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 (1939-1945) WWII
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Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
1/28/2021 5:34:01 PM
By the middle of the war a substantial number of men serving in the 51st Highland Division were English.

I knew one such.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Brian W
Atlanta GA USA
Posts: 1083
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
1/28/2021 5:50:23 PM

I've seen their insignia many times.
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"Take it easy. But take it" - Tom Morello's mom.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Dunkirk "What if"
1/28/2021 8:31:34 PM
Interesting video about the return of the 2nd BEF from France to Britain. You would think that they were coming off a great victory.

[Read More]

Cheers,

George
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3882
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
1/28/2021 9:00:02 PM
George, you say: Quote:
Other posters have explained that the US was not ready, militarily, to enter the European war in its earliest days and I have suggested that the moral imperative to do so was evident in 1939 and yet the US chose a quasi-neutrality. Militarily, the US was not ready and the people were not fully appreciative of the desperate situation that Britain was in. FDR in a way, defied the will of some of the people who wanted to maintain neutrality. FDR, quite heroically in my view, seemed to appreciate that by helping Britain, the US was ensuring its own security.

I think you are rather unkind to single out the US in this case. In Sept 1939 there were only four countries involved in the European conflict – France, GB, Poland, Germany. Compare that to the number of European nations or states electing neutrality – there were at least 16 of them, including Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxumbourg, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Monaco, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. I’ve not included either Russia or Finland, who had their own nasty little war but were neutral in the potentially larger European War.

At the same time, I would suggest that there was a vast difference between UK issues and capabilities in the first eight months of the war, leading up to the German assault on the West, and UK issues and capabilities in early 1942, when US troops began arriving in the UK. Where the Hell Are the Guns was raising issues not in the middle of a growing global war in early 1942, but after the first engagement between (at the time) three belligerents. Germany won. Period. And GB lost much of its heavy equipment. That can’t be explained away. In early June, 1940, Britain was largely defenceless. Sure, Where The Hell Are the Guns offers a Canadian perspective. But the real point is that the comments in that book focus on those critical weeks and months during and after the fall of Europe and the evacuation from Dunkirk and other ports. The fact the Germans did not invade does not mean that the British could have defeated them if they had tried.

What the US may have found in early 1942 was a UK war economy stretched to the utmost, but still a couple of years away from running of gas. By 1944, Montgomery was certainly concerned about maintaining troop levels. So were some Commonwealth nations, including Canada. By 1944, most of the hardware was US-based. Thank you. Much of it was modified by GB for British/Commonwealth use, and seemed to work for them. I believe, e.g., that some gun replacements on the basic US Sherman produced a much more effective medium tank because the gun was simply better. Issue for discussion, perhaps, but a point worth thinking about.

Gotta go. Food time.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
MikeMeech
 UK
Posts: 511
Joined: 2012
Dunkirk "What if"
1/29/2021 8:05:44 AM
Quote:
Guys,

It's not out of the rhelm of possibilities, that had the Germans captured all the British at Dunkirk, that they would have listened to Rommel, and attacked Great Britain, by a combination of Paratroopers, and a quick strike amphibious invasion!

Such a move may have worked?
Certainly a scary thought!?

Regards,
D


Hi

In the 'realms of possibility', maybe, likely to be successful no! While at the time there were fears of lightning strikes, I can't see the Germans being able to land an amphibious force of a useful size with the equipment they had available and keep it supported. With an attack by paratroops, very problematic with the RAF and air defence network intact. On June 22nd 1940, the RAF had 565 fighters available for operations, on 29th June 587. In June the British produced 1,163 fighters of all type, during 1940 British aircraft production was greater than Germany's. The RAF had suffered many losses in the Battle of France so had the Germans. According to the Luftwaffe losses sustained by Luftflote 2 and 3 to all operational causes between 10 and 21 May was 690 aircraft, 169 of which were Ju52s (see p.307 of 'Twelve Days in May', Cull and others. If remaining Ju 52s were used for a parachute/glider attack in the south east of England, they would be picked up by radar and intercepted by Fighter Command and if some landed, presumably to capture airfields the RAF personnel still had some rifles plus AA guns, even a Lewis gun could rip through a glider as it landed and also kill paratroops in the air or on the ground as they tried to get hold of their weapons containers. It is unlikely that Bf 109s could both escort and keep total air cover over the paratroop landing ground and/or cover a sea landing before being rested and re-equipped with machines and personnel after the French campaign (they needed that before engaging in the BoB in the real world). If the paras did take an airfield the RAF had a nice target to bomb so re-supply would have been difficult. The end game would probably Germans being killed or captured and the Ju 52 fleet destroyed. Rommel probably got it wrong!

Mike
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Dunkirk "What if"
1/29/2021 8:25:10 AM
Brian, what were the motivations for the US to agree to assist with convoy duty prior to Dec. 11, 1941 and as a follow-up, other than Hitler's declaration of war, why would the US bother to engage in the European war?

I think that the situation in Europe was bad enough in Sept. of 1939 to have raised concerns in the US, and much worse at the end of 1941. You are suggesting that the US was only one country of many that had opted for neutrality or were assessing developments. How many of those nations, other than the US, had the potential to stop the Nazi rampage?

Other than the declaration of war by Hitler on Dec. 11, 1941, what other factors would bring the US into the European conflict? What changed their minds? I think that that would be a good discussion because the US commitment once made, was full and costly in terms of lives. The US experience in WW1 certainly made them cautious about getting involved in another European conflict but eventually, they felt compelled to commit. And it was a total commitment. Why did they make that decision?




RE: Weapons

The Sherman certainly was adopted by all of the allies because the enormous potential of the US to produce them made it a smart choice. Tanks get used up quickly and the US could replace them just as quickly.

I'm not sure that it was the best choice of tanks. Certainly it was mobile and fast but the German tanks were better with a better gun on many of them and better armour.

BTW, the British gun modification on the Sherman was the 17 pounder (Firefly), and it was a game changer. That tank could knock out the heavily armoured German tanks.

On the issue of hardware, other than the Sherman tank and the multiple modifications made to it and other tanks by Hobart, how much reliance was there on US designed and built weapons by the British and Commonwealth? I am talking about primary infantry weapons, artillery and aircraft.
I am bouncing the names of weapons off the inside of my head and I am not coming up with many.

Thompson submachine gun: this one was withdrawn from Br. and Commonwealth forces when the STEN came on line.
BAR- home use only, I think.
75 mm howitzer
some aircraft.

It is also true that the British gave contracts to Commonwealth countries and to the US to produce its weapons. Even the Lee-Enfield Mk IV was manufactured in Canada and the US but those were still British weapons for delivery to British and Commonwealth soldiers.

Cheers,

George
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Dunkirk "What if"
1/29/2021 9:38:04 AM
Was there a moral imperative for the US to intervene in the European conflict or an equally valid moral imperative to isolate. I read the following article and it seems that the US struggled with this moral dilemma throughout the 20's and 30's.

The following is an interesting article on this choice that the US people had to make. It was published by the National WWII Museum in New Orleans

[Read More]

I acknowledge that I have said before that the US had a moral imperative to respond to the European situation in 1939 but the decision making process was difficult with the interventionists and the isolationists at odds in the country.

Cheers,

George
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 113
Joined: 2020
Dunkirk "What if"
1/29/2021 2:43:20 PM
Brian W

Dunkirk "What if"
"Let's say the evacuation was a total bust. What position would the UK be in after such a catastrophic loss?"

Admittedly not my area of specialty, but a few thoughts . . .
IMHO a truly catastrophic decisive defeat of Britain and France 1940 may have strengthen America first/isolationists and delayed or stunted Lend lease ultimately delaying 1944 D-day. The isolationist argument was not finally defeated until Dec 41. Political fallout in US may have delayed not just Lend lease but preparation/production of war materials and delaying D-day. As it was it took two and a half years from P-Harbor to d-day. The combined propaganda value of Heroic Evacuation and Battle of Britain was the beginning of softening restrictions of sending arms etc to Britain. The argument may have been why support a defeated Britain incapable of defending herself? (Not mine) what if D-day not happen until fall 44 or even spring 45?
American military planners wanted a pacific first strategy but FDR & WSC decided Europe first. Catastrophic decisive defeat of Britain June 40 would build on that military POV.
The Ad-hoc plan to invade Britain was never contemplated by German planners. The German fixation on European military domination underplaying the importance of a blue water navy redounded in Germans being unable to exploit an even more decisive defeat in France 1940.
Brian, Thanks, great what-if.
Yours, Mike_C.
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 152
Joined: 2008
Dunkirk "What if"
1/29/2021 8:06:12 PM
Quote:


American military planners wanted a pacific first strategy but FDR & WSC decided Europe first.

Yours, Mike_C.


What American military leaders wanted a Japan 1st policy? I don't doubt that General MacArthur and perhaps the admirals in the Pacific wanted a Japan 1st policy.

But what was Admiral Leahy, General Marshal and Admiral King's view on which war to prioritize?
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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Dunkirk "What if"
1/29/2021 9:09:27 PM
Weygand Line

The French fought quite aggressively when they formed up on the Weygand Line. I understand that they were outnumbered 2-1.

But is it true that their tanks were superior to the German tanks and they were able to destroy a lot of German tanks?

I also read that in some battles along the line, they bested the German troops and even took prisoners in large numbers.


So was it simply the disparity numbers that led to the German victory? How did they manage to break the Weygand Line to end the Battle of France?





Cheers,

George
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3882
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
1/29/2021 10:46:19 PM
Phil and Dave, two very interesting and totally separate issues, IMHO. From Phil: Quote:
One year later they captured Crete, didn't they ? And that was when they were up against some first class New Zealand soldiers, along with Aussies and British....and with some ferocious Cretan fighters ; not to mention a very powerful Royal Naval deployment that inflicted some havoc on the German transports. If the Germans managed that feat , and were prepared to pay a stiff price ( which they did), then we have to countenance the possibility of such an onslaught being successful against the British homeland in the summer of 1940.

But did Hitler really want to do this ?

I don't think so.

Just a thought. Germany (i.e., Hitler) wanted a peace/armistice/cease-fire/whatever with GB and Empire/Commonwealth. With his invasion of Europe, he had nothing to offer but a carrot or a stick. He had, I think, good reason to think the carrot would work: a former king, a host of politicians, a bunch of peers or near-peers and some senior pols seemed to be willing to negotiate. He raised the ante with his Kanalkampf, which was at least partially successful. British domestic convoys up or down the channel were largely curtailed, but at massive expense to Luftwaffe numbers, particularly he Ju-87s.

But his belief in Göring’s promises were misplaced, so the Luftwaffe didn’t complete what they set out to do: extend German air control over not just the Channel but over Southern Britain. German data was less sound concerning essential targets (e.g., often bombing raids were directed against RAF BC fields).

I would argue the Lufwaffe came close to driving 11 Group into the ground, but didn’t understand other Groups (particularly 12 Group) provided a reserve. At the same time, it was at least somewhat evident that 12 Group’s policies and methodologies were too cumbrous to meet Luftwaffe until after the delivery of their bomb loads.

I wuld argue that the number of available a/c paled in significance to the number of properly trained RAF pilots. An a/c is of no value if there is no pilot. And this was crucial.

So, Seelöwe was a closed-end directive. I would argue it depended on a number of factors, including:
• weather in the Channel;
• ability of the German army to trans-ship troops across the Channel;
• Luftwaffe control of the air, which largely meant a suppression of RAF Fighter Command;
• possible loss of the momentary advantage over a British Army suffering a dearth of heavy weapons.

So, “did Hitler really want to do this”? While I honestly don’t know, I’ll only say that Hitler decided not to do this. It’s argued that he was turning his eyes to Russia when he cancelled Seelöwe. I think that needs some thought as well; he kept up an aerial assault (the Brits call it “The Blitz”) for eight months after after Seelöwe’s cancellation.

Crete was, of course, a final extension of the German military thrust into the northern Mediterranean. It is also considered an excursion that was unwanted, and disruptive. The German invasion of the Balkans in support of Italy remains a question to this day. Yugoslavia, Albania and Greece were defeated, but at least in some minds was a negative use of troops before Barbarossa.

I’ve always been amazed at the Crete invasion, and at the tremendous cost. So I come back to Dave’s suggestion, but from a different point of view. Is i possible that German control of Crete was seen as more important that German occupation of GB a year or so earlier?

Great discussion!

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
1/30/2021 3:29:28 AM
Brian,

At the risk of seeming a fawning sycophant, I want to say how awe-struck I am with the knowledge you display, and, more importantly, your ability to convey it and put it to good account .

This post you’ve just pitched is a triumph.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Lightning
Glasgow  UK
Posts: 781
Joined: 2005
Dunkirk "What if"
1/30/2021 5:33:09 AM
Quote:


So was it simply the disparity numbers that led to the German victory? How did they manage to break the Weygand Line to end the Battle of France?

George


Hi George,

On paper terms, the Battle of France should have been too close to call. The Allies had more tanks, heavy guns and naval assets than the Germans. The Germans enjoyed a slight advantage in men deployed (by about 100k as I recall) plus a larger number of serviceable aircraft. I’m not sure if this was a decisive advantage, but by the time of the Weygand Line phase of the conflict, the French were doing well. The “hedgehog” system of defence in depth, whereby French forces packed up into tight defensive pockets, exacted a heavy toll on the German attackers. Local French counterattacks were often successful and the German supply lines were becoming extended. The French had reformed their remaining armour into new divisions and these performed well against the German mechanised units.

However, the huge losses suffered by the French forces in Belgium and northern France meant that they were heavily outnumbered (as you say) and the Germans were able to focus all their efforts on the Weygand Line once the Maginot Line was rolled up. Britain had very little assistance to offer, the French airforce was not able to offer to regain a competitive edge in the skies and had to withdraw to North Africa to refit. Once the Germans had mastery of the skies it was only a matter of time before the heavily defended French positions would be picked off. With no prospect of further assistance and deprived of air cover, capitulation was the only option.

I feel for the ordinary French soldier, as he was often derided after the war and accused of giving up too easily. The French fought valiantly for their homeland, and were failed by a combination lack of imagination and urgency amongst their leaders. My view remains that the Germans were aided by a very healthy dose of good luck in their victory, to go along with their undeniably bold and highly innovative tactical deployments.

Cheers,

Colin
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"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Dunkirk "What if"
1/30/2021 7:57:02 AM
Thank you for that post, Colin. I had always felt that the disparagement of the French in WW2, often through jokes, was unfair. From what I have read, the German commanders were very good at exploiting any advantage and if a hole opened, they exploited that advantage. Once through, it was impossible for the allies to repulse them.

Cheers,

George
MikeMeech
 UK
Posts: 511
Joined: 2012
Dunkirk "What if"
1/30/2021 9:40:45 AM
Quote:
Thank you Mike. Informative.

How many divisions did Britain create in 1940? Were they able to outfit them as they established a new division?

George


Hi

A 'Most Secret' British War Cabinet report of May 25, 1940, 'British Strategy in a Certain Eventuality' has comment on troops available for Home Defence at that time:
3 1/2 Divisions, Trained, equipped and mobilised.
3 Divisions Partly trained, mainly equipped except for artillery. Also 2 Motor Division in the same situation.
5 Divisions, relatively untrained with little equipment.
Plus 2 armoured divisions, of which the equivalent of about two brigades could be mobilised.

It continues:

"In addition, there are 57 Home Defence Battalions employed on the defence of vulnerable points and many men in holding units, training centres, &c. It is unlikely that more than a small portion of the British Expeditionary Force could be extricated from France. Most of its equipment and ammunition is likely to be lost. On the other hand, additional Dominion Forces, which are not fully trained or equipped, are en route to the United Kingdom."

Also:

"The major weakness of our Home Defence Forces is lack of equipment, artillery and ammunition. Should the Germans succeed in establishing a force with its vehicles in this country, our army forces have not got the offensive power to drive it out. The maintenance of the lines of communication of such a force would, however, be a difficult problem for the enemy."

To succeed the Germans would have to get tanks and other vehicles ashore so they could out manoeuvre the defence forces who were also short of transport. Germany infantry probably could not succeed by themselves especially if they failed to get re-supplied.

Mike
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Dunkirk "What if"
1/30/2021 10:51:07 AM
Thank you Mike. Great information.

You mentioned that there were 57 Home Defence battalions available. Were these units similar to reservists or "weekend warriors"?

Also I have noted that some British divisions were designated as Territorial (tier one and tier two). Were the territorials different from the Home Defence battalions?

Cheers,

George
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 113
Joined: 2020
Dunkirk "What if"
1/30/2021 3:47:26 PM

Group,
& 17thfabn

Good catch I think. I should scratch “military planners.” May have been better to say “US Navy planners” but even that is off on reflection. I “misremembered” & “overexaggerated” sorry. What I had in mind was that after PHBR Adm King replaced Starke as top Navy commander. King was an Anglophobe and I believe he did strongly argue for major early pacific actions. So, FDR made the decision. Marshall was for Germany first IIRC. Sorry good catch. I what I was trying to suggest, if poorly, was US political fallout may have been important if it had caused delay in our ultimate campaign in Europe.
Yours, Mike_C.
(Apparently, King was strongly disliked by practically everyone and he had very little regard for anyone opinion but his own even FDRs. In one case he had heated and disrespectful exchange with FDR. FDR laughed it off which made King hotter. Fdr knew who was boss, he was, and made the decision for himself. Two Lincolnesque aspects of great leadership. Able work with smart people he didn’t like and willing to make his own decisions on his own responsibility. MAC)



George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Dunkirk "What if"
1/30/2021 5:26:20 PM
Admiral King was despised by the leadership of the Royal Canadian Navy. When the US decided to assist with convoy duties in 1941, prior to becoming a belligerent, the British asked King to take responsibility for the Western hemisphere convoy escort forces. This meant that the RCN would come under the control of a country that was not even at war.

This despite the fact that the Newfoundland Escort Force was heavily involved in escort duties led by CDN Rear Admiral Leonard Murray, it was the USN that was calling the shots. It became apparent that the USN was not fully up to speed on what convoy duty entailed. The RCN had been escorting convoys since Sept. of 1939 and had some knowledge to share.

But Admiral King refused to meet with the Canadians feeling that that was beneath him. King had changed the responsibilities of the RCN's, Newfoundland Escort Force several times and the Canadians wanted to talk to him about the responsibilities given them that were well beyond what was in the original agreement made between the US and the UK.

King's response was to send a staff officer to meet with Admiral Murray. King said, Quote:
"“I do not think it ‘becoming’ that I should go to the Canadians in person,”
.

Canada was caught between two great powers who were negotiating the fate of its sailors and King did not endear himself to the RCN command. Ironically, only a few months later, King and most of the USN and Coast Guard vessels on convoy duty had to deal with the issue of the Japanese and the RCN's responsibilities increased and the leadership fell upon Admiral Murray anyway.

[Read More]

Cheers,

George

MikeMeech
 UK
Posts: 511
Joined: 2012
Dunkirk "What if"
1/31/2021 9:17:44 AM
Quote:
Thank you Mike. Great information.

You mentioned that there were 57 Home Defence battalions available. Were these units similar to reservists or "weekend warriors"?

Also I have noted that some British divisions were designated as Territorial (tier one and tier two). Were the territorials different from the Home Defence battalions?

Cheers,

George


Hi

It appears that the 'Home Defence' battalions were initially made up of older 'soldiers' between 45-55, either Territorials or ex-regular, but attached to Territorial units. Hansard of 23 April 1940 has a answer to a question in the House of Commons (reference soldiers aged over 50) that states:

"Every endeavour is made to post Home Defence Battalions as close to their homes as possible, so far as military requirements permit."

However, lots happened during the war, these Home Defence Battalions are renumbered and are moved around the UK (some also appear to have gone overseas in second line roles), also they take on soldiers that were underage for active service and are used as part of the training system, this happened with the Home Guard as well.

We should also note that Regular and Territorial Battalions were used in a similar home defence manner. For example the 8th Gordon Highlanders (formed out of the 4th Battalion on 1st September 1939, and were Territorials). In Aberdeen they provided guards for foreign ships in harbour and manned positions for a 'defensive perimeter'. They also began training as a machine-gun battalion, however, in May 1940, they were split up sending one company to Shetland, one to Fife and one to Kinloss for defence purposes , the HQ and 'A' Company remained at Aberdeen. They were due to be the MG Battalion for the reformed 51st Highland Division and trained with that divisions brigades although they never went into action with them. The 8th Bn. instead became an anti-tank battalion (the 100th Anti-Tank Regiment) and went to India. (My father joined them in Norfolk when apart from some of the initial personnel, the troops came from Hampshire, London and one from the Republic of Ireland). The figure for 57 Home Defence Battalions may just mean actual Home Defence ones or it might include units used for home defence I am not sure, so a mixture of personnel.

Mike
MikeMeech
 UK
Posts: 511
Joined: 2012
Dunkirk "What if"
1/31/2021 9:43:38 AM
Hi

As this is a Dunkirk thread we should remember some of the atrocities committed by the Germans on the rear guard, this includes the following:

The Le Paradis Massacre on 27 May when members of the 2nd Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment surrendered after using up all their ammunition, the 14th Company , 3rd SS Division Totenkopf, didn't like being held up so they lined up the POWs and machined gunned them, followed up by bayoneting them 97 were killed and two injured (they managed to crawl away and were looked after by locals before being handed over to a different German unit). The SS commander involved was hunted down post war and executed after a trial in 1949. (20 or so Royal Scots may also have been executed not far away but it appears there were no remaining witnesses).

On the 28th May 1940 the Wormhoudt Massacre took place. Elements of the Waffen SS Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler had captured British troops of the rearguard, again they had used up their ammunition, the British troops were from the 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 53 Regt. (The Worcestershire Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment RA, plus a few French soldiers rounded up. 80 were killed and 15 injured, again some managed to crawl away. The method used was putting the soldiers in a barn and then hand grenades were thrown in, however, this was thwarted by some SNCOs who threw themselves on the grenades as they came in therefore saving their comrades. This rather angered the SS troops so they brought out the troops in small numbers and shot them (I think this is when some troops manged to crawl out the barn unseen). Despite tracing some of the SS personnel post war it was considered that there was 'insufficient evidence' to prosecute individuals, indeed some of the surviving SS soldiers interviewed refused to say anything post-war quoting their 'SS Oath'!

I hope that is of interest and shows that the Dunkirk rear guard was not just made up of the French as some allege.

Mike
Brian W
Atlanta GA USA
Posts: 1083
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
1/31/2021 10:40:13 AM

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Thought folks would find this graphic interesting.
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"Take it easy. But take it" - Tom Morello's mom.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Dunkirk "What if"
1/31/2021 11:15:40 AM
Hello Mike, thank you for the explanation of the use of Home Defence battalions. You said that those battalions could have had some 45-55 year old men in them. As well, you said that some Home Defence battalions may have been deployed to Europe. Did that include some of these older men?

George
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Dunkirk "What if"
1/31/2021 11:24:17 AM
Mike's reports on atrocities committed by the SS against British rearguard are horrific. And the SS were certainly involved in behaviour like this in other places later in the war.

However, if my memory is correct, it seems to me that toward the end of the Dunkirk evacuation, that Wehrmacht soldiers executed both Belgian soldiers and citizens. The Wehrmacht were angry at the losses that they had taken at the hands of the Belgians and they took civilian hostages, using them as human shields. They executed civilians as they moved through the town and after the Belgian soldiers, who were acting as a rear guard, ran out of ammunition and had surrendered.

That's the story that I had read though I cannot remember the name of the town.

Cheers,

George
Brian W
Atlanta GA USA
Posts: 1083
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
1/31/2021 11:45:10 AM
George, is this it?
Vinkt massacre
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"Take it easy. But take it" - Tom Morello's mom.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Dunkirk "What if"
1/31/2021 12:39:14 PM
Quote:
George, is this it?
Vinkt massacre
[Read More]


Yes, Vinkt was the name. I noticed that your link from wiki has a disclaimer at the top that the article needs verification. What does that mean? I hope that I haven't been giving misleading information.

Thanks for finding that information, Brian.

EDIT: I did find mention of the Vinkt massacre on this site as well.

[Read More]

And a Belgian cemetery containing the remains of civilians killed in the massacre

[Read More]

Cheers,

George
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Dunkirk "What if"
1/31/2021 1:37:46 PM
Brian W, I enjoyed the chart and map that provides a synopsis of daily events associated with Operation Dynamo. Did you notice that the last three days saw nearly the same number of soldiers evacuated on each day? Seems odd that they would be so close unless the same ships were assigned to the last three days and their capacity was 26,000. Not a big deal. I was just looking at the numbers taken off each day and noticed the last three days.

I wonder if a similar chart and timeline exists for Operations Cycle and Aerial which accounted for another 191,000 soldiers retrieved. Cycle took people from ports near Le Havre between June 10-13. Operation Aerial evacuated troops from June 15-25.

Cheers,

George



MikeMeech
 UK
Posts: 511
Joined: 2012
Dunkirk "What if"
2/3/2021 10:55:11 AM
Quote:
Hello Mike, thank you for the explanation of the use of Home Defence battalions. You said that those battalions could have had some 45-55 year old men in them. As well, you said that some Home Defence battalions may have been deployed to Europe. Did that include some of these older men?

George


Hi George

I have not got the full details available on individual battalions, but I suspect the 'young soldiers' of units, who were underage for deployment, would not have gone. The 'Hansard' statement I posted earlier, may mean not all over 50s would have gone. That would mean that the most likely to be deployed would be those 45-50 or slightly younger (but I can't confirm that so it is a bit of guess) would have been the most likely. That may have meant re-arranging personnel from different battalions to make up numbers. In the UK a Dorset based battalion went to Northern Ireland and then Essex, so keeping the over 50s near their homes had already been 'ignored', however, they may have 'volunteered' for deployments (again I have not got the details). The tasks they would be employed on overseas would be about the same as in the UK, guarding docks, supply depots, transport links etc. and probably POW cages to release fighting age troops for the front line.

As an aside, when I was recalled back into the army to go out to the former Yugoslavia, I was 42, others were older, again this was mainly for 'second line' tasks. Also even in regular units during WW2 there were probably 'older' personnel serving so to some extent why not use them?

Mike
redcoat
Stockport  UK
Posts: 363
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
2/3/2021 11:54:11 AM
Useful article on the amount of military equipment available to the British and Commonwealth forces in the UK post Dunkirk.

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redcoat
Stockport  UK
Posts: 363
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
2/3/2021 12:16:04 PM
Quote:
Well, the idea of "Where the Hell Are the Guns?" is exactly what the Americans encountered when they arrived in England by the time we entered. I've read countless books where the Brits were bled dry and that's why the Americans took over. The Brits were in no position to go on offensive without the Americans and said so many times.

The question I'm really asking is if the Brits/Commonwealth/Allies lost the 300K+, would they have totally lost the political will to continue? Even afterwards, the UK was in a desperate predicament. Imagine if Hitler had given the go ahead to "seal the deal".

Could the UK have withstood such a disaster politically? I tend to think that the US would've immediately entered the war to save the UK and western Europe. I don't think Germany would've been able to invade, but I do think that British morale would be so devastated that it would keep Britain busy and Germany focused on even grander plans. Can you imagine if Britain waffled during this time, what Spain or Turkey would do? It's just fortunate that Operation Dynamo pulled through. But it leaves a lot to the "what if". Which easily could've happened.
The coalition War Cabinet which contained the leaders of all 3 main political parties had already agreed not to seek peace terms in a series of meetings from the 24th May to the 28th May 1940, a time when it was feared that at best only around 50,000 troops might escape the Dunkirk pocket.
redcoat
Stockport  UK
Posts: 363
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
2/3/2021 12:23:32 PM
Quote:
Guys,

It's not out of the rhelm of possibilities, that had the Germans captured all the British at Dunkirk, that they would have listened to Rommel, and attacked Great Britain, by a combination of Paratroopers, and a quick strike amphibious invasion!

Such a move may have worked?
Certainly a scary thought!?

Regards,
D

What quick strike amphibious force ?
The German army was fully occupied fighting in France until the 25th June.
redcoat
Stockport  UK
Posts: 363
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
2/3/2021 12:54:41 PM
Quote:
One year later they captured Crete, didn't they ? And that was when they were up against some first class New Zealand soldiers, along with Aussies and British....and with some ferocious Cretan fighters ; not to mention a very powerful Royal Naval deployment that inflicted some havoc on the German transports. If the Germans managed that feat , and were prepared to pay a stiff price ( which they did), then we have to countenance the possibility of such an onslaught being successful against the British homeland in the summer of 1940.
The forces in Crete were a rag-tag mix of various units with little equipment dumped on the island after the fall of Greece, they were not a cohesive fighting force. Their commander was also obsessed with the danger of a sea borne landing even though intelligence was warning him the main effort was from air landed troops, leading him to place the majority of his forces along the coast, rather than the airfields.
Quote:

He raised the ante with his Kanalkampf, which was at least partially successful. British domestic convoys up or down the channel were largely curtailed, but at massive expense to Luftwaffe numbers, particularly he Ju-87s.
The Channel convoys were curtailed for two weeks, then restarted with the convoys passing through the narrowest point of the Channel at night.
Quote:
I would argue the Lufwaffe came close to driving 11 Group into the ground, but didn’t understand other Groups (particularly 12 Group) provided a reserve. At the same time, it was at least somewhat evident that 12 Group’s policies and methodologies were too cumbrous to meet Luftwaffe until after the delivery of their bomb loads.

I wuld argue that the number of available a/c paled in significance to the number of properly trained RAF pilots. An a/c is of no value if there is no pilot. And this was crucial.
On the 7th September 1940 Fighter Command had 100 more operational Spitfires and Hurricanes, and 150 more operational fighter pilots than they did at the start of the battle on the 1st July 1940. Meanwhile the Luftwaffe was breaking up units due to losses.
Quote:

So, Seelöwe was a closed-end directive. I would argue it depended on a number of factors, including:
• weather in the Channel;
• ability of the German army to trans-ship troops across the Channel;
• Luftwaffe control of the air, which largely meant a suppression of RAF Fighter Command;
• possible loss of the momentary advantage over a British Army suffering a dearth of heavy weapons.

You also need to add that a navy with only 1 single operational heavy cruiser and ten destroyers was attempting to invade an island protected by a naval force many times it's size (example, 10 destroyers versus 78)
Quote:
So, “did Hitler really want to do this”? While I honestly don’t know, I’ll only say that Hitler decided not to do this. It’s argued that he was turning his eyes to Russia when he cancelled Seelöwe. I think that needs some thought as well; he kept up an aerial assault (the Brits call it “The Blitz”) for eight months after after Seelöwe’s cancellation.

Crete was, of course, a final extension of the German military thrust into the northern Mediterranean. It is also considered an excursion that was unwanted, and disruptive. The German invasion of the Balkans in support of Italy remains a question to this day. Yugoslavia, Albania and Greece were defeated, but at least in some minds was a negative use of troops before Barbarossa.

I’ve always been amazed at the Crete invasion, and at the tremendous cost. So I come back to Dave’s suggestion, but from a different point of view. Is i possible that German control of Crete was seen as more important.
Crete was possible, Sealion wasn't.
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 595
Joined: 2004
Dunkirk "What if"
2/3/2021 11:34:21 PM
Quote:
Quote:
Guys,

It's not out of the rhelm of possibilities, that had the Germans captured all the British at Dunkirk, that they would have listened to Rommel, and attacked Great Britain, by a combination of Paratroopers, and a quick strike amphibious invasion!

Such a move may have worked?
Certainly a scary thought!?

Regards,
D

What quick strike amphibious force ?
The German army was fully occupied fighting in France until the 25th June.


What Paratroopers too? 7. Flieger Division was barely formed, took heavy casualties in Denmark and Holland, and its transport force was hit even worse. There were 723 operationl Luftwaffe transport aircraft on 13 April 1940...and just 205 on 8 June 1940. By 6 July there were 302, but...
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