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Donkeys led by a Lion


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Posted (edited)

A couple of nights ago I watched a program called 'Dunkirk: The Forgotten Heroes' on C4 about the 51st Highlanders who were captured in 1940 at St Valery by Rommel.

Now not to take anything away from people under assault from Blitzkrieg the soldiers did spend a lot of time moaning about things and the programme showed clips to confirm their gripes about equipment. The "substandard" Bren compared to the German MG38 machine gun and the "pathetic" Boys anti tank rifle. The 51st complain they never got any recognition but maybe this was justified?

Take the Bren, the gripe is the German 38 was belt fed and could fire 800 rounds per minute compared to the Browning's 600 and also the lack of accuracy of the MG38 was a great advantage.

But gun experts say the Bren's top loading magazine was great as you could get down very low, presenting much less profile to aim at while still firing accurately. They also suggest the 30 round magazines were good as the could be shared out by the unit and were less prone to jamming compared to carrying a 250 round belt that was heavy and could get snagged or dirty. The loaded weight of the Bren was less than the unloaded weight of the MG38 and it could be carried and set up by a single person. It was a good weapon for troops on the move.

The Boys anti tank rifle - A demonstration was made showing a 30mm plate. The Boys didn't penetrate this and this was proof that it was useless against the German tanks "it could hardly chip the paint on a German panzer". However no mention was made that anti tank rifles work by "spalling". There may be little surface damage but hot metal splinters fly around inside the tank killing or injuring the crew. The Russians were effective against German tanks using a copy of the Boys and the British were able to kill tanks up to the Panzer III. Most of the D Day German tanks were old designs.

11,000 soldiers were taken prisoner at St Valery but it seemed they didn't put up a robust defense and panicked, running for the port where they expected to get taken off by boat in a Dunkirk style rescue. More Donkeys led by a Lion in the form of General Fortune.

 

 

Edited by Dave Bloke
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WWII was a complete nightmare re. equipment -- there just hadn't been the development.  ITOH, the German's had been developing their military in the between-war years, against Versailles.

Re the Boys in particular -- tank warfare was fast moving in the 1930's -- at the start of the war the Boys (and all the other anti-tank rifles that were in common use by all forces) could have taken out many of the armoured vehicles of the time but by the end it was useless.  The anti-tank PIAT was brought in during the 40's at that time as part of the incredible development into anti-tank weapons -- who would have known that the use of a rocket charge would be the best approach, over the PIAT's absolutely massive spring.

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1 hour ago, dgul said:

WWII was a complete nightmare re. equipment -- there just hadn't been the development.  ITOH, the German's had been developing their military in the between-war years, against Versailles.

Re the Boys in particular -- tank warfare was fast moving in the 1930's -- at the start of the war the Boys (and all the other anti-tank rifles that were in common use by all forces) could have taken out many of the armoured vehicles of the time but by the end it was useless.  The anti-tank PIAT was brought in during the 40's at that time as part of the incredible development into anti-tank weapons -- who would have known that the use of a rocket charge would be the best approach, over the PIAT's absolutely massive spring.

Burma... Falklands.. Iraq 2 (Iraq 1 was a doddle) Afghan.

All were shit, unprepared, crap kit.

I remember thesefucks, and the state of squaddies housing when people bang on about putting the army in charge.

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, spygirl said:

Burma... Falklands.. Iraq 2 (Iraq 1 was a doddle) Afghan.

All were shit, unprepared, crap kit.

I remember thesefucks, and the state of squaddies housing when people bang on about putting the army in charge.

That's a bit mean -- the MoD is excellent at equipping it's fighters for the requirements of the previous war. 

Edited by dgul
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I remember going around Bovington tank museum a few years back and this absolute behemoth took my eye. i thought it had to be a Soviet cold-war tank of some description because it made the Tiger and T2 look like Reliant 3 wheelers. 

I was gobsmacked to learn that it was a British tank designed for the Normandy landings to take on the Tigers and fortifications. At 80 tons it was called the Tortoise and came too late to take part in the landings, but apparently trialed well in Germany just after the war.

One problem, which sums up management at the very top - it was too heavy to transport properly and so was left at just  prototypes. 

You have to see this monster close up to believe it. I think the armour was almost a foot thick in places.

image.png.7bb0adcfad92b9d67649867d01f38fd8.png

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4 hours ago, Dave Bloke said:

Take the Bren, the gripe is the German 38 was belt fed and could fire 800 rounds per minute compared to the Browning's 600 and also the lack of accuracy of the MG38 was a great advantage.

And neither of them could actually do that in the real world so it`s almost irreverent  800 rounds on a belt would mean a 70ft`ish belt 

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I have to be very selective with my war documentaries. 90% of them are shite. It's either ridiculously over-edited, with dramatic music, or an irritating commentator. The worst ones are American produced, with embarassing cut scenes and ham acting. I don't need nor want to see some Z-list actor pretending to be Hitler, miming to other Nazis, overlaid with DRAMATIC MUSIC.

Another thing ruined in modern times, the heydey of documentaries seems to have been the 1970s.

 

Channel 4 you say? 100% avoid...

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5 minutes ago, spunko said:

I have to be very selective with my war documentaries. 90% of them are shite. It's either ridiculously over-edited, with dramatic music, or an irritating commentator. The worst ones are American produced, with embarassing cut scenes and ham acting. I don't need nor want to see some Z-list actor pretending to be Hitler, miming to other Nazis, overlaid with DRAMATIC MUSIC.

Another thing ruined in modern times, the heydey of documentaries seems to have been the 1970s.

 

Channel 4 you say? 100% avoid...

In my opinion the bbc World at War series aired in the early 70’s? was a decent account. I didn’t watch it then but have watched it a couple of times since.

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2 hours ago, dgul said:

That's a bit mean -- the MoD is excellent at equipping it's fighters for the requirements of the previous war. 

Years ago, I was talking to someone who was getting overexcited about all the tanks coming back to bulford.

Pointless.

We need tanks for only one thing - park them in Poland n point at Russia.

Theres no point having  tanks 1000miles from where you'll use them. Youd need 2 weeks notice to move them.

Bat some light artillery and light tanks, UK army needs a massive number of missiles, land or sea or air.

Cretins put them all on a bug metal boat.

 

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3 minutes ago, The XYY Man said:

It was excellent. I think BBC2 might have aired it sometime in the 90s.

Lawrence Olivier was a perfect choice of narrator.

 

XYY

Yes, I watched it the first time in the 90’s and that’s probably why I thought bbc had commissioned it. I don’t remember the narrator being LO but I thought it was very good. Hard to watch but very informative overall.

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What's interesting the the World at War was written and made before Bletchley Park and the codebreaking of the Engima was publicly known; it was still official secrets.  So, many of the crucial turning points - such as the battle of the atlantic, or knowing that the decoys for Normandy had worked, weren't understood by the program makers (or indeed historians at the time).  It's interesting to watch it again with that knowledge and see the gaps where odd things fell in the allies favour....by 'chance'

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11 hours ago, wherebee said:

What's interesting the the World at War was written and made before Bletchley Park and the codebreaking of the Engima was publicly known; it was still official secrets.  So, many of the crucial turning points - such as the battle of the atlantic, or knowing that the decoys for Normandy had worked, weren't understood by the program makers (or indeed historians at the time).  It's interesting to watch it again with that knowledge and see the gaps where odd things fell in the allies favour....by 'chance'

Lucky that most Germans were so arrogant that they never considered that enigma had been cracked.

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