Listening to a podcast today.........

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by MrShanklysboots, Sep 20, 2012.

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  1. And it asked a couple of very interesting questions that I thought deserved the consideration of those here.

    Q1. Had Britain or France possessed the Worlds only Atom Bomb in 1939 would it, knowing only what they knew at that point, have been justified in lobbing it at Berlin to take out the high command in one fell swoop?

    Q2. Assuming directly comparable abilities, levels of technology and numbers would our generation win or lose a war against the Generation that fought WW2? Have the softening effects of technological improvement softened us in all areas of our lives including the psychological preparedness to absorb the casualty rates we saw in WWII?

    These were asked on a History Podcast, hence the post in here.
  2. Point 1 - Would have had to drop one on any number of places around the country to make sure they got them all though as they had a habit of being in Nurnberg, Munich, Berlin and odd points East at different times. So a few required to make sure and that would have meant an awful lot of dead civies.

    Point 2 - No idea.
  3. As to point 1, this was exactly his point. The podcast was about he insane logic of the time, and as has been much discussed on here, the total war mindset. In isolation, assuming it ended WW2 before it began if ou like, the government doing the dropping would have been vilified as War Criminals for the Million or so casualties resultant from the drop. Spaatz clearly stated that if he'd been on the losing side he'd have been prosecuted as a War Criminal. I suppose the idea was to get me thinking about the brutalising effect of the insane logic of Total War.

    As for point 2, I personally think we'd get our arses handed to us.
  4. I'm reading "The first day of the Somme" by Martin Middlebrooke. What grabs me is the telephone numbers of casualties and dead. That would never be tolerated today. The outcry would be enormouse.
  5. British defence policy in 1939 was based on the deterrence of Bomber Command.

    The British government of the 1930s believed that the bomber would get through and that any war would involve bombardment of the civilian population with chemical weapons - hence the gas masks, mass evacuation of children and program for constructing air raid shelters. The Government also thought that they had a bomber force capable of delivering the same to the Germans.
    When war broke out, both the Germans and the Allies exercised restraint to avoid retaliation on civil targets. Only the naval bases of each side were legitimate targets. This changed on 15th May 1940 when Churchill ordered the bombing of german industrial targets in the Ruhr. It didn't make a difference at the time because the day bomber force was composed of Fairy Battle bombers and incapable of penetrating German airspace and the night bomber force struggled to find the Ruhr let alone individual factories.

    If the allies had possessed the bomb, the probably would not have used it in 1939 because they could not be sure that the Germans did not have it - or stocks of chemical weapons to drop on British and French cities. My guess is that Churchill would have used the bomb in May 1940 against the Ruhr after the Germans attacked. It would not have ended the war. The RAF did not possess the capability to find and bomb any of Hitler's concrete bunkers accurately enough to kill him.
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  6. link to podcast please

    Point 1 delivery would interesting, level Berlin ensuring the surviving head of state, understood more was to follow.
    Appeasement took a long time, changing to moral conviction for unconditional surrender of the then enemy.

    Point 2 Todays army could take them on then win. Battle schools were introduced post Dunkirk, today Brecon is their legacy.
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  7. Q1. In 1939, the war occupies a third of the year, so ruling out a pre-emptive strike, it would at that stage of the war be a bit of a sledge hammer to crack a nut; nothing much was happening, it wasn't called the sitzkrieg/borewar for nothing. Once the blitzkrieg proper had started I doubt there would have been the time or will to use it. Allowing for an A-bomb that could be carried in a Wellington, would it have survived a daylight sortie into Germany? Night raid it would be lucky to get within ten miles of the target, there was a review of night bombing, the Butt report, which doesn't make for great reading.

    Q2. Whose level of technology? Would modern squaddies be prepared for the day to day living at 1940's levels, no sheets, '37' webbing, poor comms, facing superior armour, monotonous diet, etc. Or in modern technology could the 40's generation cope with the highly technical nature of contemporary warfare? As a thought, how would the troops in Afghanistan cope if they had WWII kit, but the same level of oversight from London? That may be a starting point.
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  8. Without modern communications technology is that really viable?

  9. Apologies TS, it was Hardcore History by Ray Carlin. His current series is on the Mongol Empire, excellent listening.
  10. Cheers am workin my way through inourtime, 14 years worth of history reviewed.
  11. 39 no. Fall of France. Possibly by French just after Nazi brake through.

    Us almost certainly if they tried an invasion in 1940, though with hindsight better if our goose stepping cousins had sorted out Stalin first.

    As for Q2. first would they tell us truly horrific casualty figures. Even in this media age figures and timing can be massaged. Second regulars would have no problem and civvies conscripted would have had grand theft auto to desensitize themselves.
    Big problem would come with toilet paper, rough Izal stuff UGH.
  12. Excellent. The philosophy stuff can be mind blowing! Just listened to the Druids today. He's done some good stuff arl Melvyn.
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  13. It all depends on the situation. C21st kit would give the modern Army an advantage.

    At battle group level or higher modern hardware wins hands down.

    If its a section v section fight in some types of terrain the kit may not give the modern Army much of an advantage. Small arms aren't that much different in effectiveness, though night sights and comms ought to help. Of course the kit and training to use it is only one component. I wouldn't bet on the soldiers of WW2 having a worse grasp of low level tactics nor of their fighting spirit. Stan Hollis, Paddy Mayne, David Sterling, Jack Churchill, Fitzroy Mclean and John Durnford Slater would be tough opposition even for Brecon's best.

    I wonder too, whether the focus on training to fight THE war hasn't distorted training and thinking. I also wonder whether the modern sensitivity to casualties has had an impact on expectations of casualties. WW2 soldiers fought with no body armour and an expectation that there was a 25% chance of being killed if hit. The battle didn't stop after someone was down. Would the modern army cope with the levels of casualties endured by, say 9 para at Merville Battery losing over 50% of the 150 who attacked? Maybe they would. maybe they wouldn't - especially if the media and politicians were looking over their shoulder the whole time!
  14. I agree with you on your first assessment. As to your second, I'd say that there is reason to doubt the quality of thinking in our present-day hierarchy, about what constitutes effectiveness. There is evidence [for those who care to acknowledge it] that our modern Army - with its bloated HQs, and bureaucratic command processes - actually exercises command on operations slower than did its predecessors in the 1970s, and perhaps even of 1944. Likewise, as posts like yours suggest all too frequently on ARRSE, it feels as though, after 10 plus years of serious combat, is intent on putting all that behind it, and getting on with "Proper Soldiering".

    Pretty much as it did between World Wars 1 and 2.

    I find these thoughts troubling.
  15. Agressive spirit as taught with bayonet fighting, MFV was the term taught, ensuring that agression was channelled. Read the ciatations from the 40s right through to today. Battle discipline instilled can win against insurmountable odds.