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US II Corps in North Africa, Relief of Fredendall

Discussion in 'North Africa: Operation Torch to Surrender of Tuni' started by 4th wilts, Jul 26, 2008.

  1. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    But before feb 16th,Ike was the field commander of the allied forces,is that correct?.
     
  2. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    My sources does not give a specific date in February, just the month when his command was extended to the entire North African Theatre to include the 8th Army advancing from El Alamein. That made him supreme commander of all allied forces there. It depends on how you look at it. All the pieces on the board were his to move around so to speak, so it was a big field command. I don't see the supreme commander as a field command, as in commanding troops in the field. He wouldn't rate a CIB at that level, so to me, a field command is a company, battalion, regiment, etc. But I can be wrong, as pointed out before.

    I just bought An Army at Dawn this afternoon at Books A Million for $17 and some change. We'll get to the bottom of this sooner or later.
     
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  3. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    yes,I know what you mean.for example:some sites tell us gen.Anderson was the c.o of all the British ,French and u.s troops under the British 1st army,before the 15th army group was established.this is before patton or Bradley were the u.s 2corps c.o's.
    So IMO,although I have not read enough books yet(An Army at Dawn)ect,I believe Ike would have ordered reinforcements from 1st army towards the kasserine battlefield,instead of Anderson.
    O.k, I've put my neck on the block,lol.Does anyone agree with me,or not?.cheers.
     
  4. Jon Jordan

    Jon Jordan Member

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    The decision to bring 8th Army under 15th Army Group was made at Casablanca in late January and implemented around 15 February (as I think Alex had just taken over when Kasserine began). Eisenhower never ordered particular dispositions, but he encouraged Fredendall to keep his armor together (Fredendall didn't).
     
  5. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    No, Ike was never the direct commander of II Corps (or British 1st Army). His role was essentially the same as it was in Normandy, Supreme Commander, with a ground force commander (Alexander) under him. As SC he was in position to remove anyone under him and to direct his ground force commander to order up reinforcements.
    Incidentally, Eisenhower offered the II Corps job to Harmon before Patton. Harmon didn't want it to appear that he recommended Fredenhall's relief to get the job for himself. Harmon had to wait until 1945 before getting command of XXII Corps.
     
  6. mconrad

    mconrad New Member

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    No doubt Fredenhall appeared to have a drinking problem, and too much concern for his imobile bombproof headquarters in the side of a mountain, but some of his staff defended him in regard to the Kasserine debacle. They are adamant that Anderson was the one who micromanaged Fredenhall's II Corps dispositions and scattered the units along a front that was much too long. And that's how the Germans ate them up in their offensive, one at a time.
     
  7. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Which staff members defended him.?.Fredenhall was in fact the C.O. Of 2 corps.I thought Anderson sent units down to block the German advance,after fredenhalls disaster.? Am I wrong,or just confused.? I can smell a fish.passing the buck again.! Thanks.
     
  8. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    Actually I seem to remember after General Ernest Harmon (later commander of 2nd US Armored Division ) visited 2nd US Corps HQ during Kasserine crisis he described Fredenhall in very negative terms to both Eisenhower and Bradley and he said Fredenhall should be relieved.

    Following fall of Kasserine Pass stability of Allied front was achived after Alexander took command of 15th Army Group on 19th February and send reserves to block Axis advance towrds Thala and Tebessa. US generals Terry Allen and LeRoy Irwin deserve a lot of credit also for stopping Axis forces
     
  9. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Agreed.but I'm not sure Anderson should take any blame for the fredenhall debacle,thanks.
     
  10. scipio

    scipio Member

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    It is possible to blame both.

    Harmon's negative reply to Eisenhower - "He's no damn good (Fredendall). You ought to get rid of him" - seem to remember in the fuller quote Harmon called him a coward and a drunk.

    Famously at the height of the battle Fredendall - quote "Dabney (his chief of Staff) open up the bottle. Let's have a drink". At the conclusion Harmon found him crashed out on his bed completely drunk.

    But Alexander in his report to Churchill who demanded to know "why there was no spirit or knowledge of what was going on in the First Army" criticised Anderson - "doubtful if Anderson is big enough for the job" and that Anderson had been slow to realise the the true state of affairs.

    Anderson had been slow release forces to assist Fredendall since he believed the blow would fall further north.

    It is not clear who was responsible for "spreading the American forces over a large, loosely held line in bits and pieces".

    But Alexander's criticism did not stop at the two battlefield commanders "Real fault has been lack of direction from the very beginning resulting in no policy and no plan".

    So I am sorry to say I agree with Alexander and that being the case, then Eisenhower himself must also share a large proportion of the blame for exercising such poor,loose control.
     
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  11. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Just found the last bit of Harmon's answer to Ike's question about Fredendall's suitability

    "He's (Fredendall) a common low son of bitch and a physical and moral coward".

    PS - I really admire American straight talking - can't imagine any British Officer speaking like this!
     
  12. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Harmon seems to me,the right man,in the right place,at the right time.! Cheers.
     
  13. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Hi guys,can anyone point me to any further reading on Harmon.? He seems to have a very colourful career,according to the wiki anyway.Thanks 4W
     
  14. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    I can just point a few highlights about his career during his command of 2nd US Armored Division in ETO. During at the height of Battle of Bulge in December 1944 2nd US Armored Division under his command (with help of 3rd Royal Tank Regiment) ambushed and mostly destroyed main body of 2nd Panzer Division (advance unit of 5th Panzer Army ) in Celles 8 km short of Meuse. That was as close as Germans got to Meuse. 2nd Panzer Div. exhausted all of its fuel and was practically spread out in a defenceless formation. While 3rd Royal Tanks threw back German recon battalion 2nd US Armored struck from north in 24th December. After three days of intense armored combat Americans with help of air cover mauled and almost destroyed 2nd Panzer Division. Remants of this panzer division never reconstructed as a fighting unit again.
     
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  15. mconrad

    mconrad New Member

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    It's in ARMY AT DAWN. I think the staff member was Fredenhall's deputy.

    Yes, Fredenhall was CO of II Corps, until the army commander orders him to do something. It's entirely believable that an army commander can order certain unit dispositions internal to a subordinate corps.
     
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  16. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Since this has been resurrected, might as well correct a couple of minor mistakes. The Allied army group in North Africa was 18th, presumably derived from British 1st and 8th Armies since there were at the time no other Allied army groups in the field. Before they made contact, 8th Army had been under Middle East Command.

    US 2nd Armored and 3rd Infantry Divisions in Morocco were under I Armored Corps, which had been temporarily designated Western Task Force for the Torch landings. I Armored Corps headquarters subsequently became 7th Army HQ for the invasion of Sicily. 7th Army had only one actual corps under it, II, until a provisional corps was formed for operations in western Sicily, comprising 2nd Armored and truck-mounted elements of the 82nd Airborne. 7th and 8th Armies formed 15th Army Group, which again was the only Allied army group in the field from July 1943 to June 1944.
     
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  17. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    What I really don't understand is that Fredenhall was transferred back stateside and placed in command of the US 2nd Army, a training command. After the completion of the North African campaign, it was determined that the US troops were not trained properly, and changes were instituted stateside as well as for US formations already in the ETO prior to Husky. Fredenhall was sacked for for a lack of a better term, dereliction of duties in my opinion. He was then in charge of instituting the changes to US Army training as sent down from the War Department dreamers and schemers. Just doesn't make sense to me. General Short and Admiral Kimmel were raked over the coals and then retired as scapegoats for the Pearl Harbor debacle. Seems that Fredenhall should have gotten the same treatment instead of being "promoted upstairs" just to get him away from further bungling up a combat command.
     
  18. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I've never understood it either, Bobby.
     
  19. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    He must have had pictures of Ike with a goat.
     
  20. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I was thinking maybe Marshall instead.
     

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