Friday, December 20, 2019

1913 British vs. American Army

January 1913
Field Artillery
Coastal (Garrison) Artillery
Colonial Troops
Staff Departments & misc
Total personnel

Calvary Regiments

Infantry Regiments

Artillery (field) batteries

Coastal Artillery Companies

Friday, November 22, 2019

April 1917 - The Incredible Backwardness of the US Army

I doubt any Army was more unprepared for a major war, then the US Army in April 1917. It not only was small, its technological backwardness (due to lack of funding) was astounding. At the start of the war, it lacked the following:

  • No Steel helmets, Grenades, or Mortars.
  • No Tanks
  • No Combat Aircraft. The "Air service" had 35 officers, 1,000 enlisted men and two airfields.
  • No mobile Anti-Aircraft Artillery
  • No Gas masks or Poison Gas.
  • No Automatic Rifles
  • No US made Light machine guns or Heavy machine guns
  • No Heavy Artillery (largest field gun was the 6 inch Howitzer)
  • No adequate Light machine gun ( US army had only 800 light machine guns, all unreliable Hoctchkiss M 1909 or obsolete Colt 1895)

Lack of Training and Organization
Unlike the US army in 1939, the 1917 army was not set up to rapidly expand upon mobilization. In 1939, the Regular Army had 10 under-strength Divisions, all "overstaffed" with officers and NCO's, so only reservists/recruits were required to fill out the lower ranks.

In  April 1917, the 133,000 man Regular Army lacked a single organized Division. Instead it was scattered all over the world and USA in small detachments (37 Infantry Regiments and 17 Calvary Regiments):

Continental US and Alaska - 96,000
Philippines - 18,000 (includes 6,000 Filipino Scouts)
Hawaii - 10,000
Panama/Puerto Rico - 7,500
China/Other - 1,500
Total - 133,000

In addition, only 55,000 of the 133,000 soldiers were in the Infantry/Field Artillery. An astounding 18,000 were in the US Calvary. Another 21,000 Coastal Artillery men were manning forts in the USA/Overseas The rest were Engineers, Staff Departments, Medical, and Recruits.

Note: of the approximately 6,000 officers in April 1917, 16% were on "detached duty" most of them either in Training, or as instructors for the National Guard or Colleges and Universities.

Infantry and Machine Guns
The Infantry were organized into regiments/brigades. Each Regiment of three battalions (about 1,200 men) was authorized 1 machine gun company with 6 each 1909 Hotchkiss Light Machine Guns. We also had 320 Maxim-Vickers (1904)  heavy machine guns in inventory. In April 1917, the US Army was still stuck back in the world of August 1914, with lots of Rifles and 2 Machine guns per battalion. Note: In addition the USA had some 300 Lewis Guns that were held in reserve for the National Guard, however these guns did not use the Standard USA cartridge.  The Maxim-Vickers could use the USA cartridge since these machine guns had been re-chambered.

In April 1917, the US Army had 2,400 trucks of all types. In October 1918, the A.E.F. truck requirement was 55,000.

Total Artillery in April 1917
4.7 inch guns - 60 pieces
6 inch Howitzer - 42 pieces
3 inch Gun - 533 pieces.

Artillery was organized in to 9 Artillery Regiments, each commanded by Colonel, with 6 batteries of 6 guns each. While these artillery pieces weren't obsolete, they were inferior to their French/British Counterparts and not used in France. Using the 1914 B.E.F standard, the US had enough artillery to equip approximately 7 divisions (assuming a few guns held in reserve)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

World War II - Book Reviews

Terrible Terry Allen - Gerald Astor
Awful Biography of one the US Army's best Divisional Commanders.  Allen commanded the  "Big Red One" in North Africa and Sicily. He was relieved of command by Bradley in August 1943, and sent back to the USA.  Later, he commanded the 104th Division in Northwest Europe. The whole book reads like a first draft, and shows no evidence of original research. Superficial and without footnotes. Example of how bad the book is:  Astor quotes a guy, who knew a guy, who knew Allen who states Allen "later in life" attributed his August 1943 relief to "anti-Catholic" bias. The rest of the "Relief" story is based on secondary sources. This great American soldier deserves a better biography.  Rating *

A General's Life: Autobiography of Omar Bradley - Clay Blair
Published after Bradley had died, this is a jazzed-up "update" of  Bradley's 1951 Autobiography "A Soldier's Story".  How much of it is Bradley and how is Clay Blair is unknown. In any case, it says nothing new at great length.  Also, Bradley was personally dull, so that drags the book down.  Too bad, because Bradley was one of the most important Generals in WW II, commanding 43 Divisions at one point.  Unfortunately, no one seems interested in writing a critical analysis of him. Disappointing.  Rating **

Calculated Risk -  Mark Clark
This one surprised me. Published in 1950, this is a dense, informative, 450 page autobiography which focuses on the Italian Campaign. As you'd expect, Clark defends his controversial Generalship, and gives us HIS side of the story. He admits to the occasional mistake, but anyone looking for apologies over the Rapido River or Anzio disasters will be disappointed.  He also records his contempt for General Devers and his disagreements with Alexander.  However, in the name of post-war Allied unanimity,  his more tart opinions - recorded in his Diary - about other British Generals and 8th Army are excluded from the book.  Superior to most right-after-the-war biographies.  Rating ***

Combat Commander - Earnie Harmon
 Harmon was commander of 1st Armored Division at Anzio and Tunisia, and later served as Division and Corps Commander in the ETO, including the battle of Bulge. Because it was published in 1970, Harmon is much more honest and critical of other Generals.  He's especially down on Fredendall and Hodges. His favorite General? William Simpson. Harmon also explains why - despite his battlefield successes - it took him so long to become a Corps commander. It seems he recommended someone George Marshall didn't like for promotion, and got on Marshall's "don't promote" list.  A  good WW II autobiography Rating ***

Command Decisions - Lucian Truscott 
An excellent post-war autobiography by one the best American Generals in World War 2. Fighting in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, Truscott rose from Divisional commander to 5th Army Commander. Aggressive and dynamic.  it seems everyone: Alexander, Churchill, Patton, Bradley, Ike, and Clark, liked him. Well-written, the book is jammed packed with details and goes over every battle Truscott was involved in.  The only minus? Like most post-war books, Truscott refuses to criticize other Generals (especially Clark).  The only exception is Patton.  But than Patton had been dead for over 8 years when Truscott published the book.  Rating ***

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Supreme Court - Historical Background to Election Year Nominations

Here's some historical background which puts McConnell's hold on the Garland SCOTUS nomination in perspective.

Since 1950,  Twenty-Seven Justices have Left Office - only four Died. 
Four died  and 23 resigned or retired. Those who died were:
  1. Fred Vinson - 1953
  2. Robert Jackson - 1954
  3. Rehnquist - 2005
  4. Scalia - 2016. 
Of the 23 that resigned or retired, only 2 did so in an election year.
First, Sherman Minton who retired due to bad health on October 15, 1956.  Justice Brennen replaced him on October 16, 1956 - but was not confirmed until March 19, 1957.  Note: had Stevenson been elected, he would've replaced Brennan with his own choice.  

Second, in June 1968, Chief Justice Warren resigned - pending confirmation of a successor. However, lame-duck LBJ chose Abe Fortas - who had ethical problems - and the Senate refused to confirm.  As a result, Nixon appointed Warren Burger as the new Chief Justice in June 1969. Which made Earl Warren very sad. 

Historically,  SCOTUS judge openings rarely occur in an election year.
  • Judges rarely die in office, (only four since 1950) and the chances they will do so in election year are only 1 in 4.
  • Retiring Judges almost never leave in a presidential election year. Only two Judges out of twenty-three did so. And Minton delayed his resignation till Oct 15th so Stevenson, (if elected) could  replace  Ike's recess appointment. 
  • Earl Warren was the only Justice, who tried to "game the system." A hard-core liberal, he wanted lame-duck LBJ to appoint his successor - not Richard Nixon.  However, the Senate didn't go along.
  •  Since 1950, the Senate has NEVER confirmed a SCOTUS Nominee in an election year. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

John McCain R.I.P. - Part I

I'd planned on not writing anything about the death of one of my least favorite politicians,  but given so many awful editorials ( like National Review's),  I changed my mind.

McCain the Media Creation
I don't think there's ever been a Senator who did less and was more famous than John McCain. People forget that McCain was NEVER in the Senate leadership and only headed one Senate Committee - Armed Services - for 2 years.

 His actual power in the Senate, as 1 out of 100 Senators,  was quite limited, and was primarily devoted to stopping the Republicans from doing things.  He helped defeat the Bush Tax cuts, saved the "Nuclear option", and prevented Trump from repealing Obamacare. When the Democrats were in power from 2008-2014, he faded into the background, except to talk about foreign policy

His positive accomplishments were few.  There's "Campaign Finance Reform" which helped the Democrats and little else.  But he never got Amnesty passed (because of the Republican House) and couldn't stop Gays in the military.

His primary focus was foreign policy. He was constantly rattling on about foreign policy and going to Iraq and meeting foreign leaders (who all loved him).  But there's no evidence that Bush or Obama gave a damn what he said.  Certainly Trump didn't care.

But Man - Could he Talk
But no one was quoted more, or racked up more TV time than John McCain. For almost 20 years, from 1998-2017, it seemed like Johnny McCain was on a Sunday Talk show every week.  His constant attacks on his fellow Republicans, his support for Globalization, Wars in the Middle East, Open Borders, Amnesty, and Bad Trade deals made him a favorite of the New York Times and Washington Post.  And therefore, all the TV networks. If the press ever wanted a Republican with a bad opinion of Trump or Bush, or some praise of Ted Kennedy or Amnesty for Illegals,  Johnny McCain was there.

But his actual political accomplishments were almost nil. Ultimately, he was a talker - not a doer. Its fair to say, that Mitch McConnell - in 4 years - had more *real* impact on the country as Senate Majority leader - then McCain has had in 30 years in the Senate.

Friday, August 24, 2018

African-American Soldiers In World War One

Since Wikipedia is inaccurate, here are some statistics from the US Army Military histories on the African-American (called "Colored" in 1918) participation in World War 1 and A.E.F.

Service in France.
Total A.E.F. -  2,000,000
Total Blacks. - 180,000
About 9 percent.

Served in Combat Zone
Total Americans - 1.2 Million
Total Blacks -  Approximately 50,000
About 4 percent

Combat Deaths
Total A.E.F.  - 52, 947
Total Blacks  - Approximately 800
About 1.5%

Blacks Fight in the 92nd and 93rd Divisions
The US Army was segregated during World War One and Blacks were excluded from the Marines and US Air Service. And Blacks only served as "Mess-men" and Cooks in the U.S. Navy.

Consequently, the African American combat participation was limited to Segregated US Army units. Surprisingly, unlike World War 2,  these units were led by black junior officers.  Whites only held Company Commander rank and above.

Two of the 42 divisions that reached France were Black - the 92nd and the 93rd.  However the 93rd Division, was a division in name only.  It consisted of 4 all-black Infantry Regiments with a total strength of 12,000.  These 4 regiments were given French uniforms and were attached to French Army Divisions.

Total Combat deaths (KIA and died of wounds) for the two Black Divisions

92nd Division -  200
93rd Division  -  600

The  KIA/WIA ratio for the 92nd division is much higher than normal. For the entire A.E.F. it was 4-1 but the 92nd Division had 1,400 WIA which is a Wounded/Dead ratio of  7-1.  The difference is due to a higher than normal number of Gas Casualties. Poison Gas was serious, but less fatal than gunshot or shell fire.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Peter Thomson - Overrated Wanker

He was Overrated

Well,  Peter Thomson, 5 time Open Champion, has died, to the sniffles of the Golf writers. Sorry, I can't join in. One of the most overrated Golfers of all time - Thomson is remembered for winning the British Open 4 times between 1954-1958.  A pretty impressive record until you realize that American Golf Pros avoided the British Open between 1946-1959 and 1st prize was $2,000.  Once Palmer in 1960, and Nicklaus in 1962, started showing up, Thomson only won one more British Open - in 1965.

His record in the USA was terrible.  Two top-ten finishes in US Open, Masters and PGA in 9 tries. And when he played PGA tour he could only win one tournament. The "Texas Open."

And He was a Wanker

So, that takes care of the "overrated" part. What about being a wanker?

Well, that's easy. Y'see, Thomson was full of sour grapes.  He couldn't win in the USA, so he dismissed American golf as "target golf" - only the Links courses were "real tests of skill". And then when he stopped winning - anywhere - he started wanking on about how "What do sports matter in the big scheme of things?" The apex of this came in 1969 when he missed the cut at "The Masters" and told the press that he couldn't concentrate on golf because "What did it matter when the Vietnam War was going on?"  Sportswriters love this kind of gamma nonsense. 

Thomson - The Intellectual & Internationalist 
In the  State of the Game podcast, the sportswriters talk in awe about how Peter Thomson turned down an invitation to play in Masters in order to play in the Indian Open. Because "Peter Thomson knew growing the game in India was more important than the Masters".

LoL!  Thomson would've done NOTHING in Masters, probably would've missed cut. And he was a big nobody in the USA.  On the other hand, in the India Open he was  - the center of attention - "the big man" who won 5 British Opens.

But Thomson was considered an "intellectual" in the Golf World. Which means, he read the London Times & New York Times,  and had all the fashionable  "chattering class" opinions.

His Comments on Hogan and Snead  - Notice the Pattern
Thomson's comments on Hogan and Snead are illustrative of his personality. He had nothing good to say about Hogan. He wrote off "the little wee ice man" as a neanderthal, who had nothing of interest to say. Meanwhile, he had nothing but praise for Sam Snead.  Why?  Well simple, Hogan didn't talk to Thomson in 1953, just like he had nothing to say to most of his golf partners. He was engrossed in the game.  Accordingly, Thomson bad-mouthed him for the rest of his life.  Meanwhile, Snead went out of his way to befriend Thomson during his time on the PGA tour in 1956.  So, Thomson wrote about how "smart" and "wonderful" Sam Snead was.