What if Gott hadn’t been killed....

Discussion around the Second World War.
cartfc
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What if Gott hadn’t been killed....

Post by cartfc » Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:57 pm

on his way to take over 8th Army? How would he have fared compared to Monty in the subsequent battles? He was known to be an aggressive and bold commander and Anthony Eden was a supporter of his having served with him in the WW1. Both Alan Brooke and Auchinleck had reservations, after he had told Brooke that he had tried all his ideas on the Boche and that someone with new ideas was needed. Brooke felt that he was tired and not yet ready for such a high command. Auchinleck had doubts about his experience to take on such a big command. His command of XIIIth Corps was marred by toxic relations with the commander of the 1st South African division. However earlier he had commanded various units in the desert and done well. Thoughts?

Panzer21
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Re: What if Gott hadn’t been killed....

Post by Panzer21 » Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:10 am

I think the problem is that being well regarded in the British army (especially in the desert) didn't necessarily translate to competence in command.
Gott was well regarded but he doesn't exactly stand out. Wasn't he in command of 7th Armoured during Crusader? Not exactly a stellar performance.
On a similar note, both Cunningham and Ritchie were "well regarded" until it was shown how out of their depth they were in command.
I've often wondered about O'Connor; his performance against the Italians was not matched in Normandy, but there are so many factors (training of troops, PoW experiences) it's difficult to judge.
Jock Campbell is another player in this game of "what if".
All suffer from the particular problem with the British army in this period; they are fine with small or relatively small forces, especially in near colonial circumstances. Command of larger forces and /or armoured forces especially is lacking. It never really was achieved. I wonder what Percy Hobart could have done given a chance?
I'm no fan of Monty (quite the opposite); again he was an infantryman. His deficiencies in armoured warfare were conveniently blamed on the incompetence of others (like all his mistakes). He also was a sublime political animal, which a lot of the others weren't.
While the Germans had to suffer under Rommel's mercurial direction (with an absence of staff work), they also had Cruwell, Von Ravenstein, Von Bismarck et al in the crucial secondary roles. Hence they generally performed much better in armoured warfare.
Neil

dadlamassu
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Re: What if Gott hadn’t been killed....

Post by dadlamassu » Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:00 am

However, with all their advantages in training, leadership, equipment etc Rommel and his staff failed to capture the oil fields. They did, of course, blame the Italians just as they blamed the Jews, the communists and anyone one else that fitted their political views. In fact the Germans from the top down failed to impose any organisation (until too late in the war) on their logistics or appreciate the requirements of large scale and long term warfare. They were often good at short campaigns but hopeless at organising for a long term war. They had, after all, never fought a sustained campaign any distance from their own territory against a major army.

"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."
- attributed to just about every successful general and admiral

"Victory is the beautiful, bright coloured flower. Transport is the stem without which it could never have blossomed.”
- Sir Winston S. Churchill, The River War, vii (1899) Paraphrased again in various speeches WW1 and WW2.

The Allies saw logistics as the vital enabler of victory. The Germans regarded it as the inhibitor of victory.

“Logistics is the ball and chain of armoured warfare.”
- Guderian

Guess which view stood the test of World War?
Alan
[url]http://www.morvalearth.co.uk/[/url]

bannockburn bhoy
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Re: What if Gott hadn’t been killed....

Post by bannockburn bhoy » Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:25 am

If you look at the preparation put into backup for the Normandy invasion and breakout, and compare it to what the Germans had ready for backing up the invasion of Russia there is no real comparison. And even at that , the allied support structure still had problems.
The Germans had no real long term strategic plan for tackling the vastness of Russia ,nor for war on more than one front. Their initial doctrine for WW2 was Blitzgrieg ,incredibly effective in the short term, however , the Urals are nearly 3000 miles from Berlin.
Also their political doctrine severely hindered them ,the historic antagonism towards Russia from the Ukraine etc was there to be exploited however they never offered the olive branch to those that could have given them serious support. The Conquistadors are an example of how this can prove to be a very successful strategy , forming allies with tribes already at war or antagonistic towards their identified enemy.

Richard B.
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Re: What if Gott hadn’t been killed....

Post by Richard B. » Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:56 am

bannockburn bhoy wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:25 am
Also their political doctrine severely hindered them ,the historic antagonism towards Russia from the Ukraine etc was there to be exploited however they never offered the olive branch to those that could have given them serious support. The Conquistadors are an example of how this can prove to be a very successful strategy , forming allies with tribes already at war or antagonistic towards their identified enemy.
That was how Rome worked also, backing one side until all others were gone and making the winner a vassel state :D

Ukraine alone could have put millions of men into field against the Russians and if you add this to other ethnic groups persecuted by Stalin - tartars, Cossacks, Usbecks, Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians - the list is pretty long. Thinks might have been quite different :?:
"“Sir with the compliments of my officer, your shooting was excellent – you killed four of our men”!
Un-named Traillieur to an artillery officer at R`Fakah, Morocco, Feb. 29th, 1908

cartfc
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Re: What if Gott hadn’t been killed....

Post by cartfc » Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:35 pm

Richard B. wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:56 am
Ukraine alone could have put millions of men into field against the Russians and if you add this to other ethnic groups persecuted by Stalin - tartars, Cossacks, Usbecks, Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians - the list is pretty long. Thinks might have been quite different :?:
Trouble is to do that they would have to be, well, not Nazis! I think the Germans problem was not logistics per se, but the wherewithal to produce the goods in the first place. The logistic effort for Barbarossa was adequate, you don’t support an army of 3 million men in the field if your logistics is shambolic. It wasn’t greater because there wasn’t anything else to provide. It was the German economy that was in a shambles.
But all this is getting away from was Gott a better choice for the 8th Army? The consensus seems to be probably not. My reading is he was burnt out. Maybe a case of too rapid a promotion up the ranks.
I find Rommel are hard man to judge. He was clearly a master of improvisation at times, but also had some strange moments. The dash to the wire for example could have cost him a lot more than it did. He was, however, spot on that the invasion had to be defeated on the beaches.

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hammurabi70
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Re: What if Gott hadn’t been killed....

Post by hammurabi70 » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:14 pm

cartfc wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:35 pm
But all this is getting away from was Gott a better choice for the 8th Army? The consensus seems to be probably not. My reading is he was burnt out.
I have the impression that was his view as well. It would probably have meant more of the old style of leadership. Monty at least got divisions fighting as divisions again and instilled some form of discipline in an army that had become accustomed to very loose command.
If you are such a great writer make me want to logon and respond! [Adapted]

dadlamassu
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Re: What if Gott hadn’t been killed....

Post by dadlamassu » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:27 pm

cartfc wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:35 pm
I think the Germans problem was not logistics per se, but the wherewithal to produce the goods in the first place.
They had the facilities - factories and worforce (including slaves) but failed to put it on a war footing.
The logistic effort for Barbarossa was adequate, you don’t support an army of 3 million men in the field if your logistics is shambolic. It wasn’t greater because there wasn’t anything else to provide. It was the German economy that was in a shambles.
They did not take into account that the German military supply system relied on rail to shift the bulk which was split at railheads into motorised and horse drawn supply columns. But the Russian rail system was a different gauge and this slowed things, also they completely failed to organise winter clothing for their troops. Win or lose their troops would need winter clothing and it was not available. The economy was not in a shambles, the factories were turning out all sorts of consumer goods, raw materials were flowing in from captured territories, labour was cheap. There was some disruption from the RAF but not much. At this stage they were winning.
But all this is getting away from was Gott a better choice for the 8th Army? The consensus seems to be probably not. My reading is he was burnt out. Maybe a case of too rapid a promotion up the ranks.
Very probably, he had been in the desert from the start. Maybe, not so much tired out but lacking in experience of high level formation command and also confidence. Monty was far more experienced in formation command and planning. He was not lacking in confidence and knew how to motivate soldiers and his staff.
I find Rommel are hard man to judge. He was clearly a master of improvisation at times, but also had some strange moments. The dash to the wire for example could have cost him a lot more than it did. He was, however, spot on that the invasion had to be defeated on the beaches.
Me too, Rommel is one of those men who rise when things go well, a quick thinker, politically aware and very focused on achieving. However, from my reading, although he was talented and brave leader, despite experience of formation command he lacked logistic awareness. He was frequently absent from his HQ so that many decisions were taken by his staff. Their successes, of course, he claimed as his own. The dash to the wire cost him victory because he ran out of supplies and fatigued him. Defeating the enemy on the beaches has been a military principle since ancient times so getting that right is no great surprise. He was absent from his HQ at his 2 critical moments - 2nd Battle of El Alamein and Normandy.

Monty and Rommel had similar military career paths - both served in the infantry in WW1, both commanded divisions in France in 1940, both were very politically aware, both were popular with their troops but only Monty appears to have understood logistics.
Alan
[url]http://www.morvalearth.co.uk/[/url]

cartfc
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Re: What if Gott hadn’t been killed....

Post by cartfc » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:58 pm

Well the Russians used the same system for logistics, train and then horse or truck and no one seems to belittle their logistic efforts. As for the Germany economy I would have to disagree. Was watching an episode of the World at War the other day and a number of German industrialists were talking about the slow down in the economy and the cut backs in production and that was 1940 after the campaign in France. But you are right the Germans were slow in mobilising their full economy for war unlike the democracies.

cartfc
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Re: What if Gott hadn’t been killed....

Post by cartfc » Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:06 pm

Defeating the enemy on the beaches might have been an age old strategy, but it was not the favoured choice of many of the Generals, Guderian among them, who argues in Panzer leader that the tanks should have been kept back for a large scale attack against any allied lodgement. Rommel was spot on there arguing that allied air and naval superiority would make any such attack a costly failure.

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