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Allied"disasters".

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by 4th wilts, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I should not call the destruction of the Abbey of Monte Cassino an Allied disaster: the destruction was bad for the people of Monte Cassino,but,was it bad for the Allies ?
     
  2. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Maleme airfield certainly was in the bracket.. Local action which lead to strategic loss...Now thats a perfect example of a disaster happening.
     
  3. green slime

    green slime Member

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    It was bad, in that the initial bombing gave the German Paratroopers the excuse to actually use that ground for defence and spotting, which subsequently cost a large number of allied lives to root them out. Prior to the bombing, the Germans informed the Allies they were not stationing troops there. Whether or not they actually had spotters in the Abbey, the consequences of destroying it actually caused some dismay even on the home front. No Germans were killed in the Abbey by the bombing, but Italian civilians hiding in refuge were.

    IMO, it was a disaster, both in public relations, and the cost to actually divest the Germans from this strongpoint.

    In 1969, the U.S. Army’s official record concluded that prior to the bombing “the abbey was actually unoccupied by German troops."

    So yes, the bombing of the Abbey, and subsequent destruction was completely unnecessary. Given that the Polish Infantry divisions and others suffered horrendous casualties. Sounds pretty much like an unmitigated disaster to me.
     
  4. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    Battle of Monte Cassino was not a picnic for Germans either. 1st German Parachute Division almost wiped out and never regained its old strength both in quantity and quality. Same with Senger Von Etterlin's 14th Panzer Corps which was defending whole Cassino sector. 29th Panzer Granedier Div. suffered heavy casaulties. 44th German Infantry Div. lost so much personel it was taken out of line to refit. Allied casaulties in whole four subsequent Cassino battles (45.000 killed wounded missing ) can be somewhat balanced with German casaulties (26.000 killed wounded missing captured )

    We are talking about first half of 1944. At that stage Western Allies especially with US backing had enough manpower reserves (Britain not so much though) just no major front to fight to wear down and pull German reserves except Italian Campaign. Germans at the other hand had scace manpower for both resisting Eastern Front , Italy and defence against Allied landings on France. Allies had enough manpower reserves to engage even for a costly battle during a diversionary campaign. Germans couldn't afford it. Yes bombing of Cassino monestary and town was a huge mistake with cost Allies dearly. Yes it delayed liberation of Rome. Yes Germans got a propaganda coup as well as a defensive success for some time. But as for general Allied strategy it was not a disaster. Just pulling OKW reserves in West to Italian peninsula when they were desperately needed elsewhere and trashing them was enough for Allied (especially American ) strategists except for Churchill who viewed Italy as soft backbone of Axis and dreamed getting Central Europe from Northern Italy and Alps. That is my opinion of course.
     
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  5. green slime

    green slime Member

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    There are many levels of disaster; just because it wasn't a complete strategic disaster, doesn't mean it wasn't a tactical disaster.

    If we were only listing Allied Strategic disasters, from which the Allies could not recover, with their vast manpower and material resources, the list would be short indeed.

    As an aside, my sources put Allied casualties at for the campaign at 55,000, but they may well be out of date, or including a wider area.

    If viewed in the context of smashing through the "soft underbelly" into Central Europe, then the Strategy did indeed fail the Western Allies, and the delay in breaking the Gustav line was ultimately costly for Central European Democracy.
     
  6. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The Allied Italian campaign was a good example of unispired leadership. despite a small advantage in manpower and a huge advantage in supplies and airpower the Allies basically traded losses and advanced very slowly due to the lack of inspired "risk takers" at several critical moments. But nothing in that campaign qualifies as a strategic level disaster and the setbacks at Cassino are more tactical then operational.
    If we go to tactical the surrender of a the bulk of 106 division in the early days of the Bulge probably qualifies, though it was a very low scale affair.

    Allied strategic, in the sense of potentially decisive, disasters are very few, my list would include Sedan (as the critical point of the battle of France) though Arras, despite being totted as a British victory is another possible "point of no return" for that campaign, the Barbarossa frontier battles, especially the Lufwaffe attacks that destroyed an huge amount of the pre was VVS, the Kiev encirclement, and Viazyma (if you can consider it separately if from the rest of Typhoon), after US entry the end was never really in doubt, otherwise the Philippines, the destruction of ABDA, Malaya and the first Indian Ocean raid would also qualify as "strategic".
     
  7. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    I would also add second battle of Kharkov in May 1942 (241.000 Russians were captured almost 20.000 were killed , 1200 tqnks were lost ) and fall of Crimea as Allied disasters which opened weakened Soviet forces considerably and opened Caucaus plains from Rostov to Voronezh to advance of German armies
     
  8. denny

    denny Member

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  9. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Yes and no. Of course there was some risk that the Germans might have found out something in carrying out an exercise in the Channel - which could be considered to be No Mans Land. Lots of ranking officers were aware of exercise Tiger, and some of these at very senior levels might have known the D Day plans. I am not sure if any was anyone on LSTs attacked and sunk who knew of the location and date of D Day, if there were they should not have been as there were restrictions on where people who know the information could travel.

    The Allies were aware of the security risk of briefing too many people too early about the details of the invasion. Some of the security precautions included special restrictions on material concerning the date and location of the invasion, identified as "TOP SECRET - BIGOT", which is printed on all the invasion planning maps. These were not issued until the last days before the invasion and only after all troops taking part were locked into their marshalling camps.

    Op Tiger was an exercise which took place over a month before D Day to land on Slapton Sands and capture some town inland and issued with maps of these areas. No one on the LSTs taking part in the exercise need have known exactly where they would land on D Day and certainly no one would have been carrying a map of Utah Beach. However, the final preparations for the D Day invasions were for the troops to practice on beaches and inland features which were similar to those they would have attacked on D Day. At this time the allied final preparations were for operations very similar ot their D Day missions and on coastlines very similar to those they would actually assault. So VII US corps carried out an exercise to land on the long sandy beach of Slapton Sands; establish a beach head and advance inland in conjunction with airborne troops of 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions - see the orders here. http://www.exercisetiger.org.uk/document-archive/orders-from-shaef/

    About the same time 1st (BR) Corps carried out an attack on the coast near Littlehampton to seize the town of Chichester, which has a similar coastline and terrain configuration to the area around Caen. Had the Germans been able to find out enough about both of these exercises they might have been able to fit them tom the coastline of Normandy.

    However, the German side of the raid on Ex Tiger illustrates the limitations of the German's reconnaissance capability and their ignorance of Allied Intentions. In a post war German Admirals Doenitz and Wagner were asked what type of ships attacked the Ex Tiger Convoy and whether they knew it was an exercise, or suspected it was the start of D Day. The Germans explained that it was a chance encounter. The reason the E Boats from Chebourg were close to the British Coast was in the hope of extending German recce, they needed to send boats because they were getting no information from the Luftwaffe, because the air protection of the ports was "excellent". The German boats did not know the type, strength or intentions of the American convoy. "Appreciation that the enemy were too strong, we withdrew."
     
  10. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    good comments, Sheldrake.
     
  11. denny

    denny Member

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    Yeah.
    Great info.
    Thank You
     
  12. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I'll second this. Good stuff.
     
  13. Don Juan

    Don Juan New Member

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    I think only Market Garden and Huertgen Forest can be put forward as possible disasters in NWE 44-45.

    I would classify the first as an over-ambitious gamble, and the second as a painful setback.

    I find it quite strange, generally, how military historians love to wax lyrical about the fighting prowess of the Germans during this campaign, and then howl with outrage when the Allies occasionally lose to them.
     
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  14. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I never really consider Operation Market Garden as a disaster,
     
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  15. darkh

    darkh New Member

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    After 1942, any action that caused German casualties may be considered an Allied victory, and in a larger sense, a German victory. Had the Nazi's won every battle; even conquered Russia, there would inevitably have been a day when Harry Truman, with a warehouse of newly minted atomic weapons, looked at screened photorecon images of Auschwitz and said: "What are those things that look like huge bakeries?"

    "We were just coming to that, Mr. President..."

    Bad week to be a Berliner.
     
  16. Dave55

    Dave55 Member

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    I'm fairly new to the forum and completly new to this thread but surly these two (Malaya and the Philippines) are epic disasters. I'm surprised they havent gotten more play in the thread.

    I admit that the first thing I thought of when I saw the topic was Slapton Sands but that was, I guess, a tactical setback/defeat, albeit tragic, vs a disaster
     
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  17. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Not strategic maybe. But a setback none the less...one worth trying though.
     
  18. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    I suppose all allied disasters have to be taken in context of the final outcome and how the disaster if it was, fitted into the overall victory. In effect all allied so called disasters were eventually only setbacks on the road to the final outcome...the only real disasters were incidents...such as Lancastria or Leros in my view..both on the morale side too rather than war affectiwitng outcomes.

    All disasters can be left surely with the Axis side.
     

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