Something From History You Probably Never Knew...

OneTenner

Old-Salt
A certain French solder fought there and went onto greater things wasnt it De Gaulle ?
The French officer De Gaulle fought and was captured there, yes. Whether all the things he went on to were great, depends on how much you read about him - certainly he didn't cover himself in glory with the 'Pieds-Noirs' and I personally think his withdrawal from NATO was a mistake. That said, he did see the danger in a 'United Europe'...

To understand how he got there, you need to see the development of French Military Doctrine from the Franco-Prussian war onwards, - which I haven't looked at for over ten years, i'm happy to summarise it if theres some interest?
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
US casualties, Ardennes campaign
KIA 19,000
WIA 47,500
MIA/POW 23,000

UK casualties, Ardennes campaign
KIA 200
WIA 969
MIA/POW 239



It's like saying Dieppe was a US operation because 50 Rangers fought there
No it’s merely pointing out that there was a uk contribution and that US troops were under UK leadership at the highest level who prevented them being frittered away and ensured that when they attacked they were successful.
It’s well known that US troops in UK led formations were better treated and had better welfare facilities available to front line troops than under their own management in fact it makes it seem obvious that the Argentine armed forces used US techniques in field leadership
 

OneTenner

Old-Salt
From Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein – Ardennes Offensive – Battle of the Bulge
"To protect the river crossings on the Meuse at Givet, Dinant and Namur, Montgomery ordered those few units available to hold the bridges on 19 December. This led to a hastily assembled force including rear-echelon troops, military police and Army Air Force personnel. The British 29th Armoured Brigade of British 11th Armoured Division, which had turned in its tanks for re-equipping, was told to take back their tanks and head to the area. British XXX Corps was significantly reinforced for this effort. Units of the corps which fought in the Ardennes were the 51st (Highland) and 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Divisions, the British 6th Airborne Division, the 29th and 33rd Armoured Brigades, and the 34th Tank Brigade."

"Describing the situation as he found it on 20 December, Montgomery wrote:


The First Army was fighting desperately. Having given orders to Dempsey and Crerar, who arrived for a conference at 11 am, I left at noon for the H.Q. of the First Army, where I had instructed Simpson to meet me. I found the northern flank of the bulge was very disorganized. Ninth Army had two corps and three divisions; First Army had three corps and fifteen divisions. Neither Army Commander had seen Bradley or any senior member of his staff since the battle began, and they had no directive on which to work. The first thing to do was to see the battle on the northern flank as one whole, to ensure the vital areas were held securely, and to create reserves for counter-attack. I embarked on these measures: I put British troops under command of the Ninth Army to fight alongside American soldiers, and made that Army take over some of the First Army Front. I positioned British troops as reserves behind the First and Ninth Armies until such time as American reserves could be created. Slowly but surely the situation was held, and then finally restored. Similar action was taken on the southern flank of the bulge by Bradley, with the Third Army."

It is a matter of record that the british troops were better equipped to withstand the harsh conditions, a number of the American casualties & deaths were due to exposure, frostbite & hypothermia or the Germans using smoke from open fires to target positions - a practice soon banned, leading to greater numbers of medical casualties.
 

OneTenner

Old-Salt
From the same article, details of the press conference
"...Many American officers had already grown to dislike Montgomery, who was seen by them as an overly cautious commander, arrogant, and all too willing to say uncharitable things about the Americans. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill found it necessary in a speech to Parliament to explicitly state that the Battle of the Bulge was purely an American victory.
Montgomery subsequently recognized his error and later wrote: “Not only was it probably a mistake to have held this conference at all in the sensitive state of feeling at the time, but what I said was skilfully distorted by the enemy. Chester Wilmot explained that his dispatch to the BBC about it was intercepted by the German wireless, re-written to give it an anti-American bias, and then broadcast by Arnhem Radio, which was then in Goebbels’ hands. Monitored at Bradley’s HQ, this broadcast was mistaken for a BBC transmission and it was this twisted text that started the uproar.”
 
To understand how he got there, you need to see the development of French Military Doctrine from the Franco-Prussian war onwards, - which I haven't looked at for over ten years, i'm happy to summarise it if theres some interest?
Crack on: I'm genuinely all ears. There is no historical theme more fascinating than one that shines a light on why armies do wot they do, the way that they do it.
 
In the book “conquest of Morocco” it highlights St Cyr‘s and the distinctions between officers who were for home and D’Afrique. The two definitely saw themselves as different.
 
No it’s merely pointing out that there was a uk contribution and that US troops were under UK leadership at the highest level who prevented them being frittered away and ensured that when they attacked they were successful.
It’s well known that US troops in UK led formations were better treated and had better welfare facilities available to front line troops than under their own management in fact it makes it seem obvious that the Argentine armed forces used US techniques in field leadership
And the orders the UK leadership gave was Retreat, from St Vith. My Dads unit held it for 5 days against Hasso von Mantueffels 5th panzer armee and then was ordered to run away so to "Tidy" the lines
 

OneTenner

Old-Salt
And the orders the UK leadership gave was Retreat, from St Vith. My Dads unit held it for 5 days against Hasso von Mantueffels 5th panzer armee and then was ordered to run away so to "Tidy" the lines
Again, from the German perspective:-
"The German commander of the 5th Panzer Army, Hasso von Manteuffel said of Montgomery’s leadership:


The operations of the American 1st Army had developed into a series of individual holding actions. Montgomery’s contribution to restoring the situation was that he turned a series of isolated actions into a coherent battle fought according to a clear and definite plan. It was his refusal to engage in premature and piecemeal counter-attacks which enabled the Americans to gather their reserves and frustrate the German attempts to extend their breakthrough."



In this case (and I have no opinion either way), Montgomery ordered a withdrawal to fortified positions so to better prevent loss of life on the Allies side and prevent significant German advance, it was always obvious by the disposition of the German units that St.Vith was a key target, later when the German plans became available, they showed that the capture of St.Vith was critical and expected by 1800 on the 17th of December. St. Vith was ceded on the 20th, with the entrenched positions also withdrawn from on the 23rd. This significantly slowed the German advance, forcing them to expend resources for no gain.
The problem with the defence was that there were disparate units with no cohesive C&C elements, all fighting piecemeal - it simply wasn't possible with the structure at the time for 7th Armoured, 106 Infantry, 9th Armoured & 28th Infantry together with various support elements to fully come together as one force - hence why Montgomery was appointed, much to Bradley's chagrin. What you have to remember is that those units were put in the Ardennes primarily to give them a rest and the opportunity to re-consolidate, it was seen as a low risk area and as such, there was little, if any resource planning for battle resupply or reinforcing, hindered by the German subversive ops. behind Allied lines.

Sometimes the oversight & strategic planning is difficult to understand when you're fighting for your life, i've been in a couple of situations where we were ordered to fall back for the greater good. It's difficult to give up hard-won (or defended) ground, especially if you've lost a couple of c/s along the way.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
@Goldbricker no enmity or bitterness from this side, we don’t crow about the fact that Monty did indeed the right thing right up until the interview so why not let our people learn of our involvement?
If I’d lost family there I’d rather know the circumstances of why rather than get a bitter and twisted hand me down which is sadly how you are coming across!
Imagine if my family lost members holding the line whilst the Americans ran away? It doesn’t sound good and isn’t true but unfortunately you are starting to sound like the UK contributed to sacrificing Americans whereas in actual fact we helped out the allied cause as ordered by the supreme commander who was an American! Any problems take it up with him.
 

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