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Dieppe and the 'Failure of Inter-Service Co-operation'

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1939 - 1942' started by Mahross, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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    Just to pick up on this, the RAF's operations over Dieppe were correct. While authors such as Villa have attacked the RAF for not using heavy bombers, this would have, been in my opinion, even more disastrous for the operation. Imagine attacking Dieppe with streets full of rubble. In conducting a battle for air superiority, the RAF largely protected the forces deployed and while they lost more aircraft than the Luftwaffe, proportionally, they lost fewer pilots. They were also following the doctrinal ideas that had been long debated during the inter-war years. Additionally, the one major naval loss of the day was actually the RN's fault as the operating procedure dictated that RAF fighters should not pursue enemy aircraft below 3,000 feet when they would become the fleet's responsibility. Thus, by not deploying at least one AA cruiser to support the operation, the RN effectively hamstrung itself.

    Ross

    P.S. Just to note, my views have changed somewhat from my original post due to sustantive research for my MPhil on this very subject :)
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    An interesting thread that I have missed. A bit of thread necromancy that illustrates that it isn't always a bad thing, quite the contrary.
     
  3. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Great photo of a Hunt, although it happens to be HMS Eridge which was torpedoed by an Italian MTB in the Med, laid up at Alexandria and never fully repaired. Also of interest in the background is the French battleship Lorraine, which was demilitarized after the fall of France but restored to active service later in the war.
     
  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    You are Ross Mahoney of the RAF Museum and I claim my £5! The argument that "Dieppe counts as a win for the RAF because they lost proportionately fewer pilots than the Luftwaffe" sounds like something spun by the Luftwaffe during the battle of Britain! Only a member of the RAF Historical Branch or Museum staff can make that argument with a straight face!

    Wikipedia isn't a great source, but C100 for 48 with 79 aircrew killed or captured for 14 fighter aircrew killed or missing looks like a very poor rate of attrition. That the RAF flew thousands of sorties which never engaged did not make this a an air victory! Lanchester favours numbers in combat. However, the superiority of the Fw190 over the the Spit V gave the Luftwaffe the option to engage and disengage on their own terms - as reflected in the relative casualties.

    Maybe the RAF could have sustained this attrition rate better than the Luftwaffe, but the cost to the Army and RN as live bait was far too high. It wasn't repeated, though Op Starkey in Sep 1943 was tried but the Luftwaffe did not rise to this convoy packed with AA gunners. The only successful part was shooting down bombers lured by the presence of a fleet and a large raid force. Whether those bombers were best lost in exchange for a ship over Dieppe or on the Baedecker raids is a moot point.

    The real failure of inter service co-operation was in applying air-power where it might have had most impact on the war effort. The effort spent on night bombing before 1942 was largely wasted, and the long ranged bombers beet used in Coastal Command. . The hundreds of fighter aircraft lost over France would have been better used defending the far east or the Mediterranean. Leaning into France was a very debatable policy, and the Dieppe raid a very expensive bait. Trenchard's aggressive policy made sense when there was an active land front, but just led to heavy losses over the Channel -as the Germans discovered in 1940.

    Perhaps this is a different thread?
     
  5. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I can understand the navy's reluctance to commit a battleship, but a couple of cruisers ought to have been possible. Several RN cruisers were specifically fitted for fighter direction, such as Cairo and Nigeria which were involved the Pedestal convoy to Malta in August 1942 (where both were torpedoed, Cairo fatally); that capability might have been useful at Dieppe. Delhi was in home waters and had recently been rearmed in the United States with 5"/38 caliber guns and Mark 37 gunfire control systems, making her an effective AA platform; she may have had fighter direction capability also. Town or Colony class cruisers with twelve 6" guns could be highly effective in gunfire support.

    A mere eight Hunt class destroyers (4-6 4" guns each) were hardly sufficient to provide surface escort, AA defense, and gunfire support. IIRC one also served as flagship, for which a cruiser would have been much better.

    If there was a specific target which required 15" guns to engage, the recently completed monitor Roberts was available.
     
  6. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Monitors are too slow for that sort of operation and would likely be lost during the pull back, a 6" or 8" cruiser or two might have helped, but the problem is that to use big naval guns effectively you need trained observer teams with well established procedures and compatible radios, and I do not think there were any. If you are limited to targets the ship can actually see a 4" high velocity gun is already overkill, during the early campaigns the Germans smashed a number of minor fortifications, designed to resist 8" indirect fire (actually 210mm as that was the German heavy howitzer's calibre) with 88s firing flat trajectory shells. Given the geography at Dieppe the distance between the troops and the bunkers didn't allow for much error and the "raid" nature if the operation prevented a massive preliminary bombardment that would give he Germans time to bring in more troops.

    Never truly understood what Jubilee wanted to achieve, a Panzer division (10th IIRC) was just hours away so an evacuation while under attack was a likely result and that would lead to massive losses even in a "best case" scenario.
     
  7. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The No2 Group Blenheims were used to lay smoke. The ground attack force was a handful of hurricane squadrons only a minority of which carried bombs. .

    The RAF did not believe in close air support in 1942. It was seen as a misuse of airpower better deployed in battlefield interdiction or even a strategic role. The army were so unhappy about the level of supporting for the army that that the Royal Artillery found their own pilots for artillery observation, By the end of 1942 the first AOP squadrons would be deployed to Tunisia with the reluctant support of the RAF. The tactical air support concepts accepted as the norm in NW Europe did not emerge until the end of the North African Campaign..

    The main sponsor for the operation in the RAF was Leigh Mallory who saw the operation as an opportunity for his Fighter Command to to force the Luftwaffe to fight an air to air battle. In this sense the RAF spin on Dieppe is quite correct and consistent with their line since 1942. The USAAC agreed to bomb Abbeville as part of Op Jubilee because this was the kind of operation against a precision target which fitted their concept.



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  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The Dieppe raid is an excellent case study to support discussion about the reality of strategy formulation. In theory organisations develop strategy via a rational process undertaken by rational individuals in pursuit of a single consistent goal. A human habit of anthropomorphism leads us to consider the actions of lots of individuals as "The Germans" , "the navy" or "The RAF" , as if they were a single person. In reality, objectives may not be siongle or unvarying. Institutions follow their own internal rules and culture and indivudals do not behave rationally. Someone has an idea which then needs to gain support and resources and be steered through the "corridor of indifference" in order to avoid someone else preventing it from being actioned.

    Op Jubilee was a risky project,. Launching a divisional sized raid carried a big risk of casualties. Even successful raids such as the battalion sized raid on St Nazaire resulted in hundreds of casualties. Op Jubilee involved ten times as many soldiers, and the level of losses should not have been unexpected.. British Army commanders seems to have been wary of the plan.

    There were lots of reasons why different people wanted Op Jubilee to take place:-

    - Churchill, and other British politicians and senior commanders wanted to see aggressive action that would show Stalin that the western allies were doing something to help the Soviet Union in 1942.
    - The planners and commanders within Combined Operations wanted to test that their techniques would work for a large scale landing. Until now they had not attempted to land any organisation larger than a battalion.
    - Canadian Commanders wanted to do somehting after two years of inactivity.
    - Leigh Mallory and other Fighter Command Officers wanted an opportunity to bring the Luftwaffe to battle.

    Many of the objectives were achieved,

    1. Hitler was worried enough about the threat of an Allied landing to issue an order on 18th July to transfer an SS Corps of two SS Panzer Divisions from Russia to France, along with two bomber groups and a parachute division. This was based on observation of the concentration of shipping for Op Rutter and the pause in RAF Fighter command sweeps. Op Jubilee might have succeed had this been cancelled at the last minute or arranged as a deception plan. But it might have been harder gain apporval for a deception plan which tied up shipping for weeks or curtailed Fighter Command activities.

    2. Combined Operations learned a LOT of lessons from the raid which enabled them to develop techniques which made D Day a success. It may appear callous to allow soldiers to be killed in order to train, but it is inevitable in a war. The USAAC lost more men in flying accidents in the USA than were lost at Dieppe. One aphorism from the First World War was that it took 10,000 casualties to train a divisional commander. Getting it right first time on D Day was probably worth the cost.
    .
     
  9. Wittmann007

    Wittmann007 New Member

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    saw a documentary about the raid. New declassified info shows the reason for the raid was cover to get the new German 4 rotor enigma machine.

    "Military historian David O’Keefe spent 15 years searching through the once-classified and ultra-secret war files and says the real purpose behind the Dieppe operation-which cost hundreds of Canadian soldiers their lives – was to capture advanced coding technology from the German headquarters near the French beach."

    http://globalnews.ca/news/274605/breaking-german-codes-real-reason-for-1942-dieppe-raid-historian/
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    It seems a bit of a stretch that grabbing a code machine would be the primary rationale for an operation of that scale. Nor does a frontal assault with thousands of troops seem like the way to capture something the Germans can so easily move, hide, or destroy. It would make more sense that Fleming's operation was an add-on, taking advantage of the opportunity offered by the raid.

    Capturing Enigmas and related paraphenalia was only part of the game; it was equally necessary to keep the Germans from knowing it had been captured. For example when the Royal Navy captured Enigmas or coding materials from ships or submarines, they tried to keep German survivors or others from knowing their secrets had been compromised.
     

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