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Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 4:42:08 PM
He does say lots of terrible things about individuals : the word “ excoriating “ comes to mind.

OTOH, he tends to soften up and make amends ,as the example regarding Ike, which I cited earlier, goes to show.

I notice similar things in Haig’s diary in the First World War, particularly in respect ( disrespect in this case!) of the French.

Maybe the diaries were a form of letting off steam : having to retain composure under great stress, the diaries were a safety valve.

It would be interesting to see what Marshall wrote about Brooke.

Who, if any, of these supremos, would you describe as attractive personalities , Rich ?

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
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 595
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/15/2021 5:56:17 PM
Quote:
He does say lots of terrible things about individuals : the word “ excoriating “ comes to mind.

OTOH, he tends to soften up and make amends ,as the example regarding Ike, which I cited earlier, goes to show.


I think it goes to show Brooke went from damning all and sundry to damning them with faint praise. I suspect part of it was the desire to make some money, since he was pretty ill-treated on his retirement and was essentially broke in a few years. IIRC, he had to sell his wonderful birding book collection to make ends meet.

Quote:
I notice similar things in Haig’s diary in the First World War, particularly in respect ( disrespect in this case!) of the French.

Maybe the diaries were a form of letting off steam : having to retain composure under great stress, the diaries were a safety valve.


Of course, and working for Winnie was a trial, but the postwar amendments were clearly with an aim at making them publishable in his and many of the other people mentioned in it lifetimes.

Quote:
It would be interesting to see what Marshall wrote about Brooke.


Insofar as I can recall from Poague's three volumes on Marshall, the most he ever said - in the nicest of ways, and I am paraphrasing - was that Brooke was very full of himself, but otherwise could be a pleasant enough fellow when he tried and that he knew an awful lot about birds.

Quote:
Who, if any, of these supremos, would you describe as attractive personalities , Rich ?

Regards, Phil



I am unsure of what an "attractive personality is" to tell you the truth. Jolly seems to love me for myself very much, but then we do still shout at one another now and then, and I suspect all and sundry here recall I do not suffer fools gladly. Does that make me a pleasant personality? Brooke had a horribly difficult job at a terrible time in history. I think he performed, for all his faults, admirably. I also think he, like so many others then and now, terribly underestimated Eisenhower and Marshall. In the case of Ike, he allowed himself, again like so many others, to be fooled by the "shucks I'm just a country boy from Kansas" routine that Eisenhower carefully crafted as his public persona and managed to miss just how intelligent Ike really was. Was Ike a great "tactician" or "strategist"? Well, the first is irrelevant in context, something that Brooke let sail blythly past his ken, and the second was actually the purview of Marshall and Brooke, working for their political masters, rather than Ike at all. Ike's role was operations - grand strategy - for a multinational coalition and he did it very well.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/16/2021 4:38:52 AM
Look at this appraisal of Marshall by Brooke !

I saw a great deal of him throughout the rest of the war, and the more I saw of him the more clearly I appreciated that his strategic ability was of the poorest. A great man, a great gentleman and great organiser, but definitely not a strategist. I found that his stunted strategic outlook made it very difficult to discuss strategic plans with him, for the good reason that he did not understand them personally but backed the briefs prepared by his staff.

Brooke wrote on 1 February 1943 :

Some of my wild dreams of bringing Turkey along with us no longer look quite so wild !

In retrospect , he comments :

My " wild dreams" about Turkey unfortunately remained wild dreams ! Von Papen fooled the Turks about fictitious concentrations of German troops in Bulgaria which never existed. This was enough to keep them sitting on the fence. It is a pity as the entry of Turkey would have made a considerable difference, not that the Turkish forces could ever have been trained up and equipped to be of much use. The real value would have been the use of Turkey for aerodromes and as a jumping off place for future action.

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
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/16/2021 9:44:06 AM
Phil

Do you think that in the back of Churchill's mind, in regards to Turkey entering the war, he was looking for redemption for his failure in the Dardenelles?

Eisenhower kept a laser focus on the task at hand. He dealt with all the other things DeGaulle, Monty, Clark, Churchill, Brooke, with the idea that the quichest way to end the war was to land in France and defeat the German Army
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/16/2021 11:32:28 AM
John,

Yes : the Dardanelles was the elephant in the room, I reckon.

Churchill never relinquished his fixation on that approach . I’m tempted to pitch the suggestion that he was in the grip of ancestral folklore, too.

Marlborough had broken the mold by turning away from the cockpit of Europe in the Low Countries and Flanders, and taking the war to the Danube, thereby achieving an astonishing strategic coup, reinforced with tactical brilliance at Blenheim in 1704. John Churchill in the eighteenth century, Winston Churchill in the twentieth.......I wonder if the approach espoused by Winston in both World Wars owes something to this tradition.

FDR was initially convinced by the Marshall school of strategy, but relented and supported TORCH.

I would argue that the warfare in North Africa, and subsequently in Italy, was immensely important as a learning curve. Look at Dieppe, and even at Salerno. Imagine the horrors of a debacle in France in 1943.


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
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 152
Joined: 2008
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/16/2021 12:13:59 PM
Quote:

I would argue that the warfare in North Africa, and subsequently in Italy, was immensely important as a learning curve. Look at Dieppe, and even at Salerno. Imagine the horrors of a debacle in France in 1943.

Regards, Phil


Rick Atkinson argued the same thing in his books "An Army at Dawn" about the US Army in North Africa and "The Day of Battle" about the U.S. Army in Sicily and Italy.
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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/16/2021 12:24:04 PM
An excellent trilogy

TORCH and even Italy added greatly to the learning curve of the US. Eisenhower is a great example of this. He was not the same commander in TORCH as he was in the end of war. The same with Bradley.

FDR demanded that the US have troops in action in Europe as soon as possible. Also demands were coming in hard to do something in the Pacific to halt the Japanese. If the US Army wasn't going to fight in 1942-43 in Europe then the whole idea of "Germany First" could have been scrapped.

Churchill was not a 20th Century man and this is not meant in a negative way.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Emanon
Gibsonia PA USA
Posts: 36
Joined: 2014
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/19/2021 5:47:56 AM
Quote:
Seventy eight years ago next week, the Germans launched a major counter offensive against US forces in the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia , inflicting six thousand American casualties , while German casualties were fewer than one thousand. It was a terrible setback for US arms, and elicited a sense of schadenfreude from the British, who had themselves suffered their share of humiliation at the hands of Rommel and his Germans. This episode stands as a good example of how skillful and dangerous the Germans were in reflexive and ferocious counter attack, and, I reckon, might serve to remind us how unwise a cross channel invasion might have been in 1943.

Regards, Phil

When the news of the fall of Tobruk arrived, Churchill was meeting with Roosevelt in the White House. Roosevelt handed the telegram to Churchill personally. It was obvious that something had to be done to reinforce Egypt. Roosevelt called General Marshall into the meeting and asked him if the US could send more tanks to Egypt. Marshall was reluctant to take the first 300 Sherman tanks that were just arriving at the armored training camps and send them to Egypt, but he agreed to do this, and a number of self-propelled 105 mm artillery pieces were also sent. The ship with the engines was sent separately from the tank hulls, was sunk by a submarine, and then replacement engines had to be sent by a faster merchant ship to catch up with the main convoy of tanks.

The British thus were getting the newest tanks before the US Army.

At that time the Sherman was more or less tied with the German Mark IV tank as the best tank available to either side in North Africa, and sending 300 of them made a big difference at El Alamein. Wikipedia isn't an authoritative source, but it's usually OK for a quick reference for anything that isn't politically controversial. The article ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_El_Alamein ) lists 1029 Allied tanks and 547 Axis tanks, and lists in footnote 'a' that there were " 1,029 tanks were operational at the start of the battle: 170 M3 Grant and 252 M4 Sherman medium tanks, 216 Crusader II and 78 Crusader III Cruiser tanks, 119 M3 Stuart (Honey) light tanks and 194 Valentine Infantry tanks. There were 200 replacement tanks and over 1,000 tanks were in various stages of repair, overhaul or being modified at workshops.[4]" The 170 Grant, 252 Sherman, and 119 Stuarts add up to 541 American tanks out of 1029 Allied tanks, or about 52% of the armored forces.

These tanks were perforce, not available for training the US armored forces that later were in combat at Kasserine Pass. It's hard to train tankers without the type of tanks that they will be using in actual battle. It was a wise strategic move to send the tanks to Egypt, but part of the cost of that decision was that the US troops in Tunisia were under-trained in armored warfare.
Emanon
Gibsonia PA USA
Posts: 36
Joined: 2014
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/19/2021 6:06:35 AM
About 90 of these were sent to Egypt in addition to the tanks:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M7_Priest#North_Africa

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_El_Alamein#/media/File:Priest_of_1st_Armoured_Division_in_North_Africa,_2_November_1942_(E_18869).jpg
Emanon
Gibsonia PA USA
Posts: 36
Joined: 2014
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/19/2021 6:11:07 AM
For some reason I can't edit my own posts.

The best caption for the above photo of the M7 is a quote from a gunslinger in the Wild West who placed this advertisement in a local newspaper: "Have gun, will travel."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/19/2021 10:25:19 AM
Quote:


Churchill was not a 20th Century man and this is not meant in a negative way.



That's such an interesting comment !

It led me to check the age profiles of some of the main actors on the stage ; surprisingly - or perhaps unsurprisingly - there is remarkable parity between them. Churchill ( 1874) was the oldest, but not by much. Marshall, Brooke, Stalin, Patton, FDR, Monty and Hitler himself were all children of the 1880s. Eisenhower was born in 1890, while Rommel was the baby, emerging in 1892.

I would opine that Churchill had a unique outlook : perhaps his experience imparted something that transcended.....I suppose he was the most aristocratic, while Stalin knew most about living in the gutter, an existence that rendered him the most dangerous.

Hitler's provenance was essentially middle class, although he flirted with the down and outs of Vienna.

One thing that North Africa - and, by extension, TORCH - afforded these protagonists was the chance to wage war without recourse to the massacre of civilians that characterised other theatres in the conflict.

Editing : apologies to Italy : how could I forget the instigator of this North African business ? Benito Mussolini was also a child of the 1880s.

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
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/19/2021 1:23:32 PM
Phil, thanks for pointing out the ages of some of the major participants in WWII.

I think that there may exist a stereotypical image of the Edwardian man as one living in luxury and who kept outward displays of emotions under wraps. It is true that Churchill was a supporter of the Empire. That may have guided some of his decisions.

But all of the characters mentioned came of age in a period of great societal transition. Unless completely oblivious, they must have noticed the demands for equality and most especially after WW1. Not that Churchill was a great supporter of the labour movement or socialism.

George

Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/19/2021 5:40:34 PM
Quote:
Phil, thanks for pointing out the ages of some of the major participants in WWII.

I think that there may exist a stereotypical image of the Edwardian man as one living in luxury and who kept outward displays of emotions under wraps. It is true that Churchill was a supporter of the Empire. That may have guided some of his decisions.

But all of the characters mentioned came of age in a period of great societal transition. Unless completely oblivious, they must have noticed the demands for equality and most especially after WW1. Not that Churchill was a great supporter of the labour movement or socialism.

George



George,

AJP Taylor was the most popular of British left wing historians in the 1960s and 70s. His verdict on Churchill - and the three other great leaders - is worth citing.

He held Churchill in much higher regard than one might suppose.

Churchill was sometimes blown off course by romantic impulses.

That, I think, is an exquisite statement and could certainly be applied to our discussion on TORCH.

Hitler , in Taylor's reckoning, was the most revolutionary in outlook and method ....disregarding preconceived ideas and ready to turn the world upside down for good or ill. He was probably also the most unscrupulous.

Stalin .....was undoubtedly the most singleminded : his only thought was to preserve the Soviet Union and his own dictatorial power therein.

Roosevelt..... was the most enigmatic. Expedients and high principles , day to day calculations and distant aims were inextricably mixed together in him. Here again we might relate this to his conversion to TORCH.

Churchill.... was the most old fashioned and humane - reliving a British Empire that had vanished and deeply stirred by generous emotions.

This all comes from Taylor's History of The Second World War, 1973, pages 23-24.

I have a cousin, a retired history teacher, who upholds consistent left wing views and has a profound dislike of Churchill, which she has imparted to her children. I always like to wind them up by citing that chunk of Alan Taylor to them !

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
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/19/2021 8:55:23 PM
d
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/19/2021 8:57:57 PM
Phil, I have read that Churchill was a most empathetic man who could be brought to tears quite easily. And yet, I believe that he was a proponent of strong measures to stop labour strikes and unrest. He seemed to believe that people of his class had a duty, because of their station, to serve the nation and to guide those of lower status.

His belief that power in Europe had to be balanced and that Britain could not countenance a single power on the continent as dominant over all was not singular. In that he pursued traditional British foreign policy for as long as we may remember.

Were his actions in war motivated by that foreign policy or more by a desire to return to some romantic image of a 19th century British Empire?

How would an operation like Torch ensure both the continuation of Empire and the return to a balance of power in Europe?

Cheers,

George
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/20/2021 5:27:59 AM
George,

TORCH synthesised the attributes of Churchill's outlook on Empire and strategy.

It safeguarded the Suez Canal, and, by extension, the Jewel in the Crown, India.

In strategic terms, it accorded with his indirect approach, vindicated his Dardanelles fixation and even exhibited the themes that he cherished regarding his ancestor, Marlborough.

By allowing for a jumping off point to enter the European continent from the South, it might be said that it provided a buffer against the Soviet Union dominating too much in the Balkans and southern central regions of Europe.

In immediate, practical terms, it was viable on account of the established British consolidation of power there by land, sea and air.

Churchill's sense of Empire was bound to be flattered by the very high profile of Commonwealth contingents that coalesced in North Africa : Australian, New Zealand, Indian and South Africa all engaged alongside the Mother Country.....El Alamein being the best exemplar. Canadian prowess was to come to the fore in Italy.

It all makes for a good story.

Forgive this very quick and rather too subjective answer. I suspect I've made a few big mistakes, but I've enjoyed it, especially, as with you George, I've got paternal skin in the game !

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
redcoat
Stockport  UK
Posts: 363
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/20/2021 6:36:00 AM
Quote:
Phil, I have read that Churchill was a most empathetic man who could be brought to tears quite easily. And yet, I believe that he was a proponent of strong measures to stop labour strikes and unrest. He seemed to believe that people of his class had a duty, because of their station, to serve the nation and to guide those of lower status.
Indeed, when he wasn't using strong arm tactics against strikers, he was helping set up old age pensions, and other welfare schemes for the poor.
Quote:
His belief that power in Europe had to be balanced and that Britain could not countenance a single power on the continent as dominant over all was not singular. In that he pursued traditional British foreign policy for as long as we may remember.
Also very true, l doubt there was a senior British politician in his time who thought differently.
Quote:

Were his actions in war motivated by that foreign policy or more by a desire to return to some romantic image of a 19th century British Empire?
They are not mutually exclusive policies, a balance of power in Europe was already the policy in place during the 19th century.

Quote:
How would an operation like Torch ensure both the continuation of Empire and the return to a balance of power in Europe?

Cheers,

George
You have to win the war to achieve either.
Torch was the logical first step with the resources the Western Allies had at hand in 1942.
redcoat
Stockport  UK
Posts: 363
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/20/2021 7:20:40 AM
Quote:

TORCH delayed a cross-channel invasion in 1943 losing for the Allies any chance they had of ending the war earlier. The risks would have great but a successful invasion in 1943 may have led to a link up of the Western Allies with Russian forces near the old Polish-Russian frontier sometime in 1944. The implications of this speak for themselves.
General Marshall was fully aware of the risks but was fearful of a Soviet collapse if a second front in France was not launched quickly, but the British high command was aware that in any invasion in 1942/43 the large bulk of the forces would have to be British and Canadian and that while they might have enough troops available to successfully land, they had nowhere near enough to exploit it when the Germans responded in force.


Quote:
Did the TORCH landings lenghten the war?

No. A landing on the scale needed was not practical until 1944.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/20/2021 8:22:06 AM
Some of the things that I've written now strike me as overlooking something rather important : even as the TORCH landings were underway, the soviets were hanging on by a gnat's eyelash at Stalingrad. This sense of trying to hold back the incursion of the Red Army into the central and southern regions of the continent of Europe was hardly so feasible given the desperate nature of the fighting along the Volga and elsewhere on the Eastern Front in the summer and autumn of 1942. One year later, then yes.....the thing assumed a more direct and immediate nature.

Another thing that I've failed to appreciate is a kind of elephant in the room : the role of the French in North Africa, the shenanigans between the Vichy and the Free French factions, and the tawdry episodes involving Darlan and Giraud, not to mention the stormy and antagonistic role of De Gaulle. I've just encountered some astonishing information, which I'll cite from Andrew Roberts's history The Storm of War, page 306 :

As more Frenchmen bore arms for the Axis than for the Allies during the Second World War, it is unsurprising that there is still no official French history of the period.

There must have been some very significant features of the planning regarding the diplomatic, political and military implications of the operation in respect of the French presence in North Africa and the Middle East, and how best to exploit or suppress it.

Frenchmen made an excellent account of themselves in combat at Bir Hachiem, and, later, in breaking the German defences by manoeuvre in the mountains in the Monte Casino sector, a brilliant operation carried out by French North African troops.

I wonder if the Americans felt that they were being drawn into a theatre of war against their own inclinations and interests : this is what happened to the Germans when they intervened in North Africa to rescue the Italians. I can almost hear Marshall blurting out " why are we diverting in order to rescue the Limeys from their own mess ? "

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
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 595
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/20/2021 11:54:18 AM
Quote:
Andrew Roberts's history The Storm of War, page 306 :

As more Frenchmen bore arms for the Axis than for the Allies during the Second World War, it is unsurprising that there is still no official French history of the period.


I would wonder how he supports such an extraordinary statement? He must, perforce, have extraordinary evidence?
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/20/2021 12:09:05 PM
Quote:
Quote:
Andrew Roberts's history The Storm of War, page 306 :

As more Frenchmen bore arms for the Axis than for the Allies during the Second World War, it is unsurprising that there is still no official French history of the period.


I would wonder how he supports such an extraordinary statement? He must, perforce, have extraordinary evidence?



Rich,

The statement astonished me.

I've just checked the notes attached to cite the source :

Max Hastings, Sunday Telegraph, 2/2/2003 page 14.

Roberts is a right wing historian, as polemical in this way as AJP Taylor was to the left.

I love reading his books, but I'm always circumspect. Typos abound. For example, alluding to the Commonwealth casualty figures for the Second Battle of Alamein, , he writes.... of the 16,000 New Zealanders who fought there, 3,000 were killed and 5,000 wounded.

Three thousand kiwis killed ? Three hundred, more like !

Perhaps he makes the same kind of error in his statement about the number of Frenchmen who fought for the Axis.


Editing : Just done a CWGC search for New Zealand soldiers commemorated in Egypt, 23rd October to 4th November 1942, and the number is 352.

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
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 595
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/20/2021 8:24:00 PM
Quote:
Rich,

The statement astonished me.

I've just checked the notes attached to cite the source :

Max Hastings, Sunday Telegraph, 2/2/2003 page 14.


Well, there's your problem! Always the journalist at heart. Never let facts get in the way of a good story.

Quote:
Roberts is a right wing historian, as polemical in this way as AJP Taylor was to the left.


So, let's see, the Vichy forces in Metropolitan France were restricted to 3,768 officers, 15,072 non-commissioned officers, and 75,360 men. French North African forces were about 300,000, while French West Africa and Syria were about 20,000 each IIRC. Then there is French Indochina and about 100,000 or so there. So perhaps 600,000...which pales compared to the strength of the First French Army in 1944 and 1945, along with the contingents watching the Festungen in Bordeaux. Never mind, of course, that the Vichy forces never actually "bore arms for the Axis".

Now add in the stupidity, I can't think to describe it as anything else, Roberts' made up figures for Alamein.

If I were you, even if you do like Roberts writing style, I would pitch everything he's written into the rubbish heap. He reminds me too much of Robin Neillands and John Mosier.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/21/2021 5:42:20 AM
Rich,

You’ve done an excellent demolition job . Thanks.

Roberts is also keen on journalism and writes for the Daily Telegraph.

I do love his books, I must confess : his biographies of Churchill and Buonaparte absolutely captivated me and the book I cited ,The Storm of War ,
made a similar impact.

I wonder if the number regarding French forces was taken out of context.

At the commencement of TORCH, might it be correct to state that there were indeed more frenchmen in uniform for the Axis than for the Allies ?

A moment of epiphany strikes in respect of his ludicrous figures for New Zealand casualties at El Alamein.....he’s used the figures from Gallipoli in WW1. The NZ official casualty list for that campaign is very much in line with roughly 3,000 killed and 5,000 wounded from a total of around 16,000 kiwis who fought there. How Roberts allowed that to be transferred to Alamein is a source of wonder to me. Perhaps he delegated the heavy lifting to some assistant researchers, and sloppy standards resulted.

I must say, though, that he is one of the few historians who have correctly interpreted the Soviet casualty figures for the Stalingrad fighting.

Shame he didn’t apply the same discipline elsewhere.

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
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 595
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/21/2021 11:59:21 AM
Quote:
Rich,

You’ve done an excellent demolition job . Thanks.

Roberts is also keen on journalism and writes for the Daily Telegraph.

I do love his books, I must confess : his biographies of Churchill and Buonaparte absolutely captivated me and the book I cited ,The Storm of War ,
made a similar impact.

I wonder if the number regarding French forces was taken out of context.

At the commencement of TORCH, might it be correct to state that there were indeed more frenchmen in uniform for the Axis than for the Allies ?


Ah then, it might be just as correct to state that there were more Swedes, Swiss, Spanish, Portuguese, and Turks in uniform for the Axis than for the Allies. In some cases it might even be true, but in context such a statement is meaningless and likely only intended to inflame. It is the modern journalistic version of trolling.

Quote:
I must say, though, that he is one of the few historians who have correctly interpreted the Soviet casualty figures for the Stalingrad fighting.


How so? Which correct interpretation did he make? What sources did he use to make that interpretation? I have my doubts given his interpretation of the Vichy, Free French, and Kiwi participation in the war.

Quote:
Shame he didn’t apply the same discipline elsewhere.


A lack of discipline and a desire to spin people up is a hallmark of modern extremist journalism of both left and right leanings that has been carried over from the hallowed old traditions of yellow journalism by these journalists turned popular historians such as Hastings, Roberts, Mosier, Neillands, Beevor, and et al. They have taken to heart the old axiom "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend".


Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/21/2021 1:08:36 PM
He pitched the official figures from the soviet archives tabulating the casualties for the Stalingrad fighting, and cited the figure for killed and missing ; he's one of the few that stipulates that this figure includes prisoners.

Overy, for example, cites 478,741 killed, attributing the figure to Erikson. IIRC, Beevor does the same. Roberts states 479,000 killed or captured in addition to 651,000 wounded or sick. In this, I think that he can be credited with a more meticulous approach than some of his peers.

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
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 595
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/21/2021 5:30:49 PM
Well Phil, a stopped clock is right at least twice a day.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/22/2021 3:48:57 AM
Talking of time, Rich, I note that Max Hastings made his Daily Telegraph comment about more French troops serving the Axis than the Allies in early 2003, as the French were being reviled in the Anglo American press for not supporting the imminent military action against Iraq. " Cheese eating surrender monkeys" was the phraseology, if memory serves me.

Hastings's claim would fit well with the mood of the time.

I'm wondering about trying to dig up the actual article, and see what it actually stated, and whether it has been properly cited by Roberts.

Evocations of TORCH might have been adding grist to the mill, sixty years on and with the behaviour of the French being discussed then, as it must have been in 1942-3.


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
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/23/2021 8:17:31 AM
Phil
As far as the French go they provided Eisenhower with many a headache starting with TORCH right up to the end. First it Darlan then Giraud then DeGaulle in Africa. Eisenhower was not upset that Darlan got assassinated. Then it was the liberation of Paris. DeGaulle giving orders to French units to disregard Eisenhower's orders and go to Paris. At the end of 1944 Eisehower expected the French to eliminate the Colmer Pocket and leave all of Alsace-Lorraine to them. He left an American division to help. During the Bulge there were fears that the Germans may attack from the pocket hitting the US 7th Army in the flank. Because of this and the French failure it was decided to pull back the US VI Corps, withdrawing from the "sacred soil of Alsace" and possibly Strausbourg. DeGaulle threatened to remove the French forces from SHAEF's control. As the situation cleared up, there wasn't need for the VI Corps withdrawal.
As the Allies invaded Germany DeGaulle again threatened to remove French Troops and bring them back into France as a peace keeping force. Eisenhower gave DeGaulle 2 divisions not the 5 he wanted.
Eisenhower wrote, "The French continue to be a problem. Next to the weather, they have caused me more trouble than any other single factor."
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/23/2021 9:51:02 AM
John,

The French were immensely problematic and the bad feeling that resulted haunts Franco British relations to this day.

Too often overlooked is the fighting that raged in Syria between Vichy French and British forces in 1941 : actually, this was pretty bitter and bloody, with thousands of casualties.

The fact that the British sank those French ships at Mers el Kebir ( spelling?) was another toxic ingredient . In fairness to the French, one has to empathise with their sensibilities . This was one of the most unpalatable episodes of the war, and while the rationale was plausible , it was deplored by those who had to carry out the task.

It’s almost reassuring to see from your post that it wasn’t just our people who found De Gaulle to be unbearable.

I’ve always sought to emphasise the fine fighting achievements of the Free French contingents, because I’m loathe to be seen as francophobic.

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
scoucer
Berlin  Germany
Posts: 2905
Joined: 2010
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/23/2021 4:20:05 PM
Quote:
Too often overlooked is the fighting that raged in Syria between Vichy French and British forces in 1941 : actually, this was pretty bitter and bloody, with thousands of casualties. Regards, Phil


In fact the fighting in Syria was primarily a Free French v Vichy French affair which made it a very nasty case. The Free French insisted on taking the lead alongside Australian and Indian forces.

Trevor

Edit: And dont forget the Levant Crisis in May 1945.
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`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/23/2021 6:21:23 PM
Phil

Once, when asked for his opinion of Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill mused: “If I regard de Gaulle as a great man? He is selfish, he is arrogant, he believes he is the center of the world. He . . . You are quite right. He is a great man.” Churchill knew whereof he spoke: During World War II, it was he who bore the brunt of the Frenchman’s wrath.

During the War he managed to upset a great number of people. He seemed to be permanently involved in a two front war: “a public war against Vichy and the Germans, and a private war against the British Admiralty, the Air Ministry, the War Office, the Intelligence Service, the Foreign Office, the Prime Minister, the U.S. State Department, and the president of the United States.”

One of his advisers noted “the General must constantly be reminded that out main enemy is Germany. If he would follow his own inclination, it would be England.”

Before departing London to set up headquarters in Algiers in May 1943, de Gaulle said goodbye to Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, who asked, “Do you know you have given us more difficulty than all our European allies?” To which de Gaulle answered, “I have no doubt of it. France is a great power.”

President Roosevelt regarded him as suffering from delusions of grandeur. During the Casablanca summit, Roosevelt’s secret service detail discretely kept the Frenchman covered with their Tommy guns.

Eisenhower was caught in the middle. Dealing with DeGaulle face to face and trying to get guidance from home which usually contradicted the situation.

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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
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TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/24/2021 9:49:24 AM
DeGaulle also created some tension in North America as he was suspicious that the allies were going to assume control of French possessions in the Caribbean like Aruba. He was also concerned that one of the allies, probably Canada or Newfoundland, was going to assume control of the French islands of St. Pierre et Miquelon.

And finally, when the Vichy governor of the islands offered assurances that the gunboat at his disposal would not be used against British or Canadian forces, De Gaulle became suspicious that some sort of neutrality would be extended to the islands. That administrator was a great supporter of Pétain and so De Gaulle did not trust him.

There was concern that the Vichy supporters on those islands were in communication with u-boats and certainly with the Vichy government in France, via short wave. There were a number of additional concerns when St. Pierre et Miquelon began to expand its communications facility. Canadian officials came to the islands to inspect and did not like what they saw. At minimum, Canada wanted wireless experts to remain on the island to monitor outgoing short wave messages.

The US was not a belligerent at the time that Canada had planned an invasion of those islands and was determined that no attacks on foreign possessions would be made in the northern hemisphere. So Canada vacillated, not wishing to anger the Americans.

As the allies negotiated, DeGaulle sent a couple of naval vessels, which were supposedly destined for convoy duty, to the islands where he encouraged the people to reject the Vichy government. Now De Gaulle did inform the US and Canada that that is what he wanted to do. The US informed him that it did not want De Gaulle to send troops to St. Pierre et Miquelon.

The British were in favour of the invasion. Canada was on the same page as the US and told De Gaulle that it was sending people to monitor the communications centre. That order was later rescinded. By this time, Dec. 23, 1941, the US was a belligerent and an ally.

De Gaulle decided to act unilaterally and he ordered Free French Admiral Muselier to send ships to St. Pierre. This was on Dec. 18, well before the Canadians rescinded the order to send soldiers to the islands. On the pretence of carrying out training exercises, Muselier left the port of Halifax. He was headed for St. Pierre et Miquelon.

He must have had a crisis of conscience and felt that he should inform his allies of what he was doing. So he signalled London of his intent, hoping that the British would intercede with De Gaulle. The Brits already knew what he was doing because they had cracked the Free French codes. Britain wasn't too upset about the plan.

Anyway, Admiral Musilier arrived at St. Pierre on Christmas Eve, 1941. He had 3 Corvettes and one submarine. 360 Free French sailors went ashore and seized the islands without a shot. The Vichy administrator was taken aboard the Admiral's flag ship.

When informed, US Sec. of State, Cordell Hull was livid. The US had been trying to encourage Vichy France to resist the Nazis as much as possible. De Gaulle's invasion only angered the Vichy and Hull felt was detrimental to the allied cause.

DeGaulle's independent action created extreme tension between the US, specifically Cordell Hull and the Canadian government.

The Vichy government sent a communiqué to Canada to enquire when Canada will go to the islands to remove De Gaulle's people from the island.

Quote:
“The preliminary reports show that the action taken by socalled Free French ships at St. Pierre and Miquelon was an arbitrary action contrary to the agreement of all parties concerned….This government has enquired of the Canadian Government as to the steps that government is prepared to take to restore the status quo of these islands.”
. - vichy government

Cordell Hull assumed that the Canadians must have approved of this seizure of the islands. Future PM Mike Pearson claimed that Canada did not know that De Gaulle had sent ships. Pearson claimed that Hull tried to browbeat Canada into sending troops to restore the Vichy government to power on St. Pierre et Miquelon. Canada communicated that it had no intention of doing that and that, "We made it clear that we were no banana republic to be pushed around by Washington". (Mike Pearson memoirs)

Now we could say that De Gaulle had every right to send troops to French territory but because the man acted precipitously, he turned a tempest in a teapot into a major point of contention between allies and provided fodder for axis propaganda.

In the ensuing weeks:

1. US press heaped scorn upon the state department for not supporting the Free French take-over of the islands

2. Axis radio broadcast that there had been a slaughter of St. Pierre citizens and that over 1000 had escaped to Canada or the US. None of that was true. No weapons were fired and a plebiscite taken later indicated 98% support for Free France by the islanders.

3. The Canadian PM Mackenzie King contacted Cordell Hull to explain that the former Vichy supporting governor of St. Pierre was a supporter of the axis powers and even had a German wife so Canada was prepared to accept De Gaulle's seizure of the islands. Hull was displeased.

4. PM King, PM Churchill, Pres. Roosevelt and Cordell Hull met and:

Quote:
“Churchill said he was prepared to take de Gaulle by the back of his neck and tell him he had gone too far and bring him to his senses.”


5. Hull asks Churchill to ask De Gaulle to leave the islands. Now Churchill said that he will not do that as relations with the Free French would suffer. Hull stays angry. FDR mediates.

6. US press suggest that Cordell Hull is a traitor for his support of Vichy France. He and the state department were hammered in the press for supporting Vichy France. Hull and the US were not supporters I don't think but wanted to make sure that Vichy France didn't more actively support Germany.

7. Churchill spoke to the Canadian Parliament and praised the Free French and with respect to St. Pierre said:

Quote:
“…some Frenchmen were there who would not bow their knees and who under General de Gaulle have continued to fight on the side of the Allies.”


Hull was extremely angry with WSC, feeling that he had undercut him and US policy with his speech to the Canadian Parliament.

8. By January 12, 1942, the allies were looking for an out. Churchill was still in Washington and he proposed to De Gaulle that he should issue a joint communiqué to indicate:

Quote:
“The islands are French and will remain French….the wireless station will be subject to the supervision and control by observers appointed by the American and Canadian Governments….all armed forces will be withdrawn.”


9. De Gaulle informed Anthony Eden (Brit) that he was prepared to fire upon any US vessels that entered St. Pierre territorial waters without permission.

10. On Jan. 24, De Gaulle accepted Churchill's proposal.


My long winded recounting of this timeline is to illustrate that De Gaulle was at times a most difficult ally to deal with. The St. Pierre incident should not have caused so much tension between the allies but De Gaulle tended to ignore diplomacy. Of course, in this case there were many who felt that he was within his right to seize those islands.

Disclaimer: My opinion of De Gaulle is clouded by his behaviour on a visit to Canada during our centennial year of 1967. We were dealing with French-Canadian séparatistes and De Gaulle decide to make a speech in Montréal in which he dramatically said at the end of his speech, "Vive Le Québec libre".
He was hustled out of the country but was unrepentant. There are a lot of Canadians buried on French soil from two world wars and this interference in a domestic matter was unappreciated. He was a difficult character.

Cheers,

George




scoucer
Berlin  Germany
Posts: 2905
Joined: 2010
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/24/2021 11:00:52 AM
De Gaulle was just as much obssessed with retrieving the French Empire as Churchill was with the British. For both it was too late.

Trevor
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`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/25/2021 5:52:40 AM
This is stating the bleeding obvious, but France, Italy, Greece and Yugoslavia were rent by civil war throughout a large part of the Second World War, and, in some cases, for a long time thereafter.

Britain spared herself that ordeal.

Beating the Axis powers in North Africa was a clear cut and obtainable objective, and the robust and stable democracies of The USA and the British Commonwealth were functioning to their strengths when they agreed on TORCH.

It must have been a very bitter cup for De Gaulle to drink from, when he witnessed the fragility and febrility of his own nation’s predicament increasingly exposed as the Anglo Americans went from strength to strength.

A galling experience !


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
john hayward
Allenstown NH USA
Posts: 877
Joined: 2004
TORCH The Allied landings in N Africa
2/25/2021 10:50:37 AM
Phil

I'm not sure if Roosevelt and maybe Churchill understood the concerns DeGaulle had over the Left/Communist threat to France. The Left was very strong in France in the 1930's and during the war was a great part of the Resistance. They were esp. strong in the cities. DeGaulle wanted his presence in Paris backed by French troops to awe the people of the city. He even asked for US troops to march thru Paris to impress the population. Later in early 1945 he wanted to pull out 5 French divisions and send them to the interior of France. mainly the cities for internal security. Eisenhower understood DeGaulle's concerns and sympathized with him to some extent. Still there was a war to be won and Ike gave him 2 divisions.
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
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