Skip to comments.BRITISH REPEL NAZI TANK ATTACKS; KWAJALEIN ISLAND IS CAPTURED (2/6/44)
Posted on 02/06/2014 4:35:06 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson
The News of the Week in Review
The Battle of the Marshalls Steps Up the Wars Tempo in the Pacific (map) 14
Toward Tokyo 15-16
Other Fronts 16-17
Fifteen News Questions 18
All-Out Americans Attacks Win a Japanese Bastion (map) 19
We Open Our Major Offensive in the Pacific (by Hanson W. Baldwin) 20-21
New Blows are Struck in Russias Winter Campaign (map) 22
Whispering Campaign Prods German Morale (by George Axelsson) 23
Underground Army Waits to Strike (by David Anderson) 24
Attack and Counter-Attack Rule Italian Front (map) 25
Answers to Fifteen News Questions 25
The New York Times Magazine
Rommel-The Man We Have to Beat (by Willi Frischauer, first-time contributor) 26-28
The Best Selling Books, Here and Elsewhere (from Book Review) 29
Soviets threaten Nikopol
Sunday, February 6, 1944 www.onwar.com
On the Eastern Front... The Soviet 3rd Ukrainian Front captures Manganets, east of Nikopol. To the west of Nikopol, Apostolovo also falls to Soviet forces. German forces defending Nikopol are threatened with a Soviet encirclement.
In Italy... Forces of US 5th Army continue fighting in the hills north of Cassino.
February 6th, 1944 (SUNDAY)
FINLAND: 150 heavy Soviet bombers attack Helsinki as a part of Stalin’s plan to soften Finland to separate from Germany and conclude peace. Thanks to the efficient Finnish air-defences, mostly equipment purchased from Germany, the damage to the city is limited, but still 103 people are killed.
Patrol Boat VMV 12 is destroyed in Helsinki bombing while in dock.
ITALY: Both on the Cassino front and on the beachhead south of Rome, Allied troops were forced to withdraw under heavy German counterattacks.
BURMA: Major-General Orde Wingate leads a special force of Indian, British and US soldiers to engage the Japanese at Myitkyina.
CANADA: Frigate HMCS St Stephen launched Esquimalt , British Columbia.
Light cruiser USS Atlanta launched.
Minesweepers USS Design, Density and Invade launched.
Destroyer USS Lowry launched.
Destroyer USS Hugh W Hadley laid down.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: The IWO of U-965 fell overboard and drowned. [Leutnant zur See Gustav-Günther Schoop] (Alex Gordon)
U-177 sunk in the South Atlantic west of Ascension Island, in position 10.35S, 23.15W, by depth charges from a USN VB-107 Sqn Privateer. 50 dead and 15 survivors.
“Russians Take 200 Places” - none of them with a vowel - “In 50-Mile Thrust Into Poland”
“Press Denounces Romans for Indifference to War.”
Finally, the item explains that the press is upset with “shirkers” who are hanging around Rome evading the labor draft. The extra people mean there’s less food for the press, who are doing so MUCH for the war effort.
From the article you can’t tell which side the Roman press is rooting for. Maybe it is whichever side can restore their pasta supply.
I think it’s safe to say that the press is not on the side of the “common man,” which is kind of ironic, because a lot of the journalists are probably Communists.
The battleship Bob Feller served on was the USS Alabama, which is now a museum in Mobile. On the ship, there is a photo and plaque next to the bunk where he slept. Feller did not get any special treatment; his bunk was just one of many in a sleeping compartment that served as home to about 100 sailors. Imagine one of today’s “superstars” settling for that kind of treatment.
Feller is still the face of the Cleveland Indians franchise. It’s his statute that stands outside of Progressive Field.
Very interesting. Thanks for posting.
The propaganda piece wasn't true. Rommel was never a Party member. He did not leave the Army in the interwar years, but was an officer in the 100,000 strong army of the Wiemar Republic. While an instructor he wrote Infantry Attacks, which became a very admired book on tactics. Hitler met Rommel at a unit inspection, read the book and developed an admiration for him. That lead to a fast rise through the ranks, undoubtedly to the resentment of the Prussian establishment.
That said, Rommel did become a friend of Hitler and Goebbels and there is no evidence his loyalty wavered until he was witnessing the destruction of the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front, which disillusioned a great many officers.
Bob Feller was a fine human being, besides being one of the best pitchers ever to play the game.
I only glanced at the piece in the paper, but your summary matches the several biographies of Rommel I have read.
Rommel remains something of an enigma. He did benefit from his relationship with Hitler to rise quickly through the ranks. He has that in common with von Manstein, Model and Speer. What all of them have in common is that they were talented, and not just political cronies. Hitler had an eye for talent in some people, and was totally blind as to others. But as to these four people, Rommel may actually have been the least talented, and I’m still not certain whether he was that good, that lucky, or the product of Goebbels’ propaganda.
Rommel earned the job in Africa with his energetic and aggressive leadership of 7th Panzer Division in France. His conduct of the Desert War against the British was exemplary. Friends of mine who are into war gaming and play Afrika Corps games say they can never beat the British as Rommel did. Rommel’s real talent was the uncanny ability to be at the exact right spot on the battlefield at the right time, to act decisively when he was there, and inspire his troops to carry out his commands. But such a talent actually imposes a limit on how high you can effectively command. A corps commander can do this, but not an army or army group commander. A good number of German generals opined that on the Eastern Front, Rommel would have been just another competent panzer corps commander, of which the Germans had several. I will admit that many of those generals did have professional jealousy of Rommel, so you have to take their opinions with a grain of salt.
Rommel did fight with a sense of “chivalry,” if you will. Under his leadership, there were no atrocities between the Germans and British in North Africa. I attribute this to directly to his attitude and leadership. I do not believe Rommel would have permitted his troops to shoot British wounded, for example. Again, one wonders whether such courtesies would have been extended to the Soviets. He also did not have any SS units fighting under his control.
In France, Rommel was clearly correct in his idea that the Allies had to be stopped at the water’s edge. He had personally experienced allied air domination, and knew that if the allies established a beachhead, their air power would eventually overwhelm the Germans. Eastern Front generals like Geyr von Schweppenburg, wanted to let the Allies land and then defeat them in the interior of France in a battle of maneuver. Rommel knew they were wrong. But when you get down to it, it is doubtful he would have fared any better than his successor von Kluge once the allies unleashed Operation Cobra and broke out of Normandy. The portions of his memoirs written about Normandy read a lot like the Battle of El Alamein. His troops were getting ground down and he couldn’t stop it. There was something about looking at the casualty lists and he realized he was losing a regiment a day.
As for his relations with his troops, it is historically accepted that he looked out for them and they respected him. Anecdotally, I heard a contrary opinion from a German veteran who fought for Rommel in North Africa and for Kesselring in Italy. Hamrad despised Rommel, and thought Rommel was a glory hound who made himself look good over the bodies of his soldiers. He had a much higher opinion of Kesselring.
I think there is a lot of merit to the idea that Rommel was all for Hitler and the Nazis while he received personal career benefits. He was willing to turn a blind eye to some of the worse aspects of the Nazi regime. He certainly didn’t have to experience much of that fighting in North Africa. One wonders what he would have done with the Sonderkommandos had he been posted to the Russian Front. He only became disillusioned when the war turned against Germany.
I’ve read Liddel-Hart’s edited version of Rommel’s intended memoirs, “The Rommel Papers.” Yes, it’s pretty self-serving, as all memoirs are. It’s still a good read. His description of the destruction of the Italian Ariete armored division at El Alamein is a sad and moving tribute to his Italian allies. But the best line is the last one in the book, about the German prospects in late 1944:
“The skies over Germany have grown very dark.”
I would say the initial British leadership in North Africa contributed to Rommel's success. I think Wavell was solid, but lacking in resources. Churchill made him peel off a couple of badly needed divisions for the disastrous Greece/Crete expedition. Then he was forced to peel off another division to retake Iraq.
His successor, Auchinleck, however, was pretty awful as were his subordinate commanders.
I agree the Normandy campaign, bogged down in the bocage and by Monty's very deliberate tactics, became a war of attrition. We could win such a war but Rommel must have known by this time, with the situation in the East, Germany could not. By the time Operation Cobra was launched, the German forces were so depleted that when they broke it was like a dam breaking.
Very interesting replies, FRiends! I admit I’ve taken Rommel largely as the “good guy” among Nazi generals, as the character in “Patton” more or less.
Can any of you suggest a good book about the Italian campaign? I’d like to have a better idea of what’s going on in the “current” news.
Thank you so much! I just ordered it from the library. If I like it, the catalog shows many other books by the author!
This one is a very good book on the Africa Campaign. I haven’t read the third in his trilogy, I just haven’t had time.
There are so many brilliant lines in that screenplay. I think my favorite scene is during the Ardennes campaign, when the aide says, “General, sometimes they can’t tell when you’re acting,” and Patton replies, “It isn’t important for them to know. It’s only important for me to know!”
Thanks. That’s in my county library, too. I’ve read biographies of Montgomery, Wavell, and that other English guy, but not a general history of the campaign.
One of my favorite WW2 authors is Carlo D’Este. He wrote some good books on the Italian Campaign:
Bitter Victory: The Battle for Sicily, 1943, Dutton (New York, NY), 1988. ISBN 9780525244714
World War II in the Mediterranean, 19421945, Algonquin (Chapel Hill, NC), 1990. ISBN 9780945575047
Fatal Decision: Anzio and the Battle for Rome, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991. ISBN 9780060158903
I have his bio of Patton. I just checked out the Atkinson book about Italy. It’s very thick!
I second the suggestion of The Day of Battle. I also enjoyed An Army At Dawn because I really didn’t know much about the North Africa campaign.
Except that Rommel’s book was infantry in attack, not armor, as depicted in the film.
Heinz Guderian wrote the tank book.
We could all win at “Jeopardy,” right?
Alex, we’ll take Patton movie trivia for $100!
The real name of Gen. Rommel’s book should be worth $200. Or “In which famous battle did a previous incarnation of Gen. Patton participate?”