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TPMM
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Post by TPMM » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:05 am

Commissar D, the Evil wrote:Why fight Britain, Russia and America at the same time?
Because we think that noone can stop us? :wink:
Don't worry, be crazy ;]

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Post by phylo_roadking » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:48 am

...because on December 8th 1941....the domes and spires of the Kremlin were in sight. They wouldn't be fighting ALL three at once....oops....
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Post by Jock » Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:55 am

Hi Phylo,

The German units which entered the suburbs of Moscow did so around the 2nd December, with the Germans then halting the offensive on the 5th, and the Russian counter attack taking place on the 6th.

If any German could see the Kremlin on the 8th, he was either a POW, or had some crazy powers of sight ;)

Cheers,
Jock

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Post by phylo_roadking » Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:14 am

It was a LONG time ago, but I remember reading a tank commander's account of seeing a sparkle on the horizon and being told it was either the domes of the Kremlin or St. Basil's. After all - 15kms...only ten miles on a low-ionisation clear winter's day, the curve of the horizon doesn't cut in until 22 miles...where I'm sitting now, looking out my livingroom window, I can see the white spike of a lighthouse on a cliff on the coast of Scotland, 25+miles from where I am.

Here's a question. Does ANYONE know what atmospheri conditions around WWII-era Moscow were like? I mean - I know there was heavy industry around the city, was there any smog? Is it now or was it then known for having a temperature inversion layer over the city or anything?
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Post by Jock » Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:23 am

Hi Phylo,

From memory (I've just moved, and alot of my books are elsewhere) -

Some units got to within roughly 20km's from the centre of Moscow on the late afternoon of the 2nd. The "seeing the sun sparkle on the Kremlin" story is most likely true, as you say, you can see a long way on a clear winters day. I know a certain unit got mentioned as getting closest, I can't remember which is was though, Ill check at Xmas.

As I understand it though, the afternoon of the 2nd was the high watermark of Barbarossa, and by the 8th, most German units would have been at least 100km's from the Kremlin.

Cheers,
Jock

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Post by Cott Tiger » Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:27 am

Uli wrote:
Admirable defense of the U.S. Navy, Cott--after all, the U.S. Navy of WWII remains the greatest maritime force ever forged and put to sea during wartime--though for a considerably better or more concise summary of the battles' of Midway and Leyte Gulf than yours, I recommend to you Gordon Prange's Midway and Edwin Hoyt's Leyte. Additionally, should you one day enjoy the opportunity of visiting the U.S., you might try to make it on down to the Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas: There you'll find primary source material specifically dealing with both battles, and aides will assist you in uncovering Nimitz's personal conclusion suggesting that, though heavy outgunned (as you mentioned), the Japanese Navy might easily have emerged the victor in both encounters, given a bit more luck (Nimitz's conclusion, not mine). His references to "luck" can be found within his personal papers.

How I might readily access portions of his personal memoirs for you via computer, I have little idea--though they're likely out there. I'm not a computer geek, so perhaps someone else with a better technological touch might try digging them up for you. However, that the Leyte Gulf battles might have ended on an entirely different note--thanks in large to glaring mistakes on Halsey's part--has long been accepted as conventional wisdom among historians and sea-war buffs here in the states. Granted, the U.S. Navy, as you noted, was far larger than that of the Japanese during the Leyte affair, and though our technological saavy far more advanced, our victory there wasn't guaranteed simply because of physical size or sheer numbers. Given the numbers you've provided, one would think that American victory at Leyte should've been a virtual lock, right? But it wasn't. In fact the margin of victory in both battles was dangerously thin, and American naval officers and historians have humbly argued this issue down through the decades.

Take a look inside Prange's and Hoyt's books--they're quite likely to be found in a library near you. Thirty-five years ago the books were required reading for sea buffs, naval officers, and other inquiring minds, and that's when I procured mine. The numbers you've kindly provided can likely be found most anywhere these days. Wikipedia and Angelfire are good for stuff like this, and yet those numbers are yesterday's news, in fact--but I thank you for refreshing us with them just the same.

On roughly equal terms--or at Guadalcanal, for instance--the Japanese on numerous occasions routinely sank us and put us on the run. And superior numbers aren't necessarily the product of superior minds or superior commanders, or a clear-cut indication that one nation's better than another. Given what little industrial might the Japanese could muster during the war years, I'd say that David made an excellent point regarding their navy's prowess. And this is saying nothing about the Japanese Navy's ability to sink, damage, or destroy numerous of our battleships and other vessels at Pearl Harbor with the loss of only 29 of it's aircraft and 55 airmen.
Hi Uli,

Thank you for your response.

Firstly, I have worked and travelled extensively in the United States, although sadly I never got the chance to visit Texas. Should I ever get to Frederickbug in the future I will certainly take up your recommendation and visit the Nimitz museum (although the wife might take a bit more convincing)

Secondly, I am certainly not here to dispute the significance, effectiveness or the fighting ability, of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Man for man, ton for ton, they were certainly a match for any navy in the world. Hence I’d agree with you and David on that matter.

I do forcibly dispute however, your surprising contention that the US won two of the most decisive and certainly one of the biggest Naval battles in the history of Naval warfare by sheer or simple luck.

We appear to agree on many things about the (Leyte Gulf) battle. That the US had fantastically superior numbers, that Halsey made some crucial mistakes, and that the US ships had better technological fire power are for example (as you have stated) accepted facts.

But my essential question in response to your original statement is, what luck was Halsey handed that gave him victory?

As I see it, if anybody was handed "luck" then Kurita was the benefactor when Halsey failed to recall the sizable part of the Fleet that was heading to Ulithi to re-equip, resulting in a large proportion of his fire-power (especially air-power from McCain’s carrier groups) ) being effectively excluded from the battle. Also of course, there was Halsey’s decision to sail north with all the Fleet at his disposal to engage Ozawa’s Northern Force. Had these not happened the Japanese and Kurita may well of had a much more crushing defeat imposed on them

Regarding Nimitz. I confess to not being an expert on the man himself. However as he was Commander In Chief of Pacific Forces and was one of the chief architects in the victory over the Japanese, I would be very surprised if he considered two of the most decisive battles to have been won solely by luck. I would like to see some definitive proof of this.

In these two battles (Midway and Leyte Gulf) the US Navy sunk 8 Japanese aircraft carriers (for the loss of only 2 carriers and 2 escort carriers) 3 battleships (for the loss of none) 9 cruisers (for the loss of none) and 12 destroyers (for the loss of only 4), - that’s one ‘helluva’ lot of luck Uli!!

Regards,

André
Last edited by Cott Tiger on Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Jock » Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:29 am

PS - Which raises the point, if by the 11th December the Germans knew they were on the back foot, and would not beat Russia that winter, why declare war on the US? They had no obligation to Japan to declare war on the US, did they? Or was it inevitable, so Germany "got in there first"?

Cheers,
Jock

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Post by phylo_roadking » Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:09 am

IIRC they had no obligation - or else Mussolini would have had to have been in the South of France a LOT earlier than 10th June 1940 LMAO OR of course both Japan and Italy at war with Great Britain on the 3rd of September 1939.

The question would more likely be - how MUCH of a back foot did HITLER think he was on? His opinions were likely to be as different regarding long-term success in Ruissia THEN from his professional generals as two or three years later ;-) After all - the Declaration of War on the US was a political decision, not a military one.
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Post by TPMM » Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:34 am

Quite an interesting view what did Hitler care about his generals' opinions about the military situation near Moscow in winter 1941/42 is given in Guderian's "Erinnerungen eines Soldaten".
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Post by Uli » Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:19 am

Cott Tiger wrote:
Uli wrote:
Admirable defense of the U.S. Navy, Cott--after all, the U.S. Navy of WWII remains the greatest maritime force ever forged and put to sea during wartime--though for a considerably better or more concise summary of the battles' of Midway and Leyte Gulf than yours, I recommend to you Gordon Prange's Midway and Edwin Hoyt's Leyte. Additionally, should you one day enjoy the opportunity of visiting the U.S., you might try to make it on down to the Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas: There you'll find primary source material specifically dealing with both battles, and aides will assist you in uncovering Nimitz's personal conclusion suggesting that, though heavy outgunned (as you mentioned), the Japanese Navy might easily have emerged the victor in both encounters, given a bit more luck (Nimitz's conclusion, not mine). His references to "luck" can be found within his personal papers.

How I might readily access portions of his personal memoirs for you via computer, I have little idea--though they're likely out there. I'm not a computer geek, so perhaps someone else with a better technological touch might try digging them up for you. However, that the Leyte Gulf battles might have ended on an entirely different note--thanks in large to glaring mistakes on Halsey's part--has long been accepted as conventional wisdom among historians and sea-war buffs here in the states. Granted, the U.S. Navy, as you noted, was far larger than that of the Japanese during the Leyte affair, and though our technological saavy far more advanced, our victory there wasn't guaranteed simply because of physical size or sheer numbers. Given the numbers you've provided, one would think that American victory at Leyte should've been a virtual lock, right? But it wasn't. In fact the margin of victory in both battles was dangerously thin, and American naval officers and historians have humbly argued this issue down through the decades.

Take a look inside Prange's and Hoyt's books--they're quite likely to be found in a library near you. Thirty-five years ago the books were required reading for sea buffs, naval officers, and other inquiring minds, and that's when I procured mine. The numbers you've kindly provided can likely be found most anywhere these days. Wikipedia and Angelfire are good for stuff like this, and yet those numbers are yesterday's news, in fact--but I thank you for refreshing us with them just the same.

On roughly equal terms--or at Guadalcanal, for instance--the Japanese on numerous occasions routinely sank us and put us on the run. And superior numbers aren't necessarily the product of superior minds or superior commanders, or a clear-cut indication that one nation's better than another. Given what little industrial might the Japanese could muster during the war years, I'd say that David made an excellent point regarding their navy's prowess. And this is saying nothing about the Japanese Navy's ability to sink, damage, or destroy numerous of our battleships and other vessels at Pearl Harbor with the loss of only 29 of it's aircraft and 55 airmen.
Hi Uli,

Thank you for your response.

Firstly, I have worked and travelled extensively in the United States, although sadly I never got the chance to visit Texas. Should I ever get to Frederickbug in the future I will certainly take up your recommendation and visit the Nimitz museum (although the wife might take a bit more convincing)

Secondly, I am certainly not here to dispute the significance, effectiveness or the fighting ability, of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Man for man, ton for ton, they were certainly a match for any navy in the world. Hence I’d agree with you and David on that matter.

I do forcibly dispute however, your surprising contention that the US won two of the most decisive and certainly one of the biggest Naval battles in the history of Naval warfare by sheer or simple luck.

We appear to agree on many things about the (Leyte Gulf) battle. That the US had fantastically superior numbers, that Halsey made some crucial mistakes, and that the US ships had better technological fire power are for example (as you have stated) accepted facts.

But my essential question in response to your original statement is, what luck was Halsey handed that gave him victory?

As I see it, if anybody was handed "luck" then Kurita was the benefactor when Halsey failed to recall the sizable part of the Fleet that was heading to Ulithi to re-equip, resulting in a large proportion of his fire-power (especially air-power from McCain’s carrier groups) ) being effectively excluded from the battle. Also of course, there was Halsey’s decision to sail north with all the Fleet at his disposal to engage Ozawa’s Northern Force. Had these not happened the Japanese and Kurita may well of had a much more crushing defeat imposed on them

Regarding Nimitz. I confess to not being an expert on the man himself. However as he was Commander In Chief of Pacific Forces and was one of the chief architects in the victory over the Japanese, I would be very surprised if he considered two of the most decisive battles to have been won solely by luck. I would like to see some definitive proof of this.

In these two battles (Midway and Leyte Gulf) the US Navy sunk 8 Japanese aircraft carriers (for the loss of only 2 carriers and 2 escort carriers) 3 battleships (for the loss of none) 9 cruisers (for the loss of none) and 12 destroyers (for the loss of only 4), - that’s one ‘helluva’ lot of luck Uli!!

Regards,

André
Hi, Andre:

I fully understand you when you ask precisely how "luck" might have been a part of the American victory at Leyte Gulf. As a kid only seven years after the battle's end, I read a Kansas City Star newspaper account containing a full account of the ocean fighting in the southern Philippines, and that's the first time I had ever heard American naval commanders use the term when describing a portion of what is reputedly the greatest sea battle of all time.

Here's my take on the situation from the perspective of 63 years distant:

You're completely right in noting the huge offset in numbers and strength dividing the U.S. and Imperial Japanese Navy. Having lost a significant number of their proudest capitol ships and over 400 of their finest, most-experienced pilots during the course of the Marianas Turkey Shoot [Operation Forager], the teeth had figuratively and literally been yanked from the mouth of the Japanese Navy. When they (rather, Kurita) very nearly humiliated Halsey during the Leyte affair, and yet failed to complete the task, American leaders--Nimitz and Spruance--could easily afford to be generous to the Japanese Navy in post-mortem recollection.

I sometimes wonder if Americans overuse the term luck when describing their successes whether in battle or business, for truth is (given the physical numbers that you've graciously provided), there's no way in the world in which the Japanese could've beaten us at sea after the Turkey Shoot, Guadalcanal, or even Midway. What they could've done at Leyte, however, was to briefly humiliate us (in this particular case, Halsey), and on a tactical scale, set back our timetable for the initiation of the coming operations' Detachment, Iceberg, Coronet and Olympic, as determined during the course of the Second Quebec Conference, or "Quadrant." Had Kurita successfully trapped Halsey in the Philippines, sunk a number of our finer ships and killed a large number of our ablest sailors, our land-operations within the archipelago would've undergone radical alteration, and though we would've emerged victorious in any event, our planning of future operations would've been drastically altered. These alterations might've taken on an even larger dimension come August 1945, or nearly a year after Leyte, as some 3 million Soviet troops pressed through Manchuria in the direction of Port Arthur and Dairen, the Yellow Sea, Korea, the Sea of Japan, Sakhalin, the Kurils, Hokkaido--(and, ultimately, the Central Tokyo Plain and a head-on ground collision with American invasion forces and a potential first-round of WWIII?)

It's only my guess, but when Nimitz used the term luck when describing a crucial stage within the naval battle of Leyte, he was addressing less a short-term American sea-going defeat there than the potential disruption of Pacific Theater operations and the expected U.S. amphibious invasion of Japan-proper.
Erwin Leibold 26.7.1942

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Post by Uli » Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:45 am

These bits from Henry Maule's Great Battles of World War II: Moscow--

"...A furious German attack to achieve a final breakthrough from the north-west [on December 1] was mounted along the axis of the road from Staritsa, through Volokolamsk, to Moscow. At the same time, with a howling blizzard blowing around them the Germans battled on to take Polevo and Vyoskovo, and were within 20 miles of Moscow from that direction...."

"...Farther south, below Rogachevo, the Germans still made progress towards the capital. A Panzer corps hammered its way forward through driving snow to force another canal crossing at Lobnya [again, December 1]. A combat group detached from the 2nd Panzer Division stormed the village of Ozeretskoye, 20 miles from the Kremlin itself. Krasnaya Polyana (Tolstoy's burial place), Pushki and Katyushki were taken in quck succession...."

"...Soon, the news was even blacker. Elements of a [German] infantry division...penetrated to Lunevo (near Klin?). Everything pointed to a full-scale German breakthrough to Moscow from the north, where a strong bridgehead had been established on the eastern [my italics] bank of the Moscow-Volga Canal...." (November 27, 1941)

"...Amidt growing Russian apprehension, motorcycle patrols of Panzer engineers roared into Khimki, Moscow's small port on the Volga only five miles from the outskirts of the great capital. They met no opposition, and although they returned from this foray (November 27?) with equal speed, they left behind a panicking populace...."

This from Rodric Braithwaite's Moscow 1941 ("The Spring Uncoils"):

"...Von Bock's offensive along the Mozhaisk Highway was in serious trouble. Neither he nor [OKH] had any idea of the forces which the Russians were about to bring to bear. Their assessment on 4 December was that 'The enemy facing Army Group Centre is at present incapable of mounting a counter-attack without bringing forward substantial reserves.' Nevertheless, von Bock believed it would be prudent to plan for an orderly withdrawal. Von Rundstedt, commanding Army Group South, was already deploying similar arguments. But Hitler and the sycophantic staff officers around him opposed all talk of retreat. The argument between them and the generals at the front became increasingly bitter. On December 1 Hitler dismissed von Rundstedt from his command for withdrawing without his permission. In the succeeding weeks von Bock, Guderian and others went the same way...."

(I've yet to finish Braithwaite's work, so it's likely that his narratives will include a section pertaining to the easternmost tip of the German drive on Moscow).

Among the best videos pertaining to Typhoon is one produced by BBC some thirty-five years ago, appropriately entitled "Barbarossa." In this video, then middle-aged German survivors of the Battle of Moscow render their personal impressions of the battle as they had witnessed it from their foxholes dug within "...ten kilometers distant of the Kremlin's gleaming domes...." In this video--I saw it last in 1984, so I'm relying entirely on memory here--a former German Army officer recollects that the closest these German soldiers would come to Moscow, was when forward elements of the 258th Infantry Division entered the village of Khimki, a northeastern Moscow suburb, where--low on rations, ammo, and hampered by -52c temperatures--they were driven away by Opolcheniye (civilian workers) from a nearby kolkhoz. A former landser in this film declares that for a brief moment he witnessed the Kremlin's domes--gleaming in rare December Russian sunlight. "This, he wistfully remembered, "was the first and last time I would see Moscow."
Erwin Leibold 26.7.1942

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Post by Uli » Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:43 pm

Since I've long believed Khimki to be the easternmost point of the German advance on Moscow, I Googled images of the town, found one alongside several photographs of Klin, Tchaikovsky's burial place, and was rudely disappointed to discover that the one-time village--situated in a great Russian birch forest and intersected perhaps only by uneven, sandy lanes at the time of the German advance 66 years ago--has since been swallowed by Moscow, and is every bit as ugly, crowded, ordinary, and choked with automobiles as any profusely industrialized western city:

http://www.pbase.com/bcplaces/klin

The photograph of Khimki does however reveal the old hedgehogs that were emplaced to block Guderian's panzers. Sadly, these formidable monuments to the greatest, bloodiest war ever fought are today surrounded by blase modernity and dwarfed by Soviet-style high-rise apartments. A nearby roadsign indicates the direction to yet two more Moscow suburbs, Mashkinskaya and Novoskhodnyenskaya.

One can only wonder if Russian children--like their English, French, American, and German counterparts--are taught the meaning of such monuments by today's teachers. It seems highly unlikely, I'm afraid.
Erwin Leibold 26.7.1942

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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sun Dec 23, 2007 4:15 am

Uli, I have to congratulate you on a series of very thoughtful posts on this Thread. :up: :up: :up:

I hope that soon I will be able to reply in an honest debate. Only though about the Pacific War, as it seems to me to be undeniable that units of the German Army saw the spires of Moscow. After all, Stalin made preparations to evacuate the city, something he would never have done had the danger not seemed imminent and urgent.

Best,
~David
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

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Post by Uli » Sun Dec 23, 2007 9:56 am

Thank you very kindly, D!

American journalist Margaret Bourke-White, formerly married to legendary novelist Erskine Caldwell (Tobacco Road, God's Little Acre), wrote a rather revealing book regarding the '41 German assault on Moscow, entitled Shooting the Russian War. The book contains numerous riveting first-hand accounts of the Soviet government's preparations for an evacuation eastward that autumn, as well as the effect the Luftwaffe's bombings were having on the capitol and the Soviet psyche. Bourke-White was allowed unprecedentedly close access to Stalin, Molotov, and several key members of the Politburo at the time, and she was similarly allowed to drive via automobile to the frontline, which was at the time of her visit located near Khimki, Yasnaya Polyana, and other outposts situated near Moscow's outer ring roads. I highly recommend this book to military historians and general enthusiasts' alike. Author Herman Wouk used BW's Russian reporting experiences to very rave international reviews when he penned the first of his two WWII blockbusters The Winds of War and War and Rememberance. In the first of these books, Bourke-White's identity is very cleverly concealed as that of one Miss Pamela Tudsbury, fictive daughter of noted British journalist "Talky" Tudsbury.

http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/bour-mar.htm

I failed to mention when posting those photographs of western Moscow, that the town of Klin--a scene of heavy fighting during Typhoon--is pictured in several of them, and is identified in the top row of photos (fourth from left) with the words Klin--1317 (the date of the town's founding). In the first photo, traffic is seen flowing eastbound in late-afternoon, during an apparent rush-hour, in the direction of Sheremetyevo 1 airport. The same series of highway signs similarly point the way to the route leading to St. Petersburg, or Leningrad. Sheremetyevo 2 is a second major airport and is now located approximately in the vicinity of the town of Khimki. A third roadsign points the way to Kurkino and Skodnya. Klin, roughly 80-100 miles' distant from the Kremlin during the catastrophic winter of 1941, will likely soon become part of Moscow's westward expansion.
Erwin Leibold 26.7.1942

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Post by lwd » Fri Dec 28, 2007 8:20 am

Interesting. This thread seams to have developed into one of the better and more intersting current WWII threads and it's in the Verbotten forum.....

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