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Thread: Excellent Tobruk analysis

  1. #1
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    Default Excellent Tobruk analysis

    By an American, who should be free of the partisanship which might infect those of the participating nations. He seems to deliver a very balanced, well informed, and detailed analysis of the siege.

    Interesting point about Rommel losing comms when advancing too far to the front, because he wanted to see the battlefield. That might have worked for a 19th century commander on a hill, but it didn't for a mid-20th century commander in an armoured vehicle in a hole. He should have been in a plane if he wanted to see the battlefield. Less dashing, but better vision.

    Also interesting, even if only briefly mentioned, how logistics and RAF attacks on the German supply line played a major part off the battlefield, confirming the importance of air control of the sea and reducing the seaborne LOC.

    The detailed analysis of individual aspects and military elements at the end is worth reading as applicable to any combined arms assault against, and any combined arms defence of, a defended position.

    http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resour...ler/miller.asp

    (This could have been in the German section, but as Tobruk, at least the part covered in this article, was a British Commonwealth victory it seems appropriate to put it in the British section.)
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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Interesting point about Rommel losing comms when advancing too far to the front, because he wanted to see the battlefield. That might have worked for a 19th century commander on a hill, but it didn't for a mid-20th century commander in an armoured vehicle in a hole. He should have been in a plane if he wanted to see the battlefield. Less dashing, but better vision.
    Is a good analysis but i think the thing wich crippled Rommel in april 1941 was his lack of infanty support, very reduced number of soldiers there. ( wich in part is obviously is related wich effective allied naval blockade) The following year when he was scantily reinforced managed to defeat a combined allied forces surpasing him in a relation 2,5 to 1 in tank and almost 3 to 1 in infantry, and that was also thank to the fact Rommel didnt just seat in the foreground like most some british general do.

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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Some of his troubles with manpower lay in the inferior sanitation practices of the German army in the desert.Many of his troops came down sick due to fly born contagion getting into the food supply.

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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Another thing not mention was that the British had broken the German Enigma communications systems and had knowledge of when the German convoys were sending support to Rommel. Aircraft would intercept important cargo which the Germans needed such as men, tanks and fuel.

    The Germans would not have been in Africa at all except their Italian allies couldn't fight the British troops and called for help. Hitler could not reject his allies so he sent a small amount of troops into Africa along with Rommel. Rommel did not have as much support as he wanted. At the beginning only about 200 aircraft were at his disposal to provide air support and to cover convoys.

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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by fatmannz View Post
    The Germans would not have been in Africa at all except their Italian allies couldn't fight the British troops and called for help.
    And much the same, albeit originally with Greek troops, with the Italians failing in Greece.

    Which resulted in a substantial diversion of German forces to Greece which potentially were available for the invasion of Russia.

    Greece, combined with the diversion of German troops to North Africa because of Italian failures there, allows an argument that the Italians contributed about as much to the eventual defeat of Germany as the Allies by depriving the Germans of useful forces at critical moments.
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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by tankgeezer View Post
    Some of his troubles with manpower lay in the inferior sanitation practices of the German army in the desert.Many of his troops came down sick due to fly born contagion getting into the food supply.
    Which brings us to a topic which could be a major thread in its own right, which is that medical services in many ways (including field sanitation, food hygiene and other aspects beyond simple medical practice) contribute as much or more than combat forces to victory, by keeping combat forces fit to fight.

    I don't know about the desert, but this was very important in the tropics where measures as simple as troops rolling down sleeves before dusk had a useful effect on malarial infections.

    Do you know what the specific problems were in the desert?
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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post

    Do you know what the specific problems were in the desert?
    As one soldier said, "They've put the latrines, cemetery and kitchen all in the same area, to make it convenient for the flies."

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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    There are heaps of problems which can occur from the desert. Many military commanders now know that having good logistics is essential for victory. Without constant resupply of resources needed for war, the advance will stagnate and troops will die.

    Problems with the desert are like: dehydration and heat stroke, flies were everywhere and carried disease and such, etc. The Germans suffered from a lack of fuel and also ran low on ammunition and reinforcements. The allied forces were able to land staggering amounts of resources into Africa while the Germans were bogged down with the Allied air interdiction affecting the flow of supplies. Huge logistics problems hampered the advance of Rommel's Africa Korps but you still need to admire the great leadership showed by Rommel. He was a great general who knew how to win a battle with a smaller force. The British changed commanders in Africa so many times until they could defeat Rommel and even then Montgomery had a huge advance of men and material over Rommel. Something like 3-1 in terms of men.

    The Italians were a pretty bad ally to have since they could not fight on their own and always needed the Germans to come to the rescue. They didn't have their own resources and in the end they preferred to live long lives driving wine than fighting and dying. When the allies invaded Italy, the Germans had to do all the fighting and work as an occupying force because Italy withdrew from the war.

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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by Saxon View Post
    As one soldier said, "They've put the latrines, cemetery and kitchen all in the same area, to make it convenient for the flies."
    Ah! German efficiency, at its best!

    I don't know anything about medical etc issues in the desert, but did the Alllies suffer similar problems?

    If not, why not?

    I don't recall such issues being significant for the Allied defenders at Tobruk, where their static position should have caused serious problems with field and food hygiene. Or am I just unaware of that aspect?
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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Aside from field hygiene, or the lack of it, wasn't food a major problem for the Germans after a while? Or, that is the quality of it. Due to the British winning the battle of logistics, I thought the German Afrika Korp had a somewhat repetitive diet mainly consisting of tinned meat and hardtack (biscuits that last almost forever). I think the British diet was more varied and included more vegetable matter and more than just iron rations...

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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    I thought the German Afrika Korp had a somewhat repetitive diet mainly consisting of tinned meat and hardtack (biscuits that last almost forever). I think the British diet was more varied and included more vegetable matter and more than just iron rations...
    British and various Commonwealth diets might have been more varied in some places but often came down to what a man could carry being "bully beef and biscuits", which equates roughly to bully beef = tinned ancient Spam with all the good ( ) bits removed and biscuits = slim bricks of tooth-destroying inedibility allegedly made of wheat, or more probably concrete.

    We had similar 'biscuits' in the Vietnam era and they were best used for building fortifications, or as slabs in flak jackets (apart from the weight problem). These biscuits will outlast our galaxy long after it becomes a black hole.
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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Which brings us to a topic which could be a major thread in its own right, which is that medical services in many ways (including field sanitation, food hygiene and other aspects beyond simple medical practice) contribute as much or more than combat forces to victory, by keeping combat forces fit to fight.

    I don't know about the desert, but this was very important in the tropics where measures as simple as troops rolling down sleeves before dusk had a useful effect on malarial infections.

    Do you know what the specific problems were in the desert?
    As I recall it being described, the German military had very lax standards for latrine sanitation, basically the troops would drop a deuce where they pleased in the desert, with no effort to cover their work. The ever present flies would make the rounds of latrine, people, and kitchen, which gave rise to the ensuing tummy troubles, and dysentery. The English had stricter regulations,or at least practices to keep the flys away and this helped keep their men out of the hospital.

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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by tankgeezer View Post
    As I recall it being described, the German military had very lax standards for latrine sanitation, basically the troops would drop a deuce where they pleased in the desert, with no effort to cover their work. The ever present flies would make the rounds of latrine, people, and kitchen, which gave rise to the ensuing tummy troubles, and dysentery. The English had stricter regulations,or at least practices to keep the flys away and this helped keep their men out of the hospital.
    Surprising, as I thought that the Germans had a reputation for being rather fastidious in matters of hygiene and health.
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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by tankgeezer View Post
    As I recall it being described, the German military had very lax standards for latrine sanitation, basically the troops would drop a deuce where they pleased in the desert, with no effort to cover their work. The ever present flies would make the rounds of latrine, people, and kitchen, which gave rise to the ensuing tummy troubles, and dysentery. The English had stricter regulations,or at least practices to keep the flys away and this helped keep their men out of the hospital.
    I believe the British had specific, strict regulations for even how to set up an outhouse-style latrine and where it could be placed in regards to mess and living facilities...

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    Default Re: Excellent Tobruk analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    I believe the British had specific, strict regulations for even how to set up an outhouse-style latrine and where it could be placed in regards to mess and living facilities...
    Yet British field hygiene often broke down in the camps on the Burma Railway.

    Australian field hygiene, such as it was in those conditions, was often preserved by measures as simple as making every man dip his mess tin (or whatever he had) in a drum of boiling water before being served food from the field kitchen.
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