Britain's completely underrated role in WWII

#1
There is a magnificently passionate and detailed reply on Quora to the question "Who actually defeated Nazi Germany, America or the Soviets?"

- https://www.quora.com/Who-actually-defeated-Nazi-Germany-America-or-the-Soviets

Needs editing but told me many things I did not know, about British and British Empire resources, skill, organisational ability, productivity and fighting capability - and how well we managed compared to both our allies and enemies.

Would welcome comments and suggestions for further reading.
 
#2
Because of a project I’m working on at the moment, I have online access to JIC, Cabinet office and MI5 papers, and ULTRA Decrypts sent to the PM. To say it makes fascinating reading is an understatement unfortunately! I could spend almost every minute of the day reading through the files, but have to be disciplined to meet my deadline.

But what these archives show is the total war that the United Kingdom, the dominions, and the Empire were engaged in. But, by 1944 it’s clear that leadership has passed from the UK to America. The tone of foreign office and Cabinet office papers changes towards one of compliance and obsequious hand wringing.

The marginalia (comments written down the sides of reports, memoranda, letters…) speak volumes. So does the fact that many of these official documents are typed on the back of previously used documents or blank requisition forms for example. The immediate postwar period saw the UK being effectively bankrupt. It could barely afford to pay wages of the forces and the civil service; it couldn’t afford to buy in the services of hundreds of talented German engineers and scientists. The Russians offered three times what the UK could offer this valuable resource. The sense of weariness and defeat pervades much of the documentation of the late 1940s.
 
#3
Because of a project I’m working on at the moment, I have online access to JIC, Cabinet office and MI5 papers, and ULTRA Decrypts sent to the PM. To say it makes fascinating reading is an understatement unfortunately! I could spend almost every minute of the day reading through the files, but have to be disciplined to meet my deadline.

But what these archives show is the total war that the United Kingdom, the dominions, and the Empire were engaged in. But, by 1944 it’s clear that leadership has passed from the UK to America. The tone of foreign office and Cabinet office papers changes towards one of compliance and obsequious hand wringing.

The marginalia (comments written down the sides of reports, memoranda, letters…) speak volumes. So does the fact that many of these official documents are typed on the back of previously used documents or blank requisition forms for example. The immediate postwar period saw the UK being effectively bankrupt. It could barely afford to pay wages of the forces and the civil service; it couldn’t afford to buy in the services of hundreds of talented German engineers and scientists. The Russians offered three times what the UK could offer this valuable resource. The sense of weariness and defeat pervades much of the documentation of the late 1940s.
Look forward to the results of your research, if they are to be available to the public, do please alert us if and when.
 
#4
But, by 1944 it’s clear that leadership has passed from the UK to America. The tone of foreign office and Cabinet office papers changes towards one of compliance and obsequious hand wringing.
Handing over, or licensing, effectively for nothing, all the technology to the US wasn't of great help to the balance of payments wither, I'm sure.
Nuclear, decryption electronic stuff (bombes), radar, jet technology etc. Three years worth of hard-gained knowledge and intelligence was another.
Sounds like a fascinating project Crash.
 

Sixty

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#5
Not sure that WW2 counts as Current Affairs. Moved to a more appropriate area.
 
#6
I’m writing a paper on the exploitation of Nazi technology by the United Kingdom. I posted a thread awhile back about Operations Backfire, which was the postwar test launching of V2 rockets under British control. However the V2 was not regarded as an aerospace vehicle but as an inaccurate piece of artillery and therefore UK development of it stalled. This was in spite of von Braun presenting a paper to his British interrogatings describing multi-stage manned rockets. There were half-hearted attempts to recruit von Braun but he had already negotiated his transfer to the US. MI5 also objected strongly to the employment of foreign scientists; there were also concerns from the labour movement about employing former (and not so former) Nazis. Some did stay on beyond about 1950, and were instrumental in the development of the Crescent wing on aircraft such as the V bombers and VC-10, Concord, and the swing-wing technology of the Tornado, which of course has just gone out of service.

Interestingly, it was not only military technology that the government was interested in. The British Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee (BIOS) garnered a huge range of information on almost every aspect of German industrial and commercial life. It was acknowledged that in terms of production of almost every commodity, Germany was decades ahead of the UK. However, in spite of these technological advantages, Britain’s War economy was much better organised and having a liberal democratic government before the war, allowed industry and commerce to flourish, whereas the centralised economy in Germany, influenced by a small Cabal of Industrialists meant that huge resources were spent on vanity projects; the V2 rockets being a very good example.

Edited for rubbish voice-to-text effort.
 
Last edited:
#7
Handing over, or licensing, effectively for nothing, all the technology to the US wasn't of great help to the balance of payments wither, I'm sure.
Nuclear, decryption electronic stuff (bombes), radar, jet technology etc. Three years worth of hard-gained knowledge and intelligence was another.
Sounds like a fascinating project Crash.
The Klystron and Magnetron were exchanged for the Norden bomb-sight, as an example.
 
#9
What a fascinating subject!

Even after the United States had entered the war, Britain and the Commonwealth bore the brunt of the fighting in the Atlantic as well as the Mediterranean, provided most of the landing craft and escorts for the Normandy landings (7000 approx of 9000 approx allied vessels in the Channel on 6 June 1944 flew the White Ensign), and a huge proportion of the troops during the initial invasion of occupied Europe.

One could argue that the war was won by the time the allies had achieved a beachhead in France.
 
#10
Because of a project I’m working on at the moment, I have online access to JIC, Cabinet office and MI5 papers, and ULTRA Decrypts sent to the PM. To say it makes fascinating reading is an understatement unfortunately! I could spend almost every minute of the day reading through the files, but have to be disciplined to meet my deadline.

But what these archives show is the total war that the United Kingdom, the dominions, and the Empire were engaged in. But, by 1944 it’s clear that leadership has passed from the UK to America. The tone of foreign office and Cabinet office papers changes towards one of compliance and obsequious hand wringing.

The marginalia (comments written down the sides of reports, memoranda, letters…) speak volumes. So does the fact that many of these official documents are typed on the back of previously used documents or blank requisition forms for example. The immediate postwar period saw the UK being effectively bankrupt. It could barely afford to pay wages of the forces and the civil service; it couldn’t afford to buy in the services of hundreds of talented German engineers and scientists. The Russians offered three times what the UK could offer this valuable resource. The sense of weariness and defeat pervades much of the documentation of the late 1940s.
One fascinating thing about the ULTRA decrypts presented to the PM, all 24 hr clock references are changed. For example 1000 hrs would be changed by hand to 10 am; 1430 to 2.30 pm. I guess that was a WSC ism. There is talk about the long-handled screwdriver on modern operations, whereby the strategic commander can reach down into the cockpit/tank/bridge Churchill wasn't far off; he read (or at least was sent) a huge volume of intercepted traffic, which he would annotate and send back to the respective operational commander or sS chief.
 
#11
Not sure that WW2 counts as Current Affairs. Moved to a more appropriate area.
Wait... What..? WW2 has ended? When did this happen? I'd better tell my Grandfather that he is no longer allowed to 'kill Jerry' or them 'little yellow monkeys.'
 
#13
The Klystron and Magnetron were exchanged for the Norden bomb-sight, as an example.
I didn't realise we ever used (or needed) the Norden Bomb-sight actually, unless it came already fitted to aircraft we'd purchased such as the B25 and a relatively few B17's? .
 
#15
The Klystron and Magnetron were exchanged for the Norden bomb-sight, as an example.

The cavity magnetron - Randall and Boot - Birmingham University.

"When the members of the Tizard Mission brought the cavity magnetron to America in 1940, they carried the most valuable cargo ever brought to our shores."

James Phinney Baxter III
 
#16
Even after the United States had entered the war, Britain and the Commonwealth bore the brunt of the fighting in the Atlantic as well as the Mediterranean, provided most of the landing craft and escorts for the Normandy landings
The LST, LSD and LCI(L) were the kingpins of US amphibious capability in the Pacific but all three were UK designs given to the USN as we didn't have the capacity to make them. We also gave the US Maritime Commission the designs of the Smith's Docks SD5 freighter which became the Liberty Ship.
 
#17
Let's be honest, if it wasn't for the yanks and Canadians... umm...

Lend and lease agreement comes to mind?

The sheer volume of manpower required...

As for the Russian question Hitler may or may not have signed his own death warrant when he stabbed Stalin in the back when he conducted Operation Barbarossa and well the Japs got nuked with technology we weren't even close to developing but everyone else kind of was...

Bit of a useless argument to say we don't owe them some debt of gratitude?
 
#19
Let's be honest, if it wasn't for the yanks and Canadians... umm...

Lend and lease agreement comes to mind?

The sheer volume of manpower required...

As for the Russian question Hitler may or may not have signed his own death warrant when he stabbed Stalin in the back when he conducted Operation Barbarossa and well the Japs got nuked with technology we weren't even close to developing but everyone else kind of was...

Bit of a useless argument to say we don't owe them some debt of gratitude?
Debt of gratitude - that much certainly accepted; but the Quora thread question threatened to airbrush us out of history and I'm surprised at just how much we managed to do ourselves. And if we'd capitulated in 1940?

Btw: Canadians - British Empire, at that time, weren't they?
 
#20
Telling that 9 out of 10 German casualties of the war occurred on the eastern front
From my understanding it's mainly their sh*te experiance of cold weather conditions, equipment and more well prepared soldiers from the Russian front drafted in which really had them... ahem and their clothing was crap!
 

Similar threads


Latest Threads

Top