Dowding's Costly Blunder in the Battle of France - Page 3

November 21st, 2011  
That the Americans destroyed the LW,is only chauvenist nonsens
November 21st, 2011  
It was totally indifferent whether the British fighter was equipped with two or three bladed propeller. What made the difference was the German tactics and experience.

The RAF prided itself on it quality of its formation flying but such close formation flying heritage hampered the RAF. The Luftwaffe were met by RAF fighters flying tight formations which provided little scope for manoeuvre when battle was joined.

When the Messerschmitt 109 was committed to the Civil War in Spain, its pilots at first flew in the old "V" formations but a shortage of the new aeroplanes forced them to fly in twos when escorting bombing raids, in order to provide cover on all sides of the bombing formations. At this time Werner Molders arrived in Spain and took the two aircraft formation and extended its use and moulded it into the tactics needed by the new generation of aircraft such as the Bf109.

A two aircraft formation is much easier to handle than three. If the aircraft fly far enough apart there is less chance of collision. The leader concentrates on looking ahead while the wingman's attention is to the rear, making sure an enemy aircraft does not sneak up from behind. Remember that sight is the only sense available to a fighter pilot, he cannot hear an attacker, and at the high speeds attained by aircraft like the Bf109 another aircraft can change from a small speck in the distance to an executioner sitting on your tail in just a few seconds. The best form of fighter attack has always been out of the sun, where an aircraft is very nearly impossible to see against the glare. To guard against this the pair would position themselves so that each had a clear view of the sun, unobstructed by the other.

The pair of aircraft was called a "Rotte" by the Germans. Molders expanded it into the "Schwarm", two pairs acting together. Again the aircraft flew wide apart, the two leaders looking ahead, the two wingmen concentrating on the rear. The second pair would fly behind the leader of the first pair, stepped up away from the sun. The leader’s wingman would fly behind and low. One of the reasons that the time for this sort of formation had come was the availability of air to air radio. A loose formation is only possible when the pilots are freed of flying close enough to see their leader's hand signals. A loose formation is much harder to see against the sky than a tight one, the Schwarm would only close up to keep contact with each other when passing through cloud.

It was the adoption of these tactics, as much as the excellent flying qualities of the 109, that gave victory to the Germans in their early campaigns. The RAF later on copied the German tactics renaming the Schwarm as the "Finger-four" formation.
November 21st, 2011  
Alan P
I have to agree with you BritinAfrica, but It does not matter what we write samneanderthal has an axe to grind against the British. He does not seem to understand the British stood valiantly alone during those dark days in 1940 -42.
Also he has not done his homework on the battles against the Japanese. The British and Indian forces fought a war in Burma and won. Many brave men lost their lives both in Europe and the far East for the freedom we enjoy today
November 21st, 2011  
Among the many large and small battles during World War II there were three main battles that stopped Hitler's forward march, and thus laid the foundation for his defeat.

England stood for victory in the two of them - Battle of Britain and El Alamein, the Soviet Union for the third - Stalingrad.

Stalingrad was probably one of the most important battles in WWII. Nevertheless, it was crucial to the West European democracies survival that England did not lose the Battle of Britain.

In virtually all of England's other victories over Germany in World War II, the situation was that England had superiority in combat forces, and had important intelligence on the Germans' strategic and tactical plans.

It was therefore so much more remarkable that the Fighter Command defeated the German Luftwaffe in September 1940 - in a historical perspective.

The architect behind the victory in the Battle of Britain in 1940 was head of Fighter Command Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding.

The French army leadership´s catastrophic misinterpretation of the Manstein plan was the biggest blunder of the Battle of France. The French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud was aware, as early as 15 May, that the battle for France was lost. Just 5 days after the German attack on Western Europe began.

Study history my friend, not just read it
November 21st, 2011  
The British had an excellent navy (reinforced by the powerful French navy and Polish and Norwegian ships), the best airplane in the world and the only aircraft carriers in Europe.
Norway was Churchill's idea and had it been planned and executed properly it would have been decisive. The German tanks were not much use in that rugged terrain and Germany would not have been able to supply its airplanes.
The British initiated the whole thing (they had more time to send in airplanes, troops, etc,) and were unopposed by Norway. The Germans had to react quickly and could not hope to defeat the Allied navy and they had to invade Denmark and Norway. The allies sank or damaged most of the German fleet and then left, a rather stupid thing to do, had they remained there and finished off the few war and supply ships left, Hitler would have been left without a surface navy and ports in the North Atlantic for its submarines, while the allies would have had another ally in Norway.

You cannot blame the preceding governments for Churchill's poor planning and leaving after defeating the German navy. Ironically, it was Chamberlain, who had nothing to do, who was blamed for Norway and had to resign and let Churchill take charge.

I would hardly call the Alameins victories. You do not let a defeated enemy return over a thousand km to his bases with a few dozen tanks when you have hundreds of tanks, plenty of fuel, planes, etc, Britain had to pay an extremely high price supplying and defending Malta, so Auchinleck and Monty could let a very weak Rommel escape in the two Alameins, Alam el Haifa, etc, If that is not lousy generalship, what is?. While the British generals were receiving millions of tons of supplies from the US and Britain, troops from India, Britain, Australia and South Africa, Rommel was using captured fuel, vehicles, etc, and making them suffer.

I also have a lot of difficulty listening to Churchill's speech about fighting in the beaches, etc, but evacuating a third of a million troops in Dunkirk, instead of using the mighty allied navy to cover them with their artillery and supply them, keeping the fight in France. How could the Soviets hold a pocket in Oraniembaum for years and the Germans hold a pocket in Courland until the war ended, facing many more and better tanks and planes than the Britsh and French were facing in Dunkirk and with an extremely weak German navy supplying them, yet Churchill decided to evacuate.

I have no axe to grind against the British, only against the British leaders (Baldwin, Chamberlain, Churchill, Dowding, Ritchie, Auchinleck, Monty, Mountbatten, etc,). Churchill wrote the history and even won a Nobel doing it, and he made his words come true: "I expect history to be kind to be, for I intend to write it", but his strategy was disastrous. He caused Norway, he interrupted the successful Libyan campaign and caused Greece (against the advice of his Generals), he caused Dieppe and even promoted Mountbatten, his accomplice in that blunder, he wasted millions and tens of thousands of lives bombing civilians at night, he failed to fulfill his promise to liberate Burma from the Japs promptly, so China could be supplied by land (the US had to fly supplies over the Himalayas at an astronomical cost), etc,
November 21st, 2011  
The victory at El Alamein, coupled with joint Allied landings in French Algiers, also finally spelled the elimination of an Axis presence in North Africa and ended the Italian dreams of a 'new Roman Empire'. There were also strategic implications: the defeat in North Africa began the series of events that led the invasion of mainland Italy and the toppling of the Italian dictator Mussolini. This brought the Italians onto the Allies' side and left Germany at a strategic disadvantage across the whole of the Mediterranean.

El Alamein was significant. It forced Hitler’s attention back to the west and began a process of serious attrition there which, combined with the relentless losses in Russia, was to lead to total defeat. Until then, his forces had been concentrated in the east, and were beginning to be stretched. With the loss of the desert, he had to divert forces to Africa. With the invasion of North Africa, he had to occupy Southern France, and found a Vichy French army suddenly becoming a Free French army and fighting against him. After they had cleared North Africa, the Allies invaded Sicily. On 25 July 1943 whilst fighting there was still going on, there was a coup d’etat in Rome, and Mussolini was imprisoned. The Allies then invaded the Italian mainland; on 29 September Italy surrendered to the Allies and on 13 October declared war on Germany. This meant that not only did German troops have to man the lines in Russia, Italy and the Balkans to replace the Italians who had been there, but they also had a new enemy. As a result of Alamein, what had begun as an imperial war developed into a main front with broad strategic and political consequences.”

You focus too narrowly!

This statement is damn funny: "wasted millions and tens of thousands of lives bombing civilians at night"

Have you never heard of Strategic bombing? One of the aims of war is to demoralise the enemy. You fumble around in the dark and comes up with conclusions without taking into account the broader perspective.
November 21st, 2011  
Bombing never demoralized anybody. The Blitz united the British, as the allied bombing forced the Germans to fight harder (troops preferred to remain at the front, rather than going home to destroyed cities). I shouldn't have written millions, Churchill wasted billions of dollars, thousands of planes and tens of thousands of British crewmen in murderous but strategically useless bombing without escort planes. Killing children and old people reduced the food, water and fuel requirements of the Reich, leaving more resources for the people who contributed to the war effort. Germany produced more in 1943 and 44 during the massive bombing campaigns. The British night bombings targeted civilians and missed most of the time. It was the daytime bombing of refineries, steel mills, plane and ballbearing factories, etc, by the Americans that did some damage, but did not justify the unacceptable losses without escort planes either. Only the daytime bombings with escort planes in 1944 made any sense.

The Alameins were so decisive that the Americans and Free French had to kick the Germans out of Africa two years after they arrived to wreak havoc there. All the thousands of allied lives wasted in Africa and Malta would have been saved, had Churchill allowed O'Connor (one of the few British leaders with guts and brains, and whom Churchill allowed to fall prisoner when he left him without troops) to finish off the Italians in Libya, instead of sending the troops to Greece (where they experienced heavy losses and left with the tail between their legs).
November 21st, 2011  
In many ways I agree and by the end of the war even Churchill was trying to distance himself from Harris but the bomber offensive did have one major impact, hundreds of thousands of guns and gun crews that would have been sent to the front were forces to stay in Germany and defend cities.

As for not finishing off the Italians in Libya before sending them off to Greece I completely agree and have placed it as something I consider to be Churchill's biggest mistake of the war.
November 21st, 2011  
Could you list all the ships that you state joined the Royal Navy from France, Poland and Norway. If the French ships joined the Royal Navy then why did the British sink them by gunfire in North Africa. The Royal Navy still had most of the ships it had from WW1 and very few had been updated, also if we had many ships then we would have been able to provide the convoys with better escorts.
Area bombing......Well it tied up a million Germans on air defence which could have been put to better use else where. Also I don't think you will find any one that lived through the German blitz on English City say that the are bombing of Germany was wrong, and of course you will next be saying that all the V1 and V2 were guided weapons and only hit military targets.
North Africa.....Well if Britain and the Commonwealth troops had not stopped the German and Italian troops in North Africa what would have happened then. Now you say that the British were to slow in attacking the Germans while they pulled back to Tunisa, but just check on the casualty figures for these battles and I can name six people from my family that died out there in all that fighting. Also Monty named the dates and times of that the battles would be completed by and they were
November 21st, 2011  
Please read carefully: The British were reinforced by the French navy during the Norway campaign and up to the French capitulation. The Polish fleet joined the British navy, as did Ducth and Norwegian ships.
Hitler should never have defeated the allied navy in Norway and only did so because Churchill did not have a clue about how to plan a cooordinated navy, army and air force operation with the formidable resources, the Norwegian cooperation and the surprise factor at his disposal.
By the way, Churchill decided (against his admiral's advice to bomb the French fleet at Mers el Kebir without declaring war and risking in a very poorly planned attack that did little damage but infuriated teh French and nearly caused the French to declare war on Britain, when the latter had no allies, other than the former colonies. A rather stupid move by Churchill. Churchill's ultimatum gave a ridiculous time for the French to send their ships to the Caribean or to surrender them to Britain or most stupidly, to scuttle them. The French fleet presented no threat (until attacked) and would have needed weeks to prepare for the journey, so Churchill acted like the impulsive kid he was. He had nothing to gain and everythng to lose from this attack. The French bombed Gibraltar and allowed the Germans to attack British in Iraq forces from Syria. Britian wasted a lot of resources fighting France pointlessly in Dakar, etc,
The million Germans in air defence were mostly teen agers and women late in the war. Germany didn't even have a real defense fighter force to oppose British bombers until the Americans started bombing.
Let me put it this way, had Japan not forced the US into the war, but only invaded Ceylon (to isolate India, allowing it to gain independence), South Africa (depriving Britain of chromium, gold, diamonds, access to the Indian Ocean, etc,), Aden (closing the Red Sea and Mediterranean to Britain) and Abadan (to get all the oil it needed), Britain would have had to surrender since it could not have used troops from or defended India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc,

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