Help support TMP


"Churchill's 'Picador' Strategy" Topic


27 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the WWII Discussion Message Board

Back to the TMP Poll Suggestions Message Board


Action Log

07 Dec 2018 9:53 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to WWII Discussion board


Areas of Interest

General
World War Two on the Land

907 hits since 7 Dec 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian07 Dec 2018 9:53 p.m. PST

In 1942, Winston Churchill wished to bleed the Germans thoroughly in peripheral theaters before engaging them again on the Continent. (The Americans disagreed.)

Was Churchill right?

Winston Smith07 Dec 2018 10:03 p.m. PST

I always thought that Churchill would have loved the CIA's alleged plots to make Castro's mustache fall out.
Cloak and dagger stuff.

Skarper07 Dec 2018 10:31 p.m. PST

No. Totally wrong, morally and strategically.

The only decision Churchill made that was 100% correct was not to surrender or negotiate in 1940.

Moving large forces to North Africa was also probably an error too. Enough to stabilize the situation sure, but in then end it might have lengthened the war.

I'm not sure a summer 1943 invasion of France could have succeeded, but the casualties suffered in the MTO were out of proportion to the results obtainable.

Hindsight is 20/20 I know.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2018 10:53 p.m. PST

He kind of did, in 1942 at Dieppe. While it wasn't planned as an all out invasion but a raid in force. It was a disaster like at Gallipoli. Those two experiences had a lot to do with his hesitation for a cross channel invasion in 1942. I can certainly understand it.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 12:55 a.m. PST

As well as the American performance at Kasserine Pass.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 3:44 a.m. PST

Special ops was a major tool in the Allied arsenal as it allowed to cause massive damage to German assets for a minimal cost.

A strategy of "raiding and plundering" as may have been intended by Churchill to draw massive resources into guarding and securing all important sites simply wasn't cost-effective and was shot down by military planners in favour of a strategy of minimal investment aimed at strategic targets for maximum yield.

Operations like the Saint-Nazaire raid were done on a budget, they sacrificed relatively little to achieve substantial results.

Dieppe is an example of the kind of raid Churchill must have had in mind when he came up with this idea. They would have been very costly, using up major resources with the risk of no gains and would not have bled the Germans in any way and only diluted British military efforts better spent elsewhere. You don't use tactical means and methods to try to fight a strategic campaign.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 4:13 a.m. PST

One thing that is often forgotten is that if the British and French had NOT been defeated on the Continent in 1940, their expectation was another WWI Western Front sort of stalemate (just fought in Belgium instead of France). Once that set in, the 'peripheral strategy' was going to be the grand plan. So it wasn't just Churchill's bright idea, it was everyone's plan all along.

Darrell B D Day08 Dec 2018 5:33 a.m. PST

After all these years, are people still attributing the Gallipoli failure to Churchill….?

DBDD

Frontovik Inactive Member08 Dec 2018 6:16 a.m. PST

It's what the British did in all their European wars. Find a continental ally and support them.

mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 6:55 a.m. PST

Consider that you have Hitler, who is easily distracted (not hard to imagine). A raid or series of raids might get an overreaction from him that uses valuable resources and possibly helps the Soviets. So the small raids may have been worthwhile at the time, even if we now know their impact was marginal. I agree with others about the big operations not being worthwhile.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 7:12 a.m. PST

Militarily perhaps not but psychologically they were valuable. Kept allied morale at home up and at least gave the impression of hitting back and making a contribution.

Silurian08 Dec 2018 10:41 a.m. PST

Regarding the Western Desert, once the Germans committed themselves it was definitely of psychological value to hit back at them. But it was militarily very important too.
If they had won the Western Desert they would have taken Cairo, controlled the Suez canal, had access to the oil reserves, perhaps brought Turkey in on their side, kept Italy in (at least for a while longer than they did), cut the southern supply line to Russia (more significant than often realized), and even been able to strike Russia from the south.
It was vital to bring in as large a force as necessary to stop them where we did.

Lion in the Stars08 Dec 2018 2:13 p.m. PST

As Silurian points out, the British absolutely HAD to prevent the Germans from taking the Suez Canal, because the majority of the Commonwealth's fighting strength transited the Suez. If the Indians needed to go around the Horn of Africa, it would have added months to the journey.

I'm not sure a summer 1943 invasion of France could have succeeded, but the casualties suffered in the MTO were out of proportion to the results obtainable.

Unlikely.

The US Army needed the experience of the Torch landings to figure out what they needed to make an opposed landing in the continent. And then US industry needed time to build it.

mkenny08 Dec 2018 2:32 p.m. PST

the British absolutely HAD to prevent the Germans from taking the Suez Canal, because the majority of the Commonwealth's fighting strength transited the Suez. If the Indians needed to go around the Horn of Africa, it would have added months to the journey.

Pretty sure all UK shipping was diverted from the Med at the start of WW II so it was not vital in that respect. If captured intact then it would be an immense help getting Axis warships into the diverted shipping.

Dn Jackson08 Dec 2018 4:54 p.m. PST

Churchill was right, the Americans were overly optimistic about our capabilities.

Churchill played to the British strength, easily concentrating for example in North Africa which was at the end of the Axis tether.

The loss of Suez, even if the Germans couldn't hold it longer than it took them to destroy the canal, would have been devastating because it would have pushed the Royal Navy out of the eastern Med and turned it into an Ialian lake.

Murvihill09 Dec 2018 7:05 a.m. PST

The landings in NA and the Med were critical to getting Normandy right. Lessons learned were used to perfect the cross-channel plan and reduced casualties in the landings drastically. Once that experience had been gained any further activity in Italy was pointless, the terrain favored the Germans. Churchill should be legitimately castigated for his Balkans ideas.

Giles the Zog09 Dec 2018 8:17 a.m. PST

Defending North Africa also meant protecting the oll fields of Arabia, which were (a) important to the allies, and (b) rather a target for the Axis forces.

It would also have emboldened the Italians, and the Vichy French in their colonies as a sign of Allied weakness. Both the Turks and Persians would also be taking note of any weakness of the Allies.

mollinary09 Dec 2018 2:44 p.m. PST

The question is wrongly phrased. From the UK point of view the key decisions were made in late 1940 early 1941. Ie before the US entered the war. The war was being fought in the only theatre available to the UK at the time.

Uncle Goblin11 Dec 2018 4:45 a.m. PST

An invasion like D-Day on 1943 or before was impossible as the allies did not have the logistics to do it. Numbers of several kinds of ships, decisive air superiority, supplies and (especially) number of landing crafts needed to make a landing successful.

With that in mind, and being 1942, Churchill opted for the only strategy available: hit the Axis where they could, and that was peripheral theaters.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2018 4:54 a.m. PST

Indeed. It is easily forgotten how new or untested a lot of stuff was then that we now take for granted.

Midway, for example, was only the second-ever carrier battle. We tend to think it obvious how they should be fought but nobody really knew.

In 1940/41 the only way to attack and seriously damage the Axis was in the Med and by air, so that's what was done.

Legion 415 Dec 2018 8:36 a.m. PST

Silurian

Regarding the Western Desert,

Agree with all that. If the Germans added the same forces earlier (e.g. 10th Panzer Div., etc.) to the DAK that they did later in the battle for Tunisia, etc. They may very well have pulled that off.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP15 Dec 2018 10:49 a.m. PST

Actually doubtful that the Axis could have supported many more troops. Remember that German and Italian forces were stretched quite far and transporting supplies to support just the number deployed was daunting. Tunisia somewhat simplified resupply as the Axis troops were much more centralized once the remnants of Rommel's force got back to Tunisia. Axis shipping was still at a premium and deploying the 10th meant fewer reinforcements to rebuild Axis units back to full strength. So a full strength Africa Corps bolstered by 10 Panzer and other units at the gateway to Cairo was probably just not possible from a logistics standpoint.

TacticalPainter0115 Dec 2018 2:56 p.m. PST

It helps to frame it in the light of British history. Britain won the first major ‘world war' when it beat the French in the Seven Years War using a very successful peripheral strategy. From there Britain went on to become the dominant naval power and peripheral strategies worked well for them against other European powers. In WWI the British naval blockade contributed to the weakening of Germany and was a major factor in the collapse of the German home front in 1918.

The Nazis could not fully harness the economic power of France, Belgium, Holland or Denmark because the naval blockade undermined the global trading upon which those economies were based. In the end those countries became a drain on the Nazi economy instead of a net contributor.

You have only to look at the political and military impact of eliminating Italy from the war to understand where Churchill was coming from. Give the Russians as much assistance as possible so they win the war in the East. Keep pressure on Turkey to stay out of the war. Ensure the Middle East and its oil is secure for the Allies and kept out of Axis hands. Try to undermine the Balkans and take Romania out of the axis. Then you have a weakened Germany more ripe for invasion.

You don't have to agree with it, but for Britain, given her strength as a naval power and her limitations financially, militarily and in terms of manpower this was a very logical strategy. It was to play for the long game using a tried and tested formula.

Legion 415 Dec 2018 3:08 p.m. PST

So a full strength Africa Corps bolstered by 10 Panzer and other units at the gateway to Cairo was probably just not possible from a logistics standpoint.
That was always a problem for the 3d Reich it seemed. Not just in North Africa, but elsewhere e.g. the USSR, etc. Logistics was one of the things they needed to improve on. But fortunately for us they didn't.

However if they could have supported those units in North Africa. They may of had a better chance at capturing the Suez and pushing into Russia from the South. With Turkey as an Allie again. Or at least giving them "free passage", etc. But that is a big IF, I'll admit …

Sean Barnett Inactive Member02 Jan 2019 9:50 p.m. PST

British raiding strategy had some success in Norway, in that Germany had 400,000 personnel tied down there at the end of the war. Pretty obviously, they would have been more useful elsewhere.

donlowry03 Jan 2019 9:31 a.m. PST

Keep pressure on Turkey to stay out of the war.

Yes. That was one good reason for a Mediterranean strategy. Russia was a traditional Turkish enemy, not to mention that the UK and France took all its Arab colonies away from it in WWI. If Turkey had joined the Axis in WW2 the Arab oil fields would definitely have been in jeopardy (not that they were as well developed back then as they have been since) and so would the Soviet fields in the Caucasus area.

deephorse03 Jan 2019 2:01 p.m. PST

The Nazis could not fully harness the economic power of France, Belgium, Holland or Denmark because the naval blockade undermined the global trading upon which those economies were based.

The reasons why Germany was never able to extract the full economic potential of the conquered Western nations is very much more complex than that.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.