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Author Topic: PzLdr History Facts  (Read 33282 times)
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« Reply #420 on: March 22, 2018, 11:04:48 am »

Braxton Bragg, who will command the con federate Army of Tennessee to disasterous effect for nearly two years, is born in North Carolina.

Prior to the civil War, and after graduating from West Point, Bragg will make a name for himself in the pre-war Army, both in the Seminole War, and especially in the Mexican War, where his horse drawn Artillery will play a key role in several battles, one of which found him fighting alongside a regiment of Mississippi volunteers, commanded by one Jefferson Davis.

But along with his skill, Bragg possessed a personality that ran the gamut from acerbic to prickly, to poisonous. A story from the pre-war Army highlighted this. Bragg was the supply officer at a post, and when the commander went on leaver or assignment, Bragg assumed command of the Post. Allegedly, as a supply officer he submitted a request for supplies to himself, as commanding officer. supposedly Bragg denied the request, leading Army wags to claim Bragg couldn't get along with anybody, no even himself.

Bragg began his career in the Confederate Army in Florida. Like George McClellan, he was very capable at raising, and training troops. Unlike McClellan, at least initially, he showed promise as a battlefield commander.

And so, when Albert Sidney Johnston began assembling the forces that eventually coalesced into the Army of Tennessee, Bragg was one of his generals. and when Johnston attacked Grant at Shiloh, Bragg was with him.

When Johnston died, and P.G.T. Beauregard assumed command of the Confederate forces, Bragg became his deputy. And when Davis, angered because he believed Beauregard was trying to steal whatever glory there was to be taken from that battle, relieved Beajuregard, Bragg became the Army's commander, and would remain so for almost two years.

Bragg began an invasion of Tennessee that, like so many of his operations, started promisingly, and ended in disaster. Bragg was almost congenitally incapable of following up an advantage with a knock out punch. With the exception of Chickamauga, where a well planned attack benefited from the arrival of most of Longstreet's 1st Corps from the Army of Northern Virginia at a critical location and time, Bragg routinely hesitated on the cusp of a victory, turning it into a defeat. He was the master of half measures. As a followup to Chickamauga, Bragg pursued the union Army to Nashville, but halted on the heights looking down on the city, and beseiged it [and put his troops in positions that allowed the union troops to later drive them from the heights].

And to add fuel to the flames, Bragg's personality factored in to a near mutiny by his generals. It   took Jefferson Davis himself, traveling to the Army, to reassert Bragg's authority. But almost none of Bragg's generals were listening.

It was in the aftermath of Grant's relief of Nashville, and his trouncing of Bragg's army, that Davis finally relieved Bragg. But instead of turning him out to pasture, Davis brought Bragg to Richmond as his military adviser where Bragg did little good, but no major harm.

Bragg fled Richmond with Davis, and was captured with him. Bragg was  soon released. He died in 1876.
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« Reply #421 on: March 23, 2018, 10:12:52 am »

It was a heady time in Italy. the Allies were south of Rome, stopped at the Gustav Line and Monte Cassino. The  The Allied VI Corps was at Anzio, to the southeast of the Alban hills. Mussolini had been toppled, and the Italians were out of the war, although Italy wasn't, having been occupied and disarmed by the Germans.

And resistance bloomed. Guerrillas fought the Germans in the mountains of northern Italy. Sabotage of rail lines, and other transport infrastructure was on the rise. But the Resistance sought to do more. And on March 23rd, in Rome they did.

Every day, an SS police battalion route marched through the Eternal City, normally at the same time, normally via the same route. On that day, the partisans threw a bomb into the formation. Thirty-three SS men died.

Hitler, in a rage, ordered Rome destroyed. cooler heads prevailed, and eventually he ordered that ten italians would be executed for every German death.

The orders were transmitted to Herbert Kappler, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer [LTC], and head of the Gestapo in Rome [Kappler was a serving officer in the SS SD]. When Kappler requested the German Army to undertake the executions, they demurred, pointing out that it was an SS matter. The Waffen SS also declined, leaving the task to Kappler and his Gestapo cadre.

Kappler rounded up a combination of criminals, Jews, and political undesirables from Rome's jails, and Gestapo holding facilities. His next task was to select a place for the executions to be conducted. He chose the Ardeantine caves, a catacomb on the outskirts of Rome.

The victims were trucked to the site, and taken into the caves in groups of ten or less. Kappler required ALL of his men, including himself, and his deputy, Erich Priebke, to participate in the executions. When it was over, the Gestapo had murdered 335 victims, and then sealed the cave with dynamite. And there it might have ended for Kappler [until post-war justice], but for the fact that he had shot five more men then authorized by Hitler [several seriously wounded Germans, expected to die, had recovered]. The result was a blizzard of paperwork between Rome and Himmler over who was 'on the hook' for those five killings.

That question was never satisfactorily answered before the conclusion of the war. Kappler was captured, tried by an Italian court and sentenced to what was eventually life in prison. And then, decades later, dying of cancer, and weighing some 97 lbs., Kappler was secreted in a suitcase by his wife, and carried out of prison, and Italy, to die in Germany [one suspects the Italians at least turned the other eye to the escape].

As for the catacombs, they were opened by the Allies and Italians when rome was secured in june, and the bodies removed for burial.
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« Reply #422 on: March 23, 2018, 10:26:26 am »

It was not one, but three guns. But what guns they were. Built by Krupp, they were 210 mm cannons with barrels so long [ 118'] that they had a suspension bridge like structure on each barrel to help prevent barrel droop [and special firing tables to compensate for any droop that remained]. And they had one function. to shell Paris, some 74 miles away.

They accomplished this by putting the rounds some 25 miles into the stratosphere, which reduced resistance and allowed for greater range. But like its WW II successor, the V-2 rocket, accuracy for the Paris Guns ["Big Bertha'] was imprecise, to say the least, and needed a large target - like Paris.

The guns fired intermittently throughout the 1918 German offensives. Fatalities were slightly over 250, with the largest single loss of life resulting from a hit on a Cathedral on Easter Sunday.

The 'success' of the Paris guns as artillery has never been matched. No other gun fired projectile has reached that high or that far - before - or since.
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« Reply #423 on: March 25, 2018, 10:23:10 am »

For Robert E. Lee, it was a matter of time. and time was NOT on his side. Trapped in the Petersburg lines covering the approach to Richmond, he was faced with an unpalatable truth. Grant was approaching a critical mass in men and material that would allow him to overwhelm Lee's Army of northern Virginia. On top of that, William Tecumseh Sherman was advancing northward through North Carolina toward Lee's rear, and potential encirclement. And Sherman's March had led, since Georgia, to increasing numbers of desertions by Lee's Georgian, south and North Carolinian troops, whose families were in Sherman's path.

the wheels had starting falling off in the wilderness, in late 1864. Instead of making use of the excellent terrain for defense, Lee had, as usual, attacked. Besides losing a seriously wounded James Longstreet for several months, Lee had not halted Grant, nor sent him retreating. Shrugging off his losses, Grant had continued to advance to the south west, trying to flank Lee, and get between Lee and Richmond. And but for the incompetence of MG Benjamin Butler [one of Lincoln's political generals], he would have. Because of Butler, Lee just barely beat Grant to Petersburg. And both sides dug in, Lee to try and hold off the inevitable, Grant to replenish his losses and attack again.

But Robert E. Lee was one who believed it was better to give than receive. At least as far as offensive operations go.

And so he directed General  John B. Gordon to study Grant's lines, and find a suitable attack point. Gordon did. And recommended Ft. Stedman, an earthworks with 9' walls and a moat. It appears Gordon's reason for selection was one. Stedman was the closest point in the Union lines to the Rebel lines, making the distance of attack very short.

The early morning attack went off without a hitch, initially. Tthe Rebels' attack had came with almost complete surprise.By daylight they had captured significant sections of Union trenches. But then the Sun rose. and so did the Union Army.

Gordon's force was beaten back to their start line, with overall losses three times that of the Union, losses that Grant could, and would easily replace, but which Lee could not.

Lost in the myth of Robert E. Lee is that fact that but for Fredericksburg, and possibly Second Manassas, even when he lost less men than his Union opponents in battle, Lee invariably lost a higher percentage of his army. In a war increasingly characterized by attrition [well before Grant appeared on the scene] that meant Lee was forced to make greater demands for troop replacements from an increasingly smaller replacement pool [one of the reasons he supported enlisting black slaves into the rebel Army in 1865].

And now Lee was forced to cover the same mileage of trenches with fewer men. Because there were no more significant numbers of replacements to be had. Lee had wasted them all.

Four days later, Grant attacked. By April 3rd, Richmond fell. and Lee, having shot his bolt, took flight. To Appomattox Court House. And surrender.

Fort Stedman, it turned out, was the last time Lee attacked. Anywhere.
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« Reply #424 on: March 27, 2018, 10:00:41 am »

The Texas revolution against Antonio de Lopez y Santa Ana was blessed with Sam Houston as its military commander. It was hamstrung by the usual plethora of backstabbing weasely politicians. But it was cursed by two military subordinates who disobeyed orders, and paid for thast disobedience with not only their lives, but with those of their men.

William Barrett Travis and James Fannin couldn't have been more different in temprament. Travis was reckless, and aggressive. Fannin was indecisive. But both found it in themselves to disobey the orders they were given by their commander, Sam Houston; orders that conveyed the same message: "Retreat".

Houston had no intention of holding San Antonio de Behar and the Alamo. Goliad, where Fannin commanded was far more important. But Fannin, faced with an enemy force some three times plus larger than his, under Santa Ana's chief lieutenant, General Urrea, dithered. First he contemplated rushing to the rescue of Travis, trapped in the Alamo and surrounded by Santa Ana's main force [Santa Ana had forced marched a large force through northern Mexico in the dead of winter to arrive on the Texans front porch, as it were, with no knowledge that he was coming, let alone that he was there]. He had then split his forces, sending Urrea to Goliad while he invested the Alamo [Santa Ana would split his forces again, with MUCH less satisfactory results, just before the battle of San Jacinto].

By the time Fannin made up his mind to fall back, it was too late. Urrea surrounded him, and brought him to battle. Fannin was defeated and he and some 300 of his men surrendered on March 19th, expecting, perhaps, to be treated as prisoners of war.

But Santa Ana had decreed that those Texicans who took up arms against Mexico were traitors, and were to be executed. And on March 27, 1836, Urrea carried out that order against over 400 Texans [Fannin's men, plus some 100 odd other captured Texans]. His men killed them all.

Goliad, along with the Alamo catalyzed the Texans. In less than a month, THEY attacked Santa Ana, and his main body at San Jacinto. In some 20 minutes they had crushed Santa Ana's army. With Santa Ana's capture, they won their independence.
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« Reply #425 on: March 28, 2018, 08:37:39 am »

One of the more forgotten pages of Civil War history involves the confederate invasion of New Mexico Territory in 1862 [the territory included New Mexico and  Arizona, as well as a small slice of Colorado.

The reasons for the attack were several fold. First, the South had always looked on the area in question as a potential space for expanded slave based agriculture. Second, it presented a corridor for the confederacy to reach California. Third, there were mineral deposits the south needed. And fourth, the Confederates knew they were not unwelcome.

They would be tolerated, and not unwelcome, not because the citizens of the territory were slave holders, in favor of slavery, or because they were secessionist firebrands. The Confederates would be welcomed for a much simpler reason. The Apache.

In 1860, America's longest war [it wouldn't end until 1886] broke out in southeast Arizona, when LT. George Bascombe, searching for a boy taken by Apaches, who he mistakenly believed were Chohoken Chiricahua Apaches [they were Tontos], violated a flag of truce, and captured several Apaches from the parley. One escaped. His name was Cochise, and he was the chief of the Chohokens. Bascombe then hanged his brother and several others in the party. The war was on.

Then, with the shelling of Ft. Sumter, the U.S Army began transferring their troops east, leaving Arizona, and New Mexico, at the mercy of not only Cochise, but Cochise's father-in-law, Mangas Colorados, chief of the Mimbreno Apache, and as close to a paramount chief as the Apaches ever had.

They ran wild. They laid siege to Tuscon. They shut down east-west communication via the Butterfield Stage Line. They forced the abandonment of several mining towns. And the locals couldn't stop them.

so they sent a delegation to the western outpost of the confederacy, Texas. And there was a meeting of the minds.

A Confederate force of troops and Texas Rangers invaded New Mexico and Arizona, taking, initially, a southern route that saw the Stars and Bars flying over Tuscon. Their commander, Henry Sibley, then turned north to target the the Union stronghold at Ft. Craig with some three thousand men.

The Union troops failed to stop the Rebels, and Ft.. Craig, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe also fell to the Rebels.

Sibley then turned east, toward Ft. Union on the other side of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.And now the wheels fell off. He pushed Union troops [Colorado Volunteers] back, but didn't break them. Both armies were still in Glorietta Pass, when Major John Chivington [of later Sand Creek Massacre infamy]  found the rebel supply train. Scaling and coming down the cliffs around the area where they were secreted, he destroyed the train after surprising, and driving off the detachment guarding the train.

Sibley was now in hostile territory, with no supplies. to compound his problems, a large force of Union Volunteers, the "California Column" was now approaching from the west.

Over the next weeks, sibley, often drunk, retreated back to Texas with what was left of his command. Confederate expansion in the Trans-Mississippi had reached its zenith. The Stars and Bars would never fly that far west again.

The California Column assumed the burden of the Apache War. They broke the Navajo in Canyon de Chelly. But they didn't break Cochise.
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« Reply #426 on: March 29, 2018, 08:55:31 am »

1953: ROSENBERGS CONVICTED

     see PzLdr HISTORY FACTS Archive, p.11


1971: LT. WILLIAM CALLEY CONVICTED OF MY LAI MASSACRE

     see PzLdr HISTORY FACTS Archive, p.11


1973: U.S. TROOPS COMPLETE WITHDRAWAL FROM SOUTH VIETNAM

     see PzLdr HISTORY FACTS  Archive, p.11

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« Reply #427 on: March 31, 2018, 12:09:46 pm »

1865: PHIL SHERIDAN STARTS THE LAST DANCE

With Robert E. Lee having shot his bolt at Fort Stedman, U.S Grant began his final destruction of the confederate positions around Petersburg. To open his offensive, he turned to his commander of cavalry, MG Philip H. Sheridan.

"Little Phil" was one of the few commanders, on either side, who had commanded both cavalry, and infantry divisions and Corps. He had come east with grant, and had led the Union cavalry of the Army of the Potomac from one victory to another. He had drawn JEB Stuart into the battle of Yellow Tavern, and not only defeated him, but killed him. He had led a provisional army into the Shenandoah, and routed Jubal Early, and destroying the breadbasket of the Army of Northern Virginia.

And now, Grant gave him the honor of the opening move of the final campaign against Petersburg, an attack on Lee's left flank.

Sheridan attacked on White Oak road, in miserable weather in the afternoon of March 31st, 1865 near Dinwiddie court house. His opponent was Confederate Major general George Pickett, of Gettysburg fame [or infamy, take your pick]. Pickett stopped Sheridan cold and drove him back. But Sheridan regrouped while Pickett withdrew to five forks, where, the next day, Sheridan would crush him, throw Lee's defenses into total disarray, and lead to the confederate Government fleeing Richmond for the deep South, and Lee fleeing to Appomattox Court house and surrender.

1940: THE LAUNCHING OF THE GERMAN RAIDER 'ATLANTIS'

See: "PzLdr History Facts" Archive, p. 11

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« Reply #428 on: April 01, 2018, 09:40:23 am »

1865:  THE BATTLE OF FIVE FORKS

See "PzLdr History Facts Archive, p.11

1924: HITLER GETS SENTENCED
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« Reply #429 on: April 01, 2018, 10:46:54 am »

1865: THE BATTLE OF FIVE FORKS

See "PzLdr History Facts" Archive, p.11



1924: HITLER GETS THE SLAMMER

At the conclusion of his trial for treason, arising out of the failed "Beer Hall Putsch", Adolf Hitler is sentenced to five years' imprisonment in Landsberg Prison [He had faced a possible death sentence. but also faced a highly sympathetic Judge].

Hitler had turned the trial into a major propaganda coup, which considering the ineptitude of the Putsch itself was nothing short of a miracle. He had entered the Court as a little known rabble rouser form one of the myriad extremist political parties that infested the fever swamp of Bavarian politics. He left it as a national political figure.

Hitler would serve less than a year of his sentence in Landsberg, in what might best be called "soft" incarceration. While there, he wrote the first volume of "MEIN KAMPF", and lived in a separate wing of the prison with some, but not all of his incarcerated followers. Upon his release, Hitler will re-assume control of his Party [He had left in the charge of Alfred Rosenberg, secure in the knowledge Rosenberg was too inept to replace him], and begin rebuilding his movement, this time within the political system [mostly]. In 1933, some nine years after his imprisonment, Adolf Hitler will become Chancellor of the German Republic. Within three months after that, he will be Fuehrer of the German Reich.



1945: THE INVASION OF OKINAWA

Located a little over 300 miles of Kyushu, Okinawa was the last preliminary to the planned U.S. invasion of the Japanese home islands. And it was one of the best planned attacks of the U.S. military in the Second World War. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, "The enemy has a vote on the battle".

And by 1945, only the most idiotic of  Japanese had any belief, however ephemeral, that Japan could win the war they had started against the United States in December, 1941. But Japanese strategy had changed.

Falling back on Clausewitz' dictum that "War is politics by other means", Japan now worked on the premise that by inflicting humongous losses on American forces engaged in taking Japan's island outpost line, America would sue for a negotiated peace.

That strategy had achieved full development on the island of Iwo Jima. there, the Japanese commander, General Kuribiyashi had ordered his men to take 10 American lives for their own. The result was a bloodbath.

And now on Okinawa, the Japanese commander, Gen.Ushijima, went Kuribiyashi one better. He concentrated his defenses on the southern end of the island, in a series of defensive lines anchored on Shuri Castle, creating a web of tunnels, hidden machine gun nests, and gun positions. There would be no 'banzai' charges. When U.S. pressure became too great on one line, the Japanese would fall back to the next. When American troops then moved on, Japanese troops in tunnels and spider holes would attack them from the rear. And the positions in front of the americans would be mutually supporting.

The invasion force, commanded by Army General Simon Bolivar Buckner  III [his father had surrendered Ft. Donelson to U.S. Grant in 1862] landed on the west coast of the island on April 1, 1945, and almost immediately, and with no appreciable resistance, cut the island in half. the U.S. Marines then moved north, and the Army moved south.

The Marines met, and defeated what little resistance awaited them to the north. The Army, on the other hand, ran into the Shuri line, Sugarloaf Hill, and a buzz saw. Fighting was intense, and protracted.

Eventually, the Marines were brought south, and joined the fight. Progress was slow, and casualties were high [American losses were over 10,000 dead, including General Buckner. The Japanese lost over 115,000 of a garrison of slightly less than 120,000, including Ushijima, a suicide]. But with the help of an amphibious landing behind the Japanese, the battle was over on June 22, 1945, almost three moths after it began.
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« Reply #430 on: April 04, 2018, 07:59:36 am »

THE BIRTH OF ISOROKU YAMAMOTO

See "PzLdr History Facts" Archive, p.11
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« Reply #431 on: April 06, 2018, 10:08:01 am »

1832

Illinois is known for the Gang Wars of the '20s, but Indian Wars, not so much. But in 1832, there was an Indian war of some four months duration waged in Illinois and surrounding states - the black Hawk War.

Black Hawk was a Sauk Indian, who with their allies the Fox, lived on both sides of the Mississippi. But in 1804, a rumble of discontent ran through the tribe, when they entered into a treaty with the United states, ceding their lands east of the Mississippi. Black Hawk refused to accept the loss of the lands, although he himself signed on in 1816.

But as the Whites kept coming, his anger grew, especially when they began settling in the town of his birth, and his still then home.

The result was that Black Hawk gathered a force of warriors and crossed the Mississippi intent on making war on the United States. But his plan, in part, relied on the belief that the British to the North, and other tribes allied to his band would join him. They didn't. So black Hawk tried to surrender, but the parley went wrong, and an Indian was killed. The war was on.

As in many Indian Wars, Black Hawk was, initially successful.And the Illinois country was was terrified. But U.S troops and volunteers [including a militia company commander named Abraham Lincoln] massed and marched. It was soon over.

Abraham Lincoln went on to be President. Black Hawk was briefly imprisoned in Virginia, and then taken on a tour of the major cities of the united States [a tactic used with great success against many Indians, including Red Cloud]. black Hawk died on an Iowa Indian reservation several years later.



1862: THE BATTLE OF SHILOH BEGINS
See "PzLdr History Facts" Archive, p.11



1917: THE UNITED STATES ENTERS WORLD WAR I

Congress approves a declaration of war against Germany on this date.

Woodrow Wilson had tried to maintain a state of neutrality when war broke out in Europe in 1914. But American trade was heavily invested in Great Britain and France, and not so much with Wilhelmine Germany. And Germany, in trying to blockade the British as the British were blockading Germany, relied increasingly on the U-boat, and the doctrine of unrestricted submarine warfare in the war zone they imposed around the British islands to accomplish that goal.

Under the so-called "Cruiser Rules", largely written by the British, merchantmen from a hostile power, or neutrals carrying proscribed goods to an enemy power were to be stopped, searched, and if the ship was to be sunk, the attacking naval power was to provide for the crew and passengers, retrieving them before sinking the offending merchantman/ liner. No U-boat could do that. And by 1917, with fresh divisions re-deploying to the Western Front from the East after Russia's surrender, and in anticipation of a quick knockout of Britain and France before any possible entry of the Americans into the War, the Germans lifted their self imposed ban on unrestricted submarine warfare [since 1916] in an effort to support the Army.

As a result, the number of American casualties [on ships of all nations], and of American ships rose steadily. And on April 6th, 1917 America showed she had had enough. With a declaration of war.



1941: HITLER INVADES YUGOSLAVIA AND GREECE

See OPERATION PUNISHMENT, "PzLdr History Facts" Archive, p.1 

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« Reply #432 on: April 07, 2018, 09:03:15 am »

Benito Mussolini fancied himself the rightful master of the Balkans. so during the '20s and '30s, most of his foreign policy designs were aimed at or against Yugoslavia. He, for example, gave shelter and support to Anton Pavelik, leader of the Ustashe movement in Croatia [and the only German allies to be written up by the SS for unacceptable conduct toward prisoners - twice]. He attempted to meddle, and influence affairs in Bulgaria, and Romania. and he had his eyes on Greece.

So it came as no big surprise when, in 1939, with that almost 'on the fly' character that came with most Italian military operations in the soon to be World War, Mussolini ordered the invasion, and occupation of Albania.

Now Albania, at that time, was almost a formal Italian dependency. most of their trade [what there was of it] was with Italy. The Albanians tended to toe the line with Italian foreign policy. So sending troops, military supplies, government functionaries, etc. was for Mussolini no gain, if not a net loss.

But what the invasion did do, aside from showing the world the Keystone Cops quality of the Italian military, was give Mussolini a land border with Greece, another Balkans country that refused to bow to Fascist Italy. And that had major ramifications in World War II. Because Mussolini would invade Greece from Albania in the late Fall/early winter of 1940, and would do so without consulting his Ally, Adolf Hitler [Mussolini was piqued that Hitler had undertaken the war, and the invasion of France without consulting him]. The invasion of Greece was a major humiliation of Italy, even by Mussolini standards. The Greeks not only stopped the Italian Army, but drove them out of Greece, and took half of Albania.

The debacle required German intervention in an area that Hitler had quite successfully dealt with diplomatically, but now had to invade, in large part to keep the British out of Greece, and within bombing range of the Ploesti oilfields in Romania. The campaign went quickly and swiftly, in no small part because the Germans used troops massed in the area for the soon to break Operation Barbarossa [which Hitler didn't tell Mussolini about either]. Hitler's campaign caused wear and tear on tanks, other tracks and transports earmarked for Army Group south and the attack on Ukraine. It caused physical exhaustion for his troops [but did NOT fatally delay BARBAROSSA, as has been claimed]. And it caused him to detach more formations from an order of battle that would be severely strained in the invasion of the Soviet Union, i.e, the airborne troops savaged in taking Crete [Operation MERKUR], the occupation forces needed to control Yugoslavia and Greece [and a little three division force needed to bail out another of Mussolini's epic failures - the invasion of Egypt, the DEUTSCHES AFRIKA KORPS].

And the first nail in the coffin was the invasion of Albania, on this date in 1939.
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« Reply #433 on: April 07, 2018, 09:08:15 am »

See "PzLdr History Facts" Archive, p.11
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« Reply #434 on: April 08, 2018, 10:11:23 am »

[Full disclosure: I will try to keep this objective, but I am NOT an Omar Bradley fan]

On this date, in 1981, Omar Bradley, General of the Army, dies.

Bradley was born in 1893, and was a classmate at West Point of Dwight Eisenhower in the "Class the Stars Fell On". Like Eisenhower, Bradley missed combat duty overseas in World War I. Between wars, he served at the infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia with George Marshall, and West Point with Jacob Devers. Bradley was involved in revamping infantry doctrine, and reorganizing the infantry. He oversaw the conversion of the 82nd Infantry Division into the 82nd Airborne division.

Bradley went overseas with Eisenhower, and during the TORCH campaign in north Africa served as Eisenhower's 'eyes and ears'/troubleshooter [IMO, spy]. It was Bradley who [rightly] recommended the relief of Lloyd Fredenhall after Kasserine Pass, and his replacement as IInd Corps commander by George Patton. Bradley was then assigned to Patton, and replaced him as IInd Corps Commander when Patton was reassigned as Seventh Army commander to plan, and participate in, the invasion of Sicily.

Bradley led IInd Corps into Sicily, where he assiduously cultivated his image as the anti-Patton, 'aw shucks' "Soldier's General', going so far as to tote around an M-1 Garand rifle [with Ernie Pyle as his unofficial cheerleader]. Behind the 'aw shucks' was a highly ambitious, egotistical, and vengeful man, who never forgot a slight.

Bradley differed with Patton over how Patton tailored his campaign [and took excessive casualties] so that Patton could beat Montgomery, who Patton loathed [as would Bradley] to Messina [in fairness, several of Patton's subordinates, including the more capable Lucian Truscott, also disagreed with Patton].

Bradley's big chance came with two unrelated events. First there was Patton's slapping incident, which sidelined him for almost a year, cost him command of the Army Group that would invade France, and which got Bradley out from under Patton's command. The second involved several tussles over personnel and air assets from Europe, i.e. Great Britain, to Eisenhower's Mediterranean command involving Eisenhower and the then commander in Europe, Jacob Devers, who was senior to both Ike and Omar. Eisenhower, a man as vindictive as Bradley, and a man who could carry a grudge almost as long, almost immediately after he was appointed to command OVERLORD, sent Devers packing to the Med, and named Bradley as the ground commander for the D-Day invasion.

Bradley, your basic staff jockey like his boss, did a creditable job on the D-Day landings and follow up. His planning for the breakout at St. Lo [Operation COBRA] was exceptional. And his handling of the drive accross France was generally very good, although, IMHO, he reined in Patton too much, and put WAY to much faith in the generally pedestrian [on his best days] Courtney Hodges.

Bradley's touch faltered badly as winter approached. First there was the Huertgen forest [my Dad fought there]. The Germans, who could see no strategic advantage to the Americans attacking there, were, however, more than willing to defend the place with a few units. It became, for the Americans, a pointless meat grinder, with Hodges, in the words of the Duke of Wellington, "[coming] at us the same old way"; in hodges' case literally. Yet Bradley neither interfered, nor questioned Hodges' battle plan.

But the Huertgen Forest was merely the prelude to Omar Bradley's nadir - The Battle of the Bulge.

When the Germans sent 25 divisions west through the Belgian Ardennes, both Bradley and his prize pupil, hodges thought it was a minor spoiling attack. They clung to that belief even after Eisenhower perceived the threat of what Operation HERBSTNEBEL really was. Bradley finally realized the scope of what was happening when one of the German drives threatened his 12th Army Group headquarters. and then if not panicking, he lost control of his Army Group, causing Eisenhower to divide the Bulge in half. He gave Bradley's Ninth Army to Montgomery, along with the northern half of the Bulge, and gave Bradley  the southern half. Eisenhower crowed they'd let the Germans reach Paris and cut them off [when the Allies counterattacked there was no deep encirclement. Eisenhower being Eisenhower, the counterattack was an almost frontal, 'broad front'thrust [or bludgeon]. It pushed the Germans back, but allowed far too many to escape. Before that happened, however, Bradley had to sit and stew as his old boss, and now subordinate, George Patton saved the day, and Jacob Devers amalgam 6th Army Group [composed of American and French troops] stretched to its left to cover Patton's flank.

12th Army Group crossed the Rhine first, at Remagen, and encircled the Ruhr, and all the German troops therein. Bradley's [actually Hodges' troops] met the soviets at Torgau, while Patton rampaged through Bavaria and western Czechoslovakia.

By the time the Germans surrendered, Bradley was in command  of the largest number of U.S. troops ever to serve under a single commander, well over a million.

Bradley had his eye on being chief of Staff of the Army after hostilities, but Ike got that job, and Bradley got the VA. When Ike went to Columbia University, Bradley got the C/S job he coveted.

But being Chief of Staff, and then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, had its downside. And that downside was named Douglas MacArthur. Initially, he could do no wrong, and no one, including Bradley, could stand in his way when he was named U.N. commander in Korea when war broke out there in June, 1950. But as MacArthur increasingly clashed with Harry Truman over the direction of the war, and after the Chinese intervention, Bradley smelled blood in the water, and became a leading proponent of Truman relieving MacArthur. Truman did.

Bradley received his 5th star in 1950 [there would be only nine 5 star flag officers]. In retirement he wrote a couple of memoirs, and was the technical adviser on the movie "PATTON" in case you ever wondered where the wise, kind, leader portrayed by Karl Malden came from].

Bradley died of heart related problems in 1981. Because 5 stars never retire, he served almost 70 years on active duty - the longest term of service in U.S. history.
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