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Friday, 10 February 2012

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Our disaster was not Dunkirk; our disaster was Singapore.

Well, in the sense that for mysterious reasons Hitler let our army escape from Dunkirk, I suppose Singapore was a slightly worse calamity.

You do recall David my comment stating "the first American killed in Viet Nam was in the year 1948"?

http://www.amazon.com/Vietnam-History-Stanley-Karnow/dp/0140265473

Thanks for the link, JK, have you read the book?

Four times. Twice in the late 70s. Used it as a text in a political science class in 88 then the last time about '03.

David. It is just a ceasefire in Korea the war is not finished. We had a good brave rearguard before and during our men reached Dunkirk. Hitler would have wasted them given the opportunity.

Thanks, JK, I'll give it a try. I'm just a little cautious because Vietnan is still, in a sense, current affairs which divided America politically and I sense that axes are still be sharpened. I notice from reading the 'reader reviews' at Amazon that he starts back in Vietnamese history which is a good sign. Trouble is, for me, that I just know it's going to be a ghastly read!

Jimmy, I would respectfully disagree with you. We fought a reasonably good retreat to the beaches but we were out-gunned, out-tanked and out-soldiered. The Germans had us in their grip and all they had to do was squeeze - but they didn't. The decision, or rather its reasons, not to send the armour in and utterly destroy the British army is still a matter of controversy. It is thought that Hitler, desirous of cutting a deal with the Brits to leave him free to deal with his 'real' enemy, Russia, held back from destroying its army, but no documentation exists.

I rather hesitate to enter into book recommendations to someone who introduced me to the delights of Furst, but in regard to modern American history I think it's difficult to find a more gifted narration of events than that produced by William Manchester in his epic "The Glory & the Dream". Rather stylised perhaps & rather too soft on the Kennedys but a cracking read nevertheless !

Thanks for that, David, and of course, I know his name but I have never read any of his books.

David. I would respectfully disagree with you. My uncle was evacuated from Dunkirk. He was KOSB and part of the BEF. The Germans hammered them. It was a mistake to agree to help the French at that time. We lost many good men for nothing.

Jimmy, I think we have both missed each other's point. All I am saying is that the German army operated on the Clausewitzean principle of always trying to fight a battle of annihilation. In other words, it is no good just pushing your enemy of the battlefield because that is not a real victory. The aim of the game is to cut them off, surround them and then annihilate them. The Germans did most of that with the BEF but for some strange reason they held back their armour for, I think, two days during which most of the BEF escaped. This is, arguably, the greatest proof of the wisdom of Clausewitz because, of course, that very same BEF, because it had been allowed to escape, came back again in 1944 - with a vengeance! A von Moltke (the elder), a von Schlieffen, would never have allowed it to happen.

David

A differnt war, but perhaps of interest

Real Clear History posts articles on events many years ago this date, in this case the fall of SIngapore.

http://www.mindef.gov.sg/safti/pointer/back/journals/1999/vol25_2/6.htm

Thanks, Hank, a subject about which I only know enough to be embarrassed for our British folly - again! I will read the article later.

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