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Well, The US at least had already broken out prior to Falaise.

I really don't want to get into the Falaise argument - it is one of those subjects were myths are more believed than the history.

However, as a counter-factual thought experiment one might consider the plan that Montgomery AND Patton thought would be better - the "long envelopment" - which Eisenhower vetoed, on the advice, probably, of Bradley.

That said, I am still keen to learn from Sardaukar his ideas of what the allies should have done/could have done better.

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The US did divert the 3rd Armored to Mons based on Ultra information to block 7th Army's retreat. Beyond that the Germans were running as fast as they could everywhere. It seems unlikely the allies would bag much more. The farther they went the wider the expanse of the front got.

Falaise was driven more by a concern of friendly fire and from the troops not having the strength to hold the net closed anyway. As it is the damage to the German Army in Normandy was extremely severe. It wasn't until reaching Aachen and Metz that Germany was able to really do anything about the allied rate of advance. That seems to qualify pretty strongly for a sweep. At that point the supply lines were stretched so thin it was time to regroup. The Allied perception of what Germany had left to field was over optimistically low, but even given that a modern army requires a lot of POL to keep moving as opposed to horse fodder.

Keep in mind we are all working in hindsight knowing far more than the Allied command knew in 1944. As it was they far outstripped the planned lines of advance. Sometimes when your plans go better than expected it can bring it's own problems in that your logisitcs, the key to war, aren't up to the new requirements.

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I think you've hit the nail on the head. Gavin complains that no US infantryman wants to die, well, that makes perfect sense to me.

Gavin was a professional army officer whose career was made because he turned out to be one of the best combat leaders the country ever produced. He was a leader and a driver, and probably one of the toughest soldiers ever to put on the US uniform.

This makes him very different from GI Joe, whose career and subsequent life would not be a whit better, if his company happened to be particularly hard-charging. Indeed, it made excellent sense to hang back and let the artillery do the job. Why get yourself killed or maimed just so your chain of command can look good? For the guys in the ranks, the point was survival. He had neither the tools nor the tactical system to give him any reason to believe his personal aggressiveness would - as Gavin argued - end the war any faster.

Maybe this might help explain the German tendency towards over-engineered weapons clearly superior to the opposition. With those weapons in the German troops' hands, it was easier to convince the German troops in made some sense going forward into combat; after all they have "the best weapons possible." That plus the Goettedaemmerung ruthlessness of the German society of the day, and maybe that goes a towards explaining why Germans seemed to fight harder than the Allies.

But for Joe and Tommy, what did they have to fight for? Sure to defend Democracy, but exposure to combat set pretty much all of them straight on how the system worked. The low-rankers go out into the open, and whatever fires on them, gets blasted with artillery. The average infantryman's role wasn't nearly so much to kill as it was to attract fire. And guys like Gavin could dress it up and talk about the Spirit of the Infantry all they wanted, it didn't change anything. In the Anglo-Saxon armies, if you were in the infantry the best you could hope for was surviving, and the best way to do that was lay low and attract as little fire as possible, as much as you could. And never, ever volunteer.

But Germans were not decisively defeated until in 1945..and I think that could have achieved with less losses and lot earlier if there had been bit more "drive".

Of course there was bad management of logistics by Gen. Lee (who was often target of withering criticism from combat commanders). Then there was bad oversight by Montgomery's 21st Army Group not to clear Antwep and Schelde early, as they could have with probably lot less casualties. This allowed Germans to concentrate tens of thousands of troops and dig in, fact that cost later Canadians and Brits lot of casualties.

And I don't think US troops were wise to go to Hurtgen Forest either, sacrificing their main advantages, mobility and firepower. It caused US divisions quite appalling casualties and gain was not that great.

Understandably soldiers were not too eager to push forward when perceiving that end of war was near, but with 20/20 hindsight, that was wrong decision and cost more lives in longer run. E.g., MGen. Gavin, CO of 101 AB Div. gave quite nasty comments in his diary, even so late as 18 Jan 1945, about lack of aggressiveness of units his paratroopers had to fight with:

"If our infantry would fight, the war would be over now. On our present front, there are two very weak German regiments holding the XVII Corps of four divisions. We all know it and admit it, and yet nothing is done about it. American infantry just simply will not fight. No-one wants to get killed... Our artillery is wonderful and our air corps not bad. But the regular infantry - terrible. Everyone want to live to ripe old age. The sight of a few Germans drives them to their holes. Instead of being imbued with an overwhelming desire to get close to the German and get him by the throat, they want to avoid him if the artillery has not knocked him flat.

Of course this was one of the best US infantry commanders (along Ridgway), leading an elite division, but there is lot of truth about his statement.

In West, Allies should have never allowed measured retreatment for Germans if possible, it cost lot of casualties later. Fortunately, Germans did make several bad counterattacks, most famous being the Ardennes/Battle of Bulge.

My point in this is, while Allied sweep through France was fast, Germans were allowed to escape with lot of their manpower and with unit cadres available for rebuild. Thus the advance was neither annihilation nor decisive, Germans were able to regroup and put up about 6 months of organized resistance from good defensive positions.

German defensive concept was rather good and was well-led even when units participating were shadow of themself. Weakness of remaining German manpower material was more profound when they tried to attack.

This relates to original concept of Panther vs Sherman in a way, that I can well understand reluctance to aggressively close with enemy in those instances. In armour sense, it could be about possibility to meet something really nasty, plus abundance of Panzerfaust used by Germans. In infantry sense, it could be weapons like MG42, which as HMG setup could allow unit to "punch above it's weight" especially psychologically.

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Sardaukar,

I am intrigued. Once the breakout from Normandy had occurred, in what way did the allies allow the Germans a measured retreat? What do you think they should have done differently?

Not entirely related, but don't you find it interesting that in West, there was not a single decisive envelopment operation?

Cut in and DESTROY enemy units in Falaise pocket. Aggressively pursuit and destroy remaining scraps of units.

It was bad Strategic and Operational leadership that this was not done.

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Not entirely related, but don't you find it interesting that in West, there was not a single decisive envelopment operation?

True.

Well, except for Cherbourg, la Baliene, Falaise, Seine, Brest, Le Havre, Dunkirk, Mons, Ruhr, ...

But yeah; other than all the exceptions, that's a great point you've made.

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Of course this was one of the best US infantry commanders (along Ridgway), leading an elite division, but there is lot of truth about his statement.

Not sure where you get that from.

In Sicily he did well and performed some useful guerrilla actions that helped out quite a bit.

In Normandy he had the benefit of a very accurate drop, took up blocking positions and waited.

In Market Garden........ forgot to capture the bridge. The 82nd were in a fair bit of strife when XXX Corps turned up.

Sure he was not incompetent but one of the best? I think not. In fact I truly believe that he was promoted too fast and was not suitable for command of the Division in Market Garden.

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True.

Well, except for Cherbourg, la Baliene, Falaise, Seine, Brest, Le Havre, Dunkirk, Mons, Ruhr, ...

But yeah; other than all the exceptions, that's a great point you've made.

Except all you quoted were either garrisons, Falaise was never enveloped (with nasty consequences, I think) and..Ruhr was 1945...

I iam freakin far from being German apologist, but you may see the point.

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a) Seine wasn't a garrison, neither was Mons.

B) Loads of troops were lost at Brest, Le Havre, and Dunkirk to little purpose.

c) By that definition Kiev, Smolensk, Kharkov, Stalingrad, Crimea, Cherkassy, et al were feeble failures because some fraction of the encircled troops escaped.

d) I wasn't aware that 1945 was outside the realms of 'never.'

You argument is underwhelming.

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Kass pass and the battles before and after it had US deployed with AP shot. The effectiveness of German AP shells with burster charges was one of the reasons for the push and eventual change over to AP shells. The spaced armour on PIII would not have touched off the burster charge fuses as US AP of 43 lacked a burster.

You can see this where we captured German tanks after they'd been shot up (or worse the germans would recover and referb "knock outs"), and the Germans captured 3 tanks and knocked out circa 190 because the burster charge from 50, 75 and 88mm shells would cause catastrophic damage. If the tank brew's up/burns the armour becomes worthless.

Oh jeeze not this again. The burster charge on a German tank shell does not cause catastrophic damage. I think we have this debate previously but the thread got lost and I had no interest revisiting it at that point. Anyways you are referring to Jarrett's test in North Africa which is cited by Jentz. Here is the thing, neither Jarrett or Jentz knew a thing about penetration and APHE. Jarrett was an ordinance guy but his experience was in manufacturing and practical application, and not in penetration mechanics. His big contribution was capping British 75mm rounds so they could counter German FHA, something he could do because his specialty was int he manufacture of tank rounds. But his observations on the effectiveness of burster charges are flawed, especially his comment that partial penetrations would result in the destruction of a tank. Buster charges are not shaped charges, they are not directed through a small hole, they fracture like a Grenade so much of the blast would go outwards. Jentz citing Jarrett does not give credibility to the claim, it reflects Jentz lack of knowledge on the issue (Jentz knows a lot but not on this subject).

In comparison to Jarretts questionable observations we have British Operational Research reports which show Panther and Mark IVs burning up at similar rates to the Sherman despite the British using unfuzed rounds and the Germans using fuzed rounds. The British and US found Sherman burned at 60-80%, compared to the Panther rated in one report at 60% and the Mark IV at 80%. Hardly a testament to the superiority of buster charges, and far more extensive in examined hulks than Jarretts limited test.

That plus the Goettedaemmerung ruthlessness of the German society of the day, and maybe that goes a towards explaining why Germans seemed to fight harder than the Allies.

Yeah have to think of those photos of hung German soldiers with signs around their neck used to stiffen the resolve of German soldiers. Also particularly like the "kith and kin" law which results in a surrendered soldier's family being branded traitors to Germany. Oh and the 15,000 executions as part of Germany's draconian military justice system.

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a) Seine wasn't a garrison, neither was Mons.

B) Loads of troops were lost at Brest, Le Havre, and Dunkirk to little purpose.

c) By that definition Kiev, Smolensk, Kharkov, Stalingrad, Crimea, Cherkassy, et al were feeble failures because some fraction of the eincircled troops escaped.

d) I wasn't aware that 1945 was outside the realms of 'never.'

You argument is underwhelming.

Anger anger!

Now, give me example of decisive envelopment operation in West in 1944? :)

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Wan't Gavin responsible for the Pentomic Division? That surely counts as a mind-bending failure.

He had a hand in it, he also pointed the US down the Air Cavalry and Helicopter route which ultimately lead to the employment of airmobile ops for tactical mobility in Vietnam, which didn't pan out all that well.

He did how ever speak against segregation but didn't really achieve a heck of a lot.

He also brought about the M113, which HAD to be air transportable, not sure why but they did sell a lot of them.

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So what you really mean is "Show me an example where the Allied armies were able to perform the same massive envelopment operations in 1944 as the Germans did in 1941 when they were fighting a completely outclassed enemy in the wide open steppes of ....... Normandy?"

An envelopment is a great thing for sure but not the only thing. It is also a difficult thing to achieve in the tighter confines of western Europe. The Germans never achieved it even when they attacked in 1940 and caught everyone on the hop.

In spite of the difficulties large numbers of German troops were encircled and destroyed by the Allied advance, as JonS has mentioned.

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So what you really mean is "Show me an example where the Allied armies were able to perform the same massive envelopment operations in 1944 as the Germans did in 1941 when they were fighting a completely outclassed enemy in the wide open steppes of ....... Normandy?"

An envelopment is a great thing for sure but not the only thing. It is also a difficult thing to achieve in the tighter confines of western Europe. The Germans never achieved it even when they attacked in 1940 and caught everyone on the hop.

In spite of the difficulties large numbers of German troops were encircled and destroyed by the Allied advance, as JonS has mentioned.

*facepalm*

Give me example of *operational* encirclement.

Not static garrisons, ffs. :D

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Why are the garrisons not "operational" (whatever definition you're using for that term - which appears to be 'something the Allies didn't do,' in a triumph of circularism)? It's not like the Germans left them there because they were doing so fabulously well at the operational level.

There is also Falasie, the Seine, Mons.

FFS, you've been given plenty of examples. I can see you're emotionally wedded to your position, but it just doesn't gybe with the facts.

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Why are the garrisons not "operational" (whatever definition you're using for that term - which appears to be 'something the Allies didn't do,' in a triumph of circularism)? It's not like the Germans left them there because they were doing so fabulously well at the operational level.

There is also Falasie, the Seine, Mons.

FFS, you've been given plenty of examples. I can see you're emotionally wedded to your position, but it just doesn't gybe with the facts.

FFS, you know what "operational envelopment" means. Any of the static garrisons had no meaning in this.

Now, give me an example. :)

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Cherbourg, la Baliene, Falaise, Seine, Brest, Le Havre, Dunkirk, Mons, Ruhr, ...

Sigh..mate..we are talking past each other.

90% of those were POW camps in making already. Lack of ability to destroy "mobile troops" fleeing towards Reich got bit worse, though.

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