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Forgotten battles of WWII

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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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    Posted: 27 Aug 2009 at 23:02

Hello to you all

I have always wondered why the eastern front was so bloody and distructive especially in the period after Barbarossa.

I mean except for the obvious losses of the Soviets in 41 and Operation Blue and the Germans in Stalingrad and Berlin, the rest of the "known" operations and battles of the easter front scarcely can account for the near 8 million Russian and 1 million German deaths on the front.

I recently stumbled upon a valuable lecture by David Glantz that shed some light on a forgotten part of the war in the east. That of the forgotten battles and failed, and in some cases pyrrhic victories, of the Soviet army and to some extent the wehrmacht.


In 42 for example, the Red army officially lost 3 million men killed and 8 million in other losses. Yet no way the well known operations of 42 (the January-March counter offensive, operation Blue and operations Mars and Uranus) could have cost the Russians this horrindous aount of losses. At best and from Russian reports, the winter counter offensive cost them 600k men across the entire front, Blau cost them a further 300k as did Mars and Uranus. But this is only half the 3 million figure, so how did all those men die and where?

For example in 42, Glantz opens our eyes on the forgotten battles, massive operation on the army group (front) level that the Russians launched thoughout the year. Some of these battles involved over 1500 tanks and 4 field armies and some lead to entire Soviet field armies wiped out. At the same time these battles caused the Germans dearly and as we discover when we read about these operations, the German 6th army was already a badly mauled force when it reached Stalingrad in September, not the legendary force that began marching just 2 months ago.

So, does anybody know any of these forgotten battles?

Al-Jassas



Edited by Al Jassas - 27 Aug 2009 at 23:04
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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Sep 2009 at 02:00

No comment?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Sep 2009 at 11:01
Seems like nobody knows unfortunately. I know I don'tUnhappy
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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Sep 2009 at 11:04
So things in Greece were hunky dory from 40 to 44? Lambs sleeping with wolves and Nazis toasting the life of the EDES?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Sep 2009 at 19:17
Didn't get you there....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Sep 2009 at 19:35

I mean that since the war in Greece started there were absolutely no battles what so ever, all of these resistance organizations+Hellinic army were just sitting there.

I want to know about major battles that are forgotten, wether they be in Greece and the rest of the balkans, the Eastern Front, Italy or anywhere else.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Sep 2009 at 21:37
Ah. I thought the thread was about the Eastern front only.

About Greece now, there were no major battles in occupied Greece. Lots of ambushes and guerilla attacks that lead to the Italians abandoning most of the mainland and the establishment of "Free Greece" in the mountains in 1943. 


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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Sep 2009 at 22:06
what about the Italian invasion, didn't they lose a big battle?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 2009 at 04:25
Well I didn't count that as a "forgotten battle" since most people seem to know the basics about it. 

Anyway, the Greco-Italian war didn't have what we call battles like Stalingrad, Ardennes etc

It comprised of an Italian offensive that managed to penetrate into Greek land until it was stopped and turned back by Greek defense.
Then it was march into Albania with the two armies fighting over mountain passes and the Italians constantly retreating until Greek crappy logistics and lack of manpower made it impossible to move further.
There was a stalemate then, which was not broken by the Spring Offensive when Mussolini threw everything he could and failed again. It only ended with the German intevention that forced the Greek army to retreat back to Greece and surrender once it was surrunded by the Germans.

So not many big battles. Here is a list of casualties. 

[quote]
Italy                              Greece
63, 000 [2] [3] [4] dead,
100, 000+ [2] wounded,
25, 067 missing,
12, 368 incapacitated by frostbites,
ca. 23, 000 taken prisoner,
64 aircraft (another 24 claimed) [1]
13, 325 dead,
42, 485 wounded,
1, 237 missing,
ca. 25, 000 incapacitated by frostbites,
1, 531 [5] taken prisoner,
52 aircraft [1]
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fantasus View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 2009 at 09:07

There may be relatively less known parts of the  internal struggles in eastern asia, including soviet involvement(Japanese/Chinese, Japanese/Soviet and similar hostilites). I would be surprised if there is not far more works in english about european fronts.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 2009 at 16:07
If you want to discuss forgotten battles of WWII. I would indeed suggest to research Sino-Japanese war. There is only a couple of good books on this subject in English, while the Eastern front is covered relatively good.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 2009 at 16:24
It is unlikely that there are any "major battles" that are forgotten.  In 20th century warfare, periods of combat tended to consist of entire campaigns that lasted for months - often many months.  Pitched battles as in Napoleonic warfare where results could be decisive were so rare as to be nonexistent.
 
The Australian members may understand this from the Australian effort on New Guinea.  The first campaign may not be well known in Europe, but it lasted from July, 1942 to January, '43.  The Australians fought several ferocious battles in the mountains and around Buna on the north coast, and casualties were heavy. 
 
In spring, 1944, the Australians and US amphibious forces pushed the Japanese up the north coast as part of the campaign to isolate Rabaul and Truk and eliminate any last threat to communications with Australia and the southwest Pacific.  The Japanese fought with their usual fanaticism and the campaign did not end until I think autumn, 1944.
 
This was jungle fighting without the open areas and scope of the Eastern front, but Australia suffered something like 58,000 casualties, and the Japanese - who knows?  US losses '43 to '44 were about 20,000.  AFAIK, those do not include very large numbers of troops disabled by disease (particularly Americans who were totally unused to and ill prepared for tropical conditions and diseases).
 
The Pacific war was not just about aircraft carriers.
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 07 Sep 2009 at 18:15
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Two Tail Lion Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2010 at 15:23
Here is an amazin battle:

Battle of Wizna also called Polish Termopylae.

720 Polish soldiers against 42 200 Germans.

40:1 video (60:1 is more true number).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoQj8GGHNxU

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote theManwhocouldntcry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2010 at 20:51
These figures are perfectly undertandable. The initial phase of operation barborrossa claimed nearly a million (official) lives, with an untold number of other possible casualties, The Battle of Stalingrad can account for over 1 million deaths, the seige of Leningrad was another million, the battle of kursk another million, operation bagration about 200,000, and the final confrontation at Berlin yet another million. The Soviets were just good at winning pyrric victories I suppose, considering their nearly inexaustable manpower (and patriotism)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2010 at 21:59
Originally posted by theManwhocouldntcry theManwhocouldntcry wrote:

These figures are perfectly undertandable. The initial phase of operation barborrossa claimed nearly a million (official) lives, with an untold number of other possible casualties, The Battle of Stalingrad can account for over 1 million deaths, the seige of Leningrad was another million, the battle of kursk another million, operation bagration about 200,000, and the final confrontation at Berlin yet another million. The Soviets were just good at winning pyrric victories I suppose, considering their nearly inexaustable manpower (and patriotism)
 
If one's manpower is inexhaustible, can one have a Pyrrhic victory?  It's just a rhetorical question...you don't need to respond.  Smile
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2010 at 00:00
Another sterotypical fairytales about "inexhaustable Soviet manpower" why there is no talk about superior Soviet weapons that Germans only could dream about, why no talk about Zhukov or Rokossovsky advanced military tactics. And why there is no talk about millions of Germans and their allies that died in the East?
USSR won because of the weapons and commanders. You wouldn't be able to win a war like just relying on "manpower." Just compare how the war developed in the Chinese theater of WWII.
Germans and their allies lost about 8.5 million on the Eastern front vs about 11 million of Soviet casualties. Yes, the Soviet casualties were larger, but that ratio is not that outstanding.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2010 at 00:35
Why do Russians always have to be so apologetic about the "numbers" issue in WWII?
The Nazis knew exactly what they were getting into when they invaded and got what they asked for it pure and simple. This was a war of survival and the Soviets had everyright to utilize whatever in their capacity to win the war and since numbers were on their side so what?
 
 
 
Al-Jassas 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2010 at 01:45
Because when it's presented like "Russian only won because they have superior numbers etc." that is simply not true.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Birddog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2010 at 02:08
Just wanted to add to Pikeshot's comments about the Australians.
The Australian 7th Infantry Division had the nickname of the 'Silent 7th' due to the lack of media coverage of their campaigns.
Their first campagin was in Syria against the Vichy French. The 2 brigades of the 7th in Syria had greater losses then the Australians fighting on Crete. 3rd Brigade of the 7th (18th Brigade) helped defend Tobruk. Not wanting to advertise the fact that they were fighting Frenchmen in Syria the Syrian campagin was mostly hushed up. The soldiers of the 7th were even told not to mention fighting the French in their letters home. 
 
Returning to Australia some element of the Division were redirected to Java where they fought a hard defensive campaign but were forced to surrender when their Dutch Allies capitulated. The 18th Brigade defended Miline Bay. The rest of the Division fought the hard campagin over the Owen Stanlley Ranges down to Buna, Gona and Sananda. Due to several retreats during the early part of the long campagin very little was said about the Division's actions. In the later part of the campagin they fell under MacArthurs all purpose "Allied" label of Australian troops.
For the rest of the war in the South West Pacific the Division fought in New Guinea and Borneo under the label of 'US and Allied troops'.
 
Just a special note about the 18th Brigade. Defending Torbuk in 1941 the 18th was part of the force that defeaded the Germans on land for the first time. Defending Miline Bay in 1942 it was part of the Australian and US force that defeated the Japaneses on land for the first time. I don't know how many Australian have known that it is the same Brigade in both actions. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2010 at 06:51
Pikeshot makes a very good point about the New Guinea campaign, where the Japanese were for the first time successfully defeated strategically on land by the western Allies. It truly was an intense campaign, against a fanatical enemy in difficult terrain with nightmarish logistical considerations.

Speaking of forgotten battles, how about forgotten campaigns? One such is the Mid eastern campaign fought by Commonwealth troops (with Australians again making up a large part of the forces) to keep Iraq compliant and overwhelm the turncoat Vichy French forces in Lebanon and Syria. This campaign was strategically important. It relieved the Commonwealth forces in Egypt of the threat of fighting a two front war against their erstwhile French allies, and also ensured the supply of Mesopotamian oil.

However, the campaigns received zero to minimal coverage in the media at the time, and has received little recognition since. Publicising a campaign against a small player in Iraq on the one hand, and the formerly allied French on the other (we were trying to regain French cooperation with the Allies at this point so we could not be too triumphant in our attitude to besting them) was not seen as politically wise. But the professionalism of the troops involved and the strategic achievements they made for the war remain a solid fact.


Edited by Constantine XI - 02 Apr 2010 at 07:32
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Birddog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2010 at 11:25
Australia lost 40500 service men during WW2. .57% of the total population. (US lost .32%, UK .92%, New Zealand .73%. Nothing compared with the Russian 14%). 10% of Australians were serving by the end of the war. And their are historians likes Max Hastings saying that Australia didn't carry it's weight in the war.
 
I read the history of WW2 and know Australia fought most the war around the edges. There were always more important camgaigns going on that Australian's were not (or little) involed in. Syria, Iraq, Papua, New Guinea, New Britian, Borneo, Bougainville. Even Singapore! Australia suffered 70% of the Allied casualties before the fall, (and were blamed for the defeat by the British general).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote theManwhocouldntcry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Apr 2010 at 16:27
where there any pitched battles in WWII?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Apr 2010 at 16:39
Define "pitched battle"
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote theManwhocouldntcry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Apr 2010 at 16:47
battles in which the soldiers where out in the open, in blocked units, and fired on each other till the enemy gave up. napoleon style
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Apr 2010 at 16:49
The enitre war was fought like this, this is why they call it modern war.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote warwolf1969 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jul 2010 at 14:43
Any side who fought a battle 'Napolionic style' during WW2 would have been destroyed in moments.  And would have deserved it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote necoo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Aug 2010 at 09:14
Seems like nobody knows unfortunately. I know I don'tUnhappy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 4ZZZ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Oct 2010 at 05:23
Bump. Nice read. Thought of this that came to light recenlty.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iNQ4XAzvnpD7hoPWWXTRtEDD4Qig

Lost WWII battlefield found in Papua New Guinea

By Madeleine Coorey (AFP) – Jun 7, 2010

SYDNEY — An Australian trekker has uncovered the site of a World War II battle in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, with the bodies of at least three Japanese soldiers still lying where they fell in 1942.


Click on the link for the rest of the report. Cheers.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WolfHound85 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Nov 2010 at 04:38
There are so many battles in WW2 so many get forgotten. Most people won't know the Battle of Kursk, Operation Dragoon, Operation Husky, and various other battles. Only the biggest battles get recognized. I took a class on WW2 and I still find out about new information about WW2 everyday. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Nov 2010 at 05:04
Hmm... the Battle of Kursk one of the biggest and decisive battles of the war.
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