El Alamein October/November 1942

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by BFBSM, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Tom
    No apology needed, he requires the reading list of an earlier post to enlighten him as to the actual details
     
  2. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I had missed this thread and on reading I can well understand the heated comments.

    We must have all been reading the wrong books:D

    Regards
    Tom
     
  3. Al_1942

    Al_1942 Junior Member

    I don't understand what happened here.

    My knowledge of WWII is based solely on reading a dozen or so books by mainstream British and American historians and, from these, I got the impression that, for the Germans, North Africa was of secondary importance. Their focus was primarily the Soviet Union.

    Of course, everyone is free to disagree but isn't this the current conventional historical view?

    Al
     
  4. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    I don't understand what happened here.

    My knowledge of WWII is based solely on reading a dozen or so books by mainstream British and American historians and, from these, I got the impression that, for the Germans, North Africa was of secondary importance. Their focus was primarily the Soviet Union.

    Of course, everyone is free to disagree but isn't this the current conventional historical view?

    Al

    Hi Al,

    While the Soviet Union was his main focus it was also due to his inability to inflict the early defeat he had envisaged.

    This tied up the greater part of his military forces however the "ownership" of Europe was his ultimate goal and was garrisoned accordingly.

    His "interest" in North Africa was to support his Italian ally who were not holding up their part of the alliance. A defeat of the Italians there would have dire consequences and would open Europe to invasion by the allies which was eventually the case.
     
  5. Stephen, Rommel's objective in North Africa was to seize the Suez Canal to prohibit allied ships the use of. Churchill commented that sailing round the Cape of Good Hope to re-inforce/supply India was a no go. It was discussed by Hitler and the Japanese Ambassador to Berlin as early as 1941, even before Japan attacked Pearl Harbour.
     
  6. Lucky Gunner

    Lucky Gunner Adult user

    The El Alamein battle (first battle?) of end July 1942 (Ruin Ridge, was part of this, were 2/3rd anti-tank lost many to POW status) has been overshadowed somewhat in the literature by the October battle, from my current understanding of the history emphasis..

    Comments?
     
  7. Hi Tom! I see you are geographically close to me in BC, Canada! I am trying to gather information on my grandfather who was with the 50th (I believe he was East Yorkshire Regiment). Any chance you recall John Baynes from the El Amien and other desert battles? Enjoy the sunshine!!
     
  8. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Jan Whyte -
    Unfortunately I was at the other end of Africa so didn't have anything to do with the El Alamien thingi- and didn't meet too many from the 50th Tyne and Tees Division BUT the 5th Battalion East Yorks were in the 69 Brigade of that division and after Sicily they went back to the uk to prepare for the D Day landings wher they were among the first to land there

    And yes - the sunshine is long over due as I figure the Pacific is down a quart...

    Cheers
     
  9. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Stephen - Perhaps you would explain why you think the 'Master of the Battlefield' was not a great general. Many generals won with much slaughter - to their own commands, others who had been through hell before, planned their actions with this in mind. Rommel and Montgomery - winners make great generals losers do not. Much is talked of which battles were important and which were sideshows. One piece of the jigsaw is missing? No overall picture - it really is that simple. Every skirmish, from section level up added to the outcome. 'Montgomery understood the army he was leading' - indeed he did, but it was his ability to understand his enemy - Monty often said to his CoS, De Guingand - 'if I were the Marshal, Freddie I would do this'.
     
  10. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Good luck Wills however I do not like your chances of Stephen making a reply.
     
  11. Hamburg44

    Hamburg44 Junior Member

    Good luck Wills however I do not like your chances of Stephen making a reply.
    Dear Gentlemen,

    I think North-Africa was for a long time a efficent sideshow for the Germans.

    The Africa-Korps and some units of the Luftwaffe (about 5 % of the Wehrmachts manpower) managed to employ a great part of the best strike forces of the Commonwealth and the US-Army for a surprising long time. The contribution of the italien forces was very limited. Of course Alamain and Tunis (loss of some german 7 divisions and a lot of GHQ-troops)were a bitter defeat for the Axis. But the sideshow keeps British and US-Forces off Europe for about two years. Do not hesitate to compare the material and manpower strength in the Middle East and the logistical expenditure of both sides.

    Best wishes

    Hamburg44
     
  12. Jaeger

    Jaeger Senior Member

    Dear Gentlemen,

    I think North-Africa was for a long time a efficent sideshow for the Germans.

    The Africa-Korps and some units of the Luftwaffe (about 5 % of the Wehrmachts manpower) managed to employ a great part of the best strike forces of the Commonwealth and the US-Army for a surprising long time. The contribution of the italien forces was very limited. Of course Alamain and Tunis (loss of some german 7 divisions and a lot of GHQ-troops)were a bitter defeat for the Axis. But the sideshow keeps British and US-Forces off Europe for about two years. Do not hesitate to compare the material and manpower strength in the Middle East and the logistical expenditure of both sides.

    Best wishes

    Hamburg44

    I wonder by what measure you would call North Africa an efficient sideshow for the germans?

    1. The N. African theatre may have bound up a few number of german divisions, but the divisions were armoured or motorised divisions. It was the mobil divisions that the Germans relied on to do their manouvre warfare.

    2. The axis acheived nothing in the campaign. No lessons learned, or blooding of new men. This was the exact opposite for the allies. With the exeption of Brooke, Alex and Monty there were no (nil) commanders able to fight the germans an win before north africa. The campaign would see it's fair share of blunders, but the losses on the british side would be worth it. When the campaign was over the docrine and training in the British army was good enough to defeat the germans in battle.

    The same story, if not more important for the Americans who had nil experience of modern warfare.

    3. The Germans could not afford to fight an unnecessary campaign. The germans were short of equipment, let alone the motorised bits, clearly shown in the reorganisation of the armoured divisions. (removing a tank regiment.)

    This was more pronounced in a 'bling' campaign such as North Africa.
    In 1941 Rommel went with 12% of the availiable pz III, and 9% of the pz IV. Between 5th light and 15th Pz divisions they had 301 panzers (5th 155pz, 15th 146pz). This is on the eve of Barbarossa. Not to mention lorries, fuel, airplanes etc.

    After six months of fighting over 300 tanks were lost. The campaign would claim over 2500 tanks (including the itallians)


    To sum up.

    The North African campaign helped the british develop their manouvre warfare, build proper tanks, train the army to meet the germans and win, and master coalition warfare.

    To the Germans the campaign proved a drain on highly trained personell and equipment for little if any gain.
     
  13. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Dear Gentlemen,

    I think North-Africa was for a long time a efficient sideshow for the Germans.
    Thank you for your reply Stephen however you now confirm that you have a blinkered view and a great misunderstanding of the importance of the campaign in North Africa.

    The Africa-Korps and some units of the Luftwaffe (about 5 % of the Wehrmachts manpower) managed to employ a great part of the best strike forces of the Commonwealth and the US-Army for a surprising long time. The contribution of the Italian forces was very limited.
    No sooner had the British Commonwealth force defeated the Italians in January 1941 and started a push to totally obliterate the Italian forces, when the best of the British Commonwealth force and 70% of their materiel was sent to Greece leaving North Africa stripped of their "Best strike forces" at that time.

    The US troops were raw as was their command who did not land until November 1942. Eighteen months later it was all over.

    Your assertion of an efficient sideshow is truly amazing as the allied victory here led the way to the invasion of Europe.

    I posted this previously as the importance of El Alamein but it is also of great importance to Germany as that loss was.

    250,000 prisoners taken,
    Africa would be in Allied hands,
    the Mediterranean open for Allied shipping,
    the second front launched in Italy,
    the surrender of Hitlers ally Italy,
    the forced transfer of an average 20+ divisions to defend Italy from the allies.

    Do not hesitate to compare the material and manpower strength in the Middle East and the logistical expenditure of both sides.
    Is this your reasoning why it was a sideshow? This is the reason why the allies were smarter. They had a plan! If you are going to fight a battle, make sure you can win it.

    You seem set on providing excuses for a Rommel/German loss and taking away due credit for the final Montgomery/Allied victory which left Germany facing the Russians in Europe and everyone else knocking at the door wanting to get in.
     
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Jaeger
    I thought we had another one with Hamburg but it is the same lad obviouly - however you make some good points - your para 2 made me do a double take though when you wrote that we didn't have many commanders able to win before North Africa - I then stopped and thought back to the BEF where the leading lights were - as you write Alanbrooke - Alex and Monty - but we had other potential winners at junior levels with Anderson - Dempsey -Leese - MacCreery - Horrocks and quite a few more - not forgetting a few winners in the desert in the early days - unfortunately it was there that we suffered our greatest losses in higher Commanders such as Neame V.C.- Gambier-Parry -Carton deWairt - John Combe and Richard O'Conner - all POW's - Gott and Campbell V.C. Killed - Godwin-Austin resigned - Norrie disappeared - Lumsden Fired- Gatehouse disappeared- Ritchie learned to become XII Corps commander in NWE - then down in East Africa we had Cunningham - Slim and
    the eccentric Chindit fella.....
    so we had our share of leaders but we couldn't hang on to them ....
    Cheers
     
  15. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    You seem set on providing excuses for a Rommel/German loss and taking away due credit for the final Montgomery/Allied victory which left Germany facing the Russians in Europe and everyone else knocking at the door wanting to get in.

    Would you mind expanding this final paragraph? El Alamein II was coeval with Stalingrad, roughly. Am I to understand that the hundreds of thousands of German losses in the Eastern Front so far and the millions afterwards were caused by what, boredom?
     
  16. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Would you mind expanding this final paragraph? El Alamein II was coeval with Stalingrad, roughly. Am I to understand that the hundreds of thousands of German losses in the Eastern Front so far and the millions afterwards were caused by what, boredom?

    Hi Za,

    Don't know what you are reading into the sentence but this is what I was saying. This was on the total loss of North Africa not El Alamein 2.

    With the loss of North Africa, Germany now had nothing of consequence (land forces) outside of Europe. They were facing a determined Russian enemy which, with the loss of North Africa, laid the ground for the invasion of Sicily and subsequent invasions - D-Day and Southern France.
     
  17. Jaeger

    Jaeger Senior Member

    Jaeger
    I thought we had another one with Hamburg but it is the same lad obviouly - however you make some good points - your para 2 made me do a double take though when you wrote that we didn't have many commanders able to win before North Africa - I then stopped and thought back to the BEF where the leading lights were - as you write Alanbrooke - Alex and Monty - but we had other potential winners at junior levels with Anderson - Dempsey -Leese - MacCreery - Horrocks and quite a few more - not forgetting a few winners in the desert in the early days - unfortunately it was there that we suffered our greatest losses in higher Commanders such as Neame V.C.- Gambier-Parry -Carton deWairt - John Combe and Richard O'Conner - all POW's - Gott and Campbell V.C. Killed - Godwin-Austin resigned - Norrie disappeared - Lumsden Fired- Gatehouse disappeared- Ritchie learned to become XII Corps commander in NWE - then down in East Africa we had Cunningham - Slim and
    the eccentric Chindit fella.....
    so we had our share of leaders but we couldn't hang on to them ....
    Cheers

    Hello Tom.

    What I meant was that the N.African theatre was a classroom for commanders aswell. And by commanders I mean from division and up.

    If the British Army had been sent back to do a continental war without the trial and error in the desert it is my beleif that it would have gotten a bloody nose.
     
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Jaeger -
    I understand what you are saying - you are right - the desert was very good classroom
    Cheers
     
  19. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Hi Za,

    Don't know what you are reading into the sentence but this is what I was saying. This was on the total loss of North Africa not El Alamein 2.

    With the loss of North Africa, Germany now had nothing of consequence (land forces) outside of Europe. They were facing a determined Russian enemy which, with the loss of North Africa, laid the ground for the invasion of Sicily and subsequent invasions - D-Day and Southern France.

    I was seeing the discussion heading elsewhere, but I'm quite satisfied now :)
     
  20. lidski

    lidski Junior Member

    Hi there,

    I also recently stumbled upon about 100 or so photographs that my grandfather had mostly of Tobruk/North Africa, lots of pictures of English and Australian looking troops. I have no information on my grandfathers service and no military records apart from knowing that he was a photographer in the second world war based in North Africa. Can anyone shed any light on a few pics if I post them?
     

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