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"Bitter Lessons What Can We Learn from the Allies" Topic

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795 hits since 31 Mar 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2018 12:22 p.m. PST

…. Disastrous Norway Campaign of 1940?

"CAMPAIGNS THAT END in ignominious failure tend to be quickly forgotten. Yet there is often far more to be learned from such operations than from those that were successful. An example of this lies in the largely neglected British-led campaign in Norway during the Second World War.

In the spring of 1940, the British, with French support, dispatched an expedition force to oust the Germans immediately following Berlin`s coup-de-main seizure of the country on April, 9. In just eight weeks of fighting, the Allies had committed a series of catastrophic blunders and suffered a string of defeats. Humiliated, the British and French promptly evacuated, leaving Norway to four years of Nazi tyranny. The ill-fated mission was almost immediately overshadowed by another crisis: Hitler's invasion of France, Belgium and Holland in May 1940. Today, few people outside Norway know much about the campaign. Yet it contains lessons that resonate today amid the Western deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan…"
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zoneofcontrol Inactive Member31 Mar 2018 12:38 p.m. PST

Lesson #1: Never be totally unprepared for war, even in peace time.

Lesson #2: See Lesson #1

Also, the comparison of early WWII and modern day middle east is a stretch. Had the allies won, they would simply have allowed for the restoration of the rightful govt. They failed because their military package was not up to the task.

In the middle east, the situation was the opposite. The allied military shredded the opposition forces and govt. The failure was because there was no govt. leadership to return to power. Outsiders were able to take full advantage of that. In this case, it is more of Lesson #3: During hostilities, never be unprepared for peace.

Same/similar results but because of different circumstances.

Fred Cartwright31 Mar 2018 2:45 p.m. PST

It was certainly a bungled operation. Or was it? No doubt mkenny will be along in a minute to explain how it was really a triumph of allied skill and how the Germans surrendered a mere 5 years later! :-) At least the navy put up a good show. After the Norwegian campaign the Kriegsmarine surface fleet was looking a lot leaner.

Andy ONeill31 Mar 2018 4:14 p.m. PST

The infantry were badly prepared but the navy stuffed jerry good style.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP01 Apr 2018 1:16 a.m. PST

What to learn from the Norwegian campaign?
Don't try and save a country that only has 1 tank, 1 ww1 tank to be specific. 1 none functioning ww1 tank to be very specific.

Dragon Gunner01 Apr 2018 6:41 a.m. PST

"Don't try and save a country that only has 1 tank, 1 ww1 tank to be specific. 1 none functioning ww1 tank to be very specific."- Gunfreak

Hey that sounds a lot like many of our current NATO allies…

Legion 401 Apr 2018 9:40 a.m. PST

Very true Dragon !

As far as the title of this thread :

I think the saying that fits is something about "If you don't understand history, you are doomed to repeat it" …

Or :

Prior Planning Prevents Bleeped text poor performance …

Pray for peace but prepare for war …

Dn Jackson02 Apr 2018 1:25 a.m. PST

Even 40 year old torpedoes can be dangerous.

GreenLeader04 Apr 2018 5:49 p.m. PST

It could reasonably be argued that the Commandos owe their existence to the Independent Companies which saw service in Norway.

I have always thought that one learns far more from a defeat than a victory. While still in the army on some sort of course, we were all tasked with preparing and delivering a talk on a famous action fought by our respective regiments. On the big day, one-by-one, everyone else talking about some great victory but and to the horror of a couple of the instructors I rather bucked the trend by doing my talk about Majuba Hill.

I started off by saying that there's little to be learned from patting ourselves on the back over a victory, and much more worthwhile to examine an action where just about everything went wrong.

William Ulsterman04 Apr 2018 7:31 p.m. PST

Frederick the Great had a celebrated mule that fought through 40 battles in his life time and learned nothing.

The BRITISH fiasco in Norway was repeated in Greece, on Crete, in Malaya and in Libya. The Poms had a lot more in common with Frederick's under celebrated mule in WWII than they would ever admit.

Experience is only of value if the correct conclusions are learned. The Poms learned nothing from Norway and that was the real disaster.

PS – the Royal Navy got stuffed just as much as the German navy was stuffed. Losing a fleet carrier to the German battle cruisers was bad enough, but losing a cruiser to a nasty Norwegian rock was probably the nadir. Those destroyer loses also taxed the Navy and contributed mightily to the u-boat Happy Time of late 1940 to early 1941.

Legion 405 Apr 2018 5:44 a.m. PST

Experience is only of value if the correct conclusions are learned
I.e. some learned the wrong lessons or no lessons at all …

donlowry05 Apr 2018 9:04 a.m. PST

Frederick the Great had a celebrated mule that fought through 40 battles in his life time and learned nothing.

Maybe the mule never learned much about strategy or tactics, but I'll bet he knew something about logistics.

Fred Cartwright05 Apr 2018 11:36 a.m. PST

Losing a fleet carrier to the German battle cruisers was bad enough, but losing a cruiser to a nasty Norwegian rock was probably the nadir.

Classifying Glorious as a fleet carrier is stretching it a bit. She was considerably less capable than the other British carriers. The German losses were considerably more significant. It effectively crippled the German fleet for a year. Not that they achieved much after that. The Channel dash is lauded as a bold and successful operation, but it was a full scale retreat of the German surface fleet.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Apr 2018 12:15 p.m. PST

The Allied failure in Norway may have actually turned out for the best in the long run. The Germans eventually had to station several hundred thousand troops there to hang onto the place. Troops they desperately needed elsewhere.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2018 12:29 p.m. PST

That is a plausible way of looking at it.
The question is, for the allies was the lack of those 300-400 000 German soldiers on the battlefield "better" than the strategic possion of Norway.
Germany with hundreds of thousands of allies almost right north of it would be in a tough possion.

Not to mention with a successful defence of Norway the battle of France might have gone very differently

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2018 2:54 p.m. PST


While true about the occupation tying down troops it also ensured iron ore shipments from Sweden for the Germans. Likewise it provided bases for the Germans to attack convoys destined for Russia. It allowed U-boats unrestricted access to the North Atlantic. It likewise tied down allied assets though perhaps not to the same degree.

Fred Cartwright05 Apr 2018 3:16 p.m. PST

Not sure a successful defence of Norway would have impacted on the battle of France, bearing in mind the fighting was still going on in Norway while the battle for France was being lost. Had the defence of Norway still been going on after the conclusion of the battle of France the Germans could have moved overwhelming force to bear in Norway.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2018 3:31 p.m. PST

Yes, but Norway is not a tank country.
The advantage the Germans had in mobile armor was negated. It's far easier to defend Norway then France. Lots of mountains, forests.

Some of the valleys also give decent protection against airpower.
Hence Norway held out longer then any other country attacked by the Germans expect for France.

Fred Cartwright05 Apr 2018 10:22 p.m. PST

Yes, but Norway is not a tank country.

Neither is Greece, but that didn't last very long. German AirPower proved very useful during the campaign. To have any chance of holding even part of Norway would have needed a larger force from France and Britain and it would need to have been in place before the Germans struck.

Legion 406 Apr 2018 8:11 a.m. PST

Again IMO at that time of the War. The Germans preformed "better", i.e. more effectively and efficiently than other forces in Europe. For a variety of reasons …

Yes, but Norway is not a tank country.
Regardless the Germans at that time only had about 10 Pz Div. But the vast majority were still very much Infantrymen in the Wehrmacht and SS.

Plus their use of airpower, like their deployment of armor/mech units. Combined with FA … Their overall understanding of modern mobile combined arms warfare, i.e. the Blitzkrieg … Was way ahead of most of the rest of not only Europe but the world.

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