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1 MH-16: Eastern & Med Fronts. 2 Eastern & Mediterranean Fronts - Strategic Overview: Nazis running out of gas in Europe by 1942 –Still Germany remains.

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Presentation on theme: "1 MH-16: Eastern & Med Fronts. 2 Eastern & Mediterranean Fronts - Strategic Overview: Nazis running out of gas in Europe by 1942 –Still Germany remains."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 MH-16: Eastern & Med Fronts

2 2 Eastern & Mediterranean Fronts - Strategic Overview: Nazis running out of gas in Europe by 1942 –Still Germany remains a very capable enemy Very strong on active defense as newly arrived US troops would learned Continued to display impressive tactical and Operational skills Yet => German logistics & re-supply was over-stretched –Attempt to deal with 2 front War => soon to be three –Furthermore, time was running out for Germany In contrast: Allied $$$/Logistics building steadily w/time –Allied forces & industrial capacity steadily expanding –Also => Intel collection & analysis superior (ULTRA) In MED: Montgomery would finally defeat Rommel- where? –2nd Battle of ?___ ______________

3 3 Strategic Overview: Southern Front Allied able to exploit superior Intel, Air/Sea power => –Soon Allies would be landing in North Africa - Impact? –Opens yet another front => (Where)? US enters combat in WWII for first time against Germans –Learns some tough lessons (but does learn from them) –From whom & where does the US learn these hard lessons? –?_________ at ?____________ Pass

4 4 Strategic Overview- Eastern Front Soviets start to get it together in 1942: –More capable military leaders take charge –Stalin even trusts some (Zhukov & Rokossovskii) –Improved equipment also helps T-34 Tanks & trucks & logistics –Soviets begin to drive Germans west, back toward Germany Result: Allies take strategic initiative from Germans –It starts on the Eastern Front with German advance on what Soviet southern city?

5 5 To Stalingrad & Disastrous Defeat– 1942 German Plan - Order of Battle: –Army Group South=>split into Army Groups A & B –Hitler ignores his generals who advise against this split –6th Army – General Paulus is tasked to attack the city Nazi Problems: –Overextension of LOCs & onset of winter –Hitler’s role: interference into tactical & operational situation Refused all requests by his generals to give up ground when situation dictates Denied his generals tactical flexibility to withdraw in orderly fashion –Hitler assumes Command of Army Group South from the rear

6 6 Sacrifice of the Sixth Army Sixth Army in bitter fighting & hand to hand combat: –Pointless battle of egos between Hitler & Stalin As winter closes in & supplies dwindle: –Battle conditions become extreme –6th Army’s position more vulnerable & isolated –Paulus is about to be cut off from his LOC to west –Poor German intelligence misread Soviet OOB & intentions –Time running out for 6th Army to conduct an orderly withdrawal

7 7 Avoidable Disaster Hitler makes situation worse: –Orders the 6 th Army to stand fast as Soviets close in “regardless of the danger…” –Countermanding informed & more competent tactical decisions of his ground commanders at the scene C3 breakdown at OKH HQ: –Hitler’s belated reversal is too late –Chuikov is about to cut off Paulus –Manstein would attempt a rescue Goering’s role? –Sealed 6th Army’s fate: –Outrageous Promises not kept –5-600 Tons/day of supplies to 6 th ? Reality? –?________ tons per day PaulusChuikovManstein

8 8 Tragic Ending Indecision on Hitler’s part: –Last chance to withdraw 6 th Army –6th Army’s flanks protected by Romanian allies – very vulnerable –Army Group Don (FM Manstein) attempted rescue from South: Ultimately too late to save 6 th –Don must fight for its own survival Soviet Response: Chuikov seizes the opportunity: –Aggressive counter-attacks –Closes in & surrounds 6th Army “Field Marshal” Paulus forced to fight to bitter end: –31 Jan 1943: surrenders 90K => (5K make it back after war) –2 Feb: Strecker’s 11 th Corps makes Last Stand at Machinery Factory

9 9 Germans Recover Hitler finally allows Army Group A to withdraw: –Withdrawal affords opportunity to recover –Fall back on own LOCs & supply dumps & grow stronger –Reinforcements finally arrive: –Germans gradually start to stabilize their defensive positions In contrast => what happens to Soviet advance? Soviets now become overextended the more they advance: –Soviet air support unavailable – bases are too far to East; –Soviet Counter-offensive starts to grind to halt Manstein is able to convince Hitler to cut Army Group A some slack: –Army Group A allowed to consolidate & refit –Prepares for counteroffensive => to be launched 19 Feb: Decisive CAS provided by Gen Richtofen’s fighter aircraft –By Mar’43 advance to push Soviets back to Donets: Recaptured Kharkov & then rest & refit until July

10 10 Battle of Kursk (July 1943) Operation Citadel: –Series of battles of latest German Offensive Operational Purpose: –Reduce Soviet reserves + –Improve established German defensive positions Plan (Map): –Tactical Objective: –Pinch off Soviet forces defending Kursk salient –Hitler: strategic victory effect: –“as beacon seen around world”

11 11 Friction & Change What major Soviet improvements would the Germans now have to contend with? Soviet Improvements: –1. Operational & tactical skills –2. Intelligence collection & perception management –3. Outstanding generalship Rokossoviskii & Zhukov –4. In-depth defense preparation Successive re-enforced Defense belts Status of German intelligence? –Virtually ?______________ & vulnerable to Soviet PM* Maskarovka (Perception Management) – manipulation of enemy’s Intel

12 12 Battle of Kursk: Order of Battle Luftwaffe supports with 2500 combat aircraft North: 9th Army (Model) –3 Panzer Corps w/21 Divs South: 4 th Pz Army (Hoth) – 4 Panzer corps w/22 Divs (1000 tanks) For the full battle: –USSR: 4000 tanks vs German tanks –Largest Tank Battle of war

13 13 Execution July 5: Model’s 9th Army attacked on North shoulder w/ltd success –By 7 July 9th Army’s progress stalled 13 miles from its start –Battle soon became “rolling battle of attrition” Big mistake for Germans – why? –1. Soviet #s in strategic reserve –2. Luftwaffe support ?__________________ (3000 sorties/day still not enough) Manstein AGS (Hoth’s 4 th Pz Army) in South made only a little better progress –Gen Vatutin conducted pre-emptive arty salvo Soviets fully alerted & prepared for attack –II SS Panzer broke through along 35 mile front Only to find themselves amidst a deep Soviet defense zone –Thunderstorm floods battlefield & halts II Panzer’s advance

14 14 Battle of Prokhorovka II Panzer Corps made 25 mile penetration by 11 July –Soviets forced to use reserves from Steppes Front –III Panzer breaks free & links up with II Panzer for further advance July 12: Battle of Prokhorovka was the pivotal battle of Citadel –Largest tank battle of the war –1800 tanks clash: Germans lose 300 & Russian lose 400 –Russians still hold but FM Manstein wants to continue In the end, what forced Hitler to cancel Citadel? –Operation Husky’s impact & Mussolini’s dim future prospects –Citadel’s assessment: failure –German Reserves & Armor forces: Severely diminished

15 15 Soviet Counterattack (7JUL43-30Apr44) Following Kursk, Soviets launch series of counter-attacks: –Initial attack strike shoulders –Then Soviets take the initiative and advance across broad front How were Soviets doing in contrast to Germans? –1. Numbers & logistics –2. Lessons actually learned –3. Better Intelligence & PM –4. Partisan operations –5. Leadership improvement More detailed look at comparing & contrasting of two enemies*

16 16 *Compare & Contrast- the details 1. 6M Soviet soldiers overwhelm 2.5M Germans –Growing German casualties worsen imbalance –Lack of adequate logistic and re-supply=> impact? 2. Soviets had learned from previous mistakes => conduct: –massive attacks & multiple assaults w/huge armies => all combined w/armor, infantry, arty => overwhelm 3. Superior Soviet Intel collection/analysis combined w/ –perception management to deceive German Intel 4. Effective employment of partisan force- harass Germans 5. Finally, Soviet Generals are just getting better: –(& Stalin learning to trust a little more), while=> –Hitler’s tactical interference, rudder orders, etc Combine with relief of competent Generals replaced by with “Yes” men So German military declines while Soviets get better: –Both qualitatively and quantitatively –Significant strategic trend effects operations & tactics

17 17 2nd Battle of Alamein (23 Oct – 12 Nov 1942) 5 major campaigns conducted from Sept’40 – July ’42 –All with various degrees of success & failure (Map) July’42: Rommel drove 8th Army back to defensive line at El Alamein (Rommel’s Operational & Strategic Objective?) –Both Armies face off along N-S 37 mile front – each flank secure Mediterranean Sea to its North and Qattara Depression to the South Churchill, frustrated, assigns Montgomery as 8th Army –Montgomery refits, re-enforces, & prepares for attack

18 18 Order of Battle & The Plan LTG Montgomery: 220K men & 1100 tanks –1000+ artillery & RAF support with air superiority FM Rommel: –Panzeramee Afrika- 96K men & 500 tanks –Tactically superior but logistically & OOB inferior Plan – Concept of Operations: (Map- The Plan): –Monty to mount direct assault on north line near coast –Exploit 2:1 advantage for breakthrough (ala WWI) –Conduct feint to South to fix Rommel’s 21 Pz Div –Initiate attack with massive arty bombardment XXX corps to open breach in Rommel’s defense –Sappers to “gap” path for infantry & armor –Plan to be executed in 3 Phased approach: –1. “Crumble” => 2. “dog fight” => 3. “break-out” Rommel’s Plan:: –Dig in on defense line w/mines 5 miles deep & wait: –Commit armor at main thrust & counter-attack –Problem – short on gas (Only has1 shot at where to commit 21 Panzer)

19 19 Execution- Operation Lightfoot Assault begins at 2140, 23 Oct –Initial progress eventually slows to crawl- why? –Mine clearing equipment flawed => slow going –Massive arty bombard => disruption & confusion Germans & Italians recover from initial shock: –Bitter fighting ensues => confusion on all fronts –Darkness & dust clouds obscure vision & direction: Friction: delays, traffic jams, & misdirection ensue –Mine fields & booby traps raise Brit causalities: –Sensitive mines required tedious clearing by hand 25Oct: feint attack on south flank meets tough German defense: –Achieved tactical aim: fix 21Panzer & Ariete Divs –Stumme’s death adds to C3 disorder & Rommel rtns –25 Oct No break out occurs=> Monty cancels attack The “Dog Fight” (25 Oct – 2 Nov): –25 Oct: Monty shifts focus to North flank & attacks: –Conducts “crumbling” of enemy at high costs

20 20 Operation Supercharge ( Nov – 12 Nov) Final break-out achieved following heavy fighting: –Modified version of Operation Lightfoot: –High concentration of arty bombardment begins Very high casualties suffered to achieve break-out: –9th Armored Brigade sacrificed (75 of 94 tanks) Despite desperate Axis counterattacks => Brits hold: –Axis defense becomes very thin => time to go: Rommel orders withdrawal –Who countermands Rommel’s order? –Confusion results in reversing withdrawal order: Italian infantry to south destroyed or captured Then FM Kesselring personally countermands Hitler’s order: –Rommel finally allowed to retreat: –Tries to save as much of his army as possible

21 21 Battle Results Battle Damage Assessment (BDA): –Axis suffer 61K casualties (35K POWs) –Allies suffer 13,560 casualties Tactical & Operational objectives achieved: –Break-out & pushed Rommel to west Strategic: major morale boost for allies – why? –“Invincible” Rommel finally ?_________________ –Churchill’s comment: –“Before Alamein we never won; after we never lost.”

22 22 Operation Torch (Nov-Dec 1942) Background: –Allies under intense pressure from Stalin: Why/ to do what? Establish Western Front in Europe to take pressure off USSR FDR decides “to do something” –That “something” is Operation Torch (?) –Allied landings on North Africa –Ike named commander He will learn many L/L Green US troops would soon learn a very hard lesson- where? –?___________________ Pass (text: page 495)

23 23 Operation Torch: Execution Allies land on North Africa at several landing areas: –Drive East toward Tunisian frontier (while Monty continues to press West) Americans experience first combat against WWII Axis: –Kasserine Pass debacle: Rommel defeats 3 green US regiments in detail –American tanks & inexperience no match for Rommel’s tactics & Tiger tanks MG Fredenhall led from rear (from a bunker) with confusing orders –Demonstrated a distinct lack of leadership & tactical competence Rommel unable to exploit – lack of support => Tactical victory only

24 Operation Husky (July 1943) Monty finally arrives from Egypt –Rommel soundly defeated (loss: 1/3 of his tanks) –Forced to abandon North Africa (Ultra played key role in supply interdiction) Result: Important Operational victory for Allies: –Americans review L/L: Ike fires MG Fredenhall & promotes others –Phase II of Campaign follows surrender of Axis in Tunis During Casablanca Conference (Jan 1943): –Tactical & Operational realities drive Allied Strategy –Operations in Med easier from logistic standpoint: Shipping & forces already in Med Theater At Trident Conference (May 1943): –US accepts British strategic aim: Drive Italy out of war But the US also secures date from the Brits for the cross Channel invasion 24

25 Order of Battle & Plans & Execution 25 Allies: Monty w/8th Army & Patton w/7th Army –169K ground troops & 2600 ships & 3500 A/C Axis: Field Marshall Kesselring (CinC South) –8 Divisions & 435 A/C & part of Italian Fleet Plans & Execution (Map p. 496): –10 July: following days of bombardment –ABN operations & sea lift commences –Monty (senior ground cmdr) lands SE Sicily: Meets strong resistance => proceeds slowly Patton lands SW Sicily & moves quickly to NW –Captures Palermo & continues east to Messina Profession contest of egos Results: –Allied operational, strategic & political success: –Hitler forced to terminate “Citadel” prematurely –Mussolini’s regime about to collapse –German situation in Italy deteriorating rapidly –Allies decide to cross over to Italian boot

26 26 Operation Avalanche (Sept 1943) Monty finally lands 8th Army on Italian peninsula’s toe Gen Mark Clark lands Anglo- American force at Salerno –Fails to act aggressively & gets bogged down on beach Meanwhile the BBC prematurely announces Italy’s surrender: –King & PM Badoglio forced to flee from Nazis toward allied lines FM Kesselring manages effective defense throughout rest of war: –When Clark & Monty merge, Germans begin fighting withdrawal –Contest allied advance ridgeline by ridgeline with strong defenses Tie down allies on Italy for most of war –Destroy much Italy in the process

27 27 Eastern Front – 1944 German situation deteriorates while Soviet’s improve –Manstein attempts strategic withdrawal of Army Group South: –Hitler again countermands –Won’t allow retreat from Dnieper Rvr –Result: Red Army traps 2 German Army Corps Hitler continues to interfere w/poor tactical & operational decisions: –Operationally sound decisions & opportunities at the scene missed Until too late for orderly withdrawal Leading to rout, capture, or destruction Situation grows worse for German forces –Soviets apply more pressure all along entire Eastern Front

28 28 Operation Bagration (June-August 1944) Operational and tactical situation: –For Germans becoming desperate with each passing day –Soviets advance with 4 Fronts (Army Groups) along 683 mile front Hitler continues to interject unreasonable orders: –Fires competent cmdrs making sound tactical decisions –Replaced by incompetents & unrealistic decisions Order of Battle: –Soviets: Marshall Rokossovskii and 3 other Front Commanders 124 divisions, 4K tanks, 24.4K arty, & 5.3K aircraft (Total: 1.4 M men with 1.3M in reserve) –Germans with total of 1.2M spread thinly across defensive front: FM Busch commanded Army Group Center (AGC) (to 28 June): –700K troops with decreasing operational armor

29 29 Plans & Objectives & Battlefield Prep Strategic & Operational Objectives: –Overwhelm enemy on east and west (Normandy) –Drive Germans out of Russia to East Prussia Concept of Operations: –Phase I: Break through defenses & envelope Army Group Center (AGC): Tactical focus: Vitebsk at Divina river –Phase II: Continue advance & encircle AGC at Minsk Soviet Battlefield Preparation: –Soviets deceive German Intel of real intent –German Intel buys deception toward Army Group South AGC cmdr FM Busch slavishly adheres to Hitler’s unrealistic defense objectives: –No imagination or initiative => typical of many German commanders by now –German leadership declines as allies improve –The price for this incompetence will be high

30 30 Operation Bagration’s Execution Soviets attack with 4 Fronts (Army Groups) –Attack simultaneously in six separate places along 683 mile front Soviets attack AGC two weeks following Normandy invasion –Trap five German divisions at Vitebsk Phase II: rapidly unfolds to press AGC forces: –Busch orders 9th Army to hold every foot of ground –Too late => Soviets encircle 2 corps Situation continues to deteriorate & becomes desperate: –Hitler finally permits Army to withdraw to Minsk –Fires Busch & replaces with Model Who orders: “Not one step back”

31 31 Chaos, Interference, & the Result Chaos reign & confusion rules –Germans flee west in rout –Soviets press west & soon capture Minsk on 3 July 1944 Hitler continues to interfere with tactical decisions: –Makes bad situation worse with both operational & strategic impact Soviets continue to advance to Polish border –Finally halt and end operation Results: Germans routed in East –German forces & logistics badly depleted (strategic)

32 32 Collapse of Balkans (April – September 1944) As Soviets encircle 6th Army, Romanians refuse to fight –Soon Romania changes sides –Bulgaria then declares war on Germany 8 Sept44 –Result: German hold on Balkans unravels Germans just able escape from Greece & Macedonia Nazis prepare for defense of encircled Budapest –Key Generals of Hungary desert & take whole units with them Change sides => go over to Soviets –Hitler regarded Budapest as symbol –(AKA: the “second Stalingrad”)

33 33 Time Running Out Major siege of Budapest by Soviets soon begins: –No preparations for civilian population made (food) Horses would provide some food –For Guderian: civilian survival requirements immaterial –Budapest’s civilian population morale plummets The war now going very badly for Nazis –Complete defeat only a matter of time –And most know it

34 34 Assessment Major disasters befall on Germany during : –Centered in Med and on Eastern Front Winter ‘44: Soviets retake Ukraine –Summer ‘44 => most successful Soviet offensives of war conducted –Operation Bagration is impressive Soviet success –Soviets destroy Army Group Center as combat force By Fall ‘43: Soviets liberate the Balkans: –Stalin now in control – post-WWII implications In the Med => Brits drove Germans out of North Africa: –By Aug 1943 Allies (Patton & Monty) capture Sicily –Allies soon force Italy out of War entirely –Seize Southern Italy (although still long way to go up)

35 35 Assessment -2 Of particular note: –Scale of WWII Battles now massive –Huge amounts of casualties inflicted on both sides German military suffers most: –Its army declines both in quality and quantity In contrast to Germans: –Allies steadily improve their operations & tactics –Especially operational planning & tactical execution Result: Allies conduct more effective & more refined campaigns against Germans –Allied victory in Europe seen only as a matter of time


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