Fighting at Night

Discussion in 'General' started by Drew5233, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

    Yes, for the sake of the topic - sent you a PM :)
     
  2. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Za Rodinu likes this.
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    The most obvious large scale Allied operation at night that springs to mind was the airborne invasion of Normandy.

    I asked the question on the back of reading about the withdrawal to Dunkirk. It seems on more than one occasion the Germans made it 'easier' for the BEF to withdraw due to their lack of fighting will to press home early even attacks that were going so well.

    It almost seems in some circumstances they just 'downed tools' at sunset and allowed the BEF to retreat.
     
  4. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Good one, Sol, I had that bookmarked but I have so much stuff already ... :(
     
  5. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    I asked the question on the back of reading about the withdrawal to Dunkirk. It seems on more than one occasion the Germans made it 'easier' for the BEF to withdraw due to their lack of fighting will to press home early even attacks that were going so well.

    It almost seems in some circumstances they just 'downed tools' at sunset and allowed the BEF to retreat.

    I read once about a theory in which Hitler was trying to give the British a "decent defeat", in order to sign an armistice that would give him free hands in the East; could this be the reason of such "preferences", beyond the mere tactics of the Wehrmacht?

    Will try to find the source where I read it.
     
  6. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

    I read once about a theory in which Hitler was trying to give the British a "decent defeat", in order to sign an armistice that would give him free hands in the East; could this be the reason of such "preferences", beyond the mere tactics of the Wehrmacht?

    Will try to find the source where I read it.

    How would letting the BEF get away at Dunkirk be a "decent defeat"? It would seem very unlogic if you're trying to get someone to give up and sign an armistice.
    Apart from that I think we can quite safely discard this as a lame excuse for not having turned Dunkirk into a victory, with all the consequences this had.
     
  7. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    By the way, I dislike the concept "if your idea doesn't work, prove yours is better". The onus of the proof is on the originator - you can't shift it on others, it falls on the originator to convince the others of the benefits of his idea.

    I never wrote mine didn´t work; it´s just that I posted it as food for thought, inviting you and everyone else to a healthy discussion. Never intended it to be something written on stone, which has to be defended at all costs.
     
  8. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    How would letting the BEF get away at Dunkirk be a "decent defeat"? It would seem very unlogic if you're trying to get someone to give up and sign an armistice.

    Arian alliance against the Untermeschen.

    Adolf´s obsession was racial, more than military; the fight against the Western Powers was something he just couldn´t avoid, but tried to downplay all the way in favour of his crusade in the east.

    All through the war secret meetings were held in Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland, trying to make peace in the western front (if not an alliance), so that the fight could be kept in the east.
     
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I kind of think the whole 'let them escape' theory is a bit of a urban myth. The Germans avoided fighting at night for most of the war with the odd exception it seems so that theory isn't very credible IMO.

    Hitler only stopped his Panzer Div's advance outside Dunkirk because he had threw his teddy out of the cot due to some of his Generals not listening to him.
     
  10. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Isn't the reason the Germans didn't fight at night was because they didn't need to.
    Weren't the night attacks that Commonwealth troops started in the desert because it evened things up a bit, took some of the initative away from the Germans ?
     
  11. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Quite an interesting topic I've never really thought of before.

    I've still got an unread book on Dunkirk I've been meaning to get round to. Maybe I should get it whacked on, then perhaps I could contribute a worthy reply to Drews original post. LOL.
     
  12. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Frost (of Bruneval & Arnhem fame) formed the opinion that the Germans didn't like to fight at night and, if they didn't, we would.

    Aha, found a reference in A Drop Too Many relating to the retreat from Oudna: "The enemy allowed us to slip away with no let or hindrance. Later we were told that the Germans had a saying, 'The night is the friend of no man.' As the campaign wore on we were to take note of a seeming reluctance on their part to continue battle after last light, and many times we were very thankful for it."
     
  13. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Would this German inability be a consequence of possible bad quality of continental carrots?
     
  14. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I've heard it said that they didn't like the juice. More usefully:

    Tactics of the German Army: Vol II: Attack and Pursuit, July 1944:

    "It may be stated, on the basis of past experience, that the Germans are not willing adherents of night-fighting in any considerable strength. They patrol by night in some strength, and even stage limited and well-rehearsed infantry raids, but up to the present there has never been one single report of a major tank-cum-infantry attack staged by night. In the training manuals, first light is the recommended zero hour for offensive action"
     
  15. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    :unsure:
    Just a thought.
    Could it have somthing to do with the fact that all Medium and Heavy Regts RA were constantly firing Night HF at the enemy positions and targets thoughout ww2. Perhaps they were just keeping their heads down.
    Rob.
    Extract from one day of the Diary;
    HF tasks received for night of 29th/30th, together with Sitrep for 25th/29th and the list of targets and trace for the period 25th-30th October.
    Rounds fired 1413.
     
  16. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    If I may add my two-pennies-worth on the subject ?

    The first thing you need to know is that life in any war zone (and I am, talking WW2 now, although I suspect it applies equally to modern day warfare) was strictly divided into "in the line" or "out of the line".

    Out of the line, one obeyed the norms of everyday practice which meant you worked a normal, albeit a fairly long, day but at nightime one was allowed to turn in and get some sleep.

    "In the line" things were completely different.

    Depending on what type of work you did there was no such thing as daytime or nightime and the proximity of the enemy ensured that even if you were off duty you were rarely allowed to sleep in peace. This was particularly true at places such as Monte Cassino where stalemate was the name of the game.

    I was "fortunate" enough to experience two different types of warfare during my time in Sicily & Italy.

    The first, in Light Ack Ack was in a strictly defensive role, in communications, and the risk to life and limb was simply due to the enemy's inability to appreciate that bombing, shelling and mortaring was not very selective.

    My latter role in the Armoured Corps was a completely different kettle of fish and I found myself, for the first time, actually facing and moving forward towards an enemy.

    It was rare that we fought at night.

    Having said that, I just went to my diaries and found the following:

    Saturday 21st. April 1945
    In the column again. M.O's Kangaroo operator caught it right next to me. As night came on we were left with no flank troops & didn't feel to hot. In bed by 4 am.


    In simple terms you just can't see your enemy and the human body needs sleep to keep going.

    I cannot recall a single night when we did not cease activities shortly after darkness fell and I would be very surprised to learn from others who fought that they continued all through the night.

    I am not talking about the odd skirmish or individual river crossings that would have required the cover of darkness to achieve their aims but your "everyday" life at the sharp end.

    Fascinating thread !

    Ron
     
  17. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Wasn't the German Blitzkrieg type of warfare more of an exploitative style of warfare, requiring a high degree of inter-arm co-operation that could be lost during the hours of darkness.
    Whereas the Commonwealth night attacks such as Alamein had set , limited objectives which were achievable at during the hours of darkness.
    Just a thought.
     
  18. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

    I don't know what the German doctrine on night fighting was - and I doubt that there's much research on it since German historians aren't so keep on military history (yet).

    I found this about German tactics; it's based on the warfare in the SU however. Imo you can't really compare that TO to Normandy or to the desert warfare for that matter.

    Owen, on a sidenote: At least in the case of the campaign in the West 1940 the "Blitzkrieg" wasn't really planned as such at all. It was a result of conincidence and luck; the Germans were themselves surprised by their success.
    (K.-H. Frieser wrote an excellent study on that campaign)

    *edit* There's a translation of it: Frieser, The Blitzkrieg Legend. The 1940 Campaign in the West
     
  19. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  20. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

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