World War 2 cock ups ??

Discussion in 'General' started by welshy, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    What is the source for that?

    TTH,

    I think that you will find the source as R.V.Jones, the scientist, who located the Lorenz beam system being used by the Luftwaffe.

    If I recollect correctly it was a refined Lorenz Blind Landing system.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  2. Enigma1003

    Enigma1003 Member

    Welshy,

    56HAA never went to Singapore.

    Can you post the next page of his service record?

    Mike
     
  3. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Welshy,

    56HAA never went to Singapore.

    Can you post the next page of his service record?

    Mike

    Mike-The next page says India-does this help?

    WR8 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Lesley
     
  4. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member

    TTH,

    I think that you will find the source as R.V.Jones, the scientist, who located the Lorenz beam system being used by the Luftwaffe.

    If I recollect correctly it was a refined Lorenz Blind Landing system.

    Regards
    Tom
    It was actually Winterbotham in "Top Secret Ultra", followed by Cave Brown in "Bodyguard of Lies" and Stevenson in "Man Called Intrepid", all of whom tell different versions - and all of them wrong. The overwhelming consensus of those who have investigated this since is that while Churchill knew that a big raid was planned for that night there was no indication of where it was to be. In fact, Churchill seems to have believed the raid would be on London.

    The short version: The Coventry Blitz: Conspiracies and myths Note particularly the quote from Jones and the link to details about Ultra.

    The detailed version: Churchill Let Coventry Burn To Protect His Secret Intelligence
     
  5. Larry61

    Larry61 Professional liar

    TTH,

    I think that you will find the source as R.V.Jones, the scientist, who located the Lorenz beam system being used by the Luftwaffe

    George Millar covered this in his 1975 book on the Bruneval Raid.

    In it, Millar describes R V Jones' work in some detail and his account of the Coventry blitz suggests the problem was technical. A meacon operator made a slight frequency adjustment error and the German pathfinders could still hear the guidance system tones.

    Millar says Jones found the mistake when he investigated post-raid because he was concerned the meacon system was ineffective.
     
  6. red devil

    red devil Senior Member

    bit of a guess here because I have so many books on WW2, I think it was in Enigma, the Battle for the Code that I read it here, but also saw in on Discovery tv
     
  7. Buffnut453

    Buffnut453 Member

    The whole of the Far East was in a pitiable state in 1941. Despite some reinforcement, British Commonwealth forces were woefully underequipped for what was expected of them. Apart from insufficient aircraft (roughly half what Brooke-Popham had asked for and vastly outnumbered by the Japanese opposition), no early warning system, no tanks and insufficient artillery, there was also the problem of inexperienced front-line troops. In the 4 fighter squadrons in Singapore and Malaya at the time of the Japanese attack only 4 had prior combat experience and most had arrived in Singapore, some only 2 months previously, straight from training schools where the most advanced aircraft they flew were biplanes with fixed undercarriage, no flaps, no brakes, open cockpit etc. Most of the Indian Army units were newly-formed and included a large proportion of soldiers who scarcely knew how to shoot a rifle. Putting those soldiers in the path of Japanese tanks (bearing in mind the Indian soldiers had never seen such a beast) was hardly a recipe for success.

    It should also be borne in mind that the Far East was an operational backwater. With Britain, ably supported by the Commonwealth, fighting for her life in North Africa and the Mediterranean, what odds were there that a non-operational theatre would receive any attention in terms of reinforcements? Look at the parlous state of defences in Palestine and Iraq in the middle of 1941...and they were a heck of a lot closer to the fighting than Singapore.

    Finally, as a backwater, it didn't attract the most combat-minded senior leaders. It could be argued that it was a place to send the Colonel Blimps to see out a quiet few years away from the hubbub of war. Percival was a smart man who knew the theatre and had been very successful in staff appointments but he was not a combat leader. Then again, the HQ organization militated against effective defence of Malaya or Singapore. Few formation commanders exercised their troops effectively in jungle tactics, one of the few exceptions being the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who developed very effective tactics to counter Japanese encircling movements. Then there were the political issues - London hemming and hawing over whether Matador should be ordered, local civilian leaders more worried about morale and gin slings than defending the territory etc etc etc.

    Per my earlier post...lots and lots of factors.
     
  8. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Cock up? I'll give you cock up!
     
  9. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Having discussed the Coventry episode before, I decided to take a look at RV Jones' "Most Secret War" - I've ended up with two copies of it!!!

    The British had, courtesy of Bletchley Park, a set of a dozen codenames for targets in Britain for the Spring '41 bombing campaign - but they had only definitely identified about half of them; one of the ones they THOUGHT they had identified was a codename for London...

    On the night of the Coventry bombing, John Colville records that Churchill was on the roof of the Cabinet War Rooms waiting to watch the raid...obviously, with countermeasures in place, the raid wouldn't fall directly on London! :p....when he was brought word that the beams had been switched on and at first DID indeed converge over London - but they then repositioned, swinging NORTH to re-converge over Coventry!

    Contrary to most of the Internet articles and sensationalist journalism - we didn't actually "bend" the Germans' blind bombing beams; all we could do was generate our own from mobile ground transmitters I.E. radio vans...that at one point along the beam line would then diverge from the Germans' own....and if we were lucky the receiver-equiped LW formation leader would be drawn off its own beam into following "ours".

    But it meant a long line of transmitter vans pre-positioned...or at least SO close to the anticipted beam line that they could be jockeyed into position at the last minute....

    And re-positioning them on the ground for Coventry fast enough was just impossible that night.

    For some reason - there's ALWAYS been a group of writers/generals/historians prepared to lay everything at Winston's door ;) Only the other day I was posting elsewhere on the dumping of the R4 troops on the dock at Rosyth as the RN dashed off to stop the KM force apparently heading to intercept the mining flotilla in the Norwegian Leads; whenever Roskill brought out his OH of the navy's war, he laid the blame for THAT decision firmly at Churchill's door...courtesy of a bit of very selective editing of Ralph Edwards' diary, the ONLY first-hand source for the decisionmaking process that day. Roskill just happened to leave out the one paragraph that showed that Winston was of the opinion (correctly, of course!) that the Germans were actually heading for the coast of Norway - but was overruled by Dudley Pound!

    This was finally corrected only last year by Chris Bell's excellent "Churchill & Sea Power" - but seventy years of tradition dies hard! :p

    But frankly - I have no idea why Percival wasn't shown the door....or a nice dusty desk somewhere - after his disastrous campaign in Ireland in 1919-20! As Tom Barry notes - this was a guy with tens of thousands of men at his disposal, and armoured cars and aircraft - and yet they couldn't find or even chase a few hundred half-starved, cold IRA volunteers in West Cork!

    ...and yet - he wasn't just rehabilitated - if he was ever really out of favour!!! - but was also given what from the Spring of 1941 at least was going to obviously be one of the British Army's "fighting" commands sooner or later! :rolleyes:
     
  10. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Cock up? I'll give you cock up!

    Wow. Yeah, that one was a tiny boo boo alright!
     
  11. red devil

    red devil Senior Member

    The post by Phylo is very interesting and quite probably right. I always say when in historical discussions that history is written in the opinion of the writer, and its very true, even if the writer did not intend it. A persons beliefs also can dictate the formulation of an opinion. Now, thanks to the Internet, Conspiracy Theorists have a field day marketing their suppositions to the world, and 99.9% of it is bunk.

    A friend sent me an email yesterday regarding a shopping commodity; he then sent another to say it was a spoof, a lie. Some people need to adjust their intellect down to near zero methinks.
     
  12. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Percival was a smart man who knew the theatre and had been very successful in staff appointments but he was not a combat leader.

    Two DSOs, an MC, a Croix de Guerre and a price on his head from the IRA suggest otherwise. I'd argue that he was rather a good combat leader, but untried - apart from a brief spell - as a formation commander due to his later commitment to staff training and duties. I suspect a lot of the criticism directed at him was because he didn't look like the hardarse he undoubtedly was as a regimental officer.
     
  13. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I suspect a lot of the criticism directed at him was because he didn't look like the hardarse he undoubtedly was as a regimental officer.

    It wasn't that he didn't look like that; looks matter a lot less than personality. Percival may have had a combat leader's mind and personality in the Great War and in Ireland, but years of staff assignments had leached it out of him. He had become the archetypal staff officer, the No. 2 who walks in the shadow of stronger men--Dobbie and Dill, in Percival's case. He was promoted to his level of incompetence, though that does not excuse him.
     
  14. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    For some reason - there's ALWAYS been a group of writers/generals/historians prepared to lay everything at Winston's door ;)

    I had to read this passage twice, I got the impression you meant Adolf :p
     
  15. Buffnut453

    Buffnut453 Member

    Two DSOs, an MC, a Croix de Guerre and a price on his head from the IRA suggest otherwise. I'd argue that he was rather a good combat leader, but untried - apart from a brief spell - as a formation commander due to his later commitment to staff training and duties. I suspect a lot of the criticism directed at him was because he didn't look like the hardarse he undoubtedly was as a regimental officer.

    There's a world of difference leading a Company, Regiment or even a Division to being the General Officer Commanding land forces for an entire theatre. Ivan Simson, Percival's senior engineering officer, castigated Percival for not ordering area denial activities prior to hostilities. Percival's troop dispositions in defence of Singapore were also pretty atrocious. I'm not questioning his bravery but I think, on balance, he was not up to the job that was being asked of him.
     
  16. Thunderbox

    Thunderbox Member

    There's a world of difference leading a Company, Regiment or even a Division to being the General Officer Commanding land forces for an entire theatre. Ivan Simson, Percival's senior engineering officer, castigated Percival for not ordering area denial activities prior to hostilities. Percival's troop dispositions in defence of Singapore were also pretty atrocious. I'm not questioning his bravery but I think, on balance, he was not up to the job that was being asked of him.


    The trouble with criticising any commander at any time/place in history is that it is generally impossible for the writer to be fully aware of the context and environment of the time. No civilian writers can have an understanding of the military context, and even military authors opine about matters that are beyond their experience. I find it amusing when modern generals - who of course have never had a war command larger than a brigade or a div(-) against a feeble enemy - write critical analysis of Haig or Montgomery, or some other major war leader, who commanded army groups in total war against a ferocious and even superior enemy.

    Getting back OT, Percival is excoriated in hindsight for his defence of Singapore, but there are plenty of complex contemporary issues which may have constrained his actions at the time, some of which might be lost to history by now. One uncomfortable parallel with the modern era is the Blair government preventing the armed forces from re-equipping in the run up to the planned invasion of Iraq, purely for political ends. Who knows if Percival had to restrain his preparations for certain reasons that appear less significant today than they did at the time?
     
  17. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Just a couple of points - with what was said by a Colonel of the Light Infantry DS on course ' Remember gentlemen character assassination of senior officers in the British army is often carried about by those who should carry the can'. Did Percival complain - possibly not forcefully enough that static defence was not suitable? Did this result in Wavell agreeing and was this was set it motion? Did Wavell overrule Percival after predicting where an attack would come and then put a raw untrained and equipment short Indian unit in this very location? Percival made errors - did he do so alone - or was he a suitable candidate to cover up the cock up of others - Mr Churchill.



    (1943) Applied Tactics Japanese Army
     
  18. Thunderbox

    Thunderbox Member

    I think Percival was simply dealt the same hand of fate as Gough received in 1918 - being at the spot of lowest political-military priority at just as it becomes the focus of the enemy's main effort.
     
  19. arnhem44

    arnhem44 Member

    The original post talks of anger with a veteran with the consequence that he stayed silent about his involvements in the war, is very very general and common.

    A couple of months ago a french "comic"book (i'll search the title..) was published about the same topic in which a son found out more and more about his angry french father who was a Somua tank driver in 1940 and later pow.
    In it he explained how many cock-ups led to the demise of the french soldiers in a way that it is questioned whether the germans were actually that good or did the french commanders defeated their own troops:
    As gunner receiving the wrong ordnance, at rally places no petrol, counterdirective orders, wrong mechanical parts, etc..
    These guys correctly blame their commanders (system) but are confronted after the war with cheers of the population how "we" won, and how "well" their commanders functioned, and that the french (soldiers) surrendered too easily, whereas their youth was horribly screwed up..especially when pow (more especially in a Jap camp).



    It is not difficult to imagine many (early war) veterans will have grudges and anger in them because of those experiences.


    edit: I don't know how it was with brits and aussies, but the dutch military that were pow (in germany or Asia) did NOT get their soldier's salary paid during pow time ! How's that for a thank you !
    Imagine 3 years POW, the abuse and hunger, and then to come home and find out your own country /government abandon(ed)s you.


    This is the french comic (about a french tanker who later became a angry/bitter father) I was mentioning above :

    Jacques Tardi : "Mon père, ce vaincu"

    https://www.google.nl/search?q=rene+tardi&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=IYoPUbVH59XiBM2sgeAB&sqi=2&ved=0CFUQsAQ&biw=1245&bih=810
     
  20. Buffnut453

    Buffnut453 Member

    The trouble with criticising any commander at any time/place in history is that it is generally impossible for the writer to be fully aware of the context and environment of the time. No civilian writers can have an understanding of the military context, and even military authors opine about matters that are beyond their experience. I find it amusing when modern generals - who of course have never had a war command larger than a brigade or a div(-) against a feeble enemy - write critical analysis of Haig or Montgomery, or some other major war leader, who commanded army groups in total war against a ferocious and even superior enemy.

    Getting back OT, Percival is excoriated in hindsight for his defence of Singapore, but there are plenty of complex contemporary issues which may have constrained his actions at the time, some of which might be lost to history by now. One uncomfortable parallel with the modern era is the Blair government preventing the armed forces from re-equipping in the run up to the planned invasion of Iraq, purely for political ends. Who knows if Percival had to restrain his preparations for certain reasons that appear less significant today than they did at the time?

    I entirely agree that hindsight is easy but making decisions at the time, when you can't see the future, is much harder. I think it's fair to say that Singapore suffered from a woeful lack of inter-service cooperation, poor intelligence provision (particularly tasking of photo recce), negative impacts from intransigent civilian leaders and the lack of resources previously identified. However, Percival's defence of Singapore must be brought into question. He tried to defend everywhere all at once instead of establishing a strong reserve that could be deployed where it was needed. If you think you're outnumbered, the last thing you do is spread your forces even thinner to defend an entire perimeter.

    Personally, I have a lot of sympathy for Percival - he was given a pretty crappy hand to play. The defence of Malaya was also fraught with problems as both flanks were open unless the RN could control the sea...which they didn't. That said, he did not play his hand as well as he could/should. That troops were not trained, and defences largely unprepared, to defend an assault down the Malaya Peninsula is bordering on a dereliction of duty, particularly when it was Percival who first identified overland route as the most likely means of attacking Singapore.

    Please understand I'm not heaping all the blame on Percival. There were many causal factors for the debacle that were outside his control. However, there were things within his control that he did not do well. The same can be said for Brooke-Popham, Philips, the Foreign Office, Churchill and the Service leaders in London.
     

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