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jungleguerilla
08-02-2010, 07:50 AM
Hey guys, during the Allied Invasion of Italy, the Germans defended Monte Cassino by the Fallshirmjagers. The Allies attacked by force and took heavy casualties but they still succeed on taking the city. Now, would you consider it a German TACTICAL Victory? And how?

Nickdfresh
08-03-2010, 08:23 PM
I don't know what the point of the question is. Was it a German "tactical victory?" They were defeated albeit by overwhelming numbers, and yes the Allied advance on Rome was delayed. But they lost. So, I think you're asking if Monte Cassino was a MORAL victory for the Germans, and we can argue that forever...

flamethrowerguy
08-04-2010, 03:04 PM
A delay of the inevitable defeat, yes, made possible by allied faults.

Uyraell
08-05-2010, 01:02 AM
As a relative of one of those who was actually fighting in the Battle of Monte Cassino I should describe it as an Allied Victory.
However: I can tell you my uncle says it did not feel like that at the time.
Nor, from having read Fred Majdalaney's excellent book on the battle, can I consider the battle to have been a complete loss for the Fallschirmjaegers.
My view is based on the fact that the Fallscirmjaegers had one consideration to serve: Delay the Allied Advance for as long as was possible. This, though they did "lose" in the end, they nonetheless achieved.

I freely admit that for the Allied forces Monte Cassino was eventually wrought into a victory.
Albeit very nearly a Pyrrhic one.

The Germans insist to this day that there were no artillery pieces within the Monastery itself, though there were several sizable field guns/howitzers dug-in/emplaced below the Monastery walls.
That the Allies made a tremendous error in bombing the monastery I have no doubt at all:
The Germans state plainly that all the bombing truly achieved was the provision for them of a series of almost perfectly interlocked sniper, mortar, and machine-gun nests with almost tailor-made arcs of fire, virtually all interlocking (mutually supporting), all immune to frontal assault, and unable to be attacked via flank assault.
My uncle supports the German view of this factor.

Hence the Indians having to climb one side of the mountain to get to the "back door" via one route (the left side, if looking from Allied positions on the river bank), and the Poles climbing the mountain on the right hand side (again as viewed from the Allied positions) in order to gain access to the "back door" by that route.

Were the Allies bound to win the mountain, and passage past it? Yes.
Did said victory come at a disproportionate cost detrimental to the Allied advance? Yes.
Therefore, was it a "complete victory"? No.

The above is my personal opinion, based on research, talks with my uncle, and several documentaries featuring former soldiers from both sides, German and Allied.
While I'm open to discussion, I truly feel as I've set down in this post:
The Battle for Monte Cassino was not a complete Allied victory, but, rather, a very closely run thing, which was within a hair's breadth of being an Allied rout, or stalemate at minimum, so long as the German supplies held out.
Again, this from my uncle, who was there.

P.S: This was the second time my uncle had fought against Fallschirmjaegers: the first time had been on Crete.
He describes them as very tough, very resourceful opponents, and: honourable.

Kind and Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

jungleguerilla
08-05-2010, 10:13 PM
P.S: This was the second time my uncle had fought against Fallschirmjaegers: the first time had been on Crete.
He describes them as very tough, very resourceful opponents, and: honourable.

Your Uncle is from the New Zealand 2nd Division?


I'm still confused that the Fallschirmjaeger unit in Monte Cassino was wether a Brigade, or a Division?

burp
08-06-2010, 03:22 AM
It was a Division but i don't know exactly wich one.

For me it's a German wins: they already know that Monte Cassino is a strong position, but aerial bombardament and possibilities of flanking from sea condamn this position to be lost after a while. So German use this battle only to delay Allies advance and consolidate next defense line.
Allies makes all wrong choises they can do: they understimate German capabilities, they choose to bomb the monastery while German, Vatican and some american generals say that there is no soldier in the monastery, lack any type of coordination, epic fail to flank Gustav line with Anzio landing, use colonial troops giving them the faculty of mass raping and murdering (Marocchinate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marocchinate)) and keep the inefficient and chaotic command chain.
At the end of battle Allies find only thirty wounded man inside the ruins of monastery: mistakes of Allies leave German able to withdraw the night before undisturbed.

jungleguerilla
08-06-2010, 03:48 AM
epic fail to flank Gustav line with Anzio landing

Agreed with that. The Allies underestimated German Man Power near the Anzio Beach head and still tried to breakthrough. And for that, they paid a very heavy price, especially the lost of 2 Ranger Battalions of America. The Allies want to rush things even if it has many unnecessary outcomes that they knew would happen. And the bombing of Monte Cassino is a war crime, the Germans warned them to not level the place but the Allies persist. They (the Allies), made their own graveyard in Monte Cassino.

flamethrowerguy
08-06-2010, 11:29 AM
I'm still confused that the Fallschirmjaeger unit in Monte Cassino was wether a Brigade, or a Division?

That depends on which battle of Monte Cassino mean.

Uyraell
08-06-2010, 11:56 PM
Your Uncle is from the New Zealand 2nd Division?


I'm still confused that the Fallschirmjaeger unit in Monte Cassino was wether a Brigade, or a Division?

My Uncle was in 2NZEF
Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

This formation took its' name because the original New Zealand Expeditionary Force had been that which fought at Gallipoli in World War One.

(Also the origin of the Term "ANZAC" : Australia, New Zealand Army Corps, a term still employed to this day, in a sort of respectful sibling rivalry between Australians and New Zealanders. ... It is a sometimes unusual relationship: Aussies and Kiwis may {and at times do} slang seven colours of hell out of each-other, BUT will defend beyond measure of sanity a Fellow ANZAC should some form of trouble befall him.)

At various points throughout the Mediterranean war, 2NZEF was part of the British Eighth Army in so far as manpower and supplies, but was at all times under NZ Govt Command, merely co-operating with the British, not being Commanded by them.
This is because, having been under British Command at Gallipioli ( c.f, Gen. Hamilton, a Brit, was chief architect of NZ and Australian casualties at Gallipoli) and in other WW1 battles, the NZ Govt reached the conclusion that British High Command was simply throwing away/wasting the lives of NZ soldiers, and therefore the NZ Govt was determined such a thing would never again be permitted to happen.

Thus, 2NZEF remains a NZ force, that co-operates and co-ordinates with British forces in the battle area.

My Uncle fought at Crete, El Alamein, Alam Haifa, Sidi Rezegh, and Monte Cassino, among many other battles.
It was (and at times remains) difficult to ever get him to speak of these events, a thing which seems common to the generation of men who served during World war 2.

If more comes to mind regarding Monte Cassino I'll post it here.

Kind and Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

Uyraell
08-07-2010, 12:05 AM
That depends on which battle of Monte Cassino mean.

FTG, correct me if I'm wrong about this (my books are in storage, currently), but was it not the case that at "first Cassino" (for want of a term) the Fallschirmjaegers were a reinforced brigade, and that at "second Cassino" a further "heavy Division" (UK would, again use the term "reinforced" division) was transported in to provide extra manpower to the brigade in place?

Memory says this is so, but I may have the order in which these units appear the wrong way around.

Kind and Respectful Regards FTG, Uyraell.

jungleguerilla
08-07-2010, 12:39 AM
My Uncle fought at Crete, El Alamein, Alam Haifa, Sidi Rezegh, and Monte Cassino, among many other battles.

I think you're really proud of your Uncle because he still survived among those great battles.

Uyraell
08-07-2010, 06:43 AM
I think you're really proud of your Uncle because he still survived among those great battles.

I am proud of my Uncle, yes. I'm also at times saddened though.

On My signature is a reference to what is seen in a Veteran's eyes.
Over the years, I've seen it many, many times, perhaps more times than a lot of people my age.
I'll tell you this: I saw it first when a very young child, and tried hard (but failed then, as a child, who cannot know these things, must fail) to understand it. My Uncle's eyes were almost the first time I ever saw it: what the man had seen, been through, and would never forget, no-matter how much he might wish to.
Seeing it changed my childhood too, in ways I hope my own children never have to experience.
As I matured, so also did my understanding of it, and my awareness.

You see: somehow, I am aware of the price extracted from my Uncle in surviving that war, and I'd not actually wish that awareness upon my own children.

So, all this long reply is to tell you: I'm proud of my Uncle, as I am of other men I knew who fought in that war, BUT: I also KNOW what it cost them, and I feel a deep, deep compassion for them, for that cost.

Kind and Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

flamethrowerguy
08-08-2010, 02:10 PM
FTG, correct me if I'm wrong about this (my books are in storage, currently), but was it not the case that at "first Cassino" (for want of a term) the Fallschirmjaegers were a reinforced brigade, and that at "second Cassino" a further "heavy Division" (UK would, again use the term "reinforced" division) was transported in to provide extra manpower to the brigade in place?

Memory says this is so, but I may have the order in which these units appear the wrong way around.

Kind and Respectful Regards FTG, Uyraell.

Quite so, German paratrooper forces during the first battle of Monte Cassino consisted of the so-called Kampfgruppe Schulz (Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 1, Fallschirm-MG-Batallion 1, 3. Batallion/Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 3).
Second battle of Monte Cassino: entire 1st Fallschirmjäger-Division (incl. Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 1, 3 and 4).

Nickdfresh
08-08-2010, 06:48 PM
Agreed with that. The Allies underestimated German Man Power near the Anzio Beach head and still tried to breakthrough. And for that, they paid a very heavy price, especially the lost of 2 Ranger Battalions of America. The Allies want to rush things even if it has many unnecessary outcomes that they knew would happen. And the bombing of Monte Cassino is a war crime, the Germans warned them to not level the place but the Allies persist. They (the Allies), made their own graveyard in Monte Cassino.

The Allies, or more specifically Gen. Lucas, recognized that they could have easily broken through the German defenses at the outset of the Anzio operation and attempted a sortie towards Rome. They may well have gotten much farther than the "bitchhead" ended up being, but they would have probably been cut-off and even annihilated. The Allies in fact did not "underestimate" the Heer manpower so much as they failed to anticipate the rapidity of the German reaction and that the Wehrmacht's command-and-control in Italy tended to be more efficient as Gen. Mark Clark would later admit. Nobody anticipated the German reaction, not even the commanders like Kesselring who only wanted to cut off and isolate the beachhead. It was direct orders that the Wehrmacht plan to drive the Allies into the sea, Operation Fishfang, was commenced begrudgingly and while the Allies did suffer severe losses, the Germans perhaps suffered more because they could not make good their losses whereas the Allies had almost boundless production and manpower reserves. It is claimed by some German sources that the Heer had proportionally the largest concentration of equipment per square kilometer than almost anywhere else in WWII save some battles on the Eastern Front such as Sevastopol--only to achieve a bloody Pyrrhic stalemate...

The U.S. Army's loss of the Ranger battalions was more a case of the typical bungling of the use of special operations units in WWII and the failure to adequately understand their role and employ them than underestimating of the Heer. And it's debatable as to whether bombing the Cassino was a "war-crime," but it certainly was terrible judgment both militarily and culturally. But the overall failure of the Allies there had more to do (in the second battle) with the poor tactical planning and sheer bad luck of NZ General Freyberg (who lobbied incessantly to bomb the monastery against the wishes of many including Clark and Juin) as he merely pretty much did exactly the same things that resulted in the earlier failure of the American 36th and 34th Infantry Divisions. It also should be noted that attacking an entrenched, skilled enemy that was under the excellent leadership of Gen. Spender was always going to be extremely difficult no matter what as the Italian campaign was always going to be an afterthought to the coming Normandy Landings...

Uyraell
08-08-2010, 09:13 PM
Quite so, German paratrooper forces during the first battle of Monte Cassino consisted of the so-called Kampfgruppe Schulz (Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 1, Fallschirm-MG-Batallion 1, 3. Batallion/Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 3).
Second battle of Monte Cassino: entire 1st Fallschirmjäger-Division (incl. Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 1, 3 and 4).

Danke, mein freund. :)
It is nice to know my memory retains things correctly at times.

As an aside; my uncle said it was constantly cold at Cassino, especially at night, and that warm meals (they were never hot, because they took so very long to arrive) were at best a very rare thing.
One other grimly amusing factor comes to mind: the Fallschirmjaegers became aware through observation that mules/donkeys were being used to transport food and ammunition forward to Allied positions. It thus comes about that they positioned snipers to kill the donkeys, and delay the ammo and food arriving. They were often successful: I seem to recall that by the time the "Hangman's Hill" position is finally taken by the Poles, there had been some 20 donkeys killed.

Kind and Respectful Regards FTG my friend, Uyraell.

Uyraell
08-08-2010, 09:23 PM
The Allies, or more specifically Gen. Lucas, recognized that they could have easily broken through the German defenses at the outset of the Anzio operation and attempted a sortie towards Rome. They may well have gotten much farther than the "bitchhead" ended up being, but they would have probably been cut-off and even annihilated. The Allies in fact did not "underestimate" the Heer manpower so much as they failed to anticipate the rapidity of the German reaction and that the Wehrmacht's command-and-control in Italy tended to be more efficient as Gen. Mark Clark would later admit. Nobody anticipated the German reaction, not even the commanders like Kesselring who only wanted to cut off and isolate the beachhead. It was direct orders that the Wehrmacht plan to drive the Allies into the sea, Operation Fishfang, was commenced begrudgingly and while the Allies did suffer severe losses, the Germans perhaps suffered more because they could not make good their losses whereas the Allies had almost boundless production and manpower reserves. It is claimed by some German sources that the Heer had proportionally the largest concentration of equipment per square kilometer than almost anywhere else in WWII save some battles on the Eastern Front such as Sevastopol--only to achieve a bloody Pyrrhic stalemate...

The U.S. Army's loss of the Ranger battalions was more a case of the typical bungling of the use of special operations units in WWII and the failure to adequately understand their role and employ them than underestimating of the Heer. And it's debatable as to whether bombing the Cassino was a "war-crime," but it certainly was terrible judgment both militarily and culturally. But the overall failure of the Allies there had more to do (in the second battle) with the poor tactical planning and sheer bad luck of NZ General Freyberg (who lobbied incessantly to bomb the monastery against the wishes of many including Clark and Juin) as he merely pretty much did exactly the same things that resulted in the earlier failure of the American 36th and 34th Infantry Divisions. It also should be noted that attacking an entrenched, skilled enemy that was under the excellent leadership of Gen. Spender was always going to be extremely difficult no matter what as the Italian campaign was always going to be an afterthought to the coming Normandy Landings...

In NZ, particularly during the late 1960's, Freyberg had become (very much against his own wishes, it is said, this info from a man who knew Freyberg personally, and had done, for years) somewhat deified.
However, Nick, I agree completely with what you've said here.
In a sense, one could say that Monte Cassino was one of the rare occasions in a mostly brilliant career where Freyberg was tactically defeated.

Expressed another way: I've always seen, as I said in My earlier posts here, that Cassino was very close to being a failure on the Allied side, mainly for the reasons you've given.
That Anzio was supposed to relieve the pressure on Cassino is not in debate, as far as I'm concerned,
but even then, that too became a very closely run thing, again for the reasons your posting cites.
Anzio may well be one of the few occasions in the Italian campaign wherein the German CCI was completely demonstrated as being better than that of the Allies.

EDIT:
One thing our discussion has not touched upon is the overwhelming presence of Allied airpower in the Italian theater.
Expressed at its' simplest: Allied Airforces, both Tactical and Strategic, by the time of Cassino could pretty-much operate at will, anywhere, any time. The Luftwaffe could not. And did not, apart from one or two scattered occasions where a brief aerial battle occurred. Likewise, the same can be said in regard to the remnants of the Regia Aeronautica, and/or the ARSI fighter units that fought alongside the Germans.
To the extent that the Allies did have overwhelming airpower, it has to be said that fact alone had an extreme influence on the outcome of events at Cassino, as it did in the Falaise region, for much the same reasons.


Kind and Respectful Regards Nick, Uyraell.

Deaf Smith
08-09-2010, 06:12 PM
Germany could not have a 'tactical' victory pretty much anywhere.

Why? Cuase the allies could always make good on their losses, but Germany, like Japan and Italy, could not.

The Allies could trade one-to-one or even two-to-one and still replace losses.

No, Monte Cassino was no victory for Germany, cause Germany, like the Rebels in the American Civil War, were bound to be bled to death. And as time went on the Allies got better and better generals, better and better equipment, and always more soldiers who became quite good warriors.

Deaf

Nickdfresh
08-10-2010, 07:58 AM
In NZ, particularly during the late 1960's, Freyberg had become (very much against his own wishes, it is said, this info from a man who knew Freyberg personally, and had done, for years) somewhat deified.
However, Nick, I agree completely with what you've said here.
In a sense, one could say that Monte Cassino was one of the rare occasions in a mostly brilliant career where Freyberg was tactically defeated.

Expressed another way: I've always seen, as I said in My earlier posts here, that Cassino was very close to being a failure on the Allied side, mainly for the reasons you've given.
That Anzio was supposed to relieve the pressure on Cassino is not in debate, as far as I'm concerned,
but even then, that too became a very closely run thing, again for the reasons your posting cites.
Anzio may well be one of the few occasions in the Italian campaign wherein the German CCI was completely demonstrated as being better than that of the Allies.

Gen. Freyberg was the typical example of "promotion to the level of incompetence." He was said to have been a fine divisional commander, but when promoted to lead a corp, his "lack of imagination" began to show and he seemed unable to control all of the facets of battle around Monte Cassino. To be fair however, he was put in a very difficult position and may well have done better if he had more experience at a senior command level, Cassino was no place for a recently promoted beginner...


EDIT:
One thing our discussion has not touched upon is the overwhelming presence of Allied airpower in the Italian theater.
Expressed at its' simplest: Allied Airforces, both Tactical and Strategic, by the time of Cassino could pretty-much operate at will, anywhere, any time. The Luftwaffe could not. And did not, apart from one or two scattered occasions where a brief aerial battle occurred. Likewise, the same can be said in regard to the remnants of the Regia Aeronautica, and/or the ARSI fighter units that fought alongside the Germans.
To the extent that the Allies did have overwhelming airpower, it has to be said that fact alone had an extreme influence on the outcome of events at Cassino, as it did in the Falaise region, for much the same reasons.


Kind and Respectful Regards Nick, Uyraell.

Certainly by the beginning of 1944, the weight of Allied numbers was telling when it came to the airwar. But it should be stated that the Italian Campaign was the Luftwaffe's last hurrah in the West as a force that could impact the battle. The Luftwaffe was conducting strikes well into the Anzio siege on shipping. But yes, the Allies could eventually answer every German bomb with scores of their own.

I would also add that the Allies had a massive advantage in artillery. One of the U.S. Army's strong suits had traditionally been its artillery arm in training and displacement. Halfway through the War, we could add the huge advantages of mass production and proximity fuses to that. By the end of Anzio, it wasn't only the numbers of tube artillery, but of the availability of ammunition resulting from production that was telling. I think the ratio was something like the Allies could fire ten shells out of the Anzio "Bitchhead" for every incoming German one towards the end...

Uyraell
08-10-2010, 09:16 PM
Gen. Freyberg was the typical example of "promotion to the level of incompetence." He was said to have been a fine divisional commander, but when promoted to lead a corp, his "lack of imagination" began to show and he seemed unable to control all of the facets of battle around Monte Cassino. To be fair however, he was put in a very difficult position and may well have done better if he had more experience at a senior command level, Cassino was no place for a recently promoted beginner...



Certainly by the beginning of 1944, the weight of Allied numbers was telling when it came to the airwar. But it should be stated that the Italian Campaign was the Luftwaffe's last hurrah in the West as a force that could impact the battle. The Luftwaffe was conducting strikes well into the Anzio siege on shipping. But yes, the Allies could eventually answer every German bomb with scores of their own.

I would also add that the Allies had a massive advantage in artillery. One of the U.S. Army's strong suits had traditionally been its artillery arm in training and displacement. Halfway through the War, we could add the huge advantages of mass production and proximity fuses to that. By the end of Anzio, it wasn't only the numbers of tube artillery, but of the availability of ammunition resulting from production that was telling. I think the ratio was something like the Allies could fire ten shells out of the Anzio "Bitchhead" for every incoming German one towards the end...

Regarding Freyberg: Agreed.
The man seems to have done very well "one level below" the command level at which he found himself at Cassino.
And yes, that he was a beginner at the level he was in, at Cassino, is near-enough the only mitigating factor which might be taken into account. Monte Cassino was most definitely not a time and place to be earning one's spurs at senior command level.

I'm thankful you mentioned the artillery tubes and weight of shell available to the Allies at Anzio. The Allies don't seem to have done too well at provision of same at Cassino, which factor, iIrc, is one of the reasons Freyberg came to be in favour of bombing the monastery.

Both of you, Nick and Deaf, make the point well: by that stage of the war Allied production of both troops and materiel was such that the Germans could not keep up, and in that context were certain to eventually lose the war.

Kind and Respectful Regards Gentlemen, Uyraell.