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31 December 2010


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"Neil, do you think Richard Sorge might have known the Japanese planned to attack Pearl Harbor?"

Not sure about Sorge but the British knew as at July 1941 that the Japanese were going to attack somewhere.

The official history of MI6 is rather unfortunately moot on this point although page 266 is interesting reading for me.

Neil Richardson


"I suspect that some of the "learning" was as a result of superior American logistics and productive capacity. More things can be tried. Unproductive avenues can be closed off with little consequence. I don't believe Britain had the luxury of doing that to the same extent. If anything, in the area where British capacity did match American capacity - academic brainpower, the British seem to me to have been highly innovative and learned very quickly as exemplified by their crypto abilities."

Actually this has nothing to do with logistics or productive capacity. In fact the British Army had far better logistical support than the German in every theater they'd faced them after 1942. The learning I'm talking about comes from tactical and technical innovations (e.g., Culin's Rhino which restored mobility to US tanks in the Bocage. That required the abandoned German "asparagus."). What sort of logistics and productive advantage does it take to come up with a combat command system that balanced out armor, infantry and artillery? This change took place after North Africa when the US Army paid a stiff price as Rommel had noted. Fort Benning didn't have a doctrine or procedure for opposed river crossing. The men came up with a workable solution on the fly.

"As for the British performance in Normandy, Beavor puts it down to a "War weary, risk averse" British army. My personal experience with narcissists suggest that it would be a very brave or foolish commander who attempted to operate outside the boundaries of thought and deed established by Montgomery since salvation by any other means than himself would have been seen as as much a sin as outright failure."

That makes no sense at all. So you expend 80000 plus casualties and not achieve any meaningful goal while extending the war another six months. Set piece battles were a thing of the past and Montgomery wasn't particularly good at it either in Italy or in Normandy. Despite Beevor's description, war weariness has nothing to do with tactical incompetence if not operational incompetence (Americans were guilty of this). You don't send armor into mixed terrain without infantry and artillery support no matter what your advantage in numbers might be. The Israelis learned that lesson several times over starting with 1973.

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