The Biggest Waste of WW2

#81
Mainland Italian campaign. 18,737 British dead, plus those of other allied armies, countless Italian civilians and a country smashed to pieces by artillery and airpower. A campaign so bloody for the infantry that the British Army in winter 1944 suffered the highest desertion rates of any allied army during the entire war. Over 1,000 men a month were absconding.

How much did it really contribute to German's (by then) inevitable defeat, but at huge cost? Probably difficult to quantify.
Americans never wanted it, but gave into Churchill's fear of fighting the Germans in France. I. M. O. they should have stuck to their guns.
Where did they go/ get to ?
 
#82
In "Bomber Command", by Max Hastings, the best use of the bomber force would have been against fuel production rather than area raids against cities as this would have reduced the capabilities of the Wehrmacht across the board and shortened the war by a year or two, but Harris wanted fought against this until the last 12 months of the war.
Petrol,oil and lubricants were important. But by the latter stages of the war Ersatz or synthetic fuel was keeping them going. And that needed electricity to manufacture, as did nearly everything else. Electricity production should have been the highest priority target.
 
#83
OK, I am going to be very, very controversial and will gingerly step into my flameproof suit.

The biggest waste of resources was the UK getting involved in the war in Europe in the first place.

It made no difference in the long run (and no, what follows is not some sort of Brexiteer fantasy screed).

With or without the British the end result of the war in Europe, and I mean from about 1950 onwards would have been pretty much the same.

Having hammered each other senseless for the best part of a decade Europe would have been divided into two camps with the division line being somewhere down the middle of eastern/central Europe. On the eastern side would have been a powerful Soviet Union controlling vast territories of slave states. On the western side of the line, an exhausted Germany, which would probably have got rid of Hitler and replaced him with someone half rational, would have reconciled itself with the rest of western Europe.

A united western Europe against the Soviet threat would have been proposed, military and economic alliances would have been formed. The French, keen to restore past glory and willing to work with the Germans would have been enthusiastic, the smaller countries would have more or less reluctantly gone along. The Jews of Europe would have been mostly murdered and the few survivors would be keeping their heads down as the worst of the anti-semitic laws were quietly dropped.

By the 1970s, old animosities would have died, western Europe would be thriving, the east and centre ossified.

You can quibble over details but that is pretty much how things turned out, with or without the vast loss of blood and treasure expended by the British to achieve what would have happened anyway.

Meanwhile back in 1940, Britain adopts the stance towards the Nazis it was to adopt towards the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Armed hostility without actual conflict. The Royal Navy would keep the sea lanes open and the Germans, unwilling to get into a war with the Brits and then probably the Yanks would leave the British in peace in their little island. The British would supply aid, covert and overt, to the belligerents in the European war as it suited British interests (British interests being that neither side should dominate all of Europe).

At the same time, Britain's huge manufacturing industry is turning out thousands of tanks and bombers to be sent to Malaya and the Mediterranean along with battle ships and aircraft carriers to remind any aspiring Italian or Japanese warlord that the British Empire was not to be messed with.

So end result is the same Europe that eventually emerged but alongside a powerful and invigorated British Empire reminding everyone who's boss.
Two words make your posited outcome highly unlikely: Nuclear Fission.

Without our efforts, Germany would have succeeded in producing atomic bombs & Russia would have been wiped out as a functioning entity.
 
#84
Those 88s were used up in 44/45 in ground combat. So they were used anyway...
How many resources does it cost to manufacture a 4 engine bomber. How many fighters and medium bombers could be manufactured instead.... Those 4 engine bombers would have been better served loaned to coastal command and a few less built meant more spitfires deployed overseas.. I imagine a squadron of spitfires in Singapore might have been useful.

The crucial point is waste... Waste on our side and the waste on their side, I find it amusing that people seem to see the german civvies as legit targets, but if we bombed an enemy like that now then you would find yourself in the Hague.
Re your last point, are you suggesting that it was fine to bomb armaments factories but not the civilian workers in them? Or should those factories not have been bombed in case there were civilian workers in them?
 
#85
Mainland Italian campaign. 18,737 British dead, plus those of other allied armies, countless Italian civilians and a country smashed to pieces by artillery and airpower. A campaign so bloody for the infantry that the British Army in winter 1944 suffered the highest desertion rates of any allied army during the entire war. Over 1,000 men a month were absconding.

How much did it really contribute to German's (by then) inevitable defeat, but at huge cost? Probably difficult to quantify.
Americans never wanted it, but gave into Churchill's fear of fighting the Germans in France. I. M. O. they should have stuck to their guns.

Alanbrooke held that the main point of the Italian campaign was to keep as many Germans as possible South of the Alps where they cold influence neither the Western nor Eastern fronts.
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#86
The mere presence of Tirpitz tied up in a Norwegian fjord tied up an entire fleet that Churchill desperately wanted to send to the Far East.
there's an argument to be made that Tirpitz itself tied up masses of german assets for very little real return.
 
#87
Turning saucepans into Spitfires. A precursor to Chairman Mao's attempt to creat a back garden steel industry.
Quite a lot of the ironwork salvage (Railings cut down etc..) during the war was wasted, being in part a propaganda exercise. A large amount of it went into storage never to be used, later dumped.
 
#88
The main problem with your hypothesis is your contention that the European theatre would have fought itself to an exhausted standstill after a decade of fighting. This was clearly not what was destined to happen. Even with our later involvement, the German Blitzkrieg rolled imperiously through Poland, France and Belgium. The Netherlands and Norway surrendered. With us safely across the Channel, with a studied indifference to proceedings and Germany having conquered all of Europe that wasn’t an ally or neutral, what makes you think Barbarossa wouldn’t have worked?
Hitler’s desire to march East would have made far more sense as a single front, he would have had the resources of all the conquered nations at his fingertip- and probably, without the glimmer of hope offered by a still-belligerent UK, a greater number of their young men willing to fight against the Soviets. The Russians would have been alone with neither the moral support of a powerful ally nor the material support bought to them by our Arctic convoys.

He’d have occupied the Soviet Union then turned his attention to us.
Well that is simply a hypothesis that is now impossible to prove, you could well be right Hitler could have conquered Russia in which case I agree my scenario falls a bit flat (although I don't think if Hitler had conquered Russia it follows automatically that he would then have attacked a neutral Britain).

However, like Napoleon before him and like the Japanese discovered in China, "conquering" an enemy is not the same as winning the war. There is no way Hitler could have ever controlled the entire Soviet Union, it would have become an interminable war for him, into which every German soldier would have been sucked in trying to garrison vast territories of trackless waste while fighting endless bushfires against partisans.

Hitler lost the war when he invaded the Soviet Union, and would have done if the British had been fighting him or had stood aside, it was all over bar the shouting and 20 million dead when the Wehrmacht rolled east.
 
#89
The Home Guard.

All that manpower, kit and time. All for nothing.



Thank f*ck
That's an interesting post and I am surprised others haven't taken you up on it.

Do you really think it was a waste? It seems to be it was a very cheap use of available manpower to build up a reasonably competent reserve force. "Dad's Army" is a great show but it isn't an accurate portrayal of the Guard, they were mostly veterans of the trenches, men in their forties and early fifties who were more than capable of looking out for themselves (I dare say there's a few blokes here in that age range could be useful if called on to do their bit in a pinch).

Certainly you wouldn't be putting them in your front line or asking them to assault fortified beachheads but give them a functioning rifle (by early summer 1940, US-style Enfields were already delivered and in their hands) and a static place to defend, a street corner or barricade, and they might make a fairly decent fist of things for a while, not something to be sneezed at when the country's survival is on the line.

After 1941, when the danger has passed, you have a huge pool of trained, disciplined, competent men who can man anti-aircraft guns at home, drive trucks, stand guard duty, do admin and countless other jobs that can free up younger men to do the fighting.

Seems to me the Home Guard were actually good value.
 
#90
Mainland Italian campaign. 18,737 British dead, plus those of other allied armies, countless Italian civilians and a country smashed to pieces by artillery and airpower. A campaign so bloody for the infantry that the British Army in winter 1944 suffered the highest desertion rates of any allied army during the entire war. Over 1,000 men a month were absconding.

How much did it really contribute to German's (by then) inevitable defeat, but at huge cost? Probably difficult to quantify.
Americans never wanted it, but gave into Churchill's fear of fighting the Germans in France. I. M. O. they should have stuck to their guns.
The western allies had been promising Stalin to open a second front on the mainland of Europe. They weren't ready to go into France yet, and so compromised on Italy in order to meet their commitment.

If Stalin got tired of waiting and suspected that the US and UK were simply stringing him along in order to get him to do all the fighting, then the Soviets might have decided to come to an armistice with Germany once the Germans were kicked over the Vistula instead of going on to Berlin. In evaluating the probability of this you have to be careful to just use what was known at the time the decision was made and not use your present knowledge of events which were still in the future at that time.

In that context Italy made sense, in terms of opening a front on the European mainland while limiting the resources required to what was available at the time.

The worst scenario for the western allies would have been for the Germans and Soviets to have come to armistice terms, leaving the Germans free to use most of their resources to oppose a landing in France.
 
#91
That's an interesting post and I am surprised others haven't taken you up on it.

Do you really think it was a waste? It seems to be it was a very cheap use of available manpower to build up a reasonably competent reserve force. "Dad's Army" is a great show but it isn't an accurate portrayal of the Guard, they were mostly veterans of the trenches, men in their forties and early fifties who were more than capable of looking out for themselves (I dare say there's a few blokes here in that age range could be useful if called on to do their bit in a pinch).

Certainly you wouldn't be putting them in your front line or asking them to assault fortified beachheads but give them a functioning rifle (by early summer 1940, US-style Enfields were already delivered and in their hands) and a static place to defend, a street corner or barricade, and they might make a fairly decent fist of things for a while, not something to be sneezed at when the country's survival is on the line.

After 1941, when the danger has passed, you have a huge pool of trained, disciplined, competent men who can man anti-aircraft guns at home, drive trucks, stand guard duty, do admin and countless other jobs that can free up younger men to do the fighting.

Seems to me the Home Guard were actually good value.
In Peter Fleming's "Operation Sea Lion" he states that the Home Guard were invaluable as by taking over duties such as guarding, patrolling, and watching, it allowed the regular army to concentrate their forces and prepare for the expected invasion instead of having to disperse all over in small garrisons. This was especially important as the Germans were expected to make extensive use of paratroops and gliders and so could appear anywhere, not just on the beaches.

Having the Home Guard take on these duties allowed the regular army (and reserves) to be used more effectively for defence as a mobile and concentrated reaction force instead of being tied down in static defence.

Continental armies with universal conscription tended to have several age cohorts of troops with the oldest reservists perhaps being roughly equivalent to the Home Guard in terms of what they would be used for.
 
#92
War between Japan & America was always going to happen, due to US power in the region being a major crimp on Japanese expansionism, not to mention that US economic sanctions due to Japanese actions in China were crippling the Japanese economy. Then of course you have the ultranationalists and militarists demanding a stronger more powerful empire, Great Power Status, and competition.

But go ahead ignore one of the biggest motivations for Japanese aggression.
The Americans had been on a collision course with Japan since before WWI. The issue was control of China. China was the last major territory that had not been carved up into colonies, and as latecomers to overseas colonialism the US and Japan were especially focused on China.

An agreement has been reached amongst most of the colonialist powers to not carve up China into individual exclusive spheres of influence, but to share it in common between them. This could be enforced by the UK as at the start of the 20th century the RN had overwhelming dominance of the sea, which meant that they controlled nearly all access to China.

The exception was Russia, who shared a border with northern China and so could not be subject to naval control. Not only that, but their sphere of influence abutted British India, which made Afghanistan a hotbed of intrigue.

The Japanese also had designs on northern China, which abutted the Japanese colony of Korea.

To counter this the UK assisted Japan in order to set them against Russia, and so let the two counter each other. This would take pressure off the Northwest Frontier of India, and since British interests in China were primarily in the south, what the Russians and Japanese got up to in the north was less of a concern.

The Americans however saw the Japanese as a threat to the American colonial position in China and so were intent on doing all they could to stop them.

The Russian revolution held Russian expansionism in check for some years while the civil war and communism held Soviet attention at home. This took all limits off Japanese expansionism in China, which in turn raised American alarm to critical levels.

The Americans responded with organising an oil embargo against Japan. Without oil, the Japanese could not operate a modern military as having access to oil in quantity had become essential to all major areas of military operations.

Faced with this the Japanese either had to react some way or back down. The Americans were of course completely unprepared for the Japanese reaction.

So looking at this history it is difficult to see how the collision between the Americans and the Japanese could have been avoided.
 
#93
The Americans had been on a collision course with Japan since before WWI. The issue was control of China. China was the last major territory that had not been carved up into colonies, and as latecomers to overseas colonialism the US and Japan were especially focused on China.

An agreement has been reached amongst most of the colonialist powers to not carve up China into individual exclusive spheres of influence, but to share it in common between them. This could be enforced by the UK as at the start of the 20th century the RN had overwhelming dominance of the sea, which meant that they controlled nearly all access to China.

The exception was Russia, who shared a border with northern China and so could not be subject to naval control. Not only that, but their sphere of influence abutted British India, which made Afghanistan a hotbed of intrigue.

The Japanese also had designs on northern China, which abutted the Japanese colony of Korea.

To counter this the UK assisted Japan in order to set them against Russia, and so let the two counter each other. This would take pressure off the Northwest Frontier of India, and since British interests in China were primarily in the south, what the Russians and Japanese got up to in the north was less of a concern.

The Americans however saw the Japanese as a threat to the American colonial position in China and so were intent on doing all they could to stop them.

The Russian revolution held Russian expansionism in check for some years while the civil war and communism held Soviet attention at home. This took all limits off Japanese expansionism in China, which in turn raised American alarm to critical levels.

The Americans responded with organising an oil embargo against Japan. Without oil, the Japanese could not operate a modern military as having access to oil in quantity had become essential to all major areas of military operations.

Faced with this the Japanese either had to react some way or back down. The Americans were of course completely unprepared for the Japanese reaction.

So looking at this history it is difficult to see how the collision between the Americans and the Japanese could have been avoided.
Which neatly takes us to the biggest waste of resources of WWII, the US war against Japan.

As you rightly say it was all about China, and particularly a certain missionary zeal among some crusading American Christians who believed that they could create the greatest Christian power in Asia in China which in conjunction with the US could rule the entire Pacific.

So the US took it personally when the Japanese got involved in Manchuria even though the pointless and ultimately unsuccessful Japanese expansion into the vast steppes of Northern China posed diddly squat threat to the US.

The US imposed its oil embargo, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour to cover their takeover of the Dutch East Indies' and Malayan oil supplies and then it all kicked off.

Result? Millions dead, devastation on apocalyptic scale and at the end of it China turned Communist and the US lost whatever fantastic idea it ever had of allying with the great Asian giant.

All utterly pointless.
 
#94
The iron collected from iron railings throughout the U.K.

Huge amounts of effort to collect them and never used for war production.
 
#95
The western allies had been promising Stalin to open a second front on the mainland of Europe. They weren't ready to go into France yet, and so compromised on Italy in order to meet their commitment.

If Stalin got tired of waiting and suspected that the US and UK were simply stringing him along in order to get him to do all the fighting, then the Soviets might have decided to come to an armistice with Germany once the Germans were kicked over the Vistula instead of going on to Berlin. In evaluating the probability of this you have to be careful to just use what was known at the time the decision was made and not use your present knowledge of events which were still in the future at that time.

In that context Italy made sense, in terms of opening a front on the European mainland while limiting the resources required to what was available at the time.

The worst scenario for the western allies would have been for the Germans and Soviets to have come to armistice terms, leaving the Germans free to use most of their resources to oppose a landing in France.
For the Russians and Germans to have come to a state of Armistice, I think they. both have to depose their dictators first. Hitler's hatred of all things bolshy and Jewish and Stalin's utter ruthlessness in his desire for absolute power at any cost (to others in their millions) would have made their involvement in any peace deal difficult to imagine. As for getting rid of them, remember that Hitler clung to power right to the end, when even the slowest Germans must have seen the writing on the wall for the revious nine months.
Regarding resource levels for Overlord, it could be argued that huge amounts of all types of shipping (including losses of vital amphibious craft), manpower, airpower and food to sustain a shattered nation actually delayed the real second front substantially.
 
#96
The Norden bombsight. $1.5billion (half the cost of the Manhattan Project) for a super accurate bombsight that was difficult to programme, was inaccurate at high speed or high altitude and would only work on clear cloudless days. Not many of the latter over Northern Europe.
 
#99
That's an interesting post and I am surprised others haven't taken you up on it.

Do you really think it was a waste? It seems to be it was a very cheap use of available manpower to build up a reasonably competent reserve force. "Dad's Army" is a great show but it isn't an accurate portrayal of the Guard, they were mostly veterans of the trenches, men in their forties and early fifties who were more than capable of looking out for themselves (I dare say there's a few blokes here in that age range could be useful if called on to do their bit in a pinch).

Certainly you wouldn't be putting them in your front line or asking them to assault fortified beachheads but give them a functioning rifle (by early summer 1940, US-style Enfields were already delivered and in their hands) and a static place to defend, a street corner or barricade, and they might make a fairly decent fist of things for a while, not something to be sneezed at when the country's survival is on the line.

After 1941, when the danger has passed, you have a huge pool of trained, disciplined, competent men who can man anti-aircraft guns at home, drive trucks, stand guard duty, do admin and countless other jobs that can free up younger men to do the fighting.

Seems to me the Home Guard were actually good value.
And they were unpaid. Not even a few extra ration coupons. Nor even any time off from their regular employment to train either.
 
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The iron collected from iron railings throughout the U.K.

Huge amounts of effort to collect them and never used for war production.
My grandad was the first in his street to take down his iron railings when war was declared.






He was the first one to put them back up again after VE day...
 

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