Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Wolfy, Jan 11, 2009.
they were payed good money to do what they did.
Yes, a hundred a month extra for officers and fifty a month for enlisted is "good" money, at the time. But, remember that they also volunteered, had to survive intensive training, and be "passed" into the group, and never had any time to spend the "hazardous duty pay". Did make for nice checks sent back to their parents and/or families while they were serving in this hazarous branch of the serivice.
BTW, while the Glider troops got no "jump pay" for obvious reasons, they did receive an extra fifty per for the officers and twenty-five for the Glider Infantry enlisted. Their duty was also hazardous, just not quite the same level of risk as jumping out of a perfectly good and functional airplane into enemy held territory. Both of these sections, glider and paratroop deserve our respect and thanks. An extra fifty doesn't do you much good if your 'chute roman candles on your second jump during training now does it?
It would be interesting to see a comparison of glider caustilities vs parachute caustilites. I am sure they are pretty close. I can remember seeing videos of them landing into trees and other hard items. Also lots of training accidents. I read a coffin company made gliders for WACO and did not get the glue right and they came apart in the air.
OK JC, give us some charts to look at.
Sorry, I didnt know I'd blundered into another yanks only thread. The British airborne were paid more than their infantry colleagues...but good money....go take a hike.
I think we are missing out here what makes paratroops what they are and why they are used in ww2 as they are,they are trained to jump from a plane into opposed terrain sometimes miles from their objective and then lightly armed and without resupply for oh maybe NINE DAYS! they then hold that objective until relieved and in the process lose thier officers, and majority of NCO'S because as a man they fight together then reliant on others history deals them a shit hand! they dont call it a AIRBORNE BROTHERHOOD FOR NOTHING.
I honour the men; I question the choice of where, when, and how they were sometimes deployed. Since their job was inherently of high risk, from our retrospective view one wishes that more had been done to give them a better chance - but again we often have information now that the planners of the operations did not have.
For the allies, the most serious shortcomings of massive parachute operations is its expansiveness in fuel and how it could divert good from regular formations that do have to do the decisive fighting in breakthrough and exploitation.
John Keegan believes that airborne operations with parachutists were not seen again after World War II because it was always a dangerous gamble to deploy with immature technology top-notch, irreplacable men. Throughout August to September parachute operations were planned but preempted by the rapid advances of conventional ground forces, raising some doubts as to the wisdom of putting the best troops in airborne formations instead of motorized infantry or armored divisions.
For the allies in the context of WWII, it was perhaps neccessary to brave such perils and pay the sacrefice. The allies had to fight a first-rate foe and beat him in his game, everything that evens the odds had to be tried. Without those elite formations, Normandy and Rhur camaigns would have more trying.
they are the best soilders of any conflict
I tend to agree with this, they're top-notch troops with an incredible ability beyond their fighting prowess.
You are quite right, the paratroop forces of every country do absorb alot of the army's best and most motivated troops that could be better employed elsewhere. In practically every nation that uses paratroopers they are almost always volunteers, and are considered elite troops and trained and equipped as such.
Oddly the Germans continued to raise parachute (fallschirmjaeger) battalions even after the Germans had lost the capability to use them as such. Even so they were still an elite group just like the Waffen SS or Grossdeutschland division, and they had plenty of volunteers. But in fact many fallschirmjaeger served without ever making even one parachute drop, even for training.
That's exactly for the reason stated: teh parattroopers were better trained than normalm infantry units, and suffered highere losses than others did because they were over-targeted.
I think that the losses in the airborne campaigns were not in vain. Many of these operations (eg Normandy, Bastogne and Sicily) helped turn the tide of the war in some places.
The devil with the paras is that they are elite troops and made a difference when deployed. However if the units are deployed with regular divisions they are not availiable for use during windows of opportunity. So the dilemma is wether to use crack troops at the front and reap the benefits from that, or have them training in the rear waiting for the big break.
In smaller raids they proved worth it beyond the doubt.
All in all they were useful and nessesary for the allied attacks in the latter part of the war. The question is did: they plan out of the fact that they had that resource, or would the operations have been pursued by other means if no airborne units were availiable?
At any rate my hat is off for the nutters. Why jump out of a working airplane....
I can see why there is value in volunteer, selected troops..besides higher physical abilities/fitness they have a certain fanaticism that conscripts don't have (which makes them less likely to surrender and more likely to be aggressive). This makes them suitable for airborne drops, as they are less likely to fail compared to someone less invested in the war.
But I don't see how their fighting prowess in a combat action would be significantly greater (like up to 120-200% or so) than regular, just as well-trained conscripted troops. They are armed with the same weapons..
I agree. I think volunteer troops would better be served and trained as future officers/NCOs of armored assault units (armored infantry, etc.) or specialist ground troops performing dangerous roles (recon, raids, etc.).
The Fallschirmjager divisions were organized as elite "assault infantry" divisions with double the artillery/mortar/machinegun firepower.
Well one part of it is esprit de corps, another is their higher standards of both intake and training but also worth considering they do have to be really bleeding tough.
Arnhem is a good example, a failed op, massive casualities but ultimately a group of paras managed to drop into German occupied territories, and hold a bridge for two days against serious assault. Despite the lack of victory the effect on morale was considerable, the Paras were proud of what they achieved and the Germans perturbed.
Do you think well-trained and selected conscripts with the same hard training lead by veteran officers/NCOs would have faltered in their place?
I believe there's a greater chance, yes.
Bit of a moot point though, the best troops were typically creamed off for the special regiments, much to the frustration of commanders. Also regular conscripts didn't enjoy the same specialised training.
Also worth noting how sometimes special troops biggest danger was the conscript or the inexperienced, eg: the glider landings on Sicily suffered horrendously from it from Navy AA gunners opening fire, green pilots not used to towing gliders, and nervous pilots giving the green light for a jump over the Med so they might "bugger off" a bit quicker.
I think the key was, and probably still is, how with a large standing army the average training might be quite limited, so it's vital to have a number of small units which are trained to the maximum available, that's to a standard which couldn't be reached, typically because of a lack of opportunity, by the bulk of a force. These specialised units proved so good at their tasks many are still around today.
Give it up Wolfy, you're not going to win! Good try though. If the general staffs of armies that contained airborne formations thought those assets could have been better used in armored/mechanized/regular infantry formations, they would have done it. The paratroopers were needed then, and still are today. When not being used as the spearhead, they are called in as the linebackers. During the Korean War, every US infantry division had a ranger company assigned to it to conduct raids, special missions, etc. Once the war settled down to static positions like in WW1, the prevailing idea amongst the generals there was to disband the ranger companies, and sprinkle the individual rangers into the regular infantry companies. Their reasoning for this was to have the former rangers "spur on" and "inspire" their new comrades in combat. Of course this did not work so well in practice, and soon afterwards each infantry regiment began recruiting special platoons to do the job that the rangers were doing before the experiment. My references for this was taken from Col. Hackworth's book, About Face, and from my dad's experience in Korea. He volunteered for and was accepted into the special platoon organized by the 17th Infantry Regiment that he was assigned to. So I guess my point is, that there is a need for separate elite units such as paratroopers. And Marines too. They all do what they need to do, and do it well I might add. As for helicopter assaults replacing airborne operations, I don't go along with that statement made several posts back. The 82nd Airborne Division can have a battalion on the ground any place on the globe in the amount of time it takes to fly there. And that battalion will be re-enforced as needed to ensure the objective is taken. Air Assault operations cannot do that. The range of transport aircraft is infinite with in-flight refuelings, so that means paratroopers can go anywhere, do anything, anytime. And yes, I am biased towards paratroopers. Used to be one myself. A long time ago.
Paratroopers were at their infancy in WW2. Most were formed during the war. The Germans considered mass droppings of parachute troops to be inefficient (hence their abandonment after Crete). They took their parachute formations and primarily used them as elite assault infantry with double the firepower. But limited drops were still used for special missions (which I agree with).
The major Allied drops against strong German opposition were highly costly.
The "spearhead" were usually the armored divisions and their armored halftrack mounted assault infantry (in WW2). The Armored infantry battalions had the most firepower and mechanization of all US infantry in WW2.
I think this is different. That was the Ranger's specialty- raids, recon, etc. They were the special forces in WW2 although half of the Rangers were annihilated in Italy. In contrast to this, parachute infantry were a less select group of men with more generalized training.
I'm talking about parachute troops in WW2..modern day is a different scenario.
You are right, I got carried away in a cross wind here. Missed the DZ by a bit by getting off the WW2 scenario of your discussion. I'll slip back.
As posted earlier, the Germans didn't abandon airborne formations after mauling at Crete, they just didn't use them in large airborne operations after that. In fact, they increased the amount of airborne divisions in their inventory as the war continued. They fought with distinction in Italy, France and as they were being pushed back into Germany. Rommel even had an airborne brigade in North Africa at his disposal (used as line infantry), the Ramke Brigade. Read about their exploits during the retreat from El Alamein. It's a good read. That is the can do/will do paratrooper spirit we are talking about here. Yes, Hitler said something to the effect that "the day of the airborne is over" after Crete. But like I mentioned earlier, they didn't do away with their formations. They were used in smaller operations in the Agean, and in Italy when Mussolini was rescued. But I believe that the fact that the Germans went largely onto the defensive after stalling in Russia and at El Alamein further contributed to the lack of proper utilization of large airborne forces as they were intended. This last statement is my opinion, not based on any one source, so feel free to tear into it guys! Their airborne units went into the line and onto the defensive, and gave a good account of themselves.
The allies had some hard lessons in large scale airborne operations too, and a lot of casualties were incurred in the process. In fact, after the airdrop in Sicily, the question that you posed was debated by the US Army Ground Forces Command if I'm correct (probably not, since I am going on memory here). Manuevers were conducted stateside to test and evaluate the effectiveness and neccessity of large airborne forces/operations in late 1943 or so. I remember reading that the either the 13th or 17th Airborne Divisions were used in this excersize, and some smaller non-divisional sized units. After completion of the excersize, the decision was made that the need for large airborne units was justified. Improvements were implemented in the airborne training and doctrine, resulting in much better results in Normandy as compared to Sicily. Yes, the casualties were high, but that is to be expected. Some line regiments suffered over 300% casualties during the Normandy invasion and the subsequent actions in Northern France, which were much higher than the losses in the airborne units. Yes, and it takes more time and costs more money to replace paratroopers than regular line-dog infantry, that's a given too.
Market Garden was a squandering of airborne assets. No one will argue that. Too many casualties for not enough gained. Even Monty claimed in the movie that the operation was something like 85% successful after reviewing proceedings. The British 1st Airborne Division was roughly treated up in Arnhem, but they did not give up. They could have surrendered, and nobody would have thought less of them.
Operation Varsity was a waste as well. But by then (1945), the art of verticle envelopment was perfected, after a long and hard road. It was the largest concentrated airborne assault of the war, meaning the landings were much closer to the bullseye than the other operations, not in the total amount of airborne forces employed.
I'm sure I left something out, but my position is still the same. The airborne forces were needed. Were they poorly employed at times, yes. Did they suffer a high casualty rate, yes. Having airborne capability is a definite asset. I think that the men that made up airborne units would have been wasted in mechanized units. Being a paratrooper is more that just jumping out of an airplane. Their spirit made them do what they did. You can't teach that to a soldier. It has to be already there. Group them up and you have a pretty good motivated unit that will get things done when asked. I was a paratrooper, an airborne infantryman to be exact. There was no combat test for me (thank God), but I'd like to think that my training, along with my drive and determination would have meant that I would have given a good account of myself while getting the job done, and to not let my comrades down. This is no way intended to be a slight of any of the other arms in any way. I wouldn't ride in a tank if you paid me extra. Or be an aircrewman. Or an engineer. It was the same back then too with those guys. I spoke with several of them. It's what made me make up my mind to go airborne. I had to be like them I thought when I signed on the dotted line.
Sorry for going long on that one. I feel better now. Dr. Pepper time.
Anouther reason the Germans did not make large airborne drops after Crete was they lost a huge percentage of their Ju-52's along with crews in Crete and the ones that survived Crete got ground up on the eastern front. Being assigned to a Ju-52 was almost a death warrent. Also many were lost trying to supply Africa.
I don't think C-47 crews suffered as much as the Ju-52's did.