Tank Tactics: From Normandy to Lorraine (Military History) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2009/1/31
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Explores the doctrinal, strategic, and tactical ideas behind World War II tank combat Contains detailed maps and diagrams Critiques the performances of commanders like George Patton, Bernard Montgomery, and others Focusing on five Allied tank operations from July to September 1944--Operations Goodwood, Cobra, Totalize, and Tractable and Patton's tank battles around Arracourt--armor expert Roman Jarymowycz draws on after-action reports, extensive battlefield reconnaissance, recently discovered battle performance reviews, and war diaries to evaluate the successes and failures of the art of armored warfare as practiced by Allied tank commanders in France in 1944."
Roman Jarymowycz, a retired Canadian Army officer, holds a PhD in military history and has taught at the Canadian Land Force Command and Staff College and the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Canada.
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I suggest reading the following books before attempting this one: Why Normandy Was Won: Operation Bagration and the War in the East by Weiler (2010); "Death of the Wehrmacht" by Citino (2007); "The Wehrmacht Retreats" also by Citino (2012); "Hitler's Nemesis" by Dunn (1994); "Soviet Blitzkrieg" also by Dunn (2000). Then there are the several excellent books by David Glantz on the Soviet military development and the battles and campaigns in the East, but that may not really be necessary (and very heavy reading) in order to read this book.
COL. Jarymowycz offers an extraordinarily deep and well researched work that traces the development, or rather lack there of, of armoured doctrine and its tools of the trade, the tanks, in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, and compares this development with those in Germany and the USSR in the pre-war period, and the early years of the war. He then shows that inter-branch rivalry and disinterest in the Anglo-block countries by their higher Staff officers, a lack of insight into lessons learned in 1940 France or during the North African campaign, and the ignoring of the Eastern Front intelligence led to tank forces which landed in Normandy untrained for the sort of tank warfare that had been conducted on the Eastern Front for some three years, lacking in operational and strategic doctrine for employing tank forces, and lacking the tanks with which to combat new German panzers.
Jarymowycz destroys some well-known myths about the Allied successes, German military prowess and a belief in Soviet ineptitude that persisted in NATO until the late 1970s when John Erickson and Richard Simpkin begun to shed light on the subject.
The book offers a very good focused comparative study companion to the many books on the use of operational and strategic armoured forces on the Eastern Front by Richard Simpkin and David Glantz.
For those interested in how and why the Second World War was won in Europe, this is an invaluable and must-read book.
Jarymowycz's stated purpose was to trace the development of Tank (or Armored) doctrine in North America. Or rather, how two very similar peoples solved the same question - how to fight tanks.
Ultimately, Jarymowycz thesis is that no one got it right except for the Soviets (and the Germans only partially so). A claim that's hard to dispute given the historical record of great strategic offensives that the Soviets executed on the Eastern Front and the way the Allies muddled through and allowed opportunities like that at Falaise to slip the bag.
And that is the true value of this book, it explains why the western Allies missed so many opportunities, they were hampered by doctrine that did not provide their commanders with the proper operational toolset to exploit situations.
Jarymowycz notes that because of her size, Canada didn't suffer from the debilitating debates that so dogged Tank development in the UK and US, but also notes that the small size of her Army kept her from asking the question in the first place; hence, the Canadian Army punted off to Great Britain.
Given the lengths that Montgomery went to prevent the British habit of Tank units impaling themselves on Rommel's anti-tank guns in North Africa it is not surprising that a doctrinal mindset that essentially ignored the breakthrough phase arose under his guidance. Once this is understood then suddenly one can identify the "whys" of what happened at actions like Villers-Bocage, Goodwood, Totalize, and (if one extrapolates) why the Guards Armored failed to exploit after the Nijmegen Bridge was taken during Market-Garden. It's not that these men were not brave (they were) it's not that their commanders were fools (they were not), it's that their training had not properly prepared them to use the tools (Armored Units) correctly.
The Americans suffered from a similarly poor concept of how to fight tanks. In the United States this process of doctrinal development was a messy affair that pitted Cavalry, Infantry, and Artillery against one another. This contentious process formally resolved the dilemma that resulted in the poorly conceived Tank Destroyer doctrine (tanks don't fight tanks) and the concept of the exploitation tank that was realized in the now famous and vulnerable Sherman.
There is an old joke in the US Army that has a German General complaining that American's were unpredictable and difficult to fight because they don't follow any established doctrine and the quote is followed with the admonition "Good Work!" It was this atmosphere in the American army that allowed a few far thinking Generals such as Patton, Woods, and Collins (to name a few) to chuck the bonds of poor doctrine that bound Infantry School Instructors such a Omar Bradley. And Jarymowycz clearly shows that in the American Army, Armored success was personality driven, not doctrinally.
I do have some bones to pick with Jarymowycz, he's wrong when he claims that Omaha wouldn't have been so bad if the American' hadn't been so stubborn against DD Tanks (I hope he never makes that claim at a reunion of the 741st Tank Bn which lost 27 DD Tanks at Omaha). He also makes similar claims that the US Army had an ant-Firefly bias (not that the availability of the very complex ammunition didn't have anything to do with it).
But beside this, Jarymowycz's book is very good at explaining how a failure in British/Canadian (and to a lesser extent US) doctrine resulted in so many lost opportunities at Normandy.
A great book.