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WW II's Most 'Costly,
Unproductive, Ill-Advised' Battle

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Posted By: StormCnter, 12/9/2019 10:06:41 AM

Following the Allied breakout from the Normandy beachhead in July 1944, the German army fled back through northern France, Belgium and southern Holland to the frontiers of the Reich. The British and Canadians took Brussels on Sept. 3, 1944, and entered Antwerp the next day while American units crossed the German frontier near Charlemagne’s old capital of Aachen. It looked as if the war would be over by Christmas. The Allies were suffering a bad case of victory fever. General Eisenhower’s brilliant Chief of Staff, Walter Bedell Smith, told the press that “militarily the war is over,” a sentiment shared by Winston Churchill

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Reply 1 - Posted by: PChristopher 12/9/2019 10:17:37 AM (No. 256990)
Bedell Smith obviously didn't have a lot of hands-on field experience or military vision. Montgomery was not a very inspired thinker but was always willing to take credit for someone else's victory. Thank God for generals like Patton...we still had a lot to lose in 1944-45 and it could've been much worse.
15 people like this.

Reply 2 - Posted by: Clinger 12/9/2019 10:47:44 AM (No. 257035)
Another key element to the unnecessary continuation of the war after what should have been a military checkmate, was the leaking of the Morganthau plan which incidentally was written by Harry Dexter White, a Soviet asset. Once it was known that out intent was to use Soviet style mass starvation to resolve the German problem with total de-industrialization, we assured German unity in resisting with the last drop of their children's blood. That afforded Stalin time to secure what he had coming to him. WWII is so far from the pure good v evil that it is portrayed to be. It was evil vs evil with good siding with one evil securing victory over the other. We have been dealing with the "necessary" evil we sided with ever sense and they with us. Our greatest threat today, the American left, is the living vestige of WWII.
17 people like this.

Reply 3 - Posted by: Vaquero45 12/9/2019 10:57:07 AM (No. 257053)
Good article. For a deeper analysis and a really interesting read, pick up a copy of Rick Atkinson's excellent book "The Guns at Last Light", the last in his trilogy of WWII.
5 people like this.

Reply 4 - Posted by: DaddyO 12/9/2019 11:25:44 AM (No. 257095)
At least there was strategic value in Market Garden. Peleliu in the Pacific had no strategic value. It had no airfield, and cost the Americans about 10,000 casualties.
7 people like this.

Reply 5 - Posted by: earlybird 12/9/2019 11:32:59 AM (No. 257107)
Rossi is a professor who, as many others have done, is stating the obvious. Hurtgen Forest was a brutal campaign. None of us was there, but a late friend of ours was. He was one of the young American soldier-survivors who then went on to the Battle of the Bulge… The stories he could tell. He could run rings around a professor of history...
6 people like this.

Reply 6 - Posted by: Mass Minority 12/9/2019 11:41:47 AM (No. 257122)
#4, My first thought was also peleliu. A horrific 3 day battle that lasted months and, while securing the Island it was ultimately strategically unimportant. Peliliu did have an airstrip. It was the site of the shortest bombing runs in the war. Planes would take off from the runway, fly a 1/2 mile to drop their bombs on Bloody Nose Ridge and then fly a 1/2 mile back and land. Total mission time less than 10 minutes.
5 people like this.

Reply 7 - Posted by: DVC 12/9/2019 11:56:51 AM (No. 257141)
Hertgen forest was a very bad battle, but the author falls into the common trap of lazy, johnny-come-lately writers, not bothering to research more deeply at WHY a battle was fought, based on the information that the generals had at that time, not based on what we now know. The "20-20 hindsight" thing, again, combined with a shallow understanding of the whole campaign on a higher level. Basically, to cross the Reor River, we had to control the multiple dams on the Roer. If we didn't, as we got ready to cross, the Germans could release a huge slug of water which would wipe out weeks of work with pontoon bridges, etc. They could pretty much endlessly prevent us from crossing by controlling those dams. And the only way to the dams was through the Hurtgen Forest. It was a necessary battle, I and the people who decided it at the time, disagree with the author's view. IMO, the author's commentary is revisonist, lazy, uninformed and suffers from "hindsight disease". Here is an alternate, and more balanced view, if you care to learn some real history not

Please be careful with html. Close any code like that for italics that you open or the entire thread below your Reply will become italicized.
9 people like this.

Reply 8 - Posted by: DVC 12/9/2019 11:59:31 AM (No. 257146)
Sorry, my link didn't come through for some reason. Here is the more well researched view, IMO. https://tinyurl.com/udrxet5
1 person likes this.

Reply 9 - Posted by: Rumblehog 12/9/2019 12:29:30 PM (No. 257175)
Bedell Smith was Ike's "yes-man" and a terrible commander. He wasn't "brilliant" as this author claims. "Monty" Montgomery was just another self-interested Brit commander who wanted more than anything to get a title of nobility. He was a glory hound and as pointed out, took credit for others' heavy lifting. He was a traitor to the cause, constantly undermining General Eisenhower at every turn. He should have been recalled by Churchill. One of the worst losses for Americans during the war occurred at the Battle of Rapido River, wherein the heinous General Mark Clark wasted thousands of 36th Infantry Division (Texas) lives in a foolhardy mission that the General Walker of the 36th finally protested before all his troops were killed. Congress held a hearing about this one battle in 1946 to assign blame. It should be noted that a law was passed in Texas after the War to make it illegal for Gen. Mark Clark to set foot in the State.
5 people like this.

Reply 10 - Posted by: cor-vet 12/9/2019 1:24:13 PM (No. 257227)
Any battle that costs American lives, and doesn't affect American soil, is to costly in my opinon !
1 person likes this.

Reply 11 - Posted by: GO3 12/9/2019 1:47:09 PM (No. 257251)
Agree w/#7, but here is a little known and surprising fact of the time. Patton actually agreed with Montgomery on the strategic necessity of seizing the Ruhr and taking away the German production capacity. Patton however, proposed a "pinwheel" or "counter-clock" maneuver which would send Third Army off of its basic Easterly direction to the Northeast and get behind (to the East of) to encircle the Ruhr urban complex while Monty would move southeast to assume Third Army's drive into Germany. This would have bypassed the entire Hurtgen Forest and made Market Garden into a highly modified operation entailing a methodical advance rather than a so-called lightning strike up a single road to relieve the airborne troops. However, Monty was so stubborn he was more than willing to put British infantry depleted units and armor heavy forces through some of the worst terrain in theater just to make a splash. I'm beginning to wonder if the guy could even read a map.
4 people like this.

Reply 12 - Posted by: snakeoil 12/9/2019 1:49:14 PM (No. 257256)
For wasting American lives for no reason it's hard to beat Vietnam. Of course hindsight is 20 20. Loved the movie Patton but don't know how much is true.
1 person likes this.

Reply 13 - Posted by: NorthernDog 12/9/2019 1:49:38 PM (No. 257257)
There are so many 'what ifs' in war I'm always reluctant to second-guess the strategies. Some expected a major battle for Paris, but it was largely abandoned by the Germans. No one dreamed the hedgerows of Normandy would impede the offensive. By mid 1944 it was obvious Germany has lost the war, but the Hurtgen Forest, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge all lay ahead for the Allies.
4 people like this.

Reply 14 - Posted by: kono 12/10/2019 10:56:55 AM (No. 257955)
I get the nagging sense that the purpose of this piece being posted to the net yesterday was less about enhancing our understanding of history, than about affecting our perception of the ongoing conflict against Islamofacist 'jihadis' in Afghanistan.
2 people like this.

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