British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

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daveshoup2MD
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 06 May 2021 02:35

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
05 May 2021 19:25
daveshoup2MD wrote:
04 May 2021 23:03
Given what Roskill did for a living, that's your interpretation.
It is.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
05 May 2021 04:51
or not using infantry battalions in beach groups...
Wouldn't that depend on what happened to the men in those battalions once the Normandy beachhead, for example, was secured? Which came first, the disbandment of 59th Infantry Division or the transfer of the personnel of the infantry battalions in the beach groups?

Regards

Tom
The British used infantry battalions as the basis for their beach groups as a matter of doctrine, going back to (at least) HUSKY; in 1943-44, from various sources, one can come up with 14 infantry battalions assigned to beach groups and LOC duties in 15th and 21st army groups:

5th Battalion, Kings Regiment
8th Battalion, Kings Regiment
6th Battalion, Border Regiment
7th Battalion, East Yorkshires Regiment
2nd Battalion, Herefordshire Regiment
1st Buckinghamshire Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Regiment
18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
4th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment
5th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment
3rd Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment
2/4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry
1st Battalion, Welch Regiment
1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Most of these units ended up being assigned to combat formations to replace units that were no longer combat effective, broken up for replacements, or both, in 1944-45, but it speaks to a doctrinal ("policy") issue; the Americans used either Army engineers or naval personnel (Naval Beach Battalions and Seabees) for their equivalents, and the British Army had an existing organization, in the Pioneer Corps, for just this sort of combat support assignment - yet they chose to use line infantry battalions.

daveshoup2MD
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 06 May 2021 02:38

Sid Guttridge wrote:
05 May 2021 08:06
Hi daveshoup,

You post, "Deploying 234th Brigade to the Dodecanese in 1943 cost four infantry battalions;". It almost sounds as though you would prefer for the British to fight the war without taking operational risks or suffering casualties. Disbanding an armoured division and two infantry divisions would contribute to this same end!

If you include 234th Brigade, you should also, by logical extension, also include the loss of 51st Highland Division in 1940, 2nd South African Division at Tobruk,18th Division at Singapore, etc., etc..

I get that shuffling round manpower within the armed forces could have made up the numbers with more foresight, but the idea that wars can be fought without operational risks, mistakes, or losses is unreasonable.

Omelettes are not made without breaking eggs.

I think you should drop this reference to 234th Brigade. It is in substance different from your wider point and detracts from it. Poor operational judgement is different from poor organizational judgement.

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. Also. any formations retained would require additional replacements, so the demand for additional manpower would be rather greater than just their establishment in battalions.
The loss of an infantry brigade put ashore in a region dominated by enemy air power in 1943 was not a "risk;" it was a certainty.

The point of the Allied offensive in Europe in 1943-45 was to destroy Nazi Germany; throwing away four infantry battalions in the Aegean in 1943 was not a calculated risk - it was obvious stupidity.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 06 May 2021 06:37

Hi dave4shoup,

You may need to do a little more reading on the Aegean to learn what was in play and the roles of the US, Italians, Greeks and Turks before offering such definitive opinions.

In any event, operational losses, wise of otherwise, are an entirely different animal to organizational reshuffling.

Cheers,

Sid.

EwenS
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by EwenS » 06 May 2021 11:36

daveshoup2MD wrote:
22 Apr 2021 04:22
Sid Guttridge wrote:
21 Apr 2021 18:03
Hi daveshoup2MD,

The use of prisoners was regulated by the laws of war: "The State may utilize the labour of prisoners of war according to their rank and aptitude, officers excepted. The tasks shall not be excessive and shall have no connection with the operations of the war."

Firstly, they couldn't be forced to work.

Secondly, "aptitude" rather restricts their use to skills already possessed. Italy had no coal mines and there probably weren't that many coal miners among the German POWs.

Thirdly, mining was hard work and might be deemed to fall under the subjective heading of "excessive".

Fourthly, if the intention was to release manpower for the British Army, it very definitely would have "connection with the operations of the war."

Much of what you suggest was probably doable under an authoritarian government not particularly concerned with the laws if war. However, the UK was neither of those things.

Cheers,

Sid.
You may wish to reconsider your arguments, given that there was, in fact, a pretty substantial coal mining complex in Italy before the war:

https://www.erih.net/i-want-to-go-there ... ng-culture

[quote} A workforce of 18,000 (16,000 of whom were miners), a site stretching over 33 hectares, around 100 km of underground galleries going down to a depth of up to 179 metres and two shafts all bear witness to the huge dimensions involved in the project.
Given the 100,000s of thousands of Italian POWs working the US and British/Commonwealth/Empire territory (60,000+ in South Africa alone, for example) including thousands working as farmhands (hardly any "easier" than mining), all of the above is so much smoke.
[/quote]

A more likely reason is Art 32 Geneva Convention 1929 which prevents the use of POWs for dangerous work.
https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/applic/i ... enDocument

Mining, especially deep coal mining, was inherently dangerous. In the period 1900-1950 over 84,000 miners were killed or injured in British collieries. During WW2 there were a dozen mining disasters (defined as 5+ miners killed) in Britain that cost the lives of some 200 miners alone plus many more injured.
http://www.cmhrc.co.uk/site/disasters/

sandeepmukherjee196
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 06 May 2021 11:47

daveshoup2MD wrote:
06 May 2021 02:38
Sid Guttridge wrote:
05 May 2021 08:06
Hi daveshoup,

You post, "Deploying 234th Brigade to the Dodecanese in 1943 cost four infantry battalions;". It almost sounds as though you would prefer for the British to fight the war without taking operational risks or suffering casualties. Disbanding an armoured division and two infantry divisions would contribute to this same end!

If you include 234th Brigade, you should also, by logical extension, also include the loss of 51st Highland Division in 1940, 2nd South African Division at Tobruk,18th Division at Singapore, etc., etc..

I get that shuffling round manpower within the armed forces could have made up the numbers with more foresight, but the idea that wars can be fought without operational risks, mistakes, or losses is unreasonable.

Omelettes are not made without breaking eggs.

I think you should drop this reference to 234th Brigade. It is in substance different from your wider point and detracts from it. Poor operational judgement is different from poor organizational judgement.

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. Also. any formations retained would require additional replacements, so the demand for additional manpower would be rather greater than just their establishment in battalions.
The loss of an infantry brigade put ashore in a region dominated by enemy air power in 1943 was not a "risk;" it was a certainty.

The point of the Allied offensive in Europe in 1943-45 was to destroy Nazi Germany; throwing away four infantry battalions in the Aegean in 1943 was not a calculated risk - it was obvious stupidity.

Hi...

Sorry to butt in..

Just wanted to point out that apart from those 4 battalions lost in a sector of NO consequence, the British lost the precious LRDG squadrons too. It is to be noted that the LRDG's T1 patrol, that sneaked into the German occupied Kithros island, was directly responsible for the RN's interception and sinking of a German troop convoy wtih 2500 men, of whom, only 90 survived.

Thus, these LRDG men contributed to the largst single destruction of a German formation in this operation. What a waste of irreplaceable talent and experience, when these LRDG squadrons went in the bag!

Cheers
Sandeep

Sid Guttridge
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 06 May 2021 12:02

Hi Sandeep,

Have you any details of, "..... the RN's interception and sinking of a German troop convoy with 2500 men, of whom, only 90 survived."

I have never come across this scale of fatalities for the Germans in the Aegean. If true, it matches Crete in 1941.

Cheers,

Sid.

sandeepmukherjee196
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 06 May 2021 17:08

Sid Guttridge wrote:
06 May 2021 12:02
Hi Sandeep,

Have you any details of, "..... the RN's interception and sinking of a German troop convoy with 2500 men, of whom, only 90 survived."

I have never come across this scale of fatalities for the Germans in the Aegean. If true, it matches Crete in 1941.

Cheers,

Sid.
Hi Sid

It was on 7 October, off Stampalia..The German convoy was sunk by the Royal Navy after receiving specific Intel on its size, composition and direction. This was the achievement of the LRDG - T1 Patrol to Kithros, who radioed back the info on the 6th

https://books.google.co.in/books?id=8rP ... se&f=false

Cheers
Sandeep

EwenS
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by EwenS » 06 May 2021 18:28

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
06 May 2021 17:08
Sid Guttridge wrote:
06 May 2021 12:02
Hi Sandeep,

Have you any details of, "..... the RN's interception and sinking of a German troop convoy with 2500 men, of whom, only 90 survived."

I have never come across this scale of fatalities for the Germans in the Aegean. If true, it matches Crete in 1941.

Cheers,

Sid.
Hi Sid

It was on 7 October, off Stampalia..The German convoy was sunk by the Royal Navy after receiving specific Intel on its size, composition and direction. This was the achievement of the LRDG - T1 Patrol to Kithros, who radioed back the info on the 6th

https://books.google.co.in/books?id=8rP ... se&f=false

Cheers
Sandeep
An alternative version of events is given in Rowher & Hummelchen "Chronology of the War at Sea".

The convoy consisted of the freighter Olympos (5216 tons), 7 naval ferry barges and the sub chaser UJ2111. Spotted by the sub Unruly, it was intercepted by the cruisers Penelope and Sirius and destroyers Faulknor & Fury south of Levita. One ferry barge survived. 1027 survivors were rescued by German ships and aircraft.

Anthony Rogers in "Churchill's Folly" notes the same incident and adds the unit on board was IX./Festungsinfanteriebataillon/999 but only 6 MFP were used. Spotted by both RAF and LRDG. Unruly fired 4 torpedoes and missed, then surfaced and fired 54 rounds from her deck gun, and thought she had sunk 3 MFP and hit 2 other vessels. The German CO of UJ2111 reported Olympos hit and an MFP immobilised. The RN force then appeared on the scene shortly after daylight, with the destroyers sinking Olympos. Only one MFP survived (F496) badly damaged. It later arrived at Astipalaea with "at least 80 personnel" plus vehicles which were then captured by Italian troops and LRDG patrol M2.

So I think we can see where the 90 survivors figure comes from but it isn't the full picture once Rohwer and co's account is taken into account.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 06 May 2021 20:45

daveshoup2MD wrote:
06 May 2021 02:35
The British used infantry battalions as the basis for their beach groups as a matter of doctrine, going back to (at least) HUSKY
Agreed, thanks for the list - I'm not sure about 3rd Monmouths (weren't they in 11th Armd Division?) but I have no argument with your general point that the British employed units as Beach Units that were called "infantry" and the US used units as Beach Units called "Seabees", etc. Both recognised a need obviously. :D

The good thing is though that my curiosity took me here:

http://www.lightbobs.com/1944-1bucks-19 ... s-loc.html

Which suggests many of those employed on L of C duties in the British Army after the assault were probably best placed on the L of C. :lol:

Regards

Tom

Richard Anderson
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Richard Anderson » 06 May 2021 23:27

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
06 May 2021 20:45
Agreed, thanks for the list - I'm not sure about 3rd Monmouths (weren't they in 11th Armd Division?) but I have no argument with your general point that the British employed units as Beach Units that were called "infantry" and the US used units as Beach Units called "Seabees", etc. Both recognised a need obviously. :D

The good thing is though that my curiosity took me here:

http://www.lightbobs.com/1944-1bucks-19 ... s-loc.html

Which suggests many of those employed on L of C duties in the British Army after the assault were probably best placed on the L of C. :lol:
Well, some of the issue in this discussion seems to remain the idea that an "infantry battalion" should only be doing "infantry" things and that anything else was a "waste".

The evidence is that the infantry battalion attachment to beach groups was actually pretty well thought out. Most of the battalions so used had been draft battalions in the Home Army, used to provide "reinforcements" for affiliated units. http://www.lightbobs.com/1943-1944-1buc ... d-day.html pretty well covers the Bucks experience, which was likely similar with all the other "infantry" battalions in the Beach Groups.

Of the seven Infantry Divisions (Lower Establishment) in Home Forces c. 1 June 1944 that provided most of the beach battalions, four were disbanded on or before 1 September, two were retained as "Reserve" formations, and one continued as a Lower Establishment division.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

daveshoup2MD
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 May 2021 03:58

EwenS wrote:
06 May 2021 11:36
daveshoup2MD wrote:
22 Apr 2021 04:22
Sid Guttridge wrote:
21 Apr 2021 18:03
Hi daveshoup2MD,

The use of prisoners was regulated by the laws of war: "The State may utilize the labour of prisoners of war according to their rank and aptitude, officers excepted. The tasks shall not be excessive and shall have no connection with the operations of the war."

Firstly, they couldn't be forced to work.

Secondly, "aptitude" rather restricts their use to skills already possessed. Italy had no coal mines and there probably weren't that many coal miners among the German POWs.

Thirdly, mining was hard work and might be deemed to fall under the subjective heading of "excessive".

Fourthly, if the intention was to release manpower for the British Army, it very definitely would have "connection with the operations of the war."

Much of what you suggest was probably doable under an authoritarian government not particularly concerned with the laws if war. However, the UK was neither of those things.

Cheers,

Sid.
You may wish to reconsider your arguments, given that there was, in fact, a pretty substantial coal mining complex in Italy before the war:

https://www.erih.net/i-want-to-go-there ... ng-culture

[quote} A workforce of 18,000 (16,000 of whom were miners), a site stretching over 33 hectares, around 100 km of underground galleries going down to a depth of up to 179 metres and two shafts all bear witness to the huge dimensions involved in the project.
Given the 100,000s of thousands of Italian ex-POWs working the US and British/Commonwealth/Empire territory (60,000+ in South Africa alone, for example) including thousands working as farmhands (hardly any "easier" than mining), all of the above is so much smoke.
A more likely reason is Art 32 Geneva Convention 1929 which prevents the use of POWs for dangerous work.
https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/applic/i ... enDocument

Mining, especially deep coal mining, was inherently dangerous. In the period 1900-1950 over 84,000 miners were killed or injured in British collieries. During WW2 there were a dozen mining disasters (defined as 5+ miners killed) in Britain that cost the lives of some 200 miners alone plus many more injured.
http://www.cmhrc.co.uk/site/disasters/
[/quote]

The Italians weren't POWs in 1944, of course, when the British began diverting conscripts to the mining industry; they were ISRU. Likewise, given the kind of work the Axis were requiring of Allied POWs, assigning POW labor to the British coal mining industry was hardly beyond the pale.

daveshoup2MD
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 May 2021 04:03

Sid Guttridge wrote:
06 May 2021 06:37
Hi dave4shoup,

You may need to do a little more reading on the Aegean to learn what was in play and the roles of the US, Italians, Greeks and Turks before offering such definitive opinions.

In any event, operational losses, wise of otherwise, are an entirely different animal to organizational reshuffling.

Cheers,

Sid.
Nothing was in play other than throwing away troops in a sideshow or a sideshow without any effective air power or sea power.

sandeepmukherjee196
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 07 May 2021 04:16

EwenS wrote:
06 May 2021 18:28
sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
06 May 2021 17:08
Sid Guttridge wrote:
06 May 2021 12:02
Hi Sandeep,

Have you any details of, "..... the RN's interception and sinking of a German troop convoy with 2500 men, of whom, only 90 survived."

I have never come across this scale of fatalities for the Germans in the Aegean. If true, it matches Crete in 1941.

Cheers,

Sid.
Hi Sid

It was on 7 October, off Stampalia..The German convoy was sunk by the Royal Navy after receiving specific Intel on its size, composition and direction. This was the achievement of the LRDG - T1 Patrol to Kithros, who radioed back the info on the 6th

https://books.google.co.in/books?id=8rP ... se&f=false

Cheers
Sandeep
An alternative version of events is given in Rowher & Hummelchen "Chronology of the War at Sea".

The convoy consisted of the freighter Olympos (5216 tons), 7 naval ferry barges and the sub chaser UJ2111. Spotted by the sub Unruly, it was intercepted by the cruisers Penelope and Sirius and destroyers Faulknor & Fury south of Levita. One ferry barge survived. 1027 survivors were rescued by German ships and aircraft.

Anthony Rogers in "Churchill's Folly" notes the same incident and adds the unit on board was IX./Festungsinfanteriebataillon/999 but only 6 MFP were used. Spotted by both RAF and LRDG. Unruly fired 4 torpedoes and missed, then surfaced and fired 54 rounds from her deck gun, and thought she had sunk 3 MFP and hit 2 other vessels. The German CO of UJ2111 reported Olympos hit and an MFP immobilised. The RN force then appeared on the scene shortly after daylight, with the destroyers sinking Olympos. Only one MFP survived (F496) badly damaged. It later arrived at Astipalaea with "at least 80 personnel" plus vehicles which were then captured by Italian troops and LRDG patrol M2.

So I think we can see where the 90 survivors figure comes from but it isn't the full picture once Rohwer and co's account is taken into account.
Hi EwenS

Thanks for the details. I am glad that 1027 survivors were rescued...

daveshoup2MD
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 May 2021 04:25

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
06 May 2021 20:45
daveshoup2MD wrote:
06 May 2021 02:35
The British used infantry battalions as the basis for their beach groups as a matter of doctrine, going back to (at least) HUSKY
Agreed, thanks for the list - I'm not sure about 3rd Monmouths (weren't they in 11th Armd Division?) but I have no argument with your general point that the British employed units as Beach Units that were called "infantry" and the US used units as Beach Units called "Seabees", etc. Both recognised a need obviously. :D

The good thing is though that my curiosity took me here:

http://www.lightbobs.com/1944-1bucks-19 ... s-loc.html

Which suggests many of those employed on L of C duties in the British Army after the assault were probably best placed on the L of C. :lol:

Regards

Tom
You're link is to the 1st Bucks as they were reformed for LOC duties in August, 1944, not as they were when they were assigned to beach group duty in 1943.

sandeepmukherjee196
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 07 May 2021 04:33

daveshoup2MD wrote:
07 May 2021 04:03
Sid Guttridge wrote:
06 May 2021 06:37
Hi dave4shoup,

You may need to do a little more reading on the Aegean to learn what was in play and the roles of the US, Italians, Greeks and Turks before offering such definitive opinions.

In any event, operational losses, wise of otherwise, are an entirely different animal to organizational reshuffling.

Cheers,

Sid.
Nothing was in play other than throwing away troops in a sideshow or a sideshow without any effective air power or sea power.
Hi..

Everyone agrees that the main effort was required in western Europe to defeat Germany decisively.
Churchill's obsession with Europe's "underbelly" has been criticized. Ultimately the allies got stuck in Italy for a year and a half while they wrapped up the war in less than a year, once they landed in France.

However isn't it worth analyzing what might have been different if Italy stayed in the war and those half a million Germans were available to fight in France ?

Cheers
Sandeep

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