Development of the British Tank Arm, 1918-1939

ugly

LE
Moderator
Blimey.
We were actually a bit more on the ball than I thought. Shows what could have happened with thoughts on tracked artillery, IFV', command vehicles and all that gubbins. We could have seriously blacked Jerry's eye in France.
We didn't lose in france, we were subject to a very clever German attack against a weak French force which basically split the French armies and meant we had to withdraw. Whilst Dunkirk was taking place we were still sending troops to Cherbourg and fully expected to continue the fight. History has a way of way of making the facts fit the story
 
May as well put these two here, since I just did the French one, for comparison.


 
I enjoyed Liddel-Hart's history of the First World War. Less so his History of the Second (I bought them as a boxed set some thirty years ago). I took his writings at face value. When I started reading up about what he did in the inter-war years, it raised bile in my throat.

A couple of years ago I reviewed Everything Worked Like Clockwork The Mechanization of British Regular and Household Cavalry 1918-1942.

The evidence therein that Liddel-Hart was a passed over Captain turned journalist with an agenda and the ears of politicians is compelling. The men on the ground were more ready to work on newfangled mechanised vehicles than to muck out horses every day. Evidence exists that, offered the chance to transfer from a soon-to-be-mechanised cavalry regiment to one that wasn't, take-up was negligible. The only evidence of intransigence is a couple of regimental colonels (old men, not CO Lieutenants Colonel) complaining to MP friends.

Liddel-Hart leaves the impression that every single member of the Corps of Hussars, Lancers and Dragoon Guards was determined never to give up their horses.

As @California_Tanker makes clear in this presentation, governments were all broken, penniless and chasing the popular peace agenda.

Not completely OT, i always think that, when APCs and especially IFVs came in, they should have been called "dragoons".
 
Hard to get hold off, but well worth.

View attachment 372383 the read.
There’s a fairly concise guidebook which used to be sold at Bovington which might be a useful companion to that. I know, because I bought a copy by mistake- I thought “inter war” meant “in the war”:)
I was quite young.
Dunno whether the Tank Museum still sells it but here’s a copy on ebay.
 
We didn't lose in france, we were subject to a very clever German attack against a weak French force which basically split the French armies and meant we had to withdraw. Whilst Dunkirk was taking place we were still sending troops to Cherbourg and fully expected to continue the fight. History has a way of way of making the facts fit the story
You Couldn't retain the battlefield(s)
You couldn't recover your tanks losing some 440 plus
You had to leave your artillery and heavy weapons behind
You had to leave much of your motor transport (65K) behind or destroy it
Basically lost 8-10 divisions worth of material from tin hats to 3.7 AA Guns
9 Destroyers sunk (3 French, 6 RN) 19 damaged
You left the enemy with the initiative

You did get the bulk of your men out but basically with hand weapons

You can spin it as a win but it was a defeat of some magnitude even without blaming the French for it
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
You Couldn't retain the battlefield(s)
You couldn't recover your tanks losing some 440 plus
You had to leave your artillery and heavy weapons behind
You had to leave much of your motor transport (65K) behind or destroy it
Basically lost 8-10 divisions worth of material from tin hats to 3.7 AA Guns
9 Destroyers sunk (3 French, 6 RN) 19 damaged
You left the enemy with the initiative

You did get the bulk of your men out but basically with hand weapons

You can spin it as a win but it was a defeat of some magnitude even without blaming the French for it
I didn’t say it was a win!
I did say we were outsmarted by a clever enemy attack which broke what should have been a strong ally but was sadly proved to be poorly led at corps and above level and who lacked the minerals to carry out effective counter attacks which should have held the Germans.
The dyle plan wasn’t our plan as the junior member we did what we were told to do and then when in danger carried out a reasonably effective withdrawal in contact!
Unfortunately we ended up leaving behind lots of material but that can be replaced it’s trained troops that are harder to replace as quickly.
I’m not sure any other country could have done any better given the circumstances
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
You Couldn't retain the battlefield(s)
You couldn't recover your tanks losing some 440 plus
You had to leave your artillery and heavy weapons behind
You had to leave much of your motor transport (65K) behind or destroy it
Basically lost 8-10 divisions worth of material from tin hats to 3.7 AA Guns
9 Destroyers sunk (3 French, 6 RN) 19 damaged
You left the enemy with the initiative

You did get the bulk of your men out but basically with hand weapons

You can spin it as a win but it was a defeat of some magnitude even without blaming the French for it
And the defence of the Philippines went so much better..
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
The dyle plan wasn’t our plan as the junior member we did what we were told to do and then when in danger carried out a reasonably effective withdrawal in contact!
Apart from the open left flank because the Belgians bùggered off, ineffective comms, rigid artillery arcs of fire ( "we can't fire there. We'll hit the Belgians") and an efficient motorised enemy who made best use, leading to the effective destruction of 15/19H, 4/7DG, the Skins and a handful of infantry battalions, of which I think 4 Gordons sticks in my mind. 18 May 40.
 
You Couldn't retain the battlefield(s)
You couldn't recover your tanks losing some 440 plus
You had to leave your artillery and heavy weapons behind
You had to leave much of your motor transport (65K) behind or destroy it
Basically lost 8-10 divisions worth of material from tin hats to 3.7 AA Guns
9 Destroyers sunk (3 French, 6 RN) 19 damaged
You left the enemy with the initiative

You did get the bulk of your men out but basically with hand weapons

You can spin it as a win but it was a defeat of some magnitude even without blaming the French for it
Nobody has ever called it a win, from day one.

“We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations...”

Well worth reading the whole speech in fact:


 
And the defence of the Philippines went so much better..
Did I claim it was better? Neither was the US defence of Wake, Guam You still Lost the bulk of the BEF equipment and had to abandon the continent temporarily
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Did I claim it was better? Neither was the US defence of Wake, Guam You still Lost the bulk of the BEF equipment and had to abandon the continent temporarily
I guess at least the stuff you left behind is still in use..

1573487176988.png
 

napier

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Not sure about Command Tanks in 1918 but the BEF had tanks specifically for carrying infantry, resupply tanks and self propelled artillery. Certainly the spg wasn't so successful but it's fascinating to see such ahead of their time ideas being investigated.
If we are considering early variants of tanks, it might be worth going back to first principles. I have a cavalry training manual of c 1872.* In that, it makes it clear that cavalry should not be employed against troops with 'repeating rifles', and also suggests the evolution of the 'flying column' of mounted rifles for the quick deployment of troops. In other words, over 40 years before the first world war, the days of the horse-born Lancers etc as primus inter pares on the battlefield was seen to be numbered due to the rapid evolution of infantry fire power.

*In the 10 years following the end of the US Civil War in 1865, almost every European army had converted to rifled breach loaders, with rates of fire jumping from 3 to 10 aimed shots per minute, whilst reducing the infantryman's profile as they could load and fire from the prone position. Magazine rifles were under development and trials. Calibres were reducing, accuracy improving, ballistics became flatter and the 'beaten zone' became more lethal to cavalry, in particular. Furthermore, field artillery was also re-arming with lighter, faster breach-loading guns firing fused shells, similarly increasing range, rate of fire and lethality.
 
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