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Brutality in the Desert


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Originally posted by CousinPeePee:

As for my question before, if you were a platoon commander who had been relentlessly machine gunned and fired upon by a tank

And if I hadn't been "relentlessly machinegunned and fired upon" by it?

Originally posted by CousinPeePee:

that had just been knocked out, do you think that you would order your troops to suddenly stop shooting as the crew exited their vehicle? Its a simple question.

If it was in desert where the tankers had no way of fleeing back to their lines and fighting another day... and if taking them prisoners would get me a leave... yep, a simple question. But what makes you think that reality is so simple?
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Nobody would say that atrocities such as shooting troops trying to surrender were unheard of in North Africa, but I’m pretty sure the expert consensus is that there was a really noticeable difference of how often such atrocities were committed, as compared to the Eastern Front or in the Pacific.

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Originally posted by CousinPeePee:

I just watched the History Channel documentary about El Alamein.

In the counterattack near Sidi Rezegh in November 1942 by Rommel, the documentary stated that the 5th South African brigade, outgunned, "fought almost to the last man".

Frankly, that sounds pretty tough to me. I don't think that you would have wanted to be there.

As for my question before, if you were a platoon commander who had been relentlessly machine gunned and fired upon by a tank that had just been knocked out, do you think that you would order your troops to suddenly stop shooting as the crew exited their vehicle? Its a simple question.

OMG OMG OMG OMG

People fought and died during WW2 :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

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Originally posted by CousinPeePee:

I just watched the History Channel documentary about El Alamein.

In the counterattack near Sidi Rezegh in November 1942 by Rommel, the documentary stated that the 5th South African brigade, outgunned, "fought almost to the last man".

Frankly, that sounds pretty tough to me. I don't think that you would have wanted to be there.

No ****, Sherlock. Astute observers will quickly perceive that this does absolutely nothing to support any of your previous assertions about prisoners being murdered after capture, or the desert theatre being equally as brutal as the Russian Front. Your continued failure to supply any evidence for your statements suggests rather strongly that you don't have any.

Originally posted by CousinPeePee:

As for my question before, if you were a platoon commander who had been relentlessly machine gunned and fired upon by a tank that had just been knocked out, do you think that you would order your troops to suddenly stop shooting as the crew exited their vehicle? Its a simple question.

It's a bizarre question. It indicates numerous failures on your part to understand the basic elements of a situation you so freely offer some pretty silly opinions about.

If I were a platoon commander, I expect I would be worrying about controlling my sections, my anti-tank weapon and my 2-inch mortar, and staying in touch with company. I would expect to leave the business of small-arms fire control to my section commanders; that's one of the things they're paid for.

Contrary to what you seem to believe, shooting AFV crew abandoning their vehicle is not a violation of the LOAC. However, S L A Marshall reports incidents -- in the much nastier Pacific theatre, too -- of soldiers declining to fire on enemy running away, with remarks like "We'll get 'em some other time".

Again contrary to what you appear to believe, soldiers in action are not generally in a state of venegful homicidal rage. As Kipling put it, "What is the use of hating/Those you are paid to kill?". They probably understood, better than you appear to do, that the enemy shooting at you is part of what happens in a war. Peter Ustinov used to tell a story of being on a troopship in the Med, when a fighter started strafing it. Some of the soldiers on deck got quite excited, and their officer was fetched up from below with cries of "They're attacking us, Sir! They're attacking!". "Who are attacking us?", asked the officer. When he received the reply "The enemy", he said "That's all right -- they're allowed to".

Now, I'm not saying that the war in the desert wasn't tough; then men who fought it were, on the whole very much harder and braver the you or I will ever need to be. You should not make the mistake of thinking that they therefore behaved in the murderous and illegal ways you so thoughtlessly attribute to them, nor that many other theatres were not very much worse.

If the war in the desert was really the video nasty from the Flying Guts War Picture Library you seem to imagine it was, then I invite you to explain why, exactly, Afrika Korps veterans have for many years been made welcome at Eighth Army reunions.

John.

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Yes I agree with most of that.

The point is that in close combat situations, emotion does kick in. You wouldn't look or think twice about whether they were surrendering - if they were bailing out and in front of you you would take the opportunity to fire. After all, only seconds before, they had made an adventitious and determined attempt to kill you. With a big tank. Nows your chance - you take it. If you think that an order for cease fire would be made, think about what that would do for morale. Morale aside, emotion and adrenaline kicks in. You just take the opportunity to hit the enemy.

Do you think that there would be as many stories about this as there would about more nobler events? No, no one would prefer to talk about that. Of course the nicer points are going to be spoken about.

There are many Japanese veterans who meet Allied soldiers, and wives of Japanese veterans too, who are given *not sold* swords and other items that were captured or stolen from corpses.

I just think that this fable of the desert war being more noble somehow as utter nonsense. In WWI in France, Germans and English shared Christmas cake, prisoner exchanges and Carols. That didn't somehow make close combat any better.

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You keep saying you think this you think that etc

again ... eveidence...

The actual fighting or even the living conditions which you keep bringing up has nothing really to do with why the theater as seen as you keep saying "more nobel" (on the whole that is, in my opinion)

.

Its from my own reading, the way each side treated one another etc (which i must state we have pointed out many examples and provided examples yet you gloss over them)

If you want blood and gore, the New Zealanders iirc lead a brakeout from a pocket the Germans put them in... they bayoneted there way out...

-1941 sometime iirc

Another example, 9th armour brigade was ordered to sacrfice itself upon the German gunline during Operation Supercharge with the orders stating that 100% casulties were acceptable.

- 1942

We have occasions were entire armour brigades are getting nearly wiped out in a single encagment ... Operation Battleaxe i believe is a good example (although its been a while since ive read about Crusader and Battleaxe, i may have muddeled which one it was up)

An 882 gun barrage opened up the beginning of Operation Lightfoot, timed so each shell landed at the same time ... bet that bloody well hurt! :eek:

As part of the barrage plan every Axis battery of 4 guns which had been Id was hit by 100 4.5 or 5.5 shells duiring 2 minute periods.

a 20-1 concentration of fire upon the Axis gun batteries.

Benghazi is suposidly the most bombed city of all of WW2.

[ April 19, 2007, 03:19 PM: Message edited by: the_enigma ]

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Originally posted by CousinPeePee:

I just watched the History Channel documentary about El Alamein.

In the counterattack near Sidi Rezegh in November 1942 by Rommel, the documentary stated that the 5th South African brigade, outgunned, "fought almost to the last man".

Frankly, that sounds pretty tough to me. I don't think that you would have wanted to be there.

Mr Picky Kiwi points out that that would be 23 November 1941 - fully 7 months before, and 300 miles to the west of, El Al (which rather makes me wonder why it was referenced in a doco about El Al? Oh, wait: History Channel - 'nuff said). Generally the battle is referred to as Totensonntag, the German day to remember to dead, which coincidentally fell that day.

Account of the battle

Account of some observers to the battle.

The Yarpies screwed up in that battle - they fought well, but they shouldn't have been in that position to begin with. Also, the Bde Gp was all but wiped out, but - as usual - most of the cas were prisoners, not KIA (5 SA Bde at Sidi Rezegh had 224 killed, 379 wounded, and about 2800 captured - not much 'last man' action going on there ...). Also, the Germans suffered pretty grieviously in crushing 5 SA Bde. A side effect of the battle was that the rest of the Yarpie forces were very hesitant thereafter, which led to 2(NZ)Div suffering badly a few days later when the Yarpies wouldn't pull finger and come to their aid.

Still, must have been an awe-inspiring sight watching a line of 110 panzers bearing down on the Bde Gp box ...

[ April 28, 2007, 02:38 AM: Message edited by: JonS ]

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Originally posted by Meach:

I read the whole thread and tried to understand the gist of it all.

I guess somewhere along the line were talking about whether it was nicer to die in Africa or Russia?

The gist of the argument (if you can call it that), is that CousinPeePee (lover-ly handle, by the way) seems bent on everyone blindly accepting his premise, despite his only "evidence" being mis-informed personal opinions and gut feelings shaped by repeated YouTube viewings and History Channel re-runs.

So far, he seems to be in denial about the efficacy of his debating skills, in that he seems to think that wearing us down by repeating the same thing, over and over, is the way to go.

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  • 1 month later...

The facts are there.

Flamethrowers, heavy artillery, mechanized infantry, bayonet charges.

You call that a walk in the park? Do you actually think that in the middle of an attack you would stop shooting the enemy and let them all go?

The point is that there is too much fantasy associated with this theatre being somehow noble. Think about Tobruk - do you really think that they would let scouts who entered the wire get out alive?

Give me a break.

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The soviets were defending their homeland from an enemy whose ideology demanded their eradication.This alone was always going to ramp up the scale of sacrifice and ferocity of the fighting.The soviets reacted to the situation they found themselves in by responding in kind this was in effect a fight to the death no quarter asked and none given.Look at the fate of the defeated German sixth army after Stalingrad compared to that of the DAK in Tunis.These two theatre's are incomparable in the way they were conducted and the mindset of those invoved.And peepee yes we all know that being shot in N.A. is no less deadly than being shot in any other campaign as you seem to think some people are saying ,it's not the tank rounds or the bullets that are noble but the men as can be seen from the majority of the accounts from the desert war.Where is the mass of testemony from the eastern front that echos that from N.A.?

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Yarpies is a common nickname for South Africans in NZ and possibly Australia.

It is not considered particularly derogatory by those using it - at least not any more than "Kiwi", "Ocker", "Pom" or "Yank" would be.

I see from ask.com that the "correct" spelling is "japies", it apparently comes from "Jaap" - a common afrikaans name, and it is supposedly only applicable to White Sth Africans who speak Afrikaans - I'm afraid such detailed differences are lost on us foreigners - as far as we're concenred it's all of them smile.gif

Where is the mass of testemony from the eastern front that echos that from N.A.?
Where is the "mass" of it from Nth Africa in hte first place? There's a few accounts that try to paint it as a bit more civilised than any other war - but they're a miniscule fraction of the total.
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Stalin's Organist

You are absolutely correct in the japie v jarpie distinction but unfortunately not in the derogatory nature of the term.

It was, is and will always be derogatory.

Just like the "N" word it could be used in different contexts but as used by JonS there is no doubt in my or my very old "Yarpie" friend's mind that the way it was used was insensitive and blatant.

JonS is no friendly Kiwi slaping his Japie friend on the back after surving a DAK assault.

Furthermore JonS is wrong on the units involved being purely Afrikaans units. They were English speaking SA units.

Those men, dead and surving, deserved better than being ridiculled by ignorant remarks even if the intention was not malicious. But maybe that is exactly how JonS intended it?

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Originally posted by CousinPeePee:

The facts are there.

Flamethrowers, heavy artillery, mechanized infantry, bayonet charges.

You call that a walk in the park? Do you actually think that in the middle of an attack you would stop shooting the enemy and let them all go?

The point is that there is too much fantasy associated with this theatre being somehow noble. Think about Tobruk - do you really think that they would let scouts who entered the wire get out alive?

Give me a break.

Your point being that all of those weapons (of war remember) were just as deadly in Africa as anywhere else? That is 100% true, and not a soul on this board would argue with you. During the heat of individual conflicts the action would probably very closely resemble that anywhere else in the world, and that is also true. After all, regardless of people's feelings towards each other, at the end of the day they're each fighting for their respective objectives and their lives.

The difference that I think people are trying to point out here is that in situations when the blanket 'combat emotions' that govern people's actions during a fight (read 'when they are under direct threat of death') were absent, there was far less innate animosity between your average axis/ allied soldier in North Africa than there was on the majority of other fronts. The fact that neither side, in general, fostered any particular racial hatred towards the other, and the fact that both sides were in a constant struggle to survive against an indiscriminately harsh environment provides some rationale for this.

To address one of your examples; once a tank is knocked out and the crew start bailing, they are no longer a significant mortal threat to nearby infantry. Provided nothing else is firing upon them, I think those 'nearby infantry' could just as well be expected to lower their weapons and take the crew prisoner as to shoot them in cold blood. I disagree that they should necessarily feel any particular hatred towards them. Undoubtedly they sometimes did, but not nearly as often as they would on the Eastern Front, where the bailing crew were no longer a threat, but they were 'subhuman bolshevik/ fascist animals who deserved nothing more than death', regardless.

You'll notice that I haven't provided any evidence for my argument, since it appears to count for nothing through the majority of this thread. Hopefully the rationale will make an impact though. smile.gif

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Originally posted by kovan:

You are absolutely correct in the japie v jarpie distinction but unfortunately not in the derogatory nature of the term.

It was, is and will always be derogatory.

Nope - you are wrong.

I know this because I know how the word is used HERE - perhaps where you are it is viewed asderogatory, but here it is not - at least not by the couple of SA chaps who work down the corridor.

Also as I said the distinction betwen Afrikaans and english speaking Stgh Africans is lost on us.

You are choosing to view it as derogatory.

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Originally posted by kovan:

Stalin's Organist

You are absolutely correct in the japie v jarpie distinction but unfortunately not in the derogatory nature of the term.

It was, is and will always be derogatory.

Just like the "N" word it could be used in different contexts but as used by JonS there is no doubt in my or my very old "Yarpie" friend's mind that the way it was used was insensitive and blatant.

JonS is no friendly Kiwi slaping his Japie friend on the back after surving a DAK assault.

Furthermore JonS is wrong on the units involved being purely Afrikaans units. They were English speaking SA units.

Those men, dead and surving, deserved better than being ridiculled by ignorant remarks even if the intention was not malicious. But maybe that is exactly how JonS intended it?

I can post only from personal experience as a New Zealander, but I would back up Stalins Organist that it is not viewed (here) as more than a mildly derogatory short-hand reference for all South Africans in the same harmless sense as "pom" or "limey", or "yank" or "kiwi" or "aussie" for that matter. "Saffer" is another one. I cannot imagine that JonS was going out of his way to offer gratuitous insult.

Your post is essentially a mildly hysterical over-reaction in search of a target.

[ June 13, 2007, 09:17 PM: Message edited by: McIvan ]

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