reality there are only a couple of cases where a U-boat crew could be proven to have committed a directly brutal act aimed at ensuring that there were no survivors and we have already covered this. I have spent some time going through U-boat Net and building a spread sheet of all cases where brutality could (could not did) have occurred ie no survivors and the sinking happened out of sight of other ships, shore observers etc. so that the only account is that in the U-boat's own report. These happened when ships were unescorted or had straggled or dispersed from a convoy. I may have missed a few of the latter (and plan to recheck) but the total number of incidents where the U-boat report is all we have in the way of direct evidence of what happened is about 150 which, whilst it may seem a large number is in fact a small proportion of the total number of sinkings. In many of these cases the report states that the ship either blew up or sank within minutes of being hit and no lifeboats were launched and in a number of these the nature of the cargo makes this entirely plausible. There are other instances where lifeboats were reported as launched but no survivors were picked up or made landfall. Checking the location of the incident (distance from land etc) , time of year and the weather when reported there are again many instances when this is unsurprising. A life boat launched in mid North Atlantic in mid winter in high seas and a snow storm - more than a thousand miles from landfall had little chance of survival. There were a handful of cases where the failure to make landfall does seem suspicious - for example four life boats launched in the Caribbean in summer and good weather, within 50 miles of land, which vanished without trace.

    I am checking to see if there are any suspicious patterns such as particular clumpings of no survivors /no witnesses incidents around particular U-boat commanders but so far have found none. Whilst I have so far found no evidence of direct brutality I have found some of incredible callousness for example when a survivor was taken on board from a life raft for interrogation and then returned to the life-raft and abandoned which I think was definitely a breach of the relevant conventions.

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