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Remembered Today:

US Forces, WWI and WWII


DrB
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I am flying at 18.000 and here comes the flack!!!!!

The British author, John Terraine, paraphrased from one of his books, I believe it was Mons, wrote,

"There is a curious flaw in the British character that seems to revel in complete disaster."

Hence, the retreat from Kabul in 1842, the Light Brigade, Isandhlwana, Majuba Hill, "Black Week" and Spion Kop, Gallipoli, Dunkirk and Dieppe.

All are copiously written about and the bottom line is always British pluck wins through. This I will not contest. I have a great deal of respect for abilities of the the British Army. Wellingtons Peninsular campaign comes to mind quite quickly.

As Fortescue wrote “The bulk of the Empire despised and rerided the stone which had become the headstone of the corners. They were not worthy of such an army. Two centuries of persecution could not wear out its patience. Two centuries of thank-less toil could not abate its ardors. Two centuries of conquest could not awake it to insolence. Dutiful to its masters, merciful to its enemies; it clung steadfastly To its old simple ideals: obedience, service, sacrifice.”

What I tire of is the sniping of certain individuals regarding the prowess of the GI's in both WWI and WWII.

WWI for instance..."poor staff work" hell yes, I won't argue. We were learning. Sir John French's staff wasn't exactly the epitomy of organization as we read about the retreat from Mons and the foundering about at first Ypres. The British general staff was learning as well.

OK...we had our Custer massacre and our Pearl Harbor and shame on us. But please, don't continue to paint us as incompenent blunderers in both wars. I really think we had something to contribute to winning

both of them. Ask the Marines in the Pacific, the airmen over Germany or the GI at Bastogne.

"You may fire when ready, Gridley."

DrB

:)

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I've got no gripes with American fighting men.

Thanks to them I'm not speaking German or Russian.

It's Hollywood's portrayal of History I do disagree with, current US foreign policy and how some Americans think they won WW1 & WW2 .

Apart from that the old Doughboy & Dogface was ok.

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Owen D (a Welchman?)

Thanks for your reply.

I won't argue about the doughboy and the GI. The foreign policy I will not elaborate on because it would be censored by the monitor police.

Hollywood movies stink, but it exists to make money, hence we smile, swallow and carry on..................

Thanks again,

DrB

:)

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It's Hollywood's portrayal of History I do disagree with, current US foreign policy and how some Americans think they won WW1 & WW2 .

Owen - I agree with Hollywood bit, the current US foreign policy bit and the winning the wars bit. The only thing I would add, is that although we did not 'win' WWI on the battlefield it was our economic contribution that helped more than our men. Regarding WWII even the Russians were only able to effectively fight on one front. The US on the other hand dealt with the Germans and the Japanese with significant forces deployed in each theatre at the same time. Andy

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Regarding WWII even the Russians were only able to effectively fight on one front.

But what a front that was , Andy!!!! :o The sheer number of troops/units thrown into battle there totally dwarved the others!! It was a war of it's own that one!!!!

Dave.

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Dave - No question the Russians had a massive front in terms of space, men and material. I take nothing from that and agree what they were able to do was awesome.

In contrast the US mobilized thousands of men, and quantities of material on opposites sides of the Earth (no contiguous land mass) and were able to contribute significantly to the defeat of two armies which had marched over large areas of land.

That is my comparison.

Andy

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I think your average Doughboy matched your average Tommy in fighting ability but I am not so sure about Yank Generals, they tend to come over as the big I am's but I should not be saying that as I have not done any research on Yank Generals. Plus I agree about Hollywood over playing the prowess of the GI's, they were not super men, nor were soldiers of any country, most were just ordanry blokes doing the best they could.

The only thing I would add, is that although we did not 'win' WWI on the battlefield it was our economic contribution that helped more than our men.

Andy I think Britain borrowed large sums of money from the U.S. at very high rates which nearly cripped the Country.

Annette

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Owen D (a Welchman?)

Thanks again,

DrB

:)

DrB

Granmother on Mother's side was Welsh.

I'm ENGLISH and today is St George's Day. Our National Day.

I wish we'd celebrate it like you lot do 4th July or even St. Patrick's Day.

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Its not the picture one paints of oneself that matters, it’s the picture others paint of you.

Regards Charles

That's a bit deep! But probably true - the trouble is, the current American publicity machine helps us to paint the picture we do. If they didn't do silly things like U whatever it was, then we Europeans wouldn't get quite so vexed about seeing the Yanks win every war they fought.

And like the recently reported comments of a British brigadier whose name I forget, the American general does rather let the side down (in British eyes) - did Patton really need pearlt handled revolvers, and do they have to wear helmets several miles behind the line?

Macho appearnaces might sell in the domestic market, but there ae times they could try and see themselelves as others see them.

Mind you, my old dad (BEF 1939/40, and N Africa 1941-45) had a particular dislike of another ally, whom he thought rather over (shall we say) self-confident. No names, but he liked the new Zealanders and South Africans. ;)

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Montgomery also had a penchant for publicity as well, and PR spin, whether about generals or private soldiers, pre-dates both World Wars. Britain has had many military disasters; it suited the Government of the day, often with the co-operation of a compliant press, to play them down for domestic political purposes.

The US soldier had, and still has, excellent fighting qualities; and just like the British soldier, retains a droll sense of humour and a touch of scepticsm about some aspects of their profession.

Terry Reeves

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I think your average Doughboy matched your average Tommy

Does anyone have any idea how many of the Doughboys were British born?

With regard to the question:

US economic power and influence practically dictated WW1 and the outcome, and I guess you have to say this was repeated to a large degree in WW2 - although the Battle of Britain that kept the war in the west ongoing and Hitler later declaring war on the US as well as opening two fronts and then turning away from the oilfields in the Ukraine, were pretty big contributions to German defeat as well.

I dont really know about the war in the Pacific but with regard to the British involvement against the Japanese, then I have always believed that once the British and Indian troops had successfully halted the Japanese advance on India at Kohima and Imphal, the Japanese had lost or at best could force a stalemate - it was just a matter of time.

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.....and don't forget the Aussies on the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea

DrB

:)

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Does anyone have any idea how many of the Doughboys were British born?

JOn - Great question, but I am not sure there is anyway to get an accurate number with separation between services and the break up of the Army and National Guard Units. It would be quite a project to figure out a close number even.

Andy

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Is it risking flak to raise the point that the US of A could have remained out of WW1, and sat back to deal with whichever side eventually won? When I read criticism of Aussie or American forces, it always seems a little harsh for the man on the ground, thousands of miles from family, fighting against an enemy who never threatened their home. Perhaps we should distinguish more between the generals and the men.

As for Hollywood, 'nuff said.

It seems like modern politics has a great effect on our interpretation of history. The tabloid press would suggest that:

New Zealand is a really nice country, and its people are friendly and peaceful - therefore no critcism I can find of NZ forces in the Great War.

South Africa had a recent past that was less than satisfactory; therefore the contribution of its troops was largely ignored (Delville Wood memorial...). Now, post Nelson Mandela, it is OK to mention the contribution of S A forces.

The tabloids suggest that Australians tend to fight a lot, there are a lot of Aussies in cities in the UK, and it may want independence from the monarchy, hence the common view that Aussie troops did Ok some of the time, but they were indisciplined and moan too much, because 'we' had it worse.

The Sun Says - The French are 'cheese eating surrender monkeys' and the popular view (maybe not on this forum) is that us Brits died in thousands to save their country, while they sat back.

The US now is seen as seeking war, think they are the best, and are 'less cultured' than us - the popular view is that US troops arrived a bit too late and were not as good as us Brits (who of course, ARE the best.)

Dr B, I sympathise. whilst not a big fan of G W, I sometimes have to educate those with prejudices against the US. Still, it's a shame to let the facts get in the way of a good opinion, especially if that opinion comes from the popular press. Having forum members from across the globe is a great way to be reminded of the truth.

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An intriguing discussion. Can anyone point out any books / articles / websites that are critical of US or Australian troops? I can't think of any.

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When I read criticism of Aussie or American forces, it always seems a little harsh for the man on the ground,

I do not think many people critice the men themselves, its is the moden day films that protay them as super human and better then anyone else that I think get up most people noses.

Annette

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Annette,

It maybe a belated backlash at being ignored for so long. :ph34r:

I grew up with the B & B teachings. It is only since researching this story that my horizons have been broadened immensely.

Everyone.

For years we were subject to the Wars through Films as the British did it and the Yanks did it, so we learnt war films from you guys.

:P

Now, seriously, when ever patriotism is involved there will be emotion.

If you get down to the average single soldier, they were all men, trying to do what they were asked to do. If the leadership , training and economics was either wrong, lacking or brilliant, I would say this usually determined the outcome.

The above is very basic, I know, but to say an individual Yank or Brit or whatever was better than another is ludicrous.

We all know the Aussies were loud, crass, individualistic etc etc etc, but their deeds did the talking, the records show that. Same as any other group of soldiers, whatever they were as men, the Regt, platoon, did the deeds.

The Generals took the glory. :ph34r:

Cheers

Kim

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Kim I was thinking of yank films, I did not know you Aussies had a film industry :P where is my spade I must start digging a deep trench to avoid income shells :)

Annette

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Annette No need.

There has been a film put out about the Kokoda Track. I intend to see it when in Melbourne in a couple of weeks time. All the reviews say it is very confronting, and by young new filmmakers.

I will be interested in seeing it.

Cheers

Kim

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This started as a Troll, I'll bet my bottom dollar ... but has developed into a fairly interesting and remarkably well behaved, conversation.

My points.

There is no comparison between the Eastern Front and anything else. The ferocity of the Pacific campaign matches it ... and the logistical requirements, but the size and scale of BOTH participants make all other human warefare dwarf in its presense.

But, if you're saying who WON WWII you have to go deeper and the answer, as it SHOULD when talking to historians is "It depends" ... Without the Russians, it wouldn't have been won so easily because of the size of the Eastern Front ... if the British hadn't hung on and won the Battles of the Atlantic / Britian ... there'd be no American presense on Europe and Russia might have won the peace following the war ... But without the American economy, I believe none of it would have happened ... Russia might have been able to survive and eventually conquor ... and all research is that they threw away most of what we gave them ... all, all except Trucks ... could the Russians have won without American Trucks ... maybe ...

I believe, Truely, though ... the Germans lost WWII ... or more specifically the Nazi hierarchy. Simply being Nazi lost them the war ... you can't spend more money and forces guarding what you've conquored than you do conquoring and win ...

**********************

The question of character of Americans in WWI and WWII ... we wage our own type of war ... thank you. Nobody can match our history in the Civil War ... there is just no nation that stood and fought and did what we did during the WYA ... simply none. If you gave the ANV shoes and a meal, I'll bet they'd have taken on both French and German armies of the period ... give them Meade's supply train and Berlin would be serving Chicken Fried Steak today.

But in WWI and WWII our officers are not like other country's .... we're war Managers, not born leaders ... and those of us who think they are ... Patton and MacArthur have serious problems ... I mean serious ... if you want to see the war we waged ... look at RR constructin in France in 1917, Food Preperation production, any type of production of War and Logisitical means and delivery and we (the US) dwarf the rest of the Allies completely. Okay even our WWI generals had watched one too many Rambo movies ... and our pop culture treat the Batttle of the Bulge like it won the war instead of a little skirmish compared to the Eastern Front ... but, in the end, we're Americans ... and like I used to say to my Marine friend ... yes, I don't mind doing it with artillery and aircraft ... MY JOB is to inspect the bodies left behind ... I don't see it as unmanly to use technology and live to write history ...

The essenece of my contribution is you can't compare ... nor really do anyting but raise your blood pressure in this subject ... if you were to pick ONE MOVIE to epidomise (is that a word?) a country's War Presense ...

For US I'd pick Catch 22

For the British forces - Zulu

For Austrialia - I'm not sure ... maybe the Desert Rats with Richard Burton ...

Help me out here

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My favourite Vietnam movie is "The Odd Angry Shot", which was Aussie (and not - as far as I know - available on DVD over here).

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Wow! Two pages and going strong....

US Vietnam movie...Hamburger Hill, unknown actors, no high level brass, just the grunts trying to do the impossible "because it's there"

Thats war...heroic, cowardly and futile, the good, the bad and the ugly (apologies to the spaghetti westerns)

DrB

:)

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My favourite Vietnam movie is "The Odd Angry Shot", which was Aussie (and not - as far as I know - available on DVD over here).

I've got to agree with this assessment. The Odd Angry Shot with Graham Kennedy was a great film. With him as the star, it could be nothing else but be very very Aussie!!

And yes, I've got it on DVD!!! :P

Tim L.

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And yes, I've got it on DVD!!! :P

Tim L.

:angry:

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