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Military disasters of the Second World War.

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by SolomonSullivan, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. SDP

    SDP recruit

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    The first shot fired......
     
  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    He gathered that he did. Disagreement with an assessment isn't being impolite.

    The 28th ID wasn't destroyed, at least not in the manner that that the 106th ID was a few weeks later or in a more extreme version a few years earlier with the Polar Bears of the 31st IR on Bataan. The 28th sustained significant casualties among the infantry formations, but the support units were by and large intact and within 4 weeks later the 28th was able to provided a spirited defense front of Bastogne and toward Luxembourg, on the south shoulder of the Bulge, even after one of its regiments was split off toward St. Vith.
     
  3. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    While a smaller scale, I would nominate Dieppe. Poor planning was a major influence. I know this is from Wiki, but it gives some justification, especially from the standpoint of percentages.
    3,623 of the 6,086 men who made it ashore were killed, wounded, or captured.The Royal Air Force failed to lure the Luftwaffe into open battle, and lost 106 aircraft (at least 32 to anti-aircraft fire or accidents), compared to 48 lost by the Luftwaffe. The Royal Navy lost 33 landing craft and one destroyer.
     
  4. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member

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    Funny, Dieppe jumped into my mind, too. But then I thought it was fairly small scale, so didn't mention it. But, yeah, 'disaster'.
     
  5. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member

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    Maybe Anzio, too.
     
  6. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    What was disastrous about Anzio other than it did not work to the half-assed plan? Oh, and aside from the disaster to the Rangers, which was kind of a sub-set disastrous part of the Anzio whole.
     
  7. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member

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    I think Anzio was poorly designed and led. Lucas didn't understand or grasp the situation and got well bogged down while playing defense. While the allied landings achieved a wonderful surprise, they were unable to take advantage of their assault.

    The Germans reacted smartly--never really got phased by the surprise attack--and the allies lost the initiative. By the time the allies got going, the fighting was brutal, the Rangers catching hell on their way to Cisterna being a good example.

    The Germans organized some strong counter-attacks which threatened to throw the allies back into the sea. Naval artillery saved the day, but a standoff ensued. Only when the allies were able to breach the Gustav line to the south, were the forces at Anzio able to make progress. Of course, by that time Lucas had been pulled out (what ever happened to him?) and Clark took over. Instead of using the force at Anzio to block the German retreat and 'bag' a sizable portion of the German army, Clark took his forces to Rome for a photo op and some headlines.

    The Germans escaped, only to fight on for months.

    Maybe 'disaster' is the wrong word, perhaps 'fiasco' is a better descriptor, but the allies spent the lives of several thousand men with little to show for the terrible cost due to poor leadership. But maybe my perspective and understanding is incorrect, I haven't read that much about Anzio and my impression maybe be biased by some of the things I have read.

    I once spoke with a veteran who was at Anzio. I think his experiences, as he related them to me, colored my view.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  8. wooley12

    wooley12 Active Member

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    No Anzio expert but I've studied it a bit as my dad was in the 1st Ranger Btn and he was lucky enough to not be on that mission at the time. It seems to me that Operation Shingle was an anticipated fiasco that didn't end in disaster because we won the war. That would be how the top command saw it.

    76th Anniversary this week.
     
  9. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    It was poorly thought out from the beginning, essentially a giant exercise in confirmation bias.

    I would argue Lucas understood the situation much better than Clark or Wilson. He knew that his forces were insufficient to achieve the grandiose objective of seizing the Alban Hills and cutting off the German 10. Armee. He did well when he heeded his friend George Patton's advice. The allies had played the game of amphibious end-around in North Africa, Sicily, and already in Italy...SHINGLE was just increased in size, but otherwise suffered from the same problems.

    The Germans reacted as any reasonably capable enemy would have...acting as quickly as possible to regain the initiative. The problem was the allied force was insufficient to maintain the initiative.

    The role of naval artillery has been greatly overblown...it was the allied field artillery that pretty much saved the day, along with some hard fighting infantry, tankers, engineers...

    John P. Lucas was Deputy Commander and then Commander of Fourth U.S. Army until he retired. Clark did not take over, Lucian K. Truscott, CG of the 3d ID did. Clark commanded Fifth U.S. Army. And yes, Clark royally screwed up the pursuit after DIADEM and BUFFALO.

    Its what they were good at.

    Yep, fiasco might apply, because it was piss-poor planning based on unreasonable expectations on the part of Clark from the beginning.

    So have I, with General Michael S. Davison, who was commander of the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry at the tender age of 26. Also with a number of 36th ID guys, including two that made the Rapido Crossing, and some others. Each had their own perspective coloring their views and mine.
     
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  10. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member

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    Thanks for the clarifications!
     
  11. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    I would also call Anzio a disappointment rather than a disaster. It was intended to break the deadlock along the Gustav Line, but instead it just created another deadlock, which continued on both fronts until the breakout from both the Cassino area and the Anzio beachhead in May.
     
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  12. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    "I thought we were hurling a wild cat onto the shore, but all we got was a stranded whale."
     
  13. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member

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    ^^^ Another fabulous Churchill quotation. ^^^
     
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  14. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yep, too bad he had zero idea of what the wildcat was capable of. The actual mission assigned VI Corps was to land and “secure the beaches extending north and south of Anzio, for a distance of about six miles in each direction. After securing the initial objectives it was to be prepared to advance across the flat hinterland in the direction of the Colli Laziali (Alban) hill mass which rises to a height of 3,000 feet and controls all routes from the south toward Rome.” To do so required securing a initial beachhead frontage of about 12 miles, then advancing 40 miles inland to Frosinine. Do the math. The forces landed would be required to occupy a box 12 by 40 miles long, subject to German counterattacks from the direction of Rome on a frontage of 40 miles, from the direction of Casino on a frontage of 40 miles, and from the direction of Frosinine on a frontage of 12 miles or more. So with effectively two divisions and two tank battalions in the five days they were both to hold a beachhead and advance on a frontage of some 90-plus miles. When it was known HG-C had the 3. Panzergrenadier and 4. Fallshirmjaeger Division in reserve under XI. Fliegerkorps in the vicinity of Rome, elements of Hermann Goering and 29. Panzergrenadier in reserve at Caprano, and 26 Panzer and a regiment from 1. FJD in reserve near Scafa. They also knew that the German reaction to previous end around attempts at Termoli and Castel Volturno were quick and violent, despite allied "holding" attacks on the main front. They also knew how difficult the assault crossings of the Volturno and Garigliano that were to "hold" those reserves to the main 10. Armee front were likely to be...and yet the plan took little account of those realities.
     
  15. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member

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    I'm not convinced that Churchill made the most realistic assessment of what the Italian campaign might be capable of achieving.
     
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  16. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..like I said before, there were not many units, out of the all units, totally destroyed .........the OP said ''wiped'' out....
    ..you said the ''destruction'' of Army Group Center.....I asked and will ask again, were they actually destroyed? what were the actual losses and what time period?
    ..define destroyed...I myself would not include POWs in the definition of destroyed
    ...that's why I asked the OP to define ''wiped out''/etc
     
  17. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Yes,
    Well, yes. they were destroyed, ceased to exist..."wiped out" if you wish.

    Some 28 out of 34 committed German divisions were utterly destroyed, not unlike what happened at Stalingrad and Tunisia. They lost combat and support units, as well as command and control and any other attached units. They ceased to exist, except as maybe a rump formation in the various Wehrkreis.

    They disappeared from the order of battle with many not being reformed before the end of the war, and even then were a mere shell of their former selves.
     
  18. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Human candidate: Lloyd Fredendall.
     
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  19. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member

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    Hey, I was stationed at Fort Warren (F.E. Warren AFB) for a spell. Ol' Lloyd there was born at the Fort. His family was well connected politically. He ended up getting promoted and was seen as a war hero.

    I'm surprised he never ran for Governor.
     
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  20. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Not exactly.

    Not quite like Stalingrad or Tunisia. In the first case most of the divisions were officially reformed, while in the second case some were, but in both cases the troops in the encirclement were all lost. In BAGRATION many of the units were fragmented and partially or mostly destroyed, but fragments of the original escaped and were partly reformed or amalgamated. So in BAGRATION:

    260. ID was caught in the Minsk Pocket, but enough escaped to form KG I. of Divisionsgruppe 57. The division was never formally disbanded, but was never reformed.
    299. ID remnants became Divisionsgruppe 299 of Korps-Abteilung G, which was later renamed 299 ID.
    337. ID remnants (8,000 men minus division commander, all four regiment commanders, and most of the battalion commanders who were killed, wounded or captured, formed Divisionsgruppe 337 of Korps-Abteilung G and then was rebuilt as 337. VGD.

    And so on. Remnants of 95., 197., and 256. ID became Korps-Abteilung H, which later spawned a new 95. ID. and a 256. VGD, while 197. ID was never reformed. 14. ID was reduced to a KG, but then rebuilt.

    6., 12., 31., 36., 45., 78., and 246. ID remnants were all more or less annihilated, but rebuilt from fragments as VGD. Same for Panzergrenadier Divisionen Feldherrnhalle, 18., and 25.

    57,, 110., 134., 206., 267., 296th, 383., and 707. ID, and 4. and 6. Feld-Div. (LW) were all destroyed and formally disbanded. Korps-Abteilung D, formed originally from remnants of 56. and 262. ID in November 1943 was destroyed, but the remnants were rebuilt as 56. ID.

    Yep. Some disappeared, some didn't, the remnants all stayed meat for the sausage machine that was the Wehrmacht.
     

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