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Postby ozneil » Fri Feb 09, 2007 5:52 am

William Slim (Uncle Bill to his troops) was probably the Allies most able general. His troops, the 14th Army, delivered the Japanese Army their second ever and most resounding defeat in 1945 when he drove them out of Burma. His successes were largely ignored in Europe as the war in Europe was much closer & VE day was more significant there than the Burma campaign & because he was not a member of "the Establishment"

He started life as a Schoolmaster and during WW1 Joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment after which he transferred to the Gurkhas in the Indian Army. He was given command of the 14th Army in 1942? where he turned defeat into victorywith very little support from the UK. It is a tribute to his ability & skill that the Americans allowed their troops to be under his command (General Stilwell) .

He was a modest man and when giving speeches to Burma vets And vrecalling their actions He never used "I" or even "We". He always used "You"when recalling victories. He always kept his men in touch by telling the why & werefore of each proposed action. It is recorded that during a talk to his troops someone called out .. "we will follow you anywhere" He is reported as answering "No lad I will be along way behind you ....."

After the war he was appointed Governor General of Australia a great honour & a very popular choice as he has fought alongside Australian Troops at Gallipoli & in the Middle East. He was well liked and asked to take a second term which he declined.

see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Sl ... count_Slim
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Postby Apollo » Fri Feb 09, 2007 12:59 pm

Yes, it was indeed von Paulus. Moral of the story to check properly if you can't recall a name, and not assume the one in the preceding post was the same.

Duguld's point about my 'culture' description probably reflects a general (ie I don't mean just Duguld) failure to understand the German psyche/training/indoctrination of the time, which I do from family associations. At that time (and some say still) a German subordinate would unquestioningly follow an order, regardless of its implications. Hitler understood this, and specifically reworded the Oath of Allegiance taken by the services so that they swore their duty to him specifically, and not to their country, knowing this would make it next to impossible for them to disobey his orders, as that would mean breaking their sworn oath.

It only takes one fanatic in charge to make everyone else look mad.

I picked up some more points about the Battle of Stalingrad from World at War. von Paulus made repeated requests to surrender, but Hitler refused. Hitler promised to keep them supplied by air, but the required daily drop of hundreds of tons of supplies could not be provided by the Luftwaffe, and only a fraction ever arrived. Hitler order von Paulus to hold his position, and not attempt to break out, rather than he would send forces to break in. This he did, then ordered them to the front when they were halfway to Stalingrad, abandoning von Paulus.

The oil fields of the Caucuses were indeed quoted as one of the aims, as the Germans fuel supply was becoming critical, and this would give them the supplies they needed.

I like the World at War summaries, as they don't suffer from the following years of 'navel gazing' and over-analysis made by comfortable armchair general decades later. Opinions formed with 20/20 hindsight on the results of decisions (right or wrong) made under battle condition really aren't worth the paper they're written on. There's no 'fear of the consequences' that those who made those original decisions experienced.

I had a nosey about Rommel too, and it looks to me as if his betrayal of Hitler in withdrawing may not have led to him being shot, but he certainly wasn't any sort of favourite afterwards, being replaced and passed over afterwards, perhaps settling on a back-burner in today's terms.
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Postby Dugald » Fri Feb 09, 2007 8:43 pm

Ozniel, I found your information about Field Marshal Slim very interesting. I recall him very well, he was spoken about as the C. in C. of the "forgotten" Army, and as you remind us, he was a commander well-liked by all those who served under him. The people he didn't seem to get along with were the Chindets; I don't think he was ever too comfortable with having some of his best men taken from him to form some so-called "elite" unit.

You're right too, he never got the recognition he deserved in Europe, and no doubt the remoteness of the Far East, as it was known then, had a lot to do with this. I suppose this is understandable when for example, one realises that the people in the UK never suffered directly from the war in the Far East, whereas much suffering took place in the UK as a direct result of the war in Europe. I don't recall any rumblings about your "Establishment" idea, but he certainly never deserved any such stupid treatment.

Your mention of General Stilwell ("vinegar Joe") rings a bell or two. I could be wrong, but I recall reading somewhere about trouble between Slim and Stilwell with regard to the amount of supplies going to Stilwell's Chinese Army instead of the 14th Army. Ach, maybe it was between Stiwell and Kiang kei Sheck (I didn't like either of these two!).

I didn't know Slim had been Governor General of Australia after the war; well if I did , I had forgotten about it. We in Canada had Field Marshal Alexander as Governor General just after the war. He was all right too. It's really just an honorary position of course, but it does reflect a certain awareness of the man's acceptance at large.

Enjoyed the read Ozniel! Cheers, dugald.
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Postby Dugald » Fri Feb 09, 2007 8:59 pm

Yes, Doonunda, there's no doubt oil was one of the major incentives for Hitler's push towards Stalingrad. The Caucasus was also of great importance to the Soviets, and there was no way they were going to roll over and leave it for Adolph. They were going to fight, and they were going to fight hard... it was time to bring in Zhukov! Both Hitler and Stalin also appreciated the more abstract ideas associated with this great Stalin-linked Russian city, and I believe this too, played some role in what took place.

Yes, as you mention, there were some ideas regarding Rommel meeting up with the 6th Army somewhere. I've heard of that too, but one need only look at a map to realise just how far-fetched in 1941/42/43 this really was. One wonders if Hitler ever took a look at a map to see just how far apart the two armies were, and just what kind of land forms lay between ! You know, I've also heard it mentioned that, in the great Hitlerian scheme of things, a meeting with Tojo's forces somewhere in India was even envisioned! The absurdity of these ideas reminds us just how mad Hitler was by the time the Stalingrad disaster occurred .

There are I believe, quite a number of "Stalingrad" sites around, and I'm sure one can get a real variety of ideas from them. I have read, and enjoyed, some of them in the past.
Cheers, dugald.
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Postby Dugald » Sat Feb 10, 2007 1:00 am

Apollo, I understand what you're saying about the "German psyche/training/indoctrination" (let's, for brevity, call it the "Teutonic attitude", or "TA") prevalent during the Third Reich; and I appreciate further, what you mean by "from family associations". I agree "TA" was a factor that no doubt played an important role in driving the Wehrmacht. It is my feeling however, that the "TA" was only one factor. There were other factors too, the most important of which, was undoubtedly the circumstance in which the "TA" factor was expected to play it's role. Stalingrad was such a circumstance.

How well did the "TA" factor perform at Stalingrad? Oh yes, it worked up to a point, we need only note the frequent requests by Paulis to withdraw from the cauldron, and his subsequent refusal to do so, without the approval of Hitler ( an aside...once Stalingrad was surrounded there was no way Hitler's relief column was going to break into the cauldron). We could say exactly the same thing regarding Paulis's wish to fight his way out. My belief is however, that a point was reached in the Stalingrad "circumstance", which transcended the "TA" oath. This is a fact beyond question... Paulis did, fully cognizant of its implications, surrender, in contravention of his oath (as any sensible person would have done!). I think Hitler expected Paulis, driven by his "TA" oath, to take his own life; but the oath, notwithstanding its Teutonic bolstering, was transcended.

Yes, I question just how significant was this "TA" oath. Oh yes, it has been presented countless times to explain situations similar to Stalingrad, but how sound is it as an explanation? I notice Apollo, your use of " next to impossible" in describing disobedience with respect to the oath...not impossible, just " next to impossible". I go along with this... oh maybe I'm a wee bit further away from the "impossible" than you.

We might take a look at the suicide of Captain Langsdorf of the Graf Spee. I don't know whether he was fulfilling the demands of his "TA" when he scuttled his ship rather than endanger the lives of his crew. Either way, he saved the lives of his crew. I do wonder if the "TA" played any role here. What of Count von Stauffenberg's "TA"? What of Rommel's?

My point is that Paulis was a damn fool! He could have broken out, he could have surrendered earlier than he did. His "situation" transcended "TA" by miles! What kind of General for example, thought an army of nearly 300,000 men could be adequately supplied by air... did his "TA" lead him to believe it was possible? Utterly absurd! The man was a nut!

" It only takes one fanatic in charge to make everyone else look mad. ".

I don't think this is true, unless they just look mad, but still have their wits about them. There was one Nazi, a veritable fantic in charge, yet there were lots of Germans in the Third Reich who were neither "mad" nor had the appearance of being mad... Stauffenberg, Langsdorf, and Rommel are just some of the examples.

I had a nosey about Rommel too, and it looks to me as if his betrayal of Hitler in withdrawing may not have led to him being shot, but he certainly wasn't any sort of favourite afterwards, being replaced and passed over afterwards, perhaps settling on a back-burner in today's terms.

Apollo, I'd hesitate to call being in charge of the "Atlantic Wall" as being put on a "back burner". I feel Rommel was still okay in Hitler's books until after the attempted assasination of Hitler. I still feel Rommel got away with overlooking his "TA" while in Tunis and Libya.

of and over-analysis made by comfortable armchair general decades later. Opinions formed with on the results of decisions (right or wrong)

I feel very much like one of your 'navel gazing' types with a bit of visual impairment rather than the 20/20 hindsight. Cheers, duigald.
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Postby Dugald » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:51 pm

Doonunda, imagine losing one's life over that barren looking piece of Russian real estate! Mad, absolutely mad!
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Postby Field Marshall Shug » Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:08 pm

Dugald,

When my profile comes up there is something on the right saying extraplay media player and if you click the forward buton on the media player and keep pressing it, it srolls down to my song.

In the interim, I am going to temporarily post it at http://www.myspace.com/shugband
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Postby Socceroo » Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:38 pm

Dugald wrote:Doonunda, imagine losing one's life over that barren looking piece of Russian real estate! Mad, absolutely mad!


Imagine eh imagine about 40 million people did.

Dugald i don't think they were fighting over a barren bit of land. The Red Army and Soviet People were defending their homeland from fascism and the Third Reich who were hell bent on conquering Europe, Eastern Europe and beyond, by annihilating all that stood in their way.

Perhaps you should try and read some of the works by someone like the late Professor John Erickson, whom i had the pleasure of meeting and attending his lectures on a number of occasions. Save you analysing and trying to rewrite history every time you post.

I am still looking for Stalingrad around the UK but Google has it down as Volgograd these days and it is still firmly in Russia.

And i am still looking for those Japanese Torpedoes in Glasgow but they must be firmly hidden. :wink:
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Postby Apollo » Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:07 pm

Dugald wrote:I feel very much like one of your 'navel gazing' types with a bit of visual impairment rather than the 20/20 hindsight. Cheers, duigald.

I should say I wasn't thinking of 'us in here' so much as professional historians that get paid a bundle for their opinions, and produce books every few years, recanting their earlier deliberations, and of course, a whole new round of sales figures.

Hopefully, in here, all we get are few stimulating ideas, alternate views, and some original thought, be it right, wrong, sensible, or otherwise :)
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Postby Dugald » Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:08 pm

Field Marshall Shug wrote:Dugald,

When my profile comes up there is something on the right saying extraplay media player and if you click the forward buton on the media player and keep pressing it, it srolls down to my song.

In the interim, I am going to temporarily post it at http://www.myspace.com/shugband

Thank you very much Shug... I finally got through to your song sites and listened to your songs. They are certainly a different kind of song from my usual preference, but , hey , it's these differences that keep the world going round! Thanks again! Cheers, dugald.
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Postby Dugald » Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:25 pm

Socceroo, you misunderstood what I was talking about when I said:

"Doonunda, imagine losing one's life over that barren looking piece of Russian real estate! Mad, absolutely mad!"

I believe Doonunda's aerial photo was with regard to the discussion about Stalingrad, and could very well have been with reference to what I had written. Now, if you read all of what I wrote about Stalingrad, you will appreciate that the general tone of my comments was that the Battle of Stalingrad was a stupid military operation FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE GERMANS . I said for example,

"My point is that Paulis was a damn fool! He could have broken out, he could have surrendered earlier than he did. His "situation" transcended "TA" by miles! What kind of General for example, thought an army of nearly 300,000 men could be adequately supplied by air... did his "TA" lead him to believe it was possible? Utterly absurd! The man was a nut".

I don't recall making any such disparaging comments about the Russians.
Cheers, Dugald.
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Postby Apollo » Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:51 pm

Disparaging remark about the Russians:

All they had to do was complete the isolation of the German forces trapped in Stalingrad, blockade and starve them out as they had no source of supply.

They'd already cut off ground support and Hitler then diverted the forces that were originally promised to break them out.

Hitler promised air support, 500+ tonnes per day was promised by the Luftwaffe, but this was already reduced to 300 tonnes in practice, and Russian anti-aircraft fire and fighter intercepts soon reduced that number to an ineffective level by taking out the transporters.

To indulge in a bit of navel-gazing, the Russian's weren't daft, knew there was anything up to 300,000 bodies in there, but claimed 50,000 and just wiped out as many as they could as they didn't want quarter of a million mouths to feed with resources they didn't have.
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Postby Dugald » Sun Feb 11, 2007 9:19 pm

Yes, Apollo, I suppose there is something "disparaging" in this Russian attitude of ridding themselves of the German soldiers trapped in the Stalingrad cauldron. Such behavior of course, pretty well describes the attitude of both sides towards each others' military: neither side followed even the basic precepts of the Geneva convention.

It just occurred to me that when I asked " What kind of General for example, thought an army of nearly 300,000 men could be adequately supplied by air...", in reference to Paulis, I was actually pinning the blame for the "supply by air" dream on the wrong person. The "supply by air" decision was not Paulis's, it was Hilter's and Göring's. I don't recall offhand what Paulis thought about this "dream". Anyway, even aside from this, the Feldmarschall was still a nut.
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Postby Apollo » Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:22 pm

By way of a wee change, this appeared recently:

The United Kingdom was being cut off from the Continent, and without allies to help her, she would soon be near the limit of her productive capacity - particularly in the all important field of electronics.

Briefcase 'that changed the world'

In August 1940, as Hitler prepared to invade Britain, a top secret mission designed to turn the tide of the war was under way. A team of Britain's top scientists and engineers were on their way to America. They carried with them a briefcase containing our most valuable technological secrets - to give them away.

Stephen Phelps tells the story of one of the most secret diplomatic missions of the Second World War and of the post war consequences of this extraordinary gamble.

Listen again on Radio 4 The World in a Briefcase
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Postby Dugald » Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:49 pm

Doonunda, the tonnage required to sustain the 6th Army varies quite a bit depending on where one read of it. I've read it to be as high as 750 tons /day. Whether it was 300 or 750 is of little consequence, either was impossible under the conditions. Göring, as was his wont at that time, had no idea of what he was talking.

To my way of thinking, nothing manifests the stupidity of Paulis more than his obeying Hitler's orders to turn down Rokossovski's offer of surrender, made with Rokossovski's promise of honourable terms (according to Shirer), on Jan 8th 1943. Paulis's rejection was idiocy of the highest order! The date of this Soviet offer is of great significance: it was made before the announcement of Roosevelt's equally stupid demand for a general unconditional surrender by the Axis; thus the need to fight to the end at Stalingrad was totally unaffected by Roosevelt's "Uncondional Surrender" edict.

Paulis should have been tried by the Germans as war criminal!
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