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Posted: 7/20/2001 12:05:43 PM EDT
OK, I'll preface this all by saying that I intend no disrespect to US WWII vets, because they put their asses out on the line and I haven't. We also won, so that says something too. That being said, I don't get the idea that the American infantry was particularly feared by the Germans in the European theater. I realize that Audie Murphy, the Nissei and a lot of other Americans performed superbly, but why was the Waffen SS so feared? Was it just a matter of the Americans being more numerous and therefore bigger targets, or was there really some kind of qualitative or leadership advantage that the Germans enjoyed? If anyone has insight and examples supporting or refuting the notion that Germans were somehow more effective pound per pound, please write. Thanks
Link Posted: 7/20/2001 12:29:35 PM EDT
Link Posted: 7/20/2001 12:39:41 PM EDT
American troops were no better than the Germans. The German soldier really didn't fear the American infantry, but they did fear the American artillery. We could put shells anywhere we wanted them. That coupled with better battle rifles and supply won the war.
Link Posted: 7/20/2001 5:04:12 PM EDT
Link Posted: 7/20/2001 5:17:56 PM EDT
The germains were training much longer before the war started, the US was unprepaired and caught off guard. The first time the US went up against the krauts (I think it was at Kasserine Pass) they were chewed up. I think this was a big blow to US morale. Finally time and attrition caught up with the germans and they were ground down but at great cost. Hitler thought that the germans were superior in their breeding and that inferior americans and russians would just turn tail and run away. Big mistake.
Link Posted: 7/20/2001 5:40:31 PM EDT
I think that the Germans had been fightting for several years before the US got to either WW. The german troops were more experienced and if you look often were fighting out numberered and doing fairly well. Most Amreican history will say that a battle occured 1 US Div VS 1 German Division and the Americans won. What they don't say is the US divison had authorized strenghts off appx 18,000 and was probably close to that number. The German divisions usually had auth. strenghts of appx 12,000 and were usually far below that some as low as 2,000 and still were effective fighting forces. Supply was an even greater area of disparity. Having said that many German divisions were good, but not great. German Leadership was probably better they had an edge in training, doctrine, and experience for the most part. US 3-ID(kicking ass in 2 ww's), 1-ID, 36-ID, 82nd ABN, and 101st ABN could more than hold there own against anyone. They were more experienced, battle hardened, and more motivated than most US Divisions. I believe 3ID could have kicked ass wherever you sent them against whoever you wanted them to kill, 36 Meadl of Honor Awards during WWII, plus some in WWI, and Korea. The ABN's were super motivated, but lightly armed still ferocious, skilled fighters, as long as the enemy wasn't and armor division they could beat most anybody. It's kinda of like the US war of the 1800's treason. The treasonous forces achieved more per soldier, often while outnumbered. But the Constitutional Armed Forces of the United States, with greater numbers and resources, defeated them and restored the Union. (get kinda sick of revisionist history) Or the Russian armed forces of WWII the endured higher losses than the inflicted, but in the end the won. Part of the fear of the Germans was they believed in different rules, and were seen as "efficient" soldirs. The would also kill brutally. On the Eastern Front both Germans and Russians felt you had the option to not accept surrendering soldier, ie shoot them. They both, except the SS, belived that once you took prisoners you had to treat them with a certain amount of care. Americans believed, more than others, in a certain amount of fair play. I don't have proof but on a tactical level it was said tha US troops were less predicatable than others because thaty would often go after objectives that weren't seen as very valuable, and use unusual approaches. Americans also had the reputation as being quicker to break under fire, the flip side is the were much quicker to re-organize and attack again, and again, and again. Chuck: the more I know about WWII the more I am sure that the Germans should not have been able to fight anywhere as long as they did. Their raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, training, and personell systems were all shot. But somehow they continued.
Link Posted: 7/20/2001 8:42:45 PM EDT
Only the 1941 model US Infantry Division had 17,000 men. The German 1940 pattern infantry division also had 17000 men, in fact their were only small detail changes between the two. The only time the two met was in North Africa. The 1942 pattern US Infantry Divison had 13,500 men. The 1944 pattern German Infantry and "Volksgrenidier" divisions had 11,000 men. These were the combatants in France. When the German Divisions were grossly understrength. It is true that the US divisions were allways up to strength on equipment and weapons, and the Germans weren't- this just ment US divisions were allways full of green recruits. However it was not as lopsided as WWI, when US Infantry divisions had over 27,000 men. They were, as a practical matter, as big as a German army corps was by 1918, and were exactly twice the size of the table strength of a French Division.
Link Posted: 7/20/2001 8:53:18 PM EDT
It's all about the infantry baby!
Link Posted: 7/20/2001 9:55:15 PM EDT
i would wager it was the opposition forces (non-waffen ss -ost front) that feared them the most. especially the ones that were staunch hitler youth prior to being installed in established military units. the programming and training made some of them quite brutal as this was all they knew. an extreme example would be the 'werewolf' (?) units toward the end of the war. good point on the american 'bloody nose' in italy. there is a point where numerical supreriority will override training of a few. 5 green berets trying to hold a lp against a nva division will not have much success. (unfortunately and sadly) re: the waffen ss and the us - i think it was the 'halo' effect of the ss moniker coupled with our own propoganda that propelled this one. coupled with the advanced weapons discovered after the war - fused the prowess of the ss/waffen ss into myth forever, stronger than it was in reality. and in our movies - it is not enough that we face a regular german panzer division - but make it a ss panzer division, and you'd better wear two pair of lucky underwear!! steve
Link Posted: 7/21/2001 11:41:15 PM EDT
Interesting reading, only thing I can add is the germans did nickname the marine "The Devil Dogs". So I guess they had respect for if not fear of the Marine Corps.
Link Posted: 7/22/2001 10:44:51 AM EDT
Both the Germans and Americans had elite forces that were pretty comparable. The Americans had more firepower, but the Germans were more disciplined. I would say by 1944 and 1945, the Americans had a lot of green troops thrown into battle hardened units. The Germans on the other hand, would run their elite units down to miniscule numbers, and form up units of old men and boys. Which is best has never been determined.
Link Posted: 7/23/2001 6:23:57 AM EDT
Link Posted: 7/25/2001 1:00:15 PM EDT
I doubt there was any difference between the infantrymen themselves, but the quality of each side's tactical leadership varied over time. At the beginning of the war, the German had a big advantage. They had been planning for the war since the early 1930s, and had a good cadre of small unit leadership. Plus, they had been fighting since 1939. When our green troops first encountered the Germans, we suffered by comparison. As the war went on, the German army's small unit leadership was wiped out. The Werchmacht became less effective as the war went on. The U.S. Army, on the other hand, while it had problems keeping up with losses actually improved over time. As the war wound down, a lot of bright young lads who though they were going to fly airplanes ended up in the infantry. We lost Kaserine pass, but never really gave up ground after that. Like others pointed out, however, we had huge advantages in air and artillery support. The U.S. Army found after the war that its units had been largely outfought when the odds were even, but the odds were not even very often. That was due, in part, to our material and logistics superiority. We could have done better, but sometimes comprimises are necessary. Maybe we did not have the greatest quality, but we sure as hell had quantity! And it is important not to lose sight of the fact that they lost the war and we won. There are a number of good books out right now on this subject: Closing with the Enemy; The GI Offensive in Europe; When the Odds were Even.
Link Posted: 7/26/2001 12:04:35 PM EDT
There are just too many factors involved in the ETO to say that the US GI was outfought man to man... It was a trend for US units to seek cover when fired on, to stay in place while German mortar fire bracketed and zeroed in.... this was early in the war... Things changed as the "secrets" were learned...the Germans, for the most part, had the secrets a few years sooner... The Germans also had better tanks, better AT Guns, better "close in" fighting equipment and some advantages in small to medium unit tactics... (and they were DEFENDING) The Americans had food, clothing, fuel and ammo... which was rather convenient for fighting a war with... (but they were ATTACKING).. Key here.. I think the Americans had better strategic commanders... German Arty is a good example of this.. Due to the structure of the German system, a small to moderate amount of arty could be placed near the enemy in a relatively short time..... if you wanted a LOT of arty, you had to wait a LONG time.... The US arty was a marvel of cooperation... The system was designed to bring every last piece to bear, all at once, from potentially just one arty spotter's call, in a relatively short time, with GREAT accuracy... That is STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP, not individual soldiering, making the difference...worked pretty good in the gulf war too.. C&C is "THE" #1 force multiplier.. just my perspective from my own studies...I wasn't there.
Link Posted: 7/27/2001 6:59:21 AM EDT
Our strategic leadership also made some strategic blunders, like going with the M4 instead of a heavier tank and lightening up the TOEs for the armored and infantry divisions.
Link Posted: 7/27/2001 11:45:49 AM EDT
"like going with the M4 instead of a heavier tank" You make it sound like there was an option to buy Pershings instead of Shermans... The US tank design was definitely inferior, but you have to remember that the German's were fighting, learning and adapting before the US was in the fight.... they had a "head start"... Also - armor wasn't the big problem with the Sherman, it was the ineffective gun, the sight and the flotation (narrow tracks)...
Link Posted: 7/27/2001 1:23:53 PM EDT
medicjim: I read recently that the US made a conscious decision to go with the Sherman, and actually dropped development work on the Pershing for a while. This book (which I can not remember the name of [url];([/url] - if you are really interested, I can probably dig up the title) theorized that the US Army, as a frontier constabulary at heart, has a long tradition of emphasizing mobility over firepower. When, at the beginning of WWII, it looked like mobility was key, the proclivity was enhanced. War games held in England in 1942 reinforced this tendency, and Patton himself reported that a heavier and less mobile tank was not necessary and would only hinder the speed of our formations. The Pershing was put on the backburner, and the TOE for armored and infantry divisions were "lightened up." For instance, every armored division except the 2nd and 3rd lost HALF of its armored battallions. We also reduced the number of divisions we planned to activate by HALF (from about 200 to less than 100) in order to give the remaining units unheard of mobility. Of course, when we landed in Normandy we needed firepower more than mobility. Once we finally broke through and started the pursuit through France, the US Army really shined in the role for which it was designed. But once things slowed down near the Rhine, we again found ourselves stymied by a lack of firepower and numbers. The relatively small number of divisions we fielded may have had great mobility, but there were so few divisions that we had to spread ourselves thin. The result was thin lines and a lack of reserves, leading to the Bulge and an inability to muster decisive superiority at any one point. Once we finally attritioned the Germans into a shambles, we again were allowed to pursue, a role in which our Army was one of the finest ever deployed. Our forces eventually made adjustments, like permanently attaching an armored battallion to the infantry divisions, having more machineguns than authorized, and using 155mm SP guns in the direct fire role (ouch!), but these changes were ad hoc and there was no formal program to make US units "heavier." Of course, I have no personal knowledge of this stuff, but it is a pretty good argument. Notice that the generals are acting now to deactivate most of the heavy units, leaving us with a bunch of light infantry brigades. That might be nice for meals-on-wheels actions, but those units are not going to be able to go toe-to-toe with tank divisions.
Link Posted: 7/28/2001 11:33:56 AM EDT
Originally Posted By medicjim: "like going with the M4 instead of a heavier tank" You make it sound like there was an option to buy Pershings instead of Shermans... The US tank design was definitely inferior, but you have to remember that the German's were fighting, learning and adapting before the US was in the fight.... they had a "head start"... Also - armor wasn't the big problem with the Sherman, it was the ineffective gun, the sight and the flotation (narrow tracks)...
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We had a big problem with NOT INVENTED HERE syndrome in the US Army. Although we grudgingly adopted the British 6pdr anti tank gun as early as 1942, that was where the two way street ended. We could have adopted the 17pdr at the same time for the Tank Destroyers and tank main guns, but we chose not to, and instead wasted time developing a rival 76mm gun that was no where near as good. When the British fielded APDS ammo, we turned them down, then a year later issued a less efficient APCR round, "HVAP" we called it, that was nothing more than a sabot that kept its petals attached, resulting in a very poor sectional density. Also we decided to defer the production of the large bore bazooka, because we thought the war would be over before we could build enough! Drug our feet on the development of recoiless guns, and on developing HEAT projectiles that could have evened the odds between even our undergunned tanks and the Germans. They delayed about fielding the Pershing, for much the same reason as we didnt send the Super Bazooka into production. So many bad decisions, all caused ironically by the fact we kept winning battles- if we were winning, how could our equipment be defective?
Link Posted: 7/29/2001 9:09:13 AM EDT
At the outset, the Germans had a 3 year head start in learning the lessons of war in the 1940's. If you take into account the Spanish Civil War, their learning started even earlier. They also had a very high percentage of leadership with WWI combat experience. US combat experience in WWI was comparatively limited. Initial setbacks were expected but the Army & Air Corps learned very rapidly. The North Africa & Sicily campaigns were classrooms in the school of hard knocks. By Normandy, the US had a solid corps of experienced leaders, at the troop level through to the Supreme Commander. The great successes in Europe came as the US kept attacking, spending precious little time in the 'regrouping/reorganizing' phase that plagued the British. By continually pressing, the US kept the Germans from mounting better defense and going back on the offense. The major exception was "The Bulge" and one could argue that we begged for that attack since we went static in the Ardennes to support Montgomery's preparations for a spring push to the Rhine. Mobile attacking was the key and the logistics miracle that allowed nearly continuous violent attack was the key enabler. As for 1v1 comparisons of troops & weapons, I'm not sure of the value. I like Chuck's take - winners & losers. If the German tanks were superior 1v1, it's even more remarkable that 3rd Army destroyed them with a kill ratio of 2:1. Purists argue that the tank vs. tank results were much different. So what if we killed a bunch of them with fighter-bombers? I'll bring a gun to a knife fight any day. My reading shows that most US combat veterans had plenty of respect for the German Army & Waffen SS at the small unit level. Contrary to accepted wisdom, the enemy show significant individual initiative and creativity at that level. Their large unit tactics were often hampered by excessive control from above.
Link Posted: 8/8/2001 2:57:15 PM EDT
I've read in a couple of places that the Germans enjoyed a combat effectiveness advantage over the US and UK of 100 troops to 120troops, and an advantage over the USSR of 100 to 200 or something (A Genius for War Col. T.N. Dupy USAR). The Germans had outstanding leadership and tactics from the small unit level to the army level. What did them in was piss poor strategic leadership and lack of numbers, material, and resources.
Link Posted: 8/8/2001 11:06:00 PM EDT
The thing I learned about US troops was their ingenuity and ability to adapt. I would go along with the notion that the average German soldier was better but that it was probably due to experience in combat. I think what stands out as excellent was the artillery that we had available to back up our troops
Link Posted: 8/9/2001 6:59:52 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Spaatz: I've read in a couple of places that the Germans enjoyed a combat effectiveness advantage over the US and UK of 100 troops to 120troops, and an advantage over the USSR of 100 to 200 or something (A Genius for War Col. T.N. Dupy USAR).
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That was probably true early in the war. Let me tell you all a story: My Dad saw some combat at the very end of the war. He was in the 65th Infantry Division. He tells a story that I find incredulous. He says they had some sort of ambush set up somewhere and they see a bunch of Germans MARCHING IN FORMATION DOWN THE ROAD!!! In a combat zone. I don't have to tell you what they did to them. I can not imagine an SS or Wehrmacht outfit doing this. It had to have been a Volksgrenadier outfit. But my point is, all those high-quality veterans the Germans had early were dead by 1945 and they were being outclassed as soldiers by the Yanks and the Brits
Link Posted: 8/9/2001 10:21:59 AM EDT
The Germans were generally tactically superior to their enemies, including the Americans. They had a more flexable and adaptive command structure, with more initive expected of junior officiers. And they employed more sophisticated tactics. Their high command structure was poor, they had serious logistical problems, and the Anglo-American airforce was able to create steel rain. One of the most impressive actions in the war was the carpet bombing that desroyed whole German armoured divisions--even those hiding in the woods. The German armoured divisions were superior to their allied counterparts by a significant margin (as they showed in the fighting around Caen), but they were helpless against the allied air force. The Germans have always done a much better job of analyzing military actions than the Brits or Americans; this is why they are the ones who learned from WW1, while the Brits and Americans failed to learn much of anything. If anything, German military history is probably much more accurate. Certainly, it is more accurate than the patriotic histories put out by some American writers. And the German historical works make it quite clear why Germany lost. The fact is, the US didn't win because we had better soldiers or better tactics. We won because of our immense economic (and consequently industrial) superiority. The Brits helped out, mostly due to their excellent intellegence service and electrical developments such as radar and sonar. At the beginning of WW2, no military was fully mechinized. Before the end of the war, the Red Army, British army, Canadian army, Polish army, free French army, and US army were all fully motorized, with American made trucks. The Germans still relied heavily on horse transport. The Anglo-American air force could destroy whole divisions of German forces using carpet bombing and, using typical tactics, could inflict huge causlities on German daylight troop movements. Basically, the Germans could not engage in a war of manuver against us, at least in any normal sense.
Link Posted: 8/9/2001 10:43:58 AM EDT
Originally Posted By MTweanie: By Normandy, the US had a solid corps of experienced leaders, at the troop level through to the Supreme Commander. The great successes in Europe came as the US kept attacking, spending precious little time in the 'regrouping/reorganizing' phase that plagued the British. By continually pressing, the US kept the Germans from mounting better defense and going back on the offense. The major exception was "The Bulge" and one could argue that we begged for that attack since we went static in the Ardennes to support Montgomery's preparations for a spring push to the Rhine. Mobile attacking was the key and the logistics miracle that allowed nearly continuous violent attack was the key enabler.
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The American attacks stalled in a number of cases, but due to: 1) American logistics; 2) American air power; 3) Lack of German resources and 4) Complete lack of German airpower it didn't cost us all that much. We got all stalled up in street fighting in Aachen, in part due to the slow nature of some American commanders, and their lack of inititive. This wasn't the only place that happened, but it did give the Germans time to prepare for the Bulge.
Originally Posted By MTweanie: As for 1v1 comparisons of troops & weapons, I'm not sure of the value. I like Chuck's take - winners & losers.
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Yes, but why did the winners win, and the loosers loose? Even if you are the winner, it is worth analyzing why you won, what worked, what didn't, and what the enemy did better. The Germans did a good job analyzing WW1, and the allies didn't. Likewise, they did a good job of analyzing battles in North Africa, regardless of who won, while the Brits didn't. In the end, of course, they lost anyway. By the numbers, they couldn't have won. That doesn't mean we should overlook what they did right, out of some sort of patriotic not-invented-here mental blockages.
Originally Posted By MTweanie:If the German tanks were superior 1v1, it's even more remarkable that 3rd Army destroyed them with a kill ratio of 2:1. Purists argue that the tank vs. tank results were much different. So what if we killed a bunch of them with fighter-bombers? I'll bring a gun to a knife fight any day.
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Tanks destroyed by fighter-bombers were [i]not[/i] destroyed by 3rd Army.
Originally Posted By MTweanie: My reading shows that most US combat veterans had plenty of respect for the German Army & Waffen SS at the small unit level. Contrary to accepted wisdom, the enemy show significant individual initiative and creativity at that level. Their large unit tactics were often hampered by excessive control from above.
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Generally, the German "large unit tactics" were not hampered by excessive control from above, until near the very end of the war. Then Hitler, convinced he was better at the details than anyone else, began controlling units down to the division level.
Link Posted: 8/9/2001 1:00:07 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/9/2001 1:00:14 PM EDT by DonS]
Originally Posted By Ustulina: That being said, I don't get the idea that the American infantry was particularly feared by the Germans in the European theater. . . . why was the Waffen SS so feared? . . . If anyone has insight and examples supporting or refuting the notion that Germans were somehow more effective pound per pound, please write.
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In my previous responses, I talked about the Germans in general, not specifically [i]infantry[/i]. The Waffen SS units were all motorized. They combined armor and motorized infantry. However, most German infantry was not motorized. Most German infantry who entered Russia did so on foot. Those who left, left on foot. Most American infantry was motorized. I will now try to analyze German and American infantry based upon basic infantry skills: One weakness of American infantry was their relativly poor marching skills. This cost American prisoners greatly in Bataan, since the Japanese were used to marching much farther and much faster than the Americans were (even when fit and well fed). However, since truck transport was usually avalible, this didn't come up on the battlefield. In any case, the German infantryman was the better marcher. One weakness of German infantry was a complete lack of bayonet fighting skills. The Japanese were at the other end of the spectrum, with possibly the best bayonet fighting skills of all (at night on Guadacanal, their bayonet and sword skills were pitched against Browning designed .45s and .30 machine guns, and was found wanting). American bayonet fighting skills fall somewhere in between that of the Germans and the Japanese. The German tactical and command and control and initive advantages and lies more with motorized units than with infantry, and more with units higher than squad level. At the squad level, it is pretty much a wash. In terms of weapons, it is: carbine+Garand+BAR vs MP40+Kar98k+MG42. IMO, equal. Americans of the period had a reputation as complainers (though not as much as today). This was noted by Patton, and others, and our propaganda specifically tried to write this off as insignificant. The German soldier (and Russian, British, and Japanese, as well) appears to be more willing to put up with hardships (at least without complainging), and to sacrifise for the state. In the broader scheme of things, I don't view sacrifising oneself for the state as a virtue, but from an infantry perspective, it is. In terms of sniping, improvised camouflage, etc., and similar "advanced" infantry skills, the Germans appear to have the advantage. In terms of basic skill with the rifle, both countries have a long history of hunting and rifle craft. Neither country is a true "nation of riflemen", but the US probably came closer than Germany.
Link Posted: 8/10/2001 8:33:16 AM EDT
I have read about things similar to what aabob relates at the beginning of the Bulge. The Germans attacked fanatically but without tactical skill. Essentially, they just marched right into the US kill zones. By that time in the war, much of their small unit leadership had been wiped out on the Eastern Front or in Normandy/Falaise/France. I agree with DonS that it is still important to loof at the effectiveness of German army, even if they did lose. We obviously do not want to follow all of their strategies and tactics, because we do not want the same end result they had, but we can undoubtedly learn from what they did well and what we did poorly. Think how much shorter the war might have been, or how much farther we might have penetrated into Eastern Europe, if we had a better replacement system and a better method for producing small unit leadership.
Link Posted: 8/10/2001 10:01:20 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/10/2001 10:15:08 AM EDT by DonS]
Originally Posted By imposter: I have read about things similar to what aabob relates at the beginning of the Bulge. The Germans attacked fanatically but without tactical skill. Essentially, they just marched right into the US kill zones. By that time in the war, much of their small unit leadership had been wiped out on the Eastern Front or in Normandy/Falaise/France.
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I haven't visited the Bulge in a while, but certainly they employed some top rate units there. Certainly, the Germans employed some costly infantry attacks. In this sense, they often fought more like the USMC than the US Army. The US Army would employ massive firepower and relatively slow, careful assaults. The Germans never had the resources to make such assaults, and would "seize the moment" in a rapid, risky attack. The Marines fought in sort of the same way, on the theory that taking objectives quickly was more important than being safe, because "slow & safe" = "ships at risk". Some very good German units suffered some very heavy causlities attacking across open fields, but this isn't necssarly bad tactics, unless you are looking at it from the standpoint of someone with the massive resources (and time!) to do it safely. There was some interesting "debate" between the Army and USMC in the Pacific (and the Aussies, as well).
Originally Posted By imposter: I agree with DonS that it is still important to loof at the effectiveness of German army, even if they did lose. We obviously do not want to follow all of their strategies and tactics, because we do not want the same end result they had, but we can undoubtedly learn from what they did well and what we did poorly. Think how much shorter the war might have been, or how much farther we might have penetrated into Eastern Europe, if we had a better replacement system and a better method for producing small unit leadership.
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We had a great oppetunity to end the war much sooner. The German army in France would have surrendered without a fight. Eisenhower was all for it, Churchill left the issue up to FDR. FDR insisted on defeating them in combat. This prolonged the war, and cost many American lives. It seems FDR wanted to crush the Germans completely. Those who argue that FDR wouldn't have let Pearl suffer the Japanese attack without warning because he was unwilling to accept such loss of American life need to brush up on their history. Not only would he accept such American losses, he accepted [i]much[/i] greater ones. One other point is that the Germans fighting the Americans were much less motivated than those facing the Russians. Of course, the US would have done much better than the Red Army did against such motivated Germans. The Reds had massive armour and artillery resources, and were able to outnumber the Germans [i]everywhere[/i] along the line. But nothing was able to damage the Germans militarly like the Anglo-American airforce, IMO.
Link Posted: 8/10/2001 10:43:36 AM EDT
Some more on infantry. In the pre-US North Africa campaing, Rommel praised the performance of Italian infantry on several occasions, and on at least one occasion stated that they had performed as well or better than German infantry (Rommel had led a German infantry unit against Italian infantry during WW1, and he achieved remarkable results). In fact, the Italian infantry certainly outfought their British opponents on some occasions. In the end, the Italian infantry units in North Africa were pretty much doomed. They were not motorized, which is a serious sin in the desert. And it was a sin they paid for. It is true that the Italians were not as motivated as other countries, and their tactics and hardware were often outdated or just plain poor (for example, the Italian air force seems to have confused aerobatics with combat air fighting skills). But the Italians were as capable of brave, hard fighting as anyone else. Certainly, in combat Americans would have trounced the Italians. For many reasons, the superiority of our infantry being being the least important.
Link Posted: 8/12/2001 12:39:30 PM EDT
In a few books I have read, the Italin infantry, while not saying they were bad did say they would surrender at the drop of a hat. In fact they mention a story where a well supplied and fortified garrison surrendered to two british LRDP jeeps.
Link Posted: 8/12/2001 7:44:26 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Atencio: In a few books I have read, the Italin infantry, while not saying they were bad did say they would surrender at the drop of a hat. In fact they mention a story where a well supplied and fortified garrison surrendered to two british LRDP jeeps.
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Such things did happen, but lots of things happen in war. It is also true that the Italian infantry fought with great determination on many occasions. However, in a desert war, air and armor and artillery are specially important, and in North Africa these things did not favor the Italians when they went up against the Brits. This meant they were going to loose, no matter how well their infantry performed. Some of their infantry units performed very well. Others were very poorly motivated, and consequently performed poorly.
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