Comments on Australian or New Zealand tactics by German Army

The Allies 1939-1945, and those fighting against Germany.

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wahlertg
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Comments on Australian or New Zealand tactics by German Army

Post by wahlertg » Wed Feb 25, 2004 2:10 pm

G'day,

I'm doing an historical research article for the Australian Army and I'm keen to locate any comments our enemies or allies have had on the tactics of the Australian or New Zealand troops.

Cheers,

Glenn Wahlert
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Re: Comments on Australian or New Zealand tactics by German

Post by Gerry Chester » Thu Feb 26, 2004 1:17 pm

wahlertg wrote:G'day,

I'm doing an historical research article for the Australian Army and I'm keen to locate any comments our enemies or allies have had on the tactics of the Australian or New Zealand troops.

Cheers,

Glenn Wahlert
LTCOL
G'day to you,

The Monash Doctrine may well have been practised by the Aussies at Tobruk. I know of several occasions when the doctrine (an updated variation thereof) was employed in Tunisia and Italy, The official history of the New Zealander's 5th Brigade during the battle.for Djebibina, Tunisia, in May 1943 being one example.

There is much evidence that the doctrine formulated by the one-time CO(later Major-General Sir David Dawnay) of the regiment in which I served, the North Irish Horse which was so successful in Tunisia and Italy, was based on Monash's ideas updated for WW II.

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Post by nigelfe » Fri Feb 27, 2004 6:58 am

I wish you luck with this one, but fear your premise may be flawed.

During WW2 the British publications (eg Inf Trg, MTP, etc) were the baseline for tactics in Australian, NZ and other armies. However, one of the criticisms of the British Army is that too much discretion was allowed, basically it went back to Kings Regulations and the responsibilities of GOCs-in-C, Divisional and Brigade Commanders for training the troops under their command. The consequence was that while there was official doctrine it was interpreted in many ways. Furthermore once the Battle School movement got underway in UK its quite likely that British divisions did have individual tactical habits (although knowing the British Army no doubt units had their own ways as well).

For example there is a British view that the motorised battalions in armoured divisions were quite innovative and did develop novel tactics, they were mostly KRRC and the like but I've never come across anything to suggest that the Germans noticed!

This suggests that the Germans would have seen tactical variation across 'British' divisions and may not have bothered to differentiate between nationalities or particular divisions, they just treated it as typical variation within overall excessively flexible Britsh doctrine.

That said the Naval and Military Press (http://www.naval-military-press.com) is reprinting the German Report Series. The other possible German source is captured documents, at least some of the British held ones are in the PRO under CAB 146/10 Enemy Documents Section. There might also be something from captured senior officer interviews, Von Arnim could be a possibility for the desert campaign. I think these are in WO 205/1021 Interrogation Reports German Generals.

The British did publish some stuff, for example ATM 44 published in 1942 contained an item 'As the Germans see us' (the AWM might hold a copy). '

However, translated Germans documents were published in intelligence summaries, typically those of Army or Theatre level. For example GHQ MEF Daily Intelligence Summary No 612 22 Jan 1942 published a response from 2 Bn, 104 Lorried Inf Regt, 21 Pz Div to a div questionnaire "The English and Australians are tough and hard opponents as individual fighters, highly skilled in defence, unimaginative and inflexible in attack, cold-blooded and skilled in in-fighting, experienced in assault, and capable of withstanding hardships of all kinds". This of course invites the questions as to what happened to the rest of the responses, what questions were asked and how often did the Germans do such things. This may be in the AWM the reference seems to be 3 DRL/6643/1/2Bii, but I'm quoting from David French's 'Raising Churchill's Army' and it could be a typo for IWM.

Of course there was not always harmony, in 1941 Wavell complained to the CIGS 'it is not always easy to persuade Dominion troops of the need of long training and they appear to want preferential treatment in matters of equipment'. Auchinleck also wrote to the CIGS in 1941 that in his opinion Australian, South African and to a lesser extent New Zealand units 'are apt to think that once they have been in battle, they have little to learn and are on the whole deeply suspicious of any attempt by us to teach them'.

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Re: Comments on Australian or New Zealand tactics by German Army

Post by von_noobie » Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:32 pm

Well for one thing they thought we are damn stubborn.. Looking at Tobruk.. We held our ground and kept on fighting when others would fall back.. Got the respect of the Germans and high praise from every one around.. Elite of the British Empire i believe Rommel said :P.. Not sure which general but one German general when asked what he needed to get the job done (By Hitler i'm pretty sure) he said Australians :D. So had lot of respect and even bit of fear from the Germans.. As for the British.. They may have had a little dislike for us seeing as we stole there beer supply in Palestine in 1940 :P

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Re: Comments on Australian or New Zealand tactics by German Army

Post by nigelfe » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:45 pm

Sources? Myths may be true or untrue.

As for Tobruk, never foregt that the Australians withdrew and were replaced by British troops (less an Aust bde that stayed because the human cost of replacement got too high, too many Brit ships were being lost in the rotation). This withdrawal was at Australian insistence. In the second siege, when it was overun, the defenders were S Africans, also supposed to be imperial super soldiers (according to their myths).

Rommel also said (according to a quote in a current UK doctrine pam), 'the British have the best doctrine, fortunately they never read it'.

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Re: Comments on Australian or New Zealand tactics by German Army

Post by von_noobie » Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:01 pm

Ill try and look up the sources of these 'myths' from there you can decide if you believe them to be factual or not.

As for the 9th being removed at Australian insistence, Some of its units where below half strength, and many had troop's suffering bad health.. We had a choice to save our boy's to fight another day or watch there fighting ability go down day by day and lose Far more then what we did lose holding Tobruk.

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Re: Comments on Australian or New Zealand tactics by German Army

Post by Hans » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:59 pm

One should not forget that the Poms ran and left us in the lurch in Singapore/Malaya. Come to think of it they never ever did do anything for us colonials, anywhere, any time, except pinch our primary produce. :D

Speaking to numerous ex Afrika Korps members over the years, the general concensus appears to be they had the greatest respect for our Diggers & the Poles, not much for anyone else. The Diggers respect for the Germans is/was mutual.
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Re: Comments on Australian or New Zealand tactics by German Army

Post by nigelfe » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:56 am

Hans wrote:One should not forget that the Poms ran and left us in the lurch in Singapore/Malaya. Come to think of it they never ever did do anything for us colonials, anywhere, any time, except pinch our primary produce. :D

Speaking to numerous ex Afrika Korps members over the years, the general concensus appears to be they had the greatest respect for our Diggers & the Poles, not much for anyone else. The Diggers respect for the Germans is/was mutual.
Off topic but a clear indicator the the other comments are probably tosh as well.

Fact is the Japanese out-manouvred the imperial forces, all of them, in the Malay peninsula. With the Japanese invasion UK diverted several convoys delivering troops to the mid east to Singapore. The biggest component of this was the complete 18 Inf Div, three full infantry bdes, full divisional troops plus assorted other units. These reinforcements were significantly more than the entire force Australia had deployed in Malaya. It's very difficult to see how this can be called 'abandoning'. Not forgetting the existing Brit forces, even if it was only 6 Brit inf bns (same number as Aust) and casualties forced two to merge, and quite a lot of arty among the rather larger body of Indian troops.

Brit comds expected the Japanese to invade Singapore Island at the East end, that's where they placed their best troops, 18 Div, leaving the Aust 8 Div to defend the West end. Unfortunately the Japanese invaded at the West end and Aust defences collapsed/were abandoned very quickly.

It's also worth noting that British comds also forbade senior officers from making a run for it, they were to remain with their troops. Only key specialists were evacuated, notably intelligence officers and various technicians. However, the sole Aust divisional comd did a runner on his own initiative and abandoned his men. A fine example.

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Re: Comments on Australian or New Zealand tactics by German Army

Post by Hans » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:13 pm

Whilst not condoning Bennett's action in doing a runner, at least he did show "initiative". As for evacuating British intelligence officers - why? These unworthy gentlemen along with their non thinking generals got it wrong. Too busy sipping and supping at the clubs to bother about THEIR men & thereby placing the Australians & their own men at risk from a far weaker so called at the time enemy.
Anyway, I'm far off topic & Brits are never wrong, so Cheery Pip.

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