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Thread: Worst Military Performances of WW2: Pick Yours!

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    Re: Worst Military performances of WW2: pick yours!

    Quote Originally Posted by Madoc View Post
    Germany had the worst military performance overall of WWII. The Germans suffered the most catastrophic defeat. Much of that had to do with political decisions, but that is part of the normal course of warfare.

    The worst political desicion of WWII, was Germany's declaration of war on the US.
    LOL! Germany wasn't defeated by quality, but quantity. Practically the whole world fought against Germany. Soviets didn't spare cannon food when fighting against Germany, and Germany didn't even fight really seriously against the western allies because they were not considered as the arch enemy in the similar way than SU. I don't remember numbers exactly, but the manpower alone was something like 1 to 5 at least. Natural resources were also limited in the area controlled by Germany, and the German war machine started really crumble only after the oil was run out.

    Germany suffered the most catastrophic defeat, very true, especially the human suffering was something difficult to imagine and also the infrastructure was more or less destroyed. German military leadership did few grave mistakes that turned the course on the ostfront, but the army itself was the greatest war machine of that time, no questions about that. Good second is the Finnish army which was a mini army with half a million men.

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    Re: Worst Military performances of WW2: pick yours!

    I don't think you can seperate political decisions from military actions in wartime, they're intertwined. For instance, the decision to hold back at Dunkirk was based on political considerations. Adolf Hitler was a political genius, not a military genius, but that did not stop him from interfering in military strategy. The political equation is more important than who has the best trained troops or the most superior equipment. The victors in war are normally the ones who make the fewest mistakes.
    the US would have entered the war anyway. Roosevelt was looking for a pretext and the Axis did him the favor of providing one.
    Roosevelt wanted war, but he couldn't get Congress or the American public to go along with his war plans. America was very different in 1941 from today. Isolationism was the foreign policy most Americans wanted. Instead of declaring war on the US, Hitler should have made peace overtures to Britain & the US. Britain was also attacked by the Japanese in Asia, If the Germans had offered to end the war with Britain on the same terms as in 1940, Churchill would have been under enormous pressure to accept. Instead by bringing the US into the European War, Hitler ensured Germany's defeat.

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    Re: Worst Military performances of WW2: pick yours!

    Quote Originally Posted by Madoc View Post
    Adolf Hitler was a political genius, not a military genius, but that did not stop him from interfering in military strategy.
    He proved himself competent when he restricted himself to the proper role of commander-in-chief. A commander in chief largely should be directing the war at the strategic level and at best at the operational level. Further beyond yet, he should let the commanders on the field direct the fighting; yet even at the operational level the commander-in-chief needs to be cooperating with his generals as much as possible.

    Hitler showed himself quite reasonably capable in this regard in the early stages of the war. During the planning for the 1940 campaign against France, Hitler was disgusted with the fact that his generals simply brought forth a rehash of the old Schlieffen plan of 1914. Instead, Hitler correctly supported Mainstein's unconventional strategy, which eventually won the campaign. It's also generally agreed that Hitler's orders against any withdraws in the face of Soviet counter-attacks in front of Moscow saved the Wehrmacht from complete collaspe in late '41 and early '42.

    So Hitler was not a complete idiot in this regard; it was only when he started directing operations at the tactical level(I think he even appointed himself commander of Army Group B to advance on the Caucasus) and even telling individual squads where to fight in the streets of Stalingrad, that he crossed the line.

  5. #35
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    Exclamation Re: Worst Military performances of WW2: pick yours!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lissu View Post
    Finland never had enough weapons (the main supplier was the Soviet Union via war booty), the weapons that existed were more or less crappy but still the result was excellent. During the major offensive in summer 1944 against Finland 1/3 of the total manforce of the Red Army was against Finland, still the offensive was stopped even if the Red Army was equipped by the Americans.
    EDIT: However, in todays warfare technology does play way more important role. But still the scariest army of today is the one that is willing to die and take other people with them. No matter how powerful their enemy is, they are more or less helpless against those.

    What you said in the quote above is true, but Finland was fighting a local war (very comparable to the Boer War) with exceptionally specialized troops (and very used to hard living). Where as the Russians who opposed them came from all over Russia (only the siberian troops are really hardy).

    Finland achieved a remarkable feat against the worlds worst tyrant (the only nation to at least gain Stalin's respect after defeat).

    I also agree that a soldier willing to die for an ideology is immensely destructive and the ultimate weapon, but every weapon has a flaw. It's just a question wether you are willing to be more ideologized and destructive (remember every war should be TOTAL WAR from the beginning). The Japanese started with TOTAL WAR from the beginning and would have been succesful if they had enough resources available and stockpiled.

    A good example is the Ex-Waffen SS Soldiers who joined the French Foreign Legion and fought in Indo-China (they were perfect because they fought against partisans in Russia and knew what to do with them). They achieved immense success against irregular (guerilla) forces until the French pulled them out because of international pressure (those murderous Ex-Nazi's murdering those "unarmed" peace loving citizens). Indo-China would still be French if they were allowed to complete their mission.

    The worst threat to world peace is the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. People with morals don't need watchdogs. Anyway these watchdogs are protecting the wrong yard!

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    Re: Worst Military performances of WW2: pick yours!

    Quote Originally Posted by recycledwaste View Post
    I would probably personally agree with Madoc, above. Before the US got involved, the whole war was essentially Germany's to lose. And yet history tells us what happened.

    Well, there clearly were many grievous mistakes, like Dunkirk, for example, but one that I was interested in recently was the Battle of the Bulge. Recently I saw a special on the History Channel about it and they were mainly focusing on a few American divisions which had been pinned down unexpectedly and still performed for the most part almost miraculously given how badly they were outnumbered and the general circumstances. Several American vets were discussing their personal experiences of being able to literally pick off German soldiers as though it were a shooting gallery. Particularly focused on was a Slavic-American vet named Milosevich (no relation to the former Serbian dictator evidently), one named Quigley, a Melvin Biddle (won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his acts during the Battle of the Bulge), and an Italian-American vet called Cicchinelli, who took part in one of the few bayonet-charge attacks of the war, wherein his little group (what was left of them) killed, in hand to hand combat, approximately 64 Germans.

    The whole thing was a huge gamble on the part of Hitler, basically, and it ended badly.

    " Autumn Mist had inflicted 19,000 casualties on US 12th Army, and had taken 15,000 American prisoners. But the cost to the German Army had been 100,000 men killed or wounded and 800 tanks destroyed - losses which could not be made up.

    In contrast, Autumn Mist had merely caused a hiccup in the Allied preparations to break into Germany, while denying desperately needed reinforcements to the German Army on the Eastern Front. "

    Link: www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/battle_bulge_01.shtml



    You must take EVERYTHING you see on the history channel (American History Channel) with a grain of salt my friend... Especialy regarding the Battle of the Bulge. 'They' completley blow the meraculous 'outnumbered' stand & breakout during the bulge (along with Pattons rescue) way out of proportion. Now lets take a look at the situation map in the Bulge:

    U.S. forces achieved their "breakout" only when all the German panzer divisions were first bleed dry by the British, and the US front massed a 3:1 numerical supremacy and an ungodly tank supremacy. Facing them? Principally the damaged 2.SS panzer division (fresh from attacking the Americans at Mortain)..........a single panzer division...
    Their front was full of low quality, ravaged light infantry formations and static under strength divisions.
    The Germans were vastly outnumbered at Bastogne; the 5th, 6th Panzer army and the 7th Army had 250,000 men. The rear elements, while just as numerous, participated in the opening barrage only.

    The Americans were outnumbered in the initial "break in phase", but once hundreds of thousands of US reserves were committed, the numerical advantaged swung tremendously towards the allies. Not to mention they could be pulled back from the front line to medical and field dressing stations- enjoying luxuries the Germans could have only dreamed of at that point in the war.The spearhead of the 6th SS panzer army was a single battled SS regiment against 3 US divisions, including one armored.... Contrary to popular opinion, the frontal attack of the assault and the forces involved were small. Entire divisions didn't even see combat. The volksgrenadiers fell way behind the panzer divisions.


    The forces deployed against the Americans in 1944 Dec. at the bulge were the lowest quality attack force Germany had ever organized for a grand offensive to that date. All the divisions were rated Kampfwert III/IV (the lowest rating) by the German OKW and around 60% of their men did not have more than 6-8 weeks of military training(Despite this, many fought very well). Also, the operational environment massively favored the defenders. The German panzers had essentially four roads, and tanks got mashed into traffic jams. Attacks were launched, often greatly outnumbered by US defenders... And when the skies cleared, there was no chance for successful German assaults.Fifth, the Germans had only 1/3 of their normal artillery complements. .....

    Let me make clear however: there were tremendous acts of bravery and steadfast on both sides during the fight.

    There are a lot of B.S. American war stories in the bulge, like the "400" German paratroopers killed by 18 Americans that is featured in so many books. In reality, the 5 FJ battalion lost 35 men, since it was detached and reattached to another battle group...So this example along with some veryexaggerated tank kills.

    2.5 million German soldiers died before the battle of the bulge, with nearly 8 million wounded. The truth is, the western allies came in to "finish off" a dying enemy. They fought slowly and mediocre, massively outnumbering and outgunning their tiny foe after day 7 or 8 of the landings. They had a nearly 5:1 numerical supremacy in tanks and about a dozen times more artillery.

    Plus if you examine the bulge counteroffensive, it was acctualy very badly executed....Given the allied numerical, armor, artillery, and air force several times larger, they were unable to inflict devastating losses on the attackers. A closer look at the Bulge battle shows that german volksgrenadiers, badly trained but well led and well armed, out fought the americans in firefights, thus losses on both sides evened out.

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    Re: Worst Military performances of WW2: pick yours!

    Hitler showed himself quite reasonably capable in this regard in the early stages of the war. During the planning for the 1940 campaign against France, Hitler was disgusted with the fact that his generals simply brought forth a rehash of the old Schlieffen plan of 1914. Instead, Hitler correctly supported Mainstein's unconventional strategy, which eventually won the campaign. It's also generally agreed that Hitler's orders against any withdraws in the face of Soviet counter-attacks in front of Moscow saved the Wehrmacht from complete collaspe in late '41 and early '42.

    So Hitler was not a complete idiot in this regard; it was only when he started directing operations at the tactical level(I think he even appointed himself commander of Army Group B to advance on the Caucasus) and even telling individual squads where to fight in the streets of Stalingrad, that he crossed the line.
    Very true Taras Bulba...
    Ironically, many of his strategic and political decisions, against the advice of his generals, won him the blitz against the west. The fast victory in France could not be possible without Hitler’s ideas. However; in the end, megalomania got to him, and his reliance on a doctor that was slowly killing him didn't help either. He eventually, using political idiocy, threw his country into a hopeless situation...war against, essentially, the entire industrialized world. Losing the battle.

    Nobody beat me up on this, but I actually find allied strategy to be very methodical and reasonable.
    I find the strategy of the Axis powers to be rather ...well, wrong... believing all major battles-and in effect war itself- can always be won through "strength of the will" rather than materials (yes I can be proven wrong here with many examples...its just my opinion as a student of history) like the japanese or germans believed.
    So, Although a warm feeling it was pretty much sheer utopia for Hitler during the late points in WW2.

  8. #38
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    There have been more downright allied operationally flawed campaigns than Axis ones at any rate, if you leave the Italians in 1940 to mid 1941 (after which the Germans directed most Italian battles) out of the equation at least. I don't think there was any terrible German military performance beyond local engagements; even when the Germans had bad plans, they still made the most of them on a tactical level, always giving the allies and the Soviets a headache. There were massive German retreats, but these were unavoidable and by no means the direct result of or accompanied by command errors or lackluster performances in the field: namely the retreats from El Alamein to Tunisia in 1943, from Normandy to the Rhine in 1944 and the retreat to the borders of the Third Reich on the Eastern Front after Operation Bagration & the collapse of Army Group Centre around the same time. The latter maybe could've been avoided by taking on a more defensive posture in the East after Operation Citadel/Battle of Kursk proved to be unsuccessful.

    There are three criteria for me: preparation, execution, outcome. The effort had to be poor overall.

    So which performances were the very worst? I would say the allied performances during Norway 1940, Singapore 1941-1942, the collapse of Yugoslavia 1941 (a real no-show) and Dieppe 1942, in that order. Burma 1942 was pretty bad too. As was the Battle of Kasserin Pass in 1942; which saw the poorest American performance of the war, albeit for understandable underlying reasons.

    The Franco-British intervention in Norway 1940 was the most abysmal however, so bad it led to the downfall of the British prime minister Chamberlain. Allied soldiers fought somewhat better than in any of the other battles I mentioned, but in the long history of foreign British and French interventions, the Norwegian campaign had to be the worst regarding planning, as they haphazardly sent incomplete units to the battlefield. British infantry divisions in the theatre were just that - infantry. Most of their support units were missing, hence they possessed little in the way of artillery and anti-air and anti-tank capacities, amongst other things. Their organigram was incomplete and they were sort of dropped off on the Norwegian coast. What could possibly go wrong? As a result, allied troops in Norway had to retreat to the far north of Norway rather fast after running into Germans. The naval part of the operation also didn't live up to the standards of the Royal Navy, the ultimate low point being the loss of an unescorted aircraft carrier, HMS Glorious, after she ran into the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.

    Deserving of an "honorable" mention are Operations Brevity and Battleaxe, Commonwealth efforts to drive Rommel back in Libya in 1941. As well as Franco-Belgian-British defensive operations during the Blitzkrieg in the West in May 1940 prior to the Dunkirk evacuation - but because none of these undertakings were completely irredeemable I'm not putting them on the list. Likewise, it is tempting to name some Soviet counter attacks in response to Operation Barbarossa in the summer of 1941 which were utterly disastrous, the first tank clashes on the Eastern Front, but given staunch Soviet resistance in many places across the frontier I won't do that. The destruction of the Soviet airforce in the Western part of the USSR was, however, completely irredeemable. This was the most successful air campaign in history and the Soviets didn't do much to prevent it from becoming exactly that.

    On the Axis side the Italian invasion of Egypt in 1940 comes to mind and the disasters befalling the Italians in Libya in the same year after being booted out of Egypt. One may be tempted to add the Italian invasion of Greece to this list as well, but I won't because the Italians did fight hard at times and in hindsight it's not all that strange that the invasion didn't work out as planned given the geography of the Greco-Albanian border and the true comparative strength between Greek and Italian ground forces, especially on that front. It gets an honorable mention too though.
    “Only the lower natures forget themselves and become something new. Thus the butterfly has entirely forgotten that it was a caterpillar, perhaps it may in turn so entirely forget it was a butterfly that it becomes a fish.” - Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chlodovech View Post

    On the Axis side the Italian invasion of Egypt in 1940 comes to mind and the disasters befalling the Italians in Libya in the same year after being booted out of Egypt. One may be tempted to add the Italian invasion of Greece to this list as well, but I won't because the Italians did fight hard at times and in hindsight it's not all that strange that the invasion didn't work out as planned given the geography of the Greco-Albanian border and the true comparative strength between Greek and Italian ground forces, especially on that front. It gets an honorable mention too though.
    It wasn't the Italians that were the issue it was Mussolini. That conehead's invasion of Greece single handedly cost the Axis the war.
    Hitler had to pull troops out from the eastern front to support that bonehead.
    Japan's faliure to support Hitler was another big one.

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    1. Italy for their idiotic attack on Greece and for their total incompetence and disloyalty.
    2. Japan for their idiotic attack on Pearl Harbour, when they should have attacked the SU from the east instead
    3. Germany for Dunkirk and for not crushing Britain in 1940

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