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Old September 25, 2008, 11:32 PM   #51
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Keep in mind the dirt sensitive cam and lever loading link system in the M-1 too. It worked well as the troops where well trained in keeping it running and CLEAN. Also the germans had a lot of very good select fire infantry weapons too. MP-44 and such. The original nick name for the garand was "jammy jenny".
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Old September 26, 2008, 05:57 AM   #52
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More expansion of an expansive discussion.

Discussions such as these can be a mine field ( No pun intended ) the factors involved in defeating the Axis forces are so far ranging and complex that to boil them down to any single component answer is to totally miss the bigger picture. At the end of the day the Allies defeated the Axis nations ...

Please note Allies? This means not JUST the U.S ... it means English, Scottish, Indian, Nepalese, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, Polish, French, Russian, Czech etc etc etc. Without the combined effort of all these nations and the brave people who fought, victory would not have come as it did and when it did.

When people state the U.S won the war ( As though single handed ) it is not only hugely ignorant but also extremely insulting to the men of the dozens of other Allied nations who watered the tree of liberty with their blood. Thankfully I can see a greater majority of Americans in this thread that understand this and know the score already without partisan chest thumping blinding them from the facts. The U.S were great allies and brought a renewed vigor to a war that Britain and Australia ( and many others ) had already been fighting for two years before their arrival. Without one you couldn't have had the other - this was truly a partnership.

It has been noted that Stephen A Ambrose is known for his historical bias towards the U.S in his own writings about the war so I while I enjoy his work I am often blown away by the injection of his own clear subjective bias with regard to the U.S forces vs anyone else. I hope with wider reading people can gain a broader and more realistic perspective and not rest on the work of Mr Ambrose alone. Many other nations had proud moments during WW2 but don't have the movie industry of Hollywood to tell their stories to the world as do the U.S. This could sometimes give an impression that other allied nations simply were not there or did not factor in at all ... how wrong this is.

Now that I have that off my chest ... a couple of points of my own.

To say that the German forces could not act independently is completely false. The German Army, both the Wermacht and the Waffen SS were renowned for being one of the few armed forces who were able to mutate and adapt in battle when units became fractured. The Germans, unlike almost everybody else, developed units where every man knew the other mans job - so that in the case of death any man regardless of rank could pick up where the other left off, regardless of rank.

Contrary to what some here have said it is well documented that German soldiers did not rely on leadership of the ranking soldier if he was killed and grunt Soldats were just as motivated and able to carry out difficult missions using their own initiative! This is what the German armed forces were famous for and much of their tactics and outlook were highly revered and respected by other nations ... they were actually the leaders of their craft in a war where the rest of the world was scrambling to catch up.

German Panzer commanders developed a system of using closed radio communications in their tanks allowing greater tactical speed and co-ordination during battle ... the list is endless in regard to their innovations including the development of patterned camouflage smocks. This brings me to the Eastern front. As many will already know the German blitzkrieg across the east went virtually unchallenged while the weather held but once the German supply lines began to stretch to deep and winter took hold that was when, just like Napoleon found out, that the Russian winter is the deciding factor in a war with Russia.

It has been noted time and time again in accounts from Russians and German soldiers on the Eastern Front that two major factors played a decisive role in the slow defeat of Germany.

1 - Vehicles - The Germans, who were not accustomed to dealing with the bitter Russian winters, could not keep their vehicles running. This meant that supply lines came to a grinding halt - the result being food, ammo, winter clothing, fuel would not get through to where they were needed. An army without vital supplies cannot do its job effectively any more than a gun can fire without ammo.

However, the Russians knew full well how to keep vehicles running in the bitter winters and would thin down their diesel fuels with kerosene and other methods which kept them rolling no matter what was happening. The Germans never cottoned on to this and simply began to freeze where they stood.

2 - Tank tracks - I have read first hand accounts of German Panzer crew members who noted that the Russian T-34's were built with a much wider track, this allowed the Russian tanks to float on the mud much like a snow shoe supports a great weight in a snow drift. This made the Russian tanks far more maneuverable in the mud and snow vs the German Panzers that were far heavier and were sporting thinner tracks. As a result, when Russian winter set in the Panzers lost their advantage and were like much of their supply lines, stuck in the mud and snow. Adding to this the fact that supplies were not reaching the Panzers and we have a German army that has lost all it's momentum.

The Russian winter and the Russian ability to keep their war machine moving in those conditions were as decisive a factor as there ever was ... not to mention the sheer war of attrition, numbers of men, that they threw headlong into the Germans onslaught. The greatest bulk of the war was won by Russia, this is entirely true but without the efforts of the Western allies in North Africa, Italy and Greece as well as western Europe things may well have gone differently.

The rifles these men carried were really small potato's in the overall picture - Napoleon had a well drilled, well trained army ... winter is a killer. I'd say Russian Winter beat the German army if we look at the big picture - rifles don't matter in the face of zero supplies and freezing to death.
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Old September 26, 2008, 07:46 AM   #53
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2 - Tank tracks - I have read first hand accounts of German Panzer crew members who noted that the Russian T-34's were built with a much wider track, this allowed the Russian tanks to float on the mud much like a snow shoe supports a great weight in a snow drift.
The T-34 had the lightest ground pressure of any of the medium/heavy tanks during WWII. This light pressure was, indeed, a great advantage in soft ground.

It also had an outstanding suspension system that was, ironically, a US design:

I remember reading a quotation from a German tanker who said something along the lines of "The Panzer was worth at least 10 Shermans. The problem was you always had 11."
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Old September 26, 2008, 09:18 AM   #54
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Contrary to what some here have said it is well documented that German soldiers did not rely on leadership of the ranking soldier if he was killed and grunt Soldats were just as motivated and able to carry out difficult missions using their own initiative!
If you're referring to my depiction of the way things went when German commanders were killed I would beg to differ with your analysis. Yes the German soldiers were able to take on any job but they also recognized the advantage of acting in concert in every situation. So they deferred to the ranking soldier who had both the ability to lead because he knew every job and he had the cooperation of the soldiers who followed his lead because they knew they would be more effective when they fought as a unit.

The German soldier was not the automaton we were taught they were in school. That idea grew out of Allied propaganda that was meant to encourage our troops to believe that victory would be gained easier than it actually was. It took root in the victorious American culture which thrived on it's own bravado until Korea came along. I don't think it was bad for our leaders to encourage such thinking. It's hard to gather up the nerve to take on a fighting machine as ferocious as the Nazis. Any bit of courage they could give the men was alright by me but it's time we put that myth to bed. It's usefulness has long since passed. It was a different era and propaganda was much more effective because you only heard news from a limited number of sources. Sometimes that was a good thing and sometimes it was bad. I don't believe I want to go back to those days but sometimes I think we hear too much and make too much of things. The current war is a perfect example. We moan and cry as if the loss of 2500 soldiers is an epic disaster. Compared to most wars that's a drop in the bucket. I'm not saying that all life doesn't have great value. It certainly does. But sometimes we are called on to sacrifice all. If we don't then we will surrender all instead.
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Old September 26, 2008, 09:35 AM   #55
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And we've wandered away from the Garand...

, Art
You're from BATFE? Come right in! I use all your fine products!
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