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ANZAC day, 25th April


Walsingham

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ANZAC day on wikipedia

 

I don't want to be all gushing, especially on a day for Aussies and Kiwis, but my British family made a point of teaching me as a kid about the sacrifice their grandparents made alongside ours. Gallipoli in particular being a fight they could easily have stayed out of, WW1 being a European affair.

 

Prof. Richard Holmes said to me that the thing to remember about the ANZACs is that they were almost a family affair. People back in their home countries knew precisely where they were fighting, and watched their (almost ) every move in the press. Their home countries were tough, hard working, and tolerated little bull****. The men of the ANZACs fought and died accordingly.

 

In WW2 a rather starchy British staff officer complained that the ANZACs weren't keen on saluting. Gen. Freyberg replied "You should try waving. They always wave back."

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"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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Erwin Rommel did say if he had to invade hell, he'd have the Australians take it and the New Zealanders to hold it.

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"Turned wrong way round, the relentless unforeseen was what we schoolchildren studied as 'History,' harmless history, where everything unexpected in its own time is chronicled on the page as inevitable. The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic.”

 

-Philip Roth, The Plot Against America

 

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Kind of. The battle was winnable in the short term, but no slam dunk. It also would have been a nightmare to supply if held, more so than Malta given the size discrepancy. Militarily speaking the whole Greek intervention was a stupid idea which not only directly wasted resources on an unwinnable campaign but weakened North Africa as well. At Crete there was no air cover to speak of and no heavy weaponry, and it was a disorganised scratch force from the remnants of Greece defending a large area. The big mistake was made by a subordinate without Freyberg's input, and once it had been made there was little anyone could have done in the circumstances. If they had tanks for a counterattack it might have been a different story, but they didn't.

 

If I were to blame Freyberg for anything I'd blame him for exacerbating the mess at Cassino by going overboard on the carpet bombing. That didn't just make things worse for us, but for the others who tried to attack it later. He was also rather over cautious, but then he had something like 10% of our manpower under his command.

 

Erwin Rommel did say if he had to invade hell, he'd have the Australians take it and the New Zealanders to hold it.

Heh, given Tobruk I would have expected the reverse order

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I agree with Zor's analysis on Crete. Strategic nonsense from the start .The tactics of moving tanks up to the airfields etc is pure wargaming fodder.

 

However, I'd completely disagree with the analysis of Monte Cassino. I've been to Cassino and it's about as hard a fight as I can imagine. For those who don't know, picture the Somme UPHILL ON A MOUNTAIN. Cassino the battle was lost because of (to use the moniker the troops gave him) General 'F***ing' Clark. For the sake of him getting a photo on some steps in Rome he turned another Stalingrad for the Axis into a meatgrinder for the Allies.

 

Actually, if youare going to check out any battlefield I totally rate a tour of Cassino. I'd also recommend sparing time to visit the Axis cemetery. It'ss almost more sad, because the silly bastards died for no goddamn reason worth spitting on.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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I agree with Zor's analysis on Crete. Strategic nonsense from the start .The tactics of moving tanks up to the airfields etc is pure wargaming fodder.

 

However, I'd completely disagree with the analysis of Monte Cassino. I've been to Cassino and it's about as hard a fight as I can imagine. For those who don't know, picture the Somme UPHILL ON A MOUNTAIN. Cassino the battle was lost because of (to use the moniker the troops gave him) General 'F***ing' Clark. For the sake of him getting a photo on some steps in Rome he turned another Stalingrad for the Axis into a meatgrinder for the Allies.

 

Actually, if youare going to check out any battlefield I totally rate a tour of Cassino. I'd also recommend sparing time to visit the Axis cemetery. It'ss almost more sad, because the silly bastards died for no goddamn reason worth spitting on.

 

Blame also goes to the higher ups who believed the abbey at Monte Cassino was being used as an artillery spotting position. despite Kesselrings communications to Allied forces to the contrary (as a great admirer of the arts, he did in fact issue specific orders to his troops that it not be garrisoned lest it be targeted). Nonetheless, it got bumped up on the USAAF's strike list and it got bombed to rubble, which had the effect of making it an even more fortifiable position for elite German Fallschirmjagers who were now free to use the rubble as cover.

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"Turned wrong way round, the relentless unforeseen was what we schoolchildren studied as 'History,' harmless history, where everything unexpected in its own time is chronicled on the page as inevitable. The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic.”

 

-Philip Roth, The Plot Against America

 

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Our histories are pretty explicit about Freyberg insisting on the Abbey being bombed because he was worried about casualties. It would have needed approval from higher ups who may have been itching to do it anyway, but I'd still attach a fair bit of blame to him. I guess one excuse might be that throughout NA and Sicily there hadn't been much city/ town fighting so there was no experience of a Stalingrad style destruction resulting in good defensive terrain without killing off the enemy but consequences like not being able to use tanks effectively in the town (even given the terrain restrictions) really ought to have been considered. And the same sort of general thing happened regularly in WW1 which Freyberg fought in- massive bombardment to wipe out enemy, enemy not wiped out...

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The first World War is one of my personal historical hobbies. I actively collect books about this conflict

 

There hasn't been a war since that has lead to such significant changes in the world as that war, we are still feeling the consequences of events today.

 

It always amazes when you read about the sacrifice and futility around some of the strategies around battles like The Somme,Battle of Mons

 

  and Gallipoli,but  what an interesting in History :)

"Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”

John Milton 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  George Bernard Shaw

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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I agree with Zor's analysis on Crete. Strategic nonsense from the start .The tactics of moving tanks up to the airfields etc is pure wargaming fodder.

 

However, I'd completely disagree with the analysis of Monte Cassino. I've been to Cassino and it's about as hard a fight as I can imagine. For those who don't know, picture the Somme UPHILL ON A MOUNTAIN. Cassino the battle was lost because of (to use the moniker the troops gave him) General 'F***ing' Clark. For the sake of him getting a photo on some steps in Rome he turned another Stalingrad for the Axis into a meatgrinder for the Allies.

 

Actually, if youare going to check out any battlefield I totally rate a tour of Cassino. I'd also recommend sparing time to visit the Axis cemetery. It'ss almost more sad, because the silly bastards died for no goddamn reason worth spitting on.

 

Blame also goes to the higher ups who believed the abbey at Monte Cassino was being used as an artillery spotting position. despite Kesselrings communications to Allied forces to the contrary (as a great admirer of the arts, he did in fact issue specific orders to his troops that it not be garrisoned lest it be targeted). Nonetheless, it got bumped up on the USAAF's strike list and it got bombed to rubble, which had the effect of making it an even more fortifiable position for elite German Fallschirmjagers who were now free to use the rubble as cover.

 

 

 

Fair play for knowing the issues, but if you go and actually look at the thing the first thing you notice is that it's on a mountain. Jerry had plenty of other observation posts to use either way. It's just that it started to loom large in the minds of the ordinary soldiers as High Command putting their lives at risk for abstract values.

 

They've rebuilt the monastery now, and it's quite fun to troll the monks by apologising for blowing it up.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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The first World War is one of my personal historical hobbies. I actively collect books about this conflict

 

There hasn't been a war since that has lead to such significant changes in the world as that war, we are still feeling the consequences of events today.

 

It always amazes when you read about the sacrifice and futility around some of the strategies around battles like The Somme,Battle of Mons

 

  and Gallipoli,but  what an interesting in History :)

 

I definitely agree, WW1 was the single most important event in the 20th century, Europe would never again look like it did before it. I think a lot of people take the changes brought on by WW1 for granted. What's also interesting is that a lot of the reasons behind the alliances (and grievances) in the war were personal and arbitrary rather than thought- out geopolitically.

 

I made an experiment in a session of Darkest Hour where I started as Germany in 1914. Instead of allying with AH, I just let things sort themselves out in the Balkans. "WW1" ended up being a war restricted to the Balkans with AH and Russia as the only major powers. AH lost and was partitioned into Austria, Hungary, and so on. At this time Germany was spending all industrial resources to build yet more industries and all money to gain influence abroad, particularly in the Balkans. The government moved a bit towards democracy to facilitate this. By the beginning of the 30s I moved to invade and annex Austria and a few years later starting to turn as much of the Balkans into puppet states as I could (those who weren't already my allies) before Russia would declare war on me. Since I was politically rather close to France, UK and US none of them ended up joining Russia, which was still ruled over by the Tsar. By 1942 I had more industrial capacity than even the US and was steamrolling Russia.

 

I don't think people really understand how gimped historical Germany was in many ways by 1936. If it was not for the theoretical breakthroughs on armored and mobile warfare, things would have turned out very differently.

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"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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The first World War is one of my personal historical hobbies. I actively collect books about this conflict

 

There hasn't been a war since that has lead to such significant changes in the world as that war, we are still feeling the consequences of events today.

 

It always amazes when you read about the sacrifice and futility around some of the strategies around battles like The Somme,Battle of Mons

 

  and Gallipoli,but  what an interesting in History :)

 

I definitely agree, WW1 was the single most important event in the 20th century, Europe would never again look like it did before it. I think a lot of people take the changes brought on by WW1 for granted. What's also interesting is that a lot of the reasons behind the alliances (and grievances) in the war were personal and arbitrary rather than thought- out geopolitically.

 

I made an experiment in a session of Darkest Hour where I started as Germany in 1914. Instead of allying with AH, I just let things sort themselves out in the Balkans. "WW1" ended up being a war restricted to the Balkans with AH and Russia as the only major powers. AH lost and was partitioned into Austria, Hungary, and so on. At this time Germany was spending all industrial resources to build yet more industries and all money to gain influence abroad, particularly in the Balkans. The government moved a bit towards democracy to facilitate this. By the beginning of the 30s I moved to invade and annex Austria and a few years later starting to turn as much of the Balkans into puppet states as I could (those who weren't already my allies) before Russia would declare war on me. Since I was politically rather close to France, UK and US none of them ended up joining Russia, which was still ruled over by the Tsar. By 1942 I had more industrial capacity than even the US and was steamrolling Russia.

 

I don't think people really understand how gimped historical Germany was in many ways by 1936. If it was not for the theoretical breakthroughs on armored and mobile warfare, things would have turned out very differently.

 

 

Interesting post, and  fascinating  the alternative futures you could create :)

"Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”

John Milton 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  George Bernard Shaw

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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For my money the real gimping was the Nazi party. Corrupt, bonkers, and evil. You could posit removing them, but remove them and you don't get a war.

 

Plus - recognising this is a touch revisionist - the British Empire was really something back in the day. Germany just couldn't compete in the long term. The British Isles had the biggest arms industry in the world, a higher per capita spending power, and ready access to every perquisite of war fighting...

 

...including (on topic) the fighting men of the Dominions.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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Well the fact that England was an island nation did work against it. Admiral Donitz had given Hitler his assurances that England could be starved into submission if he had 300 U-boats (100 going out, 100 coming back, and another 100 in the docks being re-fitted at any one time); Hitler started the war when Donitz only had a little under 50, some of which were not in fighting condition come September 1939.

Quote
"Turned wrong way round, the relentless unforeseen was what we schoolchildren studied as 'History,' harmless history, where everything unexpected in its own time is chronicled on the page as inevitable. The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic.”

 

-Philip Roth, The Plot Against America

 

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Well the fact that England was an island nation did work against it. Admiral Donitz had given Hitler his assurances that England could be starved into submission if he had 300 U-boats (100 going out, 100 coming back, and another 100 in the docks being re-fitted at any one time); Hitler started the war when Donitz only had a little under 50, some of which were not in fighting condition come September 1939.

 

One for another thread, maybe. As far as the ANZACs go, perhaps the last thing to point out that once Japan joined the war they were in danger of invasion, yet they stuck to their guns in Europe and Africa.

 

Of course not all were sterling buggers. Some were bludgers.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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For my money the real gimping was the Nazi party. Corrupt, bonkers, and evil. You could posit removing them, but remove them and you don't get a war.

 

Plus - recognising this is a touch revisionist - the British Empire was really something back in the day. Germany just couldn't compete in the long term. The British Isles had the biggest arms industry in the world, a higher per capita spending power, and ready access to every perquisite of war fighting...

 

...including (on topic) the fighting men of the Dominions.

 

Are you talking about WW1 or WW2?

 

Well the fact that England was an island nation did work against it. Admiral Donitz had given Hitler his assurances that England could be starved into submission if he had 300 U-boats (100 going out, 100 coming back, and another 100 in the docks being re-fitted at any one time); Hitler started the war when Donitz only had a little under 50, some of which were not in fighting condition come September 1939.

 

I remember reading Dönitz' recollections from the war, at one point he mentioned being interrogated by Allied commanders immediately after the peace had been made. Their most important question to him was why the Germans did not build more U-boats, when their potential had been proven during WW1 and even during the war when the numbers so clearly showed success. It says something that France had more submarines than Germany at the start of the war. In this situation, let's not forget that Dönitz was not at all in charge of the Kriegsmarine during the build-up and initial phases of the war - that position was held by Erich Raeder until 1943, a man who was anything but a visionary in the field of naval warfare. I think you must also take into account the psychology of Hitler and the Nazi ideology as a whole, I find it hard to envision Hitler choosing to mass produce U-boats instead of building battleships like the Bismarck (only to field them as giant floating piñatas) for bragging rights.

"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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Agree with Rostere. The battleships and battlecruisers were a grotesque folly from Herr Funny Moustache. But like I say, if he hadn't been given to stupid grandiose gestures would we have had a war at all?

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"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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A relevant video. Though I wished it included a bit of black humour that came before this in the film.

 

 


 
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"Turned wrong way round, the relentless unforeseen was what we schoolchildren studied as 'History,' harmless history, where everything unexpected in its own time is chronicled on the page as inevitable. The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic.”

 

-Philip Roth, The Plot Against America

 

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Perhaps more pertinently:

 

 

 

I originally knew this through the Pogues, but frankly I think Shane McGowan knows about as much about war as my sock drawer.

 

Give the song a go.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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