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How we come to know what we know

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by JBark, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Pffft.

    I also beat TA, Slipdigit, Erich, Martin, Kai, and Carl in a steel cage deathmatch.

    At the same time.

    Blindfolded.

    :tennisclap:

    Carry on, gents.
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I have a book in my collection with a mis-identified picture of a destroyed German panzer (they called it a Tiger when it was a Pz IV). I wonder if when they go though editing does a english major or a history major do it? In my case I suspect a english major.
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    You prolly could this week. It's not been a good week.
     
  4. Vinny Maru

    Vinny Maru Member

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    Going back to the original question of where we get our information, I think you must look at the situation from a time perspective for a start.

    I first became interested in the war about ten years after it ended when I became old enough to have an understanding of some idea of what had happened. Part of my interest being triggered as I listened to people talk about their experiences, as just about anyone older than 30 was usually involved in some way.

    The available information in the form of books was rather limited, as I lived in a small town and the library was therefore limited, and buying books that were available was something we couldn’t afford. Anyway, who needed books, you could just ask someone.

    Most available books tended to be of a general history nature, and there wasn’t much on specifics of weapons/systems etc. Most were on the experiences of individuals, and books were primarily aimed at the people of a specific country. The Russians? Who were they? Oh I remember, they were in the war on our side too. I had no real idea of the extent or importance of the Russians until 20 or 25 years after the war’s end. Prior to then, they were primarily the bad guys we were afraid of, and why I lived in a town surrounded by ICBMs and Nike sites, and listened to B-47s and B-52s roar across the sky for years.

    When I moved to a larger city the larger selection of books and five years additional time made quite a difference. I first encountered the Morison naval history and The William Green aircraft books which really peaked my interest. There still wasn’t anything like the variety of books that became available during the late sixties and seventies, and subsequent explosion that followed, as people realized there was money to be made from writing about the war. The people involved in the war became a smaller part of the population, and those who were interested had less access to those people, or became, as most here are, interested in the war in much deeper detail.

    More demand, more stuff generated, and what with less availability of actual new data/new information resources the books tended to just be rehashes of what was already available with the unavoidable errata, embellishments, and probably some outright fabrication.


    As for personal memories of the war, it’s very sobering when someone tells you something that you remember as being totally different, then have them produce a picture that shows your memory was wrong. Added to that is the effect of propaganda, and the personal inflation of one’s participation whether for self inflation, or outright falsification due to status awarded for those deeds, and simply because they believe it to be true when it really wasn’t.

    In today’s environment with anyone’s capability to be a self proclaimed expert and publisher, accuracy has suffered. There are those who slant from nationalism (all of us are probably slightly guilty of this), personal preferences, and those who do it to provoke a reaction for the sake of getting a reaction. Damn the facts, if there are any, full steam ahead with the hypothetical. It never happened so you can’t lose the argument.

    So much for one old man’s rant.
     
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  5. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    I personally don't think either have a tendency to identify vehicles and equipment accurately, and journalists are even worse, but to be fair quite a large number of that type of mistakes might be made at the publishers with photos.
    I have a few similarly bad examples, one of them that springs to mind is a picture from Signal in March 43 which labels a crashed Lockheed P38 as a Boston Bomber, yet this would be considered a near primary source by many.
     
  6. JBark

    JBark Member

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  7. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    Agreed. The incentive to sell books certainly can result in skewed history, especially when the author believes he/she has hit upon a new idea, or can take advantage of whatever cultural wind may be blowing at the time.

    For instance, this whole notion that Hitler actually died at the end of the war was completely overblown. Everybody knows he lived to a ripe old age at the Nazis' secret base in Antartica, where UFOs were developed. I'll accept no argument to the contrary.

    :)
     
  8. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    It's all over the internet that the ufos were developed in Brazil so your argument is flawed.

    :)
     
  9. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    CrazyD wrote:

    Well stated "D". That's what I'm here looking for.

    I'm also looking for an alternative perspective to my own. Any of us can become myopic when we delve deeply into a topic, a fresh perspective can give you that dooh! moment where you think "why didn't I see that? It's so obvious!" You can never tell where the thought will come from that provides the missing piece to the puzzle, so we shouldn't berate someone for expressing a thought, even if it does appear ill informed.

    I'll give a short, true story, to illustrate. Gen. Smedly Butler related an incident that took place during the 1930's when they had Marines on a road march re-enacting Civil War battles in Virginia. They were passing through the Wilderness battlefield, where roads were few and the underbrush was extremely thick. The trucks hauling supplies, and following the troops came to an overpass that was several inches too low for them to pass under. The officers assembled and discussed various methods for getting the trucks through to the troops. Some of the best, brightest and highly educated officers gave their opinions. "We can disassemble the bridge and reassemble it after the supply train has passed". "We can cut a road around the obstacle and get the supplies forward". "We can turn the column around and scout for an alternate route". All suggestions would take considerable time and effort. Gen. Butler turned to a nearby, old time Sgt, who likely possessed a rudimentary education and likely no training in engineering and asked him, "What would you do?" "Well suh, I'd let the air out of them thar tires and fill um back up on the otha side". That's what they did, the deflated tires allowed enough clearance for the column to pass under the bridge and the trucks moved forward with only slight additional delay.
     
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  10. JBark

    JBark Member

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    I'm curious what people here might think of Stephen Zaloga. I've recently read and thoroughly enjoyed his work of the M4, Armored Thunderbolt. I have seen his works criticized but I don't recall what the problem with him was. I know Armored Thunderbolt was no History of the American Medium Tank but it may be the closest I can come to it (and it was one of his references.)

    Zaloga made extensive use of National Archive documents, which I like to see. Of course one has to trust that he is accurate and the conclusions drawn not off base. His bibliography is one that I found pretty impressive.
     
  11. flitzen

    flitzen New Member

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    I have a hard time trying to figure out a division supply columns could keep the division going. According to one source, an Infantry Division consumed 75 tons supplies-50 tones fuel and 7 tons ammunition. for example, the 95 Division had 6- 30-ton columns and 3- 20-ton columns for supplies and. ammunition. Considering the travel time and loading and unloading to the corps dumps there must be something I am missing.
     
  12. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    First, welcome to the forums.

    Quartermaster's would calculate (guesstimate) how much supplies a average division would consume on a average day of combat operations plus a fudge factor for emergencies. This would vary from army to army depending on how they looked at supplying their troops. American and British-Commonwealth divisions were ridiculously over supplied when compared to those of Germany, Japan and Russia, but insisted on providing a certain level of comfort and all that they needed so that they would not be a burden on the local population.

    Complicating the matter, army's tend to be comprised of more than one type of division, each with their own needs. In the case of some army's there could be many formats as with Germany late in the war. Then of course the amount is calculated for a division at or near full strength, which was often not the case if it was involved in continuous combat.

    You can calculate averages, but troops in the field rarely had average days and from time to time they have to rest lest they lose all combat capacity. For Germany, Russia and Japan this point was often done, but in Allied army's formations were usually pulled out for a rest and rebuild. Naturally when resting supply needs would decline. Divisions and their parent commands (Corps and Army's) would try to hoard a floating reserve of supplies against future hard times. How successful depended upon what the quartermaster could deliver per day and how much of it they didn't use each day.

    Finally there would be times when enough supplies can't get to the front line troops, when that happened units rationed their fuel, ammunition and food,or they foraged from the surrounding countryside, used capture supplies and sometimes scrounged (stole) supplies from other allied units.

    Hope this helps.
     
  13. flitzen

    flitzen New Member

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    Thanks for your insight. The question I had really related to a numbers issue. If the supply column could only carry 240 tons and the average demand was 200 tons, every day would be spent going back and forth. I haven't been able to find any information about the XXIX corps supply points except that 10 miles from the front was ideal. The daily narrative generally talks about the bad road conditions. Given that, 3 miles an hour would have been a reasonable speed. Thus 6 hours travel time plus loading and unloading time would certainly fill out the day. If the distance to the corps dump increased, it would only make matters worse. I would like to find a resource of an account of an actual division supply member.
     
  14. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    How we come to know what we know ?

    Simply because we were there !

    Ron
     
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  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm no where near an expert in this but weren't there non divisional supply vehicles that could be tasked to support what ever units needed it? How much supplies a unit needed depended heavily on the type of unit and the posture. How well it could be kept in supply depended on how far it was from a functional rail head or port as well as the capacity of the same.
     
  16. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    You appear to be talking about a German division? If so, there was a lot of variation between the particular Welle. For example, divisions of the 1. and 2. Welle were supposed to have eight kl. Kraftwagen-Kolonnen (30 t - mot) and one kl. Kraftwagen- Kolonne für Betr. Stoff (25 cbm, i.e., 25-ton) . The 3. Welle divisionen had only three kl. Kraftwagen-Kolonnen (30 t - mot) and one kl. Kraftwagen- Kolonne für Betr. Stoff, while the 4. Welle had four kl. Kraftwagen-Kolonnen (30 t - mot) and one kl. Kraftwagen- Kolonne für Betr. Stoff. In the 3. and 4. Welle the shortfall was to be made up by using horse-drawn rather than motorized columns. In succeeding Wellen in most cases all the supply columns were horse drawn, its tonnage capacity varied according to the division, and 95. Inf.-Div. was a 5. Welle division.

    German supply, like most supply doctrine in WW2 was based upon divisions drawing supplies from corps and army depots. Those depots were in theory established at a rail road-head conveniently placed for the supply of the various divisions of the corps. In practice, it was never so neat. On the Ostfront initially, supply depots were to be established by motor transport until the railroads could be put in use, which led to many problems given the enormous number of vehicles required.

    I'm not so sure about those tonnage figures either, since they varied quite a bit according to circumstances. Rations were a constant and were bulky, but could be supplemented by requisitions. Fuel was at a premium during offensive operations and especially in breakthroughs, for obvious reasons, but consumption decreased markedly in static operations. For U.S. Army forces in the ETO for example, divisions averaged roughly 40 tons per day during June-July 1944, then skyrocketed to 150 tons or more per day in the pursuit during August and September. Ammunition though was typically the reverse...during June and July it was much higher than in August-September. That led to various missteps as well as first ammunition and then fuel shipments to the front got prioritized.

    German units with far fewer motor assets did not typically use nearly that much fuel, but did require a lot of fodder.

    Recall also that the Kraftwagen-Kolonnen were just a part of the supply train. Each unit also had its own train (Tross) that hauled its own supplies, usually sufficent for x number of days average use of rations, fuel, and ammunition (what the U.S. Army calls a "basic load"). So the division as a whole carried much more supplies than the 240 tons of rations and ammunition and 25 tons of fuel the divisional supply columns typically had.
     
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  17. flitzen

    flitzen New Member

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    Thanks for your insight. I suppose it was a very dynamic process and had a lot of viability. My reference material is Karl Knoblauch "Kampf und Untergang der 95.Infanteriedivision". He provides a lot of information on everything but supply. My father-in-law was the Officer in charge of Fahrkolonne 9 (17 ton) and later Fahrkolonne 5 (30 ton), In following the beginning narrative, from 4 July to mid-August, they are constantly on the move. I have a. hard time understanding how the supplies kept coming day after day.
     
  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm blanking on the title right now but there's a book on the German log experience in North Africa during WW2. Might have some useful information for you. Good chance someone else will come up with the name if I don't.

    *** edit for ***
    I might be thinking of van Creveld's Supplying War but that's a bit wider reference. Still might be of interest.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2019

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