[lit-ideas] Anglo-American intelligence & armored tactics inadqucies

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Lit-Ideas" <Lit-Ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 11:00:11 -0700


Op. cit., p. 218


"Some things about the war had become clearer, including Allied intelligence
miscalculations.  Before TORCH, planners had estimated that the Germans
would have 515 warplanes available to help defend Tunisia; the actual number
exceeded 850, plus nearly 700 transport planes.  By contrast,
Anglo-Americans in the forward areas had only two small British fields and,
at Tebessa, fifty-four U.S. P-38s, of which only forty could actually fly.
A new battlefield ditty, sung to the tune of 'The White Cliffs of Dover,'
included this verse:


                There'll be Stukas over the vale of Tebourba

                Tomorrow when I'm having tea.

                There'll be Spitfires after, ten minutes after, 

                When they're no bloody use to me.


"To Eisenhower's surprise, American tanks and armored tactics also seemed
wanting.  U.S. Army doctrine held that tanks ought not fight other tanks,
but should leave that job to specialized tank destroyers while armored
formations tore through defenses and ripped up the enemy rear.  Regulations
had prohibited the development of tanks heavier than thirty tons, and until
1941 tank armor was constructed only to stop small-arms fire.  Allied armor
was simply overmatched.  The inconsequential M-3 Stuart caused one American
general to muse that 'the only way to hurt a Kraut with a 37mm is to catch
him and give him an enema with it'; the half-track mounted with a 75mm gun
was already known as a 'Purple Heart box.'  American tanks were so flammable
they were dubbed Ronsons, after a popular cigarette lighter advertised with
the slogan 'They light every time.'  American armor crews, moreover, knew
little about reconnaissance, worked poorly with the infantry, and showed an
alarming propensity for blind charges, now known as 'rat racing.'"


Lawrence Helm

San Jacinto

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