Duncan_M wrote: ↑
29 Jun 2020 18:48
How do you figure the 88th performed far above average? What divisions are you comparing it to?
To the other divisions in Italy analyzed in the data base as explicated in NPW
, Understanding Defeat
, Understanding Victory
, et cetera.
If only very poor divisions during their worst, like the 90th in Normandy or the 104th in the Bulge, then I guess its true.
Um, I think you mean the "106th in the Bulge", not the 104th.
That leads to a question though, how do you judge the 90th or 106th ID as "very poor divisions"? You must have some standards/method of analysis to arrive at that conclusion? You then need to be able to show how those "very poor divisions" could have been "better" or how other divisions in the same circumstance could have performed better. The problem is, you are judging them I suspect based upon very poor outcomes, both of which circumstances are pretty poorly understood by many.
Here's a deep dark secret. Neither the 90th or the 106th performed poorly as divisions. They did pretty much exactly what their doctrine and training told them to do and they pretty much did them well. So the question is then, what were the circumstances that led to the poor results.
Both divisions were completely inexperienced.
Both divisions experienced major command failures, the 90th of its division commander and the 106th of its division, corps, army, and army group commanders.
Both divisions were inexperienced. The 90th suffered through a slightly longer learning curve than most of thee other divisions in Normandy, but virtually all divisions deployed to Europe suffered similar, sometimes drastic learning curves.
But the 88th did not perform very well during in its first major offensive during OP Diadem, it only made solid progress once the German rear was cracked and they were in retreat. Brown gives the rah rah approach because grandpa commanded it and he has a lot of respect for it, but he still didn't hide that their casualty rates were enormous and most objectives were not achieved.
There are five - IIRC - 88th ID engagements in the data base, the first being Santa Maria Infante, which was a bit of a cock-up. Brown may have given a "rah rah" approach to the engagements, but I assure you Trevor did not, which was probably the source of their later conflict. JSB actually worked as a consultant for Trevor on the study of the 88th ID.
They did better during the attacks against the Gothic Line but still suffered very heavy casualties to the point even Sloan states their overall fighting quality dropped after that, that they never recovered.* Despite that claim (where Sloan used it to attack the US Army's individual replacement system) the 88th still performing very well during the Po campaign, which was due more to better terrain for maneuver compared to assaulting prepared positions in mountainous terrain by way of limited and heavily defended avenues of approach.**
Sadly I never got a chance to look at the Gothic Line engagements, all the 88th ID engagements are from the Rome campaign.
Yes, Sloan, like so many others, attacked the Army's long-standing individual replacement policy. The alternate, unit replacement, has been tried in the Never-ending War on Terrorism and has been found wanting as well, just as the Germans discovered.
The only benefit the 88th had compared to some other divisions was that it was not stripped for replacements like quite a few divisions did face. But quite a few didn't face that issue either, the 88th was not unique in that. And despite that, it still performed rather poorly in its first big offensive use, though that had less to do with its abilities than the situation as a whole (any good division would have gotten mauled conducting frontal assaults against prepared and ready positions). And even for divisions that were stripped and suffered heavily for the instability it caused, like the 90th, while they performed poorly initially they sorted themselves. For instance, the 90th was later called one of the best divisions in the theater.
Um, the 88th ID endured no personnel turmoil whatsoever according to the AGF study, Zero. Zip. Nada. It was the only infantry division deployed after the 34th ID went to England, that did not suffer any turmoil. In the 14 infantry divisions deployed between the 34th ID and the 88th ID, an average of 11 months of training time was assessed as lost to such turmoil. In the 41 infantry divisions deployed after the 88th, an average of 9 months was lost.
The 90th ID suffered somewhat less turmoil, 8 months according to the AGF. Its problems though are pretty easy to identify:
Poor division commanders.
Regimental and battalion-level unit cohesion wrecked by extremely severe casualties in its opening engagements.
Lack of experience.
Anyway, yes the 90th ID was sorted out, as was the 88th, which performed well, compared to other divisions in Italy, despite its relatively poor performance at Santa Maria Infante.
*A major benefit that Fifth Army units had over those of the ETO during late summer early fall 1944 was that, because the ETO became the main effort in summer fall 1944, because logistics were iffy, and a lot of veteran units were pulled away and new ones added, Clark pumped the brakes on the offensive north and allowed nearly all his divisions to be pulled from the line to rest and recuperate, including allowing two months of training time before the attack on the Gothic Line commenced. Despite this ample training time to take in and train the replacements gained after Diadem and the pursuit to the Gothic Line, it still was not a major factor in performance, especially since after taking the casualties at the Gothic Line they were still good enough to fight an effective battle of maneuver in the Po Valley in 1945.
Um, the ETOUSA did much the same in February 1945.
**In the appendix of Draftee Division Sloan wrote extensively about Dupuy and claimed his s formula did not factor US Army being on the offensive, Germans being primarily on the defensive, nor factoring in the difference between hasty, prepared, and fixed defense protective postures. I'm just repeating what he wrote, I have no idea if its true or false, so don't shoot the messenger.
Indeed, I know very well what Sloan's arguments were; I wrote parts of the rebuttal to his assessment in Zetterling's Normandy 1944
. Among the more amusing gaffes he made was to recommend using the factor ascribed for hardened installations under nuclear attack as a defensive factor.
Fundamentally, the arguments against Dupuy always circle back to "we won, how could we if the Germans were better (with the underlying inference that he was a traitor to the U.S. Army)" and other assorted similar red herrings and straw men.