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54 minutes ago, Erwin said:

Probably so was attacking through the Ardennes in 1940.  It's much easier to criticize with the benefit of hindsight.  Good Generals like Rommel were successful co they broke the old rules and invented new ones.  Obviously many efforts at innovation by other Generals failed.

The invasion of France was full of risks, but no single one of them could defeat the invasion by itself. Operation Overlord was full of risks, but no single setback or defeat would cause the invasion to fail. Market Garden had a crippling design flaw that risked making the entire assault moot if literally just this one thing happened that always happens which was the Germans blowing up a bridge in imminent danger of capture. How could they make this plan around the hope that this would be the one time they failed to do that? This was a plan that created far more questions than it answered and that's just what tends to emerge out of a bad plan. 

Market Garden was an unfortunate example of something that can emerge from the kind of large and complicated bureaucracy of the Allied war effort. It's not something that people limited to military experience encounter in their daily lives. If you've ever worked for a Corporation or just about any multi-level organization there has most certainly been a "Market Garden" at your place of work and if you stick around long enough there's certain to be another. An operation, directive, initiative, etc thought up at high levels (ie: management) and then passed down to subordinates fully cognizant that it was either out-of-touch with reality or foolish. The solution is good communication between the various levels of management and staff and minimal insulation between those levels so accountability for both success and failure can be distributed appropriately. Criticism makes people uncomfortable and can be painful but it is part of the process of learning and while it's also important to be fair sometimes you can't have both. Montgomery is fortunate that all he ever faced for the debacle on the Nederrijn was criticism. Men under his command faced things far worse. 

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This is a very good point, and one that is often overlooked. During war, lots of chances are taken, usually based on incomplete information. Some generals are brilliant, most are at least decently com

How did he put up with Patton assaulting an American servicemen or Bradley's childish temper tantrums all the time? He was mindful of the fact he was the boss of all these men and that he had to be re

This is such a fascinating period or warfare - and history. Enormous leaps in technology, equipment, and tactics; plus such a variety of forces and organizational types. Would love to see a re-working

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3 minutes ago, SimpleSimon said:

The invasion of France was full of risks, but no single one of them could defeat the invasion by itself. Operation Overlord was full of risks, but no single setback or defeat would cause the invasion to fail. Market Garden had a crippling design flaw that risked making the entire assault moot if literally just this one thing happened that always happens which was the Germans blowing up a bridge in imminent danger of capture. How could they make this plan around the hope that this would be the one time they failed to do that? This was a plan that created far more questions than it answered and that's just what tends to emerge out of a bad plan. 

Market Garden was an unfortunate example of something that can emerge from the kind of large and complicated bureaucracy of the Allied war effort. It's not something that people limited to military experience encounter in their daily lives. If you've ever worked for a Corporation or just about any multi-level organization there has most certainly been a "Market Garden" at your place of work and if you stick around long enough there's certain to be another. An operation, directive, initiative, etc thought up at high levels (ie: management) and then passed down to subordinates fully cognizant that it was either out-of-touch with reality or foolish. The solution is good communication between the various levels of management and staff and minimal insulation between those levels so accountability for both success and failure can be distributed appropriately. Criticism makes people uncomfortable and can be painful but it is part of the process of learning and while it's also important to be fair sometimes you can't have both. Montgomery is fortunate that all he ever faced for the debacle on the Nederrijn was criticism. Men under his command faced things far worse. 

Must admit. Good points. And never underestimate your opponent.

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6 minutes ago, SimpleSimon said:

The invasion of France was full of risks, but no single one of them could defeat the invasion by itself. Operation Overlord was full of risks, but no single setback or defeat would cause the invasion to fail. Market Garden had a crippling design flaw that risked making the entire assault moot if literally just this one thing happened that always happens which was the Germans blowing up a bridge in imminent danger of capture. How could they make this plan around the hope that this would be the one time they failed to do that? This was a plan that created far more questions than it answered and that's just what tends to emerge out of a bad plan.

I think, as Citino says that the Allies as a whole thought the Wehrmacht was collapsing and wanted to take big risks while they were off balance. While Citino is more forgiving of Clark for his failure to encircle the German Tenth Army near Rome, by Market-Garden the harsh criticism of Allied generals for letting the Wehrmacht "get away" at Messina, the Anzio Breakout and Falaise must have been a consideration for Monty and SHAEF.  

21st Army Group was already having problems making up for infantry losses and the Americans did not share the Commonwealth appreciation for set-piece battles and slow, methodical operations. The British did not have the manpower to land a "knockout blow" and as the Americans came up against the West Wall and bogged down in Metz, the Americans didn't have the room to fight their preferred battle of maneuver. If the British didn't catch the Germans while they were too disorganized to blow the bridges and firm up their defenses, they would have to conduct a series of set-piece river crossings. I suspect that there was not a lot of patience or enthusiasm for that idea among the Americans. Market Garden would have succeeded two weeks earlier, and if the weather had been better, and perhaps better drop zones been selected, may still have worked when it was launched.

As Monty proved with Operation Plunder, and the Americans at Remagen, fighting their preferred kind of war the Western Allies were very successful. Perhaps had the British been on the right wing fighting set-piece battles to reduce Metz, Aachen and the Siegfried Line, and the Americans on the left running down the retreating Germans like they did after Operation Dragoon or the Cobra Breakout, things would have gone better. The same could be said for their respective areas of Normandy, but of course the beaches were ultimately determined by where in the UK the Allied armies were encamped.

The Allied army that least preferred the kind of rapid operation needed to seize bridges before they could be blown had to launch it, and as Citino says the criticism of Montgomery of the plan is flawed for the same reason that plan itself was - the enemy gets a say too.

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Yes, good points.  However, attacking France thru the Ardennes in early 1940 arguably was a huge gamble that no one of the Allied side predicted of defended adequately against.  That was the whole point.  The MG gamble was that the Germans would be completely unprepared for it. 

Am not justifying the silly bureaucratic bungling which happens everywhere - even in successful organizations.  Only that many senior folks thought MG was a great idea and worth the risks (including Eisenhower), and had it succeeded, the war would have been greatly shortened and Monty (or whomever got the credit) would be hailed as the "greatest military genius of all time".

Had the Ardennes gambit failed, we would be saying similar negative things about Manstein and Rommel would never have happened and North Africa would never have happened.  Actually, WW2 would probably have ended right there.

Am simply saying that hindsight makes things easy for us.

 

 

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Perhaps the developments in the east also made Montgomery and Eisenhower throw caution in the wind. The Red army stood at the border of Eastern Prussia and both Roosevelt and Churchill knew that if Stalin saw the opportunity to occupy the whole of Germany, he wouldn't hesitate. Even if he would withdraw again after the Germans were defeated, he would make sure to leave a looted wasteland behind.

The German recovery in the east in the autumn of 1944 wasn't less of a miracle as that in the west. Might have been of influence upon the Allied decision making. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Aragorn2002 said:

The Market Garden module of Command Opps 2 is also very realistic and offers the opportunity to study the entire operation from both sides in detail.  It also shows how close the Germans came to defeat.

Really underestimated game, CO 2.

Any word on what's going on with the long forthcoming "Patton's Charge / Bradley at Bay" module?  I'm very interested in that one.

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4 minutes ago, Badger73 said:

Any word on what's going on with the long forthcoming "Patton's Charge / Bradley at Bay" module?  I'm very interested in that one.

Last I've read is they are still working on it, but it's close to release. Yes, definitely looking forward to that too.

Btw someone is also working on three Korsun-scenarios, of which one is already available. Recommended.

 

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3 hours ago, DougPhresh said:

As Monty proved with Operation Plunder, and the Americans at Remagen, fighting their preferred kind of war the Western Allies were very successful. Perhaps had the British been on the right wing fighting set-piece battles to reduce Metz, Aachen and the Siegfried Line, and the Americans on the left running down the retreating Germans like they did after Operation Dragoon or the Cobra Breakout, things would have gone better. The same could be said for their respective areas of Normandy, but of course the beaches were ultimately determined by where in the UK the Allied armies were encamped.

The Allied army that least preferred the kind of rapid operation needed to seize bridges before they could be blown had to launch it, and as Citino says the criticism of Montgomery of the plan is flawed for the same reason that plan itself was - the enemy gets a say too.

This is a pretty interesting point Doug and one i'll consider from now on when I read. The Americans had major problems trying to tank-their-way through the Hurtgen in October, a blunder for which American media was conspicuously silent on, other than the usual complaints by American Generals that Montgomery took too long clearing the Scheldt. In such context Montgomery was an easy scapegoat. Perhaps if the Americans had been on the North wing of the advance the Scheldt would've been cleared in September. Then in the south the British would've paused to study and prepare themselves for an offensive through the Hurtgen Forest with greater prudence and finesse rather than trying to cram several Armored Divisions and way, way too many of those garbage Combat Commands through one of Europe's most dense forests. The Hurtgen was asking for a Meuse-Argonne style solution, not another Operation Cobra...

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I mean that they were inappropriate formations for the US Army that didn't play to any strengths. They were too small, being the size of a Regiment or a Brigade, to stand up to full size enemy formations. Yet they were large enough to present appealing and easy targets for destruction.  If they weren't careful...and they frequently weren't, they'd end up under the steamroller of an enemy Division and achieve little except lose lots of vehicles and men to POW camps. The US Army just didn't command the same level of all-around experience the German Army did. While the German Army was also very uneven by 1944-45 is still had enough experienced Officers around. Those men were the crucial "glue" that made Kampfgruppen successful ad-hoc formations while US Army Combat Commands were too informal. I can sort of see the use of the R (reserve) Combat Commands for maintaining a "ready reserve" of troops and equipment, but the regular Combat Commands were in an awkward organizational gray area. 

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Is that not similar to the structure of a Commonwealth Armoured Brigade?

Great_Britain_World_War_II_Armoured_Divi

I mean in terms of structure. I didn't know they were given missions that involved taking on enemy divisions!

In defense of the Americans, I can't help but mention Task Force Butler. I am curious how combat commands differed in both structure and success. It seems like chapters 2 and 3 of the linked paper discuss American Ad Hoc units and combat commands generally, and their employment.

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Commonwealth Armored Brigades were misleadingly named Doug, as that very table reveals a much larger unit with not one but three regiments of armor underneath the Brigade HQ plus infantry. A Combat Command rarely exceeded the size of an over strength Regiment even with attachments, infantry, engineers, etc. With their parent Division they'd fight as a Division, with it's absolutely crushing weight of artillery in support and greater infantry component. The Combat Commands fought detached from their parent Division, and during the Bulge they paid for it. 

 

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14 minutes ago, Erwin said:

A bit confused...  you mean 3 battalions?

Commonwealth. The Regiment is our sacred home with colours carried from Waterloo, The North-West Frontier, The Somme.

Each Armoured Regiment is a battalion-sized perpetuation of the cavalry. (Or the RTR, or infantry but that gets complicated fast)

A Brigade is where we go to work.

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In the British Army though a tank Regiment had around 48 vehicles each. Around the same as an American Battalion which had 45. 

http://niehorster.org/013_usa/44_org/div-arm/_armd-div.html

US Army Armored Division ^

http://niehorster.org/017_britain/44_org/amoured divs/07-ad.html

^7th Armored (UK) on June 6th. 

Aside from different and confusing use of a title both of these formations were detailed the same way. The US Army didn't use a Brigade HQ because it was included among General McNair's many staff "de-fatting" cuts. They went straight to regiments. 

So US Tank Battalion = UK Tank Regiment. A Combat Command of the Armored variety would be around 50 tanks or less though they were not strictly "tiny tank divisions" per se. 

US Army Combat Commands could be successful in far flung battles with lots of room for maneuver and wide force-to-space ratios...they were extremely out of their element anywhere the force densities were high and generally ended up fighting under nearby Infantry Divisions where they could count on that Division's support such as at Bastogne (although they were at the town and defending it before the 101st showed up). Since they tended to fall under support of a parent unit rather than carry the independent Cavalry-style action they were planned for, they weren't very useful in the ETO anywhere the terrain wasn't very favorable. They had favorable terrain in southern and central France, but in the Ardennes they couldn't maneuver freely. There's less and less mention of them after Operation Nordwind although i'm pretty sure they continued to see use in various forms until the US Army conducted a major reorganization in the 1960s. Today's Regimental Combat Team is only distantly related to them. 

I think the main problem though was that they were essentially independent Commands and fought far away from their parent, which meant that they fought beyond the range of their Division's artillery and infantry components and could suffer heavily without these items. They presented Panzer Divisions with isolated, bite-size targets that had already saved the Germans the trouble of having to cut them off from friendlies. In practice, they usually retreated to the protection of the nearest Infantry Division...but then why bother with them? 

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10 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

This is a very good point, and one that is often overlooked. During war, lots of chances are taken, usually based on incomplete information. Some generals are brilliant, most are at least decently competent, but the ones that we praise the most are the lucky ones.

actually not so sure it would have as the main thing Monty was SUPPOSED to be doing was freeing the Scheldt estuary and getting Antwerp going.  Logistics win wars and Monty failed in that regard.  The Allies in general got ahead of themselves.  To be clear Monty was not unique, he had nothing to do with the disaster in the Huertgen which rather than a decision that was bad they tried to manage like MG.  Nah Huertgen was a bull headedness of continuing to insist on pushing a bad idea for an extended period of time.

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On 2/7/2020 at 4:34 PM, Bulletpoint said:

This is a very good point, and one that is often overlooked. During war, lots of chances are taken, usually based on incomplete information. Some generals are brilliant, most are at least decently competent, but the ones that we praise the most are the lucky ones.

Like the Wehrmacht attack into the Netherlands 1940. Very similar to Market Garden, bust the Meuse and other defences, send a Panzer Division through, airborne forces take the bridges at Moerdijk, Doerdrecht and Rotterdam. Would have been a bridge too far without the Dutch surrender. Airborne casualties were very high and could have been a lot worse.

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Don't forget the Wehrmacht was in full retreat on all fronts and waiting until Stalin reached the Rhine wasn't an option. Something had to be tried. In hindsight it may seem a reckless operation, but were there really many alternatives?

The execution of the operation may have been sloppy, but for the Western allies it was 1918 all over again. The total German collapse seemed imminent. If one studies the German OOB in the Netherlands one really wonders how the Germans pulled it off. Even the II.SS Panzerkorps hardly had the strength of a brigade and only a handful of armored vehicles, mostly concentrated in the recon elements. Market Garden wasn't just a victory of the two Waffen SS divisions, but also of every last man the Germans could get their hands on. Personally I think MG was a calculated risk. It did cost a lot of lifes, but it had to be tried. I think Montgomery realized that too. Imagine history's judgement if MG hadn't take place...

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6 hours ago, Aragorn2002 said:

Imagine history's judgement if MG hadn't take place...

Very good points and let's not forget that the multiple airborne assaults had been planned and cancelled, because the Wehrmacht was retreating faster than the Allies could catch up after the Normandy breakout.

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On 2/7/2020 at 5:36 PM, SimpleSimon said:

The same could be said for their respective areas of Normandy, but of course the beaches were ultimately determined by where in the UK the Allied armies were encamped.

And this positioning was determined by the British desire to "hug the sea" on the advance to (and later occupation of) Germany. It put the United States in a dependent position on the British, who controlled the critical port areas to the north. One might see this development in the tradition of British engagement on the continent of Europe (a hedge against possible disaster), as a balance to the increasing dominance of the United States in the alliance, and/or as a "Sword of Damocles" over the Americans advancing/occupying to the south - to ensure that the British (controlling the coast) would remain strong and supported (both during and after the war). I see a lot of Winston Churchill in this.

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7 minutes ago, BluecherForward said:

It put the United States in a dependent position on the British, who controlled the critical port areas to the north.

Other than be sea, how else could all the continental armies be supplied?  

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3 hours ago, Erwin said:

Other than be sea, how else could all the continental armies be supplied?

My point is that the British took the position along the coast - the U.S. forces agreed to take the inland position - without control of ports (later the U.S. established a Cold War position in Bremen/Bremerhaven, but this was not part of the original plan). Thus, the British controlled the port areas and the U.S. was dependent upon that control - even post-war. This meant that the U.S. would have a strong strategic interest in British stability even after the war was won. This was typical of Churchill's grand strategic outlook - trying to get as much out of the post-war world as he could, in spite of the British Empire's debilitated condition.

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