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What were WWII’s most viable ‘greatest missed opportunities’?

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  • #31
    One factor in the "Manpower Crisis" was the decision to put a million men into the RAF and keep the Royal Navy at such a large size. At the beginning of the war the RAF insisted on Army troops to guard RAF airfields. Later the RAF Regiment took over the duty. One factor is the British Army's insistence in withdrawing Battalions/Brigades to perform Garrison Duty. At war's end there were a number of exotic formations being used in the Med like a Brigade from the Belgian Congo.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Gooner View Post

      A common misconception. The reality was that the British Army grew in size during every quarter of every year throughout the war, reaching a peak strength in June 1945. Check the Statistical Digest.
      Divisions were broken up in 1944 because the army had trained too few infantrymen and, to a lesser extent, tankies.
      Well one shared by the Cabinet - see CAB 78/184 November 1943. This cabinet paper documents a ministerial conference on the very subject. See also Manpower A Study in Wartime Policy Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1957. Montgomery was told by the War Office that he could not expect replacements after the initial D Day assault ie after June and D Day planning proceeded on this basis. BTW the divisions I refer to were broken up in 1943
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
        One factor in the "Manpower Crisis" was the decision to put a million men into the RAF and keep the Royal Navy at such a large size.

        Pruitt
        Indeed see also Carlos D'Este Decision in Normandy
        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

        Comment


        • #34
          The 10th Armour Division and 59th Infantry Division were broken up in 1944. The 50th Infantry Division was reduced to a Reserve unit. The Chindits were forced to dissolve a number of British Battalions. The 1st Airborne Division was just about bled to death at Arnhem.

          Pruitt
          Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

          Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

          by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

          Comment


          • #35
            Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
            The 10th Armour Division and 59th Infantry Division were broken up in 1944. The 50th Infantry Division was reduced to a Reserve unit. The Chindits were forced to dissolve a number of British Battalions. The 1st Airborne Division was just about bled to death at Arnhem.

            Pruitt
            But already in December 1942 Jan 1943 Harold Alexander had had to break up two divisions to supply replacements. In addition in 1943 six home defence divisions were plundered to support the 21st Army Group.
            Harold Macmillan's diaries show that using deserters from the battalions of Russian Pows deployed by the Germans in Italy was even considered to free up British troops for combat duties
            Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
            Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

            Comment


            • #36
              Originally posted by MarkV View Post

              Well one shared by the Cabinet - see CAB 78/184 November 1943. This cabinet paper documents a ministerial conference on the very subject. See also Manpower A Study in Wartime Policy Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1957. Montgomery was told by the War Office that he could not expect replacements after the initial D Day assault ie after June and D Day planning proceeded on this basis. BTW the divisions I refer to were broken up in 1943

              One of the factors is the army simply not getting a high enough proportion of any particular years intake. The most important issue is how the manpower was distributed in the army, Good paper on this on my other computer - I'll try and track it down. In summary there were too many men in some parts of the army and simply not enough in the infantry. Working from memory only something like 14% of 21st Army Group were infantry which compares to over 10% of the army as a whole just in REME and the RAOC. For every 100 infantry in 21st AG there were 58 anti-aircraft and anti-tank gunners.
              The manpower 'crisis' as a whole was pretty much solved by early '45, in NWE anyway, by retraining the many surplus to requirements gunners, drivers etc.

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                But already in December 1942 Jan 1943 Harold Alexander had had to break up two divisions to supply replacements. In addition in 1943 six home defence divisions were plundered to support the 21st Army Group.
                A 1940 infantry division contained 13,600 men all ranks, a 1944 infantry division 18,350 - over a third larger and only a minority of whom would be infantry.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                  A 1940 infantry division contained 13,600 men all ranks, a 1944 infantry division 18,350 - over a third larger and only a minority of whom would be infantry.
                  So?
                  Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                  Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    The number of Infantry should have remained the same. The extra 5000 plus was support people. The heaviest casualties were always in the Infantry.

                    Pruitt
                    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                      A common misconception. The reality was that the British Army grew in size during every quarter of every year throughout the war, reaching a peak strength in June 1945. Check the Statistical Digest.
                      Unless one knows the basis of the data in the Statistical Digest one is indeed in danger of a misconception

                      The figures are gross - that is they do not net off all men who are non effective - for example those who are in military hospitals or convalescing and who will never be able to serve again and will be discharged when released from care. Nor do they distinguish men rated as non combat fit but retained for duties in the UK. They do not include men who are POW in enemy hands and part of the increase in 1945 is due to the release of these men as the Allies advanced - but again they were far from effective. The figures in the Statistical Digest merely show how many men were still on the Army payroll
                      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                        So?

                        So, there's a big difference trying to organise an army on a 54 division basis at 13,600 men per division than there is at 18,350 men per division.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                          Unless one knows the basis of the data in the Statistical Digest one is indeed in danger of a misconception

                          The figures are gross - that is they do not net off all men who are non effective - for example those who are in military hospitals or convalescing and who will never be able to serve again and will be discharged when released from care. Nor do they distinguish men rated as non combat fit but retained for duties in the UK. They do not include men who are POW in enemy hands and part of the increase in 1945 is due to the release of these men as the Allies advanced - but again they were far from effective. The figures in the Statistical Digest merely show how many men were still on the Army payroll
                          True. Though non-effective men can replace men who are fit in the various home establishments with the latter being transferred to active units.
                          Anyway, flesh on the bones Strength of the Army* (men) in thousands

                          March 1940: 1,361
                          March 1941: 2,166
                          March 1942: 2,397
                          March 1943: 2,628
                          March 1944: 2,680
                          March 1945: 2,802

                          * Including men serving with the India Unattached List, but excluding the British India Service. Men locally enlisted abroad are included up to September 1941.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            STAFF DECISIONS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO DEBATE ON OPEN FORUM. THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME YOU'VE BEEN TOLD THIS. YOU HAVE A CONCERN PM A MEMBER OF STAFF. FURTHER POSTS OF THIS TYPE WILL RESULT IN FURTHER SANCTIONS.
                            THANK YOU
                            ACG STAFF

                            MarkV;

                            1. Not reinforcing Italy's attempt to destroy the Royal Navy's oil supply capability at Haifa by transferring Luftwaffe bombers to the air campaign. Even the some what pathetic Italian attempts had the Admiralty panicking and actively planning the removal of the fleet from the Mediterranean.

                            2. Abandoning the planned airborne assault on Malta which Hitler originally approved and then changed his mind about.
                            Anyway, your two examples are interesting
                            I was completely unware of the Italian attempt to destroy the RN oil supply at Haifa, certainly a n approach that they could have pursued seriously.

                            The attempt to take Malta would, as you point out have been entirely depended upon Hitler’s approval and continued interest.

                            Alack and alas for that to transpire his all-consuming twin obsessions with the Eastern Front and the destroying European Jewry would have to have been turned around. Not an easy task, in fact damn near impossible once the ‘Big Show’ of Barbarossa was under way.
                            Hitler wasn’t going to stop being Hitler.


                            Regards
                            lodestar

                            Last edited by CarpeDiem; 16 May 19, 11:29.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              [QUOTE=lodestar;n5117173]
                              Originally posted by MarkV View Post


                              Seconded. I also would like to request that the ‘lock’ be lifted on the ‘What to you is WWII's most powerful or arresting visual aspect? (photo, film etc)” thread.
                              The thread was locked to give it a chance ‘to collect itself’.
                              It’s been about three weeks so perhaps it could be reactivated? There was some good discussion going on there.


                              Yeah, I’ve gathered that, but stay tuned kid, ‘the approach’ will grow on you I promise.
                              Trust me I know what I’m doing and how to generate and ‘host’ history discussions, been doing it since 1974.



                              Anyway, your two examples are interesting
                              I was completely unware of the Italian attempt to destroy the RN oil supply at Haifa, certainly a n approach that they could have pursued seriously.

                              The attempt to take Malta would, as you point out have been entirely depended upon Hitler’s approval and continued interest.

                              Alack and alas for that to transpire his all-consuming twin obsessions with the Eastern Front and the destroying European Jewry would have to have been turned around. Not an easy task, in fact damn near impossible once the ‘Big Show’ of Barbarossa was under way.
                              Hitler wasn’t going to stop being Hitler.


                              Regards
                              lodestar

                              Looong time since I've been called Kid

                              The Italians were facing an open goal as the RAF had so few fighters in theatre at the time (and all but four were Gladiator and Gauntlet biplanes) that they had to pull out of covering Palestine to concentrate on defending Egypt. The reports of their bomber crews were so enthusiastic that they mistakenly thought they had done terminal damage to the Haifa refinery. One bomber was damaged by AA and crash landed trying to get to Libya. Musso was more interested in grabbing territory and the bombers were then diverted to Greece. Bombing was not recommenced until about a year later (and the Luftwaffe and the Vichy air force joined in) by which time the RAF had Hurricanes in theatre in some numbers.

                              Hitler had expected that the Italians would take Malta immediately after declaring war and was somewhat pissed off when they didn't. However although the Italian navy was quite large it had almost zero amphibious capability and an airborne assault would be needed to secure a harbour. Hitler's strategy for the Med in 1940 did have some logic being an Aero-naval campaign to take Malta and Gibraltar and use the Dodecanese to bomb the hell out of the oil refineries, however, in WW1 Germany had been pants at coalition warfare and in WW2 was no better so in 1940 Italy was left to wage a parallel war on her own.

                              The Italians did raise and train a crack parachute force specifically to take Malta but by the time they were ready mamma mia the Italians did not have the aircraft to drop them in sufficient numbers and would need to go cap in hand to the Luftwaffe.

                              The German/Italian plan appears to have been reasonable if - as intended - it had been carried out prior to Rommel's last North African offensive. However Hitler seems to have been worried about the possible loss of still more Ju 52s after the carnage of Crete, which had not yielded the strategic gains he had hoped for. He dithered hoping that Rommel would take Alexandria and thus avoid the need to take Malta in the first place. Rommel blamed his failure very much on this dithering.
                              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by lodestar View Post
                                [
                                The attempt to take Malta would, as you point out have been entirely depended upon Hitler’s approval and continued interest.
                                Yeah, that and the hundred-odd Spitfires, hundreds of anti-aircraft guns and thousands of well prepared infantry defending the place.

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