British Troops Inferior?

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by adamcotton, Nov 7, 2005.

  1. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    What book did I contribute to?
    Sapper
     
  2. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    I will PM you, as I do not want to say in public unless you are happy about it.
     
  3. Des1

    Des1 Junior Member

    Over and out
     
  4. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member

    The British soldier is at least the equal to ANY soldier in the world. I'm not sure who said it but - "the Tommy is no braver than any other. He's just brave longer". Many factors come into this such as his training,equipment, leadership, tactics but most of all morale. The humour of the squaddie is legendary. Call it "gallows humour" or whatever, but it has seen him through the most arduous of situations imaginable.
    I feel sorry for you dear old Sapper as you must feel all your sacrifices were wasted by hearing such rubbish. You doubters, go all round the world to the cemeteries of the British war dead, tell them they were not committed and inferior.
    The Singapore debacle was not anything to do with lack of commitment by the Tommy. Indeed many of the troops were ordered to surrender as they wanted to fight on. It was a political decision from the highest combined with gross inefficiency by those in command. Fancy sending the 18th Division to fight a jungle war after being trained and equiped for desert warfare!!
    The 4th Royal West Kents were a territorial battalion but they held at bay a WHOLE Japanese division for ten days until reinforcements arrived at Kohima. Inferior? Too numerous are the occasions of bravery to list and of course there are occasions of when the Tommy did run and disgraced himself and his regiment, but for Mr Simpson to make such generalisation's is disgraceful. All just sell a book, he should know better and so should other people who weren't there. It's tribute to their commitment that we are able to discuss this anyway.
    Lionboxer
     
  5. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    (lionboxer @ Nov 19 2005, 08:25 PM) [post=41801]The British soldier is at least the equal to ANY soldier in the world. I'm not sure who said it but - "the Tommy is no braver than any other. He's just brave longer". Many factors come into this such as his training,equipment, leadership, tactics but most of all morale. The humour of the squaddie is legendary. Call it "gallows humour" or whatever, but it has seen him through the most arduous of situations imaginable.
    I feel sorry for you dear old Sapper as you must feel all your sacrifices were wasted by hearing such rubbish. You doubters, go all round the world to the cemeteries of the British war dead, tell them they were not committed and inferior.
    The Singapore debacle was not anything to do with lack of commitment by the Tommy. Indeed many of the troops were ordered to surrender as they wanted to fight on. It was a political decision from the highest combined with gross inefficiency by those in command. Fancy sending the 18th Division to fight a jungle war after being trained and equiped for desert warfare!!
    The 4th Royal West Kents were a territorial battalion but they held at bay a WHOLE Japanese division for ten days until reinforcements arrived at Kohima. Inferior? Too numerous are the occasions of bravery to list and of course there are occasions of when the Tommy did run and disgraced himself and his regiment, but for Mr Simpson to make such generalisation's is disgraceful. All just sell a book, he should know better and so should other people who weren't there. It's tribute to their commitment that we are able to discuss this anyway.
    Lionboxer
    [/b]


    Well said.......The vast majority should never be tarnished by the minority.
     
  6. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor

    Good post Lionboxer. Well said.
     
  7. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Thank you for your support mates! It goes a long way towards repairing the damage done by these accusations.

    That we were a Citizen army there is no doubt, totally unlike the professionals of the German Army, but when push came to shove, the British Tommy like thousands of his forebears, fought like tigers.

    What angered me so much is that I have witnessed acts of great bravery, heroic in the extreme, and by men that knew that their sacrifices in battle would never be recognised.

    To the North of Caen (the killing ground) we took on, and beat the living daylights out of the much-vaunted SS and their Panzers. Any one interested

    Monty's clever tactics destroyed their strength piecemeal. A thrust here, another somewhere else, a continuous series of battles, that never gave the Germans the chance to employ their tremendously powerful Panzers in that mighty punch through our lines...Monty kept him so busy with these constant attacks, that the Panzers were unable to gather their strength for that big punch, they were far too busy dashing here and there trying to stem each attack.
    The culmination of that overwhelming Victory in Normandy, was due too that ploy of destroying his strength piecemeal. All of the Allies then swooped for the Falaise pocket, What a terrible defeat for the German army, I know many escaped, but there was no way to stop them filtering through, But the culmination at Falaise meant that Normandy had been taken ten day ahead of schedule.

    It would be on interest to see the names of those panzers that we opposed, for there were some elite units there. 12th SS Panzer, the toughest of all…..Das Reich number two SS Panzer Div…. Leibstandarten Adolph Hitler SS Panzer div. Number one SS panzer.
    Sapper
     
  8. peter.hyslop

    peter.hyslop Junior Member

    Its extremely hard to pin a lable of the "best" on any country's army during the war, because much of it does come down to equipment, training ect at any particular moment in time, but I must say that the British Soldier would have to go down as inferior to none, overall and all things considered. If the British had the manpower and quality of armaments built up before sept 1939, the Dunkirk miracle may not have to had happen at all.... whoulda, coulda, shoulda.... ahhh appeasement, that word has become a dirty word just as "benidict arnold" has become more or less the same! Some would saythere was no choice but to appease, but if so, that's only because the army was left to languish, as the Canadian Army was allowed to, even now. Anyone can come up with both heroic and less than heroic points of time in any army, but I know that my father, who fought with the Brits from D-Day onward, and all his friends and comrades hold them in great esteem, but also the American, Australians and Poles. I do believe however, that we needed and required the assistance of the American Soldier after the Army was thrown from the continent. Their contribution in armaments early on, then contibuting their full manpower to the European conflict was imperitive to the cause. Just as the American's (dare I say Rebels) in 1778 needed the French's assistance in defeating the British and creating their country. That's another war and another story, but the analogy is fitting. The French helped distract the British, disrupted shipping and supplied armaments to the "Rebels". Mind you, they didn't contibute much in the way of manpower, but without their professional officers who commanded under Washington, as well as the Prussian Von Steuben, the ordinary citizen would not have been "Forged", parden the pun, into a cohesive fighting force. It would have been harder to obtain victory in the Second World War, and some would say it may not have happened, without the full Allied effort. But again, if I had to choose, I'd choose the Tommy.
     
  9. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    My loyalties lie with the British soldier first, last, and always. However, it is worth remembering the words of Christabel Bielenberg in her book, "The Road Ahead":

    "Germany had nothing to be proud of during Hitler's reign, but there were two outstanding exceptions. Firstly, the courage and tenacity of her soldiers when, inadequately equipped, they ultimately found themselves defending this country against the whole world. Secondly, the July 20 plot, when those who had taken part so nearly succeeded in ridding their country of a monster who had ruled them for eleven years and who claimed their lives when they failed..."

    I think the first part of that statement speaks an unalterable truth. And honouring one's enemy can only elevate the achievement of overcoming them. After all, what is the "glory", where is the courage, in vanquishing a weak foe?
     
  10. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    What is true, is that one can only speak about "What your personal experience were" Now and again I get old war time documents out, or read the casualty lists. When you take the trouble to have a look, what you will find is a huge number of MIA. Missing in action..That alone points to the pure savagery of the war in North West Europe back in 1944. "That long summer of 44"

    The British soldiers that fought that war come from a long line of "Yeomen" The backbone of the British army. "Yeomen" is an old term, used in the middle ages, As is the term "Beef eaters" But they are still the same people that fought battles all around the world.

    The same men that beat the overwhelming Armada and a thousand other wars and Naval battles, to numerous to mention.

    That "Yeoman "stock is still here in this Country. That begs the question...has anyone thought what a formidable force woud be created if the British and the Germans ever joined, as a combined fighting force? They would take some stopping.
    Sapper
     
  11. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    Beautifully said, Sapper. You took the words right out of my mouth.....

    Its hardly surprising British and German troops are equally tough. We are all ultimately of the same Anglo-Saxon stock, except those of us who are descended from Normans, of course!!
     
  12. mattgibbs

    mattgibbs Senior Member

    Hello folks;
    Interesting thread, from facts to fiction, accusations to appeasement. Almost like a mini potted history of the war itself! :)
    I'm interested to know what is the definition of a Military Historian? Judging by the quote from the dictionary about what a mistorian is he creates chronological accounts of things from the past. Does this mean a Military Historian does the same, from Byzantium to Bosnia? Somehow, I don't think so. As to the many posts about historians and factual correctness, well there's really two things we can do, read the history books and digest the info, basing this on our own knowlege, reputation of the author and his sources, OR go and read all the primary intelligence and do all the research ourselves. Whichever way, there is always our own interpretation of things, which is subjective according to the individual.
    Now, at the mo in Mil.Hist I am trying to research the german operations on the Adriatic Coast, I doubt I will be going there, so I will be buying a couple of the recommended good books on the subject and brushing up on my italian!
    I guess we've all got it in us to write a book, has anyone here actually done that, or contributed magazine articles, published a factual website??
    I think, finally, several of my family members who were Vets would echo Sappers comments on the fighting efficiency of the allied troops from 1944 on. I think they might also agree with what the BEF was like in 1939.
    Regards
    MG
     
  13. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    (adamcotton @ Nov 20 2005, 04:56 AM) [post=41839]Beautifully said, Sapper. You took the words right out of my mouth.....

    Its hardly surprising British and German troops are equally tough. We are all ultimately of the same Anglo-Saxon stock, except those of us who are descended from Normans, of course!!
    [/b]
    Rommel made a comment that the British were tough fighters. He thought that their leadership was too "cautious" but his opinion of the British soldier was high. Having faced these soldiers, wouldn't you be inclined to give him a little credence for knowing what he is talking about and think that this historian is out in left field?
     
  14. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    (adamcotton @ Nov 20 2005, 09:56 AM) [post=41839]Its hardly surprising British and German troops are equally tough. We are all ultimately of the same Anglo-Saxon stock, except those of us who are descended from Normans, of course!!
    [/b]

    This way, it almost sounds as if we are all members of the same "master race".

    I personally dismiss this idea of human "stock" as rubbish.
     
  15. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    what a lot of fuss.
    Not One of the poor Bastards fighting in ww2 were 'inferior'. Most of us weren't there (with the exception of the likes of 'Sapper' who as far as i'm concerned can say whatever they bloody like about their own experience of war, noone has a right to rudely criticise a veterans own personal recollections and opinions, 'right' or 'wrong' they'll always get my respect) so we can only make subjective judgements. Here're some of mine... referring to the Dday onwards segment of the war,

    The main German combat units once the sides engaged fully were stiffened by or consisted solely of massively experienced troops, many of whom had seen five years of fighting, combined with an agressive ideology and doctrine that mitigated the morale effect of war-weariness somewhat. They were exceptionally well-schooled in how to fight effectively, they were however suffering from reinforcement and supply difficuilties for the very same reasons, germany was beginning to reap the whirlwind of years of agression.

    The British were largely very tired of the war by this point (and this is surely what simpson was getting at) years of shortage and a certain amount of 'standing alone' had taken it's toll, Montgomery himself was very concerned at the 'stickiness' of many of his troops, 7th armoured for instance was becoming sick of being constantly thrown into the breach as an 'elite' formation, units were being disbanded/amalgamated because the mother-country was finding it harder and harder to find men to replace losses.. this doesnt denigrate the army (i don't want to annoy 'Sapper' here), they fought and fought well but their country was becoming knackered by years of war..

    The Americans initially suffered terribly from a lack of experienced commanders and troops after the dday landings, casualties were initially horrific for them but their huge reserves of manpower and materiel combined with ever-increasing combat experience eventually made them the dominant allied force in the west..

    etc.etc. and so on and so on for the Canadians, Poles, Frenchmen, Latvians, et. al.
    it's all swings and roundabouts, good points, bad points.

    As I said at the beginning.. Not One Combatant was Inferior. National advantages and disadvantages come into play but the Only man who really believed in his own superiority burnt at his bunker at the feet of an entire race that he believed were Inferior..
     
  16. Glider

    Glider Senior Member

    I think I am right in saying that in the late 20's, Hitler wrote that the British is a strange soldier. He will always enter the fight ill prepared and lose the first battles, but in the end, will always win the Last Battle.

    Maybe he should have remembered that in 1939
     
  17. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Some one said earlier in this thread that the Britis hSoldier given the same level of equipment would be as good as any.

    That rather lets the cat out of the bag. Why? Well our equipment was always inferior to the German, the tanks, the artillery, the smallarms, most certainly. The mines and the varieties of his mines. Were all better than ours.

    Yet...The conscript army beat seven different colours out of the much vaunted SS...The Mk4s, Panthers, Tigers, Konig Tigers. left ours standing.The 88 is still spoken of with awe by the Vets. The spandua far superior to out Bren. I do know, I carried the bloody thing.

    I recall on the Escaut Canal assault crossing we came across SS officer Cadets they had been sent out to get "Battle Practice" When our officer heard about it, his comment was "See to it they get it" Our little band did just that.....Totally!
    Sapper
     
  18. Rabbieburns

    Rabbieburns Junior Member

    "Indeed, says he, whenever and wherever the British Army came up against the Wehrmacht - and assuming all things being equal - they were always beaten!"


    I have read that sweeping generalization before. If it is true for the British then it is just as true for the Americans and Russians. Interestingly he isn't coming out with anything new. As far as I can discern his opinion was very common in the first 20 years after WWII. If there is any truth in it, it shouldn't be too surprising. The British (and the Americans) did concentrate their resources into their airforces in the European theartre.

    Anyway, some reasons why the German armies were very good:

    (1) They managed to get perhaps 5-10% more of their divisional strength actually fighting rather than supporting so even when 2 equal sized Western Allied v German divisions were slugging it out, the Germans had an edge in numbers.

    (2) German soldiers came from a militaristic society.

    (3) Personal initiative was not so much encouraged as expected.

    (4) For most of the whole war, the German army had either a technological or an organizational advantage. Often both. I do know there are exceptions to this but as a general rule it was true most of the time.

    Combat statistics show that British & American divisions inflicted almost identical numbers of casualties on German divisions. They did have different characteristics though.

    Guenther Blumentritt was interviewed by Basil Liddell Hart about the quality of Allied troops for his book The Other Side of the Hill (1948)

    "The Americans attacked with zest, and had a keen sense of mobile action, but when they came under heavy artillery fire they usually fell back-even after they had made a successful penetration. By contrast, once the British had got their teeth in, and had been in a position for twenty-four hours, it proved almost impossible to shift them. To counter-attack the British always cost us very heavy losses. I had many opportunities to observe this interesting difference in the autumn of 1944, when the right half of my corps faced the British, and the left half the American."

    http://www.rinfret.com/ww2.html (a very negative account of the US army in WWII in Europe which does seem to suggest that where ever the lion's share of resources was going, it wasn't going into the US army).
     
  19. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Good for you Sapper! Simpson should talk to a few veterans who fought in the Reichswald, (unfortunately getting thin on the ground now) where the British were killing their foes at the closest of close quarters, several stories of killing with trenching tools etc. because they had run out of ammo!
    Still the best "Little Army in the world"
     
  20. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    This may not go down well here, but the ordinary german army was not all that good. and we had time for them. "Give him a cigarette the poor bastards have had a rough time" Now the SS? That is a completely different question!

    I can only speak as I experienced, I have witnessed bravery far beyond what you would think as possible. I have seen men walk into a bloody nightmare.

    Thankfully I was near by, but not involved. It is no surprise that this battle was called "The bloodiest square mile in Normandy" We lost some men there they vanished off the face of the earth,

    This was old fashioned hand to hand fighting,,,The worst kind. In Le bisley wood, we found the Germans and the British all dead laying in amongst each other, where they had fought it out in combat. the lot were dead, damn near in each others arms,

    If you want to know about the finest fighting men in the world you may like to have a look at the Black Watch and other Scots regiments. It is no surpise to me to learn that some were called the "Poison Dwarfs" or the "Ladies from hell".....The best fighting men,...this tiny little Island had a mighty Empire all built on the fighting quality of the Yeomen of old Britain.
     

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