New film: Hurricane

Discussion around the Second World War.
Seret
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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by Seret » Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:22 pm

hammurabi70 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:01 pm
Was it?
Very much so. The Poles had 37 divisions to the Germans' 70, and each German division was much stronger. Poland's entire military budget from 35-39 was less than the Germans had spent on just the Luftwaffe in 39. It was a horrendous mismatch. They had absolutely no illusions about what would happen if they were left to fight Germany alone. Hence their plan for defence relied on the alliance with France (and to a lesser extent Britain).

The French had promised a full-scale invasion of Germany within 15 days, and Britain promised immediate intensive bombing of German military targets by the RAF. And yes, the RN would obviously be in a position to implement a blockade, although the usefulness of that to Poland was questionable.This was what the Poles believed would happen, because it's what we promised them. As you say, what materialised was bugger all apart from the Saar Offensive, if you could even call it an offensive rather than a bit of a probe. I do wonder if the Saar Offensive was a cynical ploy to allow the French to say they satisfied their treaty obligations without doing anything actually useful.

We seem to have taken the decision not to launch the full-scale attack on Germany on the 12th Sept at a conference with the French (and indeed to pull back from the Saar operation). The following day we told the Poles the big offensive would still go ahead but had been pushed back to the 20th. That would appear to have been a straight-up lie.

Britain and France could have sent 110 divisions against the 23 that the Germans had holding their western border. If the attack had come before the Soviets had hit the Poles from the east on the 17th it's certain that a large part of the German force in Poland would have been rushed to the west. Would the Soviets have cancelled their land-grab if they had? Who knows. German Generals thought they could maybe hold the British and French for at most a week with what they had in the west. It's all a bit "what if" and we can't say for certain we could have saved Poland (so much depends on the Soviets), but it's clear that by taking the decision to do nothing we allowed Germany a free hand to finish what it started.

We also actively worked to undermine Polish readiness in the pre-war period, the British and French governments thought that any overt preparations the Poles made (such as beginning mobilisation) would be too provocative. The whole policy of the Chamberlain government towards Poland was shockingly inept and ineffective.

sediment
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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by sediment » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:03 pm

Britain certainly couldn't have contributed troops before the Soviet invasion in mid-September. There were barely any BEF infantry in France other than advance parties and the 1st Armoured Div was still in the U.K. Not for any political reason, simply the time it took to mobilise an army for overseas operations (even if it's just the channel).

My latest reading of the actions of Chamberlain suggest he bought time for Britain to rearm - especially to ensure there were enough monoplane fighters able to defend the U.K. from the Luftwaffe. A war in 1938 might have seen largely unrestricted German bombing of British cities on a far larger scale than experienced in the Blitz. When the time came for war, Chamberlain was in favour, although by then a spent force politically due to the appeasement tarnish.

Cheers, Andy

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hammurabi70
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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by hammurabi70 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:38 am

Seret wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:22 pm
The French had promised a full-scale invasion of Germany within 15 days, and Britain promised immediate intensive bombing of German military targets by the RAF. And yes, the RN would obviously be in a position to implement a blockade, although the usefulness of that to Poland was questionable.

We seem to have taken the decision not to launch the full-scale attack on Germany on the 12th Sept at a conference with the French (and indeed to pull back from the Saar operation). The following day we told the Poles the big offensive would still go ahead but had been pushed back to the 20th. That would appear to have been a straight-up lie.
French invasion so the lack of activity is mainly down to them, then. Intensive bombing certainly did not feature in RAF operations in September 1939, although I think what raids went in got badly beaten up so the reticence might be understandable. A blockade is always a long-term weapon; it was effective in WWI.
sediment wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:03 pm
My latest reading of the actions of Chamberlain suggest he bought time for Britain to rearm - especially to ensure there were enough monoplane fighters able to defend the U.K. from the Luftwaffe.
It also gave time for the Nazis to enhance their military position. Even worse than the treatment of Poland is, IMHO, what happened with Czechoslovakia. I think that was the real political failure.

Meanwhile our generation of politicians appear to be draining away what forces we do have but then we have already had that topic.
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Rumblestrip
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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by Rumblestrip » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:59 am

hammurabi70 wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:38 am
... Even worse than the treatment of Poland is, IMHO, what happened with Czechoslovakia...
Or the failure to assist, followed by the active connivance in the overthrow of, a democratically elected government in Spain in 36 et seq.

I don't think the thirties were illustrious times for British diplomatic analysis, action and outcomes.

Cheers
Andrew
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hammurabi70
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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by hammurabi70 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:54 pm

Rumblestrip wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:59 am
I don't think the thirties were illustrious times for British diplomatic analysis, action and outcomes.
Only too true and it looks to me as if we are moving into the same situation now; without any effective military, we won't have the capability to intervene, whatever Whitehall or the man on the Common Omnibus might wish. Perhaps not being a world power would have some compensations.
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panzerman47
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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by panzerman47 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:56 pm

Rumblestrip wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:59 am
hammurabi70 wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:38 am
... Even worse than the treatment of Poland is, IMHO, what happened with Czechoslovakia...
Or the failure to assist, followed by the active connivance in the overthrow of, a democratically elected government in Spain in 36 et seq.

I don't think the thirties were illustrious times for British diplomatic analysis, action and outcomes.

Cheers
Andrew
And it didn’t get any better in the 1950’s either....

Seret
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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by Seret » Sun Mar 04, 2018 11:08 am

hammurabi70 wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:38 am
French invasion so the lack of activity is mainly down to them, then.
The decision was taken jointly by the Anglo-French Supreme War Council at Abbeville on 12 Sept, and was kept secret from the Poles by both parties. Chamberlain and Lord Chatfield on the British side, with Daladier and Gamelin on the French. The French were actually itching for some kind of offensive action, but envisaged that it would be in the Med theatre rather than directly against Germany, while the British delegation was against even that. Aerial bombing of the Ruhr was ruled out as "too provocative", showing that they still thought they were engaging in a limited war. It seems both parties made no serious attempt to relieve Poland, abandoning them to their fate and reneging on their treaty obligations, although it's notable that the French thought they weren't bound by the treaty due to a technicality. It was assumed France's defences were secure and that the Allies would be able to settle into an attritional war against Germany on other fronts.

It seems that even once the war had started they were still severely underestimating Hitler's ambition and resolve. They thought maybe he was after limited territorial gains, and not the whole continent.

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