The 'Myth' of the Afrika Korps ?

The problem I have with any 'revised' history is, how it was 'revised and, by whom,given that anyone who was around at the time, has by now 'popped his/her clogs'!

The revision would have entailed, reading/listening to the opinion of others, who in turn might have put their own spin on the historical facts and, as everyone knows "hindsight is a wonderful gift"!

Not forgetting the fact that, most books are published to make money,and if you want a book to sell,you have to come up with something different/new, otherwise it's 'same old,same old'!

Not to put too fine a point on it, we are now suffering a form of historical revision, by HIU teams across recent conflicts and, the deeply flawed verdicts on the Bloody Sunday fiasco.
 
Summat else was that Normandy bocage etc wasn't exactly Mersa Matruh. Different cover etc.
Old soldiers get to be old because theyve seen what over confidence does and avoid it. Survivors from the desert war walked the same bit of ground from Alamein to Tobruk in opposite directions a few times. Must have made them cynical of the leadership and not to keen to boldly and blindly go.
I would imagine the veterans of Blairs wars, are a right old pain to the establishment and tier one for redundancy.. Every conflict, the same cry goes up from higher authorities about veterans being shy and unwilling to sacrifice themselves unneccessarily. The reason a roman legion had the youngest at the front and the veterans to the rear, if things went completely to pot.

The DAK Veterans were sacrificed in tunisia despite Guderians wish to get the experienced tank crews out before it was too late. The wehrmacht towards the end had the same low view of veterans and preferred the young kids. Until things got too hot and the youngsters wilted.
 
I would imagine the veterans of Blairs wars, are a right old pain to the establishment and tier one for redundancy.. Every conflict, the same cry goes up from higher authorities about veterans being shy and unwilling to sacrifice themselves unneccessarily. The reason a roman legion had the youngest at the front and the veterans to the rear, if things went completely to pot.

The DAK Veterans were sacrificed in tunisia despite Guderians wish to get the experienced tank crews out before it was too late. The wehrmacht towards the end had the same low view of veterans and preferred the young kids. Until things got too hot and the youngsters wilted.
A hard sacrifice though, how do you evacuate when the sea is controlled by the allies as is argue air as mentioned earlier
 

ches

LE
I've posted numerous time elsewhere about the same sort of topic. Any belief that Heer units weren't involved on a routine basis in the murder of civilians in any of the war theatres (except by & large the NA campaign this thread is about) is deceiving themselves. There are many many documented & evidenced accounts of war crimes committed by regular Wehrmacht forces especially on the eastern front.

There is also documented record that Army commanders & their staff subordinates were aware of the work of the Einsatzgruppen & their sub-units, the EinsatzKommando's as weekly reports of their 'activities' were distributed to all commands inc, bizarrely, those in other theatres. Guderian doesn't mention the fact once, in his tome about the presence of Einsatzgruppen in his own Army Group & what they were doing. Rommel would have also received such reports, whether he paid them any heed is another matter. However, the Jews of Tunisia were shipped east, he would have been aware of & approved of the transport of them.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
Rommel was allegedly a bit too close to the 20th of July plotters and was told to either commit suicide, which the Third Reich favoured, or face an unfair trial and execution. His death was sold to the public as a result of war wounds and was maxed out for propaganda value.
I recently (ish) acquired Charles Whiting's (Leo Cooper, Leo Kessler) history of Joachim "Jochen" Peiper, commander of the eponymous Kampfgrüppe in The Bulge.

It was the usual Whiting drivel, but therein Whiting alleged that Dietrich had approached Rommel to ask if he'd be a figurehead in the plot to depose Hitler. Dietrich claimed he wanted to lead the plot but his oath prevented him. But Dietrich guaranteed his support for Rommel.

Whiting quoted a source for this fun fact, but it turned out to be another of his own "History" books. Might have been called something like "The Other Side of the Hill".

I treat anything by Whiting/Cooper/ Kessler with scorn.
 
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Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
2. One day someone's going to write the unvarnished truth about the British Army for much of WW2 and it will make uncomfortable reading. Politically it suited Churchill to have Rommel as some sort of superman because it was an easier story to tell than the fact that British forces were poorly commanded, doctrinally baffled and seemingly incapable of inter-arm co-operation to the point of gross mis-trust. Montgomery kept 8th Army on a tight leash for Alam Halfa and 2nd Alamein for much the same reason.
There's a very interesting series of well-researched books coming out from Greg Baughen (still a work in progress) about the RAF and it's attitude to close air support. In summary, the RAF leadership believed that they could win the war single-handed by bombing German industry into submission and that battlefield air support was unnecessary.

In the early part of the war (despite all the evidence to the contrary) the army was starved of effective CAS, while the Luftwaffe made fairly uninterrupted target practice. It was only after Crete where the German parachute troops used air support in place of artillery that Churchill took a close interest in the matter and the RAF started to supply air support.

As an indication of how determined the RAF was to ignore the army's needs in the early part of the war, they classified the Fairey Battle as a strategic bomber and wanted to use it in attacks on German industry from it's bases in France - even when the Germans were coming through the Ardennes and when the Battles could have imposed a significant check on German movements.

At the start of the Battle of France, the battles lacked armour and self-sealing tanks - both required for ground attack. When they were fitted - and the Battles given a Hurricane escort - losses fell significantly and they proved reasonably effective in the close air support role.

Greg Baughen probably slightly overstates his case, but there's little doubt that the lack of CAS in the early years of the war was one reason the Wehrmacht tended to prevail over the British army.

Wordsmith
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Transport planes at night at low level an interception would be almost impossible. Convoys are different, we probably new the course and speed in advance.
Convoy information came from Ultra or PR over the Italian ports - they always loaded ships for North African convoys at the same quays.

If possible an aircraft was told to patrol over the sea where it could make an unprompted sighting - the signal explaining the imminent shoeing of the convoy. On rare occasions where it wasn't possible for the aircraft to sight the convoy, it was told to fly to the limit of its range and make a sighting report. Probably puzzled the hell out of the pilot, but the signal would be picked up the the Germans/Italians and again explain the destruction of the convoy, camouflaging the role of Ultra.

Wordsmith
 
- even when the Germans were coming through the Ardennes and when the Battles could have imposed a significant check on German movements.
Not really

1) French high command was convinced the Ardennes was a side show - hence allied airpower was focused in belgium - by the time the truth dawns - the Germans are past the bottle necks and spread out.

2) there were severe (political) constraints palace on air support for the battle of France which was crippling for the Ardennes campaign
They couldn't strike without visual conformation nor hit targets in urban areas
Hence forested cross roads or cross roads in villages - you know the obvious bottle necks - hence air support was hindered .
 
Transport planes at night at low level an interception would be almost impossible. Convoys are different, we probably new the course and speed in advance.

Very brave Tante Ju pilot to fly low over the oggin at night…
Beaufighters wouldn't have to shoot them down, most would fly into the sea.
FWIW, RAF night fighters had no problem intercepting low flying Luftwaffe aircraft engaged in mine laying over the North Sea and persuading the Luftwaffe it was a mugs game.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
I recently (ish) acquired Charles Whiting's (Leo Cooper, Leo Kessler) history of Joachim "Jochen" Peiper, commander of the eponymous Kampfgrüppe in The Bulge.
I always wonder where all this latter-day adulation of the SS appears from. You didn't make it through the front door unless you were a committed Nazi, end of.

Transport planes at night at low level an interception would be almost impossible. Convoys are different, we probably new the course and speed in advance.
The RN Submarine flotilla based in Valetta contributed mightily to Rommel's logistical nightmare. The boats had to submerge during daylight hours in harbour to avoid being bombed. Based in a former Leper hospital called the Lazaretto.

They also put raiders ashore , mined enemy harbours and ,on one occasion, shelled an Italian railway bridge from offshore. Two VCs.

10th Submarine Flotilla - Wikipedia

" The flotilla never numbered more than 12 submarines, but this small force between January 1941 and December 1942, sank 412,575 tons of Axis shipping.[9] "

Source 2
In mid-September the submarines of the 10th Flotilla operating from Malta registered one of their biggest successes against the Axis convoys sent to reinforce the German Afrika Korps, led by General Erwin Rommel, in Libya.

On September 17, a large Italian convoy was reported to have left Taranto; it comprised the troopships Oceania, Neptunia and Vulcania. The Royal Navy submarines Unbeaten, Upholder, Upright and Ursula were ordered to sail.

In the early morning of September 18, Upholder (Lt Cdr David Wanklyn) spotted the convoy and fired four torpedoes. Two hit the19,475-ton Neptunia and one hit the 19,507-ton Oceania. The submarine dived but later resurfaced firing two torpedoes against the stricken Neptunia, which sank in eight minutes. Two of the troopships were sunk, while Vulcania, although damaged, succeeded to reach Tripoli.

Apart from that, 400 out of a total of 6,900 troops perished.

Seven days later, Count Galeazzo Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister and Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law, recorded in his diary the heavy losses sustained by Italy in terms of merchant shipping in the Mediterranean, probably referring to this episode.

He wrote: “Actually, the Mediterranean situation is dark, and will become even more so because of the continued loss of merchant ships. Commander Bigliardi, who is in the know and is a reliable person, says that in responsible naval circles they are seriously beginning to wonder whether we shouldn’t decide to give up Libya, rather than wait until we are forced to do so by the complete lack of freighters…”



I suppose a JU-52 at night could get out a tank platoon crew.
This is the difference, even now, between air ops and seaborne re-supply.
See above. The three troopships in the Italian convoy detailed above carried just under 7,000 troops.....


Well worth a read if you have an interest in why sea command of the Med was so important to the Allied war effort:

1575371609515.png
 
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Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Not really

1) French high command was convinced the Ardennes was a side show - hence allied airpower was focused in belgium - by the time the truth dawns - the Germans are past the bottle necks and spread out.

2) there were severe (political) constraints palace on air support for the battle of France which was crippling for the Ardennes campaign
They couldn't strike without visual conformation nor hit targets in urban areas
Hence forested cross roads or cross roads in villages - you know the obvious bottle necks - hence air support was hindered .
If Baughen is right - and he's citing chapter and verse from documents in the National Archive - there's been an airbrushing of events in the Official histories. The French pleaded with the RAF element in France for battlefield air support and were given a stiff ignoring. The RAF (Newall as Chief of the Air Staff and Portal as C in C Bomber Command) wanted to hit far behind the front lines - and at German industry for preference - to slow the German advance.

When the Battles and Blenheims were committed to battlefield support, the crews were not trained for it and the aircraft not equipped for it. They took a hammering in the initial few days as a result. Armour plating (which had been in France for weeks) was hurriedly fitted and Battles with self sealing fuel tanks flown out. The crews worked out by trial and error how to attack battlefield targets and losses fell. They fell further when Hurricanes started supplying close escort.

As soon as the Battle of France was over the RAF high command then gave the lessons learned a stiff ignoring and the need for battlefield air support was again related to the bottom of the pile. Despite that by the end of the Battle of France losses were at a sustainable level and an effective doctrine was starting to emerge.

The RAF's involvement in the Battle of France is a tale of neglect. The RAF regarded strategic bombing as the way to win wars and battlefield support as totally unnecessary. And even when the Luftwaffe proved how effective it was, the RAF documents show they claimed that close air support was only effective for armies on the attack and served no purpose for armies in retreat.

Hence the BEF fought with minimal air support and the bulk of the bomber force and fighter force sat inactive on UK airfields while the Battle of France was being lost.

Wordsmith

Wordsmith
 
Very brave Tante Ju pilot to fly low over the oggin at night…
Beaufighters wouldn't have to shoot them down, most would fly into the sea.
FWIW, RAF night fighters had no problem intercepting low flying Luftwaffe aircraft engaged in mine laying over the North Sea and persuading the Luftwaffe it was a mugs game.
Tunisia to Sicily is a straight hop.
In the North Sea, we had ground radar stations, including low level radars. So aircraft could likely fly 500 feet plus without much difficulty over the med.
The Luftwaffe bomber and transport aircraft were still evacuating casualties up to the last few days, without much interference.
 
Convoy information came from Ultra or PR over the Italian ports - they always loaded ships for North African convoys at the same quays.

If possible an aircraft was told to patrol over the sea where it could make an unprompted sighting - the signal explaining the imminent shoeing of the convoy. On rare occasions where it wasn't possible for the aircraft to sight the convoy, it was told to fly to the limit of its range and make a sighting report. Probably puzzled the hell out of the pilot, but the signal would be picked up the the Germans/Italians and again explain the destruction of the convoy, camouflaging the role of Ultra.

Wordsmith
Agreed.... Any attempt to evacuate large scale selected personnel would likely have resulted in some counter-reaction, but heh ho that is the fun of what if.. We actually tried to do it at Singapore and it was not an unreasonable idea to pull out experienced personnel critical to the retraining of new units.
 
If Baughen is right - and he's citing chapter and verse from documents in the National Archive - there's been an airbrushing of events in the Official histories. The French pleaded with the RAF element in France for battlefield air support and were given a stiff ignoring.
Our points arent mutually exclusive

You are arguing that the RAF didn't get behind air support.

Im arguing that even if they had it would have been negated by the political constraints placed upon it and the fact it was piecemealed out rather than concentrated**.

In other words im not challenging your point viz the RAF just doubting if different it would have made a tangible difference given the French doctrine and restrictions.


**I didn't raise this point in my previous it should have been 3)
 
Tunisia to Sicily is a straight hop.
In the North Sea, we had ground radar stations, including low level radars. So aircraft could likely fly 500 feet plus without much difficulty over the med.
The Luftwaffe bomber and transport aircraft were still evacuating casualties up to the last few days, without much interference.

Its one thing to get the odd planes across… any attempts at a substantive operation would have been the subject of an allied operation to frustrate it. The RAF owned the night, and its night fighters and bombers did great destruction to Axis forces.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
Further to the mention above of the attack on the convoy by HMS Upholder, this is an oral history recording from the Imperial War Museum made by Capt M L C Crawford RN, who had been a watch keeping officer on the boat during the attack: >

Crawford, Michael Lindsay Coulton (Oral history)


It illustrates the difficulties faced by the submariners, including a barely averted 'blue on blue' against SM Truant

Understatement - ' One's time in harbour was not peaceful....'

Capt Crawford also gives his view of watching 'Das Boot' - having served himself in a captured U-Boat U-570.

Addendum:

Capt Crawford left the RN in 1968. He died in 2017.

Obit thread in Rum Ration Here : https://www.navy-net.co.uk/community/threads/captain-mlc-tubby-crawford-rn-dsc-the-times-obituary.167902/
 
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AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
IIRR, before he was vanquished in North Africa, Montgomery or the army command specifically referred to the need to lay off said kind of big upping of The Desert Fox. I've been searching for the reference, which I recall distinctly, but so far I haven't found it.
Desmond Young's biography, "Rommel" looks at it in some detail.
 

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