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How much of our WWII history is really just propaganda and myth?

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by KodiakBeer, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Continuing...

    I don't think it was the troops "welfare" those two general were concerned about, but maintaining their troops willingness and ability to fight. MacArthur made his fair share of blunders that adversely affected his troops welfare, as did Patton. One thing is true for both generals - They were either loved or cursed by their men, there was very little in between.


    As USMCPrice has pointed out, Chichi Jima had some 3,000 more Japanese troops on it than Iwo Jima. Further, Iwo Jima had three airfields on it as opposed to Chichi Jima's one. Adding to that fact was that the terrain of Chichi Jima was considered to be unacceptable for the construction of more airbases.


    First, it is not Corbett, but Corlett, specifically Major General Charles H. "Cowboy Pete" Corlett.

    Second, Major General Corlett was an Army general - He was not a Marine general.


    Third, that would make it "intra-service" rivalry. Not "inter-service" rivalry. The intra-service rivalry was between those Army personnel fighting in the PTO vs. ETO, those in the ETO viewed the Pacific as the "bush leagues", whereas the "major league" was fighting was against the Germans.

    Fourth, the ETO generals had already conducted several large amphibious operations in the Mediterranean Theater, and had been soing so for almost as long as those in the Pacific Theater. Thus, the American generals were by no means inexperienced in conducting large amphibious operations.
     
  2. 36thID

    36thID Member

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    The one award that binds the US Army and the Marines is the Arrowhead device.

    To earn this you had to perform an assault parachute jump, a glider landing, or an amphibious assault. To me, the men that earned this earned something special. It's not an easy one to get. ETO or PTO...

    The USA excelled at amphibious and invasion landings. Good training and planning showed results.
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    You sure about that? The US Army and the historical facts might dispute that statment.
     
  4. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Never said he was a Marine general, but he was advising Overlord on the basis of his experience with Marine amphib ops.

    In the tru stuyle of service rivalry, his advice was totally ignored, with Bradley clearly making his opinion of the Pacific operations known to all who would listen....he called it "Bush league stuff".

    'Pete' was the mouthpiece of the USMC in Europe, and he was given short shrift and sent on his way. If his advice had been followed, it's quite likely that Omaha beach would not have been the absolute mess that it was.
     
  5. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    And does not a concern for 'welfare'
    also predispose those same well fed and rested troops to perform a lot better, with the kudos going to Mac and Patton anyhow?

    Really splitting hairs with that one.

    And if you must correct grammar, it really shows me that you are not taking the debate seriously, trying to score cheap points.

    I'm not saying anything that has not been said before by the US Army. The USMC and the Army have a healthy rivalry going, in so far as it is good to have internal critics giving your operations an objective view.

    Think how much more effective the German High command would have been without so many 'yes men', and on the other hand, without so much dissention on matter of strategy. Part of the reason why 'Blue' failed was the confusion arising from objectives, and the debate centered about what part of the force was absolutly needed to finish the job and get the objectives in hand. Critic could have pointed out that 'Blue' was widening the front, and spreading valuable and irreplaceable assets around far to willy nilly, no concentration of force.

    Contrast this to the planners of COSSAC for Overlord. Much debate and soul searching, with Monty finally getting the 'nod' to alter the plan and maximize the effect of Overlord. Too, the American generals who modified Monty's plan in the field to suit their own tempo of operations, no plan surviving first contact and all.

    None of this soul searching was present for 'Blue'. the atmosphere at Fuhrer HQ was decidedly frosty by comparison, with big egos like Manstein offering heartfelt advice, and then pointing fingers at Adolf once the wheels had fallen off.
     
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Yes, I'm pretty sure about that. I'm not disparaging the army's role at all, but the marines did a hell of a job, and often with far fewer resources.
     
  7. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Not really, A Marine Division table of organization was not that dis-similar to that of a Standard US Army Infantry Division. What was missing from a Marine Division was made up for by Naval support.

    Yes the Japanese were a more fanatical enemy, but their level of support was considerably less, and they, unlike the Germans had little or no room (or ability) to maneuver. Once engaged a Japanese formation could never be supported or withdrawn to be replaced by a fresh unit.

    Each fought the war they were given.
     
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  8. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I was only thinking of the army role vs the marine role in the Pacific, not meaning to drag in the European theater which as you point out was a very different war.

    In many ways, the marines were better suited to combat in the Pacific - rather like light infantry or airborne troops. The battlefield was smaller and there was not as much of a role for big armored forces and so on, that the army could call into play. Of course, the navy was king there and that relationship with the navy was better understood and more effectively exploited by the marines than by the army.
     
  9. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    The advantage the Marine corps had over the Army was the existing relationship/ integration with the Navy. The Marine Corps has always been the expeditionary force in readiness: agile, mobile and hostile.

    The pacific was the perfect theatre for shipborne infantry (amphibious) operations, something that Marines had been perfecting since it's inception in 1775.

    If the Philipines had Marines on it when the Japanese invaded, things could have gone much differently and that isn't meant to be a criticism. One could easily extrapolate the defense of the Philipines and that of Wake Island and come to their own conclusions.

    The Marines had a very similar philosophy to the Japanese which was different to the Army's ethos of the period. The US Army was perfectly suited to do battle in Europe, while the Army's pacific contingent was a much different beast than the Army fielded in Europe.
     
  10. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The Marines practiced "littoral warfare" almost exclusively, starting in the 1920, so they were better prepped for that assignment than the Army.
     
  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Part1 N. Korean Invasion to Pusan....

    How does the percentage of the fighting they did reflect upon how well they did? If you take when and where they fought during 1950 it is really no surprise.

    -25 June 1950 North Korea invades South Korea.
    -05 July 1950, Task Force Smith, a battalion of the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Division defeated by North Koreans and retreats. "One North Korean officer later told historian John Toland that the American forces at the battle seemed "too frightened to fight."
    -06 July the 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Division fights North Korean forces north of Pyongtaek. After a 30 minute fight a disorderly retreat towards Pyongtaek proper begins.
    --"North Korean forces immediately began advancing on A Company's position, but the company was not able to return fire effectively, with fewer than half of its soldiers using their weapons. For several minutes only squad and platoon leaders shot back while the rest of the soldiers hid in their foxholes."

    --"Later examinations found many American soldiers' weapons were assembled incorrectly or were dirty or broken.."

    --C Company, kept in reserve during the engagement, retreated without coming in contact with North Korean forces. A Company, under the heaviest attack, attempted a gradual withdrawal which quickly became disorderly, as men ran from the hill, some without weapons and ammunition, being strafed by North Korean machine guns the entire time. Panic quickly overtook many of the men of the battalion, and they started running past the designated rally points, all the way to Pyongtaek. Others, too scared to retreat, remained in their foxholes and were captured by the North Korean forces. One officer attempted to stay behind and search for survivors, before he and three others were allegedly captured and executed by North Korean forces. Company commanders gathered what men they could and began moving south, though one-fourth of 1st Battalion was killed, missing or captured immediately after the brief fight. The retreating elements left a trail of equipment behind, littering the road back to Pyongtaek with ammunition, helmets, and rain gear."

    --"By noon the disorganized remains of the 34th Infantry had outrun all enemy fire and were out of immediate danger."

    The Regiment moved south and prepared to defend at Chonan. 2000hrs 7/0800 8 July 1950

    --(3d Bn/34thInf) "The battalion briefly retreated when around 50 North Korean scouts began assaulting its positions, leaving behind several wounded men and equipment, including a wounded Dunn (The officer in charge!) who was captured by the North Koreans"

    I can't make myself not comment on this one, a battalion forced to retreat by 50 scouts, and they run away leaving their wounded, including the Officer in charge. WTF.

    --"Between 0800 and 1000, U.S. units began a disorganized retreat from the town, many soldiers deserting their units and running from the battle.[SUP]"

    [/SUP]
    The bright spot of this fight was the 63d Field Artillery Battalion, they fought very well in support of the 34th Infantry.

    The 24th Division now pulls back behind the Kum River and sets up defensive positions.
    -On 14 July North Korean forces begin to assault these lines around Taejon the 24th Infantry Division (19th, 21st and 34th Infantry Regiments, plus attached artillery. Taejon falls 20 July.

    Now Eigth Army was holed up in a defensive perimeter around Pusan. Eigth Army had been reinforced by the 2d Infantry Division, 25th Infantry Division, 1st Cavalry Division, the remnants of the 24th Infantry Division, the 5th Regimental Combat Team, and two ROK Corps. Mac had plenty of air support also, he had the 19th, 22d, 92d, 98th and 307th Bombardment Groups (all with three squadrons) and the 8th, 35th and 49th Fighter Groups (all with three squadrons). Additionally he had the Navy's 5th and 11th Carrier Air Groups and the British 13th Carrier Air Group, Fleet Air Arm. MacArthur's forces at Pusan even outnumbered the North Korean forces, 92,000 ground troops to 70,000 ground troops. It was feared and so reported in the news media, that UN forces might be pushed out of Korea and possibly destroyed. Enter the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, built around the 5th Marine regiment with attached service/support detachments, a total ground element of about 4,500 men.

    Volga, we've had this discussion in a Civil War related thread, about making your own assesment of the facts and not to necessarily just accept the authors conclusions. Here's a good example. Apologists blame the US Army's poor performance on troops grown soft on occupation duty, understrength units, Congressional cuts to manpower and budgets, antiquated equipment, lack of training, and inexperienced soldiers. All these same factors, except not training and going soft, applied equally to the Marines. These two factors are solely the responsibility of their leadership.

    The Marine Corps strength had been greatly reduced in the years post WWII, on 25 June 1950, the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered the Marine Corps to ready a 15,000 man division for employment in Korea. (Interestingly, Major General Dean's 24th Division alone, when it deployed to Korea, had 15,965 men and 4,773 vehicles, active duty troops. The entire Marine Corps couldn't assemble a single division). The 1st Marine Division when given the order only had one understrength regiment the 5th Marines, 1st and 7th Marines were in a cadre status:

    "At Camp Pendleton, the 1st Marine Division was maintained in nearly a cadre status. The division was manned by only one of its authorized three infantry regiments, the 5th Marines. The infantry battalions of the 5th Marines were manned by only two of their authorized three rifle companies, and each rifle company was manned by only two of the authorized three rifle platoons. As a result, on the eve of the Korean War, the 5th Marines had only 1,800 of its 3,900 authorized men.."

    Then on July 3rd they were ordered to supply the brigade while the division reformed:

    "On July 2, MacArthur recommended that a Marine Corps regimental combat team be deployed to the Far East. The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved his request the following day."

    The First Provisional Marine Brigade was stood up on 07 July, attempts were made to bring the Brigade up to strength and troops from Camp LeJeune North Carolina and anywhere they could be scraped up were brought in to strengthen the brigade and start rebuilding the other two regiments:

    "Troops were hurriedly reassigned to the Brigade from 1st Marine Division units as supplies and mothballed equipment were arriving. Some 6,800 troops were sent from the 2d Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, NC for both the Brigade and to begin the rebuilding of the 1st Marine Division. Much of the equipment and vehicles came from Marine Supply Depot, Barstow, CA and were recovered from Pacific islands and refurbish during Operation ROLL-UP in the late 1940s. Regardless, many units were still short men and equipment. The 5th Marines' three battalions had only two rifle companies apiece. While third rifle platoons were hastily formed for these six companies, they were still short some 50 men each. The three artillery batteries had only four 105mm howitzers instead of the normal six and the regimental Antitank Company lacked its organic tank platoon."

    "The brigade's ground combat element (GCE) was the 5th Marines, led by LtCol Raymond Murray. Infantrymen from posts and stations all over the Marine Corps converged on Camp Pendleton in order to fill out the emaciated ranks of the 5th Marines. In just under 2 weeks, the regiment's strength rose from approximately 1,800 to roughly 2,200 officers and men. Despite these efforts, this influx of personnel only partially solved the manpower crisis. The infantry battalions of the 5th Marines deployed to Korea with only two of the three authorized rifle companies allotted by the table of organization. BGen Craig stated after the war that the lack of the third rifle company in each battalion caused unnecessary casualties in the battles at the Naktong Bulge. Craig was also concerned about the strength of the supporting artillery. Each firing battery contained only four of the authorized six guns. The following table lists the organization and key leaders of the GCE."

    The Commandant, Clifton Cates, requested that he be allowed to mobilize the Marine Corps Reserve and between 20 July and 11 September, the entire 33,000 man reserve was called to active duty. A sizeable number of these reservists had enlisted, but had yet to ship to Boot Camp and received their training on the ships enroute to Korea.

    The Brigade sailed from San Diego for Japan on 14 July 1950, but the deteriorating situation at Pusan required they go directly to Korea:

    "When the Marine Brigade sailed from San Diego on 14 July 1950, it was expected to move to Japan where it would reorganize and prepare for amphibious operations in Korea. The situation in Korea, however, deteriorated as the Marines made their long Pacific crossing. Gen Walker, commander of the Eighth Army, was at the time attempting a massive reorganization of forces behind the natural barrier of the Naktong River. The three U.S. divisions that had endured the brunt of the combat against the NKPA were stretched thinly behind the Naktong, and few reserves backed up the American lines. The situation further deteriorated when the NKPA 6th Division conducted an extraordinary foot movement that brought the division to the port of Pusan's undefended western flank. With the NKPA threatening to capture Pusan, Gen MacArthur ordered the Marine Brigade to proceed immediately to Korea."

    The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade arrived at Pusan on 03 August 1950. They were immediately put to use counter-attacking the North Koreans and plugging breaks in the lines, shifted around so much they got the nickname "The Fire Brigade".

    "Eighth Army would use the Marine Brigade as a trouble-
    shooter, Walker told its commander Brigadier General Edward
    Craig, who had flown to Korea in advance of his troops. Craig
    passed the information along when he assembled his command-
    ers on the docks.

    "The Pusan Perimeter is like a weakened dike/' he told
    them, "and we will be used to plug holes in it as they open. It
    will be costly fighting against a numerically superior enemy."
    He paused. "Gentlemen," he said quietly, "Marines have never
    lost a battle. This Brigade will not be the first to establish such
    a precedent." Five days later Craig's Marines gave Walker his
    first victory of the war."

    A British Army Officer serving as an observer with the US 24th Infantry Division encountered them during this period and sent the following wire dispatch to his superiors in Tokyo:

    "The situation is critical and Miryang may be lost. The enemy have driven a division-sized salient across the Naktong. More will cross the river tonight. If Miryang is lost Taegu becomes un-tenable and we will be faced with a withdrawal from Korea. I am heartened that the Marine Brigade will move against the Naktong salient tomorrow. They are faced with impossible odds, and I have no valid reason to substantiate it, but I have a feeling they will halt the enemy.

    I realize my expression of hope is unsound, but these Marines have the swagger, confidence and hardness that must have been in Stonewall Jackson's Army of the Shenandoah. They remind me of the Coldstreams at Dunkerque. Upon this thin line of reasoning, I cling to the hope of victory."
    1

    The attack against the Naktong salient, the British officer was referring to is further described here:

    The Marines struck at Obong-ni, or No-Name Ridge as they called it, the morning of August 7. Twice they attacked, and twice they were hurled back, but by nightfall they had clawed their way to the summit of two of the ridge's hills. They resumed the attack next day, until a nest of four Communist machine guns barred their advance. Once more the ground observer called for an air strike. The target was marked
    with a smoke rocket, and a Corsair flown by Captain John Kelley dove down to plant a 5oo-pound bomb squarely amid the enemy guns. The explosion was so close it momentarily stunned the watching Marines. But then, the blast still echoing in the surrounding hills, they rose and swept through the destroyed posi-
    tion, their rush gaining momentum until they had taken No-Name Ridge and had put the broken enemy to flight.

    "From that moment/' General Craig reported, "the issue west of Yongsan was no longer in doubt. A routed enemy fled westward, racing desperately from the continued ground and air assault of the Marines, who, before the day was over, accounted for the destruction of more than 4,000 enemy troops."

    The pursuit carried as far as the river, and there, said the log of the carrier Sicily, "The enemy was killed in such numbers that the river was definitely discolored with blood."

    While the spectacular victory won at No-Name Ridge eased the threat of the isolation of Taegu, it also encouraged General Walker and the Eighth Army to continue the defensive battle raging simultaneously northwest and north of Taegu.

    So CBIWV, I hope this begins to illustrate that it is not the amount of the fighting, or the percentage of the fighting, but the situation when the fighting occurred, how it effected the overall situation and the quality of the fighting that matters. The Marines did gain much reputation wise in Korea during 1950, more so after Pusan at Incon, Seoul and at the Chosin Reservoir.


    more to follow......
     
  12. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    While the divisions are similar and at the divisional level you are correct the difference is more pronounced at the small unit level. The Marine Corps went through four major TOE changes during WWII. Each one designed to increase firepower and maneuverability at the pointy end down to the individual fire team level. This is the same small unit structure they use today.
     
  13. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    While this is interesting to read, this thread was not meant (at least I don't think so). to argue the merits of Marines vs. Army in the Pacific or Korea. Rather, the original purpose of the thread was to examine the myths and propaganda of WW2. What was known and what is remembered are two different things. Let's try to focus on that and drag this thread back to its original purpose. There was plenty of good argument before it took a detour.
     
  14. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    You are 100% correct Lou; debating the qualities of the Marines over the Army is pointless, albeit well proven.
     
  15. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Aye, aye, sir! I was only trying to dispel new myths being propogated within this thread. I'm not intending to turn the thread into an Army vs. Marines thread, but answer statements already made in the thread. I would be the last one to Army bash since I did serve in both the Army and Marine Corps, was proud to have served in both, and do recognize each services strengths and weaknesses. It does bother me when myths are repeated, that if the person making the statement were to objectively evaluate the subject from a military perspective and within the situation as it existed contemporaneously, they would see that the assertion is flawed.


     
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  16. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Its a well trodden myth that the RAF left the British army to their own devices in France 1940. We have done Battle of Britain, any one willing to have a go at that one? I state it was a myth. Historians but mostly authors have repeated this in lots of ways and books over the years. Its about time the repeating of this was stopped so present day authors not historians do not carry on with the same mistaken belief.
     
  17. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I'm interested Oh Mighty Urgh. Please tell me more.
     
  18. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Urqh is quite correct. The myth sprang up almost immediately and is understandable ; soldiers on the beaches had suffered terribly under the Stukas and it was only human to feel let down. But this was based on a lack of understanding in the Army as to how aircraft operated, ie not directly over the beaches but often high above cloud cover and quite far away.

    In fact, during Operation Dynamo's nine days, the RAF carried out 2,739 fighter, 651 bomber and 171 reconaissance sorties over the Dunkirk area. 177 aircraft were lost, including 106 fighters. Luftwaffe figures show 132 aircraft lost.

    I've taken the above figures from Robert Jackson's book 'Air War Over France' (1974). The myth has been refuted again and again but, as with so many myths, remains implanted in the popular imagination.

    As an aside, the Army's resentment was manifested afterwards in many bar-room brawls. In one pilots' memoir I remember reading ( can't remember which one, it may have been Kingcombe ) an Army officer turned to a group of RAF pilots in a pub bar and insolently said to one, prodding his uniform jacket 'Ah - the RAF. Where's your DFC ?' and quick as a flash the young pilot replied 'Ah - the Army. Where are your roller skates ?'.

    The police arrived before too much damage could be done............
     
  19. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    During the American Civil War the Union Army had its own version which went something like "Have you ever seen a dead Cavalryman?"
     
  20. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    Italian weakness / Rommel myth : Due to romantic / cleran war image of North African Theater and size of the forces involved a series unjustified myths also arised about Mediterranean Theater. First is about Italians inability to fight which is not unjust but also somewhat degrading. Italy entered war on June 1940 quite unprepared just to pick up some booty from defeated French and seemingly inevitable defeat of Britain. If Mussolini predicted length of war much better would he be so willing to enter the war ? All I know was Italian Army and Air Force although numerically superior was lacking modern weapons and equipment and infrastructure plus economy of Italy was complately unprepared. Wavell's attack to Sidi Barrani in December 1940 (Operation Compass) and huge number of Italian prisoners captured during British advance after that fed the belief that Italian soldier was weak , unwilling and unable to fight. Italian command especially Commando Supremo was incompetent that's for sure. Still certain Italian units like Arierte in Sidi Rezegh battle or Folgore Parachute Division in Alamein fought well and skillfully. (In honour of their bravery, the British commander allowed them to surrender without having to show a white flag or raise their hands.) Unfortunetely they had an ally who did not even acknowledge their value.

    After battle of Alamein Harry Zinder of Time magazine noted that the Italians fought better than had been expected, and commented that for the Italians :

    It was a terrific letdown by their German allies. They had fought a good fight. In the south, the famed Folgore parachute division fought to the last round of ammunition. Two armoured divisions and a motorised division, which had been interspersed among the German formations, thought they would be allowed to retire gracefully with Rommel's 21st, 15th and 19th [sic][nb 17] light. But even that was denied them. When it became obvious to Rommel that there would be little chance to hold anything between El Daba and the frontier, his Panzers dissolved, disintegrated and turned tail, leaving the Italians to fight a rear-guard action
     
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